April 22, 2007

Bill of Rights in Edenton


We need some color in this blog so I guess I will post some photos.
I had a special experience on Friday. I got to see an original copy of the Bill of Rights. I saw it in a special place, the historic Chowan County Courthouse. The story of why NC's copy of the Bill of Rights was in Edenton is wild but you can read that elsewhere
I got chills reading the original words
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

With this sentence and the following clauses our country did something that no other government had ever done. We said that there are specific limits on the power of government. That government serves the people and not vice versa. Prior to this document these concepts were philosophical rhetoric, big words on paper with no practical application, anywhere in the world. The Bill of Rights is what sets this country apart from other governments. not necessarily by its specifics but by the concept it establishes. You can argue that certain rights might have been included or excluded or presented differently, it matters not. What matters is that there are limits to government power that are enforceable by individuals.


We live in a time when that concept is tested daily both in principal and application. Tried to sue the government lately? Any government? Its not easy, and as the most recent Supreme Court decision shows government is not inclined to cooperate, but the fact remains that we live in a country that allows more freedom than virtually any place on earth. Not by custom or culture but by law. Remember that, cherish it and protect it. As Ben Franklin wrote:
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
The courthouse was festive with guards in period garb. The building is now owned by the state, it was built in the early 1700's and was in use as a government building until the late 1990's.

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