What is the common bond that enabled Americans to establish the greatest nation on earth? The USA Today/Gallup Poll published May 6, 2010 reports that 92 percent of Americans believe in God and only 5 percent said they oppose the National Day of Prayer. The problem is that public schools stopped teaching how the basic American belief “In God We Trust” translates into principles for political decisions that made America the overwhelming choice of immigrants from around the world.
Having confronted the barriers to success imposed by the British Crown at the First Continental Congress, the Founding Fathers needed to address the following questions:
- How do we bring into focus the justification for independence that can, in fact, support the life, liberty and happiness that the colonists found possible?
- How do we declare the sovereignty of man under God over government, upon which respect for impartial law, citizen self-rule and liberty are justified?
- How do we emphasize the need for strict separation from the British king and other pretender gods, who have managed to betray and exploit mankind down through history?
- What must we proclaim that will convince other nations to have confidence in the United States as a sovereign entity?
The answers to these questions became the basis for the unique principles for government in America. The Declaration of Independence provided a moral and just basis for law as no other document before or since. These principles were adopted unanimously by the Second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. On July 4, 1776, the delegates signed their names to the Declaration, and the new nation—independent from Great Britain—was born.
The people of England were not the issue. Americans were fond of the people and valued their trade relationships. At issue was limiting the oppressive ways of British government and the need for tough-minded rejection of practices that violated liberty and citizen incentive to be self-governing.
“Although all men are born free, and all nations might be so, yet too true it is, that slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant–they have been cheated; asleep–they have been surprised; divided–the yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson? That because the people may betray themselves, they ought to give themselves up, blindfold, to those who have an interest in betraying them? Rather conclude that the people ought to be enlightened, to be awakened, to be united.”*
*James Madison, Essay: Who Are the Keepers of the People’s Liberties? Madison served as the fourth president of the United States (1809–1817) and is considered the principal author of the United States Constitution. In 1788, he wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, still the most influential commentary on the Constitution. Madison was responsible for writing the first ten amendments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights.
~ D. Norris