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Our Nation’s Foundations – Lesson Six: National Security

by Oletta Branstiter

Second Purpose of Government

After protecting our rights, what is the most important thing a government should do?

The Constitution says that our Federal Government should spend money from taxpayers to protect our nation – especially its borders. They realized that our land has vast resources that other countries might want to take by force. So, an Army, Navy, National Guard, Air Force, and any other armed services should be well-funded to protect us and our national interests.

Our fourth pillar of principle is National Security.

Add another pillar to your graphic, with space for students to add summarized notes from the lesson.

Remember – our government, unlike most others, has no money of its own. It collects taxes from We the People to fund every law it passes (and we now have more laws than we can count!) The Founders and Framers of our Constitution wanted to make Defense a priority because it’s impossible to enjoy Liberty when we feel endangered.

George Washington, a General of the American Revolution and the first President of the United States, said,

“There is nothing so likely to produce peace as to be well-prepared to meet an enemy.”

Our enemies should know we are well-armed and prepared!

Thomas Jefferson said,

“For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.”

Besides the legislated armed services, by “militia”, he meant armed citizens.

When the British King George sent General Gage to the colonies to confiscate their firearms, that meant war! The colonists weren’t stupid. They realized that when the enemy has all the weapons, they win! This is why our 2nd Amendment to the Constitution guarantees our right to have guns – not for hunting or protecting ourselves and our property (those are natural rights), but our Founders wanted us to be armed to protect our nation from a future tyrannical government.

John Adams said,

“The national defense must be provided for as well as the support of Government: but both should be accomplished as much as possible by immediate taxes, and as little as possible by loans.”

Our Founders knew that by being indebted to other nations, our economy would suffer and we would weaken our position in the world. Sadly, our representatives in Washington, D.C. have forgotten this warning.

According to the Constitution, a President must obtain Congressional approval to go to war with other countries, because the money to pay for it is coming out of our pockets. If We the People don’t think the war is worth our hard-earned money, we can tell our representatives to vote against it.

In recent decades, National Security has been used as a convenient excuse to invade other sovereign countries and engage in nation-building to reproduce democracies in the third world, expecting theocracies and dictatorships to cede authority to their citizens. The extent to which our National Security is threatened by the actions of foreign nations will continue to be a topic of serious debate, especially when those actions fall short of invading or attacking the United States. Wars have been fought since the founding of our nation on the basis of protecting our legitimate national interests abroad. 

From The First Barbary War, published by

When Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated in March of 1801, he inherited troubled relations with the Barbary states — the Ottoman Regencies of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, along with independent Morocco. The United States had treaties with all four, but tension was high and rising.

American representatives in the region wanted an American naval presence.

The Barbary challenge to American merchant shipping sparked a great deal of debate over how to cope with corsair aggression, actual or threatened. 

Some people think that it is the President’s job to keep us safe. You’ll hear that during campaigns. Actually, the job of the President and every elected official is to “preserve, protect and defend…the Constitution.” Properly administered, the Constitution will protect us if we are faithful in electing representatives who are committed to a limited government. 


Find the other part of this series here.

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