Our Nation’s Foundations – Lesson Five: Personal Responsibility

Faith, Hope, Charity stones

by Oletta Branstiter


Personal Responsibility

Now, it’s time to consider Personal Responsibility. This is our third pillar of principle.

Duplicate your pillars to make a third. Let students add note cards with summarized information from this lesson.

Our Founders and Framers knew that no government ruled by We the People could be successful unless every person took responsibility for his or her own actions. Be accountable for your own decisions. Have family rules that benefit the entire family unit. Be a good neighbor – a valuable citizen in your local community.

Have you heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it”? It applies to the power we have as citizens. 

Samuel Adams said,

“The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitutions, are worth defending against all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”

The best defense is a good offense.

If We the People don’t exercise our personal responsibility in government, we could lose it. Adults should be aware of what’s happening in their city, state and federal government so that they can tell their representatives what they want, and vote with understanding. Being a citizen, especially in a Constitutional Republic, is an important job. Remember – we are the true rulers and claim the ultimate responsibility for the success of our government.

Adam Smith, a Founder, and Economist said that the natural impulse that people have to improve their lives would benefit society better than anything a government could do. In fact, government policies have the tendency to restrict success.

In a letter dated April 6, 1816, Thomas Jefferson declared:

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

Charity Begins at Home – Your Home

Regarding the poor, James Madison said,

“Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

He and other Founders and Framers knew that taking money from one to give to another is theft, and denies the blessings of personal responsibility and altruistic charity. While our form of government is not a theocracy by any stretch of the imagination, its founding principles presumed that a charitable character defined in the scriptures would prevail in our nation.

Our individual faith will prompt acts of charity that provide hope to our fellow man. To allow our government the privilege of providing charity is to deny all the blessings thereof.

James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, defined the true meaning of “General Welfare” in the Preamble of the Constitution, proving, for all time, that this clause has been used and abused by legislators as methods of voter bribery:

“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’  I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

Usurping Personal Responsibility Dooms a Republic

Benjamin Franklin ominously prophesied:

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”

Considering that the very first principle of our nation’s founding is and should always be “Limited Government” to ensure maximum Liberty, the continued expansion of government largesse should be anathema to the patriots of a Republic.

So, take care of yourself. Take care of your family. Take care of your neighbors and friends. And be a good citizen by paying attention to what your government is doing. If our representatives do their jobs badly, we have only ourselves to blame.

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