A wise Samuel Adams once stated “But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and the happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.”
Samuel further states that they need to have proven virtue and proven wisdom. One of the most quoted scriptures of that time period was Proverbs 29:2 “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn”.
The founders were keenly aware of the short comings of human nature. Knowing that they could not create a utopian society, they created a system that would help bring forward the most promising element of society and then be able to draft them into service. They hoped to develop a spirit of public virtue by having leaders that have a strong private virtue. It would be a new kind of freemen aristocracy or natural aristocracy, which would be open to all, but inheritable by none. Every leader would have to rise to office by merit, not by wealth or reputation of his ancestors. They firmly believed that the best of private citizens should accept major roles in the public life.
John Adams believed that we must prepare for service in politics. He said “The science of government is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take place of, indeed to exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”
Benjamin Franklin taught that it was important that public office was viewed as an honor rather then a position of profit. He gave the example of how there was a violent struggle to be appointed to office in Europe due to the amount of pay for the position. He felt that it was of utmost importance that service would attract men of public virtue and repeal scoundrels scrambling for a soft job. He stated that although the founders set low pay, throughout time this would change and the rulers would return to the political warfare that occurs between the governed and the governing. Those who govern always seek for their own personal benefit and have an appetite that is never satisfied.
Franklin foretold the potential of America returning to a monarchy. Not called a monarchy, of course, since the people would never allow it but rather a president that would be given monarchial powers. He stated that if given the chance, this executive power would follow the example of Pharaoh. First get all the people’s money, then all their lands, and then make them and their children servants forever.
(The 28 Principles of Liberty are adapted from the book "The 5000 Year Leap" by W. Cleon Skousen. This article is also published at www.Myspace.com/angelsings www.LDSFreemen.com and the Cape Fair Cryer newspaper in Missouri.)