Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.
They have endeavored for years to secure both personal and collective rights. Some have traveled great distances in difficult circumstances to petition Parliament and the King. Some have forsaken their own personal wealth and station in life to secure for others the chance to seek their own.
When letters and negotiations fell short of the goal, they put their lives on the line. When the current government beat them physically, financially and emotionally, they did not waver. When some of them died, when friends and family members were lost, they did not faint.
Then the most powerful army and navy of the day was sent to put them in line, to stamp out this rebellion of ungrateful colonists. They put down their pens, picked up their rifles and muskets, and put their blood where their mouth was. There were more defeats than victories, and it took aid from France, but in the end, they secured the victory. The war was over.
And they walked away.
No, they did not give up. They could have been an oligarchy; certainly, George Washington could have been king. What other president was elected (1789 and 1792) unanimously…twice?
He wanted to go home to his farm. When asked to help the new nation after the fighting was over his remark was, “Have I not yet done enough for my country?”
The Apotheosis of Washington shows Washington being lifted in the clouds to Glory, flanked by representations of Liberty and Victory. This is what they thought of General Washington.
Imagine how these men were idolized by most people. It would have been so easy to accept the power the people would willingly give them. However, to even be “benevolent dictators,” would have made them all hypocrites and liars.
No, after wrestling with and breaking the wild stallion, they handed the reins to us. I know I use this often, but it is important we understand the importance of the following comment by Ben Franklin. When asked what sort of government the congress had devised, whether a monarchy or a republic, he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Let’s break that short statement down.
“A republic:” A state in which the supreme power is held by the people, their elected representatives, and has an elected or nominated am president, rather than a monarch.
“If you:” If indicates the result is not etched in stone; things could change. You. Not us or our republic, yours. It became our possession, we own it with full rights and title.
“Keep:” Keep can be a noun, meaning a place of safety. Our republic is a place of safety and security from tyranny. However here Mr. Franklin used “keep” as a verb, a word requiring action by those who wish to “keep” or retain it. If someone tries to take it, we have to do whatever is necessary to prevent the thieves and vandals from taking or destroying it.
“The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.” -John Adams
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.” -John Adams
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -John Adams (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31)
“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” -Samuel Adams
“He, therefore, is the truest friend to the liberty of this country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man….The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.” -Samuel Adams
“If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” -Samuel Adams
That last quote rings daily in my ears. We, as a people, who claim to love liberty, have done little to protect it. We have the world’s most powerful military. We will not be overcome by an invading force. Between our military and the unsubstantiated statement of General Yamamoto that there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass, we will not be taken by force.
No, our liberty has been taken from us already- bit by bit. And we let it happen.
We have been handed one the greatest gifts on this earth. The greatest gift- God’s gift of His son. We have been as shepherds watching a valuable flock. While we are vigilant in watching for threats from without the “keep,” we have been oblivious to the wolves in sheepskins who have systematically killed and eaten nearly every sheep in our care.
It is past time for us to weed out the wolves and rebuild the herd.