Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Our Constitution

          As Americans we grow up hearing about the United States Constitution. We learn about its formation by the Founding Fathers in school. Those who join the military, or serve in law enforcement, or are elected to public office take an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.” The President of the United States actually says something a bit more specific: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The point is this – the Constitution is to be protected. Period. Why? Because the Constitution firmly establishes by law our freedom and rights. All matters private and public fall under the purview of the Constitution. It is this document that gives you and me the protection against authoritarian and dictatorial rule. The writers of the Constitution had lived previously under the extended rule and control of King George III of England. In fact, beginning with King George I in 1714, most of the colonists at the time of the American Revolution in 1775 had lived under one or more of the first three King George’s. These monarchs cared little for the colonists, considering them a nuisance to be tolerated as long as taxes were regularly received from them, thus feeding the avaricious coffers of the British Empire. When the colonists reached an end to their patience with the taxation issue by England, rebellion was in the air.

On December 16, 1773, the Boston Tea Party lit the fuse which brought about the eventual war with England, better known as the American Revolution. There was a cry from the colonists which stated, “No Taxation without Representation!” However, the furor over the shipment of tea to the colonies was not so much an issue over tea being taxed, as it was frustration on the part of the colonists in not being represented fairly before the British Parliament, and perhaps more importantly, the question as to the extent and limits which that same Parliament could impose itself in the lives of the colonists. Ironically, the Tea Act of 1772 actually reduced the tax on tea to the colonists.

The abuse of British rule over the colonies both in extending their heavy-handed approach and their unwillingness to allow fair representation became the cornerstone of our Constitution. We are a Representative Government. Thus one of the two houses of Congress, as written into the Constitution, is the House of Representatives.

What has fascinated me the most is the testimonies of the writers of the Constitution in that none of them believed that they could ever come to any sort of agreement. For instance, Thomas Jefferson was serving as the U.S. Ambassador to France at the time that the Constitutional Convention was meeting to work on the Constitution in 1787. Though he was firmly convinced that no finer assembly of men could be found, he despaired that they nearly quit and disbanded early in the process. George Washington and James Madison both declared that the crafting of the Constitution was a miracle. Neither of these men was given to hyperbole. When they stated that the completion of this document was a miracle, they meant that the hand of divine Providence was overseeing their efforts.

The use of the term “divine Providence” was favored by the Founding Fathers. One definition states that divine Providence is God’s special operation in the lives of those who seek to do his will.”

Three of the Founding Fathers, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Benjamin Rush, each clearly acknowledged God’s hand in the affairs of state in the formation of the Constitution and thus the nation as a whole. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787 Benjamin Franklin gave God credit for “the frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favour.”

Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, ratifier of the Constitution, Surgeon General, “Father of American Medicine,” Treasurer of the U.S. Mint, and “Father of Public Schools under the Constitution,” said, I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am as satisfied that it is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament.”

Two years later in 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as our first president. Later that year he gave a Thanksgiving Proclamation which was more like a prayer, intoning, “Our sincere and humble thanks for... the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war.”

These luminaries sought to do God’s will. A study of the other men involved in the establishment of the Constitution reveals godly character so that the Constitution would unquestionably be written so as to glorify God.

Ours is an amazing heritage!

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