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Foundations Of Liberty E4

The United States Constitution serves as a nearly perfect blueprint for liberty and freedom. However, a blueprint can only be functional if it is properly understood and actually followed. With all that we see around us, it is time time for us to get back to the foundations of liberty. Welcome back to another episode of Foundations of Liberty, brought to you by Veterans in Defense of Liberty, broadcast here on SimulTV on the Second Amendment Channel. My name is Darren Chappell, and I’m your host for this series of episodes wherein we’re studying the United States Constitution not only what it says and what it meant when it was written, but how it’s supposed to be understood. Even today, as the Founding Fathers put down on parchment what they thought was necessary to be able to protect the rights, liberties, and freedoms of all of our countrymen for as long as we would hold true to the blueprint that that document represents. Now, in previous episodes, we’ve taken a look at the philosophers upon whom the Founding Fathers based their vision, taking instruction from those individuals who had talked for so many centuries before about individual liberties and responsibilities and freedoms. But we also need to take a look at the documents that preceded the Constitution, those documents that set forth the early stages of concepts of popular sovereignty and the right of individual liberty and freedom and the right to be free from a tyrannical government of some sort. So we’re going to be taking a look at some of those documents over the next couple of episodes. And after that, we’ll get into the body of the Constitution. We’re going to take a look at all of the amendments to the constitution, and we’re going to be focused on everything about the United States constitution, not just so that people here in the United states can learn more. About the Constitution, although that’s always needed, but also so that individuals who live in other countries might have the opportunity, should they be struggling to breathe free, see what kind of a governmental form they might want to adopt for themselves. And that’s better able to be done when they understand not only what we have in the United States, but why the Founding Fathers wrote it as they did. So we’re going to be taking a look at some documents in this episode. We’re going to look at the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, and the Virginia Constitution when it transitioned from a colony to a state in 1776. We’re going to start up on that right after these messages. All right, so we’re going to take a look at the Magna Carta. Now, Magna Carta was a document that was written in 1215 Ad. And it was in the context of the time in England’s history when there was some upheaval in the monarchy. King Richard the Lion Heart had been killed in his last of the Crusades when he went into the Holy Lands and his younger brother John ascended to the throne. Now, John was not prepared in any way and John was considered a selfish individual who was not concerned about his subjects on any level. And it was because of his acts as king and his failure to act to secure the health and happiness of his people that the barons and earls of his kingdom, England, they came together and they wrote a document, the great letter Magna Carta in Latin. They wrote this letter to King John demanding certain rights to be recognized by the throne that they had as free men of England. Now, to be fair, I doubt that the earls and barons believe that those rights descended all the way down to the serfs who served them in their control as well and on their land. I’m sure had they really been asked, they would have thought it was only for nobility to have those rights. But even so, it is the first document in Western history that challenges the concept of the divine right of kings, that questioning the ruler was the same as questioning God himself. And the Magna Carta set forth several principles throughout the various clauses of that document that set forth in motion the very same thought processes that the Founders use to write some very critical portions of the United States Constitution. For example, in clauses 39 and 40 we see these cited many times in the writings of the Founders and in the documents that write about the Founders that modern day historians write about them. In clauses 39 and 40 of the Magna Carta, they deal with the concept of people having their rights preserved by the law of the land. By the law of the land was a phrase that was used consistently throughout American documents until the writing of the Constitution. James Madison took that principle by the law of the land and it became in his writing, the due process of law. And the basic principle is this you cannot simply take someone’s life, their liberty or their property unless they’ve been properly adjudicated according to the law. There must be due process. We talk about the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. There are various principles that are established within the Fifth Amendment and elsewhere within the Constitution that were heavily influenced by these two clauses, clauses 39 and 40 of Magna Carta. And it began there, it was found nowhere else prior to that. It’s really quite amazing. Furthermore, we find in clause 20 the idea of individuals suggesting that they should not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment. It talks about individuals and the crimes that they commit, that their punishment should fit the severity of the crime and no further. And it spells out, depending on what it is that they might have done in this particular clause. But that’s the basis for the idea. The prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment that we find in the 8th Amendment to the constitution. It starts back in Magna Carta but it’s in clause twelve of the Magna Carta that we find for the days of the Founding Fathers themselves and the American Revolution may be the most important reference that we find in Magna Carta and that is the principles are set forth therein that would require no taxation without representation. Now that phrase is not in the Magna Carta. In fact that concept was not found anywhere in the English language at that time. No one had representation other than the king himself in the early part of the 13th century. But the idea that nobody should be able to impose a lien or a tax on a kingdom without the consent of the individuals being taxed is in the Magna Carta. And it was that premise that set forth for the founding Fathers the idea to call for no taxation without representation. And in fact in 1764 when the Stamp Act was imposed by England upon the American colonies it was Virginia that cited what they referenced as the ancient constitution which taught against the principle of taxation without