The sole unifying influence spiritually, only common denominator--for all Americans of all races, colors, religions, creeds, ethnic origins, ages--is The American Ideal of 1776: the subject of the book.
This Ideals definition--in the Declaration of Independence, in essence--is spelled out in this unique book as an indivisible whole: The Twelve Basic American Principles. This is 1776 Americanism.
Intelligent choice--between 1776 Americanism and conflicting Isms (chiefly Socialism in the USA today)--requires primarily thorough knowledge of these Principles. Not to know them is to cheat oneself of the basic freedom: freedom of choice, between alternatives.
Making this grave choice daily is inescapable for every adult citizen (by acts of omission or commission, or by opinion-forming), confronted by problems of self-governing, performing duties of Liberty-Responsibility, to which The Twelve Principles are always pertinent.
This is the only book in existence which enables every self-governing citizen to gain the needed knowledge of the whole of these Principles, never before thus defined, not taught in schools or colleges. Written for all Americans for all time, this fundamental book fills a critical need for young and old alike, will continue to do so for centuries.
Working to make the 1776 Ideal effective governmentally, to preserve it for Posterity, is the imperative duty of every citizen. The book is the essential tool for all who wish to be worthy trustees for todays children and future generations of their just heritage: this Ideal, its eternal values and the supporting Constitution, as The Founders intended. They believed to default about this is to betray.
A lifetime source-book, it is invaluable for home and office use, most importantly for everyone who seeks to offer others guidance about this basic subject--particularly all civic and public-opinion
The Founders writings are the basis of the books Twelve Principles--like them, never changing. The book will therefore never need change, will be as valid and useful a century from now as during the Twin-Bicentennial Decade: 1976-1987 (the 200th anniversary of the framing of the Constitution). Its dependable scholarship is certified by eminent authorities commendations. No scholar has faulted it.
(75,000 hard-cover copies in print; 3rd printing 1976)Regarding the Author (from the book)
Hamilton Abert Long was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York in 1925 after obtaining his Law degree at Columbia University in 1924. He practiced law in New York City until World War II; has not practiced law, or lived there, since the war in order to give his full time to the activities concerning public affairs mentioned below. A veteran of both World Wars, he now holds the rank of Major, AUS, Retired.
Since World War II, he has devoted his full time to research, writing--and public lecturing under the auspices of the Redpath Bureau of Chicago in the years immediately following the war--and related activities with regard to public affairs, to a great extent in the field of American history and the traditional American philosophy and system of government, also regarding national defense. This has supplemented his extensive research and some writing in the 1930's.
His writings regarding constitutional history and law include, for example, a number of articles published in the American Bar Association Journal. (See also reverse side of this jacket regarding one of his widely distributed writings.)
An Individual who has always preferred to be free of entangling associations, he has never belonged--does not belong--to any organization except professionally, as a member of the Bar, and to the military and social clubs.
This study-guide fills a long-felt and grave need. It presents in brief but reasonably comprehensive and simple form the definitions of the fundamental principles underlying America's traditional, governmental philosophy. This is the philosophy of Man-over-Government. It stems from the uniquely American concept of Man's possessing God-given, unalienable rights and creating governments as his tools, or instruments, primarily to make and keep these rights secure, as proclaimed in 1776 in the Declaration of Independence. This philosophy is an indivisible whole and must be accepted, or rejected, as such.
These traditional American principles were well understood and faithfully supported governmentally by all generations of Americans from the birth of the Republic in 1789 through the first third of the present century. Since then, however, the present generation has allowed itself to become confused and to lose its way; in practice, it has betrayed and abandoned these traditional principles. This is widely recognized in America as well as by some in informed circles abroad. Earlier generations in America may have made mistakes, to be sure, but nothing comparable to this betrayal and abandonment.
This confusion, betrayal and abandonment in practice--despite lip-service at times by many--have produced a condition which may soundly be defined in the form of a "confession," or self-appraisal, by the present generation in America (especially those of middle-age or older) as follows:
We Americans of the mid-twentieth century have in our traditional, governmental philosophy unique and invaluable beliefs and principles about The Individual and his unalienable rights, in relation to God as his Creator and the giver of these rights--about the consequently limited role of government as the creature and tool, or instrument, of the sovereign and self-governing people, as well as about history and human destiny; but we do not duly honor in practice these beliefs and principles. With woefully few exceptions, we do not even seem to know, much less adequately comprehend and appreciate, the infinitely great values which constitute the foundation of our heritage and civilization. We do not believe in them with requisite conviction and fervor. Our default, as the temporary trustees of the just heritage of Young America of today and tomorrow, is all the more complete due to our failure for decades to train the children in schools and colleges, as well as in homes and churches, to understand, to respect, and to honor this heritage of beliefs, principles and values which add up to the essence of traditional America. Thus sinning, we are in truth guilty of the most heinous of sins: the lost consciousness of sin.
