Lesson 5: American Republic (Early 1800s–Modern Era)

Lesson 5: American Republic (Early 1800s–Modern Era)

America holds a unique position as the most prosperous nation in the world.

Is this unprecedented prosperity the result of America’s great natural resources? Probably not, for many nations have greater natural resources than America. (America ranks only 65thin percentage of agriculturally farmable land,[1] in crude oil reserves,[2] in iron reserves,[3] in uranium reserves,[4] and so forth.) Yet despite having less key resources, America takes what it has and makes it go further than other nations.

Is our prosperity due to special qualities found in the immigrants who have come to America in such large numbers over the past four centuries, including those who originally founded our colonies and our states? No, for many of those same people had been starving in Europe (and elsewhere) before coming to America, but then prospered after arriving here.

Then perhaps America’s uniqueness stems from the fact that we work hard—a trait that has long characterized Americans. In fact, this specific virtue has been a part of the American ethos for so long that Founding Father Benjamin Franklin even forewarned immigrants about this unique characteristic they would find here when they arrived:

[M]ost people cultivate their own lands or follow some handicraft or merchandise [business]; very few [are] rich enough to live idly….People do not inquire concerning a stranger, “What is he?”but [rather], “What can he do?”If he has any useful art [skill], he is welcome and if he exercises it and behaves well, he will be respected by all that know him; but a mere “Man of Quality” who, on that account, wants to live upon the public by some office or salary will be despised and disregarded….Industry [hard work] and constant employment are great preservatives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents.[5]

The tendency to work hard that became so closely associated with Americans was known as the “Puritan Work Ethic”—a reference to the hard work so evident among our early religious Puritan and Pilgrim settlers, and a trait that characterized Americans for generations thereafter. But while hard work has definitely contributed to America’s prosperity and success, it was not the source of our unparalleled innovation, creativity, and stability.

So what was the key?

It was people living in an atmosphere of freedom and Christian liberty produced by having a Biblical view of man, family, education, government, law, and economics. With this freedom came a new era of liberty; and the wide-ranging and unprecedented scope of religious, civil, and economic freedom that became available in so many spheres gave rise to advancements in all areas of life. The result was an outburst of human energy and creativity that resulted in an exponential increase of innovations and inventions, which then produced widespread wealth never before seen in human history.

(Of course, creativity and innovation has certainly been demonstrated by millions of individual Bible-minded persons not in America; but never before had an entire nation made so many positive contributions. And the US Constitution helps safeguard this creativity through patent and copyright laws, which reflect the Bible’s directives for private property protection. After all, the product of a man’s brain as well as whatever he physically produces with his own hands are his own private property and therefore to be protected.)

Here are a few examples of countless inventions from Americans that changed the face of the world in their day, and also laid the groundwork for even greater discoveries to be made in our day. Each of these advances dramatically reduced the time of production required for a task, thereby increasing the efficiency and speed of service. This exponentially multiplied productivity and income creation, thereby making greater prosperity available for all.

  • Cotton gin (1793)—greatly lowered the cost (and labor) of separating cotton fibers from the seed, thus making cotton-growing (one of America’s largest agricultural products and exports at that time) many times more profitable.
  • Steamboat (1807)—made possible the mass transportation of passengers and cargo on long distances across waterways (rivers and oceans), vastly reducing the time of travel and increasing productivity.
  • Railroad (1826)—made possible the mass transportation of passengers and cargo across land.
  • Steam locomotive (1826)—greatly increased the power behind transportation, thus allowing larger loads to be moved in a shorter time.
  • McCormick reaper (1831)—did in a few hours what previously had taken days to complete, thus making agriculture more productive and profitable.
  • Telegraph (1837)—allowed almost instantaneous communication over long distances.
  • Deere plow (1837)—combined iron and steel into an agricultural plow that cut through harder ground that had long been uncultivable by wooden plows, thus opening millions of new acres to agricultural food production.
  • Goodyear vulcanized rubber (1839)—previously, rubber did not last long and would melt or crack in extreme temperatures, but vulcanization gave longevity to equipment that before had only been short-lived.
  • Sewing machine (1844)—led to quicker sewing times than what could be done by hand, increasing both productivity and profitability.
  • Washing machine (1858)—allowed easier and quicker washing of clothes.
  • Transatlantic cable (1858)—connected America with Europe, resulting in almost instant communication between the countries which before had required weeks.
  • The elevator (1854)—made vertical transportation of people and cargo quicker and safer.
  • Transcontinental railroad line (1869)—connected the east coast of America with the west coast, making it possible to travel from coast to coast in days rather than months.

These inventions all shortened the time needed to perform essential tasks. And the more time individuals had available, the more they could produce; the larger the income they could receive; and the greater the prosperity they experienced.

Thousands of other inventions produced in America also changed the world. This occurred not only in the areas of technology and industry (highlighted above) but also medicine, business, and many other arenas. Dramatic changes similarly occurred in social movements as well, including the abolition of slavery, recognition of women’s rights, and the end of industrial child labor. In short, individual freedom, coupled with the ability to benefit from one’s own ideas and hard work, caused America to become the most inventive, prosperous, and freest nation in history.

Let’s look at interesting stories behind some of the innovations that revolutionized life and uplifted mankind.

Leaders in Industry, Technology, and Science

Cyrus McCormick and His Reaper (1831)

Cyrus McCormick

Cyrus (1809-1884) was born on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Throughout his childhood, he watched his father work tirelessly but unsuccessfully to invent a reaper (a grain-harvesting machine). Inspired in part by his father’s attempts, as well as Cyrus’ own back-breaking work of harvesting grain by hand (the way it had been done for thousands of years), he became the first person to invent a working reaper.

McCormick Reaper

Cyrus’ successful test of this new machinery occurred on a small patch of wheat on the family farm in July 1831. A few days later, he gave a public demonstration, and with his reaper, drawn by two horses, he cut six acres of oats in an afternoon. Previously, it would have taken six laborers with scythes, or twenty-four laborers with sickles to achieve the same results. Thus, his reaper produced up to twenty-four times more than hand-harvesting, and in the same amount of time.

The following year, he gave another public demonstration, this time to almost a hundred spectators. They were amazed, and his father was elated, declaring “It makes me feel proud to have a son do what I could not do.”[6] (Cyrus was the 47thperson to secure a patent for a reaper, but his was the first that actually worked. He had combined seven different mechanical operations to make it function successfully.)

For thousands of years, the amount of crops that farmers planted was based upon the labor available for harvesting the fields. If there were not many workers available, not much seed was planted. And then when the crop finally ripened, it had to be gathered quickly or the grain would rot in the field and be lost. But Cyrus’ reaper made it possible to harvest many times more than ever before, and to do so much more quickly.

His reaper had the potential to revolutionize agriculture, but the problem he faced was how to publicize it. If farmers knew about the reaper and what it would do for them, it could forever change their lives and futures. Cyrus struggled to get word out about his reaper, all the time losing money. He even lost his farm to creditors.

Workshop where McCormick invented his reaper

Cyrus began to build a business of advertising the reaper. He traveled the country promoting it, becoming known as “The Reaper Man.” He actually worked harder and longer to build his business than he did to build his reaper. In fact, it was nine years after his first public demonstration before he actually sold his first reaper.

After that, word spread quickly and demand increased; so, in 1839 he opened a small factory near his father’s house. As his reapers continued to sell, he needed to expand; but he knew that his home of Virginia was not the place to do so, for most grain farming was done in the Midwest; that’s where he needed to go. So he opened a factory in Illinois in what was at that time a small town known as Chicago. His business steadily grew until it literally swept the nation and the world.

In traveling the country, Cyrus saw the best of America; but he also saw its worst. According to one of his early biographers:

In his earlier journey’s through the Middle West, McCormick was distressed at the rough immorality of the new settlements. “I see a great deal of profanity and infidelity in this country, enough to make the heart sick,” he wrote in 1845. These towns and villages needed more preachers and better preachers, he thought. Consequently, soon after he had acquired his first million dollars, he determined to establish the best possible college for the education of ministers. He almost stunned with joy the Western friends of higher education for ministers by offering them $100,000 with which to establish a school of theology in Chicago. Thus was founded the Northwest Theological Seminary, afterwards named the McCormick Theological Seminary which, in its fifty years of life, has given a Christian education to thousands of young men.[7]

Cyrus’ invention literally changed the world. And he did it by relying on the power of free market economics and its Biblical principle of serving others. He created something that blessed farmers, greatly increasing the wealth-creation potential of everyone who used his machine. And when farmers purchased his reapers, that in turn became an economic blessing back to Cyrus. This is the heart of Biblical free-market economics: create something that blesses consumers, who then reward the producer by purchasing his product.

Cyrus helped elevate millions of people out of poverty. It was noted of him that “He did more than any other member of the human race to abolish the famine of the cities and the drudgery of the farm—to feed the hungry and straighten the bent backs of the world.”[8]

Samuel F.B. Morse and the Telegraph (1832)

Samuel F.B. Morse said of his telegraph, “Not what hath man, but ‘What hath God wrought!'”

Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872) was a distinguished artist, painting portraits of the leading Americans in his day. But he was also a dedicated Christian who believed God led him to invent the telegraph. His discovery was one of the most revolutionary technological advances in history, ranking with the movable-type printing press in its overall impact on the world.

In 1832, Morse created the telegraph by directing a small electric current through a wire to be received on the other end.[9] Electricity had never before been harnessed in this manner, and no message had ever been transmitted over wires.

Plaque in the US Capitol commemorating Morse’s invention and the first words it transmitted-a Scripture: “What hath God wrought!”

Over the next decade, he worked to improve the telegraph, and in 1844 he sent the first inter-city message from the US Capitol Building in Washington DC to Baltimore. Since spoken words could not be electronically transmitted at that point in history, he communicated through a series of short electric signals, or pulses, which later became known as the Morse Code. (That code, heavily used over the next century, is still in use today.)

His message took only a few moments to cover the forty miles to Baltimore. Before that it would have taken a full day of riding in a stagecoach or on horseback for the same message to be delivered the same distance. The communication revolution had begun.

Significantly, the first message sent had been a Bible phrase from Numbers 23:23: “What hath God wrought!”[10] (Morse had allowed young Annie Ellsworth to choose the message. She was the daughter of the man who helped him obtain a patent for the telegraph.) Of that Bible phrase, Morse wrote:

Nothing could have been more appropriate than this devout exclamation at such an event when an invention which creates such wonder, and about which there has been so much skepticism, is taken from the land of visions and becomes a reality.[11]

Samuel F.B. Morse exhibiting the telegraph. Alexander Hamilton affirmed in the Federalist Papers that the free enterprise system encourages invention.

Morse’s remarkable invention was the result of private sector innovation without the control of government. But in Europe, it was different: the telegraph was controlled and run by government. The difference between the two approaches was evident. As a New York newspaper reported:

While England by her government has got, with great labor, 175 miles of telegraph into operation…the United Sates, with her individual enterprise, has now in successful operation 1,269 miles. This is American enterprise.[12]

Morse Telegraph 1837

This comparison reflects the difference in the freedom-centered free market philosophy of America and the government-centered socialistic philosophy of Europe. Americans remain a creative and productive people because they have the freedom to pursue their ideas and to benefit from the fruit of their own creativity; but government control, regulation, and taxes always stifle both innovation and productivity.

Under America’s free market system, improvement in the telegraph advanced rapidly. By 1858, a 2,000 mile-long telegraphic cable had been laid across the Atlantic Ocean, allowing direct telegraphic communications between the United States and Europe. And only three years later (1861), a transcontinental telegraph line had been laid across America, connecting San Francisco with the east coast. Messages that had previously taken weeks or months to deliver by boat, stage, or horseback could now arrive in only minutes. No wonder a newspaper of the day described Morse’s telegraph as “unquestionably the greatest invention of the age.”[13]

Morse was pleased with the impact his invention had, and he openly acknowledged that God gave him the idea. As he told his brother:

That sentence of Annie Ellsworth’s was Divinely indited [composed], for it is in my thoughts day and night. “What hath God wrought!” [Numbers 23:23]. It is His work, and He alone could have carried me thus far through all my trials and enabled me to triumph over the obstacles, physical and moral, which opposed me. “Not unto us, not unto us, but to Thy name, O Lord, be all the praise”[Psalm 115:1]. I begin to fear now the effects of public favor, lest it should kindle that pride of heart and self-sufficiency which dwells in my own as well as in others’ breasts, and which, alas, is so ready to be inflamed by the slightest spark of praise. I do indeed feel gratified, and it is right I should rejoice with fear [Psalm 2:11], and I desire that a sense of dependence upon and increased obligation to the Giver of every good and perfect gift [James 1:17] may keep me humble and circumspect.[14]

In a speech years later, Morse continued to acknowledge God as the Source of the idea that revolutionized the communication world, telling the crowd:

If not a sparrow falls to the ground without a definite purpose in the plans of Infinite Wisdom [Matthew 10:29], can the creation of an instrumentality so vitally affecting the interests of the whole human race [i.e., the telegraph] have an origin less humble than the Father of every good and perfect gift [James 1:17]? I am sure I have the sympathy of such an assembly as is here gathered if, in all humility and in the sincerity of a grateful heart, I use the words of inspiration in ascribing honor and praise to Him to Whom first of all and most of all it is pre-eminently due. “Not unto us, not unto us, but to God be all the glory”[Psalm 115:1]. Not what hath man, but “What hath God wrought!” [Numbers 23:23].[15]

Matthew Maury and Ocean and Air Currents (1842)

Matthew Maury

Matthew Maury (1806-1873) used the Bible as the basis of discoveries that transformed science and improved the quality of life for all mankind. Some of his contributions include:

  • Being titled “The Father of Oceanography,” “The Pathfinder of the Seas,” and “The Father of Naval Meteorology”
  • Charting ocean currents and mapping out sea and shipping routes for steamers in the North Atlantic
  • Serving as a key consultant in laying the transatlantic telegraph cable
  • Charting wind currents, developing the Naval Observatory (1833), and proposing the National Weather Bureau
Maury Monument statue in Richmond
  • Being instrumental in founding the US Naval Academy and inventing military weapons such as the first floating mines and first electric torpedoes
  • Writing many influential science books

Maury loved the oceans and spent his early life at sea. But while ashore between voyages, he was seriously injured in a freak stagecoach accident, crushing his leg and causing a permanent lameness. Unable to return to the sea, he focused his attention on things related to it. His discoveries forever changed both oceanography and meteorology, and he openly acknowledged the Bible as the source of his inspiration in the areas where he made his greatest contributions.

