The Need for the Miracle again - The US Constitution
History is an amazing teacher. There is almost nothing which happens today that has not happened in some form in the past. If we just knew our history, we could tell what would happen when we do certain things by just looking at the consequences when those same events happened before. The key is to learn and cherish the lessons of history so that we can both avoid the tragedies of the past mistakes and at the same time enjoy the blessings of past successes.
So it is with present-day America. What is happening today is an incredible replay of what happened 225 years ago. Because of certain economic, social, and political problems which magnified themselves, especially during the four years after the end of the Revolutionary War, the tiny, new country of the United States was on the verge of collapse. Some of our Founding Fathers were so concerned that they actually felt nothing short of a miracle could save us. Do the following descriptions of events in 1787 sound familiar to us today?
The Expectation that the Nation would soon Collapse – in 1787
Foreign nations and even many Americans did not think the nation could endure much more. England kept her troops on the Canadian border so they could move in quickly to take over. Spain began to seize territory along the Mississippi . Among Americans there was even talk of secession and the forming of three new confederations – New England, Middle States , and the South.
Worthless Money Was Destroying Our Society – in 1787
Because there was no national monetary system under the Articles of Confederation, hundreds of entities began printing paper money. John Adams lamented:
“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 their shops 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 the innocent, for want of their just dues, have gone down with sorrow to their graves, in consequence of our disgraceful depreciated paper currency.”
National Humiliation reached its low point – in 1787
The exciting idea of self-government began to turn sour. It seemed the growing problems were too much for a new nation to handle. The inability to solve such problems as huge mounting debts, lack of military readiness, breaking long-standing agreements, disdain of foreign powers, etc. was humiliating. Alexander Hamilton lamented:
“We may indeed with propriety be said to have reached almost the last stage of national humiliation. There is scarcely anything that can wound the pride or degrade the character of an independent nation which we do not experience.
“Are there engagements to the performance of which we are held by every tie respectable among men? These are the subjects of constant and unblushing violation.
“Do we owe debts to foreigners and to our own citizens contracted in a time of imminent peril for the preservation of our political existence? These remain without any proper or satisfactory provision for their discharge.
“Are we in a condition to resent or to repel the aggression? We have neither troops, nor treasury, nor government.
“Is respectability in the eyes of foreign powers a safeguard against foreign encroachments? The imbecility of our government even forbids them to treat with us. Our ambassadors abroad are the mere pageants of mimic sovereignty.”
A Very Real Potential of Economic Collapse from Huge Debt – in 1787
Founders Francis Corbin and Thomas Johnston were aghast to think of having to borrow money to pay interest on money previously borrowed!
“The United States are bankrupt. They are considered such in every part of the world. They borrow money, and promise to pay. They have it not in their power, and they are obliged to ask of the people, whom they owe, to lend them money to pay the very interest.”
“The consequences of deranged finances … what confusions, disorders, and even revolutions, have resulted from this cause, in many nations! …The debts due by the United States and how much is due to foreign nations! No part of the principal is paid to those nations; nor has even the interest been paid as honorably and punctually as it ought. Nay, we were obliged to borrow money last year to pay the interest. What! borrow money to discharge the interest of what was borrowed, and continually augment the amount of the public debt! Such a plan would destroy the richest country on earth.”
A Spirit of Profligacy Is Engulfing the People – in 1787
In times of depression, both economical and moral, people often turn to the vices to forget or run from their ills. Listen to John Williams of New York describe the situation in 1787:
“Unhappily for us, immediately after our extrication from a cruel and unnatural war, luxury and dissipation overran the country, banishing all that economy, frugality, and industry, which had been exhibited during the war.
“Sir, if we were to reassume all our old habits, we might expect to prosper. Let us, then, abandon all those foreign commodities which have hitherto deluged our country, which have loaded us with debt, and which, if continued, will forever involve us in difficulties. How many thousands are daily wearing the manufactures of Europe, when, by a little industry and frugality, they might wear those of their own country! One may venture to say, sir, that the greatest part of the goods are manufactured in Europe by persons who support themselves by our extravagance. And can we believe a government ever so well formed can relieve us from these evils?
