Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Unique Origin of Our Constitution Women's Event at Del Webb Community Mt. Juliet, Tennessee


         In July, while spending the summer in the mountains of North Carolina, I received an email from a friend and fellow Daughter of the American Revolution, Fort Nashborough Chapter, inviting me to speak to her women's group at their monthly meeting at The Del Webb Lake Providence Community Constitution Day event September 17th. I'm not a Constitutional scholar, but on our deck, with God's gorgeous view as my inspiration and after considerable reasearch, I began preparing my talk, The Unique Origin of Our Constitution. There would be 125 women in attendence.

       As an aside, growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida, where Del Webb and his family grew up, and where my grandmother would take us downtown to Webb's City (a wonderland of 'mermaids', and everything delightful), members of our family were friends with the Webb family back in the early days of St. Pete. So, it was particularly special for me to be speaking at an event in this place named after Del Webb.

September 17th arrived quickly. Now, back in Nashville, PowerPoint presentation intact, I introduced my topic, The Unique Origin of Our Constitution by singing my award-winning Trails of Tennessee and my NSDAR award-winner Be Like Abigail (Ode to Abigail Smith Adams.) The women loved it! They love singing along to Be Like Abigail with its memorable, singable chorus.

My talk followed the 5 W's of Literature: Who, What, Where. When and Why. "Why," answering the main question: Why did we need a 'Constitution,' when John Adams had already composed The Articles of Confederation? Interesting. From information gleaned from several sources including W. Cleon Skoussen's book, "The Making of the Constitution," I was able to answer this question with my topic, The Unique Origin of Our Constitution.

I explained to my interested audience that The United States Constitution is based on Exodus 18:17-27, where Moses, acting on advice from his father-in-law, Jethro, changes his governing style from tyrannical (which he witnessed growing up in Pharaoh's court - where all the people brought all their problems and concerns to Pharaoh) - to what Thomas Jefferson coined as "The People's Law;" in short, where government of the people, by the people, and for the people begins to take shape as a representative form of government based on delegated authority and biblical principles. This would take the load of responsibility and governmental control off Moses and give it to the people. Yes, America was founded on biblical principles. Take a moment and read Exodus 18:17-27.
Reciting the Preamble (on Powerpoint) makes more sense after understanding the principles upon which it was written.
The event was a total success. Everyone left the meeting informed, encouraged, and inspired. Blessed.

The condensed content of The Unique Origin of Our Constitution can be seen (sans PowerPoint graphs and illustrations) below:


The Unique Origin of Our Constitution
By Lynne Drysdale Patterson
Fort Nashborough Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution
As presented to Del Webb Lake Providence Women’s Club
Constitution Day September 17, 2014


     Did you know our Founding Fathers—George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—were students and philosophers as well as soldiers and statesmen?  They observed that all of mankind seeks the same three things: freedom—both personally and nationally, prosperity—both personally and nationally, and peace— the means of escaping “anguish” brought on by the plague of war.

Our Founding Fathers carefully scrutinized every existing system of government in order to determine which one was most likely to make it possible for humanity to attain these three great goals of freedom, prosperity, and peace.  Despite their thorough search, they discovered that among all the political systems in the world … there was no such government. And so it was, in order to achieve these three great human aspirations, the Constitution of the United States was written; in order that our country would no longer be just a “confederation” of states but “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Throughout their writings, there are numerous references by the Founding Fathers to their commitment to build a new civilization which would not only provide freedom, peace and prosperity for themselves but could serve as a model for the rest of mankind.

Thomas Jefferson, who would become our third president, had already discovered the basic pattern for a model constitution by studying an ancient people group: The Israelites. Jefferson discovered that ancient Israel was the first nation in history to have a system of representative government. Jefferson discovered the historical, biblical account of Moses and how Moses, after heeding the advice from his father-in-law, Jethro, developed the system upon which our Constitution is based.

According to chronologists, the Israelites came out of Egypt 3,500 years ago. They were led by Moses, who was brought up in the court of the great Pharaoh. Observing Pharaoh, Moses was acquainted with the Ruler Law – which means ‘the Ruler has all the power.’  Moses’ experience was that the ruler of the land handles all the problems large and small – by himself. Moses, initially, tried to govern the Israelites by the Ruler’s Law – which was an enormous undertaking. Moses father-in-law, Jethro, observed Moses dealing with all the people problems then going to his tent at the end of the day totally exhausted.  Jethro said to Moses in the Book of Exodus 18:17-27, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” 24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves. 27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country. (NIV)

Initially Moses began ruling the Israelites like Pharaoh and the King of England – which was total tyranny—where the ‘king’ had all the power and made all the governmental decisions.

This was the form of government from which the colonists fought so hard to free themselves. Jefferson and the Founding Fathers were looking for a form of government which was somewhere in the middle of Tyranny (total control governmental of the people) and Anarchy (no government at all.) The Founding Fathers were looking for a system of governing that was somewhere in the middle. They called this The People’s Law – with the balance of government in the center by the people. Jefferson described this in the Declaration of Independence when he said, “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Moses went before the people and said, “How can I myself alone bear your cumbrances, and your burdens and your strife. Take you wise men, and understanding, and known men among your tribes and I will make them rulers over you” (Deuteronomy 1:12-13.)  Instead of trying to rule over the people alone, Moses found himself with 78, 000 elected leaders to help administrate the affairs of the people.  And Moses said: “So, I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known and made them heads over you: Captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds and captains over fifties.” The emphasis under this system was a strong local government which solved problems—to the greatest possible extent—at the local level where they originated.

The whole emphasis of Israel’s new system was reflected in the proclamation, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” which is cited from the Book of Leviticus chapter 25 verse 10 and is, in fact, emblazoned on our very own Liberty Bell; “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto the inhabitants thereof.”

In conclusion, what is unique about the origin of our Constitution is that it’s based on biblical principles by means of delegated authority. The United States government was set up as a commonwealth of free men. In the words of George Washington, “The power under the Constitution will always be in the people.”