Thomas Paine’s Common Sense

20090128-thomas_paine Common Sense was the name of a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine and published in January of 1776, just prior to the American Revolution. Common Sense presented the American colonists with a powerful argument for independence from British rule and was written in a style that common people understood.  The pamphlet became an immediate success; at the time, it was the best selling book in American history.

Though not a signer of the Declaration of Independence or a participant in the Constitutional Convention, Thomas Paine is considered one of our country’s founding fathers for the influence he had on those men.  Paine’s great contribution was in initiating an open public debate about independence, which had previously been rather muted. Due to his influence on the revolutionary generation through the Common Sense pamphlet and other writings, Thomas Paine rightly claims the title of Father of the American Revolution.

Thomas Paine is also the author of these famous lines, read by General George Washington to his inspire his troops:

“These are the times that try men’s souls…Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.” –Thomas Paine, The Crisis

Here are some of the Common Sense principles set forth by Thomas Paine:

  • “Small islands not capable of protecting themselves are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something very absurd in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island.”
  • “Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens…It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot.”
  • “For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have the right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever.”
  • “Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness…Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil.”
  • “O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been hunted round the globe.”
  • The American colonists “have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest purest constitution on the face of the earth.”
  • “Wherefore, since nothing but blows will do, for God’s sake let us come to a final separation.”

Now, 230 years later, we have another man, inspired by Thomas Paine, who is advocating similar Common Sense principles. It is Glenn Beck in his new book Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government.  Some of the common sense principles that Glenn Beck is advocating are:

  • Reduce the National Debt. The government has spent way too much money over the last decade.  Paying it back will be difficult or impossible and it will create a huge burden on future generations.
  • Reduce the Size of Government. The vast expansion of government has taken away the voice of the people, and has put power instead in the hands of an elite few.
  • Reform the Tax Code. The tax code is way too large and complex. The Internal Revenue Code is more than 10,000 pages in length.  Such convoluted, lengthy legislation invites manipulation and corruption.  Even Obama’s Secretary of Treasury can’t figure out how to pay his taxes.
  • Self-serving Politicians Need to Be Reigned In. Politicians  look out for themselves, their special interests and their re-election first and foremost.  This must change.
  • Eminent Domain Has Gotten Out of Hand. The government should not be allowed to seize your house in order to build a shopping mall.

Says Glenn about the book, “if you believe it’s time to put principles above parties, character above campaign promises, and Common Sense above all — then I ask you to read this book.”  The purpose of the book is “to galvanize Americans to see past government’s easy solutions, two-part monopoly, and illogical methods and take back our great country. ”

The book is non-partisan, though liberals who hate Glenn Beck may not believe it.  But to prove that the principles of the book transcend party lines, please watch the video below.  The book’s principles really are in line with common sense, whether you are Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal.  Though it is very funny to see the reaction of liberals in the video below when they find out they agree with Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.

The 5,000 Year Leap, A Miracle that Changed the World

The 5,000 Year Leap is a superb book that every American should read. The title of the book refers to the political progress made with the founding of The United States of America and the establishment of the Constitution. It was written by W. Cleon Skousen over 30 years ago from material he collected when teaching a class on the bi-centennial of the United States. Until I read this book, I didn’t realized how far we, as a country, have strayed from the Constitution and the principles this country was founded upon. I believe that this country needs to return to those Constitutional, founding principles. To the extent that we do return to those principles, I know our nation will be blessed politically, economically and spiritually.

As I was reading the book, as usual, I highlighted the passages that I particularly liked or wanted to remember. With this book, I had to force myself not to highlight just about every sentence on every page. It was that good. Below are some (132 to be precise) of the best quotes from the author and from many of the Founding Fathers. I wanted to preserve for my own future reference, and I wanted to share these with all of America in hopes of convincing others of the need to return to our founding principles.

As you read these quotes (if you choose to read them all, I know it is quite lengthy), try and apply these principles to our current political environment. As you compare these statements by our founding fathers with the promises and platforms of modern political parties and presidential candidates, I think you will agree with me ragarding how far we have strayed from our founding, Constitutional principles.

