This concludes a series of articles in which the author draws upon the extensive collection of the thoughts of the Founding Fathers and lets them speak to us relative to the problems we face in the United States today.
The Creator endowed man with the power to perceive and to understand his world, the ability and the will to act upon it, and the liberty to choose his actions. His discernment and freedom stretches from the center of his secret heart to the outermost stars of his celestial world, and his decisions determine his destiny.
Man is a mighty being, capable of unthinkable feats, and that wondrous capacity coupled as it is with freedom of his will, favors him with the most awesome potentialities. A man may, by learning and energy, make himself a god or a devil, to build or to destroy, to experience exquisite joys or perverted pleasures. The choice is left to each to decide from which cup he shall drink. To make the wise choice is to make him more powerful and more free, for that places him in harmony with the laws of all Nature and releases his capacity to create, which together provide an enduring happiness, but to make the choice elicited by the sirens of pleasure and pride is to bind him down with the chains of enslaving habit, an afflicted mind, and a weakened body. Thus he reaps the just reward of the use of his liberty.
Every man bears in his breast a spark struck from the soul of Almighty God, and in that spark glows the light of love and liberty. Every man yearns to be good and to be great, to be a blessing to all within the circle of his society; yet there are those who, intoxicated with the lust for power and wealth, turn from that divine inheritance for the corrupt pleasure of control over their fellows, and gain by their loss. Thus has the vanity of kings and despots devoured the lives of their poor subjects, and thus began the King of England to feed upon our toils and treasures. We repulsed his intrusions and gave you the Constitution to protect you from such, for we knew the history of man to be overflowing with the tyranny of bad governments.
In our day the tyrant came to us in open defiance of our rights, with hostility and violence, with sword and cannon. Through tears, prayer, and blood we threw him off and drove him out.
Now he is among you again, but not in open war upon your houses and lands, but in subtle disguise, bearing gifts of free money, free food, free houses, and free security, trading them to you in the name of equality, rights, and liberty: offering the goods he took from you by heavy taxes and a deliberate inflation. With flattering words he coddles your vanity, legalizes your selfishness, and leads you through a political mirage into his fool’s paradise where he has appointed himself the Grand Regulator. Yet, your greatest danger lies in none of those things, but in your failure to recognize the pattern he follows, for it is ancient; what he cannot accomplish by force and violence he will attempt by lure and deceit.
You are now engaged in a mighty conflict, a contest between freedom and "free-loading," between liberty and license, and between government by the people and government by the government: a struggle testing whether you can stand tall enough amidst the turmoil to see above the trappings of your proud affluence and catch the vision of your own sons of liberty a hundred years hence, moving as free beings in a world where free men can labor and draw to themselves a portion of this world’s blessings and work and live in the safety and liberty of their own self-discipline; or whether your appetite and passion for the transitory pleasures of your opulence will propel you on into the enslaving security of the oppressive government you are allowing to grow up around you as an angry bramble about the feet of the last free people on the planet.
But for all this, you must be careful to understand me, for I have not come to discourage you or to prepare the grave of liberty, but to warn and encourage you to be about the work which is to be done before all mankind may enjoy the fullness of the rights with which the Creator endowed them. For the perfection of human governments was conceived in this nation and has been carried in its womb these many years, and you now enter into the time of the last travail before it is brought forth to all the world, a time in which conspiring men seek to destroy it that they might own the glory and riches of the world for themselves.
I have come to you in humility, and I speak from my heart. I have raised the cry of freedom and the alarm of oppression in your minds. Do not be troubled that I think your lot is destruction, or that you will not awake in time to save yourselves. Nay, not that, for I know you, and I know you will act in time. The cause of my great concern is my love for my children and the knowledge that the slower you act the more you will pay for your liberty: a lesson we learned in fear.
Contrary to your many doubts, it is not inevitable that you must go down. Was it inevitable that we should have won our struggle for freedom? Nay, ’twas the natural consequence of the pouring out of our purses and our blood, and the intervention of Divine Providence in the affairs of His children. You may act in the same faith, with the same courage, with the same determination, and with the same assurance of the same glorious result.
And I am consoled, for even now the nation is stirring, the desire for liberty wells up in the nation’s bosom, and the cry of freedom whispers in its mind. Nay, I have no fear for your destiny, but I fear the price you may pay for it if you hesitate another decade.
