Renewing the American Spirit

Patriot Week begins on 9/11 and ends on 9/17 (the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution (Constitution Day)) and renews America’s spirit by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history. Many of current holidays have become overly commercialized or have lost their deeper meaning. We need to invigorate our appreciation and understanding of America’s spirit. This blog is dedicated to keeping the spirit of Patriot Week - and America - alive all year long.....

Monday, September 9, 2013

Patriot Week Daily Reading 9/17: Limited Government


On September 17, Patriot Week recognizes the First Principle of limited government.  
We also recognize the great Founding Father James Madison, who made that First Principle come alive in America. In addition, we recognize the unamended Constitution and the 9th and 10th Amendments, as well as State, County, and Municipal Flags (representing federalism and limited government)
Rejecting the belief that governments possess unlimited power, America was founded on the First Principle that the protection of unalienable rights is the legitimate purpose and limit of government (roughly referred to limited government). The Declaration of Independence recognized this as a First Principle when it explained that “to secure these rights ... governments are instituted among men...” 
Founding Father Thomas Paine expressed the American sentiment when he wrote that “Man did not enter into society to become worse than he was before, not to have fewer rights than he had before, but to have those rights better secured.” 
Thus, directly opposed to the proposition that the government is all powerful, because we have consented to the government to protect our unalienable rights, the government only has the power it needs to perform that function and auxiliary supports thereof – nothing more. 
From its founding, America embraced as a First Principle that the purpose and limit of the government is protecting the unalienable rights of its citizens.
The First Principle of Limited Government is key to American liberty.  The Revolution was fought in great measure to stop the unchecked power of Great Britain’s government which was oppressing the rights of Americans.
Under Madison’s masterful draftsmanship and direction, the Founding Fathers created a Constitution that includes three branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial), each vested with its own specific powers.  This separation of powers ensures that no single person or body of men can oppress the people. 
In addition, the Constitution includes checks and balances among the branches of government, so that all branches of government must act in concert - again, protecting against oppression by any particular branch.
The 9th and 10th Amendments to the United States Constitution also made explicit what was understood but not written down in the unamended Constitution – that the federal government was to be a limited government in scope and authority; and the States would continue to be vibrant and important parts of the lives of Americans (and act as a check against federal over-reaching).  
Unless specifically delegated to the federal government, all powers were reserved to the States.  Moreover, rights were protected, even if not specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights or elsewhere in the Constitution.  
The 9th and 10th Amendments, set forth below, embody these ideas:
Amendment IX 
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. 
Amendment X 
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. 
Born on March 16, 1751 in Port Conway, King George, Virginia, James Madison was a lawyer, plantation owner, and exemplar of political theory. 
Madison began his political career in the midst of the American Revolution as a member of the Orange County Committee of Safety in 1775 and in the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1776. He served in the state legislature and the Continental Congress from 1780-1783 and 1786-1788. 
Likely the Constitutional Convention’s most brilliant political theorist, he was considered “the best informed Man of any point in debate” by fellow delegate William Pierce of Georgia. Madison is appropriately known as the father of the Constitution for his outline for the new government. 
Madison explained the critical issue facing the Constitutional Convention: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” Yet, the angels remain in heaven and imperfect men must govern themselves. Accordingly, “the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” 
Madison brilliantly answered the difficulty by, among other things, embedding in the Constitution the separation of powers, checks and balances, enumerated powers (i.e., that the federal government only has the authority expressly given it in the Constitution), and federalism (the idea that all powers not given to the federal government reside in the states or the people). 
Not only an architect of the Constitution, Madison proved invaluable to convincing Americans to adopt it. Madison and Alexander Hamilton wrote the great bulk of The Federalist Papers (1788) (John Jay contributed about a half dozen of the nearly hundred articles). A series of newspaper articles published in New York, The Federalist Papers advocated the ratification of the Constitution while explaining its underlying theories. Thomas Jefferson reflected that The Federalist Papers was “the best commentary on the principles of government ever written.”
Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 10 established a new theory of protecting the unalienable rights of the people by explaining that such rights were best protected in large (as opposed to small) republics in which competing factions would limit the ability of an oppressive majority to quash the rights of political minorities. 
The Federalist Papers were vital to the passage of the Constitution in New York as well as other states. He also proved vital to the Constitution ratification in Virginia. 
Madison would draft and ensure the ratification of the Bill of Rights, which protected the unalienable rights of American citizens, including the free exercise of religion, free speech, free press, the right to bear arms, the right to a jury, due process, and federalism (via the 10th Amendment). 
Madison’s brilliantly inspired Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785) became the philosophical basis for the First Amendment?s nearly unprecedented prohibition of the establishment of religion by the federal government and securing the free exercise of religion. 
He would become Jefferson’s Secretary of State, and succeed Jefferson as President for two terms. 
Having left an indelible mark on America, he died on June 28, 1836 in Montpelier, Virginia.
All of the states - and many counties and municipalities - emblazon their symbolic representations onto flags. Many of these flags were purposefully designed to convey fundamental precepts - or generating history - for which their government exists. 
Some flags are deeply steeped in history and have flown for decades, if not centuries; others are relatively new, such as the young State of Georgia and City of Portland flags. 
For example, the City of Detroit’s flag - originally designed in 1907 by David E. Heineman and adopted in 1948 - includes as its hub the City’s seal. The seal has two latin mottos “Speramus Meliora” (“We hope for better things”) and “Resurget Cineribus” (“It will rise from the ashes”). Inspired by the great fire of June 11, 1805 - in which all but one building was destroyed - the seal also includes two figures - one weeping at the destruction, the other expecting greatness to arise from the ashes. In addition, the flag is divided into quarters - each representing the sovereign which controlled the city. Originally founded in 1701 by the French, the left quarter has the classic fluers-de-lis; the upper right quarter has Great Britain’s traditional lions to represent British control from 1760-1796; the upper left and lower right quarters are the classic 13 stars and stripes of the United States (albeit divided in a unique manner). 
Learning about state, county, and local flags can only provide us greater insight into our origins and liberties.
Learn more about America and Patriot Week, and renew the American Spirit, visit, Facebook, Twitter, or contact Judge Michael Warren at

