I finally finished the 5000 year leap (started it in late May). It is an absolute shame that I was never taught these principles in school (for the record, civics was also not taught). So, it comes as no surprise that this was one of the most enlightening books I have ever read.
The author, W. Cleon Skousen (founder of the National Center for Constitutional Studies) goes through the 28 principles the Founding Fathers said must be understood and perpetuated by every people who desire peace, prosperity, and freedom. The title is a reference to the fact that adherence to these principles during the past 200 years brought about more progress than was made in the previous 5,000. I highly recommend it. The 28 principles are…
1. The only reliable basis for sound government and just human relations is Natural Law.
2. A free people cannot survive under a republican (self-governing) constitution unless they remain a virtuous and morally strong.
3. The most promising method of securing a virtuous and morally stable people is to elect virtuous leaders.
4. Without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained.
5. All things were created by God, therefore upon Him all mankind are equally dependent, and to Him they are equally responsible.
6. All men are created equal.
7. The proper role of government is to protect equal rights, not provide equal things.
8. Men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.
9. To protect man’s rights, God has revealed certain principles of divine law.
10. The God-given right to govern is vested in the sovereign authority of the whole people.
11. The majority of the people may alter or abolish a government that has become tyrannical.
12. The Unite States of America shall be a Republic.
13. A constitution should be structured to permanently protect the people from the human frailties of their rulers.
14. Life and Liberty as secure so long as the right of property is secure.
15. The highest level of prosperity occurs when there is a free market economy and a minimum of government regulations.
16. The government should be separated into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.
17. A system of checks and balances should be adopted to prevent the abuse of power.
18. The unalienable rights of the people are most likely to be preserved if the principles of government are set forth in a written constitution.
19. Only limited and carefully defined powers should be delegated to the government, all other being retained in the people.
20. Efficiency and dispatch require governments to operate according to the will of the majority, but the constitutional provisions must be made to protect the rights of the minority.
21. Strong local self-government is the keystone to preserving human freedom.
22. A free people should be governed by law and not by the whims of men.
23. A free society cannot survive as a republic without a broad program of general education.
24. A free people will not survive unless they stay strong.
25. “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations: entangling alliances with none.”
26. The core unit that determines the strength of any society is the family; therefore, the government should foster and protect its integrity.
27. The burden of debt is as destructive to freedom as subjugation by conquest.
28. The United States has a manifest destiny to be an example and a blessing to the entire human race.