Principle: Avoiding Debt (Public and Private)
Name Quote Page
Thomas Jefferson We shall all consider ourselves unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves. 30
W. Cleon Skousen The Founders wanted the nature of debt to be recognized for what it is: evil, because it is a form of bondage. 292
Benjamin Franklin Poor Richard says, the second vice is lying, the first is running in debt. 294
Thomas Jefferson Public debt [is] the greatest of the dangers to be feared. 295
Thomas Jefferson We are bound to defray [the war’s] expenses within our own time, and unauthorized to burden posterity with them. 295
W. Cleon Skousen [The Founders] wanted the rising generation to be genuinely free–both politically and economically…[otherwise] it would be, in a very literally sense, “taxation without representation.” 295
George Washington No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt. 296
Thomas Jefferson We shall consider ourselves morally bound to pay them ourselves; and consequently with the life [expectancy] pf the majority. 296
Bill Bonner New all time high records have been set for deficit spending during the spring of 2006. Congress has increased the debt ceiling to NINE Trillion dollars. All things considered, the burden of debt for every man, woman and child in the country has risen to over $100,000 each. 299
Bill Bonner United States citizens seem to regard thrift as a mental disorder and not a virtue. In the private sector during 2005, for every $19 Americans earned, they spent $20. If a thinking person will look at it, the absurdity becomes glaring. America has become an “empire of debt” and is sowing the seeds of her own destruction. 299
Principle: A Strong National Defense
Name Quote Page
Benjamin Franklin Were everything in our power done for our security, as far as human means and foresight could provide, we might then, with more propriety, humbly ask the assistance of Heaven. 260
Benjamin Franklin The very fame of our strength and readiness would be a means of discouraging our enemies; for ’tis a wise and true saying, that “One sword often keeps another in the scabbard.” The way to secure peace is to be prepared for war. They that are on their guard, and appear ready to receive their adversaries, are in much less danger of being attacked than the supine, secure and negligent. 260
Benjamin Franklin Our security lies, I think, in our growing strength, both in numbers and wealth; that creates an increasing ability of assisting this nation in its wars, which will make us more respectable, our friendship more valued, and our enmity feared. 261
Benjamin Franklin make yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you. 261
Benjamin Franklin It is absurd, the pretending to be lovers of liberty while they grudge paying for the defense of it. 261
George Washington To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. 262
George Washington If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war. 264
Samuel Adams When the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defense of those very rights; the principle of which…are life, liberty, and property. 265
Samuel Adams The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave. 265
Alexander Hamilton Effective resistance to usurpers is possible only provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them. xviii
Principle: The Duties of Citizenship
Name Quote Page
Thomas Jefferson [Man] has not natural right in opposition of his social duties. 133
John Adams Here [the convention for the forming of the Massachusetts Constitution] I found such chaos of absurd sentiments concerning government that I was obliged daily, before that assembly, and afterwards in a Grand Committee, to propose plans and advocate doctrines, which were extremely unpopular. 200
W. Cleon Skousen The people have the responsibility to keep a closer watch on their representatives and elect only those who will function within Constitutional boundaries. 208
John Adams Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people. 250
Alexis de Tocqueville In New England every citizen…is taught, moreover, the doctrines and evidences of his religion, the history of his country, and the leading features of its Constitution. In the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts, it is extremely rare to dins a man imperfectly acquainted with all these things, and a person wholly ignorant of this is a sort of phenomenon. 252
Alexis de Tocqueville No sort of comparison can be drawn between the pioneer and the dwelling that shelters him….He is acquainted with the past, curious about the future, and ready for argument about the present; he is, in short, a highly civilized being. 253
Thomas Jefferson Our endeavors should surely be to make our hemisphere that of freedom. 273
Peter Marshall I am rather tired of hearing about our rights and privileges as American citizens. The time is come, it is now, when we ought to hear about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship. xix
Thomas Jefferson If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. xix
Ronald Mann Foresight through hindsight conduces insight. xx
Principle: Free-Market Economics and Low Taxes
Name Quote Page