For example, he affirmed that what he found in Psalm 8:8 opened his understanding to new realms in oceanography. That Bible verse says:

Lord, Thou madest man to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet—all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

Matthew Maury said concerning Psalm 8:8, “If God says there are paths in the sea, I am going to find them!”

The phrase “paths of the seas” particularly struck Maury. He reasoned that if God said there were paths in the sea, then there definitely were; and he was going to find them—and he did. He discovered “pathways” in the ocean—places where sea currents in certain locations moved much faster than the waters around them. If ships sailed in these “pathways of the seas,” then their sailing time was significantly reduced, thus making more trips possible in less time and greatly increasing the efficiency and profitability of shipping. Maury charted these “pathways of the seas,” and his maps showing these pathways revolutionized both naval travel and commercial shipping.

Another Bible verse that struck Maury (and that also resulted in a major scientific discovery) was Ecclesiastes 1:6: “The wind goes toward the south and turns around to the north;the wind whirls about continually and comes again on its circuit.”Seeing this verse, and believing what it said about the wind moving in set patterns, Maury investigated and found pathways in the air—what are now known as jet streams. By learning the circuits of these air currents, weather was better understood and more accurate predictions therefore became possible, thus birthing modern meteorology.

That the Bible was central to Maury’s scientific work is affirmed by multiple memorials and sculptures erected to honor him. For example, when a monument to him was dedicated in 1929 in Richmond, Virginia, the newspaper noted that “Against his chair is the Bible, from which he drew inspiration for his explorations. The sculptor has caught amazingly the spirit of the man.”[16] And a 1923 monument erected to him in Goshen Pass, Virginia, includes a bronze plaque declaring: “His Inspiration, Holy Writ: Psalms 8 & 107, verses 8, 23, & 24; Ecclesiastes Chap. 1, verse 8.”[17]

Today, many deny that the Bible can be used for scientific purposes; and interestingly, that same objection was also present in Maury’s day. As Maury affirmed:

I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches….The Bible is true, and science is true….They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it: the fault is not with the Witness or His records, but with the “worm” [sinful human] who essays [attempts] to interpret evidence which he does not understand.[18]

Countless tens of millions of people across the world—including those alive today—have benefited from Maury’s Bible-based discoveries; and even in his day he heard from many grateful individuals—including a ship captain, who wrote thanking him…

not only for pointing out the most speedy route for ships to follow over the ocean but also teaching us sailors to look about us and recognize the wonderful manifestations of the wisdom and goodness of the great God, by which we are constantly surrounded. For myself, I am free to confess that for many years I commanded a ship; and although never insensible of the beauties of nature upon sea and land, I yet feel that until I took up your work I had been traversing the ocean blindfold[ed]. I did not think on—I did not know—the amazing combinations of all the works of Him Whom you so beautifully term “The First Great Thought.” I feel that aside from any pecuniary [monetary] profit to myself from your labors [by reducing my sailing times], you have done me good as a man. You have taught me to look above, around, and beneath me, and to recognize God’s hand in every element by which I am surrounded. I am grateful—most grateful—for this personal benefit.[19]

Maury’s Bible-based scientific discoveries revolutionized science and blessed all mankind.

George Washington Carver and the Peanut

George W. Carver (1860s-1943) was born into slavery just before the close of the Civil War. His mother, after being freed from slavery, chose to stay in Missouri with the Moses Carver family who had owned them. But raiders kidnapped and carried off both she and baby George. Moses, having no cash, offered a man 40 acres and a horse if he would find the mother and child. The man brought back baby George but was unable to find his mother. George grew up on the Carver farm, and like many in the South he grew up in poverty.

As a child he loved the forests, plants, and all things related to botany. He was observant of nature and very inquisitive, asking many questions. When he was about ten, he left the farm and worked his way through high school, saving money for college. But sadly, when the college discovered he was black, they did not admit him. A kind couple helped him go to a school for artists, but he later could find no jobs for an artist. Carver eventually ended up at Iowa State Agricultural College, where he studied his first love: agriculture.

After obtaining his degree, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to teach at his newly formed Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He accepted, and the discoveries he made over subsequent years not only transformed the South but many other nations as well.

George Washington Carver said the secret of his success came from the Bible.

Much of the economy of the southeastern United States was based on cotton production, but centuries of growing cotton had depleted the soil, causing an inferior crop. And the invasion of the boll weevil (an insect that devours cotton) further decreased productivity. The South needed something else—a different crop. Carver changed the economy of the South by championing the peanut. In fact, he discovered over 300 uses for it.

From the peanut he made many other foods, including soups, beverages, mixed pickles, sauces, ground meal, and both instant and dry coffee. From the peanut he also made linoleum, metal polish, salve, plastics, bleach, tan remover, wood filler, washing powder, paper, ink, shaving cream, rubbing oil, shampoo, axle grease, and synthetic rubber. And from it he produced milk that would not curdle in cooking and from which long-lasting cream and cheese could be made. All of this from the tiny peanut! (He also worked with many other plants as well, even making more than 100 different products from sweet potatoes.)

Carver related how he came to focus on the peanut:

I asked the Great Creator what the universe was made for. “Ask for something more in keeping with that little mind of yours,” He replied. [So I asked] “What was man made for?”

“Little man, you still want to know too much. Cut down the extent of your request and improve the intent.”

Then I told the Creator I wanted to know all about the peanut. He replied that my mind was too small to know all about the peanut, but He said He would give me a handful of peanuts. And God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth…to you it shall be for meat….I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. [Genesis 1:29-30]”

I carried the peanuts into my laboratory and the Creator told me to take them apart and resolve them into their elements. With such knowledge as I had of chemistry and physics, I set to work to take them apart. I separated the water, the fats, the oils, the gums, the resins, sugars, starches, pectoses, pentosans, amino acids. There! I had the parts of the peanuts all spread out before me.[20]

I looked at Him [God], and He looked at me. “Now, you know what the peanut is.”

“Why did You make the peanut?”

The Creator said, “I have given you three laws; namely, compatibility, temperature, and pressure. All you have to do is take these constituents and put them together, observing these laws, and I will show you why I made the peanut.”

I therefore went on to try different combinations of the parts under different conditions of temperature and pressure, and the result was what you see.[21]

Carver stated: “My purpose alone must be God’s purpose-to increase the welfare and happiness of His people.”

For his amazing work, Carver received numerous awards and became advisor to many world leaders, including President Franklin Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, and Thomas Edison. In all his work, he never failed to acknowledge God. Significantly, Carver’s many discoveries were the result of hard work and prayer. He would rise every morning at 4:00AM, begin the day by reading the Bible, and seek God concerning what He wanted him to do that day. He explained:

I discover nothing in my laboratory. If I come here of myself I am lost. But I can do all things through Christ [Philippians 4:13]. I am God’s servant—His agent, for here God and I are alone. I am just the instrument through which He speaks, and I would be able to do more if I were to stay in closer touch with Him. With my prayers I mix my labors, and sometimes God is pleased to bless the results.[22]

Carver sought to serve God and bless other people. In fact, when Thomas Edison offered him a job with a very large salary, Carver turned it down so he could continue his agricultural work in his laboratory, which he called “God’s little workshop.”

Toward the end of his long life, he summarized his achievements by explaining: “The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths’ [Proverbs 3:6].”[23]

— — — ⧫ ⧫ ⧫ — — —

The contributions of individuals such as Cyrus McCormick, Samuel F.B. Morse, Matthew Maury, and George Washington Carver are just a few from the many who made significant technological and scientific advances within the atmosphere of Christian liberty that permeated the American republic. But Christians were prominent leaders not only in science and technology but also in business.

Leaders in Business

John Wanamaker and the Department Store

John Wanamaker

John Wanamaker (1838-1922) was a business pioneer who founded the modern department store. He developed the customer-centered, service-oriented business model that has become so common today. Interestingly, the business path he took was shaped by an experience he had in early life.

One Christmas Eve while a young boy, he went to a jewelry store in Philadelphia to buy his mother a gift. He recalled:

I had only a few dollars saved up for the purpose. I wanted to buy the best thing these dollars would buy. I guess I took a long time to look at the things in the jewelry cases. The jeweler was growing impatient. Finally I said, “I’ll take that,” indicating a piece. Just what it was I do not recall.

The jeweler began wrapping it up. Suddenly I saw another piece that I thought would better please my mother. “Excuse me, sir,” I said, “but I have changed my mind. I’ll take this piece instead of the one you are wrapping.”

You can imagine my surprise and chagrin when the jeweler answered, “It’s too late now. You’ve bought the first piece and you must keep it.” I was too abashed to protest. I took what I had first bought, but as I went out of the store I said to myself:

“When I have a store of my own, the people shall have what they want…and what they ought to have.”[24]

This incident demonstrating business’s general lack of concern for the wishes of the customer, and its absence of flexibility and service, shaped his thinking for the successful business he would later create.

When Wanamaker eventually introduced his new philosophy of business in Philadelphia, it was based upon the Bible’s Golden Rule. (The Golden Rule is found in Matthew 7:12, when Jesus said: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.”)

Sometimes he was mockingly called “Pious John” by those who thought religion had no place in business. Nevertheless, he ran his business and treated others the way he would want to be treated as a customer. The result was that he built one of the most successful businesses in history by serving people and blessing others.

Among the revolutionary new things Wanamaker introduced was the one-price system. Before this, there were no fixed prices, so customers would haggle and bargain with the salespeople for lower prices, but he began the practice of having a price tag that gave the actual selling price. He also marked the quality of the goods he was selling, labeling them as high, medium, or poor so that the customer would know exactly what he was buying. And he offered a money-back guarantee. In short, John birthed the service-oriented store. It had a unique spirit—a distinctive personality; and people who visited the store, regardless of whether or not they bought items, felt refreshed from their visits.

John applied the Golden Rule not only to his customers but also to his employees. He offered them better working conditions, vacation time, fewer work hours per week, retirement plans, medical plans, paid educational opportunities, and a better overall work environment (including lockers, cafeterias, and recreation clubs). He also pioneered store comforts such as a restaurant inside the store, storewide heating and ventilation, elevators, electric lights, and ease of access, which blessed both his customers and his employees. And his employees were service-oriented—they worked to please the customer and keep his or her well-being in mind.

Wanamaker’s Philadelphia store

Wanamaker’s Philadelphia store steadily grew, and he eventually built a newer, larger one—in fact, it was the largest store in the world. He saw it as a new kind of store—something completely different in business—and it was dedicated by President William Howard Taft, who called John “the greatest merchant in America.”[25] Thirty thousand people attended the grand opening, and President Taft told the crowd that John’s department store was “one of the most important instrumentalities in modern life for the promotion of comfort among the people.” He predicted it would be “a model for all other stores of the same kind throughout the country and throughout the world.”[26]

Wanamaker, in addition to his pioneer work in business, is also called the “Father of Modern Advertising.” He placed daily ads about his products and their prices in newspapers to let consumers know what he had and what it cost. Other merchants began to follow his lead, and the result was an influx of advertising money into newspapers that actually allowed them to lower their prices. This gave birth to the modern newspaper and magazine, making them affordable and available to all.

Others began to study Wannamaker’s stores to learn successful economic principles. But the secret was simple: a dedication tablet placed on his store testified that his success was due to “Freedom of competition and the blessing of God.”[27] He believed strongly in individual enterprise and the free market system, affirming that “Business thrives on competition….and [the] people’s interests in getting better merchandise and lower prices are always improved when competition is unstifled!”[28]

Because Wannamaker followed Biblical teachings not only in his business but also in his personal life, he therefore worked hard six days a week, just as the Bible directed (Exodus 20:9), and likewise did notwork on the Sabbath (Exodus 34:21). Instead, each Sabbath he taught in Sunday School and church—a practice he followed for seventy years.

Wanamaker, a strong Christian, was a world leader in business, introducing many practices that today have become commonplace across the globe.

Leaders in Education

As noted in the previous lesson, education for every child was a Biblical idea. It motivated the early colonists to start schools and colleges and is why the Bible was their central textbook. Their Bible-centered approach to education predominated well into the twentieth century, and some of the greatest and most influential educators in American history were dedicated Christians.

Noah Webster 

Noah Webster

One of the most notable educators of the nineteenth century was Noah Webster (1758-1843), known as “The Schoolmaster to America.”[29] He served as a soldier during the American War for Independence, and then as a judge and legislator afterwards. He was one of the first Americans to call for a Constitution Convention and was active in helping ratify the Constitution once it was written.

Prior to the war, Americans had been heavily dependent on British textbooks, which, of course, were filled with British thinking and philosophy. After the war ended, Webster wisely recognized that for America to continue to exist as the independent nation she had become, her schools needed textbooks that reflected our own unique American way of thinking and governing. He therefore began writing and publishing purely American texts for the classroom, including works on spelling, grammar, literature, agriculture, banking, history, government, manners, medicine, and numerous other subjects.

Webster’s first textbook was his speller, published in 1783. It standardized spelling in America and introduced purely American spellings, such as “labor,” “honor,” and “public” to replace the British spellings of “labour,” “honour,” and “publick.” This speller dominated education for the next century and a half, eventually becoming known as the “Blue-Back Speller” because of the distinctive blue color of its cover. Selling an astounding 100 million copies (and this was at a time when the population of America was much smaller than today),[30] its premise was that “God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”[31]

Webster repeatedly stressed that the basis of American education in all subjects must rest upon Christianity:

In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children under a free government ought to be instructed….No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.[32]

In addition to his textbooks, Webster also recognized that we needed an American dictionary, so he began working on one. His would have full definitions of words (something not common to dictionaries at that time) and include many purely American words found in no other dictionary (such as “skunk,” “hickory,” “chowder,” and thousands more). For twenty years, Webster kept a list of words for which he could find no definition—words that he would include in his dictionary.

As he began to define each word, he found he needed to know its origin—where it came from and how it had been used in previous ages. Seeking to understand the original language from which a particular word was derived, Webster personally learned twenty-eight languages.[33]

When his An American Dictionary of the English Language was finally published in 1828, it contained 70,000 words, with 12,000 words and 40,000 definitions not found in any previous dictionary.[34]

To illustrate the context of the words he was defining, Webster provided sentences within the definition to show how that word was used. Significantly, a high percentage of the sentences he provided as examples were Bible verses.

