The Founders' Attraction to People's Law

In direct contrast to the harsh oppression of Ruler's Law, the Founders, particularly Jefferson, admired the institutes of freedom under People's Law as originally practiced among the Anglo-Saxons. As one authority on Jefferson points out:

"Jefferson's great ambition at that time [1776] was to promote a renaissance of Anglo-Saxon primitive institutions on the new continent. Thus presented, the American Revolution was nothing but the reclamation of the Anglo-Saxon birthright of which the colonists had been deprived by a "long trend of abuses." Nor does it appear that there was anything in this theory which surprised or shocked his contemporaries; Adams apparently did not disapprove of it, and it would be easy to bring in many similar expressions of the same idea in documents of the time."

Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Common Law or People's Law

Here are the principal points of People's Law as practiced by the Anglo-Saxons:

1. They considered themselves a commonwealth of freemen.

2. All decisions and the selection of leaders had to be with the consent of the people, preferably by full consensus, not just a majority.

3. The laws by which they were governed were considered natural laws given by divine dispensation, and were so well known by the people they did not have to be written down.

4. Power was dispersed among the people and never allowed to concentrate in any one person or group. Even in time of war, the authority granted to the leaders was temporary and the power of the people to remove them was direct and simple.

5. Primary responsibility for resolving problems rested first of all with the individual, then the family, then the tribe or community, then the region, and finally, the nation.

6. They were organized into small, manageable groups where every adult had a voice and a vote. They divided the people into units of ten families who elected a leader; then fifty families who elected a leader; then a hundred families who elected a leader; and then a thousand families who elected a leader.

7. They believed the rights of the individual were considered unalienable and could not be violated without risking the wrath of divine justice as well as civil retribution by the people's judges.

8. The system of justice was structured on the basis of severe punishment unless there was complete reparation to the person who had been wronged. There were only four "crimes" or offenses against the whole people. These were treason, by betraying their own people; cowardice, by refusing to fight or failing to fight courageously; desertion; and homosexuality. These were considered capital offenses. All other offenses required reparation to the person who had been wronged.

9. They always attempted to solve problems on the level where the problem originated. If this was impossible they went no higher than was absolutely necessary to get a remedy. Usually only the most complex problems involving the welfare of the whole people, or a large segment of the people, ever went to the leaders for solution.

The contrast between Ruler's Law (all power in the ruler) and People's Law (all power in the people) is graphically illustrated below. Note where the power base is located under each of these systems. Also compare the relationship between the individual and the rest of society under these two systems.

The above is from Dr. W. Cleon Skousen's book "The 5,000 Year Leap. -

It can be obtained by calling (702) 649-6808