Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Founding Fathers

Declaration of Independence
John Trumball, 1819

Since we've been here in Idaho the last month I've found myself with a lot of time on my hands. Because of this I decided that it was time to learn more about the history of the United States and our Founding Fathers. Being here with Grandma also meant that we regularly watch Glenn Beck, so that of course added to my desire to learn more about our country. I picked up a book Grandma had been studying herself, entitled "The Making of AMERICA," by W. Cleon Skousen. I've been enthralled by it. I feel ashamed that for so many years I used the excuse of living in England and missing some of those vital history classes, as my reason for not knowing much about American history. It's incredible, and a miracle, to say the least, that our country ever became what it has, a land of liberty and religious freedom, with representation by the people and not a monarchy, as most of the world has known.
What impressed me most was what I came across last night when I was reading. I was learning about the miracle of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. After winning the revolutionary war our Founding Fathers recognized that our country would not survive unless it changed the Articles of Confederation and came up with a new system of government, different than any other country had known. 55 delegates from the states arrived to discuss the government. There was arguing and contention over what to do and it was difficult to come to any consensus. This went on for days. Finally, during one of those moments Benjamin Franklin arose and made this plea:

"In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for 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 labor 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; we shall be divided by our little partial, local interests, our projects will be confounded and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And, what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war or conquest," (Skousen, 1985, p.159-160).

People may try to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance, from our currency, and out of the Declaration, forgetting that our unalienable rights come from our Creator. But when you sit down to study the principles this nation was founded on you have to recognize, like Benjamin Franklin said, "the superintending Providence in our favor." And no-one today can take away what happened during those beginning days.