Founders Perspectives – on Foundations of Freedom Thursday: Today is Foundations of Freedom Thursday, so lets dive into some listener questions! Who were the presidents of the Confederation Congress who proceeded George Washington? How did early presidents do in keeping campaign promises? Did they keep them? How did the founding fathers define “arms” in the 2nd amendment? Was there a limit to what people could own? All of this and more on Foundations of Freedom Thursday!
Air Date: 3/23/2023
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You found your way to the intersection of faith and the culture. Thanks for joining us on WallBuilders, today, where we’re taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. I’m Rick Green here with David and Tim Barton. And I like to think that our listeners listen to the program every single day, like they never miss a single minute of our program. But that’s probably wishful thinking, guys, I bet some folks listening today did not hear yesterday’s program with Rabbi Lapin and probably didn’t hear us talking about the teacher’s conference this summer, and all the other cool stuff that’s going to happen. And actually, we’re running out of time for people to plan their travel and get all those things ready for the summer. So a bit of an emphasis this week, we want to make sure everybody knows about all the cool programs we’ve got coming up in summer of 2023. And that’s for students, for teachers, legislators, pastors, all kinds of programs throughout the year, but this summer, specifically the teacher program, which we haven’t talked a lot about, Tim, you told us about it yesterday, but let’s give folks a quick reminder.
Yeah, and as you mentioned, we have a lot of programs, we want to highlight the Teachers program, because this is something that I mentioned yesterday, I don’t even know where the space capacity is, I probably… As we’re promoting it this week, we probably at some point should look and be like, hey, I got two spots left, or we’re full, but next year… but the reality is we want teachers to know about this. It’s one of many things that we do for teachers just like on our website, we have so many free articles, which as maybe some of you are listening right now, and you’re like, yeah, but your website. And like, look, we know, good news is we have a new website in the works, hopefully rolling out this summer, beginning this summer, we should have a new website up, we are slow… are in the middle of doing a new database, which we have so many tens of thousands of these books and artifacts, that ultimately we want to make available to people to be able to go see and study history for yourself. So often people are asking, Where can I find this? Where can I get this information? We want to be able to offer that where people can come and find this. And this is one of things we try to do for teachers. And it’s one of the reasons that every summer we do teachers programs, we do teachers conferences for about two and a half days per conference. And it’s something we try to make very convenient for teachers to come in. And we will give them a crash course, a dive into American history. And we know where we are today with so many of the modern narratives being based on things related to critical race theory, or the social justice movement of kind of this systemic white racism, oppression, the 1619 project, or that the victimization of founding fathers or people that genuinely should be American heroes. We hear about the separation of church and state, we shouldn’t have religion in what we do in government or education. There’s all of these modern attacks, what we do is just go back to the original document, say, well, here’s what they actually said. Here’s what they actually did. Here’s what the laws actually were. And when you study the actual sources, when you study the truth, truth is able to overcome error. Truth is able to expose a lie. And it’s obvious what the lies are, once you see what the truth is. And we want to give teachers the opportunity to do that firsthand, we have limited capacity, because we want to make sure every single day teachers are able to get hands on with the original sources. And so if we did a big conference where we say 500, 1,000 teachers, or maybe even 2,000 teachers, they wouldn’t all have the opportunity to get hands on with the original documents. So we limit capacity pretty significantly, so that we will do a session and then at the end of that lecture, that session, that presentation, that discussion time we’ll then go and all the things we just talked about, all the stories, we just told, we will pull out all of the artifacts related to those topics to those discussions that we had. So teachers can then look and see the original sources, so they can have confidence that what we’re talking about is not just speculation, these are the actual documents we’re basing them off of. And this is something that we talked about the year about the brokenness of the public school system. And this is not to villainize every teacher in public schools, because was we identify that there are some really great people in public schools, even though the public school system itself