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Intellectual Ammunition from America’s Founding Fathers

Last updated on June 24, 2020

By Ken West – – – What would our Founding Fathers say about what’s going on today?

We are now under severe restrictions for travel, recreation, living, breathing, and making a living.

Governments have effectively shut down our economy except for whatever commerce can still take place with their permission and via the internet.

So, what would our Founding Fathers say?

We’ve been under difficult circumstances in our history… our Revolutionary War, political turmoil, the Civil War, Prohibition, and endless modern wars. Difficulty and travail are not new to America. We’ve gone through it before.

What makes the current economic turmoil unusual is that it’s been directly caused by government action that’s severely restricting economic and personal behavior.

The Founding Fathers would be shocked at what is going on today. Did they know about pandemics? Certainly. The black plague would be in their historical memories. These men were realists and practical.

Would they have put such restrictions on normal life as have been put on us today?  I suspect that they wouldn’t have dared. The feisty American public would not have stood for it. There’d most likely be armed rebellion.

What gives government the sanction and the power to do what they’re doing? I believe it’s the theory of government that its function is to protect us from ourselves. Laissez Faire is a distant memory. We now have activist government with the technical power to shut things down, to spy on us, and to lock us down in our home bunkers.

We are put into legal straight jackets to prevent normal activity. Can’t go to stores, other than grocery stores. And now we’re being told to avoid grocery stores. What are we supposed to do — starve? Well, they may say, “You should have stocked up earlier.”

Back to our Founding Fathers. Can they inform what we should do today in the face of what’s happening?  Let’s take a look…

George Washington

“It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.”

“The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.”

“Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

Thomas Jefferson

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”

“Yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

“If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.”

James Madison

“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 usurpations.”

“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” [Notice the current talk about fighting a war against an invisible enemy.]

“Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties or his possessions.”

John Adams

“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

“Fear is the foundation of most governments.”

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”

James Monroe

“There is a price tag on human liberty. That price is the willingness to assume the responsibilities of being free men. Payment of this price is a personal matter with each of us.”

“We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties.”

“The right of self-defense never ceases. It is among the most sacred, and alike necessary to nations and to individuals.”

Benjamin Franklin

“He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.”

“War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide that for yourself.”

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

Patrick Henry

“You ought to be extremely cautious, watchful, jealous of your liberty; for instead of securing your rights, you may lose them forever.”

“[Our Constitution] is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

Thomas Paine

“Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

“All power exercised over a nation…must be either delegated, or assumed…All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation.”

“Government…[has] no other object than the general happiness. When, instead of this, it operates to create and increase wretchedness in any of the parts of society, it is on a wrong system, and reformation is necessary.”

Samuel Adams

“It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”

“It is no dishonor to be in a minority in the cause of liberty and virtue.”

George Mason

“Considering the natural lust for power so inherent in man, I fear the thirst of power will prevail to oppress the people.”

“All men are created equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing the obtaining of happiness and safety.”  [Mason also wrote extensively about the evils of slavery.]

We end this brief summary with a non-political quote by George Mason that speaks directly to the situation you and I may find ourselves in right now:

“Don’t wait around for your life to happen to you. Find something that makes you happy… and do it. Because everything else is all just background noise.”

Meanwhile, do your best to ensure that those in power become keenly aware that an informed silent majority will not stay silent for long.

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