As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.
Presidential Quote of the Week
September 24th, 2014
Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), 33rd President of the United States
There is no question in my mind that the Government, acting on behalf of all the people, must assume the ultimate responsibility for the economic health of the Nation. There is no other agency that can. No other organization has the scope or the authority, nor is any other agency accountable, to all the people. This does not mean that the Government has the sole responsibility, nor that it can do the job alone, nor that it can do the job directly. … In short, the way we handle the proper functions of government, the way we time the exercise of our traditional and legitimate governmental functions, has a vital bearing on the economic health of the Nation. – State of the Union Address, January 21, 1946
Harry Truman was born in May 1884 in Lamar, Missouri. The initial “S” was chosen by his parents as an attempt to please both of Harry’s grandfathers. At one point in his life, he stated that it stood for Shipp, but that was never made official. The Trumans were farmers and livestock dealers, and lived at various locations around Missouri. When Truman was six, the family moved to Independence, so he could attend the Presbyterian Church Sunday School. He did not attend a traditional school until he was eight. Truman graduated from Independence High School and went to work as a timekeeper on the Santa Fe Railroad. He slept in “hobo camps” near the rail lines.
He then worked at a series of clerical jobs and briefly in the mail room of the Kansas City Star, returning to the farm and remaining there until he went into military service. During World War I, Truman enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard. Although he had bad eyesight and could have been deferred, he memorized the eye chart in order to pass the physical. He received military training in Oklahoma and was deployed to France. He was chosen to be an officer, and then a battery commander in an artillery regiment in France. His unit fired some of the last shots of the war into German positions. After the war, he rose to the rank of Colonel in the Army Reserves, and his war record made possible his later political career in Missouri.
In 1922 Truman was elected as a judge of the County Court in Jackson County – an administrative, not judicial, position. Four years later, he was elected presiding judge for the court, and re-elected another four years after that. After serving as a judge, he was elected to the United States Senate where he served two terms. In 1944, Truman was selected as Franklin Roosevelt’s vice presidential candidate. He had been Vice President for only 82 days when Roosevelt died, thrusting Truman into the office of President.
World War II had been prolonged. While he was in Europe for the Potsdam Conference, Truman learned that the Trinity test of the first atomic bomb had been successful. He ultimately authorized its use against the Japanese, to date the world’s only instance of nuclear warfare. Truman was a key figure in the establishment of the Jewish state in the Palestine Mandate of 1948. His administration saw many other foreign policy achievements, including the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift, and domestic ones as well, such as the integration of the military.
Truman was elected to a second term. His inauguration was the first ever to be nationally televised. His second term in office saw such things as Soviet espionage and McCarthyism, the establishment of NATO, a civil war in China, and the naval blockade of Korea, ultimately leading to the Korean War.
In 1951, the U.S. ratified the 22nd Amendment, making a president ineligible to be elected for a third time. Although he could have taken advantage of a grandfather clause, Truman decided not to run for re-election. Truman returned to Independence, Missouri. He died at age 88 from pneumonia. He is buried at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.
Truman was married to Bess Wallace, his childhood sweetheart. They had one daughter, Mary Margaret Truman. He and Bess were Southern Baptists.
Featured Heritage Resource
God and the Founders: Madison, Washington, and Jefferson
By Vincent Phillip Muñoz
Did the Founding Fathers intend to build a “wall of separation” between church and state? Are public Ten Commandments displays or the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance consistent with the Founders’ understandings of religious freedom? In God and the Founders, Dr. Vincent Phillip Muñoz answers these questions by providing new, comprehensive interpretations of James Madison, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. By analyzing Madison’s, Washington’s, and Jefferson’s public documents, private writings, and political actions, Muñoz explains the Founders’ competing church-state political philosophies. Muñoz explores how Madison, Washington, and Jefferson agreed and disagreed by showing how their different principles of religious freedom would decide the Supreme Court’s most important First Amendment religion cases. God and the Founders answers the question, “What would the Founders do?” for the most pressing church-state issues of our time, including prayer in public schools, government support of religion, and legal burdens on individual’s religious conscience.
Our Nation’s Godly Heritage
September 24th, 2014
Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu (1699-1755), Lawyer and Political Philosopher
The Christian relation, which orders men to love one another, no doubt wants the best political laws and the best civil laws for each people, because those laws are [after the Christian religion] the greatest good that men can give and receive. Nor is there liberty if the power of judging is not separated from legislative power and from executive power. If it [the power of judging] were joined to legislative power, the power over life and liberty of all citizens would be arbitrary, for the judge would be the legislator. If it were joined to executive power, the judge could have the force of an oppressor. All would be lost if the same body of principal men had all three powers.
Baron Montesquieu was a French lawyer, man of letters, and political philosopher who lived during the Age of Enlightenments. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, which is implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He did more than any other author to secure the place of the word “despotism” in the political lexicon.
He was born at the Chateau de la Brede in southwest France. His mother died when he was seven, after which he was sent to the Catholic College of Juilly, a prominent school for the children of French nobility. When his father died, he became a ward of his uncle, the Baron de Montesquieu.
He was a lawyer in the Bordeaux Parliament. He married Jeanne de Lartigue, a Protestant, who bore him three children. Over the years, he was troubled by poor eyesight, and was completely blind by the time he died from a high fever. He is buried in the Église Saint-Sulpice, Paris.
He was highly regarded in the British colonies in North America as a champion of liberty.
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