is very broken. There’s some amazing teachers, there’s some amazing principals and superintendents, there’s good people there. And because of Supreme Court decision this last year, the Coach Kennedy decision, the Supreme Court ruled in a very strong decision saying that the Kurtzman V Lemon decision is overturned. The Lemon decision is where 7,300 cases were determined saying that you can’t have religious expression in public or in public schools, that you couldn’t have the Bible, you can’t have the 10 commandments. You can’t even have nativity scenes or crosses, all the stuff, where people were told there could not be religious expression in public school, the Supreme Court strongly overturn that decision, saying that that’s not the way things work anymore. So there’s so many more opportunities now for teachers in public school. And then of course, teachers that are in Christian school, or teachers that are in private parochial schools, and maybe even a homeschool Co Op. There’s so many opportunities for people and we want them to know the history of education, the history of America, the founding fathers, so that we can equip kids with truth, and these teachers can have confidence in what they’re saying and helping lay a foundation for the rising generation. Along those lines, we also do pro programs for 18 to 25 year olds. So for kids who are just finishing high school, just finished high school, the kids who… maybe some kids are trying to figure out what they’re going to do in life, or maybe they’re in college, they’re in grad school, we want to have those young adults. And we have a week. We do several programs throughout the summer, these summer institute programs, but for a week, we’ll spend time with the students. And we start with a biblical worldview, the foundation of truth, where does that come from? How do we determine right and wrong? How do we know what that is? And then we show them how the founding fathers took that foundation of truth, that biblical foundation, and they work to lay out America built upon those truths, these truths that were self evident, that these programs we do for students as well. We do pastors conference for the summer. And then every summer we partner with Patriot Academy with Rick, what you guys do now, with the Leadership Congress, and all summer long, all over the nation, you guys are doing these. So there are so many opportunities for teacher for students, for parents to get involved in the process, all throughout the summer. So for some of these programs, you can go to WallBuilders.com, or PatriotAcademy.com to find out more information about some of these opportunities,
I couldn’t help but think, Tim, as you were describing, you know, touching the documents, holding the documents, diving in, studying these things, imagine how much better that class is going to be, when that teacher goes back and is teaching and they’ve had a chance to actually do that. It’s going to be so much more exciting for them to teach it, and so much more, you know, fun for the students to be able to learn. And then it’s the same of course, for 18 to 25 year olds, when they come in as well, it’s going to make that history come to life for them. And being a good citizen is going to mean a lot more to them. So all of those opportunities, learn more at the website WallBuilders.com . And that if you want to send a 16 to 25 year old to a state capitol for that hands on application of those things, go to PatriotAcademy.com . And then of course also we have our Constitutional Defense courses happening now at the Patriot Academy campus so you can come in and get your handgun defense and constitution training at the same time. In fact, I’m thinking guys, people should just take out a month, you know, just come to Texas for a whole month, go to the trainings, go to WallBuilders get the experience the American Journey Experience, go down to Fredericksburg, Texas, get to do that training, go to the state capitol do that training, there’s so much you can do. You just need to spend a whole month in Texas, which will of course make you a better American just by almost being a Texan by the time you get done. All right. Now let’s get to some questions from the audience. Guys, we got a lot of good stuff today. The first one is going to come from Carletta and she’s asking about the presidents before Washington. She said my husband and I are so appreciative of your radio program, happened upon it a few years ago while listening to Bott radio as I worked in the garden. Actually, David Barton’s got a great talk on tending the garden. So that’s in Biblical Citizenship, go watch that. But she goes on to say I have been a faithful listener ever since you’ve been a part of those God has used to awaken me to my responsibility to be involved in and praying for our nation. I recently read about eight presidents who preceded George Washington, they were presidents of the Confederation Congress, from 1781 to 1789. What can you tell us about these men and their impact on the formation of our nation? And who led the colonies from 1776 to the end of the Revolutionary War in 1781? All right, David, Tim, what about these presidents before George Washington?
