The History of the U.S. Constitution We Weren’t Taught in School

U.S. ConstitutionIf you’re like me, I was taught in grade school that the U.S. Constitution was based on ancient Greek democracy.  This is quite a stretch, since ancient Greece government was not democratic.

My research into what children are taught today about the origin of our government is also disappointing.

Apparently the founding fathers simply created it out of thin air, or were influenced by European governments.  This depute the fact there was no democracy anywhere in Europe at that time.

The True History of the U.S Constitution

The truth is that the U.S. Constitution is modeled in both principle and form on the Great Law of Peace of the Native American nation known as the Iroquois.

This is absolutely, unequivocally historical fact.

In 1987, the United States Senate acknowledged that the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois Nations served as a model for the Constitution of the United States.  (U.S. S. Con. Res. 76, 2 Dec. 1987).

And since the U.S. Constitution was a model for the charter of the United Nations, the Iroquois Great Law of Peace is also a basis of international law.

When the Founding Fathers looked for examples of effective government and human liberty upon which to model a Constitution to unite the thirteen colonies, they found it in the government of the Iroquois Nation.

In the 18th Century, the Iroquois League was the oldest, most highly evolved participatory democracy on Earth.

I find it sad that the true story is still not taught in all our schools.  But here it is:

The Peacemaker and the Great Law of Peace

U.S. Constitution

The Peacemaker

In the 12th Century, five nations in what is now the northeastern U.S. were constantly at war:  the Mohawks, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga and Cayugas. The wars were vicious and, according to tribal history, included cannibalism.

One day, a canoe made of white stone carried a man, born of a virgin, across Onondaga Lake to announce The Good News of Peace had come and the killing and violence would end.

He traveled from village to village over the course of years, preaching peace because peace was the desire of the Creator.  Oral history says it may have taken him 40 years to reach everyone and get agreement from all five nations.

This man became known as The Peacemaker.

Eventually, the five nations agreed to the Great Law of Peace and became known collectively as the Haudenosaunee, which means People of the Long House.  Outsiders refer to them as Iroquois.

[In 1722, the Tuscarora joined the Confederacy so today it’s known as the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy].

The Great Law of Peace was a vehicle for creating harmony, unity and respect among human beings.

Its recognition of individual liberty and justice surpasses that of many democracies.

The Great Law of Peace includes:

  •  freedom of speech,
  •  freedom of religion,
  •  the right of women to participate in government,
  • separation of powers,
  • checks and balances within government.
  • a government “of the people, by the people and for the people,”
  •  three branches of government: two houses and a grand counsel,
  • a Women’s Council, which is the Iroquois equivalent of our Supreme Court –settling disputes and judging legal violations.

The central idea underlying Iroquois political philosophy is that peace is the will of the Creator, and the ultimate spiritual goal and natural order among humans.

The Founding Fathers’ Consultation with the Iroquois

Great Law of PeaceFor decades, the Iroquois had urged the English colonists to unite together as one independent and free people.

George Washington, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson met frequently with the Iroquois and made themselves very familiar with the Great Law of Peace.

Washington expressed “great excitement” over the two houses and Grand Counsel.

Several delegates from the Iroquois Confederacy attended the Continental Congress in 1776 as it wrote the Declaration of Independence and drafted the Constitution of the United States, modeling it on the Iroquois Constitution.

Three weeks later, the Declaration of Independence was signed, and the United States of America was born.

What got left out of the U.S. Constitution

In fact, just about the only parts of the Great Law of Peace that our founding fathers didn’t incorporate were these:

  • The Seventh Generation principle:  The Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy states that chiefs consider the impact of their decisions on the seventh generation to come.
  • The role of women: Clan mothers choose candidates [who are male] as sachems [political leaders].  The women maintain ownership of land and homes, and exercise veto power over any council action that may result in war.  The women can also impeach and expel any leader who conducts himself improperly or loses the confidence of the electorate; then the women choose a new leader.

Imagine how different our world would be today if our government had included these principles from the start

The symbols

The Peacemaker designated The Tree of Peace as a symbol of the Great Law of Peace — a great white pine tree whose branches spread out to shelter all nations who commit themselves to Peace.

  • Beneath the tree the Five Nations buried their weapons of war.
  • Atop the tree is the Eagle-that-sees-far.
  • There is a bundle of five arrows tied together to represent strength of five tribes bound together in peace.
  • Four long roots stretch out in the four sacred directions—the “white roots of peace.”

Thomas Jefferson adopted the symbols of the Peacemaker legend.

  • U.S. ConstitutionThe Tree of Peace became the Liberty Tree displayed on colonial flags.
  • Eagle-that-sees-far became the American Eagle, still a symbol of American government.
  • On the U.S. Great Seal, the American Eagle clutches a bundle of thirteen arrows, representing the original colonies.
  • Our eagle also holds an olive branch symbolizing that the United States of America has “a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war.”

Separate leaders for war and peace

There’s no separation of church and state in Iroquois society; spirituality lies at the root of government and law.  