The guilt is personal and individual, of course; so it is the problem and duty, in good conscience and in the light of the trust reposed by the helpless little children of today, of each adult American to decide for himself or herself the measure of his or her own guilt.
Such sentiments would be heartily endorsed, it is believed, by the Founding Fathers and their fellow-American leaders--indeed, by the American people and their leaders of every generation in America prior to the present one--could they return today and pass judgment upon the performance of this generation as the temporary trustees of the American heritage of Individual Liberty, the just heritage of American Posterity.
This study-guide is unique; nothing like it exists, according to the author's many years of research in this field. There has never been prepared, it seems, any presentation of such a set of definitions of the fundamental American principles. Not even a comparable listing, brief but comprehensive, of the basic principles themselves could be found, much less their adequate definition. The core-concepts of the American philosophy are, of course, stated in the second to fourth sentences of the Declaration of Independence; and the Signers and their fellow leaders of that generation left voluminous writings of a general nature about the subject. It is on the basis of these writings that the present statement of American principles has been developed. Of these writings, the ones which have been relied upon for present purposes are numerous and some of the principal ones are identified later, in the "Background Discussion (Part II).
The fresh approach offered by the definitions of these American principles, and the ready usefulness to the reader of the unusual form of presentation, induce the hope that this study-guide will be conducive to greater clarity of thought and to sound understanding among the American people and their leaders in all walks of life, particularly in the exercise of that most inclusive of all freedoms--freedom of choice--regarding America's course governmentally. It is designed to serve particularly as a useful tool for Young America, today and tomorrow. It will help to focus attention on the basic causes, not symptoms--on fundamentals, not things superficial.
Soundness of thinking and of the expression of thoughts depends upon accuracy of the definitions of words and terms used. It is especially noteworthy that the term "Individual Liberty"--or more fully stated: "Individual Liberty-Responsibility"--means primarily Man's Liberty against Government-over-Man; that is, Man's Freedom from Government-over-Man. This Liberty, or Freedom, is inclusive of all of Man's liberties, freedoms and rights, as well as of the duties underlying the inseparable factor of Responsibility. The word "Man," as used in this discussion, always connotes The Individual.
Of particular interest, perhaps, is "American Traditionist"--a term suggested as an accurate "label" for adherents, including the present writer, of the traditional American philosophy including the principles discussed in this study-guide. The term connotes one who is forward-looking in keeping with The American Vision and its high goals and ideals, sensibly judged in the light of recorded human experience, especially of America's own history. This term embraces, most importantly, the ideals proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and in the Preamble to the United States Constitution, as well as the realism governmentally underlying the philosophy and system of constitutionally limited government defined in the body of the Constitution, and as further defined by the prohibitions, against the Federal government only, which were made express in the first eight (Bill of Rights) amendments in order to supplement and confirm the implied, over-all prohibition in the original instrument due to its denial of all powers not enumerated as being granted to this government. These amendments were induced by the people's great fear of the new central government as a potential threat to their hard-won liberties; while each of the States was left free from any restriction by these amendments so as to be able to continue to deal, as it should see fit, with the topics involved. The term "American Traditionist" contemplates sound progress through proper constitutional change by the people by amendment from time to time if, when and as they choose to amend the Constitution. This term embraces the concept of sound progress aided by foresight gained through hindsight. This means the American people's making sound progress toward their chosen goals on the basis of adequate understanding of their roots, of traditional American values, as the needed firm foundation for well-grounded growth. The term "American Traditionist" is useful especially because it is reasonably self-defining and not readily misunderstandable or open to easy misrepresentation.
Thomas Jefferson's writings are referred to so frequently in this study-guide, much more so than the writings of any other leader of his day, that a brief explanation is in order. He was considered by most as being second to none--by some as being pre-eminent--among the governmental philosophers of America. He continued to occupy the life-long role of one of the chief expositors of the American philosophy and system of government; that is, Man-over-Government. Moreover, his vastly varied and distinguished experience in government, matched by few and exceeded by none among his fellow leaders, added immensely to the practical significance of his writings. He was active in this role, in and out of office, throughout the entire half-century and more from the pre-1776 period to the time of his death in 1826. He was exceptional, even among the distinguished leaders of that day, because of his ability to write in easily quotable form--tersely but rich in meaning. The richness of his writings, for purposes of quotation on an infinitely varied list of subjects, is indicated by the fact that a volume of over nine thousand quotations (1,000 pages) was published in 1900: The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia. It is an excellent guide to his original writings. Furthermore, he was at least the equal, if not the peer, of even the more articulate leaders of his day in perceiving and expressing the enduring American principles in keeping with the "common sense" of the subject--with "the American mind"--which, as he wrote many years later (1825 letter to Henry Lee), was all that he tried to express in the Declaration of Independence. That this was true--that no ideas but those then well-known to the American people were expressed in it--was borne out for example by John Adams' contemporaneous statement (letter to Samuel Chase, July 1, 1776) about the debate in Congress over Jefferson's draft of the Declaration: ". . . nothing was said but what had been repeated and hackneyed in that room before, a hundred times, for six months past."
