The Testimonies of Gladstone & de Tocqueville: Adding Credibility to the Constitution

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Imagine for an instant witnessing a terrible car accident.  From your vantage point, you took in the whole scene and for a few agonizing seconds helplessly watched as a distracted driver veered into oncoming traffic causing another car to swerve out of control and slam into an oncoming vehicle.  Long after the victims were treated, you find yourself in a court of law as a key witness in the case to determine fault.  The jury hears 5 testimonies— the three drivers’, yours’ and one other third party observer’s, who happens to be a renowned accident reconstruction specialist.  This person witnessed the whole incident from a second story window above the intersection.  If you were on that jury which testimonies would you accept as most reliable in determining fact?

Today, there are many opinions given regarding the relevancy of our aging U.S. Constitution and the jury, the American people, are trying to decide whose interpretation can restore America’s strength and respect.  Some in education and others in the thick of politics cry that it is an obstructive anchor to progress.  Others claim it to be our greatest national treasure.  What I intend to do, throughout this blog and my forthcoming book, is to produce historical evidence and the testimony of actual witnesses to and participants in the establishment of America so that you, the jury, might have facts to consider not just hearsay in the dispute where we find the Constitution on trial.  In laying the foundation for this case, I call on two  non-American, third party, expert witnesses.  Their perspectives, offered during the mid to late 1800s, bear witness of the genius of the U.S. Constitution and should spark a desire in you to discover the details that lead them to make such bold claims.

It is important to note that during this era of U.S. history some were coming forth suggesting that the U.S. Constitution was dated, too rigid and inflexible for an evolving more “enlightened” society.  Our first witness, Mr. William E. Gladstone, a foreigner, provides a point of view in stark opposition to this philosophy.  For the record, Gladstone was one of the most accomplished public servants of this era.  He served as Prime Minister of England four times, more than any individual to hold that office.  Beginning in 1832, he gave over 60 years of his life in the British government.  He made significant strides in shaping British monetary policy and reducing barriers to a free market during the Victorian era when Britain was the great power of the world(1).  Yet in spite of his enormous efforts, he watched the U.S., almost effortlessly, rival and in many ways surpass his home land and rise to greatness in terms of economic prosperity, innovation, and freedom.  He could have been resentful, but instead he used his unique third party perspective to compliment America’s success.  On the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, he applauded its wisdom by declaring, “The American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”(2)

A second witness to the Founder’s genius is Alexis de Tocqueville, a French judge and political writer who came to America in order to understand “her greatness.” He published his finding in a book entitled Democracy in America.  Some years later, following another bloody revolution in his homeland, he pleaded with his countrymen in 1848 to use America’s success formula in this way, “For sixty years the [American] people…have increased in opulence; …it is found to have been, not only the most prosperous, but the most stable of all the nations of the earth…the principles on which the American constitutions rest, those principles of order, of the balance of power, of true liberty, of deep and sincere respect for right, are indispensable to all republics.” (3)

Both de Tocqueville and Gladstone provide sound evidence that America’s founding documents and ideals unleashed great human potential.  These men were expert witnesses in the case and suggest that our constitutional principles are just as relevant to human potential and freedom today as they were 100 and even 200 years ago.  Their testimonies should ignite a deep desire to understand our heritage and founding principles more clearly.

America is about more than just economic prosperity, it’s about empowerment of the individual and the protection of the fundamentals of freedom that de Tocqueville and Gladstone so openly applauded.  Those principles can only be tapped into and protected when properly understood.  Ignorance, rhetoric and dogma can’t protect them.  Without a clear perspective and the honest facts, it’s easy to buy into the witness of those distracted Americans whose vision is impaired by negativity and unproven philosophies.  But with a clear perspective and the facts to uncover America’s founding success principles, you can and will enjoy wider freedom.  By tuning out the cacophony of competing opinions and taking a more objective look at America’s founding, you will not only avoid the crash, but will enjoy enormous returns on your investment!

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