In her book, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle Over American History, Jill...Lepore writes that “the Founders were not prophets. Nor did they hope to be worshipped. They believed to defer without serious examination to what your forefathers believed is to become a slave of the past.”
Indeed, Lepore notes that it was none other than Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human.”
In Federalist 44, James Madison wondered if it was “not the glory of the people of America, that... they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons or their own experience?”
This gets to the heart of the matter: the Founders were grappling with 18th century problems, and would be bewildered by the debates we're having today. When people say that the Founders, were they to be reanimated today, would be shocked by this or that policy, keep in mind that what would really stun them is indoor plumbing, horseless carriages and flying machines, not to mention all these women and free black people daring to cast votes in our elections.
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