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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Foundation of the US Constitution

The British, from whom America inherited its legal system, acknowledged the US
Constitution as the most advanced instrument in the establishment of rights and liberties
that the world had known. Prime Minister William Pitt, the Younger, a contemporary of
the American Statesmen, called the US Constitution the, “pattern for all future
Constitutions and the admiration of all future ages” (Charleton, Ferris, & Ryan, 1986, p.
85). Likewise, W.E. Gladstone (1878), one of the most esteemed British Prime Ministers,
praised the American Constitution saying: “As the British Constitution is the most subtle
organism which has proceeded from the womb and long gestation of progressive history,
so the American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck
off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man” (p. 264).
The Constitution was not developed in a vacuum. It was created by men who held
particular beliefs about the world around them. Nearly 150 years before Lord Acton was
born, these Statesmen understood his famous dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts absolutely” (as cited in Fears, 1887/1986, p. 383). These 2
Statesmen would translate their realistic picture of man into a durable system of
government. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence would write,
“In questions of power, let us hear no more of trust in men, but bind them down from
mischief with the chains of the Constitution” (as cited in Stedman & Lewis, 1987, p.

The Constitution was created by men who held specific
beliefs, that influenced the system they created. As the late Francis A. Schaeffer
(1968/1976/1982) explained:
There is a flow to history and culture. This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in
the thoughts of people. People are unique in the inner life of the mind--what they
are in their thought-world determines how they act. This is true of their value
systems and it is true of their creativity. It is true of their corporate actions, such
as political decisions, and it is true of their personal lives. The results of their
thought-world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external
world. This is true of Michelangelo’s chisel, and it is true of a dictator’s sword.
(p. 1)
The Supreme Court made this same case in legal language. In Powell v.
McCormack (1969) the court stated:
The values of the Framers of the Constitution must be applied in any case
construing the Constitution. Inferences from the text and history of the
Constitution should be given great weight in discerning the original understanding
and in determining the intentions of those who ratified the Constitution. The
precedential value of cases and commentators tends to increase, therefore, in
proportion to their proximity to the adoption of the Constitution, the Bill of
Rights, or any other amendments. (395 U.S. 486, 547) 9
To understand the assumptions of the Statesmen, you must understand them in
context. In Ex Parte Grossman (1925), the Court explained that analysis of the
Statesmen’s language must be hermeneutically sound:
The language of the Constitution cannot be interpreted safely, except where
reference to common law and to British institutions as they were when the
instrument was framed and adopted. The Statesmen and lawyers of the convention
who submitted it to the ratification of conventions of the thirteen states, were born
and brought up in the atmosphere of the common law and thought and spoke in its
vocabulary . . . when they came to put their conclusions into the form of
fundamental law in a compact draft, they expressed them in terms of common
law, confident that they could be shortly and easily understood. (267 U.S. 87,


  1. This statement is an argument for a belief system based upon the life of a good man, Jeff, i.e. "religion," be it football, Darwin, Christ, or what have you, that is: "The results of their thought-world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external world. This is true of Michelangelo’s chisel, and it is true of a dictator’s sword."
    That list could include numerous parameters of people and things, effecting our lives in so many ways.

    People will have their God(s). Inputation plays a role in every one of them. It happens in every "religion." I prefer to have it happen in the "fairy tale" of Christ, wherein by far the Mormons win the contest for goodness.

    These needs of people are the reason for the U. S. Constitution, as in, There shall be no religious test for ....

    Now Mr. Dixon the flaw, if you will please, so I can improve my argument. :)

    accessed 071612 (p.1)

  2. I cannot say I grasp your point, therefore, pointing out a flaw would not be possible.

  3. I knew you would be honest. It's my poetic justification for my religion from a Constitutional viewpoint. I used a quote from your piece. Thanks Jeff. : )