From 1775 to 1783 the American States were largely united in the common cause for liberty against our common enemy. After the peace with England was concluded, the unity of the nation began to disintegrate. Between 1783 and 1787, under the first American constitution, the Articles of Confederation, the nation was on the verge of dissolution.
The states were treating one another almost like separate nations. They lacked a cohesive foreign policy and lacked unity in almost innumerable ways. Economic woes plagued the individual States (and the entire nation) because the value of money fluctuated dramatically. European powers were expecting the nation to dissolve and fragment and become fair game to again become their colonies. The Articles of Confederation did not recognize a judicial system, and justice was often difficult to obtain. Equitable justice is essential to preserve liberty.
With an unstable government, domestic tranquility was often disturbed by riots and
destruction created by disaffected members of society. Courts had been burned in some states where people felt justice had not been carried out. One of the complaints against the king, which was noted in the Declaration of Independence, was that he had allowed the miscarriage of justice. A stable, safe, predictable environment was needed in order to assure the survival of the nation. In addition, in order to resist encroachments and offenses of foreign powers, the new states needed to unify their defensive powers and their posture in international affairs.
A miracle was needed to assure the survival of the nation! Wise statesmen of the day recognized that the continued existence of the nation as a nation required some bold and dramatic advancements in the nation’s charter. To assure the survival of the nation, they recognized the need to create a general environment in society where peace and prosperity could thrive because people were confident in the stable progress of the future. They understood the need to create a proper government that would foster conditions in which the economy and society in general were predictable and not fraught with turmoil and doubt.
In the spring of 1787 the most trusted statesmen of the nation were called together in a Constitution Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to create such a charter for the nation. When Congress called the Convention of 1787, the convention was called “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation,” thereby rendering “the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of government, and the preservation of the Union.” However, when the delegates gathered in Philadelphia in May of 1787, they recognized that in their role as delegates to a constitution convention they were legally authorized to set the existing constitution aside and create an entirely new constitution. As soon as they gathered, they promptly set about the task of writing a new constitution.
During the long, sweltering summer of 1787 these noble and wise statesmen carefully crafted the timeless document that Sir William Gladstone later called "The most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."
But the effort to create the new constitution was an arduous task that the founders recognized required divine assistance. During one of the most trying periods during the Convention, the Elder Statesman Benjamin Franklin remarked:
“In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.
“To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel . . . .
“I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business . . .” (Jonathan Elliot, Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 5, p. 254; see: James Madison, Journal of the Federal Convention, Vol.1, p.259—p.260)
And in Federalist Paper no. 37, James Madison wrote of the hand of the Almighty in the victory of the Revolutionary War and in the bringing forth of the new constitution:
“The real wonder is that so many difficulties should have been surmounted, and surmounted with a unanimity almost as unprecedented as it must have been unexpected. It is impossible for any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance without partaking of the astonishment. It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”
And George Washington frequently noted the interposition of God in the establishment of the United States of America — during the war, during the creation and establishment of the Constitution, and in the subsequent organization of the new government. A few brief examples must suffice:
In his First Inaugural Address Washington stated that:
“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.” (First Inaugural Address, The Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick vol. 30, pg. 292 [1789.])
In his October 1789 proclamation declaring a national day of thanksgiving and prayer, which was issued at the behest of both houses of congress, George Washington wrote:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and
“Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:’
“Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.” (Messages and Papers of the Presidents, George Washington, Vol.1, pg. 56)
Later, Washington also wrote:
“I am sure there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency which was so often manifested during our revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.” (Letter to John Armstrong, The Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick vol. 32, pg. 2. [1792.])
And after the close of his long life of public service Washington noted:
“Without the beneficent interposition of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, we could not have reached the distinguished situation which we have attained with such unprecedented rapidity. To him, therefore, should we bow with gratitude and reverence, and endeavor to merit a continuance of his special favors.” (To the General Assembly of Rhode Island, The Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick vol. 35, pg. 431. [1797.])
In their effort to create the sound foundation of a national government, these statesmen agreed that it must be based upon a clearly defined grant of powers to the national government, which powers were limited in scope and magnitude, with separation of powers and checks and balances, and which preserved the individual God-given rights and liberties they had referred to in the Declaration of Independence, and for which they had fought in their War of Independence.
The scope and limits within which the United States national government was to operate under the United States Constitution was carefully explained by the authors of the Federalist Papers. Therein James Madison explains:
“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” (Federalist no. 45)
These American founders wished to create a stable, safe, predictable society where individuals, families, and businesses could confidently move forward, knowing that the rules for liberty would allow them to succeed and that it was unlikely that something in the environment of society (such as government encroachment, war, civil unrest, monetary collapse, etc.) would dramatically change and destroy their peace, prosperity, and civil government. The Founding Fathers had suffered through the turmoil of an unstable society where the future was very unsure. For example, they had faced the agony of war with all of its vicissitudes; and they had experienced an economy that was based on a faulty money system, and they had found that it resulted in turmoil because no one knew if an investment would work because the value of money fluctuated dramatically in an environment of unbacked paper money and inflation caused by printing presses creating too much money and deflating its purchasing power.
On 17 September 1787, the Founding Fathers signed the new constitution they had created, and introduced it to the nation. While the new constitution faced a challenging ratification process and the new government would have to be organized and constituted in 1789, and the Bill of Rights would be adopted in 1791, in September 1787 the United States boldly stepped forward in the glorious light provided by their unique new constitution. Indeed, the new Constitution seemed to bring about a miracle in the nation! The confidence of the citizenry blossomed. The economy expanded in the assurance that one’s labor was his own. The nation became invigorated. The transformation was miraculous! The nations of the world stood in awe of the newfound strength and hope of this free land. In the 21st Century, America is again desperately in need of another miracle. The United States Constitution is again that miracle. It must be applied as vigorously and purely as it was in the beginning. Today’s national challenges can be traced to a divergence from the original intent put forth in the United States Constitution.
Statesmen of the caliber of the American founders must be raised up. The timeless wisdom that established the United States must again be vigorously applied. The foundational Americanist principles must be learned, understood, and embraced. The results will be as they were in the beginning. America may become again the freest, most prosperous, most respected, and happiest nation on earth. It is the intention of this WEB site to begin that restoration.