“A Citizen of New Haven” [Roger Sherman]
The Letters: I-II
New Haven Gazette, 18 and 25 December 1788
Observations on the Alterations Proposed as Amendments to the new Federal Constitution.
6. It is proposed that no commercial treaty should be made without the consent of two-thirds of the senators, nor any cession of territory, right of navigation or fishery, without the consent of three-fourths of the members present in each branch of congress.
It is provided by the constitution that no commercial treaty shall be made by the president without the consent of two-thirds of the senators present, and as each state has an equal representation and suffrage in the senate, the rights of the state will be as well secured under the new constitution as under the old; and it is not probable that they would ever make a cession of territory or any important national right without the consent of congress.
7. There is one amendment proposed by the convention of South Carolina respecting religious tests, by inserting the word other, between the words no and religious in that article, which is an ingenious thought, and had that word been inserted, it would probably have prevented any objection on that head. But it may be considered as a clerical omission and be inserted without calling a convention; as it now stands the effect will be the same
Observations on the New Federal Constitution
The immediate security of the civil and domestic rights of the people will be in the government of the particular states. And as the different states have different local interests and customs which can be best regulated by their own laws, it should not be expedient to admit the federal government to interfere with them, any farther than may be necessary for the good of the whole. The great end of the federal government is to protect the several states in the enjoyment of those rights, against foreign invasion, and to preserve peace and a beneficial intercourse among themselves; and to regulate and protect our commerce with foreign nations.
These were not sufficiently provided for by the former articles of confederation, which was the occasion of calling the late Convention to make amendments. This they have done by forming a new constitution containing the powers vested in the federal government, under the former, with such additional powers as they deemed necessary to attain the ends the states had in view, in their appointment. And to carry those powers into effect, they thought it necessary to make some alterations in the organization of the government: this they supposed to be warranted by their commission.
The powers vested in the federal government are clearly defined, so that each state still retain its sovereignty in what concerns its own internal government, and a right to exercise every power of a sovereign state not particularly delegated to the government of the United States. The new powers vested in the United States, are, to regulate commerce; provide for a uniform practice respecting naturalization, bankruptcies, and organizing, arming and training the militia; and for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States; and for promoting the progress of science in the mode therein pointed out. There are some other matters which Congress has power under the present confederation to require to be done by the particular states, which they will be authorized to carry into effect themselves under the new constitution; these powers appear to be necessary for the common benefit of the states, and could not be effectually provided for by the particular states
Read more from letters from Roger Sherman and our other Founders at Online Library of Liberty
“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
–The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.
“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.
“Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”
–Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, excerpt from a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”
–Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.
1st Signer of the Declaration of Independence
“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
–History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.
“I believe that there is one only living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance equal in power and glory. That the scriptures of the old and new testaments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. That God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, so as thereby he is not the author or approver of sin. That he creates all things, and preserves and governs all creatures and all their actions, in a manner perfectly consistent with the freedom of will in moral agents, and the usefulness of means. That he made man at first perfectly holy, that the first man sinned, and as he was the public head of his posterity, they all became sinners in consequence of his first transgression, are wholly indisposed to that which is good and inclined to evil, and on account of sin are liable to all the miseries of this life, to death, and to the pains of hell forever.
“I believe that God having elected some of mankind to eternal life, did send his own Son to become man, die in the room and stead of sinners and thus to lay a foundation for the offer of pardon and salvation to all mankind, so as all may be saved who are willing to accept the gospel offer: also by his special grace and spirit, to regenerate, sanctify and enable to persevere in holiness, all who shall be saved; and to procure in consequence of theirrepentance and faith in himself their justification by virtue of his atonement as the only meritorious cause.
“I believe a visible church to be a congregation of those who make a credible profession of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, joined by the bond of the covenant.
“I believe that the souls of believers are at their death made perfectly holy, and immediately taken to glory: that at the end of this world there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a final judgement of all mankind, when the righteous shall be publicly acquitted by Christ the Judge and admitted to everlasting life and glory, and the wicked be sentenced to everlasting punishment.”
–The Life of Roger Sherman, pp. 272-273.
Read More at About.com Christianity
Americans Declare Their Independence from Barack Obama and the Socialist Democratic Party? (viaBanned Ireporters at Village of the Banned)
In Voting Booths, November 2, 2012
THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF THE FIFTY
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Today, the Constitution is Relevant
The 4th of July cover article of Time magazine claims that the Constitution is irrelevant.
As proof of its irrelevance, Time lists a dozen products of modern society inconceivable to the framers, including antibiotics, “sexting,” and Medicare. The Constitution’s only virtue, they say, is that it has many meanings and thus leaves us able to do whatever we want to do.
But not everything has changed since 1787. When it comes to ordering society under the rule of law, what is most important? Knowledge of “collateralized debt obligations” or knowledge of human nature?
Here are a few things the framers did know something about: Religious Freedom. Education. Tyranny. Friendship. Happiness. Sovereignty of the People. Virtue.
The Constitution does not allow us to do whatever we want to do. In the words of James Madison, the Constitution was framed out of the belief that “it is the reason, alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate the government. The passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the government.”
The genius of the Constitution lies in its having a definite meaning on the fundamentals–that every individual has rights, that the people are sovereign, and that the governmental powers must remain separated–while leaving wide latitude to local government, or the people themselves, on issues not specifically addressed in the Constitution.
The framers were no gods; the amendment procedure was included for good reason. Yet for more than two centuries the United States has flourished in a project long thought impossible: self-government.
Liberty. Equality. Self-government.
If the Fourth of July is a celebration of these things, it is a celebration of the Constitution as much as the Declaration of Independence. No constitution in history has proven itself more deeply committed to these principles, and no nation has been more richly blessed in return.
The basic truth within the Constitution is that the government cannot have limitless power, for the simple reason that government is made up of people. A Constitution with no definite meaning gives free reign to the passions of those people within and without the government. A Constitution with a meaning honored and obeyed becomes a guardian of all people, for it sustains a government that is strong within its defined powers but limited in order to protect the liberty and equality of citizens.
Instead of scoffing at those Americans concerned that their federal government has overrun its limits in the name of energy and modernity, perhaps Time should consider what an American President said about the principles of the Declaration and the Constitution on the 150th anniversary of July 4th, 1776:
“It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.”
- Calvin Coolidge
July 5, 1926
Dr. Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth President of Hillsdale College. Before coming to Hillsdale, Dr. Arnn was research assistant to Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill, and was the President of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. Each year, he teaches courses on the United States Constitution and the statesmanship of Churchill.
Visit our website, www.hillsdale.edu, for more information about Hillsdale College.
Got this reminder in a email this morning and thought that it would be a good example on what the founders thought about the combination of Religion and Education!
Signer of the Declaration of Independence
The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.(Source: Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas and William Bradford, 1806), p. 8.)
We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.(Source: Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Printed by Thomas and William Bradford, 1806), pp. 93-94.)
- Proving America’s Christian Heritage From the Words of Our Founding Fathers and Past Patriots (jackwoodard.wordpress.com)
- Spending More on Incarceration Than Education: An Answer (dakotavoice.com)