You have to back up to 1774, when they had the First Continental Congress, from then until the time of the Constitution is 15 years, and they had 14 presidents in 15 years. Now, the question specifically was the Confederation Congress. In 1777, they came up with a loose form of government, the articles of association then the Articles of Confederation, those were ratified in 1781, in March of 1781. And so it became the Confederation Congress after they came up with that document that preceded the constitution. So in the Confederation Congress, you actually have 10 guys who served as president of Congress in that period of time. Now, what you got to understand is there is absolutely no correlation between being president of United States and being president of Congress, being president of Congress back then, when we did not have the Constitution is not much more than being the head of a committee. And the committee doesn’t have any power to really do anything. So it was a way for the 13 states to get together and talk with one another, make plans and what are we going to do? And how can we coordinate on military or economics or whatever. But they… as Justice Joseph Story later pointed out, they could pass any law they wanted to and had zero power to enforce any law. So they could pass a law to raise taxes, but it wouldn’t raise taxes, they could pass a law to say, hey, let’s have a new military that’s bigger than the last one. Wouldn’t do anything. So they literally were a committee, that got together and talked with one another. It was super important. I don’t mean to say it’s not important because this is the first time that these guys were starting to cooperate with each other. They’d been 13 nations prior to that, and now they’re trying to become one nation. And so you can’t have a whole lot of power because that threatens and they’ve got to get used to the concept of having a nation with 13 states, but that’s what it is. And so when you look at the presidents that were before the Constitution, the first one is Samuel Huntington and by the way, Samuel Huntington was a signer of the Declaration, so he’s clearly a founding father. He understands the concept of working together as a nation. After him was Thomas McKean, another signer of the Declaration, after him was John Hanson, one of the guys who helped write the documents. And so you go through these guys, you got Richard Henry Lee, you got John Hancock, you got other guys that were national leaders. And they would kind of rotate the presidencies between the North and the South and the various states and whether you’re coming from Pennsylvania, or Maryland, or Massachusetts, or wherever it was, Virginia. And so they’re technically presidents of the Congress, they’re not presidents United States, and they have absolutely no power. But it’s a great question to ask. And it’s part of the progression of the formation of the US Constitution, coming from the declaration to the Constitution, that’s an important part of the process.
Alright guys, take a break. We’ve got more questions coming from the audience. Stay with us. Dan’s got the next question. You’re listening to WallBuilders.
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We’re back here on WallBuilders. Thanks for staying with us. Next question for our foundations of freedom Thursday. Dan sent in in this question. Dan asked, could you address how the Presidents did in keeping campaign promises? And I think he’s talking about older, you know, back in our early American history, how did presidents do with keeping their campaign promises? Because today we talk a lot about that somebody runs makes a lot of promises. Do they keep them? Do they break them? How did they do in earlier America?
For decades and decades and decades, there were no campaign promises. You elected your leader based on his character, and based on his worldview. They didn’t get into talking about policies, and here’s what policy I’m going to pass. Matter of fact, they wanted to pass less policies rather than more. And so it was about, can you be trusted? Now there are worldview differences, because there were the Federalists and the anti Federalists. So this guy, if he gets in, he believes that government should be a little more active than this guy who’s an anti Federalist. So they knew that whoever is going to get in there is going to use government to do things that were consistent with the Constitution. So the first thing you had was, do you trust this guy to uphold the Constitution? If you do, do you think he’s going to be expansive in the interpretation? Or is he going to be limited, and that made the difference whether you’re going to choose the Federalists and anti Federalists. There were no campaign promises. That is not something until much, much, much later in the process. And now you get the campaign promises, and people elect someone on that. And just, I’m going to say 90% of the campaign promises, no candidate can keep. You can promise you’re going to pass this law. But you know what, there’s a House and a Senate. They have to go with it, and the court has to agree to it. So we act like the president, now, in many ways, it’s kind of a unilateral representation of government that he himself is all the government. 90% of what these guys promise they cannot do, because it’s not all dependent on them. And even if they say, I’m going to fill my cabinet with these kind of people, sorry, the Senate is going to have a voice and whether they affirm that person, confirm that person. Here’s the kind of judges I’m going to appoint. Well, you can appoint them, but that doesn’t mean the Senate is going to confirm them. So we’ve got to a point now where that we don’t judge on the basis of character and honesty and integrity and knowledge of constitution, which is what they did before. We’ve gotten now two promises, not recognizing that most of the promises are impossible for candidates to keep. And that’s why you kind of lack integrity in a lot of candidates today, because they really can’t keep what they promised. Some of them can try to. And the candidates, I trust more of the candidates that are more restrained in their promises, quite frankly. They understand the Constitution enough to know that, you know what, here’s what I’m going to try to do. Here’s what my worldview is, here’s what I think we should do at the border. Here’s what I think we should do with China. That’s great. That doesn’t mean he can get it done just as long as people understand that.