For example, after defining the word “man,” examples he gave to illustrate its usage included:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion. Genesis 1.

Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. Job 14.

My spirit will not always strive with man. Genesis 6.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. 1 Corinthians 10.

It is written, man shall not live by bread alone. Matthew 4.[35]

Similarly, after defining “heart,” his examples were:

Webster’s definition of immoral reflects the Biblical worldview of early America.

The heart is deceitful above all things [Jeremiah 17:9]. Every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is evil continually [Genesis 6:5]. We read of an honest and good heart [Luke 8:15], and an evil heart of unbelief [Hebrews 3:12], a willing heart [Exodus 35:5, 22], a heavy heart [Proverbs 25:20], sorrow of heart [Nehemiah 2:2], a hard heart [Exodus 7:14], a proud heart [Proverbs 16:5], a pure heart [Matthew 5:8]. The heart faints in adversity [Isaiah 1:5, Proverbs 24:10; Deuteronomy 20:8], or under discouragement, that is, courage fails [Joshua 2:11]; the heart is deceived [Isaiah 44:20], enlarged [2 Corinthians 6:11], reproved, lifted up [2 Chronicles 26:16], fixed [Psalm 57:7], established [Psalm 112:8], moved, &c.[36]

Webster was so committed to doing everything for the Lord (including even his massive dictionary) that in the preface to that famous work, he openly dedicated it to God.[37]

(By the way, since its original publication in 1828, Webster’s dictionary has undergone extensive censorship to remove its Christian content; so although the most popular dictionary in America continues to bear his name, it no longer reflects the spirit of the original. Fortunately, reprints and online copies of his original 1828 dictionary are still readily accessible for use today and are highly recommended for those who wish to retain and promote a Biblical view of the English language and its usage.)

In addition to the many texts Webster penned, he also was largely responsible for the copyright and patent clause in the US Constitution,[38] which protects the creativity and innovation of individuals in the arts and sciences as well as in technology, literature, music, and all other areas. He also published magazines and newspapers (including the American Minerva, Commercial Advertiser, The Herald, and The New York Spectator), founded a college (Amherst), published the first modern-language version of the English Bible (1833), and raised seven children.

As one textbook later noted of Webster, he was one of the most influential men in American history:

Only two [other] men have stood on the New World whose fame is so sure to last: Columbus, its discover and Washington, its savior. Webster is, and will be its great teacher; and these three make our trinity of fame.[39]

Another work declared of him:

Who taught millions to read but not one to sin.[40]

Noah Webster educated generations of Americans in the same Biblical worldview that caused America to become the most free and prosperous nation the world has seen.

William McGuffey 

William McGuffey

Another of America’s most famous educators was William Holmes McGuffey (1800-1873), a Presbyterian minister, author, and university professor. For his significant impact on education, he has been titled “The Schoolmaster of the Nation”[41] — a title very similar to that of Webster, which is not surprising since he, too, had such a significant influence on American education. He is best known for his McGuffey Readers, which sold an amazing 122 million copies in its first 75 years.[42] For nearly a century, those readers were standard throughout the country, and even more than 120 years later in the 1960s, they were still selling 30,000 copies a year.[43]

McGuffey openly acknowledged the Bible as a significant influence on his readers. For example, in the Preface to the Fourth Reader, he wrote:

From no Source has the author drawn more copiously in his selections, than from the sacred Scriptures. For this he certainly apprehends no censure. In a Christian country, that man is to be pitied who at this day can honestly object to imbuing the minds of youth with the language and spirit of the Word of God.[44]

Professor John Westerhoff of Duke University described the overall content of McGuffey’s works:

From the First to the Fourth Reader, belief in the God of the Old and New Testaments is assumed. When not mentioned directly, God is implied: “You cannot steal the smallest pin…without being seen by the eye that never sleeps.” More typically, however, lessons make direct references to the Almighty: “God makes the little lambs bring forth wool, that we may have clothes to keep us warm….All that live get life from God….The humble child went to God in penitence and prayer….All who take care of you and help you were sent by God. He sent his Son to show you His will, and to die for your sake.”[45]

So William McGuffey and Noah Webster—perhaps the two most significant influences on public education in the nineteenth century—were both open and dedicated Christians, as was the content of the famous textbooks they produced.

Westward Expansion
Gail Borden was the first person baptized west of the Mississippi River.

At the time America achieved her independence from Great Britain, most Americans lived along the eastern coast near the Atlantic Ocean. But as Americans began moving west, many new states were added, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Louisiana. Expansion steadily continued ever further westward until reaching the Pacific Ocean.

A significant part of westward expansion was President Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, which nearly doubled the size of the United States. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first explored the region, and many other famous explorers followed them, including Jedidiah Smith, the first to find an overland route to California from the east. Smith was a courageous frontiersman who always carried his Bible with him, sharing God with other trappers and pioneers.

Another notable leader in westward expansion was Daniel Boone. He blazed the Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky and then opened other trails heading even farther west. And there was also John Chapman (known as Johnny Appleseed). He was a missionary explorer who worked his way westward, sowing the Word of God to the pioneers he encountered as well as providing them both spiritual and physical sustenance.

Texas (after it achieved independence from Mexico) became another western addition to the United States. One of the leaders in Texas independence was Gail Borden, a newspaper publisher who also printed important papers for the Texas government. In 1840, a Baptist minister arrived in Galveston (the first Baptist minister in that part of Texas), where Gail and his wife Penelope lived. Gail was baptized in the Gulf of Mexico—reportedly the first baptism west of the Mississippi River.[46] He later became famous for inventing condensed milk—an important food supply for those moving west.

Many other Christians were among the famous western trailblazers.


Significantly, every American president has self-identified as a Christian and referenced God in his inaugural addresses and speeches.Additionally, the majority of governmental leaders in the nineteenth century were also professing Christians, just as they had been in the Founding Era.

US Senator Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster

One of the many notable Christian statesmen was Daniel Webster. He served almost a decade in the US House, nearly two decades in the US Senate, and was the Secretary of State for three different presidents. Webster was considered the greatest attorney in his generation and personally argued and won numerous cases before the US Supreme Court. In fact, it is reported that opposing attorneys, when learning they would be facing Webster, would sometimes withdraw from a case rather than face his genius.[47]

Webster is also considered the greatest orator in the history of the US Senate. Significantly, he believed that to become a great orator, one must study the Word of God and read the Bible aloud.[48] One of his friends and associates testified:

[H]e loved and he read that priceless volume [the Bible] as it ought to be loved and read….He read it aloud to his family every Sunday morning, and often delivered extempore sermons of great power and eloquence. He never made a journey without carrying a copy with him; and [I] testify that [I] never listened to the story of the Savior or heard one of the prophecies of Isaiah when it sounded so superbly eloquent as when coming from his lips.[49]

Webster’s old Senate desk is still in use today in the current Senate Chamber. He inscribed his name in the bottom of that desk with a penknife (and other Senators followed his example). Interestingly, Webster developed a love for penknives at an early age. In fact, one of his first school teachers, Master James Tappan, told the story of how Daniel got his first penknife (at around age 6-8):

Daniel was always the brightest boy in the school….He would learn more in five minutes than any boy in five hours….One Saturday, I remember, I held up a handsome new jack-knife to the scholars and said the boy who would commit to memory the greatest number of verses in the Bible by Monday morning should have it. Many of the boys did well; but when it came to Daniel’s turn to recite, I found that he had committed so much [to memory] that after hearing him repeat some sixty or seventy verses, I was obliged to give up, he telling me that there were several chapters yet that he had learned. Daniel got that jack-knife.[50]

Webster’s love for the Bible remained with him throughout his life and is often seen in his political speeches as well as his legal works. (For example, he argued a Supreme Court case that resulted in a unanimous ruling that American public schools would definitely teach the Bible.[51]) He understood that obedience to God’s truth produces great blessings for a nation, pointing out that “Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”[52]

James Garfield 

James Garfield

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) was born in Ohio in 1831—the last president to be born in a log cabin. He grew up working on the family farm, was self-taught in law, became a university president, served as a Union military general in the Civil War, and after the war was a Congressman (where he was a key leader in passing numerous civil rights bills to secure racial equality). He also served as an ordained minister during the Second Great Awakening.

On March 4, 1881, James Garfield was inaugurated 20thPresident of the United States, but only four months later was shot by an assassin. The doctors were unable to find and remove the bullet, and on September 19,1881, he finally succumbed to the complications related to their medical treatment of his wound. But had it not been for God’s Providence, he would have died many years earlier while a young boy and not have accomplished all he did.

Early in his life, Garfield worked on a canal boat, but he was unable to swim—which almost proved fatal one dark night when he fell into the water. The rest of the crew was asleep and unaware of what had happened. While gasping for breath and trying to stay above water, Garfield grabbed hold of a tow rope that had accidentally fallen into the water. As he was sinking, he somehow managed to throw a loop in the rope around a fixture on the deck of the barge above him. He then pulled himself to safety, being saved from certain drowning.

Once on deck, for the next three hours Garfield attempted to throw the same rope around the same fixture, but was unable to duplicate the feat that had saved his life. He concluded that God had intervened and spared him and as a result he gave himself wholly to God. He went on to attend seminary[53] and became a minister for the Disciples of Christ denomination, leading people to Christ[54] and publically debating God’s creation against evolutionists.[55] He influenced the public sector in many different ways, including being elected to Congress and eventually the presidency.

Garfield wisely reminded Americans to remember their civil responsibilities as stewards of the nation, telling them:

[N]ow, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in national legislature….[I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation, with a great and worthy Congress, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.[56]

William McKinley

William McKinley (1843-1901) was born in Ohio in 1843 and raised by devoutly Christian parents.

William McKinley

In the mid-nineteenth century, many people were being converted to the fast-growing Methodist revivalist movement, and William was one of them. He became a Christian at a camp meeting when he was ten, and in 1859, after attending another series of camp meetings, he was baptized and became a full member of the Methodist Church. He intended to pursue becoming a Christian minister, but the Civil War intervened.

McKinley joined the Twenty-Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which was so devout that it was called “the psalm-singers of the Western Reserve” (the Western Reserve was the northeastern region of Ohio).[57] McKinley reported that there were “religious exercises in the company twice a day, prayer meetings twice a week, and preaching in the regiment once on a Sabbath.”[58] He even called himself a soldier of Jesus.[59]

In 1897, McKinley was elected the 25thPresident of the United States, and his strong Christian faith was apparent in his speeches. For example, in his First Inaugural Address (1897), he said: “Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers, who has so singularly favored the American people in every national trial, and who will not forsake us so long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps.[60] Midway through his first term, he declared: “My belief embraces the Divinity of Christ and a recognition of Christianity as the mightiest factor in the world’s civilization.[61]

As president, he regularly read the Bible and often hosted “hymn sings” (a type of worship service) in the White House. One biographer stated, “His evenings were spent with Mrs. McKinley and friends, often reading the Bible aloud until ten.”[62]

Numerous friends affirmed his strong Christian faith, including his pastor, Methodist Bishop Edward Andrews, who said of him: “He believed in God and in Jesus Christ, through Whom God was revealed. He accepted the Divine law of the Scripture; he based his hope on Jesus Christ, the appointed and only Redeemer of men.”[63]

In 1901, during the first year of his second term, McKinley was assassinated. At that tragic moment, his lifelong Christian faith once again became evident: after being shot, he immediately forgave his assassin, blurting out, “Don’t let them hurt him!”[64] A week later he died, softly singing the words of his favorite hymn, “Nearer, My God to Thee.” As he passed into eternity, his last words were, “His will be done.”[65]

The Second Great Awakening

The Founders of America believed that liberty could not be maintained without Godly character in both citizens and leaders. Without such character, a free society will become immoral and depraved, for the government will become more hard-fisted and tyrannical in order to combat the bad behavior resulting from the lack of morality. Thus, a loss of liberty, freedom, and prosperity always begins with a decay of morality.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century (that is, in the early 1800s), the War for Independence and the positive influence of religion and morality that had been so apparent during the American Founding was waning. This noticeable decline was affirmed even by the public prayer proclamations of that period, which called for true religion to be rekindled and spread across the land.[66] Those prayers were eventually answered in a national revival historians now call the Second Great Awakening.

That Awakening spanned the decades preceding the Civil War, having first begun in Kentucky before spreading to other states. In that revival, many people were converted or came back to the Christian faith, and many new churches and Christian denominations were started.

Leaders in the Second Great Awakening included notables such as Barton Stone, James McGready, John McGee, Harry Hoosier, Lorenzo Dow, Charles Clay, and Peter Cartwright. Numerous circuit-riding preachers traveled throughout the frontier of America, setting it aflame with the Gospel. In fact, legendary Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury (1745-1816) spent 45 years spreading the Gospel and founding schools, largely from horseback.

Perhaps the best-known name of that national revival was the Rev. Charles Finney (1792-1875). At least a hundred-thousand Americans became Christians under his ministry,[67] and he further transformed the culture by his extensive influence on thousands of other pastors.

Interestingly, Finney believed that specific things could be done to create a revival, and so he taught the science of revival in his famous Lectures on Revival of Religion.[68]

The personal story of Finney is very unusual, for he became a Christian by studying to become an attorney. This seems implausible today, but not then. While studying his legal textbooks, Finney was struck by their constant references to the Bible as the basis of all civil and moral law. As a result, he began to seriously study the Bible, which eventually led to his conversion.[69] He then became a minister, helping bring both religious and moral reformation to the nation.

Finney was an ardent abolitionist and led churches and clergy across the country to boldly speak out on that issue. In fact, his abolition work was an important factor in ending slavery in America. He also became president of a college, and his school was one of the first in America to treat blacks and whites, men and women, as equals.

The Rev. Richard Allen (1760-1831) was another significant figure in the Awakening, especially in its early years. In 1816, he founded the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination (the first black denomination in America), but his personal story began much earlier.

Statue of Marcus Whitman in the US Capitol with his bible in one hand and medical bag in the other.

While a slave in Maryland, Allen became a Christian after a traveling circuit-riding Methodist minister preached on the plantation where he lived. Allen later influenced his master to become a Christian, and was able to purchase his freedom, after which he moved to Philadelphia and became a minister, preaching to both black and white congregations. He also served in the American War for Independence and over subsequent years built many churches, often helped by his friend, signer of the Declaration Benjamin Rush.