W. Cleon Skousen It was in Jamestown that communal economics were experimentally tried out by these European immigrants, who found them to be worse than Plato described them. Eventually, it was in Jamestown that a system of free enterprise principles began to filter up. 2
Benjamin Franklin The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes, the greater need the prince has of money to distribute among his partisans, and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance, and enable him to plunder at pleasure. 68
W. Cleon Skousen Profits are looked upon as the means by which production of goods and services is made worthwhile. 180
W. Cleon Skousen By 1905 the United States had become the richest industrial nation in the world. 181
W. Cleon Skousen Only as the federal government has usurped authority and intermeddled with the free-market economy has this surge of prosperity and high production of goods and services been inhibited. 259
W. Cleon Skousen The fiscal failure of the New Deal experiments…Dr. Milton Friedman points out that after the federal government had spent many billions of dollars and had seriously meddled with the Constitutional structure of the nation, the unemployment rate was higher in 1938 than it had been in 1932. 300
W. Cleon Skousen Big spending, high taxes, oppressive government regulations, and mountainous debt is stifling the economy, inhibiting the rate of production. 302
Principle: God’s Hand in the Founding of the United States
Name Quote Page
W. Cleon Skousen Charles Bracelen Flood discovered in his research that during the Revolutionary War there were at least sixty-seven desperate moments when Washington acknowledged that he would have suffered disaster had not the hand of God intervened in behalf of the struggle for independence. 99
George Washington No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. 100
John Jay It was the design of Providence that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties. 308
Benjamin Rush Doctor Rush then proceeded to consider the origin of the proposed Constitution, and fairly deduced it was from heaven, asserting that he as much believed the hand of God was employed in this work as that God had divided the Red Sea. ii
James Madison It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution. iii
Charles Pinckney Nothing less than that superintending hand of Providence that so miraculously carried us through the war could have brought it [the Constitution] about. iv
George Washington The adoption of the Constitution will demonstrate as visibly the finger of Providence as any possible event in the course of human affairs can ever designate it. iv
Principle: Government of the People
Name Quote Page
W. Cleon Skousen “People’s Law” where the government is kept under the control of the people and political power is maintained at the balanced center with enough government to maintain security, justice, and good order, but not enough government to abuse the people. 10
W. Cleon Skousen The Founders recognized that the people cannot delegate to their government the power to do anything except that which they have the lawful right to do themselves. 115
Alexander Hamilton The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow immediately from that pure, original fountain of all legitimate authority. 143
Massachusetts Proclamation January 1776 It is a maxim that in every government, there must exist, somewhere, a supreme, sovereign, absolute, and uncontrollable power; but this power resides always in the body of the people. 144
W. Cleon Skousen Theoretically, a democracy requires the full participation of the masses of the people in the legislative or decision-making process of government. 153
James Madison We may define a republic to be…a government which derives all of its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior. It is essential to such a government that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable portion or a favored class of it. 155
Principle: The United States as the ‘Hope of the World’
Name Quote Page
W. Cleon Skousen By 1970 a black high school student in Alabama or Mississippi had a better opportunity to get a college education than a white student in England. 109
Eldridge Cleaver I would rather be in jail in America than free anywhere else. 110
Eldridge Cleaver I was wrong and the Black Panthers were wrong…We [black Americans] are inside the system and I feel that the number one objective for Black America is to recognize that they have the same equal rights under the Constitution as Ford or Rockefeller, even if we have no blue-chip stocks. But our membership in the United States is the supreme blue-chip stock and the one we have to exercise. 111
W. Cleon Skousen Anyone who says the American Constitution is obsolete just because social and economic conditions have changed does not understand the real genius of the Constitution. 166
John Adams I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth. 274
W. Cleon Skousen John Adams later stated that if the people abandoned the freedom gained by the adoption of the Constitution, it would be “treason against the hopes of the world.” 307
