Date of Award

Spring 1970

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Political Science & International Relations

First Advisor

Rev. Emmett O'Neill

Second Advisor

Rev. Daniel Smith

Abstract

Underlying every form of government, said James Hallowell, in The Moral Foundations of Democracy, Is some basic conception of the nature of man and the meaning of human existence, A governmental mechanism is preconditioned by and dependent upon the basic philosophy of its framers. Likewise, the American philosophy of government flows from the “AmericanM philosophy of man. Furthermore, the Declaration of Independence is the instrument which sets forth the ideals and reflects the standards of what has been held as the American Creed. "And today it remains the American Conscience: a constant challenge to those who would subvert our democratic process by denying persons their unalienable rights.”

During the period which gave form to the Declaration, men spoke of unalienable, natural rights. We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights... Nearly two centuries later, men are still conscious of such human rights. These are the rights that distinguish men from the other creatures who inhabit the earth; the rights that make for the “human-ness" of the human being. Some saw the dignity of the individual, his “intrinsic nobility,” as flowing from the belief that all men are created by God. Others saw man as unique and Inviolable on strictly humanistic grounds. Consequently, the framers created a government geared to the purpose of securing their natural rights. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Ken, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed... This is the theory; this is the basic conception with regard to the nature of man and the meaning of human existence which underlies the culture and civilization of this nation.

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely, warned Lord Acton. The framers of the American system, aware of such danger, were careful to place limits on their governmental apparatus. As a result the l?70*s witnessed the most unique and balanced system of freedom and restraint since the beginning of history. The dawn of constitutionalism in the modern sense, as a method of limiting governmental power as well as establishing it, was ushered in when the conviction that the individual must be protected against the government was articulated in the Bill of Rights.

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