Forrest Nabors: Review of local government options and American republicanism, Part II

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By FORREST NABORS, PhD

Part II of a four-part series

What was the secret of New England republicanism? In short, the answer is, the faith of the people of New England, from which all their institutions were formed. 

In Genesis 22:18 God promises Abraham that “in your seed all the nations shall be blessed,” and in Galatians 3:28 the apostle says, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor male nor female nor bond nor free, but ye are all one in Jesus Christ.” Both the Old and New Testament demonstrate that in God’s eyes all mankind is equal.

The Hebrews were a special people because they were the bearers of this gospel, that the Babylonians no less than the Hebrews were dear to God. In its secular version, this principle could be rewritten, “all men are created equal.” This principle was advanced in New England government 150 years before Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and before John Locke was born.

The Catholic Church had carried this teaching forward from its founding. Saint Augustine, Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Thomas Aquinas all advanced the idea that all men are created equal. The priests reformed rulers. We can find in old European archives plenty of evidence of scolding and threatening priests, reminding monarchs that they are servants of the people, not wolves. By the late Middle Ages the church forced the European monarchs to abolish slavery and softened the conduct of rulers. 

Renewed zeal drove the reformers to purify the religion of Christendom, not only in the practice of their religion, but in every aspect of their lives, their social and political lives included. The protestant sects that dissented from the Church of England were such as these reformers, and the early settlers of New England came from those sects.

Their pastors observed in the Bible that the only form of government that God ever ordained was a republican form of government, administered by judges under law. Only with reluctance and after a stern warning did God allow the Hebrews to abandon that form and anoint their first king, Saul. That God preferred republican government made sense to these protestants, because if all are equal, as the Bible maintains, then no government but government of and by equals was preferred by God. This became the basis of the organization of their churches. Equal elders ruled the congregations and the pastors and ministers were chosen by them. This also became the basis of their political organizations.

As a result, from their earliest settlement, the people of New England ruled their churches and in government they ruled themselves as coequals. They made their own laws that they lived under. Town halls were built where coequal citizens could debate all political questions. They elected their officers of government, whom they deemed to be servants of the public, just as pastors and ministers were servants of their congregations.

Because they perceived from their studies of the Bible, that only by each reading the Bible could each hope for salvation and learn how to live a pious life, the instruction of the young was a religious duty. Education, therefore, grew out from New England households and was administered by parents, concerned that their young become literate at the earliest possible age. Families working together, not government, established schoolhouses. By the time of the American Revolution, New England boasted of the highest literacy rate in the world. The incidental result of this was elevated public intelligence and in New England, the highest incidence of newspapers in the world.

The principle of natural equality by which they organized their way of life and mode of governing themselves, also structured how they organized themselves for war and law enforcement. They did not form standing armies or professional police forces, the latter of which is a relatively new kind of law enforcement in the United States. The people of New England depended on themselves. War and law enforcement was a community affair, conducted by citizens who regularly trained in militia companies and kept their own arms.

Town halls, schoolhouses, mustering grounds and churches were the essential props of New England self-government. Their republicanism was impossible without their faith. Their faith inculcated the principle that was the bedrock of their social and political lives, the principle of natural equality, that all had a right to life and liberty. 

Their faith also inculcated the virtue of charity. This virtue, peculiar to Christianity, prevented the rise of unjust factions, which had always been the bane of prior republics. All other prior republics had been small, and all had been destroyed from within by one unjust faction achieving a majority then oppressing their fellow citizens. But charity encouraged kindness and justice and discouraged haughtiness and vengeance and injustice. While the New England communities were small, charity steadied them, preserved justice and public tranquility. Charity also obviated the need for “safety nets” managed by government. Communities took care of each other and their own.

Virginia was the largest and most influential colony southward of the New England colonies. George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson among other famous Virginians of the revolutionary period all are on record acknowledging New England republicanism, expressing their admiration for it, and attempting to reform their state on the New England model. Many statesmen southward requested assistance from John Adams of Massachusetts, the acknowledged savant of republicanism, in writing their constitutions and learning how to model their states after the New England states. 

New England influenced the future political development of the United States in another way, by sending her offspring to new territories, who brought their way of life and institutions with them. At their foundation, many territories and new states reproduced the institutions found in New England.

Finally, in 1787 the Federal Convention drafted the Constitution under which we live today. That constitution was modeled after the constitution John Adams wrote for the state of Massachusetts in 1780. Both constitutions were written for a free people and required them to depend on themselves for their livelihoods and to govern themselves.

After ratification, the size of the federal government remained slight for more than one hundred and fifty years, yet the country was ambitious, energetic and strong because the people were accustomed to rely on their own virtue to rise in life, rising on the basis of merit, not preferment.

New England republicanism had thus become American republicanism.

The Eaglexit Board would like to thank Forrest Nabors for his support and efforts. This is the first of a four-part series. Please consider joining the cause and keeping up on our progress at Eaglexit.com.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great article! My American ancestry only dates back to the 1910s. (I’m Finnish/Irish on one side, French/German/Polish on the other side, and grew up in a blended Jewish/Christian enviornment).

    They all immigrated to Fall River, Massachusetts, and stayed mainly in New England. As a result of me being raised there, I have great adoration of the Patriots of revolutionary times, and the Unionist cause.

    New England republicanism is an excellent form of government, particularly the town meeting. I was “home” not too long ago, and I accompianied Mom to the town meeting where a few hundred neighbors (hometown population is about 5,000) got together, voted on water rates and school band uniform funding, the. broke and had coffee together. This is also in one of the counties in New England which President Trump carried in both 16 and 20.

    Its strange to live in a place where town meetings don’t really exist, and Assembly meetings tend to only attract zealots, weirdos, and axe-grinders.

    We can all fall into a trap of being spicy on the Internet, and to characterize our neighbors as evil and worthy of sanction due to partisan differences.

    A return to communitiea having c

  2. Currently, the Republican party’s fiscal conservatism includes support for lower taxes, gun rights, government conservatism, free market capitalism, free trade, deregulation of corporations and restrictions on labor unions and that’s it. No religion has been endorsed.
    Forrest Nabors was incorrect.

  3. And yet New England has become a hotbed of socialism and anti Americanism.

    Maybe use the example to chart a different course.

    • With over 500 million slaves currently on the planet, you must realize that slavery was doomed in the US by the 1880s. With the cotton gin and machinery, it would be way cheaper to farm than to house, feed and cloth a bunch of slaves. Sadly, millions had to die for 20 years.

  4. The reality is, our nation was designed as a Constitutional Republic and as long as it was operated that way, it was a really good system. When elected leaders started pandering to the general public under the promise to make their lives easier, we started sliding into a Socialist Democracy, which is the death nell for any nation. Every time someone calls our form of government a Democracy, it sets my teeth on edge. I can’t stand what our nation has become since the days of Roosevelt and his “New Deal” destructive measures. Johnson passed the second wave of destructive programs. The US Congress should abolish the EPA and several other destructive bureaucracies that are economically destroying the nation as well.

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