Posts Tagged ‘The Constitution’

Preserving Our Constitution

September 15, 2011

Alton Democrat (Alton, Iowa) Sep 29, 1949

Constitution Day is  Saturday, Sept. 17th, and although this article was published 90 years ago, it should be published again as a reminder, and so here it is:


In the reverence of Americans, September 17 should rank with February 22 and July 4, as a day of significance in American history. It was on this day in the year 1787 that out from the prayers and dreams, sacrifices and blood of our forefathers there issued forth a nation with the form of a republic and the soul of a democracy, pure and strong in purpose and predestined to be mighty in achievement. It was the embodiment of a Christian ideal born and nurtured in the hearts of righteous men and patriots. It was sent forth on its career with a prayer: in one hand it carried an olive branch and in the other, the most wonderful instrument of government that ever emanated from the mind of man.

The constitution of the United States embraces the assembled wisdom of perhaps the best brains in the aggregate that the world has ever produced. Pure in its diction, charming in its simplicity, and strong in its concise yet comprehensive inclusion of every essential principle of the most enlightened human government, it represents our nation’s first and greatest contribution to the thought of the world. It will live forever among the immortal masterpieces of man. Even as the source of all individual failure may be found at the point of divergence in personal conduct from the principles set forth and enunciated in Holy Writ, so whatever the failures of our own government have been or will be may be traced to the subversion or contravention of some principle embodied in our constitution.

In this hour of universal confusion when the nations of the earth, driven from their accustomed orbits by a cyclone of war, are trying to readjust themselves to orderly and wise processes of government it is peculiarly appropriate that in our own country we pause on this birthday of our constitution to pay tribute to its makers and to rededicate ourselves to the increasingly difficult task of preserving it against its enemies. With brazen effrontery, the forces of disorder are daily practicing treacheries upon the flag that has protected them in the exercise of the liberties which they misconstrue as license. Constitutional democracy has been at least partially supplanted by a sort of mobocracy that boastfully defies the restraints of distasteful law. The average American has ceased to regard himself as seriously bound to respect a law that he does not like, and disregard of constituted authority struts forth at noonday.

The tendencies of our national thought and the current of national events seem to be away from the foundation principles, upon which this republic was established. We have grown callously accustomed to the frequently successful attempts to bend, break, or misinterpret the constitution to suit the caprices of an element of our own people or the foreign ideas of those who cannot or will not understand the genius of our institutions. Demagogues and near-statesmen mistake the clamor of a mob for the voice of the people, and in the name of liberty, progress, and democracy the warnings of history are ignored and offenses against our constitution multiply.

It seems to us, therefore, that this is an appropriate day on which to stop, look and listen, and to take warning of the things that are going on about us. It seems to us that this is the time to take stock of our nationalism and to surround our institutions with that loyalty as understood and applied by our forefathers, and to set ourselves resolutely against rising tides of un-American theories and practices. Perhaps it is through the schools primarily that we must look for the inculcation of those virtues which venerate the constitution and which alone can hold us in the path to which we were committed by the framers of that great document. Perhaps we have been lax in our duties as American citizens with respect to our public schools and the services they have been rendering. Perhaps we have allowed them to drift away from the moorings to which they must be attached if they are to serve as an effective instrument of Americanism in our national life. If we would make the schools what they can and should be as a force for preserving the foundations of the republic we must realize our responsibilities toward our educational affairs and discharge them conscientiously. That is the way, in fact, it is the indispensable way, to the preservation of that type of constitutional government which has distinguished the United States of American from every other nation and placed its liberties and blessings in a class by themselves.

Appleton Post Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Sep 17, 1921

Our Federal Constitution is Good; but…

August 31, 2011


As Liberty men we love to contemplate the principles which we have embraced, the grounds which constituted the necessity for a distinct political organization, and the reasons why we should remain firm and uncompromising in maintaining the position which we have assumed. In this field of intellectual action we feel at home; strong in the consciousness of pure motives and upright aims; and rejoicingly assured that truth and reason and justice and patriotism and philanthropy are, fully and forever, the patrons and duties of our great enterprise.

But in view of the nearness of an election, (especially and particularly important, of course, as every election was and is and will ever be,) we feel an interest in our cause, in some respects, beyond what we are wont to feel. We know that every election is, more or less, a crisis in the political history and course of a numerous class of voters. A time when their political character and principles are severely tried by every thing in the shape of argument and motive which political opponents and selfish partisan demagogues can employ to influence them.

As freemen, feeling a solemn responsibility for a wise and upright and conscientious use of the elective franchise, and being virtually sworn to such a course, it would sadly belie our principles and our professions if we were to suffer any individual preference, or former party attachment, or any little interest of a local or temporary nature, in any instance, to determine our course at the ballot box.

Ours is the party which recognises, and avows, and strives to maintain in political action, the good old principles of the fathers if this Republic, vis: to act and to vote in reference to those interests which are of a far-reaching and an enduring character; to act and to vote with a view to the good of the whole community; the good of the distant future; the good of posterity; the good of the great human family; and not in reference to the little interests of a narrow locality or an evanescent occasion.

