The Source of Free Government’s Success Is Not a Mystery
So what is the fundamental element that once lit and sustained the twin fires of freedom and liberty in America? Two law professors, Donald S. Lutz and Charles S. Hyneman, set out on a task to review and study an estimated 15,000 items in a quest to discover the secret. They closely read 2,200 books, pamphlets, newspaper articles, and monographs. All material contained explicit political content printed from 1760 to 1805 (the era of time in which the United States Government was formed). They reduced their research to 916 items, which was about 1/3 of all political writings longer than 2,000 words.
From these items, Lutz and Hyneman identified 3,154 references to other sources.
Their findings of the sources most often cited were as follows:
The most cited source was The Bible with 34% of all citations.
• Top book of the Bible quoted was Deuteronomy (because of its heavy emphasis on biblical law)
• Average Colonists heard several thousand sermons in his lifetime.
• Education utilized Bible- New England Primer
The second most-cited source was Charles Louis Joseph de Secondat, the Baron Montesquieu of France with 8.3% of all citations. Montesquieu wrote The Spirit of the Laws were he premised:
o God is the Author of all Laws
o Because man is sinful, Civil Government is Necessary
o Humans in Gov. are sinful
o Therefore Separate Powers of Government into 3 branches
The third most-cited source was William Blackstone with 7.9% of all citations. Blackstone’s work, Commentaries on the Laws of England (English Common Law) premised:
• Common Law is rooted in the 10 Commandments
• There are 3 Categories of Law
o Revealed Law: Holy Scripture
o Laws of Nature: Revealed by God to human Reason and Conscience
o Municipal Law: “No human Law shall contradict”
• Judicial Restraint: judges don’t make law they apply it.
Montesquieu and Blackstone were quoted most during the 1780’s and 1790’s when attention was focused on practical problems of forming a government that would secure the rights of its citizens.
The fourth most cited source was John Locke with 2.9% of all citations. His most popular work being the 1st and 2nd Treatise on Civil Government in which he premised:
o Government is established by covenant or contract of people. The King is man and leaders are comprised of Men.
o God ordained Law of Nature – all human law must be subject to.
o Law of nature. Our God given Natural Rights are:
Locke citations led in the 1760’s and 1770’s as the main concern was Independence and rights of Man.
The most cited human thinkers were not deists and philosophers, but conservative legal and political thinkers who were friends of and in most cases followers of the Christian religion.
One’s conclusion behind the greatness of our political institutions is the willingness of our founders to construct the foundation with materials inspired by the God of Heaven that ordained Government. Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality and indispensable supports. – George Washington.