Respite from the rul­ing class with his­tory tour

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

The de­press­ing de­bate over the debt ceil­ing un­der­scores just how reck­lessly the rul­ing class has squan­dered Amer­ica’s sa­cred her­itage, a her­itage I had the priv­i­lege of re­vis­it­ing up close on a re­cent fam­ily va­ca­tion.

The con­trast be­tween the sub­lime his­tor­i­cal lo­ca­tions we ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing the day and the alarm­ing news we in­gested each night about the dire state of our nation’s fi­nan­cial con­di­tion couldn’t have been starker.

Upon wit­ness­ing the majesty of our his­tor­i­cal sites, it’s dif­fi­cult not to be out­raged at the ir­re­spon­si­ble stew­ard­ship of our do-gooder rul­ing class. These elites are on the fi­nal leg of their long jour­ney to up­root our found­ing prin­ci­ples and re­make the nation in their quest for moral self-re­al­iza­tion through pub­lic acts of phi­lan­thropy with other peo­ple’s money and lib­erty. In the name of com­pas­sion, they have sys­tem­at­i­cally un­der­mined our found­ing ideals of life, lib­erty, the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness and equal op­por­tu­nity un­der the law.

Stand­ing firm against this re­lent­less on­slaught are pa­tri­ots com­mit­ted to pre­serv­ing our tra­di­tion of con­sti­tu­tional self­gov­er­nance and our lib­er­ties, and there is no greater inspiration for pa­tri­ots than Amer­ica’s his­tor­i­cal sites. Let me share with you, then, a few high­lights of the places we vis­ited.

We flew into Wash­ing­ton, where we vis­ited the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment, the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial, the Jef­fer­son Me­mo­rial, the Na­tional World War II Me­mo­rial, the Capi­tol, Ford’s Theatre, the Na­tional Mu­seum of Amer­i­can His­tory, the Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory and the United States Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Mu­seum. Later in the week, we went to Get­tys­burg and were treated to a mov­ing two-hour tour by a per­sonal guide who couldn’t have been more in­for­ma­tive.

But from Wash­ing­ton, we headed for Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s home, Mount Ver­non. It is hard to imag­ine a more beau­ti­ful set­ting. The house and grounds are in mint con­di­tion, and the fa­cil­ity is one of the finest I’ve seen any­where. It is thrilling to stand on the grounds and in­side the ac­tual home of Amer­ica’s first pres­i­dent.

The next day, we vis­ited Colo­nial Wil­liams­burg, which con­tains a nearly mile-long stretch of pe­riod build­ings and other at­trac­tions. Work­ers are dressed in cos­tume and per­form in char­ac­ter, mak­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence truly au­then­tic. My fa­vorite spot there was the Capi­tol build­ing, where the guide re­counted the sem­i­nal work in con­sti­tu­tional state­craft of Vir­ginia’s many heavy­weights of the era, in­clud­ing Ge­orge Ma­son and Pa­trick Henry. From there, we raced to­ward Jamestown be­fore it was to close at 5 p.m. to see what re-

Words alone are in­suf­fi­cient to ex­press the rich­ness of Amer­ica’s her­itage and the debt we owe our Found­ing Fathers and all oth­ers who sac­ri­ficed so much so that we could be free.

mains (and what has been re­stored) of Amer­ica’s early set­tle­ment. The foun­da­tion of the set­tlers’ first church is still in­tact, and the out­lines of the town are clearly marked. Be­ing phys­i­cally present on these sites makes our his­tory come alive in a way that can­not be ad­e­quately cap­tured in books.

That night, we drove to Mon­ti­cello, the home of Thomas Jef­fer­son, in Char­lottesville, which was also spell­bind­ing. Mon­ti­cello is a tes­ta­ment to Jef­fer­son’s ge­nius and di­verse tal­ents. From the clas­si­cal de­sign of the home to the con­tents of ev­ery room, you get a sense of his bril­liance, in­di­vid­u­al­ity and mul­ti­tudi­nous in­ter­ests. As our guide told us about Jef­fer­son’s en­ter­tain­ing his friends James Madi­son, Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton and Andrew Jack­son, we couldn’t help but pic­ture our­selves eaves­drop­ping on their din­ner con­ver­sa­tions. We learned that when the Bri­tish torched the Li­brary of Congress in the War of 1812, de­stroy­ing so many books, Jef­fer­son ar­ranged to sell to the na­tional gov­ern­ment thou­sands of books from his beloved per­sonal li­brary to re­fur­nish the na­tional col­lec­tion.

Our next stop was Mont­pe­lier in Orange, Va., the home of Jef­fer­son’s best friend, James Madi­son. It was beau­ti­ful, as well, but it was a small room on its sec­ond floor that moved me as much as any other lo­ca­tion we vis­ited.

It was here that Madi­son, for months on end, pored over hun­dreds of books on con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ment in his painstak­ing pur­suit to de­sign the op­ti­mal form of gov­ern­ment to cure the de­fects of the Ar­ti­cles of Con­fed­er­a­tion and es­tab­lish a gov­ern­ment that would max­i­mize and pre­serve in­di­vid­ual lib­er­ties. These books were de­liv­ered from Europe by Jef­fer­son at Madi­son’s re­quest and were mostly writ­ten in for­eign lan­guages. Madi­son’s ef­forts would bear abun­dant fruit, as he was in­stru­men­tal in craft­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. Fit­tingly, our fi­nal stop was Philadel­phia, where we stood in the very room in In­de­pen­dence Hall in which Amer­ica’s great states­men self­lessly crafted, de­bated and signed the Con­sti­tu­tion.

I am more con­vinced than ever that words alone are in­suf­fi­cient to ex­press the rich­ness of Amer­ica’s her­itage and the debt we owe our Found­ing Fathers and all oth­ers who sac­ri­ficed so much so that we could be free. As we mea­sure the forces de­ter­mined to struc­turally change this nation, di­vest us of our lib­er­ties and, in the process, in­evitably bank­rupt us, let us al­ways be mind­ful of the sac­ri­fice of these great men, who be­queathed to us our lib­er­ties, and honor them and our pos­ter­ity by re­dou­bling our com­mit­ment to fight to the end to pre­serve them.

David Lim­baugh is the au­thor of “Crimes Against Lib­erty”.

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