Tuesday, October 4, 2011

America IS A Christian Nation, Part V, The American Experiment at Gettysburg

In the last installment of America IS A Christian Nation, we learned the Founders' definition of the term, 'despotism.'  And in that vernacular despotism can be thought of as the 'unauthoritative use of the power of government.'  Because American authority flows from God, directly to the people, in the form of unalienable human rights, and because the people convey only a portion of that authority to the government, then any use of governmental power that restricts the rights retained by the people, and therefore NOT conveyed to the government, is power devoid of authority and is therefore what the Founders termed despotic or tyrannical power.

And as a result, we learned that

Because American governmental authority is assumed from God, America's government possesses no authority, the use of which effectively denies that assumption.

Which also means that 
No tool of government, which description includes the congress, the president or the federal judiciary, nor any administrator or officer under their authority, possesses the authority to question that God exists, or that God is the source of authority for the Constitution and all  federal law, or to deny the conspicuous notice of those facts on federal properties.
The American Founders understood that, if they are to remain free, these principles are vital for the Americans to understand. 

But in the last installment we also further confirmed the truth that America is designed as an actual experiment testing the theory that an nation that obeys God's Laws, thus fulfilling God's will on earth, shall be protected by divine Providence.  We read from George Washington's Farewell Address confirming his understanding of that theory, and the experiment that remained ongoing even after his two terms as president, UNDER THE CONSTITUTION.  Thus, from the timing of Washington's remarks we know that nothing about the Constitution changes the nature of underlying theory of America, or the American Experiment designed to test that theory.

Elsewhere in Washington's Farewell address, the first president added
We are authorized to hope, that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment.
In that statement, Washington offers the hope that government, if operated in proper sync with its authoritative responsibilities, should afford a happy result to the experiment.  Conversely, if government might operate beyond it's authorities, then the experiment would become corrupted, yielding no usable data on which to pin a proper conclusion.  And as we will see below, whether a fair and full experiment would complete would eventually come into question.

The experimental nature of America would not be lost to other early statesmen. In keeping with an experiment designed to elicit the divine Providence for their nation, in their document's first stanza the authors of the Articles of Confederation spoke of the primary importance of America to please God
AND WHEREAS it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confederation and perpetual union.
Several of America's early presidents offered their thoughts on the matter of the ongoing American experiment.  America’s Second President, John Adams, spoke during his inaugural address of his great satisfaction with the constitutional process associated with the American Experiment, having witnessed it from abroad during the time of the constitutional convention:
Employed in the service of my country abroad during the whole course of these transactions [the constitutional Convention], I first saw the Constitution of the United States in a foreign country. Irritated by no literary altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no party animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as the result of good heads prompted by good hearts, as an experiment better adapted to the genius, character, situation, and relations of this nation and country than any which had ever been proposed or suggested.
In 1801, America’s third President and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, during his first inaugural address, spoke of the theoretical nature of the American Experiment, which as the world’s best hope had thus far kept the new nation free:
I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government can not be strong, that this Government is not strong enough; but would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the world's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself?
Four years later in his second inaugural address, Jefferson spoke of the free-exchange of ideas allowed under this new experimental system of government, and whether that free exchange would foster truth and reason:
Nor was it uninteresting to the world that an experiment should be fairly and fully made, whether freedom of discussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propagation and protection of truth—whether a government conducting itself in the true spirit of its constitution, with zeal and purity, and doing no act which it would be unwilling the whole world should witness, can be written down by falsehood and defamation. The experiment has been tried; you have witnessed the scene; our fellow-citizens looked on, cool and collected; they saw the latent source from which these outrages proceeded; they gathered around their public functionaries, and when the Constitution called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced their verdict, honorable to those who had served them and consolatory to the friend of man who believes that he may be trusted with the control of his own affairs.
No inference is here intended that the laws provided by the States against false and defamatory publications should not be enforced; he who has time renders a service to public morals and public tranquillity in reforming these abuses by the salutary coercions of the law; but the experiment is noted to prove that, since truth and reason have maintained their ground against false opinions in league with false facts, the press, confined to truth, needs no other legal restraint; the public judgment will correct false reasoning and opinions on a full hearing of all parties; and no other definite line can be drawn between the inestimable liberty of the press and its demoralizing licentiousness. If there be still improprieties which this rule would not restrain, its supplement must be sought in the censorship of public opinion.
Next up, America’s fifth President, James Monroe, spoke of the profound success of the American Experiment and pointed to the efforts of Jefferson as having been key to that success:
Of my immediate predecessor, under whom so important a portion of this great and successful experiment has been made, I shall be pardoned for expressing my earnest wishes that he may long enjoy in his retirement the affections of a grateful country, the best reward of exalted talents and the most faithful and meritorious service.
As well, President John Quincy Adams, in his inaugural address spoke of the great results having been gleaned from the theoretical course of the American Experiment based on the “theory of human rights:”
It is a source of gratification and of encouragement to me to observe that the great result of this experiment upon the theory of human rights has at the close of that generation by which it was formed been crowned with success equal to the most sanguine expectations of its founders.
And not to leave his thoughts undocumented, during his inaugural address President Martin Van Buren expressed the gratitude he felt for the American Experiment having conferred such happiness upon the nation:
The success that has thus attended our great experiment is in itself a sufficient cause for gratitude, on account of the happiness it has actually conferred and the example it has unanswerably given.
That the American Experiment would yield the result of 'happiness' is a direct reference to expressions of the Declaration of Independence, and the prospect that God's Providence was presently at work confirming the result.

