Where did the Founding Fathers main source of government ideas come from?
What they did:
“They carefully scrutinized every system of government in existence to see which one was the most likely to make it possible for humanity to attain the three great goals of freedom, prosperity, and peace.” “No existing government was designed to provide the people with freedom, prosperity, and peace.”
“Is there, at this moment, a nation upon earth that enjoys this right, where the true principles of representation are understood and practiced, and where all authority flows from and returns at stated periods to the people? I answer, there is not.” Charles Pinckney
Making of America, p. 3
What they did next:
Finding no existing government that provided the people with freedom, prosperity and peace the Founding Fathers set out to create one.
They found most of the principles they used in the Bible.
The Bible and government principles: “They were also careful students of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and even though some did not belong to any Christian denomination, the teachings of Jesus were held in universal respect and admiration.” Making of America p. 11
18 of the Governmental Principles Found in the Bible:
1. Sound government should be based on self-evident truths. That means truths that are so obvious, so rational, and so morally sound that their authenticity is beyond reasonable dispute.
2. Government of mankind here on earth should be based on the law of nature and of nature’s God.
3. Men are created equal. The Creator made human beings equal in their rights, equal before the bar of justice and equal in his sight
4. These rights which have been bestowed by the Creator on each individual are unalienable: that is, they cannot be taken away or violated without the offender coming under the judgment and wrath of the Creator.
5. Among the most important of the unalienable rights are the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to property and the right to pursue whatever course of life a person may desire in search of happiness, so long as it does not invade the inherent rights of others.
6. The most basic reason for a community or a nation to set up a system of government is to assure its inhabitants that the rights of the people shall be protected and preserved.
7. No office or agency of government has any right to exist except with the consent of the people or their representatives.
8. If the government itself begins to violate those rights – then it is the right and duty of the people to regain control of their affairs and set up a form of government which will serve the people better.
9. The best type of government is a Representative type where the people hold the power to govern themselves and what they could not handle it went to higher representatives.
Israelite form of government went as follows:
600,000 families with power to govern themselves
A Representative for a group of 10 families
A Representative for a group of 50 families
A Representative for a group of 100 families
A Representative for a group of 1,000 families
Elected Representatives (A congress)
Council of Seventy (A Senate)
Aaron – a vice president over internal affairs
Joshua – a vice president over the military
Moses – the prophet leader
10. Land is a private stewardship of the people, not the government.
11. Rights of property was to be protected.
12. Rights of life and private liberty is to be protected.
13. All leaders were selected with the consent of the people.
14. All laws came into force only by the consent of the people or their representatives.
15. Accused persons were presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
16. The entire code of justice was based primarily on reparation to the victim rather than fines and punishment by the commonwealth.
17. Fundamental to the entire system of Law was a strong commitment to a very basic code of solid morality.
18. The government is to operate according to principles of law, not the whims of men.
“When the time came for the United States of America to adopt a constitution, our forefathers modeled it after the perfect Israelite system of administration.”
Howard B. Rand, an American lawyer.
The Making of America p 28, 52-53
“While studying the history of ancient Israel, Jefferson made a significant discovery. He saw that at one time the Israelites had practiced the earliest and most efficient form of representative government. As long as the Israelites followed their fixed pattern of constitutional principles, they flourished. When they drifted from it, disaster overtook them. Jefferson thereafter referred to the constitutional pattern as the “ancient principles.” “Jefferson was also surprised to find that the Anglo-Saxons somehow got hold of some of these “ancient principles” and followed a pattern almost identical to that of the Israelites.” Making of America, p. 27-28
“Has not every restitution of the ancient Saxton laws had happy effects? Is it not better now that we return at once into that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest and most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man, as it stood before the eighth century?”
The Founding Fathers were very familiar with other sources of information:
Often the Founders read the classic in their original language. They were familiar with:
• Plato’ Republic and his Laws;
• Aristotle’s Essays on Politics;
• the political philosophy of the Greek historian, Polybius; with the great Roman defender of republican principles,
• the legal commentaries of Sir Edward Coke;
• the essays and philosophy of Francis Bacon;
• the essays of Richard Hooker;
• the dark forebodings of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan;
• the more optimistic and challenging Essays on Civil Government, by John Locke;
• the animated Spirit of the Laws, by Baron Charles de Montesquieu of France;
• the three volume work of Algernon Sidney, who was beheaded by Charles II in 1683;
• The writings of David Hume;
• The legal commentaries of Sir William Blackstone;
• The economic defense of a free market economy b Adam Smith called The Wealth of Nations.
The Founders knew their classics. They also knew their history –biblical, Greek, Roman, European, and American. From all of these valuable sources they sorted out what they considered to be the best and most enduring for the prosperity and peace of a free people under a republican system of self-government.” Making of America p. 61
You could certainly say that our Founding Fathers really did their research and because of it, created the Greatest and most Free nation on earth in the history of mankind.
All this information came from Making of America, the Substance and Meaning of the Constitution by W. Cleon Skousen. It took Dr. Skousen 40 years of research to gain the information for his book and it took another 14 years to write it. He did all the work, and you can gain all the knowledge just by purchasing this great book and reading it for yourself. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Don’t delay, purchase your copy today!
Linda N. Hackett