The Constitution of the Founding Fathers
The Constitution of the Founding Fathers

Table of Contents

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3

Part I. Perspective

    1. The modern predominant constitutional philosophy is in opposition to the philosophy of the Founding Fathers
    2. The intent of this work is to explain the Constitution and the political philosophy of the Founding Fathers in the light of the gospel
    3. Since Latter-day Saints believe the Constitution is inspired, it is especially appropriate to examine it in the light of gospel principles
    1. William Pitt, former Prime Minister of Great Britain

            “For solidity and reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such a complication of different circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the general congress at Philadelphia.” (Hamilton Albert Long, Your American Yardstick, p. 220)

    2. James Madison

            “I feel it a duty to express my profound & solemn conviction . . . that there never was an assembly of men, charged with a great & arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them, than were the members of the Federal Convention of 1787.” (Madison’s own preface to his Notes on the Constitutional Convention)

    3. Daniel Webster (Elders p. 4-5)(1) [p. 2]
    4. William Gladstone, former Prime Minister of Great Britain

            “The American Constitution is the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” (North American Review, September 1878)

    5. J. Reuben Clark (Elders p. 4)
    1. Keyed to human nature—not agrarian economy
    2. J. Reuben Clark

            “No necessity has thus far arisen in our history which could not have been ultimately and adequately met by constitutional methods . . . . There is every reason to believe that those who understand the spirit as well as the word of the Constitution will be able in the future as in the past to find a way under it to meet all national emergencies and yet preserve its great principles and the republican form of government for which it provides.” (Stand Fast by Our Constitution, p. 158)

    3. Spirit of Lord needed to understand Constitutional principles because based on government of God rather than government of man (Elders p. 155)
    1. Declaration of Independence contains basic ideas about true nature and function of government—Constitution contains method of carrying them out
      1. “Laws of nature and of nature’s God”—sound government is based on discovering and conforming to eternal laws of God—not men inventing own laws
      2. “All men are created equal”—equality is part of God given natural law—not something granted by government
        1. God given equality means that all judged by same law—consequences necessarily unequal because of different performance—reason for degrees of glory—some succeed and some fail and all get what really deserve [p. 3]
        2. Satan’s counterfeit equality promises equal rewards regardless of performance—either violates judgment by giving undeserved rewards, or eliminates freedom of choice by compelling equal performance (Elders p. 157-159)
      3. “That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”—rights are unalienable because given by God—government does not have authority to take away what God has given (Elders p. 30-31)
      4. “Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—the basic rights of men that constitute their God given freedom(2)
      5. “To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men”—the purpose of government is to protect freedom, not supply temporal wants
      6. “Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”—government authority is to be derived from the people rather than imposed from above
      7. “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it”—if a government undermines instead of protects the freedom of its people they have the right to change it or replace it—minimal regulation (police power) is proper for protection and orderly society
    1. Protection function requires supreme compulsory power
    2. Government officials are men with same human nature tendencies as other men
    3. Great problem of Framers—provide protection while preventing protector from becoming master
      1. George Washington (Elders p. 9) [p. 4]
      2. James Madison (Federalist No. 51; Elders p. 8)
      3. Thomas Jefferson (Elders p. 8)
    1. Conspiratorial philosophy of history generally rejected
    2. Bernard Bailyn, history professor at Harvard University
      1. Made study of over 400 pamphlets published at time of American Revolution
      2. Concluded that colonists believed in conspiracy against freedom

              “In the end I was convinced that the fear of a comprehensive conspiracy against liberty throughout the English-speaking world—a conspiracy believed to have been nourished in corruption, and of which it was felt, oppression in America was only the most immediately visible part—lay at the heart of the Revolutionary movement.” (Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, p. ix)

    3. Declaration of Independence

            “But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.”

