Presidents Day

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.

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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”!

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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!

Zack Strong,

February 18, 2019.

Homage to the Constitution

The Constitution of the United States of America is the greatest political document ever written. It is not only my firm belief, but a codified tenet of my faith, that the U.S. Constitution was literally inspired by Almighty God and that the Founding Fathers were inspired, honest, wise, and honorable men raised up by the Lord for the purpose of establishing the first free nation in modern times. This short article is written in homage of that sacred document – that wise political charter which has guaranteed our God-given rights for 229 years.

On September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention finished crafting the Constitution. As the convention separated, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what type of government that esteemed body had given to the federated States then in existence. Famously, the old sage is said to have replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” Under the Constitution, the States were unified under a common government – a limited government that protected individual rights and States’ rights. Or, as Article Four of the document says, the Constitution guaranteed “to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”

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The British statesman William Gladstone famously remarked that the Constitution was “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” Truly, the U.S. Constitution is the greatest political document ever given to the world. The American Founding Fathers constituted the most incredible, eminent, and powerfully wise group of statesmen ever to exist together at one period in earth’s history.

Of Thomas Jefferson, my personal favorite Founding Father, President John F. Kennedy said the following, which demonstrates the wisdom of these men. At a 1962 dinner for Nobel Prize winners, President Kennedy mused:

“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

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My heart feels full when I reflect on the wisdom and nobility, the virtue and majesty, the power and honor of the Founding Fathers. In my Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a passage of sacred revelation from our Lord and Master Jesus Christ informs us:

“Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

“And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:79-80).

It is my testimony that the Lord in fact did raise up the Founding Fathers, that they were in truth wise and honorable men, and that the work of their hands – the Constitution of the United States – is an inspired work. Furthermore, another modern revelation from the Lord declares:

“And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

“And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:5-7).

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“One Nation Under God” by Jon McNaughton

Perhaps these verses help you understand how seriously regard the U.S. Constitution and the glorious principles it contains. To my mind, anything not in harmony with the Constitution’s principles is not only wrong or mistaken, but evil. I take very seriously the oath that our representatives in government swear. I believe they should be held accountable to the People for that oath. Severe punishment – not mere impeachment – is due for those who violate their oaths of office and trample the principles of our Heaven-inspired Constitution.

It is one thing, however, to love the Constitution; but how well do we know it? In an address titled “The Constitution – A Heavenly Banner,” President Ezra Taft Benson once asked an audience these pointed questions:

“It is now two hundred years since the Constitution was written. Have we been wise beneficiaries of the gift entrusted to us? Have we valued and protected the principles laid down by this great document? . . . .

“We must learn the principles of the Constitution and then abide by its precepts. Have we read the Constitution and pondered it? Are we aware of its principles? Could we defend it? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound?”

Have you read the Constitution lately? Do you understand its principles? Can you recognize when our presidents, representatives, judges, and others violate its principles? Are the candidates for political office in harmony with constitutional principles? If you do not know the Constitution, how can you claim to love and defend it? If you do not comprehend the purpose of the Constitution, the republican form of government it guarantees, and the God-given natural rights it protects, how can you claim to love our Republic and fight for our Freedom?

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James Wilson, one of the greatest legal minds amongst our Founding Fathers, made this true statement:

“Were I called upon for my reasons why I deem so highly of the American character, I would assign them in a very few words—That character has been eminently distinguished by the love of liberty, and the love of law. . . .

“But law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge. The same course of study, properly directed, will lead us to the knowledge of both. Indeed, neither of them can be known, because neither of them can exist, without the other. Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness. In denominating, therefore, that science, by which the knowledge of both is acquired, it is unnecessary to preserve, in terms, the distinction between them. That science may be named, as it has been named, the science of law.

“The science of law should, in some measure, and in some degree, be the study of every free citizen, and of every free man. Every free citizen and every free man has duties to perform and rights to claim. Unless, in some measure, and in some degree, he knows those duties and those rights, he can never act a just and an independent part.”

I defy any American to claim he is a true patriot and a true friend to Liberty if he does not understand the principles of the U.S. Constitution and defend them. You cannot love what you do not know or comprehend. You cannot protect that which is not planted firmly in your heart, soul, and mind.

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I urge you to read the Constitution – or reread it if you have not lately – and internalize its principles. Learn to love it. Gain a witness of its truth. Express gratitude to the Almighty for establishing the Constitution and to your forefathers who spilled their blood to give you the Liberty – severely curtailed today as it may be – that you enjoy on a daily basis.

