It’s Elementary – The Constitution Should Be!

Elementary Catechism on the Constitution

Arthur Stansbury’s original 1828 text with Introduction and Conclusion, including 332 Questions/Answers on the Constitution with step by step commentary on all of the important features of “a government of law and not of men”, is one of the fundamental text that we will be using for leadership development and Constitutional reasoning at the Samuel Adams Center for Political Science.  

I firmly believe if we had continued to use this Catechism on the Constitution to this very day we would not have the UN, we would not have obumer-care, we would not be dealing with much of what we are.  So just as a slight introduction I want to share the summary of what Stansbury wrote to the children of the day.

CONCLUSION.

And now, my young friends, having gone through a short, and I hope, clear and intelligible view of this Con­stitution, I have a few parting words to say to each one of you,

In the first place, consider how happy and how highly favored is our country, in having a system of. government so wisely calculated to secure the life, liberty, and happiness of all its citizens. Had you lived or travelled in other parts of the world, you would be much more sensible of this, than you can possibly be without such an opportunity of comparing our lot with that of others. But, as your reading increases, particularly in history and in travels, you will be able to form a more just estimate of what you enjoy. When you read of the oppression which has been, and still is exercised, I do not say in Africa and Asia, whose inhabitants are but partially civilized—but even in the most enlightened countries of Europe; under absolute monarchs, a proud and haughty nobility—a worldly, selfish, and ambitious priesthood—a vast and rapacious standing army, and a host of greedy officers of government; and then turn your eyes on your own happy home, a land where none of these evils has any place—where the people first make the laws and then obey them—where they can be oppressed by none, but where every man’s person, property, and privileges are surrounded by the law, and sacred from every thing but justice and the public good; how can you be sufficiently grateful to a beneficent Providence, which has thus endowed our country with blessings equally rich and rare?

In the next place, remember that this precious Con­stitution, thus wise, thus just, is your birth-right. It has been earned for you by your fathers, who counselled much, labored long, and shed their dearest blood, to win it for their children. To them it was the fruit of toil and danger—to you, it is a gift. Do not slight it on that account, but prize it as you ought. It is yours, no human power can deprive you of it, but your own folly and wickedness. To undervalue, is one of die surest ways to lose it. Take pains to know what the Constitution is—the more you study, the higher you will esteem it. The better you understand your own rights, the more likely you will be to preserve and guard them.

And, in the last place, my beloved young countrymen, your country’s hope, her treasure, and one day to be her pride and her defence; remember that a constitution which gives to the people so much freedom, and entrusts them with so much power, rests for its permanency, on their knowledge and virtue. An ignorant people are easily betrayed, and a wicked people can never be ruled by the mild influence of their own laws. If you would be free—if you would see your country grow in all that constitutes true greatness—cultivate knowledge—flee from vice. The virtuous citizen is the true noble. He who enlightens his understanding—controls his passions—feels for his country’s honor—rejoices in her prosperity—steps forth to aid her in the hour of danger—devotes to her advancement the fruits of his mind, and consecrates to her cause, his time, his property, and his noblest powers, such a man is one of God’s nobility; he needs neither riband, nor star; his country knows and remembers his name; nor could any tide add to its honor, or to his reward. We have seen such men among us; we hope to see many more. And though the glory of giving to their country such a Constitution as this, is what none but they have been so blessed as to enjoy, yet you succeed to a task, but one degree removed from it, that of preserving what they have committed to your virtue, unsullied and unimpaired.

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