James Madison Happily for America, happily we trust FOR THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE, they pursued a new and more noble course….which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate. 310
James Madison They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. They formed the design of a great confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate. ii
Thomas Jefferson May you and your contemporaries preserve inviolate the Constitution, which, cherished in all its chastity and purity, will prove in the end a blessing to all the nations of the earth. v
W. Cleon Skousen Modern Americans seldom speak of it today, but originally this nation was considered the ‘hope of the world.’ xiii
Orrin Hatch The Constitution is not out of date. It is no more out of date than the desire for peace, freedom and prosperity is out of date. The Founders were not custom-building the Constitution for any particular age or economy. They were structuring a framework of government to fit the requirements of human nature. These do not change. xxi
Principle: Limited Power and Scope of Government
Name Quote Page
George Washington There is a natural and necessary progression, from the extreme of anarchy to the extreme of tyranny. 18
Benjamin Franklin I am apprehensive that the Government of these States may in future times end in a monarchy. But this catastrophe, I think, may be long delayed, if in our proposed system we do not sow the seeds of contention, faction, and tumult, by making our posts of honor places of profit. 19
Thomas Jefferson If a monarchist be in office, anywhere, and it be known to the President, the oath he has taken to support the Constitution imperiously requires the instantaneous dismission of such officer. 27
Thomas Jefferson The monarchical party, the branch of the administration pushing for a central government with massive powers. 28
Thomas Jefferson If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy. 29
Benjamin Franklin Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall be at the same time be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it. 66
Benjamin Franklin Whenever an office, through the increase of fees or otherwise, becomes so profitable, as to occasion many to apply for it, the profits ought to be lessened by the legislature. 72
Thomas Jefferson Let no be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. 162
Thomas Jefferson It is jealousy, and not confidence, which prescribes limited constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power. 164
W. Cleon Skousen Every unconstitutional action has usually been justified because it was for a “good cause.” Every illegal transfer of power from one department to another has been excused as “necessary.” The whole explosion of bureaucratic power in Washington has been the result of “trusting” benign political leaders, most of whom really did have good intentions. 164
W. Cleon Skousen The Founders looked upon “government” as a volatile instrument of explosive power which must necessarily be harnessed within the confines of a strictly interpreted Constitution, or it would destroy the very freedom it was designed to preserve. 165
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 violent and sudden usurpations….This danger ought to be wisely gaurded against. 166
James Madison It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequence [of governmental abuses] in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle [on which the abuses were based]. We revere this lesson too much…to forget it. 167
Grover Cleveland I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be consistently enforced that though the people support the Government the Government should not support the people.
The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon ti relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of the kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.
Alexander Hamilton There is, in the nature of sovereign power, an impatience of control that disposes those who are invested with the exercise of it to look with an evil eye upon all external attempts to restrain or direct its operations….This tendency is not difficult to be accounted for. It has its origin in the love of power. Power controlled or abridged is almost always the rival and enemy of that power by which it is controlled or abridged. 224
John Fiske If the day should ever arrive (which God forbid!) when the people of the different parts of our country shall allow their local affairs to be administered by the prefects sent from Washington…the American people will have been robbed of its most interesting and valuable features, and the usefulness of this nation will be lamentably impaired. 240
Thomas Jefferson Our general [federal] government may be reduced to a very simple organization, and a very inexpensive one. 240
James Madison It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood. 246
W. Cleon Skousen Almost political suicide to try to change the trend. When it comes to cutting programs and reducing costs, balancing the budget, and eliminating deficit spending, it is amazing how few will make the necessary adjustment with the most violent outcries of protest when it affects them personally. 302
Principle: A Religious and Moral People
