Princeton was founded in 1746, and John Witherspoon, a Gospel minister and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the college’s president from 1768-1794. He trained scores of individuals who became national and state leaders. Princeton required that “every student shall attend worship in the college hall morning and evening.”
The original end and design of colleges was to instruct, educate, and train up persons for the work of the ministry.
Harvard University was founded in 1636. (Pictured on the right is the original 1650 Harvard incorporation charter from the WallBuilders library.) Josiah Quincy, Harvard’s president from 1829 to 1845, noted:
[T]he College was conducted as a theological institution. . . having religion for its basis and chief object.
Altogether, 29 signers of the Declaration graduated from religiously-founded universities. But to acknowledge this today would certainly contradict the common educational assertion that our Founders were largely atheists, agnostics, and deists who wanted a secular country. But those assertions are not true.
Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore, education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God.
In fact, he warned:
There must be religion. What that ligament is torn, society is disjointed and its members perish. . . . The most important of all lessons is the denunciation of ruin to every state that rejects the precepts of religion.
Take note, America! This is a good warning to remember today.
In Four Centuries of American Education you can find out more about the deeply religious nature of education in early America and how Bible-based public education continued literally for centuries, ending only in recently years.