Mankind has been in pursuit of liberty for centuries; it is one of those nebulous concepts impossible to shake. Children raised without guidance seek liberty from their parents, families seek liberty from debt, spouses seek liberty from abuse, citizens seek liberty from tyranny. It does appear that everyone wants liberty yet most are unable to attain it; which results in fighting and rioting.
In ancient history successful city-states were comprised of like minded individuals who generally desired the best for their group. Their leaders acted in accordance to the best interest enabling prosperity for all. Those city-states perished when other groups whose aim was conquest and plunder conquered them, and they passed into the pages of history. Thousands of years of history witness the rise and fall of civilizations; each presumably wishing liberty for themselves.
The Celtic peoples of Western Europe and the Isles sought the same liberty. They fought the Roman Empire and lost, yet it did not quench their desire for liberty. Over a thousand years later they succeeded in extracting from the King of England a document that shook the continent; the Magna Carta. On June 15, 1215 King John I of England signed a document which recognized the freedom of the individual. Christianity was ascending in the minds of men at the same time causing upheavals and wars but the march of this progress has always been slowed by the rulers in charge of the system. Nearly four hundred years later a group of Christian men, with the approval of King James I of England established a settlement on the North American Continent.
Sir Walter Raleigh under a character of Queen Elizabeth I, took possession of all the land from Newfoundland in the north to Cape Fear in the south and named it Virginia, in honor of the virgin Queen. Later King James I divided Virginia into three districts. North Virginia from Newfoundland to the mouth of the Hudson River and south Virginia from the mouth of the Chesapeake to Cape Fear with the area from the Hudson to the Chesapeake to be unsettled. At this time Virginia extended west to the Mississippi River.
John Smith, a devout Christian played a major role in the establishment of the Jamestown Colony in 1607. It was there that the first legislative assembly on this continent met on June 19th 1619. In the fall of that same year the first “Holy day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God” was established at Berkley Hundred by the same legislative assembly. John Smith insisted on dealing fairly with the local Indians and purchased lands when possible to avoid bloodshed. You see, Smith distinguished himself as a warrior in Europe battling the Muslims and was for a time a slave, so he knew the value of peaceful settlement of issues, he is also responsible for giving the name “New England” to the area known as North Virginia, in honor of King James I.
At the core of the success of the Jamestown Colony of Virginia and all subsequent settlements was the possession of Christian virtue by the leadership involved. Where Christian virtue prevailed the settlement prevailed and where it was absent there was failure. Our founders specifically understood the vital link between virtue and liberty. You cannot have one without the other. I have stated often that liberty’s greatest burden is the freedom to choose between good and evil. Every evil choice erodes the possibility of liberty’s future success.
Liberty is after all a franchise given to mankind by God in the beginning (Genesis 1:28). When Adam chose evil (Genesis 3:12) his franchise was lost which brought God’s curse upon mankind and creation (Genesis 3:14-19). This is the reason people instinctively seek liberty and it seems nebulous and illusive. The curse has resulted in mankind knowing what Satan said: “…ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5). How many evil people in history have presumed themselves gods?
The subsequent founders of these United States were keenly aware of all the history previously mentioned. They were also Christian men who read the same Bible we read today. In addition they were schooled in ancient history to the extent that it was possible for them to learn from ancient mistakes. After years of colonial pleading with the British Parliament and the King, Parliament decided that weapons and powder should be confiscated from the hostile colonists before events escalated. By that times (June 1775) it was too late. The Battles of Lexington and Concord occurred and war with the Crown was begun. Then, on July 2, 1776 the Second Continental Congress issued their declaration of liberty which is named the Declaration of Independence and it captured the essence of over two thousand years of men desiring to live free from tyranny. It is a list of grievances against the Crown which incensed the King. War was waged until Southern Colonial Troops received the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781.
The treaty that officially ended hostilities was signed by the combatants on September 3, 1783. Called the Treaty of Paris, it recognized thirteen sovereign nations in North America which were originally British Colonies. Christian men had finally succeeded in achieving that long sought after liberty. They then set about investigating how thirteen sovereign nations could peacefully co-exist on the continent for their mutual benefit.
On July 12, 1777 the Continental Congress began drafting a document which would act as the authority for a provisional government. Indeed it became the war-time authority even though it was not finally ratified by all the Colonies until March 1, 1781. It was found ineffective in many ways, one of which was that the President served for only one year, which was hardly enough time for significant accomplishments.