Patriot Week Daily Reading: 9/16 - Unalienable Rights

On September 16, Patriot Week recognizes the First Principle of unalienable rights.  
We also recognize the great Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, who made that First Principle come alive in America. In addition, we recognize the Bill of Rights, as well as the Gadsden (Don’t Tread on Me) Flag.

The Declaration of Independence proclaims as a self-evident truth the First Principle that “all men are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” 
Thomas Jefferson explained the essence of the Founding Fathers understanding regarding the First Principle of unalienable rights when he wrote that “a free people claims their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as a gift from their chief magistrate.” 
In other words, a basic maxim of American government is the recognition that some rights derived from Nature may not be taken or violated by the government. 
This First Principle turned topsy-turvy the prior understanding of authority and rights. Putting aside a few ancient democracies and republics, Kings and nobility historically were the origin of authority, and they granted rights and privileges to their subjects. The people did not possess rights - only privileges - and they were dependent upon the pleasure of the rulers. 
Nevertheless, America boldly proclaimed at its birth that some rights were endowed by man’s very nature – and that individuals are incapable of relinquishing them. Because these rights are endowed in people from Nature’s God, they are inherent in each individual and cannot be abandoned – in other words, such rights are unalienable. 
Hence, “the sacred rights of mankind,” Alexander Hamilton observed, “are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” 
The recognition and protection of unalienable rights is a centerpiece of America.
Drafted by James Madison, and ratified by the United States Congress and the states as the first ten Amendments to the United States Constitution, effective as of December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights expressly protects many of our unalienable rights.  The Bill of Rights specifically provides:

