Founders Not Political Tyros

Called Unto Liberty, J. Reuben Clark, 20th Century Sermons

Moses was no more prepared by the training and experience gained in the Court of Pharaoh for his great service of leading Israel from the bondage of Egypt, [p. 70] than were the framers of the Constitution prepared by training and experience for their work of providing a form of government that would “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” as they proclaimed to the world in the classic Preamble to the Constitution . . . .

This was a choice lot of men.(3) . . .

The framers were not political tyros flying a political kite to keep in order the henyard, that is, the colonists. They were men widely experienced in affairs of government . . . .

The Constitution was not the work of cloistered, fanatical theorists, but of sober, seasoned, distinguished men of affairs, drawn from various walks of life. They included students of wide reading and great learning in all matters of government . . . .

The Constitution was born, not only of the wisdom and experience of the generation that wrought it, but also out of the wisdom of the long generations that had gone before and which had been transmitted to them through tradition and the pages of history . . . .

These were the horse and buggy days as they have been called in derision; these were the men who travelled in the horsedrawn buggies and on horseback; but these were the men who carried under their hats, as they rode in the buggies and on their horses, a political wisdom garnered from the ages. As giants to pygmies are they when placed alongside our political emigres and their fellow travelers of today, who now traduce them with slighting word and contemptuous phrase.

Moses, the great Lawgiver, seemingly travelled on foot; so travelled the intellectual giants of Greece and Rome, or by horse or chariot; Christ, on foot or by donkey; and so Peter and Paul, though possibly by chariot sometimes; so with all the great ones of early modern times—Napoleon, Peter the Great, the Iron Duke, and scores of others. Intellectual power, wisdom, spiritual greatness, inspiration, vision, have never depended upon nor been proportionate to, speed in transportation . . . . [p. 71]

But I declare to you, for what it may be worth, that it [the Constitution] is what Gladstone said it was, the greatest document “ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man,” a document which, according to my belief, the Lord himself “suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles,” established “by the hands of wise men whom the Lord raised up for that purpose”; and as the Lord said, this land was redeemed by the shedding of blood. I say to you that the price of liberty is and always has been blood, human blood, and if our liberties are lost, we shall never regain them except at the price of blood. They must not be lost!

The proudest boast of a citizen of ancient Rome was, “I am a Roman.” The proudest boast of any patriotic citizen of this free country of ours should be, “I am an American.” God grant this boast may ever be ours.

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Source: J. Reuben Clark Jr., The Church News Section of The Deseret News Newspaper, 11/29/52. J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961), served as a mem­ber of the First Pres­i­dency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1931–1961. Prior to his full-time church ser­vice he was assis­tant solic­i­tor to the State Depart­ment, worked in the Attor­ney General’s office, Under Sec­re­tary of State, the author of the clas­sic study, the “Clark Mem­o­ran­dum on the Mon­roe Doc­trine” and U.S. ambas­sador to Mex­ico. Among those who knew his work best, J. Reuben Clark was rec­og­nized as the fore­most con­sti­tu­tional scholar of the 20th Century.