The Constitutional Convention

us-constitutionThe Constitutional Convention – By Daniel Sheridan

On this day, May 25, 1787, in Philadelphia, having a quorum of seven states, the Constitutional Convention officially begins discussions to revise the Articles of Confederation.

The years following the Revolutionary War were disastrous. These years have been called the “Critical Period” in American history. We threw off the yoke of tyranny and we were now facing an onslaught of anarchy.

The Articles of Confederation were proving to be insufficient to meet our needs. The states were engaging in commercial wars with each other and many people both at home and abroad thought we’d fall apart. Daniel Webster said that the Articles were “merely a rope of sand.” Other Patriots, including George Washington, called this the worst time in our history – that coming from the man who was at Valley Forge!

In 1786 Washington wrote a letter calling for a stronger union. He complained that “Thirteen sovereignties pulling against each other, and all tugging at the federal head, will soon bring ruin on the whole.”  People asked the General to use his influence to help remedy these problems. He responded: “Influence is no government. Let us have one by which our lives, liberties, and properties will be secured, or let us know the worst at once.”

Benjamin Rush, being the wonderful physician he was, properly diagnoses the heart of the problem:

“The confederation, together with most of our state constitutions, were formed under very unfavorable circumstances. We had just emerged from a corrupted monarchy. Although we understood perfectly the principles of liberty, yet most of us were ignorant of the forms and combinations of power in republics. Add to this, the British army was in the heart of our country, spreading desolation wherever it went: our resentments, of course, were awakened. We detested the British name; and unfortunately refused to copy some things in the administration of justice and power, in the British government, which have made it the admiration and envy of the world. In our opposition to monarchy, we forgot that the temple of tyranny has two doors. We bolted one of them by proper restraints; but we left the other open, by neglecting to guard against the effects of our own ignorance and licentiousness.”

Absolutely perfect diagnosis from Dr. Rush!

To remedy this condition the Founders met in Philadelphia. Their goal was to “form a more perfect Union” between the states.

This 55 member “Senate of Sages” was impressive. George Washington was the President of the Convention. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest delegate, and probably the wisest. James Madison played such a big role in creating the new document he’s been called the “Father of the Constitution.”  Alexander Hamilton, the youngest member, would become the Constitution’s greatest salesman writing many “Federalist Papers” which helped influence its ratification.

The Convention officially got under way on this day, May 25, 1787. Each man had a wealth of experience and knowledge and strong opinions to go with them. Over four hot months, one of the hottest Philadelphia ever saw, they discussed the issues and hammered out their difference – without air-conditioning! Our Constitution was completed and signed on September 17, 1787.

During the ratification debates Alexander Hamilton summed up the crisis Americans faced:

“AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficiency of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.”

They chose wisely and ratified our Constitution. But this doesn’t mean the crisis is forever passed. We face it today. Liberty comes with responsibilities. We too must, by our conduct and example, show the world that we are able to preserve our good constitutional government by reflection and choice, thus being an example to all mankind. To accomplish this we too are called upon to examine our Constitution. We too must know our history, our form of Government, and have the ability to respectfully engage each other. The price of liberty is self-sacrifice and eternal vigilance!

On this day, May 25, 1787, in Philadelphia, having a quorum of seven states, the Constitutional Convention officially begins discussions to revise the Articles of Confederation.

Watch this video explaining what kind of Government our Founders gave us:

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Original Intent, Individual Dignity and Responsibility, and Freedom of Conscience

Luther Here I Stand MemeOriginal Intent, Individual Dignity and Responsibility, and Freedom of Conscience – By Daniel Sheridan (Twitter: @DanielWSheridan) #ReformationDay #History #OTD #ReligiousLiberty #Constitution

The Protestant Reformation began in Germany in the year 1517 through the influence of Martin Luther. The Reformation was a product of the Renaissance. One great feature of the Renaissance was the revival of ancient learning and its emphasis on original intent. Original documents can become corrupted with the passage of time through poor translation and lack of respect for original context, Renaissance men tried to clear up those corruptions by restoring the originals. The Reformation was a movement to clear up corruptions in religious matters in order to restore the Bible’s original intent.

Luther, a Catholic Priest, had a growing conviction that certain practices and beliefs of his Church were corruptions which crept in over time. He put his concerns, his “95 Theses,” in writing and posted them on the door of the Wittenberg Church, on October 31, 1517, intending to spark a debate among Church leaders. Contrary to his wishes, however, the theses were translated and dispersed among the common people causing a great stir.

In those days church and state were intimately connected; church doctrine was enforced by the state. The king, nobles, and clergy ran everything, while the common people, who were in the majority, were oppressed. It was a top-down fixed system.

