I have belatedly come to "The Founding Fathers Reconsidered," a very good book written by R.B Bernstein and published last year by Oxford. Among his many other points, Bernstein points out that future icons Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Adams -- to name just a handful -- possessed not just an extraordinary sense of self-awareness but the rare intellectual and emotional rigor to keep the "long view" in sight.
"They linked in their minds their acute sense of being situated in historical time with their equally strong belief that theirs was a pivotal era in human history," Bernstein wrote."Their sense of firstness did not divorce them from the past nor from the future but rather intensified their connections with past or future." Even though they were capable of petty partisanship, begged off making tough choices (on slavery, for example) and left us an ambiguous (constitutional) text, the so-called "Fathers" had nothing if not foresight. It's no wonder we still compare them so favorably to our current crop of short-sighted political leaders.
The "Fathers," Bernstein wrote, were animated by the following concept: "... If the age could identify natural laws binding God himself and His creation, perhaps other Enlightenment thinkers could identify, elucidate, and apply equally valid and binding natural laws regulating society, politics and government." No wonder the Constitution is so logical in so many ways. No wonder there was astonishing balance in its separations of power and its rights and responsibilities. No wonder it was as organic as it turned out to be.