Americans are so separate from the rest of the world and so absorbed with our own problems we cannot imagine the world of 1700 out of which our little nation grew. While Europeans were wearing powdered wigs and overindulging getting richer as the poor got poorer the American colonists they called hicks, were educating themselves in the classics, learning Latin, Greek and common law, studying Shakespeare’s plays, and speaking French.
Here are the lessons those farmers, soldiers and merchants were learning. First, you do not want a leader from one family. There was intermarriage in European families which resulted in medical problems like King George 3rd who probably suffered from a blood disease known as porphyria, or one we know so well -Toulouse Lautrec who suffered the stunted growth of the marriage of first cousins. Many middle eastern nations today can point to 1500 years of intermarriage. Insanity is only one of the possible outcomes of this. We can be glad King George was ill as a more vigorous English King might have won the revolutionary war.
Second, the Americans learned that no group of powerful people should select the nation’s leader. Oligarchies provided the unfortunate Italians with Nero and Diocletian who left their nation in moral and economic shambles.
Third, they knew their Shakespearean plays, which the 15th century Brits were ribald soap operas based on English history. When Will wrote the tragedies of various Kings, Richard, and a group of Henrys, British play goers saw the history of their nation through these plays and 200 years of Royals murdering each other’s children or other rivals. Richard had 2 young cousins murdered in their beds.
Other rivals found themselves in the Tower of London, last stop before a beheading. The result was years of unrest and the constant threat of war with European nations, especially France. Blood and gore makes for good theater but not for daily life. This issue is one of succession – who will take over after the current leader dies or leaves office? The US Constitution mandates a smooth transfer of power. Of all the unique factors about the Constitutions the peaceful succession is uncommon in other parts of the world
Fourth, a state-mandated religion caused conflict. Henry the 8th we’ve all heard about – he rid himself of 6 wives all because the Roman Catholic church’s Pope said he could not divorce a wife. But Henry wanted a male heir.
After all these years and wives, God had the last laugh. A daughter survived and Queen Elizabeth the First managed to give some stability to her nation. But the conflict between religions continued. The only cure would be freedom of religion for all, which the wise Americans made not the 2nd or the 3rd amendment to the Constitution, but the first!
The fifth issue involved money. Monopolies lead to unchecked power so leaders with unlimited authority take as much money as they can, (these days they just print it) impoverish the nation, and finance wars, always fought by other people, that is, the people who are not national leaders. To mitigate this the Constitution divides authority into three sections, administration, judicial and legislative.
Then the Legislature is also divided into two parts in most states. This arrangement forces officials on both sides to compromise and if everyone wants the best for the country the result is fairly good law and management. This works so well other nations have copied it.
Seventh, people as individuals must be free to speak, assemble to form clubs and organizations, and to read newspapers and other media without government inference, and be free to move from one state to another. Only during wartime are their any constraints on the media. There are many “democracies” in the world today but most of them have a controlled press (Russia, China, North Korea), no secret ballot and no ability to move to the city to take a job.
Germany had a state financed Lutheran church until after World War 2. Great Britain still has no “bill of rights” as we do. Many nations are strictly Muslim – Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan, and many more. Only state-sanctioned Christian churches are permitted in China and certain doctrinal requirements demanded. For example, Christian Pastors must teach that all people go to heaven which is absolutely not part of the Holy Bible. No Christian material can be printed in China and the rules against Christians are becoming more onerous, even to the burning down of churches.
We are right to conclude that the world wants to flee their home country for America when you consider how peaceful it is in comparison to other nations but it only works if they leave their failing systems behind and accept and adjust to a new way of viewing government.
Three is a good bit of activity these days to change the Constitution without realizing that every change brings back a problem that was originally recognized and addressed by the Congress that wrote it. Socialism, for example, does not work because it allows a reward for indolence. If our forefathers can learn from others’ mistakes, so should we.