Today is Presidents Day. It is also, not coincidentally, the birthday of George Washington. From the glorious days of President Washington to the era of Donald Trump, the presidency has been occupied by a mixed bag of individuals. Some of been traitors and wolves in sheep’s clothing who sold out their nation and abused the U.S. Constitution and others have been honest, wise, good, faithful, and inspiring statesmen. This short article is written to commemorate and celebrate the memory of that small band of patriots who have occupied the Oval Office.
On page 101 of the first volume of his phenomenal book series titled Leadership, Elder Sterling W. Sill wrote:
“This ability to fill ourselves and others with enthusiasm carries with it a great power of accomplishment. It is one of the most valuable abilities with which God has endowed us. But its value is still further increased because it is so rare. It is one of the potentialities which is often left undeveloped in men. there are many good men; there are many wise men; there are many industrious men. There are not many fire kindlers, not many fire carriers, not many who bring us sparks from the divine, even in a symbolic sense.”
Yes, there are many decent people, many who work hard, and many who have abundant stores of knowledge, but how few men are true leaders who possess the ability to inspire nations! How few are able to really inspire and stir our souls! How few can be called “fire carriers . . . who bring us sparks from the divine”!
Without question, the most important position of public leadership in our Republic is the office of president. People look (far more than they should) to the president for guidance – and not merely in politics, but in social, cultural, and moral issues. The president bears a tremendous burden to lead by his stalwart example, inspire with the soundness of his ideas, and kindle the fire of patriotism, virtue, and civility in his People with the moral force of his own character.
That most presidents have not lived up to this high charge is lamentable. However, a few good men have lived up to their duty and have been true leaders who inspired the nation. It is on this small band of Sons of Liberty that we focus today.
This article is not a list of good and bad presidents. I previously wrote a piece on that subject which you can find here. Rather, we seek to draw inspiring quotations from some of the great men who have borne the title President of the United States.
My favorite president was the Sage of Monticello, the great Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson gave us some of the most inspiring words ever penned by an American. It was Jefferson who wrote:
“I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
It was this same super-patriot, whose lifelong devotion to Liberty is archetypal, who declared in the original draft of The Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, & to institute new government, laying it’s foundation on such principles & organising it’s powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety & happiness.”
Surely few passages of text have ever inspired more people to noble sacrifice and heroic action than did The Declaration of Independence! The Declaration was the first bookend of the American story of Liberty. Yet, even before the Declaration was published to the world, Jefferson had made his views on Liberty and leadership public and plain. In “A Summary View of the Rights of British America,” Jefferson had written:
“The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counsellors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail . . . The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”
Thomas Jefferson always put his nation first above his own leisure and desires. I was willing to sacrifice anything to ensure American Freedom. In a letter to John B. Colvin, he voice sentiments which show his devotion to the Republic. Said he:
“The question you propose, whether circumstances do not sometimes occur, which make it a duty in officers of high trust, to assume authorities beyond the law, is easy of solution in principle, but sometimes embarrassing in practice. A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.”
When we judge leaders, it is well to judge them, at least in part, according to whether they did all they could to ensure the security, sovereignty, Liberty, and happiness of America. I thank the Lord for men like Thomas Jefferson who, like the north star, still point out the course which our People may travel to arrive safely in the harbor of peace, Freedom, and happiness.
Another great man who occupied the White House was Andrew Jackson. Jackson was and still is hated by the Establishment because he took a stand against them and, at least in his day, thwarted their agenda to enslave this Republic. Jackson was rabidly pro-American. He was also the only president to eliminate the national debt and presided over a period of prosperity. And, notably, he spent much of his time trying to kill the insidious national bank and eliminate its poisonous effects on our nation.
In his First Inaugural Address, President Jackson stated:
“As long as our Government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of person and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending; and so long as it is worth defending a patriotic militia will cover it with an impenetrable aegis. Partial injuries and occasional mortifications we may be subjected to, but a million of armed freemen, possessed of the means of war, can never be conquered by a foreign foe. To any just system, therefore, calculated to strengthen this natural safeguard of the country I shall cheerfully lend all the aid in my power.”