Name Quote Page
W. Cleon Skousen A fundamental presupposition of Natural Law is that man’s reasoning power is a special dispensation of the Creator and is closely akin to the rational or reasoning power of the Creator himself. 39
Benjamin Franklin Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt an vicious, they have more need of masters. 49
George Washington Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. 55
John Adams Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. 56
Samuel Adams Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of this country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man. 59
Benjamin Franklin I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshiped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. 77
George Washington Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. 79
Alexis de Tocqueville Religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions 80
Alexis de Tocqueville Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner, but all sects preach the same moral law. 81
Alexis de Tocqueville The law permits the Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or unjust. 82
W. Cleon Skousen In America, he [de Tocqueville] noted, the clergy remained politically separated from the government but nevertheless provided a moral stability among the people which permitted the government to prosper. In other words, there was separation of church and state but not separation of state and religion. 83
Alexis de Tocqueville America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. 84
Thomas Jefferson [The Constitution had created] a wall of separation between church and state. 89
Alexis de Tocqueville Almost all the disturbances of society arise from the irregularities of domestic life….An orderly life is the surest path to happiness. 281
Benjamin Franklin Separate, she wants his force of body and strength of reason; he, her softness, sensibility, and acute discernment. 285
John Quincy Adams From the day of the Declaration, the American people were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the gospel, which they nearly all acknowledged as the rules of their conduct. xviii
Principle: Rights of Life, Liberty and Property
Name Quote Page
Samuel Adams The Utopian schemes of leveling [re-distribution of the wealth] and a community of goods [central ownership of the means of production and distribution], as visionary and impractical as those which vest all property in the Crown. 30
W. Cleon Skousen The Founders also warned that the only way for the nation to prosper was to have equal protection of “rights” and not all the government to get involved in the trying to provide equal distribution of “things” 30
Clarence Carson First, there is equality before the law…Second, the Declaration refers to an equality of rights. 104
W. Cleon Skousen It is remarkable that the Founders were able to establish a society of freedom and opportunity which would attract so many millions of immigrants. Secondly, it is even more remarkable that within two or three generations nearly all of these millions of immigrants became first-class citizens. 106
W. Cleon Skousen Within weeks the vast Japanese population in California had been hauled off to concentration camps in the Rocky Mountains. J. Edgar Hoover knew there were practically no espionage agents among them. The few security risks had already been identified and incarcerated. He vigorously protested the Japanese evacuation and so did many others, but all to no avail.
The Japanese could have been very bitter, but to the ultimate embarrassment and chagrin of those who had engineered this fiasco, they loyally mobilized their sons and sent them into the American armed services as volunteers! Japanese-American regiments were among the most decorated in World War II. They went into the military ranks under suspicion and resentment, but they came out in hero roles. A few years later the entire state of California was represented in the Senate by a Japanese-American.
Alexander Hamilton Inequality would exist as long as liberty existed….It would unavoidably result from that very liberty itself. 112
W. Cleon Skousen The Founders distinguished between equal rights and other areas where equality is impossible. They recognized that society should seek to provide equal opportunity but not expect equal results[; provide equal freedom but not equal capacity; provide equal rights but not equal possessions; provide equal protection but not equal status; provide equal educational opportunities but not equal grades. 112
W. Cleon Skousen The American Founders recognized that the moment the government is authorized to start leveling the material possessions of the rich in order to have an “equal distribution of goods,” the government thereafter has the power to deprive ANY of the people of their “equal” rights to enjoy their lives, liberties, and property. 116
W. Cleon Skousen When the Communists seized power in Hungary, the peasants were delighted with the “justice” of having the large farms confiscated from their owners and given to the peasants. Later the Communist leaders seized three-fourths of the peasant land and took it back to set up government communal farms. Immediately the peasants howled in protest about their property rights. 117
