Michigan's Russell Kirk and the Roots of Liberty

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Twenty five years ago, the late historian Russell Kirk of Mecosta, Michigan, published The Roots of American Order, an important book that deserves a space on every citizen's shelf.

In the book, Kirk examines over 3,000 years of history to explain the success of America's experiment in freedom and self-government. He argues that America's Founders learned valuable lessons from ancient civilizations including Greece and Rome.

The most important lesson was that of government's role in a free society. The Founders saw that successful societies in history limited government to a few essential functions such as defense and the protection of property rights.

The later collapse of these societies often coincided with out-of-control taxes and government bureaucracy, which destroyed their economies and stifled their citizens' freedom.

America's Founders took the lessons of history to heart when they crafted a constitution that strictly limited government to the role of protecting freedom. They restrained government from growing at the expense of citizens' liberty and prosperity.

Russell Kirk worried that modern America was straying from its historical commitment to freedom. If more Americans read Kirk's book, the Founders' dream of liberty and prosperity would remain secure.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.