representation the ancient constitution to which they referred Magna Carta. That’s how important it was. It was absolutely groundbreaking thinking to challenge the authority of the king to rule with absolute authority over his kingdom. And had it not been for the writing of Magna Carta in 1215 we might not have had the United States Constitution in 1789. We’re going to take a look at some messages here on behalf of our program and we hope you rejoin us right after this. Welcome back. The next document that we’re going to be taking a look at in this particular episode which was a precursor for the United States Constitution is the Mayflower Compact. This was written in 1620. Little bit of background on this. So the Mayflower Compact was written actually on the Mayflower, oddly enough but the Mayflower had not landed where they were originally agreed to land by England. When they came to North American continent they ended up in what became Massachusetts instead. So the Mayflower Compact, they recognized that they didn’t have the authority to settle land that had not been identified by the charter that they had been given by their home country. And so rather than go off and establish a colony on their own with no charter of any sort, no agreement that anybody would be able to adhere to and reference as their authority, the men on the Mayflower in representation of themselves and their families, they got together and they created the Mayflower Compact. And each of the men signed it for themselves and their families, saying that they would follow that law, that contract between them as individuals. But there’s a massive difference between the idea of a compact and a contract. So the Virginia colony, it had a contract with Great Britain. The Mayflower Compact however was not between those individuals and the government back in England. It was a compact between themselves as individuals and God. Now, remember, the individuals who were there on the Mayflower were largely separatist fleeing England because of religious persecution. The idea that God was going to be an important part of their society and their identity as they combined one with another is not at all hard for us to understand. So this compact, which is an agreement between themselves but also God, binds them together. And when they signed that document, they agreed that they were going to be that kind of a society, that kind of a God fearing, God following society. And everybody signed on to it on the ship before they stepped foot on dry land. They wanted the compact to be in place before they got to their new home so that there would be no questions of authority or how it was that they were going to live together. Now, the compact also does something that I’m not sure that they fully intended. But scholars have looked back and they recognize this as being the very first of its kind. So when England created the charter for the Virginia Colony, for example, the charter was with the colony as a whole, not an individual. The individuals who went to the colony had no special relationship with England. But the Mayflower Compact was every individual who signed signing for himself and his family. It is the very first document found anywhere throughout the entirety of Western cultural history where individual assent was required to be a part of the society. Everybody had to agree so that they could be a partaker of the society. This is the notion of what we call popular sovereignty, which comes to us from the Latin and it just simply means a rule of the people. The people have the power to rule and the right of rule resides with the people. Now, they can elect rather, representatives for themselves in various forms of government and different levels of government as well. They can choose for themselves a keen. But this is the first time throughout the entirety of Western history where a document was created by the people, of the people, for the people very first time. And this premise is what led the Founding Fathers, of course, to rely so heavily in the Constitution on the concept of individual liberty, individual rights. Now, with that comes individual responsibilities. But that begins with a Mayflower compact. It wasn’t just the creation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It wasn’t just the beginning of the American historical context with the Pilgrims coming to North America. It’s the very beginning of individual rights, liberties and freedoms by popular sovereignty. And we’re going to come right back after these next messages and we’re going to be taking a look at the Virginia State constitution when we come back after this. Welcome back. This last document that we’re going to be taking a look at today is actually the Virginia State Constitutional and Constitution in its original format. Now, this is when they transition from recognizing themselves as a colony to becoming a state, a state in the in the international law sense of being its own separate country. The 13 original states saw themselves as different countries, but they were banded together against King George III. They did not consider themselves one monolithic country at the time. That doesn’t come till much later. When Virginia, its constitution was written. It was finished in 1776, june 29 of 1776, as a matter of fact, just a few days before the signing of the declaration of independence. So this is contextually almost, almost at at the same time that Jefferson is working on the declaration, george Mason was writing the Virginia state constitution. And there’s significant comparatives between the two of them that are almost identical. First of all, the Virginia state constitution established government in three different branches, which we also have here in the United States constitution as well. They talk about the executive branch. They specifically focused on the executive branch, the executive power being in the form of a single governor. And the governor is responsible for executing the laws of the state. That’s why it’s called the executive branch. He’s the individual who was tasked with making sure that whatever laws the legislature would pass, the executive would make sure that those laws were put into effect fairly according to the law of the land, with due process of law. They also talked about the legislative branch, and they specifically spoke about a bicameral legislation legislature. Now, bicameral again, comes to us from the Latin. It means two houses. So they have the house of representatives, the house of the people is found in the constitution. The senate, the house that represented the states originally, is also found in the United States constitution. This dual two house bicameral legislature is found in the Virginia state constitution. That’s the beginning of it. And it transferred over to the constitution as well. But then they talk about the third branch of their government, and it’s