“What dissipation is there from the immoderate use of spirits! Is it not notorious that men cannot be hired, in time of harvest, without giving them, on an average, a pint of rum per day? So that, on the lowest calculation, every twentieth part of the grain is expended on that particle; and so, in proportion, all the farmer’s produce.”
The Federal Government Hanging By A Thread – in 1787
Fisher Ames was convinced that the federal government was headed for dissolution and anarchy if a stronger Constitution is not adopted:
“Who is there, that really loves liberty, that will not tremble for its safety, if the federal government should be dissolved. Can liberty be safe without government?
“The period of our political dissolution is approaching. Anarchy and uncertainty attend our future state. But this we know — that Liberty, which is the soul of our existence, once fled, can return no more.
“The Union is essential to our being as a nation. The pillars that prop it are crumbling to powder. The Union is the vital sap that nourishes the tree. If we reject the Constitution, — to use the language of the country, — we girdle the tree, its leaves will wither, its branches drop off, and the mouldering trunk will be torn down by the tempest…. The Union is the dike to fence out the flood. That dike is broken and decayed; and, if we do not repair it, when the next spring tide comes, we shall be buried in one common destruction.”
A Breakdown of Law and Order Was Turning
Good Neighbors Into Enemies – in 1787
Listen to John Smith, a patriot and spokesman from Massachusetts in 1787, describe what he observed happens in a nation when freed government breaks down and when anarchy then leads to tyranny:
“Mr. President, I am a plain man, and get my living by the plough. I am not used to speak in public, but I beg your leave to say a few words to my brother plough-joggers in this house. I have lived in a part of the country where I have known the worth of good government by the want of it. There was a black cloud that rose in the east last winter, and spread over the west…. I mean, sir, the county of Bristol ; the cloud rose there, and burst upon us, and produced a dreadful effect. It brought on a state of anarchy, and that led to tyranny. I say, it brought anarchy. People that used to live peaceably, and were before good neighbors, got distracted, and took up arms against government…. I am going, Mr. President, to show you, my brother farmers, what were the effects of anarchy, that you may see the reasons why I wish for good government. People, I say, took up arms; and then, if you went to speak to them, you had the musket of death presented to your breast.
“They would rob you of your property; threaten to burn your houses; oblige you to be on your guard night and day; alarms spread from town to town; families were broken up; the tender mother would cry, `O, my son is among them! What shall I do for my child!’ Some were taken captive, children taken out of their schools, and carried away. Then we should hear of an action, and the poor prisoners were set in the front, to be killed by their own friends.
“How dreadful, how distressing was this! Our distress was so great that we should have been glad to snatch at any thing that looked like a government. Had any person, that was able to protect us, come and set up his standard, we should all have flocked to it, even if it had been a monarch; and that monarch might have proved a tyrant; — so that you see that anarchy leads to tyranny, and better have one tyrant than so many at once.”
The Desperately Needed Miracle Happened – in 1787
Two hundred twenty-five years ago, the Founders barely escaped these disasters. They struggled to adopt the Constitution and its marvelous saving principles. George Washington called it a miracle:
“It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle , that the delegates from so many different states … should unite in forming a system of national government.”
James Madison wrote saying it was “impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as less than a miracle .”
After only two years so many problems had been solved that Washington was able to write:
“The United States enjoy a scene of prosperity and tranquility under the new government that could hardly have been hoped for.”
The next day he wrote to David Humphreys:
“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 as a species of madness to have foretold.”
The Miracle Can Happen Again In Our Day – in 2012
We could continue to enumerate problems that existed in 1787, but do the ones listed sound very familiar? Did you also notice what the only real solution was in 1787? It remains the only solution in 2012.
Over the past few years NCCS has distributed about six million pocket-size copies of the Constitution. We are prepared to distribute another four million this year alone to help Americans do today what Americans did in 1787 – bring our nation back from the brink of disaster.
Our hope is that Americans will become so conversant with this little booklet that they can teach directly from it, they can ask questions directly from it, they can challenge false political philosophies directly from it, they can show candidates directly from it that it really is the only political platform they need.
Re-energizing this document will save America . Will you commit to do it yourself?