Part 15: of a 28-part series
The next idea (is that) we are demonstrating to the world the positive alternative to despotism. In history, you could divide all government into two kinds: either despotic government, or self-government. Theres only two.
At the formation of our government, said Jefferson: Many have formed their political opinions on European writings and practices. As much as we respect the place Europe played in history, we are not another Europe — believing the experiences in the old countries, and especially in England (as abusive as it was), to be a safer guide than mere theory. The doctrines of Europe were that men in numerous associations cannot be restrained with the limits of order and justice, but by forces physical and moral wielded over them by authorities, independent of their will.
In other words, you must be under the will of a superior. You of your own accord cannot do, cannot know. Well, when you live in a society of peasants, probably not. A society of surfs? No, not ready. Or slaves? Not ready. Hence, their organization of kings, hereditary nobles, and priests. Thats their organization.
But thats not Americas organization. We are different because our government and way of life are not based on the divine right of kings, which means one man is above the law. [Nor are they based on] the hereditary privileges of the elite or the deference to dictators. They are based on pieces of paper. Really, our nation hangs on two pieces of paper: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (and [some would add] the Bill of Rights) that established our liberties. Thats all that regulate our lives these documents.
To be continued…