Not only is this important, it is also praiseworthy; it produced the most advanced civilization ever known.
The Revolution is often said to have begun in 1775
at the Battle of Lexgton. In truth, it began in the 16th century when the first colonists began traveling to the New World. Consider the hardships these people faced. Abandoning their relatives and friends, they boarded small leaky boats like the Mayflower—which
was only as long as six automobiles—to spend months crossing 3,000 miles of storm-tossed ocean.
of these tiny, primitive vessels went down, yet as the years passed, more and more colonists risked their lives to make the journey. In The Oxford History of the American People, historian Samuel Eliot Morrison tells us:
Why? What in Europe could have been so horrible that rational people would
risk their lives and their children’s lives to escape it?
Socialism. It wasn’t called socialism in those days, but that is what it was—unlimited government control and taxation of everything and everybody. There were no free markets
and no free enterprise. Regardless of how honest or hard working a person was, it did him little good unless he was in bed with the government.
Out of desperation many rebelled. They evaded the controIs and taxes, creating an underground economy. InRoots
of Capitalism, historian John Chamberlain writes that in France:
was a vast, uncharted wilderness beyond the reach of the politicians and tax collectors. It was nominally under the control of the European governments, but everyone knew it was too big and too far away for laws to be enforced there.
In short, America
was a huge underground economy. Here trade was free and enterprise unrestricted. Taxes were so often evaded that for all practical purposes there were none; a person could keep everything he earned. He could save and invest, and eventually have his own thriving
business or farm that would provide jobs for the next wave of immigrants.
Inhabited by rebellious, individualistic smugglers and tax evaders, America quickly became the most prosperous place on earth.
You may have seen pictures of the Pine Tree
Flag flown by American warships during the Revolution. Why would the colonists put a pine tree on their battle flag?
The government had enacted a regulation saying no colonist could cut down tall, straight trees; these trees were to be reserved for
masts on Navy ships. This meant the best, most valuable trees on a person’s land had, in effect, been confiscated by the government.
When a government tree inspector would come through the forest to select and mark the best trees, colonists would
follow him. These inspectors were highly trained experts, good at identifying the best trees for Navy ships—the Navy ships that were constantly pursuing smuggling ships.
When the government’s lumberjacks then came through the forest to collect
the marked trees, they would find the trees had already been cut and sold—for use on the smuggling ships.
One of these ships was The Liberty, owned by John Hancock. Hancock was a successful wine merchant known throughout the colonies
as “The Prince of Smugglers.” His reputation eventually earned him the honor of being the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Unfortunately, as the story of the Pine Tree illustrates, America did not remain beyond the reach of
government. As the colonists’ wealth increased, politicians began making more and more efforts to steal—”tax”—this wealth. More and more bureaucrats and troops were sent to the colonies to enforce laws and shut down the underground
The colonists’ reaction was dramatic. The infamous Stamp Tax, for instance, was greeted by armed rebellion; tax collectors were tarred and feathered, a procedure which usually resulted in death. When John Hancock was arrested, the people
rioted and the government’s agents barely escaped with their lives.
This brings us to one of the most important but forgotten events in American history. In his 1818 analysis of the Revolution, John Adams spoke of it when he asked,
The key word here is religious. In Adams’ analysis, he said a sermon delivered by Reverend Jonathan Mayhew on January 30, 1750, was “read by everybody” and was crucially important in leading to revolution.
sermon Mayhew argued that there is a Higher Law than any government’s law. The people, he said, are required to obey their government’s law only when it is in agreement with Higher Law. Indeed, he argued, if the government violates Higher Law,
“we are bound to throw off our allegiance” and “to resist.”
What was this Higher Law? The ancient Common Law, which most colonists understood and obeyed faithfully even though they ridiculed and ignored the laws and taxes enacted
Common Law had evolved from two basic principles: 1) do all you have agreed to do, and 2) do not encroach on other people or their property. These are the two principles on which all major religions and philosophies agree. Each expresses
them a bit differently, but all agree on these two laws and not much else).
These two laws are the source of all our essential prohibitions against theft, fraud, murder, rape, etc. “Do all you have agreed to do” is the basis of contract
law; “do not encroach on other people or their property” is the basis of criminal and tort law.
Common Law was the law to which the American colonists were dedicated, and it was the law the politicians and bureaucrats were breaking—they were
encroaching. So the colonists overthrew their government; they committed treason.
This is what the American Revolution was all about—treason. And this treason was regarded as moral, ethical, and right in every way. It was derived straight from
Common Law which was based on the people’s religious beliefs. Wrote the great legal scholar Sir William Blackstone, “This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other…no
human laws are of any validity if contrary to this.”
Contrary to what we so often read, the Americans were not fighting the British. The Americans were British. The war broke out at Lexington in April 1775, fifteen months before
independence was declared. Therefore, for the first fifteen months of the war, America was still a part of Britain and Americans were still Englishmen fighting their own government. As their many pamphlets and speeches explained, they were fighting for “The
Rights of Englishmen!”
They were enforcing Higher Law. This eternal and immutable law said the politicians and bureaucrats were as human as anyone else and they had no special rights or privileges; they could not encroach on others. “All
men are created equal,” wrote Thomas Jefferson.
So, the most important and praiseworthy fact about the Founders which is rarely discussed is that they believed in a Higher Law than any government’s, and they did something about it. They
evaded their government’s taxes and regulations. They delivered speeches and wrote pamphlets informing others, and they eventually overthrew their government and set up a new one more closely in agreement with Higher Law.
The highly advanced,
prosperous civilization we now enjoy was the direct result of their enforcement of Higher Law, and this civilization will continue only if Higher Law is reapplied, soon. Tell others.
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