Summer is a great time to add some additional reading to the schedule. After some thought into doing a summer book study, I’d like to introduce you to “The 5000 Year Leap.” (Skousen, W. Cleon. The Five Thousand Year Leap: 28 Ideas That Changed the World. National Center for Constitutional Studies, 1981). The book had its twelfth printing in 2009. It is still widely available. My first impression is very favorable. The book addresses a concern that many of us have expressed in the comments recently on this page—that we are not passing on our American heritage to our posterity. There seems to be an underlying unrest that so many Americans are ignorant of what our founding principles are that set us apart from other systems of government. Our book study, hopefully, will renew an interest in the country our Founders gave to us and have entrusted to us.
As in our previous study, I will offer regular commentary on portions of the text that fit in with our pursuit of a common sense approach to civics and citizenship. So grab an iced tea and let’s dive in!
Even before the title page, the book opens to a section called. “The Miracle at Philadelphia,” written by Andrew M. Allison. He informs us that the Framers as well as many Americans at that time regarded the Constitution as a miracle and our new government as an unprecedented political achievement. Allison then gives us quotes from a number of the Founders which I will share with you for your consideration. My comments follow in parentheses.
John Adams: “[The Constitution] is . . . the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen.”
(I think even a basic read of the Constitution would give credence to Adams’ assessment of our Supreme Law of the Land).
Benjamin Rush: “Dr. Rush. . . fairly deduced it [the Constitution was] from heaven, asserting that he as much believed the hand of God was employed in this work as that God had divided the Red Sea to give a passage to give a passage to the children of Israel, or had fulminated the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai.”
(Benjamin Rush was not the only Founder who believed that the Constitution was guided by the hand of Providence).
George Washington: “[The adoption of the Constitution] will demonstrate as visibly the finger of Providence as any possible event in the course of human affairs can ever designate it.”
Washington: “The Constitution… approaches nearer to perfection than any government hitherto instituted among men.”
(Is Washington still correct? Consider that our Constitution is often emulated, yet no other country has duplicated the level of governance nor surpassed the Government of the United States in its length or application).
James Wilson: “Governments, in general, have been the result of force, of fraud, and accident. After a period of six thousand years has elapsed since the creation, the United States exhibit to the world, the first instance, as far as we can learn, of a nation, unattached by external force, unconvulsed by domestic insurrections, assembling voluntarily, deliberating fully, and deciding calmly conserving that system of government under which they would wish that they and their posterity should live.”
(Every single phrase in Wilson’s comment deserves a re-wind to give pause for thought).
James Madison: “The happy union of these states is a wonder; their Constitution is a miracle; their example the hope of liberty throughout the world. Woe to the ambition that would meditate the destruction of either!”
(Have we lost our amazement that we live in unity and harmony, side by side, with our contiguous and far away states? Do we appreciate Madison’s admonition to restrain ambitions to break our bond of unity)?
Thomas Jefferson: “May you and your contemporaries . . . preserve inviolate [the] Constitution, which, cherished in all its chastity and purity, will prove in the end a blessing to all the nations of the earth.”
(Has the United States been a blessing to the world? I’m not asking if the USA has been perfect (we have made mistakes) but has our system of government allowed us to do good at certain key points in history? Have US citizens, at their own sacrifice and expense, helped other peoples of the world because of the freedoms we enjoy?)