Ours are not principles recently avowed for the first time, nor of a mushroom growth, nor of a character which betokens for them a sickly and short-lived existence. They are principles as old as the nature of man. They are principles constitutionally inherent in human nature; and can never cease to be so, unless the social and moral nature of man is brought to undergo a radical change. They are the grand centre principles of our Declaration of Independence. They are the foundation principles of the American Constitution. Principles, s????y identical with the universal equality, and the inherent nature of the rights of all human beings.

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Our Declaration of Independence is good; but for a long course of years, and in a rapidly increasing degree, we have seen its principles disregarded, and virtually annulled, by those at the helm of our political affairs. Our Federal Constitution is good; but long, and shamefully, and sacrilegiously have we seen it perverted, and rendered subservient to purposes which its whole spirit and character do most obviously and heartily abhor. Our representative form of government is good; but, by the provision for slave representation, it has been made permanently, and in an ever increasing degree, an engine for bringing the rights and interests of the many into subjection to the will of the few.  Our Federal Union is good; but, by the constant ascendency and domination of the slave power, the free states have long been becoming, more and more, the abettors and coadjutors in the work of fostering and extending the institution of slavery.

Let us now glance at the past course and present condition of the two great political parties; and notice their bearings and tendency in reference to the prospective or probable success of our favorite enterprise and principles.

We invite your attention, then, to the present position of the (so called) Democratic party. Its history is familiar to those who have been candid enough to read it impartially. All know that it has grown old in a course of subserviency to the slave power. The dictum of that power has been the law of that party; and the extension of that power the great end to which the action of that party has been directed. It was with that party in the ascendency that Louisiana was purchased, with northern money, for the purpose of doubling the slave territory of the Union. It was under the auspices of that party that the infamous Missouri compromise, in favor of slavery, was effected. It was under Democratic rule that the plighted faith of our nation, in more than forty Indian treaties, was wantonly violated for the gratification of slaveholders. The grand national negro hunt in Florida, with the Cuban bloodhounds for our allies, and the crusade against Mexico, will remain through all coming time, way-marks in the history of the past course of that party….

American Freeman (Prairieville, Wisconsin) Sep 18, 1844



“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye even so to them.”
[Mat. vil. 12.

Oh! fairest born of  Love, and Light,
Yet bending brow and eye severe
On all which pains the holy sight,
Or wounds the generous ear:

Beautiful yet thy temples rise,
Though there profaning gifts are thrown;
And fires unkindled of the skies
Are glaring on thy altar-stone.

Still sacred — tho’ thy name be breathed
By those whose hearts thy truth deride,
And garlands, pluck’d from thee, are wreathed
Around the haughty brows of Pride.

Oh! ideal of my boyhood’s time!
The faith in which my father stood,
Even when the sons of Lust and Crime
Had stained thy peaceful courts with blood!

Still to those courts my foot-steps turn,
For through the mists which darken there
I see the flame or Freedom burn —
The Kebla of the patriot’s prayer!

The generous feeling, pure and warm,
Which owns the rights of ALL divine —
The pitying heart — the helping arm —
The prompt, self-sacrifice — are thine.

Beneath thy broad, impartial eye,
How fade the lines of caste and birth!
How equal in their suffering lie
The groaning multitudes of earth.

Still to a stricken brother true,
Whatever clime hath nurtured him;
As stooped to heal the wounded Jew
The worshipper on Gerizim.

By misery unrepelled, unawed
By pomp, or power, thou seest a MAN
In prince or peasant — slave or lord —
Pale priest, or swarthy artisan.

Through all disguise, form, place, or name,
Beneath the flaunting robes of sin,
Through poverty and squalid shame,
Thou lookest on the man within;

On man as man, retaining yet,
Howe’er debased, and soiled, and dim,
The crown upon his forehead set —
The immortal gift of God to him.

And there is reverence in thy look;
For that frail form which mortals wear
The Spirit of the Holiest took,
And veiled His perfect brightness there.

Not from the cold and shallow fount
Of vain philosophy thou art;
He who of old on Syria’s mount
Thrilled, warmed by turns the listener’s heart.

In holy words which cannot die,
In thoughts which angels leaned to know,
Proclaimed thy message from on high —
Thy mission to a world of wo.

That voice’s echo hath not died!
From the blue lake of Gallilee,
And Tabor’s lonely mountain side,
It calls a struggling world to thee.

Thy name and watchward o’er this land
I hear in every breeze that stirs,
And round a thousand altars stand
Thy banded party worshippers.

Not to these altars of a day,
At party’s call, my gift I bring;
But on thy olden shrine I lay
A freeman’s dearest offering!

The voiceless utterance of his will —
His pledge to Freedom and to Truth,
That Manhood’s heart remembers still
The homage of his generous youth.

American Freeman (Prairieville, Wisconsin) Sep 18, 1844