The following is from Commentary magazine, February, 1997,
pages 20-21. It is taken from an article written by Walter Berns.
"Walter Berns is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute
and professor emeritus of government at Georgetown University."
" ... immediately after adopting the Declaration of Independence on July 4,
1776, the Continental Congress appointed a committee - consisting again of
Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin - to `prepare a device for a Seal of the
United States of North America,' and on that Great Seal appear these words
(they are on every dollar bill), Novus Ordo Seclorum, meaning a
new order of the ages, new because it was the first to recognize the
rights of man, and then to give them constitutional protection. In the words
of James Madison, the Founders `accomplished a revolution which has no
parallel in the annals of human society.' It is the Constitution, a product
of that revolution, and not a recondite `moral law,' that the President
swears to `protect and defend,' the members of Congress to `support,' and
the judges to `support and defend.'
"The Founders were proud of their work. The Constitution, they said, provided
a remedy for the `diseases' most incident to democratic government, and
The Federalist (written to persuade the people to give it their
consent) leaves no doubt as to what they understood to be a disease:
zealous opinions `concerning religion,' `tyrannical majorities,' `angry and
malignant passions,' `a factious spirit,' the dangerous ambition that
`often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people,'
and those who begin their careers 'by paying obsequious court to the
people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants.'
"To guard against these democratic diseases, or vices, the Constitution, in
addition to consigning religion to the private sphere by separating church
and state, withholds powers, separates powers, and excludes the people
`in their collective capacity' from any share in the exercise of
these powers. In a word, republican (or limited) government would be
possible under a Constitution that excluded, or at least inhibited, the
zealous, the angry, the morally indignant; and this, in turn, depended
on confining the business of government to issues that did not give rise
to zeal, anger, or moral indignation.... "