• Editor's Note: The Free Press opinion page will publish a series of articles for Constitution Week, Sept. 17-23.
A small group of men met in Philadelphia during the hot summer days of 1787 and established the idea that we as individuals have the right and ability to determine our own destiny. It was generally accepted, for thousands of years previously, that man could not be free to make his own decisions, but that other more enlightened men should rule over him. This small group later became known as the founding fathers of our republic.
They understood that the rights of men do not come from government. They knew that men had rights before they had government. They believed that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights; and that the purpose of government is to secure these rights. They agreed that if men are to live in freedom, the powers of Government must be separated and limited.
Each man understood that he must preserve the sovereignty of his particular state. To accomplish this, only certain enumerated powers were delegated to the republic. All powers not delegated to the central government were reserved to the states or to the people. To further insure each state's sovereignty the Constitution provides that the Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof.
The ideas incorporated into the new republic worked so well that the United States became known worldwide as the land of opportunity and the land of freedom. Most of us have ancestors that were immigrants to this country. In the years between 1870 and 1900 there were 12.1 million people who left their native land to become Americans.
By 1910, our small upstart country, with only 6 percent of the earth's land, had become one of the wealthiest nations on earth. There were more charitable donations from the United States than from all the other countries combined. In the short span of 100 years of freedom, there were more inventions to improve man's standard of living than in all the previous thousands of years of recorded history.
However, by 1910 there were several movements underway to change the Constitution and to go back to the old idea that man should not be free, but that other more enlightened men should rule over him. In 1913 several steps were taken to remove limitations so that more power could be given to government. The 16th amendment allowed the collection of taxes on an individual's income, and the 17th amendment took away from the state legislatures the right to choose the states' U.S. Senators.
The Federal Reserve Act was passed during Christmas vacation in 1913, which gave the Government the mechanism by which to borrow unlimited amounts of money and to pass the debt payments on to the American people.
Since 1913 there has been a steady erosion of individual rights and of states rights, while each year more and more of our decisions are being made by the federal government. If this trend continues, the only possible result is a complete loss of individual freedom.
Although we have many serious problems in our country, we are fortunate in that we have been given the solution to most of these problems. If we are willing to study and learn the principles of freedom that were taught and established by that small group of men in Philadelphia, and if we will use our influence to spread their ideas of separation of powers and of limited powers, the chances that our children and grandchildren may live in freedom will be greatly increased.
Mary Blosser is the founder of Concerned Citizens for the Constitution.