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Will The Great American Experiment Succeed?

National Center for Constitutional Studies

Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, enumerated what he called 'the essential principles of our government . which ought to shape its Administration.' He then stated:  "These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civil instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."

Background

When asked by a curious citizen after the adjournment of the Constitutional Convention what kind of government had been structured by the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin is said to have answered: "...A REPUBLIC, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT."

The extensive Constitutional republic they envisioned, in reality, became a place of liberty and opportunity for countless millions of people from all over the world. Their ideas worked, because they were based on enduring principles which recognized human imperfection and the need to structure a limited government of laws, dependent upon the consent of a people who, themselves, understood the principles.

The Distinctiveness of the American Experiment as Laid Down by the Founding Fathers:

· It acknowledged that individual rights are derived from a Creator.

· It was based on enduring principles compatible with "the laws of nature and of nature's God."

· It recognized human imperfection and that a tendency to abuse power is ever present in the human heart.

· It restrained those in power through a written Constitution which carefully divided, balanced, and separated the powers of government and then intricately knitted them back together again through a system of checks and balances.

· It left all powers with the people, except those which, by their consent, the people delegated to government and then made provision for their withdrawing that power, if it was abused.

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