“A republic, ma’am, if you can keep it.” So answered Benjamin Franklin when asked at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, “Well, Doctor, what have we got – a republic or a monarchy?”i
My fellow Citizens of these united States, we have -
A Republic, if WE can keep it!
The Constitution was born of necessity in the most difficult of circumstances. Within a decade of Revolutionary War victory, young America was facing a stagnant economy, with public debt at record levels and inflation out of control. Foreign powers were watching like vultures, hoping to carve up the lands of the struggling nation.
Within four years of adopting the Constitution, however, George Washington wrote to David Humphrey, and said,
"Tranquility reigns among the people, with that disposition towards the general government, which is likely to preserve it.... Our public credit stands on that high ground which three years ago it would have been considered a species of madness to have foreseen.”ii
So yet today, as the pillars of finance fold one by one and the only thing certain about the economy is
… the Constitution has the solution;
As we face challenging questions of war…
… the Constitution has the solution;
As we observe with wonder and alarm the disintegration of our Liberty…
… the Constitution, our STANDARD of Liberty, IS the solution.
But these are not the real issues and questions for today – if we truly understand that the solutions for them, and others we may face, have been prepared beforehand by the wisdom of earlier years. Here are the urgent questions, we must consider instead…
CAN we, SHOULD we - and WILL we keep the Republic? ...are the questions that face us right now!
Can we keep the Republic? Now that is a question for today!
The good news is, yes we can, if we comprehend upon what it is based.
Can we keep the Constitution, the foundation of our Republic and thereby preserve both?
We can keep it, if we know it and understand it. The Constitution, in just enough pages to read in one sitting, teaches us that it was not designed to rule the citizens, but to regulate and limit federal authority. The alternative to this knowledge is ignorance of the powers inherent in the people – and in the several states… and our powers of which we are ignorant are no powers at all. Like the man who sold his acres of diamonds to seek riches elsewhere, someone else may inherit the wealth that should be ours if we would only, but look.
We can keep it, if we apply and enforce it. If our public servants, elected or appointed, perform behaviors out of step with our STANDARD OF LIBERTY, then we the people have the obligation to educate them – or the duty to remove them… but our powers unenforced are like no powers at all. A toothless lion may have a slow and painful death, unless he is quickly and mercifully eaten beforehand.
It was Thomas Jefferson who said,
“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.”iii
Let the people then, apply the Constitution and enforce it, for in its design our Founding Fathers conceived of a people with power, even a Nation of Kings.
Should we keep the republic? Now that is a question for today!
Is it that maybe the Constitution is flexible or has outlived its time? If so, then we have outlived our liberty, for as the Constitution was constructed to limit the power of the federal government, who, shall we ask, is to govern the people. You know and I know, it must be We the People, who govern ourselves.
If we are willing to stretch the standard to fit the changing times, then are we any more fit for the standard? For those who will not master themselves must have masters of others.
It appears, then, that as the nation is departing from the Ten Commandments, we are at the same time losing as a people, the Ten Amendments.
It was John Adams who said,
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. The Constitution was designed only for a moral and religious people, it is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”iv
The Declaration of Independence is no less serviceable in the cause of liberty and is the spirit of the Constitution. The Declaration tells us why, the Constitution shows us how. Let the people then remember the words of the Declaration of Independence, which call upon us to look to our Creator – the source of our unalienable rights – for the standard by which we can be self governing and thereby most free.
Will we keep the Republic – will we keep the Constitution? Now that is a question for today!
We will if we learn and study its principles. For it is written,
“Seek and ye shall find.”v
We will if we apply and enforce them. For it is written,
“...If you believe all these things see that ye do them.”vi
We will if we develop the courage and discipline to govern ourselves by a celestial standard. For it is written of peace, goodness, gentleness,
“…against such there IS no law.”vii
And in addition, will we stand together above the artificial divisions of rich vs. poor, business vs. labor, right vs. left, of party, race or difference of religious belief against
“the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places[?]”viii
Will we stand together as Americans as our Republic desperately struggles and cries out for our aid.
WHO will ANSWER the CALL?
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United STATES of America."
Ultimately that which is written in our hearts is what will determine our benefit or detriment and that of our Republic. The good news is that the choice is ours. The bad news is that the choice is ours.
Whatever the outcome, we will be the doers of it. We can have powers exercised upon us, or we can act with that power which is inherent in us to deserve and preserve that liberty which our Founding Fathers, with the blessing of Divine Providence, bequeathed to We the People.
The Liberty Bell at Independence Hall has these words from Leviticus cast UPON it.
“PROCLAIM LIBERTY throughout the all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
The bells AGAIN toll the invitation to engage in the animating cause of Liberty.
Will YOU answer the call?
Our REPUBLIC is built on a strong foundation.
Will YOU stand on the principles our forefathers bled for?
These sacrificing forefathers acknowledged the interposition of the Divine Hand in the birth of the Republic.
Will YOU – BEND-the-KNEE to supplicate for its restoration?
The world awaits our response – more importantly – our CHILDREN must know what we CHOOSE to bequeath to THEM!
So… Let the Bells of Liberty toll;
So… Let our Resolve be DONE!
i James McHenry's notes” The American Historical Review, vol. 11, 1906, p.618
ii George Washington to David Humphreys, July 20, 1791, The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress
iii Thomas Jefferson: Notes in Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:207
iv John Adams, “The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States”,
Vol. IX, p.229, October 11, 1798, Charles Frances Adams, editor, (Boston: Little, Brown, 1854)
v Matthew 7:7, The Bible, KJV
vi Mosiah 4:10, The Book of Mormon
vii Galations 5:23
viii Ephesians 6:12