So all of these men understood the experimental nature of America, that America is designed as an experiment to test the theory that a nation respecting God's Natural Laws, and therefore working to fulfill God's will on earth, should receive God's protection, the protection of the divine Providence.

And knowledge of the American Experiment was not lost to America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, a man who during the years preceding his presidency had worked diligently to understand the true meaning the American founders imparted to their new nation.  Evidence of Lincoln's understanding of the nature and meaning of the American Experiment can be found in many of his speeches, not the least of which is one of his most famous, the Gettysburg Address. On November 19,1863, Lincoln sent a message to all Americans, for all time, that the founding
fathers brought forth…a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 
Viewed scientifically, a “proposition” is simply a hypothesis yet to be proved or disproved by experimentation.  On that November day, approximately half of the way through the nation’s most cataclysmic test of endurance, Lincoln affirmed and clarified his recognition of the experimental nature of the American nation and his understanding of the Theory of America.  Lincoln continued:

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

Now let's really look into what Lincoln tells us in his Gettysburg Address.  He tells us that America is a nation 'conceived in liberty.'  What better way to say it!  According to the Declaration of Independence, Liberty is a gift from God to men and mankind.  And so America is a nation conceived out of that gift.  America is a product of God's gift of freedom.  And furthermore, America is an experiment that will test whether a nation conceived out of God's gift of freedom can long endure.  That is precisely what Lincoln is telling us here.  Lincoln understood  exactly what America's true meaning is.  But as many times as the Gettysburg Address has been read over the years since, and taught in schools, very few who read it truly understand what Lincoln is telling us in these lines.

And as fate would have it, Abraham Lincoln would live just long enough to recognize that the test of the Civil War had been a success.  That test of endurance for the American nation was effectively over just days prior to his assassination; Lincoln died knowing the hypothetical proposition that “all men are created equal” had at least been further substantiated.

Of course Lincoln's earthly fate would be decided by the act of a mad man.  But it should not escape us to consider that in a certain respect, at the time of his death, Lincoln's job, Lincoln's role in the American Experiment, was essentially complete.  As president, Lincoln ensured that the American Experiment would not stop short of, as Washington called it, 'a full and fair experiment.'  His work complete, it is not far from this author's thoughts to consider that if the Founders' theory is correct, Lincoln's earthly demise would have been known to God from the beginning of the world.  That being the case, holding the Founder's Theory as true, Lincoln's fate could not have been sealed without the hand of Providence.  Well, at least for some of us, that possibility is interesting to consider.

In our next installment, we will get a little more down and dirty with the American Experiment, and discover for ourselves the theoretical relationship that exists between the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.

See you soon,



  1. Hi, Hank,
    Once again, a marvelous piece. I especially enjoyed reading the direct quotes from our early presidents and from Mr. Lincoln. It adds so much perspective!

    I feel in these days and times, the American Experiment is faltering and pray we will get back on our feet and on the right track!


  2. Thank you, Martha. The premise of the experiment is that America is guided by exalted principles. That is the America being tested. But as we will see in future installments, perhaps like now, when America forgets those principles, just like when the Old Testament Jewish tribes would forget them, the hand of Providence turns away, almost as if the default in this world is strife, turmoil, war and famine. Only by the hand of Providence is all of that counteracted. And that is why the Founders used the terminology 'protection' of divine Providence. Unless God protects us from the world, then we are vulnerable to the world's effects on us, which are always bad. We will see that in some upcoming installments.

    And just for kicks, perhaps prime yourself with Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. Begin thinking about that today. When I get to it, it will make even more sense.

    Thanks for the comment!


  3. I will look Lincoln's second inaugural address up, for sure.

    Yes, I think we are a nation headed for "exile" if we don't turn this Titanic around and soon! The signs are there . . .

    Blessings always!



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