America was built on a foundation, rich in principles, strong on rights, to provide past and present citizens, with the perfect recipe for life.
The foundation built for America was one of value, integrity, courage and justice. This article explores our starting point, the contributors, and the long-lasting values established for our great country.
Early America was governed by Great Britain. They heavily controlled our budding commerce, our wealth, our religious beliefs, and society as a whole. As the thirteen colonies developed townships and confederations, Great Britain’s authority and restrictive laws became more and more obsolete. The new citizens of this country were left with no choice, but fight for their rights, our rights.
The American colonies had been at war here, with Great Britain for one year prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, our first milestone in winning unity and independence from British rule. The United States Constitution was created as the independent governing law, as a result of this declaration, but took until 1788, 12 years later to fully implement. The American Revolution started in 1775, lasting until 1783. James Madison wrote and championed, The United States Bill of Rights, profound and equal rights for all peoples throughout America, successfully amending the U.S. Constitution in 1791.
Our Founding Fathers
For many of us, “Founding Fathers” signifies the actual writers of the Declaration of Independence. We often think of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, our first, second, third and fourth presidents; Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of Treasury; John Jay, our first Chief Justice; Benjamin Franklin, our first American ambassador to France; and John Hancock, the first signer with the most significant signature in size. What so many fail to realize, is this significant grouping not only includes the writers, fifty-six signers and framers, including delegates from each state, but also includes political leaders, community activists, soldiers of the revolution, statesmen, lawyers, business men, land-owners and many regular citizens in the newly formed America. The actual foundation of America was constructed and built over sixteen years, by many Americans. These Americans, fought and died, believing they had a right to real life, we have a right to really live.
Our Values, Our Rights
Our Declaration of Independence in 1776 was our formal contract, declaring independence for the thirteen American colonies, from British rule. One of the most famous and significant excerpts from this initial declaration and to this day, states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.
The United States Constitution is the oldest constitution governing the people of a country, still honored and upheld today. Americans have held strong to these fundamentals, these principles and this foundation for our country, for 234 years. The constitution established the three branches of government: executive, legislative and judiciary. The most infamous and widely recognized excerpt, declaring our mission as a people, is found in the preamble stating, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”.
The Bill of Rights established equal and just rights for all people, in order to limit the control, of the newly formed American federal government over the state confederations. These are natural rights, God given rights, protecting our liberty, property, our freedom of religious beliefs and worship, our speech, our right to bear arms, and the prevention of any cruel and unjust punishment. Most importantly and often overlooked, the ninth amendment was created to protect all of our rights, especially our rights not specified with detail within the ten. The Ninth Amendment was written, much like a modern contract, to prevent the exclusion of unspecified rights, providing protection for all of our rights, as we developed as a nation.
Perhaps Thomas Paine, one of many who fought for our right for freedom, put it best when he said, “We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.”
– Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 4, September 11, 1777