Just as many notable spiritual leaders stepped to the forefront during the Second Great Awakening, many Christian organizations were also started in that time, including numerous Bible societies. In fact, Founding Father Benjamin Rush helped organize the first one in 1809,[70] and over the next eight years, 120 additional ones were birthed.[71]

In 1816, the American Bible Society (the first national Bible Society) was formed, and dozens of local, state, and regional Bible societies linked arms with them. Its national officers included notables such as Elias Boudinot (president of the Continental Congress and a framer of the Bill of Rights), John Jay (the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court), John Quincy Adams (President of the US), John Marshall (Supreme Court Chief Justice), John Langdon and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (signers of the Constitution), Smith Thompson (Secretary of the Navy), William Wirt (US Attorney General), and many other distinguished historical figures.

In addition to Bible societies, the revival also gave impetus for the founding of numerous abolition societies, philanthropic organizations, the American Tract Society, the American Sunday School Union, the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association), and other such national Christian groups that helped change the spiritual and cultural direction of America.

Missionaries and Mission Movements
In the winter of 1842-43, Marcus Whitman made a daring trip over the Rocky Mountains and then returned and traveled to Washington DC to meet with President John Tyler and Secretary of State Daniel Webster (above), urging them to not give away the Oregon Territory to Great Britain in exchange for Northern Canada.

The work of sending Christian missionaries to teach the Bible in remote locations around the country and the world expanded greatly in the eighteenth century. As seen in Lessons 1 and 2, a central motivation for the colonization of the original thirteen colonies had been the desire to propagate the Gospel. This same motive continued to influence the establishment of later states as well.

For example, the Rev. Jason Lee was a principal force in founding the state of Oregon,[72] and missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were key in establishing the states of Washington and Idaho.[73] In fact, the Whitmans were instrumental in opening the West to settlers, blazing what became known as the Oregon Trail.[74]

In 1836, on their original westward trek, when their small party reached the Continental Divide (the mountain ridge that divides the eastern from the western United States) on July 4, 1836, a member of their expedition, the Rev. Henry Harmon Spalding, reported: “They alighted from their horses and kneeling on the other half of the continent, with the Bible in one hand and the American flag in the other, took possession of it as the home of American mothers and of the Church of Christ.”[75] After successfully completing the journey, the Whitmans returned east and led other settlers in the first great emigration to Oregon in 1843. They are just another in the long line of Christians who helped establish the entirety of what has become the continental United States.

The End of Slavery

At the time the early colonists came to America, slavery existed across the world. Initially, it was forbidden in the American colonies, but by the middle of the 17thcentury (the mid-1600s), that prohibition had sadly changed and slavery instead began to be protected by law. There were attempts to restrict and stop its expansion in the colonies, but such laws had limited success, so slavery steadily grew across America, just as it had elsewhere on the globe. (In the three-and-a-half centuries of the African slave trade, some 10.7 million Africans were captured and taken as slaves to other nations, of which 42 percent were taken to Brazil, 10 percent to Jamaica, and so forth, with 3.6 percent being taken to North America.[76]

The American War for Independence was a turning point in the national attitude against slavery, and it was the Founding Fathers who contributed greatly to that change. Many of them denounced Great Britain for imposing upon the colonies the evil of slavery, and then not allowing America to end the slave trade. For example, in the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson had vigorously complained:

Thomas Jefferson

He [King George III] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither….Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce [that is, he has opposed efforts to prohibit the slave trade].[77]

(Regrettably, the pro-slavery states of South Carolina and Georgia successfully demanded the removal of this denunciation of the slave trade.[78] The reason they won on this issue was that nothing could appear in the Declaration unless it had complete agreement from all thirteen states—as the Declaration itself attested, what was in that document was only the “unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America.”)

Benjamin Franklin, echoing what Jefferson had said, likewise affirmed that whenever the Americans had attempted to end slavery, the British government thwarted those attempts. He explained that…

Benjamin Franklin

a disposition to abolish slavery prevails in North America, that many of Pennsylvanians have set their slaves at liberty, and that even the Virginia Assembly have petitioned the King for permission to make a law for preventing the importation of more into that colony. This request, however, will probably not be granted as their former laws of that kind have always been repealed [by the king].[79]

For many of the Founders, their feelings against slavery went beyond words. For example, in 1774, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush founded in Pennsylvania the first anti-slavery society in America.[80] John Jay (original Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court) was president of a similar society in New York;[81] and when William Livingston (a signer of the Constitution and the Governor of New Jersey) heard of that New York society, he wrote them, offering:

I would most ardently wish to become a member of it [the society in New York] and…I can safely promise them that neither my tongue, nor my pen, nor purse shall be wanting to promote the abolition of what to me appears so inconsistent with humanity and Christianity….May the great and the equal Father of the human race, Who has expressly declared His abhorrence of oppression, [Proverbs 14:31, 22:16], and that He is no respecter of persons [Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11], succeed a design so laudably calculated to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke [Isaiah 58:6].[82]

Other prominent Founding Fathers who were members of societies for ending slavery included Gunning Bedford Jr, Richard Bassett, James Madison, James Monroe, Francis Scott Key, Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, William Few, John Marshall, Richard Stockton, Zephaniah Swift, and many more. In fact, based in part on the efforts of such Founders, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts began abolishing slavery in 1780;[83] Connecticut and Rhode Island did so in 1784;[84] Vermont in 1786;[85] New Hampshire in 1792;[86] New York in 1799;[87] and New Jersey in 1804.[88]

The rapid anti-slavery progress during this period of American history was not surprising since the majority of the Founding Fathers were anti-slavery.

Interestingly, extensive research has been conducted to determine individual Founder’s views on the issue of slavery. Almost a hundred individuals comprise the group of Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration or the Constitution. Of that group, some have no recorded position on the subject; but of those who did express a view on slavery, over two-thirds opposed it, freed their own slaves, or belonged to anti-slavery societies.

Somewhere less than one-third of the Founders were pro-slavery, and there is no justification for their view. It is wrong. (Not surprisingly, these pro-slavery Founders came largely from Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina—the same three states that had vociferously objected to Jefferson’s denunciation of the slave trade in the Declaration of Independence.) Openly pro-slavery Founders included William Hooper and Richard Dobbs Spaight of North Carolina, Charles Pinckney and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina, and Abraham Baldwin of Georgia.

The anti-slavery Founders (who far outnumber the pro-slavery Founders) can be divided into three general categories.

The first includes those Founders who never owned a slave, such as John Adams, Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, and Samuel Adams.

The second includes Founders who owned slaves before America became independent (during the time the king was vetoing American anti-slavery laws), but who freed their slaves after separating from Great Britain. Among this group are Founders such as Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Benjamin Rush, William Whipple, and John Dickinson. (Ironically, even though this group includes some of the nation’s most outspoken advocates against slavery, many critics today nonetheless wrongly characterize the Founders in this group as pro-slavery slave-holders.[89])

The third group includes Founders who owned slaves throughout their lives but spoke openly against slavery, and sometimes even became part of anti-slavery organizations and movements. This situation confuses many today, for how can one own slaves and at the same time be anti-slavery? Because most of the Founders in this third category lived in the state of Virginia, where the laws made it very difficult, and in some cases impossible for them to free their own slaves.

For a modern parallel to perhaps better understand the unique situation in Virginia, consider a pro-life mother in China. Despite how much she might personally object to abortion, for decades China maintained a coercive one-child policy, forcibly requiring the abortion of any second child.[90] So how could a mother possibly have an abortion (or even multiple abortions) and still be pro-life? Because she lived in a country where the laws not only prevented but also made illegal what she desperately wanted. While this is an imperfect comparison, it nevertheless suggests the difficulty faced by some of the slave-owning Founders from Virginia who had inherited their slaves (often at a young age) and were not at liberty under state law to set them free.

The restrictiveness of Virginia’s laws on slavery is illustrated by the case of Robert Carter. In 1791, he freed his 500 slaves, but because Virginia law was so restrictive, over sixty years later in 1852 (and long after Carter’s death) his heirs were still working to free his slaves.[91] Facing such difficulties, some Virginians simply packed up and left their homes, moving all their possessions and slaves to a different state where the law permitted them to be freed.[92] Understandably, however, many Virginians did not abandon their family and ancestral homes; they were thus required to live under the onerous state slave laws.

Significantly, a number of the Founders from Virginia, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, openly opposed slavery and even worked to change the laws at the state level (where their efforts were routinely defeated) as well as the federal level (where they were sometimes successful).

George Washington

For example, George Washington (who inherited slaves when he was only eleven years old[93]) declared that “there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it [slavery].” In fact, he promised that his efforts to achieve full freedom for slaves “shall never be wanting[lacking].”[94] He was never successful in advancing this objective in his home state of Virginia, but he was more successful at the national level.

For example, as president in 1789, he signed a federal law that prohibited slavery in any federal territories that would become states in the United States.[95] As a result, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and other states entered the union as anti-slavery states. In 1794, he signed another federal anti-slavery law, this one banning any exportation of slaves, thus preventing America from contributing to the growth of the slave trade.[96] Such federal efforts were also made by slave-owning President Thomas Jefferson (also of Virginia, who inherited slaves when he was twenty-one years old[97]). The Constitution had specifically given Congress the power to end the slave trade in 1808. (No nation in Europe or elsewhere had agreed to such strong political action at that time in world history.) When the specified time arrived, President Thomas Jefferson eagerly signed the federal law banning the importation of slaves into America.[98] He also personally organized anti-slavery activities in federal territories (including Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois) to ensure that they remained slave-free when they became states.[99] Multiple times over previous decades Jefferson had pressed for the abolition of slavery at both the state and national levels, but his efforts were unsuccessful. Despite this, he openly declared:

[T]here is nothing I would not sacrifice to a practicable plan of abolishing every vestige of this moral and political depravity [i.e. slavery].[100]

For the two-thirds of the Founders included in one of the three anti-slavery categories, most of their opposition to slavery stemmed from the Bible. As signer of the Declaration Benjamin Rush affirmed:

Domestic slavery is repugnant to the principles of Christianity….It is rebellion against the authority of a common Father—it is a practical denial of the extent and efficacy of the death of a common Savior—it is an usurpation of the prerogative of the great Sovereign of the universe, Who has solemnly claimed an exclusive property in the souls of men.[101]

Frederick Douglass

Despite the fact that at least two-thirds of the Founders opposed slavery and spoke or worked against it, many critics today wrongly claim that they were a collective group of slave-holders and racists.[102] In their attempts to denigrate and dismiss the American Founding, they even assert that the Constitution was a pro-slavery document.

To prove this, they often point to the Three-Fifths Clause in the Constitution, claiming that it says blacks are only three-fifths of a person.[103] But this is wrong. The three-fifths clause was an actually an anti-slavery clause in the Constitution designed to limit pro-slavery representation in Congress. It had nothing to do with the worth of any individual.

One of the earliest black Americans to investigate the claim that the Constitution was pro-slavery was famous black abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Born into slavery in 1818, he escaped to New York in 1838. He was later hired to work for the Massachusetts anti-slavery society, and also served as a preacher for Zion African Methodist denomination.[104]

During Douglass’s first years of freedom, he studied at the feet of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who wrongly taught him that the Constitution was a pro-slavery document.[105] Douglass accepted this claim, and his early speeches and writings reflected this belief. However, he began to research the subject for himself: he read the Constitution as well as the writings of those who wrote it. What he found revolutionized his thinking: he concluded that the Constitution was not a pro-slavery but rather an anti-slavery document.[106]

He explained:

I was, on the anti-slavery question.…fully committed to [the] doctrine touching the pro-slavery character of the Constitution….I advocated it with pen and tongue, according to the best of my ability….[U]pon a reconsideration of the whole subject, I became convinced…that the Constitution of the United States not only contained no guarantees in favor of slavery but on the contrary, it is in its letter and spirit an anti-slavery instrument, demanding the abolition of slavery as a condition of its own existence as the supreme law of the land. Here was a radical change in my opinions….[107]

Douglass therefore concluded:

[I]f the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slaveholding instrument, why neither “slavery,” “slaveholding,” nor “slave” can anywhere be found in it?…Now, take the Constitution according to its plain reading and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand, it will be found to contain principles and purposes entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.[108]

By the 1830s, many citizens had come to reject the original view of most Founding Fathers that slavery was an evil to be abolished. Even many churches began wrongly attempting to justify slavery. In fact, three major Protestant denominations (Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists) actually split over the issue of slavery; and once the churches had divided over slavery, it was almost certain that the nation would as well.


Significantly, the greatest force for abolition in America was Bible-based Christianity. By 1827, 130 different abolition societies had been formed,[109] and in 1833, the National American Anti-Slavery Society was founded, with one-third of its leaders being clergyman.[110] They announced:

With entire confidence in the overruling justice of God, we plant ourselves upon the Declaration of Independence and the truths of Divine revelation as upon the everlasting rock. We shall organize anti-slavery societies, if possible, in every city, town, and village in our land. We shall send forth agents to lift up the voice of remonstrance [protest], of warning, of entreaty [pleading] and rebuke. We shall circulate unsparingly and extensively anti-slavery tracts and periodicals. We shall enlist the pulpit and the press in the cause of the suffering.…We shall spare no exertions nor means to bring the whole nation to speedy repentance.[111]

Underground Railroad

While many Christians were working to abolish slavery by changing the law, others were helping slaves escape from slavery in the South to freedom in the North (and also into Canada) through a network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Some of the more notable conductors on the Underground Railroad included former slave and devout Christian Harriet Tubman, who led so many slaves to freedom that she was given the name “Moses of Her People,” in reference to Moses of the Bible, the great Hebrew deliverer. And Levi and Catherine Coffin, motivated by their Quaker faith, helped about 3,000 slaves escape to freedom. When asked why he aided fugitive slaves, Levi said: “The Bible, in bidding us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, said nothing about color, and I should try to follow out the teachings of that Good Book.”[112] And Oberlin University, where the Rev. Charles Finney was president, was a very active center on the Underground Railroad.[113]

Ministers Encourage Lincoln toward Emancipation
Levi Coffin

President Abraham Lincoln believed that God called him to be an instrument to help end slavery.[114] To him, slavery violated the ideal stated in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” On January 1, 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves in the southern states—an action that reflected God’s principles of racial equality.

