Though the Captain John Smith and the Jamestown settlers of 1607 predated the voyage of the Mayflower by some 13 years, we generally recognize those 100 souls who departed Plymouth England in September 1620 for the “New World” as the founding pilgrims.
Seeking religious freedom in the “New World,” their ship landed on the shores of Cape Cod, in present-day Massachusetts in November 1620. A scouting party was sent out, and in late December the group landed at Plymouth Harbor, where they would form the first permanent settlement of Europeans in New England. On November 11, 1620, these founding Pilgrims penned the Mayflower Compact which read:
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
Over the following 240 years the “new world” would grow, mature, pen another great social contract in the form of the Declaration of Independence, seek and win that independence , ratify another social contract in the Constitution and, fight a civil war.
On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered a reaffirmation of all the previous social contracts that read:
Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
What all these social contracts have in common is the a belief in Deity as the foundation of the “new world,” a yearning for liberty, the desire to be left alone and limited government – the desire for the freedom to be American.
What does it mean to be American? I suppose that is a question that is up for debate considering the results of the 2012 election. My answer is 2 fold, that being: my American blood and my Texan blood – both – very much the make up of my character, but not uncommon to anyone in America from any state in America. You see the common strain through all of us is; that desire to pick ourselves up by our boot straps, to make and keep what is ours, yet at the same time to be generous in what our spiritual or religious beliefs teaches we must do as a people of God. I was not born to a wealthy family. No I was born into a modest family of means that had as the matriarch of it’s family, my grandmother. A lady born to sharecroppers in Georgetown Texas. A lady born on the 4th of July 1921, who lived through a depression, a world war, that worked hard to provide for my mom, my sister and me. My Nonie built the solid foundation upon which my life was built – that strong sense of duty, right and wrong and, for me to be any other way is simply impossible. For me to change my views of self reliance after nearly 50 years of being taught to be reliant upon myself, to earn what I have is a totally foreign thought to me just as it is so many of you. It would appear however that in our great country – more people have been raised absent that “can do” spirit that comes by our American and in my case, Texan birthright.
The question now seems to be, how do we do that? Is it the way we as Conservatives believe. Ie. “1000 points of light” smaller, leaner government or is it the way the Left would have us believe, by taking the money of hard working Americans to redistribute to those whom either cannot fend for themselves or more likely, refuse to fend for themselves?
It is apparent that we have reached a tipping point and that Alexis de Tocqueville is the Nostradamus of the failure of Democracies as he wrote:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.
I might be inclined to think that de Tocqueville has prophesied the fate of America and all the social contracts afore mentioned have become tokens to our youth and can no longer sustain our future. In the end, I am left thinking about a lady you asked Patriot Benjamin Franklin after the Constitutional Convention in September 1783 as he walked out of Constitution Hall: “what have you done” his response, “given you a Republic madam, if you can keep it.“ I fear that old Ben and all the other Patriots that left us this Republic are perched from Heaven, looking down upon us in dismay wondering why they sacrificed so much only for their descendents to squander it away.
This much is true – America is full of termites and we are all choking on the splinters!
God Bless America, may she rest in peace.