By far the most consequential document for government throughout all history is the Declaration of Independence. The hitherto inexperienced benefits that enabled America to become the greatest nation on earth rest entirely upon the justification for displacing the rule of man with rule by impartial, God-honoring law. It provided the philosophical basis for prohibiting actions by government officials that would interfere with citizen sovereignty under God. The people who vote in secret and choose like-minded representatives determine the consensus for government action. Adherence to “self-evident” truths that men are “endowed by their Creator” with “certain unalienable Rights” unleashed citizen creativity and independence from the tyranny and trickery of authoritarians in and out of government.
The Constitution of the United States has survived many times longer than any other constitution. For example, in the last two hundred years, France has gone through seven different government charters, and Italy forty. “In God Is Our Trust,” emblazoned in “The Star-Spangled Banner” (official national anthem of the United States), takes elitists of every stripe out of the authority equation. A century later, William Gladstone, one of Britain’s greatest prime ministers, proclaimed the American Constitution to be “the most wonderful work ever struck off by the brain and purpose of man.”*
We do not want to overlook the importance of education about government and the Preamble to the Constitution. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach the limited role of government and foundational American Principles. When parents and those employed to help the teaching process–including textbook writers, teachers, and clergy–are failing, the beginning of tyranny is inevitable.
One historian points out that the preamble contains seven action words: form, establish, insure, provide, promote, secure, and ordain. The Constitution concludes: “Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the States present on the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven and of the independence [Declaration of Independence, founded upon the sovereignty of the benevolent God of creation and of the Bible] of the United States of America the twelfth [adopted twelve years earlier]. In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names.” In 1792, on March 11, Washington explained: “I am sure there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that Agency which was so often manifested during our revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.”**
The purpose of government as a tool for, by, and of the people is spelled out in the preamble forward: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, [meaning common needs that do not conflict with the development of the work ethic and personal self-reliance] and secure the Blessings of Liberty [meaning to oppose that which is evil and undermines freedom of conscience for moral choices, marriage of man and woman within the family, community civility, and thankfulness for the benevolent care of creation’s God] to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
*Gladstone speech, The North American Review, (September, 1878).
**David Barton, Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, and Religion (Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press), 116. (Citing Washington, Writings 1838, Vol. X, 222-223, to John Armstrong on March 11, 1792).
~ D. Norris