In November 1787 General George Washington wrote a letter to his nephew Bushrod Washington, who would later become one of the early Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. The purpose of the letter was for the Father of our Country to explain his support for the yet to be adopted U.S. Constitution. Washington had served honorably as the President of the 1787 Constitutional Convention which crafted this great document. In the letter the Great General wrote “No man is a warmer advocate for proper restraints, and wholesome checks in every department of government than I am; but neither my reasoning, nor my experience, has yet been able to discover the propriety of preventing men from doing good, because there is a possibility of their doing evil.” In so writing few men have ever more fully and properly espoused the arguments for individual liberty. In essence Washington was saying TRUST your fellow man.
In the 223 years since the adoption of our Nations most revered document people have forgotten that it was hardily debated, and strongly opposed. The mere presence of Washington and fellow American Revolutionary hero Benjamin Franklin
within the Convention was perhaps the greatest argument the Constitution’s advocate’s had for its adoption. And a strong argument it was. Franklin and Washington were held in near God-like reverence by early Americans. Since Franklin and Washington supported adoption of the Constitution as it was ultimately written its adoption became far easier.
Opponents feared the Constitution produced too strong a government, and gave the office of The President too much power. Opponents were aghast at the fact that the Constitution enabled the continuing existence of slavery. Having just fought an eight year bloody Revolutionary War for liberty and freedom from the tyranny of British rule, continuing to hold fellow human beings in forced servitude was an hypocritical conflict some members of the Convention couldn’t stomach. Opponents of the Constitution also objected to the absence of a Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution granted, or acknowledged, the individual rights we all enjoy and fight over today. But they came after the Constitutions adoption in 1789. Ratification of 10 of the first 12 proposed Amendments (yes 12), The Bill of Rights, was finally ratified by the states more than 2 years later in December 1791.
Washington’s admonition to trust that good not evil would be the end result of a God-fearing and moral people speaks to today’s Democrats calls for increasing government regulations, laws, and controls on the American people. Democrats specifically say more control is necessary in order to prevent some from doing evil (in some form or another).
Though Washington was responding to specific concerns about the fear he would become President and subsequently Monarch, and that slavery would continue, and more importantly to the opponents, that recognition of American citizen’s individual rights was not and would not be addressed; he said this is a good document, it should be adopted, and stopping its adoption didn’t make sense merely because some didn’t trust that what did ultimately come-to-pass would come-to-pass.
Were the Constitution not adopted and ratified the 13 original State’s would have split up to ultimately fall under the control of some more powerful and organized nation; perhaps Spain, France, and perhaps Britain again. Imagine. The Bill of Rights would never have been created and the shining light on the hill that the United States of America became for the rest of the world, would never have gotten started. And it would have failed because some didn’t trust their fellow Americans to do the right thing.
Where have we heard THAT before.
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