Well, it’s interesting to as you mentioned that in earlier times, there weren’t the same kind of campaign promises. Certainly there were people giving speeches, there are people saying that they stood for certain positions, but generally, you were voting on what you thought was the character and integrity of the Individual. You were voting for an individual, not specifically for certain policies. Now, again, that doesn’t mean there were people that didn’t have policies or maintained policy positions. Certainly. But it wasn’t like it is in the modern era. And it’s interesting if we think about the kind of elected officials that we like, or that we want, who we want to represent us. We would like people that have a track record of having character and integrity, maybe that have a track record of having been successful on some level in industry. And one of the things that was super interesting, guys, we were all together, we were at an event with Governor Ron DeSantis, out of Florida. And it was so interesting, learning some of his background, going from Yale to Harvard, then he was part of a SEAL team group that was in the midst of the war against bad guy terrorist. And his job was to help explain for the SEALs the legal parameters of what they could and couldn’t do and how things go. And of course, some of what happened we’ll never know, classified information. But in the midst of his speech that he was giving to the group that we were a part of. It was just fascinating to me, as he talked about how did he help turn Florida around? He said, Well, I understood that I had limitations as a governor. And so when I got here, I read our state constitution, I read all the state laws, and I began to see what were my parameters based on what they said. He said, once I realized what my role was, according to the state constitution, I knew what I could do. And so I took this… and he starts breaking down federalism, and he starts talking about constitutional power and authority. And all of a sudden, then he was someone that in my mind, I thought, okay, right. Obviously, we’re very dissatisfied with some of the policy positions that President Biden is taking. And we’ve seen in recent days, where you had Putin meeting with Xi Jinping. And I mean, it looks like there could be a World War III on Horizon. And guys, we talked about how, if World War III comes, Joe Biden is not the guy that you have the most confidence in being able to protect America, being able to exude or personify strength on some level. But then, as we were hearing things from Ron DeSantis, and you start looking at his background, where he was part of a SEAL team, and he understands first of all constitutional boundaries and parameters, but he was part of a good guy team stopping bad guys and doing it in the best way possible. And it just all of a sudden made me think of him in a different light. But dad, to your point about, in earlier times, people running national campaign promises, but looking at their track record who they are, what have they done. And this is where I think that so often in modern politics, we diminish and downplay, and by we, I mean society. Society diminishes and downplays sometimes the things that are more important, that are more significant for our political leaders. Whereas when you look at someone like a Ron DeSantis with a track record, both from a legal perspective, a constitutional perspective, a military perspective, that if something goes down, and you feel really good with him being there now. That’s not to say that maybe President Trump wouldn’t be able to have some level of power and authority, that if on a world stage, we need someone that can personify strength on some level, certainly, he’s shown that he can do that. Nonetheless, it’s just interesting, looking back the way that people used to vote on someone’s character and integrity. The person you were going to get, not merely on campaign promises, and certainly today, we have, as an American society, fallen trap much more to what can someone give me, what can someone do for me, instead of what kind of person am I voting for?