Consequently, the Continental Congress assigned May 25, 1787 for the States delegates to meet in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for a Constitutional Convention in order to amend the Confederation. By June 28, 1787 the Convention has not progressed int he slightest. The elder Statesman, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) rose to his feet to address the assembly. He began, “Mr. President, the small progress we have made after four of five weeks close attendance and continual reasoning’s with each other…is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfections of the human understanding…Have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth–that God governs in the affairs of men…We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build, they labor in vain that build it’. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel…I therefore l beg leave to move–that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business.” His motion was approved and in less that three months the assembly adopted the Constitution of these United States which was to become the document of governance.
Interestingly, it was Richard Henry lee (1732-1794) of Virginia who was a signatory of the Articles of Confederation and served as President under those Articles who called in June 1776 for the resolution which lead to that Declarations. It was Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) a Virginian who drafted that famous Declaration and James Madison (1809-1817) a Virginian who authored our Constitution then the Bill of Rights; and Patrick Henry (1736-1799) first Governor of Virginia who sought and encouraged the Bill of Rights. George Washington (1732-1799) a Virginian, who commanded the Continental Army to victory, was President of the Constitutional Convention, first elected President of these United States, refused to serve a third term as President and admonished his countrymen to abide by the rule of law of the Constitution and avoid foreign entanglements. our second President John Adams (1735-1826) from Massachusetts doubled the size of the government in Washington and served only one term; which could explain why no Northern politicians were elected President for the next 24 years. Thomas Jefferson nearly went broke serving as our third President after Adams. It was clear that Southern Statesmen and Northern politicians had differing views of the public treasury. The South believed public service was no excuse to pilfer the public treasury which Northern men assumed the right of public theft for what they considered the better good; which simply meant expanding government positions in order to hire friends and sending public money to their home districts to attract votes.
From the beginning of the government in Washington the single dividing issue between the sections was the size and role of government. Northerners wanted more money to spend while Southerners desired to be frugal with the public purse; and Southern men blocked Northern pilferage at every opportunity.
God’s Holy word in I Timothy 6:10 tells us, “For the love of money is the root of all evil…” and Northern men certainly lusted after what was in the public treasury. Proverbs 22:7 explains, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant (slave) to the lender.” Northern Politicians desired a monarchical type system where favors could be purchased and empires could be fostered. Southern Statesmen desired strong sovereign State governments and a central power to accomplish specific tasks only.
Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) said, “A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be a national blessing.” That statement was contrary to the prevailing belief. Many of the founders understood the practice of usury (interest) as un-Biblical. James Madison said, “I am of the opinion that a public debt is a public curse…” Thomas Jefferson stated, “…that banking establishment are more dangerous than stating armies; and that the principles of spending money to be paid by our posterity, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” There is a body of evidence that Hamilton was in league with the Rothschild banking interest and that Jefferson and Madison wished to avoid those complications. Years later, President Andrew Jackson said, “I am one of those who do not believe that a national debt is a national blessing, but rather a national curse to a republic; in as much as it is calculated to raise around the administration a moneyed aristocracy dangerous to the liberties of the country.”
Powers in the North focused on manufacturing, which required a labor force, and Great Britain was more than willing to sweep the streets and countryside of the poor and homeless. The idea of going to a new land of opportunity had a certain appeal but the reality of low wages and sweat shop 18 hour work-days wore down most. But it accomplished a benefit for the Northern politician; more seats in Congress and thus more votes to stop Southern Statesman from interfering with their National pilferage.
Early on there were no endless taxes and regulations. Our founders understood that as the size of government grows its appetite for more would also grow resulting in diminished personal liberty. At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was asked the nature of the new government, he replied, “…a Republic, if you can keep it.” A Republic is administered by the rule of law and must necessarily be administered unbiased which requires virtue. When judges, politicians and executives ignore or skirt the rule of law; liberty is in jeopardy, and the more it occurs the more liberty is lost. It is akin to dying from a thousand cuts.
Liberty is precious, it has been sought after for thousands of years, it has been gained and lost many times, it is a deep-seated desire within the human heart, and it was once gained for a people on this North American Continent. Christian virtue and the adherence to the rule of law can preserve it; but the people must recognize its value and act accordingly. Remember, those who are willing to trade security for freedom will eventually have neither.