Mason, George; 1725-1792; judge and statesman; member Va. legislature, 1759 and a leader in the cause of American rights in opposition to British tyranny; author “Fairfax Resolves,” 1774; member Va. Convention, 1775 and 1776– when he drafted Va. Declaration of Rights and a good part of Va. ”Constitution;” in Va. legislature 1776-1780 and later; active in work leading up to 1787 Convention which framed U.S. Constitution, also as a member; did not sign Constitution and opposed ratification due to fear of inadequate limits on Federal power to prevent its becoming tyrannical; urged addition of “Bill of Rights;” was one of principal slave-owners (including Washington and Jefferson) who deplored existence of slavery and favored abolition, with compensation by government to owners of freed slaves.
The short form answer to this question is NO! The long form answer will come later. The Constitution of the United States is the document that makes us a separate sovereign nation. This document would never have existed if the Declaration of Independence had not have been signed by 56 courageous men who were delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. As we all know but can not possibly fully recognize, these men declared and pledged these words in the closing paragraph:
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
From the Declaration of Independence July 4th, 1776
Benjamin Rush was one of the 56 who signed. It is necessary for all of us to appreciate the great risk the signers took and how this once great nation would not have existed if these men did not have courage. I say once great nation because we have not heeded the many warnings of the founding fathers and we have not understood the nature of man as the founders did.
The fact that we have not heeded the Founder’s warnings is no accident. The Founders knew that education was the key, unfortunately so did the enemies of liberty and justice. Benjamin Rush knew as did all the Founders that without people being educated in the principles of freedom it could not survive:
“Freedom can exist only in the society of knowledge. Without learning, men are incapable of knowing their rights.” - Benjamin Rush
This compromise of our education system has gone on for so long that few have any knowledge of the principles of liberty. In short we have lost the battle in the class room. Because of our collective ignorance we have lost the foundation, the Constitution. If you do not understand the principles behind the Constitution you can not defend it.
To illustrate the dimension of the problem please note how our decline of knowledge and understanding was perceived as far back as 1964 in a publication “WE THE STATES” by the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government:
Today it is apparent to even the most casual eye that the house of our fathers has fallen into decay. The great beams that gave it strength—the separation of powers within the central government, the division of responsibility between the States and the Federal authority—now tend to crumble under subtle and insidious attack. The men who framed our Constitution built tight doors against the despotism they knew so well; now the doors hang awry, and a cold wind of judicial construction sweeps along the corridors. The States themselves, falling into impotence, often seem helpless to halt the destruction. And too many Americans, afflicted with the ills of an affluent society, are indifferent to the fundamental principles by which the greatness of the American Republic was achieved. (emphasis added)
This quote from the publication “We the States” succinctly sums up a condition of decline that was evident as far back as 1964 and has not improved to this day.
Thomas Jefferson – Born in 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia, inheriting from his father, a planter and surveyor, some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a Randolph, high social standing. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then read law. In 1772
he married Martha Wayles Skelton.
Jefferson was eloquent as a correspondent, but he was no public speaker. In the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, he contributed his pen rather than his
voice to the patriot cause. As the “silent member” of the Congress, Jefferson, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. In years following he labored to make its words
a reality in Virginia. Most notably, he wrote a bill establishing religious freedom, enacted in 1786.
Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France in 1785 and was Secretary of State in President Washington’s Cabinet.
As a reluctant candidate for President in 1796, Jefferson came within three votes of election. Through a flaw in the Constitution, he became Vice President, although an opponent of President Adams. In 1800 the defect caused a more serious problem. Republican electors, attempting to name both a President and a Vice President from their own party, cast a tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House of Representatives settled the tie. Hamilton, disliking both Jefferson and Burr, nevertheless urged Jefferson’s election.
When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third. He also sent a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American commerce in the Mediterranean. Further, although the Constitution made no provision for the acquisition of new land, Jefferson suppressed his qualms over constitutionality when he had the opportunity to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803.
He died on July 4, 1826.