W. Cleon Skousen There was to be no special penalty for getting rich. 117
W. Cleon Skousen The Founders felt that America would become a nation dominated by a prosperous middle class with a few people becoming rich. As for the poor, the important thing was to insure the freedom to prosper so that no one would be locked into the poverty level the way people have been in all other parts of the world. 118
Samuel Adams The Utopian schemes of leveling [re-distribution of the wealth] and a community of goods [central ownership of the means of production and distribution], are as visionary and impractical as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and in our government, unconstitutional. 119
W. Cleon Skousen Counter-productive compassion 119
John Adams All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. 127
William Blackstone And these [great natural rights] may be reduced to three principal or primary articles: the right of personal security; the right of personal liberty; and the right of private property. 127
James Madison Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property. 154
W. Cleon Skousen Dominion means control, and control requires exclusiveness, private rights in property. 170
Abraham Lincoln Property is the fruit of labor. Property is desirable, is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently to build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence….I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. 173
George Sutherland The individual–the man–has three great rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference: the right to his LIFE, the right to his LIBERTY, the right to his PROPERTY….The three rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. 173
John Adams Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist. 174
John Locke For the preservation of property being the end of government, and that for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and requires that the people should have property. 174
James Madison Government is instituted to protect property….Personal liberty is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest. 175
US Supreme Court No man would become a member of a community in which he could not enjoy the fruits of his honest labor and industry. The preservation of property, then, is a primary object of the social compact….The legislature, therefore, had no authority to make an act divesting one citizen of his freehold, and vesting it in another. 175
Thomas Jefferson By placing under every one what his own eye may superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body. 238
Principle: The Structure of Government
Name Quote Page
W. Cleon Skousen What is Left? What is Right? These terms actually refer to the manner in which the various parties are seated in the parliaments of Europe. 9
W. Cleon Skousen The platform of a political party of one generation can hardly be recognized by the next. 9
W. Cleon Skousen After four month of debate they were able to reach general agreement on just about everything except the issues of slavery, proportionate representation, and the regulation of commerce. All three of these issues had to be settle by compromise. It is a mistake, however, to describe the rest of the Constitution as a “conglomerate of compromises,” because extreme patience was used to bring the minds of the delegates into agreement rather simply force the issue to finality with a compromise. 22
James Madison Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men; so that we do not depend upon their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them. 54
J. Reuben Clark Jr. It is this union of independence and dependence of these branches–legislative, executive and judicial–and of the governmental functions possessed by each of them, that constitutes the marvelous genius of this unrivaled document. The Framers had no direct guide in this work, no historical governmental precedent upon which to rely. As I see it, it was here that the divine inspiration came. It was truly a miracle. 211
W. Cleon Skousen What the Founders wished to achieve in the Constitution of 1787 was machinery for the peaceful means of self-repair when the system went out of balance. 214
W. Cleon Skousen The protection of states’ rights by this means [state legislators selecting their US Senators] was completely wiped out by the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment. 226
W. Cleon Skousen Unanimity is the ideal, but majority rule becomes a necessity. 229
Alexander Hamilton If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority…the smaller number will overrule that of the greater…Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good. 231
Thomas Jefferson The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to [perform best]. 238
Thomas Jefferson The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the states are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. 239
W. Cleon Skousen They [the Founders] desired to cultivate a wholesome relationship with ALL nations, but they wished to remain aloof from sectional quarrels and international disputes. 268