Amendment I 
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 
Amendment II 
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. 
Amendment III 
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. 
Amendment IV 
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 
Amendment V 
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. 
Amendment VI 
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. 
Amendment VII 
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law. 
Amendment VIII 
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. 
Amendment IX 
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. 
Amendment X 
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. 
Born on April 13, 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia, he was a major plantation owner, lawyer, scientist, writer, and inventor. Jefferson became a leading voice for American independence when he wrote A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774). 
As a delegate at the Second Continental Congress, he was assigned to draft the Declaration of Independence. John Adams explained to Jefferson why: “Reason first – You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second – I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third – You can write ten times better than I can.” 
Throughout his life, Jefferson was perhaps the most eloquent defender of America’s First Principles. For example, he explained the essence of the Founders’ understanding of unalienable rights: “a free people claims their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as a gift from their chief magistrate.” Jefferson deeply believed in understanding and adhering to our First Principles as this passage from a letter to Samuel Kercheval (1816) reveals:
Only lay down true principles, and adhere to them inflexibly. Do not be frightened into their surrender by the alarms of the timid, or the croakings of wealth against the ascendancy of the people... 
A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sin and suffering.
Jefferson became war-time Governor of Virginia, and succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France in 1785. While in Europe, James Madison worked to ensure that Jefferson’s proposed Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom became law – creating a separation of church and state in Virginia. The Statute was the basis for the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. 
Jefferson was later tapped by George Washington to become the nation’s first Secretary of State. 
Narrowly losing election in 1796 to Adams, he became the nation’s third Vice-President. 
When he defeated Adams in a rematch, he became President – in what he dubbed the “Revolution of 1800.” 
Jefferson retired to Monticello after two tumultuous terms as President, and founded the University of Virginia. 
In their later years, Adams and Jefferson reconciled and enjoyed a famous, years’ long correspondence. Adams and Jefferson both passed away on July 4, 1826 – 50 years to the day of the Declaration of Independence.
This flag from the American Revolution has a storied and beloved history. The first recorded use of a field of yellow with a coiled rattlesnake and the motto “Dont Tread on Me” was on the drums of America’s first marines in the Fall of 1775. 
Colonel Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina was a member of Congress, and he was a member of the committee in charge of the marines’ first naval mission. Gadsden gave a flag mimicking the marines’ drums to Commodore Esek Hopkins as Hopkins’s personal standard. 
Whether Gadsden originally made the design for the marines (or whether he was inspired by their design) has been lost to history. However, Gadsden was personally responsible for making it a rallying symbol for Americans everywhere. The Gadsden Flag continues to stir the imagination and embodies the spirit of America.
Learn more about America and Patriot Week, and renew the American Spirit, visit, Facebook, Twitter, or contact Judge Michael Warren at

Patriot Week Daily Reading 9/15: Equality - Race

On September 15, Patriot Week recognizes the First Principle of Equality (racial).  
We also recognize the great civil rights icons Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King Jr,  who made that First Principle come alive in America. In addition, we recognize the Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation, and I Have a Dream Speech, as well as the Union (Fort Sumter) Flag.
The Founding Fathers embraced the Judeo-Christian understanding that the Creator created all individuals, that each person arises from His handiwork, and that every person embodies His blessing. Regardless of physical, mental, and social differences between individuals, each individual is equally precious in His eyes. While this First Principle originally arose from a belief in the nature of the Creator, the laws of nature lead many to the same conclusion. 
By embracing the First Principle of equality, America rejected the deliberately inequitable regimes dominating the globe in their time. Inequality codified in the law was a cornerstone of government throughout world history. Hereditary nobility and other special classes were almost universally granted special privileges unknown to the common person. 
Yet, from the American Revolution and for generations thereafter, equality was not afforded to African-Americans, most especially slaves. Over 50 years after the Declaration of Independence, Frederick Douglass could rightfully ask, “What I have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” Indeed, slavery and racial discrimination made a mockery of the First Principles of equality, unalienable rights, and the Social Compact. 
Driven by the idea of the First Principle of equality, abolitionists organized to emancipate the slaves and to afford African-Americans equality under the law. The inherent hypocrisy of slavery in the land of the free eventually literally tore the Union asunder in the Civil War. At enormous sacrifice, with the adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th-15th Amendments, the nation finally began to live up to its promise. 
However, generations would pass - and another civil rights struggle led by Martin Luther King, Jr. was necessary - before the principle of equality was more firmly established in civil rights legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 
Although the struggle is not complete, the First Principle of equality requires that each person be treated equally under the law, and that the equal protection of the laws be afforded to all.


On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln placed into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the Confederacy. 

Simple, but majestic, it provided:
“All persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free” 


The Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Lincoln on the battlefield which months early saw one of the bloodiest and most important battles in American history, is perhaps the most eloquent statement by any American ever.  The Address crystalized for Americans the need to fulfill the broken promise of equality. 

The Address speaks for itself:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Generations later, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., at the March on Washington, he delivered his I Have A Dream speech - a stirring message that inspired the country to overcome its troubled history and embrace racial equality:
“Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation... But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination... 
“In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 
“It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation... Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children... 
I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal...
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character...”
(Because the text of the speech is licensed by Intellectual Properties Management, Atlanta, GA as exclusive Licensor of the Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. (which holds the copyright), the excerpts of this speech are given for academic and educational purposes only in compliance with the “fair use” doctrine).

