By Editorial Staff
Published April 24, 2008
Eight Principles That Shook the World
by Cleon Skousen
Editor’s Forward: A Personal Testimony By Wang Jiapu
WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, IT BECOMES NECESSARY FOR ONE People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness …
- Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence
Contained in these famous words are the timeless principles that supersede all cultures. When I was 19 years old studying English in a Beijing library, I first stumbled across these sublime concepts, which struck something deep inside me. It caused me to redouble my efforts in English that I might come to America to learn more about the people who would believe such noble ideas.
I have since learned that America, sadly, as a whole no longer believes in these principles discovered by Thomas Jefferson. For this reason, America has experienced great moral and social decline. But the fundamental truth remains that any nation that will embrace the God of these principles will experience justice and liberty.
Jefferson served as president of the United States, first secretary of state, minister to France, governor of Virginia, and a congressman, and was an accomplished architect, scientist, farmer, book collector, patron of the arts, violinist, and horseman. Yet he wanted to be remembered for only three things: drafting the Declaration of Independence, writing and supporting the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786), and founding the University of Virginia. These three acts have this in common: They all testify to Jefferson’s life-long passion to liberate the human mind from tyranny, whether imposed by the state, church, or man’s own ignorance.
The following account describes Jefferson’s role in the great years of America’s destiny – 1775 and 1776 – when he went to Congress as a young man and wrote the draft for the Declaration of Independence. It is clearly evident that the “ancient principles,” to which Jefferson constantly alluded, were derived purely from the Bible.
- Wang Jiapu
A Chinese student in the U.S.
It is doubtful that any of the Founders could have brought to this assignment a more profound and comprehensive training in history and political philosophy than jefferson. Even by modern standards, the depth and breadth of his education are astonishing.
He had begun the study of Latin, Greek, and French at the age of nine. At the age of sixteen he had entered the College of William and Mary at Williamsburg as an advanced student. At the age of nineteen he had graduated and immediately commenced five years of intensive study with George Wythe, the first law professor in America. During this period he often studied twelve to fourteen hours per day. When he was examined for the bar he seemed to know more than the men who were giving him the examination.
By the time Jefferson had reached early adulthood, he had gained proficiency in five languages. He had studied the Greek and Roman classics. He had studied European and English history. He had carefully studied both the Old and New Testaments.
While studying the history of ancient Israel, Jefferson made a significant discovery. He saw that at one time the Israelites had practiced the earliest and most efficient form of representative government. As long as the Israelites followed their fixed pattern of constitutional principles, they flourished. When they drifted from it, disaster overtook them. Jefferson thereafter referred to this constitutional pattern as the “ancient principles.”
Writing the Declaration of Independence
For seventeen days Jefferson composed and revised his rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. The major portion of the Declaration is taken up with a long series of charges against King George III. However, these were nearly all copied from Jefferson’s drafts of the Virginia Constitution and his Summary View of the Rights of British America. To copy these charges into the Declaration would not have taken him more than a single day. What was he doing the other sixteen days?
It appears that he spent most of the remaining time trying to structure into the first two paragraphs at least eight of the “ancient principles” that he had come to admire:
1. Sound government should be based on self-evident truths. These truths should be so obvious, so rational, and so morally sound that their authenticity is beyond reasonable dispute.
2. The equal station of mankind here on earth is a cosmic reality, an obvious and inherent aspect of the law of nature and of nature’s God.
3. This presupposes (as a self-evident truth) that the Creator made human beings equal in their rights, equal in his sight. (Of course, individual attributes and personal circumstances in life vary widely.)
4. These rights, which have been bestowed by the Creator on each individual, are unalienable; that is, they cannot be taken away or violated without the offender coming under the judgment and wrath of the Creator. A person may have other rights, such as those that have been created as a “vested” right by statute, but vested rights are not unalienable. They can be altered or eliminated at any time.
5. Among the most important of the unalienable rights are the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue whatever course of life a person may desire in search of happiness, so long as it does not invade the inherent rights of others.
6. The most basic reason for a community or a nation to set up a system of government is to assure its inhabitants that the rights of the people shall be protected and preserved.
7. And because this is so, it follows that no office or agency of government has any right to exist except with the consent of the people or their representatives.
8. It also follows that if a government either by malfeasance or neglect, fails to protect those rights – or, even worse, if the government itself begins to violate those rights – then it is the right and duty of the people to regain control of their affairs and set up a form of government that will serve the people better.
On July 2, 1776, the Congress assembled as an informal “Committee of the Whole” to freely discuss Jefferson’s Manifesto of Freedom. A number of changes were suggested and debated. It was the evening of July 4 when the Congress as an official body finally approved Jefferson’s somewhat modified document. There were over sixty changes but not one of the “ancient principles” was deleted.
Reprinted from The Making of America, by Cleon Skousen, pp. 24-39, available through the National Center for Constitutional Studies, H.C. 61 Box 1056, Malta, Idaho 83342. Used with permission.
Forerunner - Home » The Mandate Newspaper » The Mandate - Volume 2, Number 1
Your comments are welcome!
Visit The Forerunner's Discussion Forum!
“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“… a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?
Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!
“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l
Running Time: 40 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)