And Tim part of what I’m hearing you say is, you know, they don’t have to make the promises, if they’re espousing and explaining the principles and you’re going, well those are the principles I want in office, they don’t have to make a promise. They’re talking about federalism, we need more federalism. And, you know, I in fact, I talked to a congressman the other day that had come through Patriot Academy, and he’s saying, man, my matrix for deciding on a bill, first thing is, do I have authority? Is this within the domain of the federal government? Is it constitutional? Otherwise, I’m not going to support it. And he didn’t have to make that promise. He had those principles and explained those principles. So really good answer. Alright guys, we got… I think we got time for at least one more question. Let’s see this one, speaking of principles, speaking of campaign promises, a lot of politicians make promises one way or the other on the Second Amendment. Some promise to get rid of it. Some promise to defend it. And Steven’s question is, the Second Amendment allows citizens the right to own arms. What is an arm? Are the people allowed to own everything from pistols to nuclear weapons? Did the Founding Fathers say where the line is? Alright, Steven, good question. Guys, what do you think? Second Amendment, right to keep and bear arms. And of course, we don’t mean those appendages that are attached to our bodies.
Oh, that was good. I don’t think I’ve heard that one yet. Rick. That’s a new one for you. If you’d use that before, it got by me. That was very good. Keep and bear arms. The emphasis is not on the arms. The emphasis is on the constitutional right of self defense. You have the right to defend yourself from an attack against you, and you have the right to use whatever force is used against you. So whatever it takes to defend yourself is what you have the right to use. If they come at you with pea shooters, you definitely have the right to have pea shooters. But if you want a BB gun to stop the attack, you can do that and make the attack over. They come at you with 22s and you want to use AR 15s, that’s fine. If they come at you with nuclear weapons, and you can have the capacity to have that, which I don’t know how you would do that, because you’re not smart. And most of them are not smart enough to do that. But the whole premise was, you have to be able to defend… you have the right to defend yourself and use any weapon available to you to defend yourself.
Well, and I would even… I mean, I totally agree with this. I would push back just a little bit just for understanding purposes, is the founding fathers didn’t necessarily specifically get into the weapons you could use. But it was more the principle and philosophy behind it. Right? That because you have the right to defend yourself, then whatever you need, whatever tool you need to defend yourself, that should be accessible to you on some level. And this is where people say, but wait a second, right? They only had muskets back then. Well, it’s because that was the advanced technology people were using. They wanted to make sure that whatever military you’re fighting against, you ought to be able to have the weapons to stop that military you’re fighting against. And so what gun do you need to do that? You should have access to that gun to stop the bad guys from coming against you. This is why if you look back in the World War II era. Why did Japan never do a ground invasion in America? Well, because very famously, right, the report that came out was the emperor of Japan said that behind every blade of grass that was a rifle in America. So he’s not going to invade, because everybody was armed. And he knew that if he tries to evade America, then all of a sudden you’ve now this incredibly large force against you, not just the military, you’re fighting at that time. We can go even further where people will say, but in the founding era, right, people weren’t allowed to own cannons. Except we can point out that there are specific laws in cities that such as would say that you are not allowed to fire your cannon in town unless in defense of the town, which is kind of funny to imagine, like, why did you need to pass this law? Right? Where people arbitrarily at night celebrating, you know, the arrival of evening by firing their cannon? Why do you need to pass a law about not firing your cannon in town unless in defense of the town. But to go further, the point is, people owned their own cannons. This was something that when you look throughout the history of America, this is not the same kind of limitation on firearms we’re seeing today. Where today, people are saying you should ban assault rifles, which is also super ridiculous of a notion. What is an assault weapon? Well, assault is an adjective and what’s a weapon? It’s anything I use against you. My assault weapon could be a can of green beans, depending on how I use my can of green beans, right? That can be an assault weapon. And people think well, AR 15 That’s, that’s an assault rifle. No, it’s an ArmaLite rifle, which is the individual that came up with this specific firearm, and this ArmaLite rifle became the AR because that was the model it was patterned after, that all these ARs are going after specifically that style of firearm. But this is where the conversation has changed so much. And even where we are now… I mean, guys, we could, man, we could soap box this for a long time, Rick, you and I have done a lot of soap boxing on this.
