The Declaration of Independence that our Founders gave us made a proclamation of Liberty based upon 700 years of struggle with tyrannical kings – beginning in 1066 England. The Declaration is rooted in documents that go all the way back to 1100 – The Charter of Liberties, the Magna Carta, and the Bill of Rights of 1689 to name a few. Each declaring what our founders knew – that Liberty was a gift from God and was worth life, fortune, and sacred honor. After 10 years of petitioning King George III our founders, with history in hand, declared their liberties and threw off the bonds of another tyrannical government. Today the value of Liberty has not changed, yet we cannot reclaim our nation without becoming reacquainted with the Declaration of Independence and the sacrifices made throughout history by those who fought before us.
“The creation of the Constitution entailed hours of debate and compromise, and even when it was completed, some delegates were unhappy with it. The task of fixing the ailing Confederate government was not complete yet; each state had to ratify, or approve, the Constitution. Basically, people divided into two groups, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Each of their viewpoints is worth examining, as they both have sound reasoning.
The Anti-Federalists did not want to ratify the Constitution. Basically, they argue that:
- It gave too much power to the national government at the expense of the state governments.
- There was no bill of rights.
- The national government could maintain an army in peacetime.
- Congress, because of the `necessary and proper clause,’ wielded too much power.
- The executive branch held too much power.
Of these complaints, the lack of a bill of rights was the most effective. The American people had just fought a war to defend their rights, and they did not want a intimidating national government taking those rights away again. The lack of a bill of rights was the focus of the Anti-Federalist campaign against ratification.
The Federalists, on the other hand, had answers to all of the Anti-Federalist complaints. Among them:
- The separation of powers into three independent branches protected the rights of the people. Each branch represents a different aspect of the people, and because all three branches are equal, no one group can assume control over another.
- A listing of rights can be a dangerous thing. If the national government were to protect specific listed rights, what would stop it from violating rights other than the listed ones? Since we can’t list all the rights, the Federalists argued that it’s better to list none at all.
Overall, the Federalists were more organized in their efforts. By June of 1788, the Constitution was close to ratification. Nine states had ratified it, and only one more (New Hampshire) was needed. To achieve this, the Federalists agreed that once Congress met, it would draft a bill of rights. Finally, New York and Virginia approved, and the Constitution was a reality. Interestingly, the Bill of Rights was not originally a part of the Constitution, and yet it has proved to be highly important to protecting the rights of the people.” Read More
Our Constitution was established to give us a centralized government limited power. Our Founders knew that Liberty could only survive if the central government’s powers were “few and defined.” James Madison said the powers that remained with the people would be “numerous and indefinite”.John Adams said if our Republic were to survive, we would have to make a conscientious decision to support Liberty and our Constitution at all hazards. Our founders designed our Constitution with over 700 years of wisdom and history in as its foundation. We cannot make a commitment of eternal vigilance without knowing what the Constitution says and what our founders meant when they gave us this great nation.
The Bill of Rights was erected by our founders to be a sentinel, a guardian of our rights, during those “unavoidable times of inattentiveness by the people.” Our founders had learned from over 700 years of history that when people become accustomed to their rights, they are likely to let their guard down, and tyranny would have the chance to creep in. Our Bill of Rights does not GIVE us our rights, nor is it an exhaustive list, but a list that was meant to remind us of the Liberty given to us by God, and secured by the blood of our fathers throughout the centuries. It is our wake up call, when tyranny tries to take hold. Our founders came to this nation with the English Bill of Rights of 1689 which is rooted in the 1628 Petition of Rights, The Magna Carta, and the 1100 Charter of Liberties. With these documents and 700 years of hard fought wisdom they gave to millions not yet born our Bill of Rights to guard against the inevitable rise of tyranny.