Significantly, Lincoln had received much encouragement from ministers in his efforts against slavery. In fact, between 1861 and 1863, various associations of clergymen (representing the Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Quakers, Congregationalists, and United Brethren) as well as missions boards from all over the North sent dozens of official condemnations of slavery to President Lincoln, announcing their support of the anti-slavery stance taken by the federal government.[115]

Clergyman were also active in contacting other national political leaders. In fact, over the period of only a few months, 125 different remonstrances supported by New England clergymen poured into Congress.[116] One such document, signed by 3,050 New England clergymen, was 200 feet long.[117] US Senator Charles Sumner (one of the anti-slavery Democrats who founded the Republican Party) thanked the ministers, saying, “In the days of the Revolution, John Adams, yearning for Independence, said, ‘Let the pulpits thunder against oppression; and the pulpits thundered. The time has come for them to thunder again.”[118]

Lincoln attempted to view the events of the Civil War from a Biblical perspective. Perhaps more than any other president, he included Bible verses and principles throughout his speeches and policies—a fact especially apparent in his Second Inaugural Address:

Abraham Lincoln

Both [North and South] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces [that is, in having slaves], but let us judge not that we be not judged [Matthew 7:1]. The prayer of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes [Matthew 18:7]. If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the Providence of God, must needs come, but which having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern there any departure from those Divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s [slave owner’s] two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, that the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether [Psalm 19:9]. [119]

Significantly, only two months before Lincoln gave this address, the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery had been passed. And only five weeks after this address, Lincoln was assassinated. A month after that, the Civil War finally came to an end.Abolition had prevailed—the principles of the Declaration were recognized in American law: the idea that all men are created free and have equal rights before the Creator, including a right to life, liberty, and property became fully secured in the Constitution.

— — — ⧫ ⧫ ⧫ — — —

Letter from President Woodrow Wilson placed inside Bibles given to soldiers in WWI.

There is much else that can be pointed to throughout the nineteenth century to illustrate the positive influence of the Bible and Christianity on America, its leaders, and the culture, but to do so would require volumes more space. Nonetheless, just from the little that has been presented here, it is clear that America’s Christian history is inseparable from American history in general.

The Christian Influence in the Wars against Evil in the 20th Century

In the 20thcentury, America fought two world wars, and the root of the conflict in each was, in simplest terms, good versus evil—liberty versus oppression—God-given rights versus government tyranny and oppression. The attempt to preserve Christian and Biblical principles for others in the world was a major cause of our involvement in both wars, and the Christian faith supported many of those who fought and died to secure liberty for America and other allied nations.

Gen. John Pershing

In each war, care was taken to meet the spiritual needs of American GIs on land, sea, and air. One indication of this was that Bibles were distributed to these warriors, and those Bibles often included messages from national leaders on the importance of Bible reading.

For example, some World War I Bibles included a letter from General John Pershing, military commander of American forces, telling them:

To The American Soldier:

Aroused against a nation waging war in violation of all Christian principles, our people are fighting in the cause of liberty.

Hardship will be your lot, but trust in God will give you comfort; temptation will befall you, but the teachings of our Savior will give you strength.

Let your valor as a soldier and your conduct as a man be an inspiration to your comrades and an honor to your country.[120]

Other World War I Bibles included a letter from President Woodrow Wilson, which declared:

This book speaks both the voice of God and the voice of humanity, for there is told in it the most convincing story of human experience that has ever been written, take it all in all, and those who heed that story will know that strength and happiness and success are all summed up in the exhortation, “Fear God and keep his commandments.”[121]

America’s leaders understood the importance of the Bible to those on the frontlines of preserving America’s freedom and form of government.

Sgt. Alvin York

Alvin York (1887-1964) was the most decorated American soldier of World War I. He was raised in a Christian home in eastern Tennessee but lived as “a real hellraiser”[122] until he was converted to Christ (due, in part, to years of prayer by his mother). He then devoted himself to pursuing God, studying the Bible, and fulfilling his family responsibilities. He also helped start a new church in his community, serving as an elder, Sunday school teacher, and song leader.

Sgt. Alvin York

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, York was one of many who was drafted to fight. However, as a new Christian, he believed that he should be a peacemaker and that killing of any kind and for any reason was always wrong (he did not yet know the Bible’s teachings on just war, self-defense, military service, and so forth). He therefore registered as a conscientious objector, seeking to avoid personally fighting. But the military denied his exemption because his church had no written doctrine on that issue. He was therefore enlisted as a fighting soldier.

Before being deployed to Europe, he discussed with his commander the issue of whether Christians should use force. His commander reasoned with him from the Bible, sharing some Bible verses to think about, and then gave York time to travel home and resolve the conflict in his mind. When York returned to camp, it was with the new revelation that, “If a man can make peace by fighting, he is a peacemaker.”[123] When asked by his commanding officer if he still had any objections to fighting he replied, “No, sir, I do not.”[124]

One of the many war bond posters with a religious theme.

During the battle of the Argonne Forest in France on October 8, 1917, Corporal York’s company came under intense fire, and all but eight of his group were shot. With the higher ranking officers out of commission, York took command, and through his leadership, his small band of soldiers captured 132 German soldiers and officers (all behind enemy lines), with York personally killing 25 others and putting 35 machine guns out of commission.[125] The small group of Americans marched their large group of German captives from behind German lines to an American encampment, where they turned their prisoners over for military confinement.

Of that memorable day, York wrote in his diary, “So you can see here in this case of mine where God helped me out. I had been living for God and working in the church some time before I came to the army. So I am a witness to the fact that God did help me out of that hard battle, for the bushes were shot up all around me and I never got a scratch.”[126]

On November 11, 1917, the peace treaty ending the Great War (World War I) was signed. Sergeant York headed home to a hero’s welcome, and he received the Medal of Honor from President Woodrow Wilson.

Everyone in the country knew of York’s amazing feat and wanted to see him and hear him speak. Flooded with invitations, at first he was very reluctant to respond, but then he realized he could use these various opportunities to help provide education for poor children from the backwoods rural area from which he had come. He therefore agreed to those invitations, explaining:

Educating the boys and girls of the mountain districts and telling the Gospel of Jesus Christ are far more important to me than reciting my experiences in France….When I die, I had rather it be said about me that I gave my life toward aiding my fellow man than for it to be said that I became a millionaire through capitalizing on my fame as a fighter. I do not care to be remembered as a warrior but as one who helped others to Christ.”[127]

York went on to start various schools and institutes, including in 1939 the Alvin C. York Bible School in order to“give instruction in the Holy Bible and to teach the fundamental Christian religion as contained therein [that would] prepare its pupils and students to live and practice a full Christian life.”[128]

World War II
This poster, produced by the US government to help sell war bonds during WWII, reveals the Nazi’s opposition to, and America’s strong support for Biblical faith.

The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, precipitated America’s entry into World War II. The conflict truly was a global war, and from the American perspective it was fought on two fronts: the European, against Germany and her allies; and the Pacific, against the Japanese.

Fighting to preserve the principles of the Christian faith was a central motivation behind America’s entry into the conflict. As President Franklin Roosevelt affirmed in his State of the Union address on January 6, 1942 (only a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor):

The world is too small…for both Hitler and God.…The Nazis have now announced their plan for enforcing their new German pagan religion all over the world—a plan by which the Holy Bible and the Cross of Mercy would be displaced by Mein Kampf and the swastika and the naked sword.[129]

A government poster was issued reflecting the elements of Roosevelt’s speech (pictured at right), affirming America’s devotion to the Bible and the Nazis’ desire to eliminate it. Significantly, many of the official posters used to raise money for the War had similarly strong religious themes.

During the war, many of the troops were sustained by their Christian faith; others were converted to Christ, including even some Americans being held in enemy prison camps. In fact, two of the captured Doolittle Raiders, Bob Hite and Jacob DeShazer, became Christians in a Japanese prison after obtaining and reading a Bible. (In April 1942, Col. Jimmy Doolittle led sixteen planes and eighty men in a surprise bombing raid on Japan in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Several of those Americans were captured or killed.) Hite and DeShazer both testified that their miraculous transformation to becoming a Christian is what kept them alive during their intense suffering and brutal treatment at the hands of the Japanese.[130]

Mitsuo Fuchida and Jake DeShazer

After the war, DeShazer forgave those who had so abused him, and he and his wife even became missionaries to Japan, serving there for thirty years. Through their ministry, many Japanese became Christians, including two of the prison guards who had tortured him. Perhaps his most visible convert was Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese officer and pilot who led the air attack on Pearl Harbor that began World War II for the Americans. Significantly, DeShazer and Fuchida worked together to start many new churches and help rebuild the nation of Japan.

When Japan finally surrendered, General Douglas MacArthur was placed in charge of occupation, tasked with transforming Japan from a tyrannical nation to a civilized one. (As a reflection of the Japanese barbarity at the time, they had killed over 10 million Chinese and slaughtered countless more from other Pacific nations). MacArthur believed that the introduction of Christianity into Japan was a crucial step for rebuilding that nation, so he called for Christian missionaries and Bibles to be sent. Bibles poured into the country, 5,000 missionaries arrived, and the Bible became a best-seller in Japan.[131]

MacArthur brought transformational reforms in military, political, economic, and social areas. Not only were Japanese war crimes and war criminals punished (as had been done in Germany in the Nuremburg trials), but military Shintoism was abolished, the power of the elite class was broken, and control over the military, politics, land, and business was decentralized. Under American leadership, the people were lifted up, women were elevated, the economy was rebuilt, and the country became democratic. The transformation was so complete that by 1952, Japan was openly accepted back into the world community of nations.

Significantly, MacArthur saw the positive changes in Japan as being a direct result of the positive influences of Christianity. In fact, he openly affirmed:

[N]o phase of the occupation….has left me with a greater sense of personal satisfaction than my spiritual stewardship.[132]

The national motto, “In God We Trust,” above the Speaker’s Rostrum in the US House Chamber.
“In God We Trust”

From the nation’s beginning, the nation’s central theme (and its unofficial motto) had been “In God We Trust.” Variants of that phrase appeared on flags during the American War for Independence[133] as well as in the correspondence of that era.[134] It was part of the state mottos,[135] and the phrase also appeared in the National Anthem,[136] penned in 1814. It was then imprinted on specific coins during the Civil War,[137] and in 1955, “In God We Trust” was added to all of our coins and currency.[138] In 1956, that phrase became the nation’s official national motto when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into federal law.[139] Consistent with the spirit of that motto, official government publications often openly invoked God and Biblical principles.

One such example is the pamphlet “Forest and Flame in the Bible” (pictured below), produced in 1961 by the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service as part of a nationwide conservation movement. The Foreword stated:

There are many passages in the Bible that tell how our forests serve us and how we should protect them….The Bible urges us to the protection and wise use of our forests, range, and woodlands….As the Bible foretells, destruction of our natural resources will bring us punishment in the form of loss and misery….In this booklet we selected Biblical passages of great wisdom and beauty. [140]

Some of those verses can be seen in the pages below.


There is so much more that could be shown, but what has been presented in these five lessons clearly demonstrates that throughout America’s four centuries of existence, Christianity and the Bible have exerted a significant positive influence on America’s institutions and culture.The Christian faith was a key force in the birth, growth, and development of the United States, and was also the source of the ideas and principles that produced American Exceptionalism. In the words of the Rev. Jedidiah Morse (1761-1826), an early American educator who wrote one of the first histories of the American War for Independence:

To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy.[141]

Across the generations, Americans have understood that a rejection of these principles would lead to the nation’s downfall. As early statesman Daniel Webster warned:

If we and our posterity shall be true to the Christian religion—if we and they shall live always in the fear of God and shall respect His Commandments—we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country.…But if we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. [142]

Understanding and applying the Christian principles presented from these lessons on Christian Heritage Week is not just interesting but is also vital for the future well-being of the nation. ■


[1] “Field Listing: Land Use,” Central Intelligence Agency (at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/288.html) (accessed on May 16, 2019).

[2] “Country Comparison: Crude Oil—Proved Reserves,” Central Intelligence Agency (at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2244rank.html) (accessed on May 16, 2019).

[3] “Iron Ore,” U.S. Geological Survey, February 2019 (at: https://prd-wret.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets/palladium/production/s3fs-public/atoms/files/mcs-2019-feore.pdf).

[4] “The 16 Biggest Uranium Reserves in the World,” world atlas, November 16, 2018 (at: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-largest-uranium-reserves-in-the-world.html).

[5] Benjamin Franklin, Two Tracts: Information to Those Who Would Remove to America and Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America (London: John Stockdale, 1784), p. 24.

[6] Herbert N. Casson, Cyrus Hall McCormick: His Life and Work (Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1909), p. 40.

[7] Herbert N. Casson, Cyrus Hall McCormick: His Life and Work (Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1909), pp. 161-162.

[8] Herbert N. Casson, Cyrus Hall McCormick: His Life and Work (Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1909), p. 47.

[9] “Invention of the Telegraph,” Library of Congress  (at: https://www.loc.gov/collections/samuel-morse-papers/articles-and-essays/invention-of-the-telegraph/) (accessed on October 25, 2018).

[10] Samuel Irenaeus Prime, The Life of Samuel F.B. Morse, LL.D., Inventor of the Electro-Magnetic Recording Telegraph (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1875), p. 493.

[11] Carleton Mabee, The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel F.B. Morse (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943), p. 276.

[12] Carleton Mabee, The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel F.B. Morse (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943), p. 294.

[13] Carleton Mabee, The American Leonardo: A Life of Samuel F.B. Morse (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1943), p. 279.

[14] Samuel Morse, Samuel F.B. Morse: His Letters and Journals, Edward Lind Morse, editor (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1914), Vol. II, pp. 223-224, to Sidney Morse on May 31, 1844.

[15] Samuel Morse, Samuel F.B. Morse: His Letters and Journals, Edward Lind Morse, editor (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1914), Vol. II, p. 472, speech given in New York, December 30, 1868.

[16] Charles Lee Lewis, Matthew Fontaine Maury: The Pathfinder of the Seas (Annapolis: The United States Naval Institute, 1927), pp. 251-252.

[17] Charles Lee Lewis, Matthew Fontaine Maury: The Pathfinder of the Seas (Annapolis: The United States Naval Institute, 1927), pp. 240a-240b.

[18] A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Diana Fontaine (Maury) Corbin, editor (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1888), p. 178, “Maury’s Address at the Laying of the Corner-stone of the University of the South, on the Sewanee Mountains in East Tennessee, was delivered at the request of Bishop Otey on Nov. 30th, 1860.”

