What does America Need Today? America needs Americans to rediscover the Great Ideas that produced the miracle of America. It took the Founding Fathers 180 years to come up with their American formula. We must confront our history and determine where it came from. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.” (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Chas Yancey, 1816).
The Founders built the Constitution on 28 principles and these principles are precisely what America needs today. The Constitution is not out of date. It’s no more out of date than the desire for peace, freedom, and prosperity is out of date. The Founders were not custom- building the Constitution for any particular age or economy. They were structuring a framework of government to fit the requirements of human nature. These do not change. What protected the freedom of George Washington will protect freedom for you and me.
My purpose is to present thumbnail sketches of the 28 major Great Ideas on which the American Founders established the first free people in modern times. Holding to these beliefs during the past 200 years has brought about more progress than was made in the previous 5000 years.
In this article, you will find a list of the 28 Principles and a summary of the First Principle. All information about the 28 Principles comes from “The 5000 Year Leap” by W. Cleon Skousen.
The Only Reliable Basis for Sound
Government and Just Human Relations
is Natural Law
Most Americans have never studied Natural Law. The Founding Fathers expressed their wisdom by stating that it is the only reliable basis for a stable society and a system of justice. Then what is Natural Law? It’s the test, the standard for determining good laws, sound government, and the long-range formula for happy human relationships.
Building a society on the principle of Natural Law is nothing more nor less than recognizing and identifying the rules of “right conduct” with the laws of the Supreme Creator of the universe. The Creator’s order of things is called Natural Law.
Here are the essential components of Natural Law which so profoundly impressed the Founding Fathers.
Natural Law Is Eternal and Universal
Natural law is “true law.” The Law of Nature or Nature’s God is eternal in its basic goodness; it is universal in its application. It is a code of “right reason” from the Creator Himself. It cannot be altered. It cannot be repealed. It cannot be abandoned by legislators or the people themselves, even though they may pretend to do so. In Natural Law we are dealing with factors of absolute reality. It is basic in its principles, comprehensive to the human mind, and totally correct and morally right in its general operation.
The Divine Gift of Reason
The first common possession of man and God is reason. But those who have reason in common must also have right reason in common. And since right reason is Law, we must believe that men have Law also in common with God. Further, those who share Law must share Justice; and those who share these are to be regarded as members of the same commonwealth. If indeed they obey the same authorities and powers, this is true in a far greater degree; as a matter of fact, they do obey this heavenly system, the divine mind, and the God of transcendent power.
The First Great Commandment
(The power and fundamental significance of obedience)
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and will all thy soul, and will thy mind.” The Founders understood and accepted the magnificence of the first great commandment to love, respect, and obey the all-wise Creator. When perfectly understood it is call “wisdom.” In proper perspective the first commandment says that God’s law is “right reason.” When applied to government in regulating human relations it is called “justice.” When people unite together in an agreement/promise under the law, they become a true community, a true nation, and since they intend to administer their affairs under God’s law, they belong to his commonwealth.
The Second Great Commandment
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Justice is impossible except under the principles of God’s law because these virtues originate in our natural inclination to love our fellow-men, and this is the foundation of justice. It is the glue which holds a body of human beings together in the commonwealth of a just society; and of one’s fellow-men which provides the desire to promote true justice among mankind.
All Mankind Can Be Taught God’s Law or Virtue
There is nothing more valuable than the full realization that we are born for Justice, and the right is based, not on opinions, but upon Nature; upon who and what the Creation is and on how and why the Creator created us.
Legislation in Violation of God’s Natural Law Is a Scourge to Humanity
For a long time now many unskilled and ignorant men and women have been passing and enforcing laws that are out of harmony with Nature, that is, with the Creators law. However, Justice can never be expected from laws arbitrarily passed in violation of standards set up under the laws of the Creator. However we may define man if we may define man, a single definition will apply to all. This is sufficient proof that there is no difference in kind between man and man…IN FACT, THERE IS NO HUMAN BEING OF ANY RACE WHO, IF HE OR SHE FINDS A GUIDE CANNOT ARRIVE AT MORAL GOODNESS.
All Law Should Be Measured Against God’s Law
The framers set forth the means by which people may judge between good and evil laws. All laws must be measured by God’s Law. The Law of the Creator is the distinction between things just and unjust, made in agreement with the fundamental and oldest of all things, Nature. It is in conformity to Nature’s standards that those human laws are framed which inflict punishment upon the wicked and protect the good. The essence of an evil law cannot be fixed by the legislature, courts, or by popular acceptance. Justice can never be expected from laws arbitrarily passed in violation of standards set up under the laws of Nature or the laws of the Creator.
Examples of Natural Law
The idea of UNALIENABLE RIGHTS is based on Natural Law.
The idea of UNALIENABLE DUTIES is based on Natural Law.
The idea of HABEAS CORPUS is based on Natural Law.
The idea of LIMITED GOVERNMENT is based on Natural Law.
The idea of SEPARATION OF POWERS is based on Natural Law.
The idea of CHECKS AND BALANCES to correct abuses by peaceful means is based on Natural Law.
The right of SELF-PRESERVATION is based on Natural Law.
The right to CONTRACT is based on Natural Law.
Laws protecting the FAMILY and the institution of MARRIAGE are all based on Natural Law.
The idea of JUSTICE BY REPARATION or paying for damages is based on Natural Law.
The right to BEAR ARMS is based on Natural Law.
The principle of NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION is based on Natural Law.
The Founders’ Basic Principles
1st Principle: The Genius of Natural Law
2nd Principle: A Virtuous and Moral People
3rd Principle: Virtuous and Moral Leaders
4th Principle: The Role of Religion
5th Principle: The Role of the Creator
6th Principle: All Men are Created Equal
7th Principle: Equal Rights, Not Equal Things
8th Principle: Man’s Unalienable Rights
9th Principle: The Role of Revealed Law
10th Principle: Sovereignty of the People
11th Principle: Who Can Alter the Government?
12th Principle: Advantages of a Republic
13th Principle: Protection against Human Frailty
14th Principle: Property Rights Essential to Liberty
15th Principle: Free-market Economic
16th Principle: The Separation of Powers
17th Principle: Checks and Balances
18th Principle: Importance of Written Constitution
19th Principle: Limiting and Defining Powers of Government
20th Principle: Majority Rule, Minority Rights
21st Principle: Strong Local Self-Government
22nd Principle: Government by Law, Not by men
23rd Principle: Importance of an Educated Electorate
24th Principle: Peace Through Strength
25th Principle: Avoid Entangling Alliances
26th Principle: Protecting the Role of the Family
27th Principle: Avoiding the Burden of Debt
28th Principle: The Founders Sense of Manifest Destiny
In the next article, we’ll be looking at Principles 2-3.