Volume 30, Issue 1/2, 2018
The American Experiment: A Republic, If You Can Keep It
James D. Moseley
The Constitution of 1787, Based on Reason and Revelation
The framers of the U.S. Constitution of 1787 understood that its principles are those of the Declaration of Independence, based upon reason and revelation, “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” Yet, following so-called progressivism at the turn of the twentieth century, the principles of the American founding were questioned by historicism and moral relativism in the social sciences and humanities, with the most egregious effects today in constitutional law. This has been called “the crisis of the West.” Some perceive that the United States lacks a strong moral foundation, and call for redrawing the Constitution. However, before doing so, we may want to better understand its founding principles. We need to turn to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, as found in reason and revelation, which support the moral order of the Constitution. John Quincy Adams and Abraham Lincoln referred to passages from the Bible to illustrate the preeminent position of the Declaration to the Constitution. And they, like the founders, believed the Constitution’s principles must be adhered to for the nation to survive.