I picked up this book by W. Cleon Skousen based on Glenn Beck’s recommendation. It was phenomenal! If you ever wanted to know in a snap-shot about the Founders beliefs, where they got their ideas, and how this was incorporated into the Constitution without doing years of research, then this book is for you.
Take this quote from the book that sums up my exact feelings:
I was completely, totally, functionally illiterate when it came to a working knowledge of the principles and practices of freedom. I had no knowledge that I had no knowledge.
Lately, I’ve been feeling that a lot is missing in my education and from my general knowledge base. In school, we always ran out of time before we ever got to study the 20th century. We never, ever studied the Constitution in depth if at all beyond who wrote it and when. This is one reason driving my need to homeschool my kids. I don’t want them to be 33 and just learning this stuff. I don’t want them to learn frivolous garbage from schools. I want to learn the stuff I never got to learn, the stuff that is important like where our Constitution came from instead of the latest fashion or what have you.
Anyways, The 5000 Year Leap lays out 28 Principles the Founders believed that drove the founding of the Republic of the United States of America.
God is prevalent throughout this book and describes in length out the Founders believed God was driving the country and its founding. The Founders were bound by the laws of God as the rules of their conduct. The Founders based the Constitution on Anglo-Saxon Common Law and the People’s Law of Ancient Israel (God’s Law). The Founders were remarkably well read and mostly from the same books: the Bible, Greek, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, European, English history and philosophers: Cicero, Montesquieu, John Locke, Polybius, Thomas Hooker, Blackstone, Coke, Adam Smith.
Natural Law is the laws that the Supreme Creator has already established. Reasoning, God’s gift, leads to common-sense conclusions. Love God first, Man as yourself second, and teach those who follow us the same principles so these truths never die.
This book emphasized the importance of virtue. Some quotes:
Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. Benjamin Franklin
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. John Adams (Also quoted in Glenn Beck’s book, Broke)
The sum of it all is, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then shall we both deserve and enjoy it. Samuel Adams
The quality of virtue and morality in the character of a nation is the secret to its survival.
The best citizens should accept major roles in public life. One must be prepared (study politics) and experienced and should not be in politics for the money.
The natural aristocracy is based on virtue and talent, not birth and wealth.
America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. Alexis De Tocqueville.
I loved the Fifth Principle: The Role of the Creator which basically lays out that God has to exist and why. It’s based on John Locke’s arguments. If you know an atheist, this would be the logical argument to prove he or she is just not thinking when it comes to God’s existence. A persistent pursuit of the truth would bring them to the threshold of reality, where the Creator could be recognized and thereafter have a place in their lives.
Society provides equal opportunity but not equal results.
Inequality would exist as long as liberty existed…as an unavoidable result of that very liberty itself. Alexander Hamilton
Guarantee the equal protection of rights to ensure the freedom to prosper.
Whenever we attempt to mend the scheme of Providence, and to interfere with the government of the world, we had need be very circumspect, lest we do more harm than good. Benjamin Franklin
Life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws to protect them in the first place. Frederic Bastiat
With rights comes duties imposed by God. P.134-5
God’s law is the supreme law of the land.
The US is a republic, not a democracy. See book for definitions.
The Constitution was designed to control something which has not changed and will not change–human nature. Human nature never changes and every person in power must be watched and questioned least egos and self-aggrandizement takes hold.
Private property is an extension of a person’s life, energy, and ingenuity so to take it is an attack on the essence of life itself. (Locke’s theory)
Property is the fruit of labor. Otherwise, why work?
Four laws of economic freedom: the freedom to try, buy, sell, and fail.
Adam Smith–specialized production–let each person do what they do best.
Separation of powers–began with Polybius, then Montesquieu, and then John Adams.
To solve problems by peaceful means was the primary purpose of the US Constitution.
What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body….Thomas Jefferson
Without the protection of law there can be no liberty.
It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood…James Madison
Education includes morality and politics and extensive Bible reading which provides moral standards.
Avoid alliances. The book recounts how Washington wanted the US to be neutral and how the US should have been the peacemaker and not the policeman of the world. Now, seeing how other countries hate us for our involvement in their affairs (no matter how noble our cause), I agree with this assessment. We would do better being an example of prosperity and peace rather than aggression and coercion.
An orderly life is the surest path to happiness. Alexis De Tocqueville
Neither is a man without a woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:11)
Marriage is the most natural state of man, and therefore the state in which you are most likely to find solid happiness. It is man and woman united that make a complete human being. Together they are more likely to succeed in the world. Benjamin Franklin
Debt is borrowing against the future. Frugality a virtue.
Poverty often deprives a man of his spirit and virtue. (Ben Franklin)
Americans believed they were to lay an everlasting foundation of God’s Kingdom upon Earth.
The Founders formed the design of a great Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors to improve and perpetuate. James Madison
I found this book enlightening. It took the author 50 years of research to put all of this together and it was worth every bit of wait. The power of the truths in this book, especially for believers, is amazing. You will realize how powerful God is when He designed the US and how terrible we have fallen as society has moved away from Him.
I got this book from the library but I plan to purchase it for Christmas and eventually have my kids read it. You can get bogged down in the language (something the people used to value–eloquent speaking) so keep a dictionary handy but if you keep plugging away, you’ll be glad you did.
The 5000 Year Leap does an excellent job of not pushing an agenda and keeps an opinions to a very minimal. The facts and quotes are laid out for you, the reader, to decide.
I have gotten a few comments on my blog about Glenn Beck being a Mormon and the author of this book was a Mormon as well. To me, that does not matter; the message is the same: turn to God, religion, morality, and virtue and the US would be in a much healthier state. Anyone in today’s society who promotes a higher power and the reliance of man on a higher power should be admired even if it’s not exactly what others believe.
Glenn Beck is using his forum to promote good, morals, and values. Who can fault him for that?