By Brandon Maston
“Give me liberty, or give me death”, are famous words that Patrick Henry stated while organizing a militia in Virginia. The words that he spoke emphatically describes the situation that he and our Founding Fathers faced. They were more willing to die than to stay living in their current state. There are many reasons why Colonial American’s declared their independence from Britain but based off of Patrick Henry’s statement; they can all be boiled down to gaining liberty.
The Founding Fathers went through a trial that most Americans will never face. They had to fight for their freedom. They understood what it was like being under a tyrannical government and they were willing to die for their freedom. They were willing to die for their opportunity of creating a far greater nation than what they had recently left. They understood the concept of change. They knew that they had to create a legal constitution that was fair and just to the people and not just for the government or else the nation that they fought for would be at great risk of falling under dictator rule.
Stengel (2011) defines constitutional originalists as “those who believe the document should be interpreted only as the drafters understood it” and this is how the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted. It should be interpreted this way because the Founding Fathers understood something that Americans do not fully understand today. The Founding Fathers understood what it was like being held under a rule of tyranny. Americans know what tyranny is, but it is not until one receives understanding with their knowledge that one can gain wisdom in a topic. Thus, since American’s are fortunate to not reside under tyranny control, it is critical that American’s utilize another form of wisdom; to learn from the past and to learn from others. If American’s do not interpret the U.S. Constitution in the way that the drafters understood it, then Americans run the risk of losing a democratic society.
“Liberal legal scholars analyze the text (U.S. Constitution) just as closely to find the elasticity they believe the framers intended” (Stengel, 2011). Interpreting the U.S. Constitution this way opens the door for far too many insights and opinions that are directed by one’s circumstance rather than from the history of America. If this becomes the norm, then there would be significant negative consequences in how disputes are handled according to the U.S. Constitution rule of law.
Neilson (1947) provides great insight as he states, “Today our movements languish because the masses have not been told the reasons for them with the withering pungency that the pamphleteers aimed at the injustices and imbecilities of the politicians of their time” (p. 93).
Neilson wrote this statement in 1947, but it is still true in 2020. Far too many movements today are because it is trendy to do so. There is not much truth nor oppression behind these movements which is why they typically do not make any significant change; rather the movements keep dividing the country. If Americans review the U.S. Constitution based on what people think the Founding Fathers meant, then the divisive emotions that are being demonstrated today will change the ethical environment for all businesses in a negative way. Laws will be created based on emotions rather than facts, which we are starting to see taking place repeatedly. The Founding Fathers understood oppression, and they created a constitution to keep American’s from going back to an oppressed state.
It is the duty of all American’s to trust in the Founding Fathers experience and uphold the U.S. Constitution in the manner that the Founding Fathers intended.
Submitted by Brandon Maston, MBA, Texas Tech Alumni