 However, the Iroquois Confederacy, as with most Native American Nations, had separate leaders for war and peace.  As a lawmaker, the sachem could never go to war in his official capacity as sachem.  If disposed to take the warpath, he laid aside his civil office for the time being, and became a common warrior.

 The colonists followed this model too.  The inability to separate the civil government and military has doomed many imitators of American democracy, particularly in Africa and Latin America.

The three principles of the Great Law of Peace

  1. Righteousness, meaning people must treat each other fairly. “Each individual must have a strong sense of justice, must treat people as equals and must enjoy equal protection under the Great Law.”
  2. Health:  “Health means that the soundness of mind, body and spirit will create a strong individual. Health is also the peacefulness that results when a strong mind uses its rational power to promote well-being between peoples, between nations.”
  3. Power:  “The laws of the Great Law provide authority, tradition and stability if properly respected in thought and action. Power comes from the united actions of the people operating under one law, with one mind, one heart, and one body. Such power can assure that justice and healthfulness continue. People and nations need to exercise just enough power to maintain the peace and well-being of the members of the Confederacy.”

It’s the omission of these three principles, the seven generations rule and the role of women that cause Native Americans today to say that, the U.S. copied the Great Law of Peace but didn’t really understand it.

So our forefathers copied the Great Law of a people whose country we stole and against whom our government committed genocide, and then kept it a secret.

It just makes me want to cry.

Please teach your children the truth of the history of our great country.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.

If you enjoyed this post I'd be thrilled if you'd click one of the buttons below:
 
"Sign up to receive Ancient Wisdom posts by email and receive a free ebook of inspirational quotes as my gift to you!". I promise never, ever to sell your email address.

Like what you just read? Why not sign up for email updates? You'll get a free copy of my ebook, "What Lies Within You; Inspirational Quotes to Lift Your Spirits"

I hate spam, too --you'll never get it from me!

12 Comments

  1. FireSign

    Excellent post! I’ve heard for  many years that the US government was modeled after the Native Americans, but I didn’t know the details. I have learned something new today.

  2. Diamonds Bluewater

    Quite enlightening,thanks for sharing we’re all the better for it.. 

  3. History Teacher

    Just so you are aware, this is taught in elementary school. It is in the core standards of at least 2 states that I am aware of. The U.S. Constitution was modeled after a variety of ideas from many historical documents and governments. It is true that the Iroquois Confederacy greatly influenced the Founding Fathers, but it was not the only influence.

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you. It’s good to know that this is currently taught in elementary school; it definitely was not when I was a school girl. A reading of the 1987 hearing of the Select Committee on Indian Affairs, [U.S. S. Con. Res. 76, 2 Dec. 1987] confirms the Great Law of Peace was a significant influence on the U.S. Constitution, but, as we know, it was not followed to the letter, and some influence may well have come from elsewhere. Frankly, I think the Great Law of Peace is a better document and would eliminate much of the strife and corruption in government we see today.

  4. Igwash

    Hi, great post! I really didn’t know this wasn’t taught in the USA, because even here in Canada, we have to understand the comparison, and we often learn about America and the Aboriginal peoples in USA. Thank you for sharing this :D

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you. I hear that these days it is taught in U.S. elementary schools, but it wasn’t when I was young. So there’s been improvement. Good for the Canadians!

  5. tara martin

    This is part of common core for 4th graders in New York State (as of 2012 officially). Your post is excellent. Thank you for sharing it!!

    • Molly Larkin

      So happy to hear it. Thank you.

  6. kawaowene

    skeno(greeting) i would like to point out the five nations you speak of were in the north east of turtle-island!! as i read you made USA even before it was founded?? other small duties you left out was the right to bear arms and when as it is in our law of the six nation. as it says if the eagle shall cry a warning of trouble coming to harm the hotineshonni then the people shall gather..now it depends on what the trouble is as to what protocol to follow as in if the people shall go forth and seek council to have the issue resolved is one protocol another is if it shall be that grave danger is coming after the cry of the eagle then the people shall gather and pick up their arms and go and stop the chopping of the great white roots of peace it is also reminded that if the arms are to be used then we remind ourselfs the agreement we shall not use our arms on each other of the five nations now six nations.. the Americans changed this and think they have a right to bear arms all the time and is why the world is messed up as it is….there is much more to our law…like so called owning of the land for in the law it says you will not own the land but be part of the land the “ownership of the land is that of the coming faces(unborn children) the women have the duty of title holders of the land(is oone of the reasons why women carry child when pregnant) anyways there is so much yet not mentioned and some of believe it took 100 years to unite the five nation!! niawah(tnx) kawaowene (bigwind)of the cayuga nation turtle clan.onenkiyahe danatuh…

    • Molly Larkin

      Thank you very much for your comments, Kawaowene. You are right, and I will correct the post to say the five nations were in “what is now known as the northeastern United States.” I appreciate the additional information you have provided. Thank you again.

Add Your Comment

Make sure you share your opinion with us. Fields marked * are required. Any other information is optional and for your own pleasure. Your email address will be hidden and never published or used in any way.


Optional Details

If you like you can tell us your website URL and Twitter Username. We'll link your name to your web address and we'll add a twitter link to your comment. This is completely optional.