[19] A Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Diana Fontaine (Maury) Corbin, editor (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1888), p. 54, from Captain Phinny to Matthew Maury in January 1855.

[20] Rackham Holt, George Washington Carver: An American Biography (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, and Co., Inc., 1943), pp. 226-227.

[21] Rackham Holt, George Washington Carver: An American Biography (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, and Co., Inc., 1943), p. 227.

[22] Rackham Holt, George Washington Carver: An American Biography (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, and Co., Inc., 1943), p. 220.

[23] George Washington Carver, Bless Your Heart (Eden Prairie, MN: Heartland Samplers, Inc., 1990), Vol. 7, p. 12.

[24] Joseph Herbert Appel, The Business Biography of John Wanamaker, Founder and Builder (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930), p. 55, account by John Wanamaker, 1919.

[25] Joseph Herbert Appel, The Business Biography of John Wanamaker, Founder and Builder (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930), p. 208, address of William Taft at the dedicated of Wanamaker’s Philadelphia store, December 30, 1911.

[26] Joseph H. Appel, The Business Biography of John Wanamaker: Founder and Builder (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930), pp. 205-206, address of William Taft at the dedicated of Wanamaker’s Philadelphia store, December 30, 1911.

[27] Joseph Herbert Appel, The Business Biography of John Wanamaker, Founder and Builder (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930), p. 208, dedication tablet placed at Wanamaker’s Philadelphia store, December 30, 1911.

[28] Joseph Herbert Appel, The Business Biography of John Wanamaker, Founder and Builder (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1930), p. 291, John Wanamaker’s address to the press, September 28, 1921.

[29] H.R. Warfel, Noah Webster, Schoolmaster to America (New York: MacMillan Co, 1936). See also reprints of Webster’s works such as William Webster, A Sequel to Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1845), “Webster the Schoolmaster of Our Republic” from Glance at the Metropolis.

[30] Richard M. Rollins, The Long Journey of Noah Webster (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980), p. 35.

[31] Noah Webster, The American Spelling Book (Boston: 1806), p. 156, “A Moral Catechism.”

[32] Noah Webster, A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects (New York: Webster & Clark, 1843), p. 291, to David McClure on October 25, 1836.

[33] Annals of the Early Settlers Association of Cuyahoga County Ohio (Cleveland: 1895), Vol. III, No. V, p. 126.

[34] Encyclopaedia Britannica (New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 1911), Vol. XXVIII, p. 463, s.v. “Webster, Noah,”; and John S. Morgan, Noah Webster (New York: Mason/Charter, 1975), p. 183.

[35] Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), Vol. II, s.v. “man”

[36] Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), Vol. I, s.v. “heart.”

[37] Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), Vol. I, “Author’s Preface.”

[38] Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936), Vol. 19, pp. 594-597, s.v. “Webster, Noah.”

[39] William Webster, A Sequel to Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1845), “Webster the Schoolmaster of Our Republic” from Glance at the Metropolis.

[40] William Webster, A Sequel to Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1845), inside front cover.

[41] See, for example, Benjamin Franklin Crawford, William Holmes McGuffey: The Schoolmaster to Our Nation (Delaware, OH: Carnegie Church Press, 1963); etc.

[42] “McGuffey, William Holmes,” The Columbia Encyclopedia (at: https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/social-sciences-and-law/education-biographies/william-holmes-mcguffey); William H. McGuffey, The First Reader For Young Children (Cincinnati: Truman and Smith, 1983 reprint of original published in 1836), Introduction.

[43] “William Holmes McGuffey and his Readers,” Museum Gazette (National Park Service, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial: January 1993) (at: https://www.nps.gov/jeff/learn/historyculture/upload/mcguffey.pdf).

[44] William McGuffey, The Eclectic Fourth Reader (Cincinnati: Truman and Smith, 1838), p. vii, “Preface.”

[45] John H. Westerhoff, McGuffey and His Readers: Piety, Morality, and Education in Nineteenth-Century America (Michigan: Mott Media, 1982), p. 76.

[46] Joe B. Frantz, Gail Borden, Dairyman to a Nation (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951), pp. 164-166. See also Minutes of the Texas State Teachers Association. Eleventh Annual Session (Austin: State Printing Office, 1890), p. 44, address by Dr. Burleson on June 26, 1890.

[47] Joseph Banvard, Daniel Webster, His Life and Public Services (Boston: D. Lothrop and Company, 1875), pp. 132-133.

[48] Charles Lanman, The Private Life of Daniel Webster (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1852), pp. 100, 103.

[49] Charles Lanman, The Private Life of Daniel Webster (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1852), p. 100.

[50] Joseph Banyard, Daniel Webster, His Life and Public Services (Chicago: Werner Company, 1875), pp. 30-31.

[51] Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 43 U. S. 126 (1844).

[52] Daniel Webster, A Discourse Delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1820. In Commemoration of the First Settlement of New-England (Boston: Wells and Lilly, 1821), p. 90.

[53] James S. Brisbin, The Early Life and Public Career of James A. Garfield (Philadelphia: Hubbard Bros., 1880), pp. 66-67.

[54] See, for example, a handwritten letter from James Garfield dated February 16, 1858 from WallBuilders’ collection (online at: https://wallbuilders.com/james-garfield-letter/).

[55] F.H. Mason, The Life and Public Services of James A. Garfield: Twentieth President of the United States (London: Trubner & Co., 1881), pp. 33-34.

[56] The Atlantic Monthly: A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics (Boston: H.O. Houghton and Company, 1877), Vol. XL, pp. 63-64, James Garfield, “A Century of Congress,” July 1877.

[57] Elliot G. Storke and L.P. Brockett, A Complete History of the Great American Rebellion, Embracing Its Causes, Events, and Consequences (Auburn, NY: The Auburn Publishing Company, 1885), Vol. I, p. 667.

[58] Kevin Phillips, The American Presidents: William McKinley, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., editor (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2003), p. 16.

[59] Kevin Phillips, The American Presidents: William McKinley, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., editor (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2003), p. 16.

[60] William McKinley, Speeches and Addresses of William McKinley, From March 1, 1897, to May 30, 1900, (New York: Doubleday & McClure Co., 1900), p. 2, “Inaugural Address, Delivered from East Front of the Capitol, Washington, March 4, 1897.”

[61] Charles Sumner Olcott, The Life of William McKinley (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1916), Vol. 2, p. 368.

[62] Lewis L. Gould, The Presidency of William McKinley (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1980), p. 242.

[63] John W. Tyler, The Life of William McKinley: Soldier, Statesman and President (Philadelphia: P.W. Ziegler & Co., 1901), p. 351, eulogy by Bishop Edward G. Andrews.

[64] Col. G.W. Townsend, Memorial Life of William McKinley, Our Martyred President (D.Z. Howell, 1902), p. 406.

[65] John W. Tyler, The Life of William McKinley: Soldier, Statesman and President (Philadelphia: P.W. Ziegler & Co., 1901), pp. 250-251, 266.

[66] See, for example, these proclamations from WallBuilders’ Collection. Christopher Gore (Governor of Massachusetts), “A Proclamation for a Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer,” printed in the Columbia Centinel (March 7, 1810), issued February 27, 1810, to be observed on April 5, 1810, “that He would advance all means used for propagating true Religion, and promote the pious purposes of those who endeavor to disseminate a Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures—that all may learn his Will and obey His Commandments”; Caleb Strong (Governor of Massachusetts), “A Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving,” printed in the Columbian Centinel (October 4, 1800), issued September 26, 1800 for November 27, 1800, “To promote a spirit of industry, sobriety, and frugality, and the belief and practice of true religion, that we may have the blessedness of the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance”; and numerous others praying for a return to the practice of “true religion.”

[67] J. Gilchrist Lawson, Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians, Gleaned from Their Biographies, Autobiographies, and Writings (Anderson, IN: The Warner Press, 1911), p. 243: “It is estimated that during the year 1857-58 over a hundred thousand persons were led to Christ as the direct or indirect result of Finney’s labors, while five hundred thousand persons professed conversion to Christ in the great revival which began in his meetings.”

[68] Charles Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York: Leavitt, Lord, and Co., 1835).

[69] Richard Ellsworth Day, Man of Like Passions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1942), pp. 35-37.

[70] Address of the Bible Society Established at Philadelphia to the Public: to which is Subjoined the Constitution of said Society and the Names of the Managers (Philadelphia: Fry and Kammerer, 1809).

[71] The Eighth Report of the Bible Society of Philadelphia; Read Before the Society, May 1, 1816 (Philadelphia: Printed by Order of the Society; Will Fry, 1816), pp. 44-52.

[72] Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936), Vol. 11, s.v. “Lee, Jason.”

[73] Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936), Vol. 20, s.v., “Whitman, Marcus.”

[74] Dictionary of American Biography (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936), Vol. 20, s.v., “Whitman, Marcus”; and “Marcus Whitman, Narcissa Whitman,” PBS, 2011 (at: http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/s_z/whitman.htm).

[75] William A. Mowry, Marcus Whitman and the Early Days of Oregon (New York: Silver, Burdett, and Company, 1901), p. 72, quoted from the Chicago Advance, December 1, 1872.

[76] The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, “The Abolition of the Slave Trade: Introduction,” The New York Public Library (at: http://abolition.nypl.org/essays/us_slave_trade/) (accessed on May 22, 2019).

[77] Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, D. C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. I, p. 34, from Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence.

[78] Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, editor (London: Colburn and Bentley, 1829), Vol. I, p. 16, from his Autobiography.

[79] Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan, Whittemore, and Mason, 1839), Vol. VIII, p. 42, to the Rev. Dean Woodward on April 10, 1773.

[80] Constitution of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Relief of Free Negroes, Unlawfully Held in Bondage. Begun in the Year 1774, and Enlarged on the 23rd of April, 1787 (Philadelphia: Joseph James, 1787), p. 8.

[81] “Race and Antebellum New York City: The New York Manumission Society,” New York Historical Society (at: https://www.nyhistory.org/web/africanfreeschool/history/manumission-society.html) (accessed on October 29, 2018); and The Works of Samuel Hopkins (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1854), Vol. II, p. 548, Advertisement page for “A Dialogue Concerning the Slavery of the Africans.”

[82] Theodore Sedgwick, Jr., A Memoir of the Life of William Livingston (New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833), p. 400, to the New York Manumission Society on June 26, 1786.

[83] A Constitution or Frame of Government Agreed Upon by the Delegates of the People of the State of Massachusetts-Bay (Boston: Benjamin Edes and Sons, 1780), p. 7, Article I, “Declaration of Rights”; and An Abridgement of the Laws of Pennsylvania, Collinson Read, editor, (Philadelphia: 1801), pp. 264-266, Act of March 1, 1780.

[84] The Public Statue Laws of the State of Connecticut (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1808), Book I, pp. 623-625, Act passed in October 1777; and Rhode Island Session Laws (Providence: Wheeler, 1784), pp. 7-8, Act of February 27, 1784.

[85] The Constitutions of the Sixteen States (Boston: Manning and Loring, 1797), p. 249, Vermont, 1786, Article I, “Declaration of Rights.”

[86] The Constitutions of the Sixteen States (Boston: Manning and Loring, 1797), p. 50, New Hampshire, 1792, Article I, “Bill of Rights.”

[87] Laws of the State of New York, Passed at the Twenty-Second Session, Second Meeting of the Legislature (Albany: Loring Andrew, 1798), pp. 721-723, Act passed on March 29, 1799.

[88] Laws of the State of New Jersey Compiled and Published Under the Authority of the Legislature, Joseph Bloomfield, editor (Trenton: James J. Wilson, 1811), pp. 103-105, Act passed February 15, 1804.

[89] See, for example, Conor Cruise O’Brien, “Thomas Jefferson: Radical and Racist,” The Atlantic, October 1996 (at: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1996/10/thomas-jefferson-radical-and-racist/376685/); Stephen E. Ambrose, “Founding Fathers and Slaveholders,” Smithsonian, November 2002 (at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/founding-fathers-and-slaveholders-72262393/); Charles W. Cooke, “No, Bernie, America Was Not Actually Founded ‘on Racist Principles’,” National Review, September 15, 2015 (at: https://www.nationalreview.com/2015/09/bernie-sanders-american-founding-principles-racist/); Bob Eschliman, “Hillary Clinton: The Founding Fathers Were Racist Misogynists,”Charisma News, November 7, 2016 (at: https://www.charismanews.com/politics/elections/61112-hillary-clinton-the-founding-fathers-were-racist-misogynists); and many others.

[90] “One-child policy: Chinese Government Program,” Encyclopedia Britannica (at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/one-child-policy) (accessed on May 22, 2019).

[91] Andrew Levy, The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter the Founding Father Who Freed His Slaves (New York: Random House, 2005), 169. See also “Robert Carter III,” Nomini Hall (at: http://nominihallslavelegacy.com/history-of-the-carter-family/robert-carter-iii/) (accessed on May 22, 2019); and “Robert Carter (1728-1804),” Encyclopedia Virginia, 2010 (at: http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Carter_Robert_1728-1804).

[92] See, for example, Edward Coles who was a Virginia planter and private secretary to James Madison. In 1819 Coles moved to Illinois and emancipated his slaves. (See Edward Coles, Governor Edward Coles, Clarence Walworth Alvord, editor (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1920), p. 28; W. T. Norton, Edward Coles, Second Governor of Illinois (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1911), pp. 12, 24.)

[93] Mary V. Thompson, “The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret,” George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 1999 (at: https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/slavery/the-only-unavoidable-subject-of-regret/).

[94] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1938), Vol. 28, p. 408, to Robert Morris on April 12, 1786.

[95] Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America Begun and Held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the Fourth of March, in the Year 1789 (Harford: Hudson & Goodwin, 1791), pp. 178-179, May 26, 1790.

[96] The Public States at Large of the United States of America, Richard Peters, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1845), Vol. I, pp. 347-349, “An Act to Prohibit the Carrying on the Slave Trade from the United States to any Foreign Place or Country,” March 22, 1794.

[97] Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time: Jefferson the Virginian (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1948), Vol. One, p. 440.

[98] The Public States at Large of the United States of America, Richard Peters, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1850), Vol. II, pp. 426-430, “An Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves into any Port or Place Within the Jurisdiction of the United States, From and After the First Day of January, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight,” March 2, 1807.