the judiciary. And this is the governmental branch that is supposed to be keeping an eye on both the executive and the legislative to act in that checks and balances fashion to make sure that no one body, no one executive, becomes tyrannical with too much power and overshadowing the other. And so that the judicial branch is absolutely imperative to make sure that we don’t have a tyranny of the executive nor a tyranny of the legislative branch. And we find that for the first time, codified as it was in the Virginia state constitution. Now, within the Virginia state constitution, there were also a section of what was termed the Virginia declaration of rights. Now, the declaration of rights were written again by George Mason, undoubtedly with the help of others, but he’s the primary author. And these concepts of rights found their way into our United States constitution most frequently in our bill of rights. Now, we’re going to talk about that in another episode of the future. But not all of the founding fathers thought we needed a bill of rights. They didn’t think we needed to amend the constitution. And there was quite a debate between the federalists, those who were in favor of the constitution as it was originally written, and the anti federalists, those who opposed the original writing of the constitution but could be persuaded to ratify the constitution if there was an agreement that the bill of rights would be addressed later. So the constitution was written in 1787. It was ratified in 1789. The bill of rights were ratified. The first ten amendments were ratified in 1791. And the reason why they were there and the reason why that argument was held was because of the Virginia declaration of rights. So take a look at these. Section one talks about the need for the state to respect and recognize the right of their citizens to life, liberty, property, and happiness and security. Now, obviously, John Locke, we talked about this under the area of the philosophers. He’s the individual who wrote about life, liberty, and property as being natural law rights, that god has given us those rights. And obviously, in the declaration of independence, jefferson wrote about unalienable rights and that among these include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So what Jefferson did was he was influenced by Locke, as was George Mason, but he combines the idea of life, liberty, property, happiness, security, safety, and he combines it in the declaration of independence to become life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now, the reason why that’s so important is, of course, because this concept of natural law that we see shining through John Locke’s writings, but also George Masons as well, is because this is the principle of that we derive those rights from god. We don’t need a king to tell us what it is that we cannot do or what we can do. Our god has given us those rights, and therefore we are at liberty to exercise them. We are free from tyrannical power so long as we rely on natural law. But it’s codified both in the Virginia state declaration of rights, but also in the United States constitution via the amendments. But it was predicated by the declaration of independence. It’s an integral concept upon which the United States of America was founded. We also see in section two the idea of popular sovereignty, which we’ve already talked about the right of the people to rule, and that governments ought to be brought about by the consent of the governed, that the people are where the right of rule reside. And again, no government can become so tyrannical as to be able to take those things away from us. Section three talks about the right of the people to reform or to abolish their government. Now, that’s written into the state constitution itself. Of course. Jefferson also wrote about this. And it’s scary to think about when you’re talking about revolution. It’s frightening that some individuals will take the revolutionary tone and try to use it to just destroy government and become anarchist in their behaviors. Other individuals will want to destroy a government, but they don’t have any idea on how to create a better one or even a bad one. They just throw it all up in the air and see what happens. Jefferson wrote about the responsibility of the people that when they cannot live under a system of government any longer, the Declaration of Independence tells us that such people have the right to reform their government or to abolish it. And to replace it with a governmental form that they find acceptable to themselves for their own securities and for the security of their posterity, their children and offspring that come after them. Well, George Mason wrote about that as well. Because of popular sovereignty, because the right of the people is where the right to rule exists. It’s with the people. The no government can become so tyrannical that the people simply have to suffer. They do have the right, the Founders believed, to overthrow that government and create another one to their own choosing. Finally, there in Section Five again, George Mason talks about the necessity for checks and balances, separation of powers. We find that throughout the Constitution article One dealing with the Legislative Branch. Article Two dealing with the Executive Branch. Article Three dealing with the Judicial Branch. And those three branches of government offering that check and balance upon one another so that they cannot any of them ever become so powerful that the government falls to a new form of tyranny. Furthermore, in the Constitution and in the Amendments, the 9th and 10th Amendments, the states were given specific rights and responsibilities as well. So we have the unique form of American federalism so that the state governments serve as a check and balance against a runaway national government. Frankly, we don’t see much of that being practiced any longer. It’s one of the reasons we struggle as we do here in the United States. But the Constitution set it out that way. It’s because of these principles found in these documents that predated the Constitution that we can understand what the Founders knew. And if we know what they knew and we understand what they understood, then how much more clearly can we understand the words that they left us to serve as that blueprint for our society? I want to thank you for your time today and the opportunity that we have to study together. We’re going to come back in our next episode. We’re going to be taking a look at a few more documents. I hope you’ve been able to enjoy this as much as I have, and I hope that you’ll join us at the next episode opportunity again. My name is Darren Chapel, and I’m your host for Foundations of Liberty brought to you by veteran and defense of Liberty right here on SimulTV, the Second Amendment channel. God bless.
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