Benjamin Franklin: Still Relevant and Funny Today

I just completed reading the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and I very much enjoyed it. What surprised me was how funny the book was. Not laugh out loud funny, but funny in how well I related to a man 270 years older than myself. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

The Vegetable Diet
“I had stuck to my resolution to eat nothing that had had life. I considered the taking of every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had done or could do us any injury that might justify the massacre. All this seemed reasonable. But I had been formerly a great lover of fish, and when it came out of the frying pan it smelled admirably well. I balanced some time between principle and inclination, till, thought I, ‘If you eat one another I don’t see why we may not eat you’; so I dined upon cod very heartily, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet.”

Good Presbyterians versus Good Citizens
“Though I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety and of its utility when rightly conducted. (The local Presbyterian minister) used to visit me and admonish me to attend his administrations, and I was now and then prevailed upon to do so, once for five Sundays successively. Had he been in my opinion a good preacher, perhaps I might have continued, but his discourses were…very dry, uninteresting, and unedifying; since not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforced, their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens.”

Good Sermons Composed By Others
Referring to a preacher who was run out of town for plagiarizing sermons, Franklin said, “I rather approved his giving us good sermons composed by others than bad ones of his own manufacture.”

“Industry and Frugality as the Means of Procuring Wealth”
“We have an English proverb that says, ‘He that would thrive must ask his wife.’ It was lucky for me that I have one as much disposed to industry and frugality as myself.”

“I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes and accomplish great affairs among mankind if he first forms a good plan, and cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.”

“The inhabitants of London choose voluntarily to live much by candlelight and sleep by sunshine, and yet often complain, a little absurdly, of the duty on candles and the high price of tallow (an ingredient of candles).”

Arriving at Moral Perfection
“I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing any fault at any time. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I night not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. While my attention was taken up and care employed in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded at length that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous was not sufficient to prevent slipping, and that the contrary habits must be broken and good ones acquired and established before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore tried the following method…”

The Thirteen Virtues

  1. Temperance-drink not to elevation
  2. Silence-speak not but what may benefit others
  3. Order-let all your things have their places
  4. Resolution-Resolve to perform what you ought
  5. Frugality-waste nothing
  6. Industry-be always employed in something useful
  7. Sincerity-use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly
  8. Justice-wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty
  9. Moderation-avoid extremes
  10. Cleanliness-tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation
  11. Tranquility-be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common and unavoidable
  12. Chastity-…
  13. Humility-Imitate Jesus and Socrates

“There is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride…For even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be pride of my humility.”

Those Who Wish to Be Happy
“Vicious actions are not hurtful because they are forbidden, but forbidden because they are hurtful…it was, therefore, every one’s interest to be virtuous who wished to be happy.”

“Human Felicity is produced not so much my great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.”

“When men are employed they are best contented; for on the days they worked they were good-natured and cheerful…but on our idles days they were mutinous and quarrelsome.”

Not Seeking Out Nor Refusing An Office
When some told Franklin there was no way he would be re-elected and that he should go ahead and resign, he said, “I had read or heard of some public man who made it a rule never to ask for an office and never to refuse one when offered to him. ‘I approve,’ said I, ‘of this rule, and shall practice it with a small addition: I shall never ask, never refuse, nor ever RESIGN an office.'”

Other Grain = Gun Powder
Referring to the Quakers in Pennsylvania, who were ‘officially/doctrinally’ opposed to supporting war, Franklin noted, “They would not grant money to buy powder, because that was an ingredient of war, but they voted an aid to New England of three thousand pounds…for the purchase of bread, flour, wheat and other grain. The governor was then quoted saying, ‘I understand very well their meaning; other grain is gun-powder;’ which he accordingly bought, and they (the Quakers) never objected.”

Serving Others Freely and Generously
After declining to accept a 10-year patent for the sole vending a stove he designed for the better warming of homes, Franklin said, “as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.”

Honoring Abraham Lincoln on His Birthday

In honor of our sixteenth president’s birthday, February 12, 1809, I thought I would share some inspirational quotes from this great man. All quotes are taken from David Herbert Donald’s book “Lincoln”, which I recently read.

Lincoln on the Bible
Lincoln was not a member of any specific Christian church, though he often found comfort and reassurance in the Bible. To a friend who was skeptical of the Bible’s veracity, Lincoln said, “take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier and better man.”

To a group of African-Americans who presented him with a magnificently bound Bible in appreciation for his work for the Negro, Lincoln said, “this Great Book…is the best gift God has given to man.”

Trusting the Almighty
Often Lincoln reverted to the idea that behind the struggles and loses of the Civil War, a Divine purpose was at work. “The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise…we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains.”

Better to let them think you are foolish
Than to open your mouth and prove it

Never happy at extemporaneous speaking, the President once apologized to a group of people that wanted him to make a speech on the spot. “In my position,” he said, “it is somewhat important that I should not say any foolish things.” A voice from the crowed then said, “If you can help it.” To which Lincoln replied, “It very often happens that the only way to help it is to say nothing at all.”

Adopting True Views
In response to critics accusing him of a political flip-flop, Lincoln said that he would always “adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

The Incredibly Short but Amazingly Powerful Gettysburg Address
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”