The Founding Fathers made numerous contributions to the forming of this great Constitutional Republic. In my opinion, one of their most significant achievements was the idea of a written constitution.
Our U.S. Constitution was designed to serve as a limitation on federal powers, which is what makes it unique and powerful. It provides for a federal separation of power among three branches of government as was advocated by the French philosopher Montesquieu in his work, The Spirit of the Laws. Thus, unlike a parliamentary form of government, power is divided among an independent legislature, a chief executive and an independent judiciary.
Additionally, the Bill of Rights guarantees the fundamental rights of the people and the states and further defines the boundaries of power of the federal government. This brilliantly composed document struck a remarkable balance of affirming our natural rights while establishing justice, safety and a well-ordered society.
We tend to ignore the constitutions of the states when we talk about THE CONSTITUTION. Virginia’s Constitution was the first written constitution in history that recognized the people as the source of its legitimacy, according to Jefferson. This is important for two reasons: it established Virginia as an independent sovereign entity before the Declaration of Independence (Virginia adopted its own Declaration of Independence before the Continental Congress) and it provided a model for the revolutionary notion that the charter by which the people agreed to be governed was fixed in written words. These two points are seldom mentioned, but vitally important.
The Founders were sensitive to government’s proclivity to usurp the power of the people and therefore were very intentional in how they crafted these constitutions to safeguard our individual liberties. It is now our responsibility to preserve the original intent of the Constitution, restore federalism, and protect the unique treasure that was given to us by our Founding Fathers.