In his Farewell Address, and in the context of denouncing the “moneyed interest” which sought to dominate and strangle the nation, President Jackson reminded the American People:
“[Y]ou must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.”
President James Monroe was another good man whose political views have helped guide and steer our ship of state for generations. In his First Inaugural Address, Monroe spoke of the need for the United States to stand up and defend itself against the encroachments of foreign powers in our sphere of influence:
“Dangers from abroad are not less deserving of attention. Experiencing the fortune of other nations, the United States may be again involved in war, and it may in that event be the object of the adverse party to overset our Government, to break our Union, and demolish us as a nation. Our distance from Europe and the just, moderate, and pacific policy of our Government may form some security against these dangers, but they ought to be anticipated and guarded against . . . We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties. A people who fail to do it can scarcely be said to hold a place among independent nations. National honor is national property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every citizen is national strength. It ought therefore to be cherished.
“To secure us against these dangers our coast and inland frontiers should be fortified, our Army and Navy, regulated upon just principles as to the force of each, be kept in perfect order, and our militia be placed on the best practicable footing. . . .
“But it ought always to be held prominently in view that the safety of these States and of everything dear to a free people must depend in an eminent degree on the militia. Invasions may be made too formidable to be resisted by any land and naval force which it would comport either with the principles of our Government or the circumstances of the United States to maintain. In such cases recourse must be had to the great body of the people, and in a manner to produce the best effect. It is of the highest importance, therefore, that they be so organized and trained as to be prepared for any emergency. The arrangement should be such as to put at the command of the Government the ardent patriotism and youthful vigor of the country. If formed on equal and just principles, it can not be oppressive. It is the crisis which makes the pressure, and not the laws which provide a remedy for it. This arrangement should be formed, too, in time of peace, to be the better prepared for war. With such an organization of such a people the United States have nothing to dread from foreign invasion. At its approach an overwhelming force of gallant men might always be put in motion.”
Pursuant to these very ideas of national honor and self-defense against foreign despotism, it was President Monroe who established, with the advice and aid of Thomas Jefferson, the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine was designed, as Jefferson penned in a letter to President Monroe, to ensure that America:
“should therefore have a system of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe. While the last is laboring to become the domicil of despotism, our endeavor should surely be to make our hemisphere that of freedom.”
Under the Monroe Doctrine, Latin America was preserved for a time as a land of Freedom. Today, however, we have largely abandoned our role of defenders of this “hemisphere of freedom” and Marxism has infiltrated and taken deep root. We need only look at the communist “paradises” of Cuba and Venezuela to know how precarious the situation has become. Yet, President James Monroe charted our national course in this regard and it is our duty to steer the American ship of state back into safe waters that this hemisphere might truly become a hemisphere of Freedom once more.
We ought to cherish the memory of all the great men who have served as the first officer of our government – men like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson. We need to rekindle and fan the flame of patriotism, piety, and Liberty those noble statesmen lit and carried in their day.
We also ought to support the efforts, however feeble and at times misguided, of President Donald Trump to “make America great again” and fight against the increasing threat of socialism. President Trump did not collude with Russia or communists, as lying and ignorant ideologues claim. He is also not cut from the same cloth as men like Jefferson and Washington. However, he is the first president in my lifetime to make a dent in the Establishment’s control over our Republic. More importantly than anything he has personally done in office, President Trump has inspired people to stand up, speak out, and be counted in favor of Freedom and traditional Americanism.
I pray to our Father in Heaven that the cause of American Liberty will prosper, that the modern Sons of Liberty will never lose hope, and that leaders will step forward to kindle the flame of Freedom in more American hearts. When we each do our part, however small, we help to pave the way for a future return to our true American heritage. We can begin our journey back to our roots of greatness when we remember those stalwart men who have gone before us who carried the torch of Freedom, who inspired the hearts of their countrymen, and who put the Republic and its preservation in happiness, peace, and Liberty above all else. God preserve our Republic!
February 18, 2019.