Born a poor child on February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln eventually taught himself the law and became a renowned lawyer in Illinois. 
He began his political career losing a race for the state legislature in 1832. He would win two years later and serve in the Illinois House from 1834-1841. While winning a seat to Congress in the House of Representatives in 1847, he lost his bid for reelection as well as two bids for the Senate in 1855 and 1858. This repeat loser won the presidency in 1860. 
Calling upon the First Principles, Lincoln argued for the emancipation of slaves, protecting the unalienable rights of African Americans, and equality before the law. 
With an uncanny intellect and will he became the rock upon which the Union was preserved during the Civil War. Lincoln could act upon the First Principles when he promulgated the Emancipation Proclamation on New Year’s Day, 1863 – declaring all slaves in states under the South’s control to be free. 
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1863) was a defining moment in the struggle to secure equality and unalienable rights for all Americans. While possessing no legal authority, it is nearly as important to the American character as the Declaration of Independence. No other speech reveals – and helped cause – the evolution of American thought. 
Simply put, Lincoln explained that America was founded upon certain First Principles and that it must struggle to meet those principles – even at great and horrible costs – to ensure that the nation dedicated those First Principles could survive. 

Born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland (on what he believed to be Valentine’s Day, 1816), Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery on September 3, 1838. Douglass eventually bought his freedom with the proceeds of anti-slavery lectures he presented in Great Britain and Ireland. 
Once he fled the South, Douglass became a committed abolitionist. He leapt onto the world stage by publishing his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845). By detailing his brutal life as a common slave, the work captured the public's imagination and significantly advanced the cause of abolitionism. 
Douglass used his fame to tour and speak across the country and in Europe. He began several newspapers, including the influential North Star. His unrelenting attacks upon slavery clearly revealed the need to address the fundamental hypocrisy of slavery in free republic of America. 
During the Civil War he consulted with President Abraham Lincoln; and during Reconstruction he advised President Andrew Johnson. He also served in several federal posts during Reconstruction, including as US Marshall for the District of Columbia, register of deeds for the District of Columbia, and as a diplomat to Haiti. 

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. The impetus underlying the Civil Rights Movement, like the drive to abolish slavery and enact Reconstruction, was the belief in the First Principle of equality. Dr. King firmly believed in this conviction and used it as his greatest weapon. 
King preached and practiced non-violent opposition in the face of oppression. He established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, and led the struggle for equality during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. 
Writing from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, he explained that the civil rights activists were “standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” 
Thus, it was natural for King, when he addressed over 200,000 supporters who had marched on Washington, D.C., to echo Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass, in his famous and moving I Have a Dream Speech. The efforts and Dr. King and others in the Civil Rights Movement led to the adoption of several federal civil rights acts and ground-breaking Supreme Court decisions. 
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. His assassination gripped the nation and became a major impetuous for embracing racial equality in America.
The Civil War began with the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston South Carolina on April 12, 1861. After the original garrison flag ripped, this flag was hoisted above Fort Sumter. 
Major Robert Anderson lowered the flag when he evacuated Fort Sumter on April 14, 1861. He brought the flag to New York City on April 20, 1861 for a rally on behalf of the Union. The flag soon went on tour to various rallies in the North where “auctions” were held to raise funds on behalf of the Union’s war effort. The “winners” of the auctions promptly returned the flag so that the fundraising tour could continue. 
In February 1865, the Confederacy abandoned Charleston. At Abraham Lincoln’s direction, exactly four years after the flag was lowered, then Major General Robert Anderson raised it at Fort Sumter. 
At the flag raising ceremony, the Reverend Henry Ward Beech delivered a powerful oration that remarked:
“On this solemn and joyful day, we again lift to the breeze our fathers' flag, now, again, the banner of the United States, with the fervent prayer that God will crown it with honour, protect it from treason, and send it down to our children with all the blessings of civilization, liberty, and religion. Terrible in battle, may it be beneficent in peace! Happily no bird or beast of prey has been inscribed upon it. The stars that redeem the night from darkness, and the beams of red light that beautify the morning, have been united upon its folds. As long as the sun or the stars endure, may it wave over a nation neither enslaved nor enslaving... 
In the name of God we lift up our banner, and dedicate it to peace, union, and liberty, now and for ever more. Amen.”
In a remarkable twist of fate, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated that very night.
Learn more about America and Patriot Week, and renew the American Spirit, visit, Facebook, Twitter, or contact Judge Michael Warren at