[99] See, for example, Willard Carey MacNaul, The Jefferson-Lemen Compact (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1915), p. 10, Lemen’s records on December 11, 1782 and May, 1784, show Jefferson’s encouragement to Lemen to go to Illinois for anti-slavery purposes, and Lemen’s decision to go.

[100] Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, H. A. Washington, editor (New York: Riker, Thorne, & Co., 1855), Vol. VI, p. 378, to Thomas Cooper on September 10, 1814.

[101] Benjamin Rush, Minutes of the Proceedings of a Convention of Delegates from the Abolition Societies Established in Different Parts of the Unites States Assembled at Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Zachariah Poulson, 1794), p. 24.

[102] For representative examples see Patrick Rael, “Racist Principles: Slavery and the Constitution”, We’re History, September 21, 2015 (at: http://werehistory.org/racist-principles/); and Jude Sheerin, BBC News, Washington. August 18, 2017 (at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40978515); and others.

[103] For representative examples see Noah Feldman, “James Madison’s Lessons in Racism,” The New York Times, October 28, 2017 (at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/28/opinion/sunday/james-madison-racism.html); and Andrew Joyce, “The secret racist history of the Electoral College,” Splinter News, November 10, 2016 (at: https://splinternews.com/the-secret-racist-history-of-the-electoral-college-1793863667); and others.

[104] Dictionary of American Negro Biography, s.v. “Douglass, Frederick;” Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855), p. 353.

[105] Dictionary of American Negro Biography, s.v. “Douglass, Frederick;” Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855), p. 395.

[106] Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855), p. 396.

[107] Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855), pp. 395-396.

[108] Frederick Douglass, Oration Delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester (Rochester: Lee, Mann & Co., 1852), pp. 36-37.

[109] J. P. Dunn, Jr., American Commonwealths: Indiana A Redemption from Slavery (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1888), p. 190.

[110] Daniel Dorchester, Christianity in the United States (New York: Hunt & Eaton, 1895), p. 457.

[111] American Anti-Slavery Society, The Declaration of Sentiments and Constitution of the American Anti-Slavery Society: Together with All Those Parts of the Constitution of the United States which are Supposed to Have Any Relation to Slavery (New York, American Anti-Slavery Society, 1835), p. 6, “Declaration of the Anti-Slavery Convention, Assembled at Philadelphia,” December 4, 1833.

[112] Levi Coffin, The Reminiscences of Levi Coffin—The Reputed President of the Underground Railroad (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1880), p. 108.

[113] Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Ohio…an Encyclopedia of the State: History Both General and Local, Geography with Descriptions of Its Counties, Cities and Villages, Its Agricultural, Manufacturing, Mining and Business Development, Sketches of Eminent and Interesting Characters, Etc., with Notes of a Tour Over it in 1886. Illustrated by about 700 Engravings. Contrasting the Ohio of 1816 with 1886-90 (Cincinnati: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., 1907) Vol. 2, p. 128.

[114] John Wesley Hill, Abraham Lincoln Man of God (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1922), pp. 50-53, 85, passim.

[115] B.F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), pp. 683-777.

[116] Charles Sumner, Speech of Hon. Charles Sumner on the Night of the Passage the Kansas and Nebraska Bill (Washington, D.C., Buell & Blanchard, 1854), p. 4.

[117] Michael W. Cluskey, The Political Text-Book, or Encyclopedia: Containing Everything Necessary for the Reference of the Politicians and Statesmen of the United States (Washington: Cornelius Wendell, 1857), p. 373; The Congressional Globe: Containing the Debates, Proceedings, and Laws of the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: John C. Rives, 1854), Vol. XXVIII, p. 617, Senator Everett’s presentation of a memorial by “three thousand and fifty clergymen of all denominations and sects in the different states of New England,” March 14, 1854.

[118] Charles Sumner, Speech of Hon. Charles Sumner on the Night of the Passage the Kansas and Nebraska Bill (Washington, D.C., Buell & Blanchard, 1854), p. 5.

[119] Henry J. Raymond, The Life and Public Services of Abraham Lincoln  (New York: Derby and Miller, 1865), p. 671, Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.

[120] The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (New York: American Bible Society, 1917), note on inner cover by General John J. Pershing.

[121] The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (New York: American Bible Society, 1917), note on inner cover by Woodrow Wilson.

[122] John Perry, Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997), p. 35.

[123] John Perry, Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997), p. 32.

[124] John Perry, Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997), p. 32.

[125] “Conscience Plus Red Hair Are Bad For Germans,” from The Literary Digest, June 14, 1919 (at: http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/text/ww1/sgtyork.html).

[126] John Perry, Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy  (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997), p. 15.

[127] John Perry, Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997), p. 169.

[128] John Perry, Sgt. York: His Life, Legend & Legacy (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1997), p. 230.

[129] Franklin Roosevelt, “State of the Union Address,” The American Presidency Project, January 6, 1942 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/state-the-union-address-1).

[130] Craig Nelson, The First Heroes, the Extraordinary Story of the Doolittle Raid—America’s First World War II Victory (Penguin Book, 2003), pp. 303-305, 342, 347 ff

[131] “Is it a Scandal that Gen. MacArthur Thought Christianity Would Help Japan?” BeliefNet (at: https://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/on_the_front_lines_of_the_culture_wars/2011/06/scandal-general-douglas-macarthur-thought-christianity-would-help-japan.html) (accessed on May 24, 2019).

[132] General MacArthur. Speeches and Reports: 1908-1964, Edward T. Imparato, editor (Turner Publishing Company, 2000), p. 222, address given in California on January 26, 1955.

[133] Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, 1776 (Watertown, MA: 1776; reprinted Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1984), Vol. 51, Part III, pp. 196-197, April 29, 1776.

[134] See, for example, Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906), Vol. II, p. 393, the Committee of Correspondence of Boston to the Committee of Correspondence of Cambridge, December 29, 1772.

[135] “Florida State Motto,” Florida Department of State (at: https://dos.myflorida.com/florida-facts/florida-state-symbols/state-motto/) (accessed on May 24, 2019). See also “Arizona Facts,” Officer of the Governor (at: https://azgovernor.gov/governor/arizona-facts) (accessed on November 6, 2018); “Ohio’s State Motto,” Ohio History Central (at: http://ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Ohio’s_State_Motto?rec=1885) (accessed on November 6, 2018); “South Dakota State Motto,” StateSymbolsUSA (at: https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol-official-item/south-dakota/state-motto/under-god-people-rule) (accessed on November 6, 2018).

[136] The Analectic Magazine (Philadelphia: Moses Thomas, 1814), Vol. IV, p. 434, “Defence of Fort McHenry.”

[137] The Statutes at Large and Proclamations of the United States of America, George P. Sanger, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1866), Vol. XIII, pp. 54-55, “An Act in Amendment of an Act Entitled ‘An Act Relating to Foreign Coins and the Coinage at the Mint of the United States,’ Approved February Twenty-One, Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-Seven,” April 22, 1864; Vol. XIII, pp. 517-518, “An Act to Authorize the Coinage of Three-Cent Pieces, and for Other Purposes,” March 3, 1865, Sec. 5; (1873), Vol. XVII, p. 427, “An Act Raising and Amending the Laws Relative to the Mints, Assay Offices, and Coinage of the United States,” February 12, 1873, Sec. 18; see current 31 USC §5112(d)(1)(2000) (at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/31/5112).

[138] Law passed on July 11, 1955; 31 U.S.C. §5114(b) (at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/pdf/uscode31/lii_usc_TI_31_CH_51_SC_II_SE_5114.pdf).

[139] Law passed on July 30, 1956; 36 U.S.C. §302 (at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/36/302).

[140] Forest and Flame in the Bible (Washington DC: US Departure of Agriculture, 1964), p. 3.

[141] Jedidiah Morse, A Sermon Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America, Delivered at Charlestown, April 25, 1799 (Charlestown: Hudson and Goodwin, 1799), p. 9.

[142] Daniel Webster, An Address Delivered before the New York Historical Society, February 23, 1852 (New York, Press of the Historical Society, 1852), p. 47.

Modern Thanksgiving Celebrations

The Pilgrims inaugural Thanksgiving in 1621 was followed by sporadic national Thanksgiving celebrations but more common celebrations at the state level. The switch to a standard Thanksgiving holiday at the federal level came about in the 1800s.

Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation

Much of the credit for this adoption may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book (a popular magazine containing poetry, art work, and articles by America’s leading authors). She persistently campaigned for an established national Thanksgiving, such as in this 1852 editorial:

The American people have two peculiar festivals, each connected with their history, and therefore of great importance in giving power and distinctness to their nationality. The Fourth of July Is the exponent of independence and civil freedom. Thanksgiving Day is the national pledge of Christian faith in God, acknowledging him as the dispenser of blessings. These two festivals should be joyfully and universally observed throughout our whole country, and thus incorporated in our habits of thought as inseparable from American life.1

For two decades, Hale promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day,2 writing president after president. Abraham Lincoln eventually responded to this persistence in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of that November. The Thanksgiving proclamation issued by Lincoln at that time was remarkable not only for its strong religious content but also for its timing. It was delivered in the midst of the darkest days of the Civil War, after the Union had lost multiple battles in the first three years of that conflict. Yet, despite those dark circumstances, Lincoln called Americans to give thanks that:

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to invite and provoke the aggressions of foreign States, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict.3

In that proclamation, President Lincoln also noted that:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.4

Presidents After Lincoln

Over the seventy-five years following Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, presidents faithfully followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. The date, however, of the celebrations varied widely from proclamation to proclamation.

Among the many Thanksgiving proclamations in the WallBuilders’ collection is an 1887 handwritten one issued by President Grover Cleveland in which he once again emphasized God’s hand:

The goodness and the mercy of God, which have followed the American people during all the days of the past year claim our grateful recognition and humble acknowledgment. By His omnipotent power He has protected us from war and pestilence and from every national calamity; by His gracious favor the earth has yielded a generous return to the labor of the husbandman, and every path of honest toil has led to comfort and contentment; by His loving kindness the hearts of our people have been replenished with fraternal sentiment and patriotic endeavor, and by His Fatherly guidance we have been directed in the way of national prosperity.5

In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the precedent of celebrating Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of each November. And in 1941, Congress permanently established that day as the national Thanksgiving holiday.6

During World War II, (which would eventually claim the lives of over 400,000 Americans7), President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued a Thanksgiving proclamation for November 1944 asking Americans to be thankful . . .

For the preservation of our way of life from the threat of destruction; for the unity of spirit which has kept our Nation strong; for our abiding faith in freedom; and for the promise of an enduring peace.8

President George W. Bush summarized this history of Thanksgiving proclamations and celebrations in his 2007 Thanksgiving proclamation:

Our country was founded by men and women who realized their dependence on God and were humbled by His providence and grace. The early explorers and settlers who arrived in this land gave thanks for God’s protection and for the extraordinary natural abundance they found. Since the first National Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by President George Washington, Americans have come together to offer thanks for our many blessings.9

As Americans continue to “Be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT), our Thanksgiving celebrations should include reflections on all the reasons to be truly thankful to God for His many blessings. Perhaps the four items George Washington mentioned in America’s original federal Thanksgiving proclamation in 178910 should be the basis for future Thanksgiving commemorations:

  1. Acknowledge the providence of Almighty God;
  2. Obey His will;
  3. Be grateful for His benefits; and
  4. Humbly implore His protection and favor.

For additional articles on Thanksgiving, see:

See previous articles in this series on Thanksgiving: “The Pilgrims Thanksgiving,” https://wallbuilders.com/resource/the-pilgrims-thanksgiving/ and “The Founders Thanksgivings,” https://wallbuilders.com/resource/the-founders-thanksgivings/.


1 “Editor’s Table,” Godey’s Lady’s Book (Philadelphia: October 1852), 388, https://www.google.com/books/edition/Godey_s_Lady_s_Book_and_Ladies_American/3Y9MAAAAMAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA388&printsec=frontcover.
2 Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, eds. James Grant Wilson & John Fiske (New York: D. Appleton & Co, 1888), III:35, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39076005094201&seq=55.
3 Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation for Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863, The Works of Abraham Lincoln, eds. John H. Clifford & Marion M. Miller (New York: University Society Inc, 1908), VI:160-161, https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Works_of_Abraham_Lincoln/v5B14zepO3MC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA160&printsec=frontcover; Abraham Lincoln, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” October 3, 1863, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/resource/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1863/.
4 Lincoln, Proclamation for Thanksgiving, October 3, 1863, Works of Lincoln, eds. Clifford & Miller (1908), VI:160-161, https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Works_of_Abraham_Lincoln/v5B14zepO3MC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA160&printsec=frontcover; Lincoln, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” October 3, 1863, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/resource/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1863/.
5 Grover Cleveland, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued October 25, 1887, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/resource/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1887/.
6 “Congress Establishes Thanksgiving,” The National Archives, accessed August 31, 2023, https://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/thanksgiving/; “Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations 1940-1949: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman,” Pilgrim Hall Museum, https://www.pilgrimhall.org/pdf/TG_Presidential_Thanksgiving_Proclamations_1940_1949.pdf, Proclamation 2571, November 11, 1942, referring to a “joint resolution of Congress approved December 26, 1941, which designates the fourth Thursday in November of each year as Thanksgiving Day.”
7 “WWII Memorial Registry,” accessed August 31, 2023, https://wwiiregistry.abmc.gov/.
8 Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued November 1, 1944, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/resource/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1944/.
9 George W. Bush, “Thanksgiving Day, 2007,” issued November 15, 2007, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071115-5.html.
10 George Washington, Proclamation for a National Thanksgiving on October 3, 1789, Writings of George Washington, ed. Jared Sparks (Boston: Russell, Odiorne and Metcalf, 1838), XII:119; George Washington, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued on October 3, 1789, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/resource/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1789/.

America’s Heroes: Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves, who lived from 1838 to 1910, is one of the most famous lawmen of the Old West. He served in a region, that at that time, was perhaps one of the most dangerous in the country, and the story of his life is filled with fascinating events and incredible moments.

Reeves was born into slavery, and like many former slaves in his day, the details of his early life are uncertain. The best accounts report that Bass was enslaved in Texas by a man named George Reeves. One day Bass and George got into a heated argument, which ultimately led to Bass knocking his master out cold. Knowing that he would likely be killed or at least brutally punished for what he had done, Bass fled across the Texas border to the wild and rugged Indian Territory, which would later become Oklahoma.

