Book Review & Quote of the Week: The 5000 Year Leap
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…”
-President George Washington in his farewell address, as quoted in The 5000 Year Leap.
I recently finished reading The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen. This was one of those books that has been on my list to read for a while. Person after person recommended it to me over the last couple of years. One even said, “It’s one of my top 20 most important books to read.” That’s when it got put in my queue.
The 5000 Year Leap sets out to essentially give the background of the 28 formative principles (taken from philosophers, historical events, and religion, etc. which were observed to have worked and elevate humanity, to some degree) that were the basis of the Constitution of The United States of America (and thereby, our nation)–along with background on the framers and signers of it.
This established a nation based on the rule of law to guide all matters of legislation and social order, and not birthright or might. This created a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people, and not some dictatorial oppressive ruler.
And that changed everything.
The result of that was within 200 short years the world advanced more than it had in the previous 5000. That is, the original settlers in Jamestown essentially pioneered the land like all other pioneers in other lands had for the previous 5000 years. Civilization had made little progress to that point, still using the axe, shovel, hoe, plow, and beasts of burden. But with the establishment of this new nation via the Constitution, American independence, free-enterprise economics, and personal liberty produced the most phenomenal results in history.
By 1976 (200 years later), there was a mighty leap in technical, political, and economic achievement. These included electricity, the proliferation and perfection of the internal combustion engine, jet propulsion, spacecrafts and vehicles, nuclear energy, and much more (radio, telephone, light bulb, computer…). And this spirit of freedom spread around the globe and inspired it as well.
Some things of note from the history in this book:
*America is not a Democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic.
*America has the oldest written Constitution still in use.
*Nearly all (if not all) the Framers (in their own words) believed in a Creator who authored certain obvious absolutes (what they called Natural Law). The Constitution sought to acknowledge these and protect them, with regard to the rights of the people.
*Without constant vigilance, citizens would slowly give away their rights for the illusion of safety and comfort until they finally found themselves under the thumb of tyranny. Some of the Framers even thought that Republic would need to be ‘reset’ to some degree every 20 or so years.
*The Constitution was meant to guarantee equal opportunity–not equal outcomes.
*To maintain sovereignty, America was to avoid international entanglements–called separatism. The idea was, “A friend to all, but servant to none,” in the obligatory sense.
*Historically (and factually), the core unit that determines the strength of any society is the family.
*In just 40 years after the signing of the Constitution (establishing of America), the citizenry of the nation were the most informed and literate of all nations. These were the observations of dignitaries from other nations who traveled through the cities and frontiers.
*The Separation of Powers (the three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative) was supposed to make the process of leading and lawmaking slow and clumsy, as to inherently protect the rights of the citizens.
This is an informational book. It is not something that you want to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It is definitely a learning experience. I made comments on nearly every page.
I highly recommend this book. It has certainly filled in many of the gaps that my public school education left empty, or seemed to fill with some misinformation. In fact, this is a book I will read with my kids one day (when they are older). My biggest complaint about this book is that it started to fall apart about 1/3 of the way through. That was annoying. It didn’t seem to be bound very well. But it didn’t deter me.
So jump to it and read The 5000 Year Leap!