Luther didn’t want to leave or destroy his church, he wanted to reform it. But the rulers of the reigning Church-State system didn’t want reform, they wanted, like all stubborn or corrupt power does, the status quo. The Pope expelled Luther on January 3, 1521, for his writings. Three months later, on April 17th, Luther was summoned to either renounce or reaffirm his beliefs at the Diet of Worms, which had been in session since January 28. When Luther stood before the august crowd consisting of the religious hierarchy, nobles and the king, he was presented with a table stacked with copies of his writings and was asked if was willing to recant their teachings. Luther requested time to think about his answer. Granted an extension, Luther prayed, consulted with friends, and then presented himself before the Diet the next day.

Luther was asked again if he was willing to retract those writings. He apologized for the harsh tone of many of his writings but declared that he couldn’t reject the teachings they contained. He respectfully, but boldly stated:

“Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”

This statement was the seed of a future society based on liberty of conscience! It marked a turning point in European History. By respectfully declaring that the Church had no authority to enforce a belief, Luther was not only challenging the Church, but the Civil Government as well.

Luther wasn’t asking for much. He simply pleaded with the leaders to convince him through persuasion and reason, not force, that he was wrong. He was willing to admit his error if he was presented with evidence and sound reasoning. The hierarchy, however, wasn’t interested in reason, only force.

On May 25, 1521, the Diet of Worms ends when Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, issues the Edict of Worms declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.

The Reformation was underway.

Luther and his followers dispensed with many practices they felt were contrary to the original intent of Scripture. Luther held that the individual approaches God directly through Jesus Christ without the need of any human intermediary. Thus, in the spirit of the Renaissance, the individual was emerging from the massive, top-down, hierarchical, corporate religious structure.

The Reformation didn’t bring total religious freedom at that time, but it was a step in that direction, a huge step! Original intent, individual dignity and responsibility, and freedom of conscience are the principles which emerged out of the Reformation. Europeans brought these ideals to the American Colonies, shaped them to their American experience, and slowly improved them over time.

Americans of all colors and creeds are today guaranteed complete liberty of conscience and individual rights. We are also sticklers when it comes to original intent when interpreting and applying our Constitution, our laws, and even our Bibles. In America, tyrannical overlords, both political and religious, were ousted over time. Slavery and enforced religion have been abolished!

What other reforms do we still need to implement? May God grant us the wisdom to discern and the virtue to peruse the reforms needed in our day. Let us never stop reforming because “reproofs of instruction,” wrote the wise King Solomon, “are the way of life.”

For more information watch my video on Religious Liberty

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Morse Code: What Hath God Wrought!

Morse Code_VintageMorse Code: What Hath God Wrought! – By Daniel Sheridan (Twitter: @DanielWSheridan)

On this day, May 24, 1844, the greatest discovery in the methods of communication, an invention born out of personal tragedy, was successfully put to the test. This technology launched the world-wide communications revolution and marked a turning point in the advancement of human civilization.

Professor Samuel Morse was born in Massachusetts in 1791, graduated from Yale, and became a successful portrait painter. He was commissioned to paint Revolutionary heroes like John Adams and James Monroe. One day in 1825, Morse was in D.C. working on a painting of America’s great French ally and friend during the Revolution, Lafayette, when he received a letter from his father saying Morse’s wife was deathly ill. By the time Morse made it back home the love of his life was already dead and buried. She was only 25.

Morse was devastated that he couldn’t be with his beloved in her final hours. He was haunted by the fact that it took so long to receive the news of her declining health the old fashion way. Morse, as a result, turned his attention to the study of electricity in order to come up with a way to speed up communications.

By 1835 he had discovered the electric telegraph. Morse got his patent in 1838 and spent every dime perfecting his inveMorse First Telegraphntion.

On this day, May 24, 1844, Morse put his new technology to the test. He set up his telegraphic sounder in the Federal Supreme Court room in the nation’s capital. People watched with anticipation marveling at this strange contraption with copper wires attached. The inventor sat before the machine and ticked off the Biblical words:

“What hath God wrought.”

The message was received in seconds by Morse’s assistant in Baltimore who triumphantly repeated the message back to the sender in Washington. Those who witnessed it were astonished.

Professor Morse said, “You ain’t seen nothin yet! One day my wires will encircle the earth.” Those are my words with a modern spin, but those are his sentiments. He prophesied his telegraph wires would soon carry messages not only across America, but under the ocean to Europe.

Morse, however, was now broke having depleted his fund on his great project. Congress, realizing the potential of Morse’s invention after his successful test, stepped in to help. From that point on his invention took off and Morse was honored all over the world.

In 1844 Morse’s communication invention carried the news of the election of James K Polk from Baltimore to Washington D.C. This became the forerunner to our modern election night instant results coverage. Telegraph lines were rapidly erected throughout the country. In 1851 the first electric fire-alarm telegraph was set-up.

Morse lived to see his invention change the world and eventually retired from public life. The elder Morse, in 1871, used his invention to publish his final message. An operator typed his dictated words:

“Greeting and thanks to the Telegraph fraternity throughout the world. Glory to God in the Highest, on Earth Peace, Goodwill to men.”

Morse then sat down and personally input his name at the end of the message. He died ten months later at the age of 80.