Because of John Adams' justifiable pride in his own profound knowledge and great skill as a writer as well as his seniority in service and leadership in the Congress, which fully entitled him to assume the major role among the members of the committee appointed by the Congress in June, 1776 to draft the Declaration, it is of special interest to note that he insisted that Jefferson do the primary work of actual drafting and that Adams wrote long afterward (1822 letter to Timothy Pickering) that Jefferson had come to the Congress in June, 1775 with "a reputation for literature, science, and a happy talent of composition. Writings of his were handed about, remarkable for the peculiar felicity of expression." The high and growing esteem in which Jefferson has been held by succeeding generations of Americans testifies to the reality of his eminence. This is illustrated by the fact that in the present generation he has seemingly been quoted more often by more people than any other leader of his day--perhaps more than all of the others combined. In the past quarter-century or so, leaders of both principal political parties have often sought to win popular following by claiming (often unsoundly) that he has been the inspiration of their policies and programs. He has been cited, but could not be correctly quoted, by many politicians as being a source of their ideas which he would have abhorred, judged by his writings and his record.
The considerable number of quotations presented in this study-guide, selected from the writings of various individuals and from official sources pertaining to the founding of the Republic, represent only a very small fraction of those available; and the ones used are merely illustrative of the great quantity of material to be found in pertinent, historical sources. The quotations used, moreover, which were selected mainly from the writings of well-known leaders of that period, truly reflect the sentiments of the people in general, as proved by the present writer's extensive researches. These quotations may be accepted as a sound sample of what is available in the records.
The fact that numerous references to The Federalist occur makes it desirable that the reader consult, at the outset, the discussion in Part II of this famous and great work. The authorship of some of the 85 essays comprising this book has long been disputed, as between Hamilton and Madison. Modern research proves this conclusion as to authorship, relied upon in this study-guide, is reasonable: Hamilton 51 essays--numbers 1, 6-9, 11-13, 15-17, 21-36, 59-61, 65-85; Madison 26 essays--10, 14, 37-58 and probably 62, 63; Madison (some data from Hamilton)--18-20; and Jay five--2-5, 64, chiefly on foreign affairs. (Jay was then, as he had been for some years past, in charge of foreign affairs for the Confederation government.) Authorship of a particular essay is in reality unimportant because this work was their joint report of the intent of the Framing Convention, expressed in the words of the Constitution; although each of these authors wrote separately.
Reference is made, in Part II, to discussions in Congress in the early years of the Republic, commencing in 1789. In this period, there were no official, complete reports of proceedings in Congress; its Journal was very brief and sketchy. Later, when the Annals of Congress were first prepared and published, including this early period, they were--and ever since have been--accepted officially as being reliable. For the early years, the Annals used, as one source, the contemporary reports of debates in Congress as published in newspapers at the seat of the Federal government. These published reports were therefore known to the members of Congress whose remarks were thus recorded, in substance. In the absence of any recorded challenge, of the accuracy of the contemporaneous reports, by such members--for instance, in the official Journal or in their writings--it is reasonable and sound to assume that the reports were accepted by them as accurate. This is one reason why the Annals, which rely in part upon these contemporaneous reports, have been accepted officially as being dependable in this regard.
Precise references for all quotations are listed in a special section in the Appendix, with appropriate comments about some sources of main interest. Where no source is indicated for a seeming quotation, the present writer is the author.
Permission to quote, in the following pages, copyrighted material from other writings is gratefully acknowledged; as indicated in detail in the pertinent Note in the Appendix (page 322).
Throughout the discussion, the use of the masculine (Man, he, his, him) should be read as including also the feminine. Woman's role now, of course, is the same as Man's with respect to all duties, as well as rights, of Individual Liberty-Responsibility, in the United States.
Sincere thanks are extended to those who have helped in various ways, during the years of work involved in the development of this study-guide, from its initial printed stage in embryonic form in 1952 --for private consideration only--to the present writing, chiefly by way of editorial criticism. Much other preparatory work--research, writing and lecturing--was done during the preceding two decades.
This study-guide is offered as the work solely of the undersigned as an individual--not connected in any way with any other person or with any group or organization. No other person has ever had any authority or responsibility regarding its conception, form, content, or production--involving a number of drafts over the years.
Hamilton Abert Long
October 31, 1963