We need a week, man. We need a week of programs just to talk about this.
I mean, really. When you look at even the last several decades in America, if you… you can do a basic search, right? And if you look at mass shootings in America. When did mass shootings in America really begin? Well, there really are almost no mass shootings in America before the 1980s. Well, that’s super interesting. By the way, as a side note, in 1980, also there was a Supreme Court decision Stone V. Graham, where the US Supreme Court determined that 10 commandments could not be displayed in public schools and 10 commandments is where we learn this notion that thou shalt not kill or thou shalt not commit murder more specifically and accurately translated from the Old Testament. Nonetheless, when we stop telling kids, they can’t kill each other, all of a sudden we see this increase in murder. Why is this also interesting, is because do you know what used to be legally owned at various times in America before the 1980s? Fully automatic firearms used to be available for individuals at various times in American history, and yet there weren’t mass shootings, the way that we’ve seen since the 1980s. Maybe it wasn’t the firearm. Maybe it’s the removal of an objective moral standard, the removal of the idea of God or the idea that killing people was wrong. Maybe there’s more to this equation than just the firearm itself. And on top of the fact that firearms are used more in defense of life every year than they are to perpetuate evil on other people every year. There’s so much more to this. But this again, goes back to the fundamental question. When the Founding Fathers talked about the right to keep and bear arms, they were addressing the reality of being able to defend the individual against an evil on some level. There’s a book, Dad, you put together, at this point decades ago. It’s available on the WallBuilders website, probably even on Amazon, wherever you get books, you’d probably find it. But it’s a book on the Second Amendment and it goes through not only quotes from founding fathers explaining this, but even the early state laws explaining this in greater detail so that we don’t have to hypothesize what they meant or what this should mean. The Founding Fathers actually explained the philosophy behind what this was, and the idea was that everyone who was peaceable and who was able should be armed to prevent evil from coming against them or their community.
You know, I think one of the ways of answering the question overall, is when we look back, and we did the research for that second amendment book to show what the founders thought, but I think the thing that stands out to me is the type of laws they did not pass. And I think the type of laws they did not pass tells you what they had in mind. For example, the US Navy had what were called ships of the line. These are big three deck ships with cannons, and they would have anywhere from 105 to 120 cannons on them, 16 pound, 20 pound cannons. Massive things. There was nothing to keep citizens from having three ships of the line if they wanted to. Or if they wanted to take their frigate and put 150 guns on it. There was nothing prohibiting that. When you look back at the Founding Fathers and when you’re developing original intent, and you look at the laws the founding fathers passed, they didn’t pass laws telling you what you couldn’t have. Whatever was out there you could have. Now sometimes they put regulations on it like, well, we don’t want you firing a cannon within a mile of town because that disturbs the people. Alright, maybe so, but they didn’t say you couldn’t have a cannon. So when you look at original intent, it’s like whatever it takes to defend yourself is what you can have. Whatever the enemy’s got, you can have that too. You can defend yourself with whatever force is brought against you.
Alright folks, we’re out of time for today. If you want to learn more on this subject by the way, Constitutional Defense of your family and freedom, a wonderful week in Fredericksburg, Texas, not only getting the physical training but the intellectual ammunition and learning in detail all of these things. Check that out at PatriotAcademy.com . Thanks so much for listening, today, to foundations of freedom here on WallBuilders.
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