On this day, May 24, 1844, the first Morse code message is sent; a day that should be recognized as a turning point in the advancement of human civilization.

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The Plain Guide To Universalism: What Are The Duties Of Universalists? Part 2

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Moments With A Successful Savior: The Wisdom of God

The Wisdom of God: By Thomas Whittemore; Edited, Expanded, and Narrated by Daniel Sheridan – Audio Version Below

God is WISE. A wise Creator would never bring beings into existence and then make that existence a curse by making eternal suffering the end of that existence. God foresaw all the consequences of our creation when he made us. He knew fully what the result would be to each individual. Is it possible that infinite goodness could breathe life into unoffending dust when it was clearly foreseen that endless evil would ensue? This is impossible! God Must have created ONLY TO BLESS. “LOVE WORKETH NO ILL.”

The wisdom of God, according to James 3:17, is “full of mercy” and “without partiality.” Let’s look at these.

First: “Full of mercy.” Adam Clarke says it means “ready to pass by a transgression, and to grant forgiveness to those who offend; and PERFORMING EVERY POSSIBLE ACT OF KINDNESS.” Surely, a God of infinite power and skill, who “performs every possible act of kindness,” will save his fallen creatures from their sins. Webster says mercy is “That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant…It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.”

Second: “Without partiality.” This means without making a difference. Webster says, “Inclination to favor one party or one side of a question more than the other; an undue bias of mind towards one party or side, which is apt to warp the judgment. Partiality springs from the will and affections, rather than from a love of truth and justice.” God is no respecter of persons. He is kind to all men and he will perform every “possible act of kindness” to all men.

The wisdom of God tells us that God is the Savior of All Mankind! Jesus Christ is a Successful Savior.

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Benjamin Franklin: Free Markets and Free Men

BifocalsBenjamin Franklin – Free Markets and Free Men: How Free Markets Helped Individuals Go From Making $3.00 to $130.00 Per Day – By Daniel Sheridan

On this day, May 23, 1785, Benjamin Franklin announces his latest invention helping book readers everywhere. Did you know that he wished he could have born in our time? Here’s the story.

On May 23, 1785, Dr. Franklin wrote a letter to George Whatley talking about how he invented bifocals.

“… MY double spectacles can only serve particular eyes…I imagine it will be found pretty generally true, that the same convexity of glass, through which a man sees clearly at distance proper for reading, is not the best for greater distances. I therefore had formerly two pairs of spectacles, which I shifted occasionally, as in traveling I sometimes read, and often wanted to enjoy the scenery. Finding the change troublesome, and not always sufficiently ready, I had the glasses cut and half of each kind associated in the same circle, thus By this means, as I wear my spectacles constantly, I have only to move my eyes up or down, as I want to see distinctly far or near, the proper glass being always ready.”

Benjamin Franklin was an enthusiastic supporter of free trade and free men. He believed free men are the greatest inventors. The last two hundred years have seen an explosion of inventions for the benefit of mankind; we’ve also seen a tremendous increase in the standard of living.

Today, the average American earns about $130 per day; it’s about $20 in China and $10 in India. Under full-fledged socialism they were around a buck per day. This teaches us that any step toward free markets, even if they are but small ones, improves the lives of people. Two hundred years ago the average income in terms of modern prices was about $3.00 per day per person – that’s world-wide! So if you complain about today’s economy try to gain a little perspective.

How did such advances come about these last 200 years? Some think that government programs are responsible. If government is the answer, then wouldn’t the ancient Governments of Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome have sufficed? Government is necessary, but its primary function is to protect free people, the very people who change the world for the better. Government helps maintain a free atmosphere. It is true that from time to time Government aids inventors, like Samuel Morse and his Morse Code project, but the great inventions are originated by a free people.

So what brought about this great change in the standard of living? Liberty. Free people invent things that change the world. Slaves and serfs under the iron yoke of masters, feudal lords, and bureaucrats are creatively handicapped.

Franklin agrees:

“Commerce…the more free and unrestrained it is, the more it flourishes; and the happier are all the nations concerned in it. Most of the restraints put upon it in different countries seem to have been the projects of particulars for their private interest, under pretense of public good.”

Free people come up with great ideas; others come later and improve them. The last 200-years have seen an ideas explosion. All around us we see 1800s inventions improved; items we use every day from electric lights to kitchen sinks. We have amazing medical advancements too. Sicknesses which at one time were death sentences are now fixed with a pill.

All these advancements are the results of free men and free markets. Benjamin Franklin said this as early as 1788:

“I’ve been long impressed with…the growing felicity of mankind, from the improvements in philosophy, morals, politics and even the conveniences of common living…by the invention and acquisition of new and useful instruments…and that I have sometimes almost wish it had been my destiny to be born two or three centuries hence. For invention and improvement are prolific, and beget more of the kind.”

Uncle Ben wished he could be born in our day to see the results of free markets and free men. Imagine if he was able to see what free-men have produced since he penned those words! He’d be overjoyed!


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