As we celebrate the 236th anniversary of the passage of the Declaration of Independence (the signing would have to wait until August 2, 1776), it’s very much worth remembering what form of government the Founders hoped to establish in America. We were founded unquestionably as a Republic with the writing and passages of the Articles of Confederation, with the Constitution of 1787 only reaffirming this form of government.

Despite our post-modern tendency to distort and mock the true meanings of words, America never has been, nor really can it be, a democracy. Indeed, as several founders made clear, democracy was a great evil, necessary perhaps in some manifestation, but not as the ruling element of a balanced government or a stable society…

And yet, as many Jacksonians wished it to be, the Republic was neither purely a commercial nor libertarian one. Indeed, the American founders crafted not a commercial republic, but a virtuous republic, allowing for commerce and liberty to serve as a means by which man could use each of his gifts wisely and for the common good (the good thing; the res publica).

While not all of the founders belonged to orthodox Christian denominations or even subscribed to Jewish or Christian orthodoxy, they each accepted most of what the Judeo-Christian context and heritage had bequeathed to them.

Their understanding of liberty was not the collectivist or primivist liberty of Rousseau or the atheistic and abstract liberty of Locke, but the liberty of St. Paul as described in his letter to the Galatian Christian community, the freedom to do what one ought to do.

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