Few were inclined to pursue anyone into that Territory, not only because of the direct danger from Native Americans but also because of the countless outlaws and bandits who lived there. The Territory had little organized justice, so for years criminals from across the nation fled there to be safely beyond the reach of the law. Bass, fleeing from the injustice of slavery, did the same. He became friends with the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminole tribes. During his time there, he learned much about that wild and dangerous region, something which would be very valuable to him later.

Finish reading Bass Reeve’s biography with your purchase of “America’s Heroes: Black History Edition.”

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Proclamation – Thanksgiving – 1887, Massachusetts

Oliver Ames (1831-1895) was governor of Massachusetts from 1887-1890. This proclamation was issued on October 26, 1887 for a day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer to be held on November 24, 1887. (See also the Massachusetts 1887 Fasting Proclamation here.)

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
By His Excellency
Oliver Ames, Governor
A Proclamation of Thanksgiving and Praise

In accordance with a good and honored custom established by our fathers, which has added to the happiness of all who have dwelt within our boundaries.

I hereby appoint, with the advice and consent of the Council, Thursday, the twenty-fourth day of November next, to be a day of Public Thanksgiving and Praise to Almighty God for his rich and constant blessings to the people of our beloved Commonwealth.

Let us, on that day, assemble in our places of public worship, and meet our loved ones in the privacy of our homes, not forgetting the unfortunate, the needy, and the sorrowing, but letting our hearts go out to them with the charity of our sympathy and of our abundance.

Let us remember with gratitude that we live under political institutions which guarantee freedom of conscience to all, and which open every avenue of education and virtue to all who desire to walk therein.

Let us humbly acknowledge our dependence upon Him from whom all blessings flow, and heartily thank Him for the prosperity which prevails throughout the Commonwealth.

Given at the Council Chamber, in Boston, this twenty-sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and twelfth.

Oliver Ames,

By His Excellency, the Governor, with the Advice of the Council.
Henry Peirce, Secretary.

God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Proclamation – Thanksgiving – 1888, Massachusetts

This proclamation was issued on October 17, 1888 for a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to be held on November 29, 1888.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
By His Excellency
Oliver Ames,
A Proclamation
for a Day of Public
Thanksgiving and Praise.

In the olden time our pious ancestors, surrounded by dangers that imperiled their existence, annually devoted a day to the giving of public thanks to Almighty God that He had spared their lives and granted them so many mercies.

This custom has continued to the present time, binding the past to the present as with a golden thread. In conformity with this revered usage, and in recognition that the people of this Commonwealth have enjoyed another year of peace, prosperity, and happiness, I hereby appoint, with the advice and consent of the Council, THURSDAY, the twenty-ninth day of November next, to be the annual Thanksgiving Day,

“whom from East and from West,

From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,

When the gray-haired, New Englander sees round his board

The old broken links of affection restored.”

Putting aside on that day our usual cares and occupations, as we assemble in our cautionary places of public worship or in the privacy of our homes, let us be thankful to Almighty God for His many blessings.

And may our thankfulness be so devoid of selfishness that we remember the erring, the unfortunate, and the suffering, and from our abundance contribute to their comfort and happiness.

Given at the Council Chamber, in Boston this seventeenth day of October, in their year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and thirteenth.

Oliver Ames.

By His Excellency the Governor, with the Advice and Consent of the Council.
{Henry B. Pierce}, Secretary.

God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Proclamation – Fasting Humiliation and Prayer – 1887, Massachusetts

Oliver Ames (1831-1895) was governor of Massachusetts from 1887-1890. This proclamation was issued on March 2, 1887 for a day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer to be held on April 7, 1887. (See the 1887 Massachusetts Thanksgiving Proclamation here.)

Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

By His Excellency

Oliver Ames, Governor.

A Proclamation for a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer. 

In conformity to a good ancient custom, established by our fathers, continued without interruption to the present time, and sanctioned by law,

With the advice and consent of the Executive Council, I hereby designate Thursday, the seventh day of April next, to be observed by the people of Massachusetts as the annual Fast Day.

I earnestly invite our people, humbly recognizing our dependence on our Heavenly Father, to keep the day as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer.

Given at the Council Chamber in Boston, this second day  of March, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the  United States of America the one hundred and eleventh.

Oliver Ames.

By His Excellency the Governor, with the Advice and Consent of the Council.

Henry R. Pierce, Secretary.

God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Message of President Grant to the Children and Youth of the U.S.

During the festivities celebrating the centennial of the creation of America through the Declaration of Independence, then president Ulysses S. Grant took time to speak to the younger generations of Americans. His message centered on the vital influence and role the Bible in American and the preservation of the liberties enjoyed by here citizens.

One of the ways Grant’s message got disseminated was through cards such as the example below from the WallBuilders’ Library. The body of the card reads:

Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your heats, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look for our guide in the future. “Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.”

Listen to David Barton and Audrea Decker from the Pro-Family Legislative Network discuss this artifact:

A Preacher and the President

President James Garfield–
A Minister of God

James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States, was a Gospel minister, thus clearly contradicting today’s errant notion that religious leaders are not to be involved with civil government. Sadly, few know much about Garfield partly because of the deliberate secularization of American history but also because of his short presidency.

Garfield was born in Ohio in 1831–the last president to be born in a log cabin. He grew up working on the family farm before going to work on a canal boat at age 16. An 1881 biography recounts an occasion when he unexpectedly fell into the river:

James was awakened out of a very sound sleep…He began to uncoil a rope to steady the boat through a lock it was approaching. The rope caught somehow on the edge of the deck and resisted several pulls that he made to extricate it. At last it yielded but, in the rebound, sent him headlong over the bow into the water…Death seemed inevitable. Fortunately his hand seized the rope in the darkness…and he drew himself, hand over hand, upon deck. He saw that he had been saved as by a miracle…’What saved me that time? It must have been God. I could not have saved myself’…During the time that he was thus reflecting he was trying to throw the rope so that it would catch in the crevice. Again and again he coiled the rope and threw it; but it would neither kink nor catch…It was but a few weeks after the last immersion before James was quite severely attacked by ague, a diseases that prevailed somewhat in that region…The captain settled with James…and James started for home…As he drew near the house, he could see the light of the fire through the window…Looking in at the window, he beheld her [his mother] kneeling in the corner, with a book open in the chair before her…her eyes were turned heavenward; she was praying. He listened and he distinctly heard, “Oh, turn unto me, and have mercy upon me! Give Thy strength unto Thy servant, and save the son of Thine handmaid!’

His mother’s statement struck his heart, but it was two years later in 1850 before he became a Christian.

Throughout his life, Garfield was involved in multiple career fields. He was self-taught in law, served as a Union military general in the Civil War, and was a member of the House of Representatives (where he was a key leader in passing numerous civil rights bills to secure racial equality), and he also served as an ordained minister during the Second Great Awakening.

One of the many unique items related to James Garfield in the WallBuilders’ collection is an 1858 letter in which Garfield recited details from a series of services he preached:

We have just closed our meeting with happy results. There were 34 addition[s]. 31 by immersion…I have spoken 19 discourses in our meeting here.

President James Garfield was inaugurated president on March 4, 1881, and later that year on July 2, he was shot by an assassin. The doctors were unable to find and remove the bullet, and on September 19, 1881, he finally succumbed to the complications related to the medical treatment. (Interestingly, Alexander Graham Bell attempted unsuccessfully to find the bullet using a metal detector.)

Garfield reminded citizens of the important role they played in keeping American government healthy and strong, telling Americans:

[N]ow more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

The life of President James A. Garfield should be an inspiration to Americans today, especially to Christians and Americans of faith.

Proclamation – Fasting – 1870

William Claflin (1818-1905) was governor of Massachusetts from 1869-1872. Here is his proclamation for a statewide day of fasting and prayer for April 7, 1870. Notice the mention he makes of “The request of a few that this custom [of issuing proclamations] be discontinued…”

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

By His Excellency

William Claflin,


A Proclamation

For a day of Fasting and Prayer.

The season has returned which our pious ancestors deemed suitable to a public acknowledgment of dependence upon the goodness of God.

The request of a few, that this custom be discontinued, manifestly does not express the feeling of any considerable number of the people of the Commonwealth.

And it is certainly desirable that among us there be no diminution of the religious sentiment which originated the usage.

If the observance of the day has degenerated from its original idea, we should use it as described by the prophet in Holy Writ, proclaiming “an acceptable fast to  the Lord.”

It is not to “bow the head as a bulrush,” but to “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free.”

“Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

It is therefore recommended that Thursday, the Seventh day of April Next, be devoted to Fasting and Prayer, and to the exercise of those benevolent purposes which denote sincere humility of heart toward God and the recognition of our obligations to our fellow-men.

As we engage in public, worship, let us pray Him who rules the destinies of Nations, that He may preserve us from the dreaded pestilence, that He may give us freedom from wars and tumults, that He may bestow plentiful harvests, and secure to each a just recompense for his labors; and that we may be blessed with good order and good government, which are so essential to the prosperity of the States and Nations. Let us remember in our prayers the bereaved and sorrowing and ask for them the consolations which are granted to those who look with faith to the great source of all comfort. And let us ask of God the strength and wisdom necessary to develop in us those principles of piety, charity, and good will, which are man’s distinguishing attributes; and to add to His other blessings the full forgiveness of sin through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Given at the Council Chamber, in Boston, this third day of March, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and seventy, and of the Independence of the United states of America the ninety-fourth.

William Claflin

By His Excellency the Governor,

By and With the Advice and consent of the Council.

Oliver Warner, Secretary.

God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Benjamin Harrison 1894 Letter to His Son

Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) was a lawyer, a Civil War brigadier general, and eventually the twenty-third president of the United States from 1889-1893. In this letter to his son, Russell Benjamin Harrison, on July 12, 1894, he admonishes the younger Harrison to remain steadfast in the faith. The former president explains to his son, “It’s well to be diligent in your business, and you know how anxious I am that you should succeed – but my dear boy there are things of vastly greater importance. You ought to give more thought to your religious life and duties.” Such a candid and clear call to a higher life came due to a recent incident in which Russell Harrison had cursed in front of his father. President Harrison continues, writing, “Young men are so prone to think there is no danger and to forsake the only safety – God’s grace and help.”

Benjamin Harrison’s faith, however, was not confined to personal letters to his son. While he was sitting president he routinely expressed his faith when acting in an official capacity. Harrison made it evident from the beginning that he and all Americans had God to thank for their country, declaring in his 1889 inaugural address:

No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and love, or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon, and so full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor. God has placed upon our head a diadem, and has laid at our feet power and wealth beyond definition or calculation. But we must not forget that we take these gifts upon the condition that justice and mercy shall hold the reins of power, and that the upward avenues of hope shall be free to all the people.1

Following this introductory address, President Harrison issued several proclamations calling the nation to prayer. Of these included a yearly call for Thanksgiving which continually reinforced the national reliance our country had upon God. Selections include:

A highly favored people, mindful of their dependence on the bounty of divine Providence, should seek fitting occasion to testify gratitude and ascribe praise to Him who is author of their many blessings. It behooves us then to look back with thankful hearts over the past year and thank God for his infinite mercy. – THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION 18892

I do invite the people, upon that day to cease from their labors, to meet in their accustomed houses of worship and to join in rendering gratitude and praise to our beneficent Creator for the rich blessings He has granted to us as a nation, and in invoking the continuance of His protection and grace for the future. – THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION 18903

To God, the Beneficent and the All Wise, who makes the labors of men to be fruitful, redeems their losses by His grace, and the measure of whose giving is as much beyond the thoughts of men as it is beyond his desserts, the praise and gratitude of the people of this favored nation are justly due. – THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION 18914

He [God] has stayed the pestilence at our door; He has given us more love for the free institutions in the creation of which His directing providence was so conspicuous; He has awakened a deeper reverence for law; He has widened our philanthropy by a call to succor the distress in other lands; He has blessed our schools and is bringing forward a patriotic and God-fearing generation to execute His great and benevolent designs for our country; He has given us great increase in material wealth and a wide diffusion of contentment and comfort in the homes of our people; He has given His grace to the sorrowing. – THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION 18925

On top of these prayer proclamations, he also issued a special call to prayer on the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration. In the proclamation itself Harrison explained the purpose behind it:

In order that the joy of the occasion may be associated with a deep thankfulness in the minds of the people for all our blessings in the past, and a devout supplication to God for their gracious continuance in the future, the representatives of the religious creeds, both Christian and Hebrew, have memorialized the Government to designate an hour of prayer and thanksgiving on that day.6

Therefore, in accordance to the wishes of the Christian and Jewish representatives, Harrison recommended that at 9 o’clock in the morning:

The entire community repair to their respective places of divine worship, to implore the favor of God that the blessings of liberty, prosperity, and peace may abide with us as a people, and that His hand may lead us in the paths of righteousness and good deeds.7

Benjamin Harrison, both in his private life and while before the public eye, always remembered and strove to remind others that God was the source of safety, prosperity, and comfort.

Pictures of the Letter

Page 1
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Page 1 Close Up


My dear Son,

I hoped to out get out to see you before I went East but for several weeks I have been very busy, preparing for the argument in the street railway case, and only today finished revising my argument for the printer. I hope we will gain the case. Certainly we had a decided advantage in the argument. If we succeed in the main point, it will make all street property in the state much more valuable.

You ought once in a while to let me hear from you and from your family. I have been not a little concerned about you since my visit to Terre Haute. It’s well to be diligent in your business, and you know how anxious I am that you should succeed – but my dear boy there are things of vastly greater importance. You ought to give more thought to your religious life and duties. And it pained me very much to hear you swear when I was with you. I have known Terre Haute for many years and there are dangers to a young man there that you must avoid. If I could talk with you I would explain fully. But you will understand what I mean, and in some degree appreciate my solicitude for you. I have prayed very much for you that you might be kept from evil. Young men are so prone to think there is no danger and to forsake the only safety – God’s grace and help. I expect to go to New York tomorrow and will be a couple of weeks with Mama – “The Hawthorne, 128 West of 59th St.” is the address.

With much love,
Your father,
Benj. Harrison


1 Benjamin Harrison, Public Papers and Addresses of Benjamin Harrison (Washington: Government Printing Office), 35.

2 Harrison, Papers and Addresses, 240.

3 Harrison, Papers and Addresses, 241.

4 Harrison, Papers and Addresses, 241-242.

5 Harrison, Papers and Addresses, 242.

6 Harrison, Papers and Addresses, 243.

7 Harrison, Papers and Addresses, 243-244.