SHIP OF STATE
By Dr. Carl Parnell,
December 11, 2012
America’s Ship of State, the U.S.S. America, was commissioned on May 25, 1787; it was christened on September 17, 1787. The first commander was George Washington. The inaugural voyage began April 30, 1789. His speech of acceptance of his commandership took place in New York City at the Federal Building on Wall Street. An excerpt of his speech plainly acknowledges what he saw as the driving force of his commandership. Commander Washington said:
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.
Therefore, based on Commander Washington’s own words, he recognized that the success of the United States then and in the future would be the providential guidance of the Invisible Hand of God in all the affairs of America’s new constitutional government. He also hoped that the people that he commanded would support his political ideology through the years of his commandership of America’s figurative Ship of State.
But, how was America’s Ship of State affected by Commander Washington’s views of America becoming an independent power? According to Wikipedia, Commander Washington said,
There are four things, which I humbly conceive, are essential to the well being, I may even venture to say, to the existence of the United States as an independent power:
• An indissoluble union of the states under one federal head.
• A sacred regard to public justice.
• The adoption of a proper peace establishment.
• The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among the people of the United States which will induce them to forget their local prejudices and policies, to make those mutual concessions which are requisite to the general prosperity, and in some instances, to sacrifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community.
Therefore, as indicated by Commander Washington, he believed that the individual states should be united together into a union that could not be divided into separate entities. Of course, this union should have one Federal commander that would be in charge of keeping the states united and indivisible, while, at the same time, ensuring that peace and justice should become the central focus of the nation. As a result, the people would be concerned about the general prosperity of the nation, even if it meant that they had to sacrifice some of their individual needs in order to meet the needs the nation as a whole. However, this could not be achieved unless the American people forgot their prejudices, which would prevent them from seeing the true character and uniqueness of all Americans.
Of course, after eight years in office, Commander Washington decided to give up his commandership. Therefore, Commander Washington gave a farewell address which contained the epitome of his political beliefs. If the new leaders would take his advice, America’s Ship of State should sail successfully forever. His advice on how to operate America’s government and how to keep America strong as a nation included the following do’s and don’ts:
1. The necessity and importance of a national union of states with a strong central government.
2. The value of the Constitution and the rule of law.
3. The influence of political parties and bitter partisanship in domestic politics.
4. The proper virtues of a republican people.
5. The need for morality and religious principle as a popular spring of popular government.
6. The prohibition of entering permanent, long-term entangling alliances with foreign nations.
Therefore, since Commander Washington left America a great political heritage and many sound principles of a workable government after he gave up his commandership, let’s take a closer look at each of his political do’s and don’ts and whether or not they exist in America today. Also, if they do not exist today, what has replaced them and, as a result of replacing Washington’s political heritage, has America’s Ship of State begun to sink?
First, does America still have a national union of states with a strong central government? America still has a strong central government today. Unfortunately, it is much more powerful than it was during the era of George Washington. In fact, the central government is attempting to control every aspect of an America citizen’s life to the point of turning the United States into a socialist nation, with the government watching every move that they make, regulating every business and corporation, and burdening every American with an extremely high tax bill each year. As far as strong national union of states is concerned, America is on the verge of dissolving itself. Since the 2012 General Elections, many citizens of the fifty states have petitioned the Federal government to permit their states to break away from the Union. Of course, none of the state governments of these citizens themselves would actually withdraw from the United States. But, it does show that a large percentage of Americans are beleaguered with a central government that has become entirely too powerful and too domineering over the governed who are responsible for permitting the government to rule over them. It also shows that many Americans do not agree with the itinerary that the current commander of America’s Ship of State is following, an itinerary that is responsible for leading it into the dark, uncharted waters of socialism. Therefore, Commander George Washington, the first Commander of America’s Ship of State, would roll over in his grave if he knew how the government was treating the governed.
Second, does America still value the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law? Most Americans still value the U.S. Constitution and the Rule of Law, which implies that every citizen and every ruler is subject to the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land. However, many of America’s elected and appointed leaders do not value the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law. Since the Constitution prevents these leaders from putting their will upon the people that they represent, they regularly attempt to circumvent the Constitution and create laws that are unconstitutional. As a result, the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances are not working like the Founding Fathers intended. Instead, many of the leaders of America, regardless of the branch of government, are purposely violating the Rule of Law as outlined in the Constitution. Ultimately, if they succeed in their effort to rule the nation by circumventing the Constitution and ruling above the Rule of Law, America’s Great Ship of State would sink quicker than the Titanic. Therefore, Commander George Washington, the first Commander of America’s Ship of State, would roll over in his grave if he knew how the government was vilifying the Constitution and the Rule of Law.
Third, does America still have the influence of political parties and bitter partisanship in domestic politics? America does still have the influence of political parties and bitter partisanship in domestic politics. In fact, political parties, along with their partisanship, are responsible for almost bringing the operation of the United States government to a standstill. They cannot get much of anything done regardless of which party has control of the House or the Senate. As a result, the Ship of State is floating aimlessly through difficult waters of economic, social, and political chaos. Ultimately, the end product of political parties and partisan politics could very well be the sinking of America’s Ship of State. But, how could partisan politics destroy America as a nation? Let’s review what Commander George Washington said about the partisanship of political parties:
It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual, and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.
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Ultimately, based on Commander Washington’s own words in his Farewell Address in 1796, could it be possible that he unknowingly prophesied the sinking of America’s Ship of State? His words paint a vivid picture of what is already happening in America or what could happen in America in the very near future. Consider the “jealousy and animosity” that exists between the politicians and the supporters of the two main political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. How long will it be before these “jealousies and animosities” erupt into rioting in the streets? How many foreign governments already influence the decisions of America’s lawmakers and executives? But, most importantly, when will “disorders and miseries” cause Americans to “seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual” who would eventually “turn this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation on the ruins of public liberty.” Therefore, Commander George Washington, the first Commander of America’s Ship of State, would roll over in his grave if he knew how political parties in America had used their misguided influence to divide the nation instead of uniting it.
© 2012 Dr. Carl Parnell - All Rights Reserved
Carl Parnell retired from public school teaching in 1999. He taught history and other social science courses for over forty years. He taught middle school, high school, and college level. Carl was a Lead Teacher and Principal of the On-Campus School at Georgia Baptist Children’s Home in central Georgia. Presently, he's teaching at a private, Christian high school.
Carl served in the United States Army from 1968-1971. He also served in the United States Air Force Reserves from 1983-1986, was chosen Teacher of the Year in 1991. Carl was included in the 1993, 1994 and 2007 editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. He was selected Star Teacher at hes present school in 2007 and published his first book, "From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: Exposing America’s New Terror from Within" (ISBN: 1-58736-613-4) in July 2006.
Carl has completed his second book, which is in an eBook format, entitled "A Brewing Pot of Christian Persecution: America's Postmodern Anti-Christian Crusade." My eBook, as well as over 60 of my articles, can be viewed at FaithWriters. Com