    4. Need we be similarly concerned about a conspiracy against freedom?
      1. Moroni (Ether 8:22-26)
      2. David O. McKay (Elders p. 83, 84, and 154)
      3. J. Reuben Clark

              “And do not think that all these usurpations, intimidations and impositions are being done to us through inadvertence or mistake; the whole course is deliberately planned and carried out; its purpose is to destroy the Constitution [p. 5] and our constitutional government; then to bring chaos, out of which the new Statism with its slavery, is to arise.” (Church News, September 25, 1959)

      4. Joseph Smith (Also see Elders p. 1-2)

              “Even this nation will be on the verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground and when the Constitution is on the brink of ruin this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” (Joseph Smith Papers, LDS Church Historical Archives, Box 1, March 10, 1844; June 1976 Ensign, p. 64-65)

      5. Ezra Taft Benson

              “I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14-16; 84:49-53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18-25.)” (October 1988 General Conference address. This address was given after President Benson became the prophet in 1985.)

    1. James Madison’s definition of tyranny (Federalist No. 47; Elders p. 41)
    2. Two aspects of separation of powers (Elders p. 10-11, 19)
      1. Horizontal among branches of federal government
      2. Vertical as between federal government and state governments, including limited powers delegated to federal government
        1. James Madison on limited federal power and vertical separation (Federalist No. 45; Elders p. 13-14)
        2. Tenth Amendment (Elders p. 11)
    3. Handle government problems at lowest level (Elders p. 9-10)
      1. Solutions to fit differing local needs [p. 6]
      2. Easiest to watch local officials
    1. James Madison on elements of and necessity for checks and balances (Federalist No. 51; Elders p. 11)
    2. State representation in Senate empowered states to prevent federal encroachment (Federalist No. 62; Elders p. 14)
    3. Seventeenth Amendment deprived states of power to prevent federal encroachment
    4. Political parties undermine checks and balances
      1. Intended that ambition would be served by preserving freedom system (Federalist No. 51: Elders p. 11)
      2. Under political parties ambition is served by going along with party
      3. George Washington’s warning against political parties (Farewell Address; Elders p. 38-39)
      4. Joseph Smith on party discord (Elders p. 40)
      5. While LDS should work within existing party system for present, they should unite on principle and should love and respect others and refuse to participate in party animosity and contention
    1. John Adams (Elders p. 85)
    2. James Madison (Elders p. 86)
    3. George Sutherland (Elders p. 110-111)
    4. D&C 134:2 (Elders p. 85) [p. 7]
    1. Often not noticed because does not involve physical self like life or liberty (in sense of freedom of movement)
    2. Examine two pronged attack now in progress
      1. Government management of economy to achieve prosperity
      2. Government welfare programs
    1. Not a new, better way, but well known to Framers and rejected by them (Elders p. 112-113)
      1. Was predominant system when Constitution framed
      2. Violated individual property rights (freedom)
      3. Did not produce prosperity
    2. The new, better way is the private property free enterprise system of the Constitution
      1. Preserved individual property rights (freedom)
      2. The real way to prosperity
        1. Economic history of this country
        2. Great principle of prosperity from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations published in 1776 (Elders p. 117)
    3. What about abuses under free enterprise
      1. When people are free some will abuse that freedom (Compare with free agency)
      2. Greatest abuse is to adopt Lucifer’s program of loss of freedom to prevent abuses (Elders p. 109 and 84) [p. 8]
      3. Proper function of government to protect individual rights by appropriate laws with judging done by judicial department without overall violation of freedom of choice
    1. Distinguish from Christian charity such as Church Welfare Program
      1. Compelling others to contribute rather than voluntarily contributing from own pocket
      2. Motivation is selfish—buying votes with other people’s money
        1. Thomas Jefferson (Elders p. 89)
        2. Some public officials mean well but following wrong principles
    2. Not a new, better way, but well known to Framers and rejected by them
      1. Were familiar with more than 250 years of welfare programs just in England
      2. England adopted guaranteed minimum income in 1795—too costly to continue
    3. Welfare programs as violation of freedom itself
      1. Control of own property is essential part of freedom
      2. Power to redistribute property through taxation shifts government from protector of rights to master or controller violating rights supposed to protect
        1. Indirect theft or “plunder” through agency of government by means of unjust laws
        2. James Madison on just government (Elders p. 86)
        3. We are accountable for what government does (D&C 134:1)
    4. Argument that shouldn’t be so uncompassionate as to let people starve
      1. Alternatives are not government help or starve [p. 9]
      2. Alternatives are compulsory government help or voluntary private help
      3. Grover Cleveland that federal aid unnecessary and weakens freedom character (Elders p. 123)
      4. David O. McKay on solicitude for unfortunate as age old technique for destroying freedom (Elders p. 83)
      5. LDS especially familiar with desirability of free agency rather than compulsion approach
      6. Daniel Webster that Constitution to protect from compulsory do gooders (Elders p. 122)
    5. Power to engage in welfare programs not granted to federal government
      1. Federal government has only powers delegated to it (Tenth Amendment; Elders p. 11)
      2. Welfare Clause was not a grant of power to engage in welfare programs
        1. Legislative history shows that intent was to avoid question of propriety of using federal taxing power for payment of states’ war debts—Revolutionary War was for general welfare of whole country, not just individual state
        2. Interpreting welfare clause as grant of power to engage in welfare programs violates limited government concept (Federalist No. 41)
        3. Rexford G. Tugwell (Elders p. 90-91)
        4. James Madison in First Congress (Elders p. 99)
    1. Constitution designed to use human nature to preserve freedom
      1. Freedom requires inviolate property rights
      2. Only those with property to protect have human nature motivation to keep property rights inviolate and hence preserve freedom [p. 10]
      3.       Framers left it up to states to continue property qualification for vote
    2. Basic change in philosophy
      1. James Madison (Elders p. 120)
      2. Karl Marx (Elders p. 120)
      3. Adoption of 24th Amendment against poll tax rejected sound philosophy of framers and made philosophy of Karl Marx compulsory
    1. Familiar with the disastrous effects of inflation
      1. Continentals issued under Articles of Confederation as well as other historical examples
      2. John Adams

