Thursday, July 9, 2020

Six Foundational Principles of Free Republics

“Americans. Let us now attend to those principles, upon which all republican governments, who boast any degree of political liberty, are founded, and which must enter into the spirit of a FREE republican constitution. For all republics are not FREE.” (The Essex Result, April 29, 1778)

Several years ago when my son was in highschool (homeschool) I planned to teach a class on the U.S. Constitution for the teens at our homeschool co-op. As I thought about how to do it I realized that with the limited time I had during the co-op session, and with the limited back ground of my students, that what was needed most was to focus first on the principles, or beliefs, about government that our founders shared and how those principles became the foundation for the Constitution.

Students needed to understand that the Constitution is like the frame for our national house but it is not the foundation. Only when a frame is built and maintained upon a sure foundation will it be able to be maintained for hundreds of years. As I studied the source documents and writings I sorted the concepts and discovered six principle categories that underlay all the work and writings of our founders. Everything I read could be placed in one of these six principles and from that I decided to frame my class around these six foundational principles of free republics.

1. God is the author of free government.
2. Natural rights are bestowed by God.
3. Legitimate governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed.
4. Government is instituted for the purpose of securing to the individual their natural rights.
5. The interests of the majority and the rights of the minority are protected when government acts within its legitimate charter.
6. Free governments are maintained upon principles of righteousness.

Principle #1, God the Author of Free Government.

Liberty and natural rights have a divine origin, as such liberty and natural rights are maintained upon principles of truth given through the “Supreme Governor of the World.” Only governments who recognize God as the author of free government and establish and act within legal parameters that respect and protect the God given rights of their citizens, and adjudicate such law with equity among all its citizens, could be considered living under the rule of law. Only nations that live under the Laws of Nature and Nature's God will be able to preserve liberty in perpetuity.

THE SUPREME BEING GAVE EXISTENCE TO MAN, together with the means of preserving and beatifying that existence. HE ENDOWED HIM with rational faculties, by the help of which, to discern and pursue such things, as were consistent with his duty and interest, AND INVESTED HIM WITH an inviolable right to personal LIBERTY, and personal safety. Hence, in a state of nature, NO MAN HAD ANY MORAL POWER TO DEPRIVE ANOTHER OF HIS LIFE, LIMBS, PROPERTY OR LIBERTY…”


Principle #2, Natural rights are bestowed by God.

Natural Rights, both alienable and unalienable are bestowed on all men and women by God and cannot in justice be forcibly taken from any person. Natural rights cannot and should not be controlled by any power so far as these rights are exercised without injury to the natural rights of others. Said rights are delegated by individuals with discretion and by governments should only modestly be curtailed under these conditions: 1) By the consent of the majority, 2) When the majority judge that the general welfare requires it, and 3) Only when the strongest equivalent is given in exchange.

"TO KNOW HIS RIGHTS; to exercise with order and justice those he retains; TO CHOOSE WITH DISCRETION the fiduciary of THOSE HE DELEGATES; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor and judgment; And, in general, TO OBSERVE WITH INTELLIGENCE AND FAITHFULNESS ALL THE SOCIAL RELATIONS UNDER WHICH HE SHALL BE PLACED. TO INSTRUCT the mass of OUR CITIZENS IN these, THEIR RIGHTS, INTERESTS AND DUTIES, as men and citizens, being then the objects of education..." ~ Thomas Jefferson


Principle #3, Consent of the Governed

The only form of just and legitimate government is one which receives it’s power from the consent of the governed, and maintains those liberties that will secure such rights in perpetuity. That a government by the people and for the people be maintained for future generations it is necessary that free republican government is constructed with those mechanisms most apt to protect those forms of administration able to secure the natural rights of all men from the usurpation of an overarching central authority.

“That ALL MEN BY NATURE ARE FREE AND INDEPENDENT, and have certain inherent rights, of which, WHEN THEY ENTER INTO A STATE OF SOCIETY, THEY CANNOT, by any compact, DEPRIVE OR DIVEST THEIR POSTERITY; namely, the enjoyment OF LIFE AND LIBERTY, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, AND PURSUING and obtaining HAPPINESS and safety.” ~ George Mason


Principle #4, Government is Instituted for the Purpose of Securing to the Individuals their Natural Rights.

The legitimate purpose of government is for the securing of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through the protection of Natural Rights. “Happiness of society is the end of government -- the happiness of individuals is the end of man” (John Adams, “Thoughts on Government”) and that happiness is best achieved for the whole of society by securing to them their natural rights.

THE PRINCIPLE AIM OF SOCIETY is to protect individuals, in the enjoyment of those absolute rights, which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature; but which could not be preserved, in peace, without that mutual assistance, and intercourse, which is gained by the institution of friendly and social communities. HENCE it follows, that THE FIRST AND PRIMARY END OF HUMAN LAWS, IS TO MAINTAIN AND REGULATE THESE ABSOLUTE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS.” ~ Blackstone on the Absolute Rights of Individuals (1753)


Principle #5, The Interests of the Majority and the Rights of the Minority are Protected when Government Acts within its Legitimate Charter.

Being that the proper role of government is to secure those natural rights to ALL individuals in perpetuity, a government so committed will always function to protect the Minority. The greatest comfort for all who live within the divine design of governments, even with all the natural inequities and strife of mortal existence, is that all free governments are instituted by God to protect the God given rights of all persons regardless of their social station, race, sex, religion, or culture; though we must endure the inequities of this moral probation we yet stand as equals before God.

NATURAL LIBERTY IS A GIFT OF THE BENEFICENT CREATOR TO THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE, AND CIVIL LIBERTY IS FOUNDED IN THAT, AND CANNOT BE WRESTED FROM ANY PEOPLE WITHOUT THE MOST MANIFEST VIOLATION OF JUSTICE. Civil liberty is only natural liberty, modified and secured by the sanctions of civil society. It is not a thing, in its own nature, precarious and dependent on human will and caprice, but it is conformable to the constitution of man, as well as necessary to the well-being of society... THE SAFETY OF THE WHOLE DEPENDS UPON THE MUTUAL PROTECTION OF EVERY PART. If the sword of oppression be permitted to lop off one limb without opposition, reiterated strokes will soon dismember the whole body.” (“The Farmer Refuted: or, a more comprehensive and impartial View of Dispute between Great Britain and the Colonies,” by Alexander Hamilton, Feb 25, 1775)


Principle #6, Free Republics are Maintained Upon Principles of Righteousness.

Liberty will not long endure among a people unresolved to govern their own appetites and place checks upon their own behavior for the good of society. Natural rights are protected by the will of a people well informed and dedicated to the principles upon which Liberty rests. "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." (Message from John Adams to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, John Adams, October 11, 1798)

THAT YOUR UNION AND BROTHERLY AFFECTION MAY BE PERPETUAL; THAT THE FREE CONSTITUTION, which is the work of your hands, MAY BE SACREDLY MAINTAINED; that its Administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and Virtue; THAT, in fine, THE HAPPINESS OF THE PEOPLE of these States, under the auspices of liberty, MAY BE MADE COMPLETE, BY SO CAREFUL a preservation and so prudent A USE OF THIS BLESSING as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.” (Washington’s Farewell Address, 1792)


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