Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Congressional Issues 2012
Vine & Fig Tree: "The American Dream"

This campaign is not about capturing an office. This campaign is about recapturing a dream.

What is "The American Dream?"
Is it to work two jobs so that more than half of everything you earn can be taken by the government and given to special interests and causes you don't agree with?
Is it to build a home and fill it with memories only to have it seized by politicians whose campaign contributors want to build a strip mall on your property?
Is it a 6% 30-year mortgage with a fixed rate? ("Wow! A fixed rate!")

No. None of these are the original American dream. They would all be considered a nightmare.

What motivated the Founding Fathers? What caused them to risk so much -- their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor?

Answer: the idea of every American owning his own "vine and fig tree," free and clear, and dwelling in safety and peace, without being molested by princes or politicians, lawyers or tax collectors.

"Under My Own Vine and Fig Tree, 1798" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, Lora Robins Collection of Virginia Art, Virginia Historical Society
Under My Own Vine and Fig Tree, 1798
Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
c. 1910
Oil on canvas
Virginia Historical Society
Lora Robins Collection of Virginia Art

America's Founding Fathers Knew This Dream

George Washington's Diaries are available online at the Library of Congress. They are introduced with these words:

No theme appears more frequently in the writings of Washington than his love for his land. The diaries are a monument to that concern. In his letters he referred often, as an expression of this devotion and its resulting contentment, to an Old Testament passage. After the Revolution, when he had returned to Mount Vernon, he wrote the Marquis de Lafayette on Feb. 1, 1784: "At length my Dear Marquis I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, & under the shadow of my own Vine & my own Fig-tree." This phrase occurs at least 11 times in Washington's letters. "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree" (2 Kings 18:31).

It is also a phrase from the prophet Micah, the idea of everyone owning property and enjoying the fruits of their labor without fear of theft or political oppression, of sitting peacefully under your "Vine & Fig Tree."

Few Americans today have heard the phrase "Vine & Fig Tree," but it sums up the American Dream as it was dreamed 200 years ago. A few highly-educated scholars and historians might recognize the phrase, but you would draw a blank from the "man on the street." A few people living in New York might have a glimmer of recognition. The prophecy from Isaiah, Micah's contemporary, is memorialized in a United Nations garden. Needless to say, our idea of "Vine & Fig Tree" did not come from the U.N.

Nor did any Americans in the past get the "Vine & Fig Tree" idea from the United Nations. And the interesting thing is, many Americans once had the "Vine & Fig Tree" idea. The Bible was better understood by most Americans 200 years ago than it is today. 

"Vine & Fig Tree" is a worldview.

Explore the "Vine & Fig Tree" worldview in more detail here.

Both the Republicans and Democrats have completely forgotten the original American Dream, and neither party has any idea how to achieve it.

The American Dream: An Impossible Dream?

You might think that this dream -- owning your own property free and clear, no mortgage, no IRS liens, no property taxes, and no fear of invaders or conquerors -- is a "pipe dream." You might think it's an impossible dream. But nearly every human being who settled in America soon realized this dream, or had every realistic hope that in a few years this dream would be lived by children or grandchildren. Two hundred years ago, nearly all Americans lived this dream. It can be attained again, but only if we stop believing the false promises of politicians and stop believing that this dream is possible simply by voting for Washington D.C. to hand it to us on a silver platter.

This page is a growing collection of references to a by-gone ideal.

The Puritans and Micah's Holy Mountain
From Tocqueville's Democracy in America.
England's Conquest of Canada
From George Bancroft's History of the United States
The Bramble vs. the Fig Tree
Thomas Paine's critique of the king in Common Sense
George Washington's Vine & Fig Tree Longings.
A collection of references.
Slavery vs.Vine & Fig Tree
James Madison's hopes
A Slave is Baptized (off site)
Musings of the baptizer from Annals of the Poor. Containing The Dairyman's Daughter, (with considerable additions) The Negro Servant, and The young Cottager. By the Reverend Legh Richmond, A.M. Rector of Turvey, Bedforshire; and Chaplain of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent and Strathern, 1815 (See page 154.)
Anti-Federalist No. 85 (off site)
Concluding Remarks- Evils Under Confederation Exaggerated;
Constitution Must Be Drastically Revised Before Adoption
Shall Liberty or Empire be Sought- - Patrick Henry (off site)
From a speech made on June 5, 1788, in the Virginia Convention,
called to ratify the Constitution of the United States.
Tench Coxe, Dealer in Arms
He believed the only way to achieve the "Vine & Fig Tree" ideal was "Arm yourselves. To arms, to arms, and you may then sit down contented, each man under his own vine and his own fig-tree and have no one to make him afraid." But Micah and Isaiah both agreed: we must beat our swords into plowshares. "The light of Christianity ... ought to be . . . imparted to the whole race of mankind," as Madison put it.
The Polish De Tocqueville
Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz finds Vine & Fig Tree in his American travels.
The Scotch De Tocqueville
Finds plenty of land, little aristocracy, and every man under his Vine & Fig Tree.
The French Opposition to Communist Dictatorship
With all his talk about Vine & Fig Tree, French writer Pierre Joseph Proudhon alienates Marx.
Abraham Lincoln's Overthrow of America's Vine & Fig Tree Vision
Lincoln was an archist (Mark 10:42-45).
Lyndon Baines Johnson?
At least his speechwriter knew about Micah's vision.
Jimmy Carter: The Truth is Out There
Can a Democrat be a Christian?
Ronald Reagan Hijacks Micah
Can a Republican be a Christian?
Micah vs. The United Nations
George Bush (41) speaks of "Vine & Fig Tree" more than Reagan and Carter

Remarkably, references to Micah's vision seem to be on the increase. The references to "Vine & Fig Tree" and "Swords into Plowshares" in the 20th century vastly exceed the number of references in the 19th, even though the 20th was incomparably more violent and warlike. It has become almost trendy for politicians to speak of "Swords into Plowshares." Many of these references are to Isaiah's parallel prophecy, so they are not catalogued here.

This is the key to restoring the American Dream of everyone dwelling safely under his own Vine & Fig Tree. We must beat the swords of Washington D.C. into plowshares. This includes:

  • The "War on Terror" - over a trillion dollars a year
  • The "War on Drugs" - over a million prisoners
  • The "War on Poverty" - trillions spent have brought perpetual, inter-generational poverty and dependence

Washington D.C. destroys life. It saps America of morality, optimism, and the willingness to work for the American Dream.

The American Dream of Vine & Fig Tree will come only when we beat all these government swords into entrepreneurial plowshares.

next: Introduction: The Nature of Government