That same James Wilson quoted earlier gave a speech in on October 6, 1787, when the question of the newly proposed Constitution was being debated. He made this statement:

“After all, my fellow-citizens, it is neither extraordinary or unexpected that the constitution offered to your consideration should meet with opposition. It is the nature of man to pursue his own interest in preference to the public good, and I do not mean to make any personal reflection when I add that it is the interest of a very numerous, powerful and respectable body to counteract and destroy the excellent work produced by the late convention. All the officers of government and all the appointments for the administration of justice and the collection of the public revenue which are transferred from the individual to the aggregate sovereignty of the States, will necessarily turn the stream of influence and emolument into a new channel. Every person, therefore, who enjoys or expects to enjoy a place of profit under the present establishment, will object to the proposed innovation; not, in truth, because it is injurious to the liberties of his country, but because it affects his schemes of wealth and consequence. I will confess, indeed, that I am not a blind admirer of this plan of government, and that there are some parts of it which, if my wish had prevailed, would certainly have been altered. But when I reflect how widely men differ in their opinions, and that every man (and the observation applies likewise to every State) has an equal pretension to assert his own, I am satisfied that anything nearer to perfection could not have been accomplished. If there are errors, it should be remembered that the seeds of reformation are sown in the work itself and the concurrence of two-thirds of the Congress may at any time introduce alterations and amendments. Regarding it, then, in every point of view, with a candid and disinterested mind, I am bold to assert that it is the best form of government which has ever been offered to the world.”

While a group of self-serving men opposed the Constitution, noble minds – Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Wilson, and others – understood that it was the best document that could be given to People of the United States. No other system has surpassed it in wisdom. No other governmental system has offered so many people so many opportunities nor protected so many rights and reserved so much power to the individual. Truly, only a body of men inspired by the Spirit of God and Light of Christ could have produced the U.S. Constitution.

With James Wilson, “I am bold to assert” that the Constitution “is the best form of government which has ever been offered to the world.” I urge you to learn about and to teach the precepts of the Constitution to your family. Only by a revival of true constitutionalism – not libertine-style libertarianism or socialism or any other system of thinking – can we restore our Republic and preserve our rights.

If you do not know where to turn to understand the Constitution, look no further. I will give not several sources that will give you everything you need to comprehend the majesty of the Constitution and the wisdom of the men who wrote it.

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I do not hesitate for an instant to say that the greatest book ever written on the meaning of the U.S. Constitution is The Making of America by the great W. Cleon Skousen. You can find this book, and supplementary material, at the National Center for Constitutional Studies website. You will find numerous materials published by the NCCS which will enlighten your mind, teach you the true character of some of the eminent Founding Fathers, and give you the tools to teach your family about constitutional government.

Furthermore, I recommend W. Cleon Skousen’s book The Majesty of God’s Law to discover the Biblical origins of the Constitution’s principles. William J. Federer and David Barton have also done tremendous work in showing, through primary sources, the religious foundation upon which the American political system was built. Such books include: The Ten Commandments and their Influence on American Law by Federer and Original Intent by Barton.

Whatever sources you choose to study, make sure they are rooted in the words and teachings of the Founding Fathers. It was they who, under the inspiration of God, crafted the Constitution and put its revolutionary principles into motion. It was they who earned Freedom for America and gave to world the most glorious example yet known of what a free nation looks like. I honor them and revere their name. I revere, cherish, and love the fruit of their hands; namely, The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Let us be true patriots and true constitutionalists. Let us follow in the mode of Jefferson, Wilson, Adams, Washington, Madison, and others as we labor to reestablish constitutional government here in the United States of America which, even with her serious flaws, is still unquestionably the greatest nation on earth. The American People have the greatest potential of any People. But we cannot do it alone – we must have God’s help. We must, like our forefathers, turn to Christ for help. If we do so, we will be forgiven as a People, our land will be healed, and our constitutional government fully restored (Isaiah 1:4-20; 2 Chronicles 7:14). If we do not turn back to the Lord and obey the laws of His Gospel, John Adams’ statement will continue to come to pass year after year. Said he:

“Statesmen my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. . . . The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a greater Measure, than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty.—They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies” (John Adams to Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776).

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I pray that we will each turn our hearts to the Lord and the Constitution He inspired and caused to be established by the hands of truly good men, and to initiate a new American Revival in our own families so that, eventually, America might be restored. Always keep the Constitution and its sacred principles in mind. The Constitution with its rule of law, its guarantee of a republican form of government, its limited scope and powers, its preservation of the People’s power, and its emphasis on rights, is the key feature of what is sometimes referred to as the American Gospel of Liberty.

Let us be zealous disciples of the Gospel of Liberty now and forever. Let us remember the Constitution and defend it. Let us, like our forefathers, swear to never relinquish our rights, and to fight to regain those which have been lost through apathy and carelessness. As Patrick Henry trumpeted all those years ago:

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”(Patrick Henry, speech, March 23, 1775).

Zack Strong,

September 17, 2018.