Founding Fathers’ wisdom still stands firm
Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010 8:01 pm
By: By Glenda Caudle
You are not obligated to respect the wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers. You cannot be compelled to agree with their sentiments or share their perspective. But perhaps there is value, at least, in knowing some of the things they had to say, particularly when their thoughts are related to issues we face in our nation today.
The following are quotes from some of those early patriots whose names are — I hope — familiar to us.
Consider them carefully in relation to our present situation. Measure what passes for clever political discourse — too often “sentiment in sound bites” — in our current circumstances against these words of time-tested wisdom. And be advised that what has aroused many citizens of this nation, over the past year, to confront their elected officials and demand answers to their questions about the direction in which this nation is moving is, in large measure, a respect for this primary wisdom and a desire to see the principles advocated by these men restored, in practice, in the governance of this nation.
You may — thanks to the battles fought and won by these patriots — choose to adopt standards of government diametrically opposed to the ones they championed. Or you may be the more firmly convinced of the virtue of their commitment and the necessity of preserving and/or restoring the precepts they embraced.
But do not proceed in ignorance — whether your goal is either to destroy or to confirm. And do not be deceived that you can avoid doing the one or the other. You may be active or passive in your response — but, most assuredly, you will have a response and it will have its effect on the future of this nation.
Thomas Jefferson — third president of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence:
“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”
“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical. “
“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”
“I have the consolation of having added nothing to my private fortune during my public service, and of retiring with hands clean as they are empty.”
James Madison — fourth president of the United States and the “Father of the Constitution”:
“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation’s.”
“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood ….”
Benjamin Franklin — a “Founding Father,” philosopher, author and diplomat:
“He that is of the opinion that money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.”
James Monroe — fifth president of the United States and an ambassador, governor of Virginia, Secretary of State and Secretary of War
“It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.”
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at email@example.com.