I challenge you to set a noble cause: to set your face, your hand, and your heart to the restoration of the Constitution. If you harbor any doubt as to the correctness or worthiness of that aim, then search for a better goal until you are convinced. Study my words, for I have brought you the fundamentals of good government and laid them before you in earnestness and simplicity. Then set about to apply those principles, first in your own lives, then in your towns and cities, then your counties and states. Thus you will gain by experience the wisdom necessary to fully restore the most effective protector of human rights, and the most skilled artisan of noble human progress ever given to man for his general government.
More than any other institute of governments, the Constitution has guided the virtue of man, discouraged his baseness, and given full release to the productive capacity of his talents and energies. When you have restored those three functions to your government, you will have set the stage for the fulfullment of the manifest destiny of the nation. You will have displayed the proper example before the world, you will have gone back into an era of social and technical progress far beyond your fondest dreams, and thus you will be empowered by wealth and wisdom to instruct a jealous planet in the way of true progress.
But you live in a day when selfishness is glorified, benevolence belittled, and the government enthroned as the patriarchal source of all blessings, the healer of all wounds, the savior of society, a singular entity to which one prays for his share of his neighbor’s goods. And there are many who promote the deception, unwittingly moved by a lazy conscience and a selfish habit. And all are partakers in the delusion, all are tainted by the hypocrisy of public distribution of private production.
Those who seek to rule you promise to make you happy by capturing you in their private utopia, and while their desires may sometimes be honorable, their theory is dross, and while they know it unjust for one to thrust his will upon another or to revel in the fruits of another’s toil, yet they refuse to confess the immorality of their politics. Yet, notwithstanding their false theories, they will succeed in your capture if you allow them to spoil you with promises of wealth without labor and security without honor.
You stand now as at the wye of time. Your mind feels the two alternatives before you; you may trade your respect and your freedom for a short-lived security and sell your children to the aristocracy, or you may work and strive for liberty with honor. In your heart you know the right, while the comforts of government welfare and the narcotic of a lazy morality woo you to carelessness in the choice.
How long my children will you halt between? For decades you have stood, hoping you might be spared the price of liberty, hoping all would be well with you while the ambitious and the vain have framed the laws to enforce your happiness. Now as their work nears completion, the urgency of their success strikes fear in your hearts while their soft promises urge you to sleep.
How long will you halt between? How high must the cost of freedom ascend ere you appreciate its worth and determine to pay its price? Can you not perceive that we once made the self-same error: Must each generation stumble in the same road? Must the cycles of history ever turn full round?
Nay my children! Not so! This time you may break the ancient pattern, for this is the first time and the last time the cycles in the nations have all been brought together in step and in time, for now the whole world lies in bondage, save a few. But the seeds of liberty germinate quickly under the tyrant’s heel, and the embers of freedom glow brightest in the dark winds of oppression. Now those seeds grow and those embers glow, and the people of the earth peer out of darkness and look for your light!
Now you, being free, may lead yourselves and them also into the full light of liberty.
Oh America! America! May the Almighty look upon you with the tenderness of a loving Father. May you look to Him with the faith of a chosen child. If you will reach for Him, He will touch you. If you will serve Him, He will lift you up. Can you hear my voice? This is the message I have come to deliver: I challenge you, each and every one of you to listen to the humility of your own heart, for it will guide you back to the glorious liberty which is your rightful inheritance if you will but qualify yourself by obedience to the voice of your own conscience. If you will listen and follow, the light of liberty will shine again in your face, and the nation will shine forth in a world darkened by the tyranny of despots and evil politicians. Rise up my people! Take your proper place in the progress of freedom!
If you will be faithful to your own hearts and the blood of your fathers, you may have the privilege of being the political saviors of the world, not by coercion or conspiracy but by example and precept. That is your challenge and your duty, your opportunity and your blessing. And that is the true destiny of liberty. I know it; and there is not one of you who does not in his own heart know it also. Then—my Sons of Liberty—be true to it! Farewell!
The Day’s Demand
God give us men! A time like this demands:
Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands; Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy, Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor; men who will not lie; Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking; Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog In public duty and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds, Their large profession and their little deeds,. Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land, and waiting Justice sleeps.
JOSIAH G. HOLLAND