              “I am firmly of the opinion that there never was a paper pound, a paper dollar, or a paper promise of any kind, that ever yet obtained a general currency (as money) but by force or fraud, generally by both. That the army has been grossly cheated; that the creditors have been infamously defrauded (some closed up shop to prevent being paid off with worthless paper money); that the widows and fatherless have been oppressively wronged and beggared; that the gray hairs of the aged and innocent, for want of their just dues, have gone down with sorrow to their graves, in consequence of our disgraceful depreciated paper currency.” (Quoted in The Financial History of the United States, by Albert S. Bolles, p. 139)

    2. Intended to prohibit issuance of paper money in the United States
      1. Prohibited states from issuing paper money (emitting bills of credit) or requiting acceptance of anything except gold and silver coin in payment of debt (Constitution, Article I, Section 10)
      2. Federal government has only powers delegated to it (Tenth Amendment)
        1. Voted not to give the federal government power to issue paper money (Madison’s Notes for August 16, 1787) [p. 11]
        2. Did not give federal government power to determine what must be accepted in payment of debt
  15. CAREFULLY AVOIDED ESTABLISHING A DEMOCRACY (Federalist No. 10; Elders p. 43-48)
    1. Democracy meant government decisions by majority of people
    2. Democracy regarded as incompatible with freedom
      1. Rights not protected from tyranny of majority
      2. People not in position to make decisions—Thomas Jefferson on newspapers (Elders p. 18)
    3. Felt that government power should rise from people, but in carefully limited way to avoid evils of democracy
      1. Direct choice of federal officials by people to be limited to House of Representatives
      2. People choose best men from among themselves to represent them
      3. Input by people to be refined and enlarged by passing through medium of chosen representatives (Elders p. 46)
      4. Power of government itself limited to protect rights
      5. Even with safeguards, still requires a righteous knowledgeable people (James Madison, Elders p. 76)
    1. John Adams (Elders p. 168)
    2. Many non-freedom countries have constitutions patterned after ours
    3. Education insufficient without religion (Washington’s Farewell Address)
    4. Alexis de Tocqueville (Elders p. 26)
    5. Thomas Jefferson (Elders p. 30) [p. 12]
    6. Unanimous Supreme Court opinion in 1892 declared this to be a Christian nation (Elders p. 31)
    7. Ether 2:12 [p. 13]

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