By Gary C. Bryner

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The state itself was not to be responsible for it; that was one of the lessons of classical politics. Since general Christianity and the different churches were already viewed as the source of virtue, government need only keep from interfering in these areas. Schools were also to play an important role in fostering virtue. '"27 Religious beliefs would serve as the primary source of that foundation. S. Constitution, then, had a relatively limited set of rights they sought to protect. The rights with which they seemed to be most concerned related to the protection of individual liberty, independence, and freedom of thought.

Ownership of property also contributed to individual independence and autonomy. "The protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property," Madison wrote in Federalist No. 10, "is the first object of government" (78). A third right was that of self-government. The Declaration of Independence states clearly that governments derive their power from the consent of the governed, and that the people have the Page 13 right to abolish their government should it fail to protect their rights.

Virtue was an important source of restraint and willingness to submit to the common good. 23 And, in part, virtue was equated with wisdom and foresight, with enlightened leadership and statesmanship. An appeal to virtue in elected officials meant that their pride and desire for a positive reputation, as well as the pride of the people in being represented by virtuous men, would cause them to rise Page 17 above selfish, narrow concerns. 24 Virtue also was associated with Christian ideals of charity and the golden rule.

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Constitutionalism and Rights by Gary C. Bryner
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