Translating these principles we previously discussed from theory to practice, has been a long and painfully slow process. The historic steps which were followed constitute the straight and narrow way through which any and every people must pass if they are to gain and retain their freedom. Here are steps that were followed:
First: The redemption of the people’s freedom by an official Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Second: The enforcement of that Declaration by resort to arms from 1776 to 1783.
Third: For the first time in the history of the world a government was established with its powers strictly defined in a written document…the United States Constitution.
Fourth: The Constitution provided for a republican form of government. This is a government by elected representatives rather than government by emotional mass participation as a pure democracy.
Fifth: For the first time in history a government was set up under a sovereign trinity…three equal branches of government authority…the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. James Madison was responsible for the introduction of this principle into the framework of the Constitution.
Sixth: Each branch of government was to be subject to a system of checks and balances so as to maintain a healthy balance of power.
Seventh: All powers not specifically delegated to the Federal Government were retained by the states and the people.
Eighth: The following freedoms were guaranteed to the sovereign citizen…
> Freedom of religion (First Amendment)
> Freedom of speech (First Amendment)
> Freedom of the press (First Amendment)
> Freedom of assembly (First Amendment)
> Freedom to petition the government for grievances (First Amendment)
> Freedom to bear arms (Second Amendment)
> Freedom from illegal search of persons, houses, papers or effects (Fourth Amendment)
> Freedom from prosecution without due process of law (Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments)
> Freedom from multiple prosecutions for the same offense (Fifth Amendment)
> Freedom from the necessity of testifying against oneself (Fifth Amendment)
> Freedom from imprisonment without a speedy and public trial (Sixth Amendment)
> Freedom from excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments (Eighth Amendment)
> Freedom from slavery or involuntary servitude (Thirteenth Amendment added in 1865)
> Freedom to vote regardless of race or sex (Fifteenth Amendment added in 1870 and the Nineteenth
Amendment added in 1920)
Ninth: Social and political reform along liberal lines was encouraged within the various states. Jefferson, as governor of Virginia, led the way by encouraging public education, dividing church and state, breaking down medieval laws of inheritance to prevent monopoly of land and wealth, emancipation of slaves and prohibiting importation of slaves, revising criminal laws, representation according to population, declaring the right to vote should be extended to all men who might be subject to military duty and not merely to landowners, and encouraging self-government in the counties and towns of the state.
Tenth: The Civil War established the sovereignty of the Federal Government as the dominant authority of the Union…establishing that states could not pass conflicting laws.
Eleventh: “Promotional” legislation was passed to promote the general welfare of all citizens by encouraging interstate transportation, transcontinental communications, colonization of public lands, cheap postal service, development of waterways and resources.
Twelfth: ‘Restrictive’ legislation was passed for the purpose of protecting the individual citizen against various systems which began to encroach upon his/her welfare. Anti-trust legislation was passed to restrict the activities of monopolies in business and preserve free enterprise. Labor legislation was passed to fix responsibility for union leadership. Anti-crime legislation was passed to protect citizens against organized underworld forces.
Thus, a whole new pattern of government was born among man. It is a political framework designed to keep the ultimate control of government in the hands of the people who live under that government. It was an expression of political philosophy which made it possible for men to protect themselves against the ever-expanding power of man-made systems. It was a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It was a gradual unfolding of six centuries of true liberalism. We might as time goes on ask…what happened?
Next week we will take a look at the results of over 175 years of American liberalism. For many years it worked and made America the envy of the world, but then, like any ‘good thing’, there were those who saw an opportunity to take advantage of the situation, and what at one time represented an improvement to the people morphed into a term that has many scratching their heads wondering what happened to the freedom our Founding Fathers had envisioned?
“When we understand how to look at the events of life from the perspective of the Word of God, we are being realistic. All the confusion and illusion disappear, and we can begin to see things the way they really are.” Hope in a Chaotic World, a study of First and Second Thessalonians by Ray C. Stedman