Every nation is built upon a foundation of laws. Did America always have laws that were thousands of pages long? If not, what were they? Where did they come from?
For centuries America’s laws were based on what was referred to as the Divine Law, Laws of God, the Immutable Laws of Good and Evil, the Ten Commandments and other names. These laws were voluntarily applied to both personal lives and civil institutions. As early as 1638, Rev. Thomas Hooker, the founder of Connecticut said, “The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people, by God’s allowance….The privilege of election…must not be exercised according to their humors [whims], but according to the blessed will and law of God.”
As the colonies grew and charters and laws were written, each one of the Ten Commandments was adopted as law by 12 of the 13 original colonies. Even Rhode Island, the only exception, established the last six of the Ten Commandments in its legal structure.
The Ten Commandments were the people’s choice as the foundation of law for America’s founding generation as well. America’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams, said, “From the day of the Declaration…they [the American people] were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of The Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledge as the rules of their conduct.”
The United States Constitution was also grounded in these unchanging principles. The Constitution derives its fundamental, world-changing concepts from the Hebrew Republic and Laws of God. These concepts include the three branches of government, the separation of powers, checks and balances, the rights of trial by jury, equality of all people before the law, coined, not-inflated money and the unique emphasis in our Constitution which drives nearly all power to the local level.
Even after WWII most Americans knew that their freedoms and their success were based in Divine Law. President Harry Truman said, “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Mathew, from Isaiah and St. Paul…If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!”
The Academy Award winning movie of 1956, The Ten Commandments, reflected the beliefs of most Americans. Director Cecil B. DeMille appeared directly on the silver screen as the movie began. He said that this picture is “The story of the birth of freedom, the story of the birth of Moses..The theme of this picture is whether men are to be ruled by God’s Law or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator… are men the property of the state or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today.”
Read more at World History Institute