The third theatre of the War of Independence 

The Founders never intended for slavery to be an ongoing part of the United States of America, my country. The US Constitution does not even contain the words slavery or slave. None of the phrases describing slaves in the document uses the word property to describe slaves, either. The Founders put slavery on a path to extinction. To consider that is not to mention the same intent revealed in the letters and debates the Founders had preceding the Constitution. 

            If that is true, why did they not abolish slavery when they began to govern? To do so would have violated the reason they were in this land to begin with, to establish a land where people are ruled by consent rather than the rule of another such as a king. The Constitution treated slavery as a wrong to be eliminated as soon as the people would consent. It is that simple.

            The “self-evident” truth contained in the Declaration of Independence that through the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” that “all men are created equal” provided the means for the reality of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” when, and if, the people were ready to consent to it. To take in the whole of our founding history leads to no other conclusion. The details of which are damning for many (names and people groups withheld here), and esteeming for others. 

The hope of equality realized was kept alive by many such as John Quincy Adams. His political life began as a boy serving President George Washington and ended as a Congressman in the House of Representatives (1831-1848) working alongside a young Congressman named Abraham Lincoln from 1847-1848. As a Congressman, John Quincy made so many appeals to end slavery that in 1836 congressman from the south passed a “gag rule” providing that the House automatically table petitions against slavery. Adams fought the rule until he obtained its repeal, eight years later!

            Many people leading our government and in our society today are once again championing the gag rule. Once again they have reared their heads, and puffed their chests and said we will not govern or live within the boundaries of the Constitution, of consent. We know what is best, and we will force that upon those who disagree. This way of governing is not the way of the Founders.

Republicanism is the belief that the best form of government is one where citizens choose their representatives through free elections. The Founders of these United States were proponents of republicanism. Republicanism is not to be misunderstood as the ideas or policies of the Republican Party. In my lifetime, the association is surely false. The principles of republicanism can be held by anyone who supports governing by the consent of the citizens who actively participate in the society and its government.

            In a Republic, power is in the hands of individual citizens. Laws are made by the elected representatives of the people. In a democratic system, laws are made by the majority. The will of the majority has the right to override the existing rights of anyone. 

            Even as our current government leaders, and many of its citizens, insist they are saving our democracy, the United States is more accurately described as a Constitutional Federal Republic. Constitutional meaning that governing is based upon a Constitution as the supreme law of the land, that through mutual consent to this way (Federal) and constant debate (republicanism) rather than public opinion (democracy), we will be governed. In our republic, the Constitution protects certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the government, even if it has been elected by a majority of voters. In a “pure democracy,” the majority is not restrained in this way and can impose its will on the minority. Majority rule left to itself always abuses minorities.

Republicanism is required to have a government ruled by the consent of the people. By definition, republicanism is self-rule through debate, constant debate. While constant debate can lead to deadlocks, debate (not majority rule) will shape consent or political opinion so that it will accept or approve what is right, to eliminate as much evil and injustice as possible, while it is possible. Governing by republicanism is to be done without destroying anyone from which future evil and injustice can be eliminated.

            Without open debate we are left only with a democracy. A democracy left to itself submits only to the power of the majority, not to reason. A power structure submits only to more power. Thus a ruling class eventually emerges. If the current wave of governing without debate is allowed to continue, then the Founders will have finally lost, and the “gag rule” will eventually apply to all but the ruling class. For we will no longer have a country ruled by consent, but power.

Republicanism requires something outside yourself, input from another to reason through. It will never allow you to be the only voice on a matter. Believing that anyone has something to add to the discussion, republicanism can receive disagreement as opportunity to learn. For republicanism assumes and accepts one needs input. In this sense, all will be wise to be republican.

            To accept and invite involvement in one’s life leads one beyond a human level. For in reasoning together you are confronted to accept or deny there are things beyond your ability to reason. One of the writers the Founders studied said when looking intently upon things you cannot explain, one can come to perceive and understand things one has not seen or heard. It should be no wonder why the Founders credited God as the One (one beyond our ability to fully explain) who created all people equal, and is the basis and giver of rights to a person. 

Democracy left alone results in the crowd as the authority. For democracy alone requires no input outside of itself. It is not open to reason, nor can or does it represent things beyond what the majority believes that have seen or heard. Through such power, the strongest arm wins the day. However, wisdom understands power overriding consent will never win the war. 

            To experience the fullness of life is more than what a democracy can accomplish alone. For example, no sound mind believes it is autonomous. Even today you will wear clothes you did not make, eat food you did not grow, benefit from medicine you do not understand, shelter in a space you did not build – a place built with materials you did not gather the resources to make, and on it goes. At the most basic level, you will benefit today from the ideas and efforts of people you have never met. Even more telling, is that you freely receive the produce of their lives even as you certainly do not agree with all they believe! Are you sure you want to cancel them, as majority rule alone will do?

In thinking republicanism and democracy through to their conclusion, each lead to a god. One is outside itself. The other is itself. We the people are now engaged in the third theatre of the War of Independence from a ruling class (the Revolutionary War being the first, and the Civil War being the second). While being fought among us, may we today return to the pattern of our Founders. Discuss, reason and participate with those among you.

            Humble your autonomous beliefs. Invite God into the conversation, for He alone is the basis for and the understanding of how to pursue “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Come to perceive and understand things beyond what you see or hear. Eliminate as much evil and injustice as possible, while it is possible among you. Every thought and word spoken will not lead to God, but God is among every person. For He speaks to and through us all, even as some unknowingly consent to this truth.


  1. Excellent discussion on the differences between a republic and a democracy. The spiritual conclusion of an outer focus or inner one is very insightful. One challenge: you stated “may we today return to the pattern of our Founders. Discuss, reason and participate with those among you.” Those founders ended up in personal and collective physical wars. Blood was shed. How do we “engage in the modern battle” without engaging in violence? Or is sin nature too strong in mankind to prevent even Christians from devolving into violence.

  2. Pay attention, even in the familiar. Invite God into the situation as you are aware of things beyond your immediate understanding. Input from Him alone is the basis for how to pursue “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Lord God is creative enough to lead you according to the Law of Liberty (James 1-2) at work in the believer, regardless of where you find yourself.