God’s People Want to Know

This 2015 survey by Dr. George Barna asked theologically conservative Christians the areas in which they felt that they needed additional teaching from the pulpit. Here are a just a few highlights:

  • Among the national sample of spiritually active Christian conservatives and moderates, only one in ten people (10%) said their church has been very involved in the election process in the last two voting cycles (2012, 2014). Four out of ten said their church was somewhat involved. The remaining one-half said their church was not involved.
  • Christian conservatives indicated they want their church to get in the game: six out of ten (58%) said they want their church to be more involved in the election process. Among the Christian conservatives, 61% want greater involvement; among the politically moderate Christians only one-quarter (23%) want heightened church engagement.
  • A majority of the survey respondents said it is “extremely important” for their pastor to preach or teach the congregation about the following issues:
      • Abortion 71%
      • Religious persecution 61%
      • Sexual identity 56%
      • Israel 54%
      • Poverty 54%
      • Cultural restoration 53%

See the complete report here.

Protecting Private Property Through the Uniform Commercial Code

Protecting Private Property Through the Uniform Commercial Code

Questions are now being raised about important laws that have been added to state codes in all 50 states over the past 25 years. These laws were deliberately designed to abrogate private property rights and could in the future be used to harm all Americans who hold investment securities, including those held in IRA and 401(k) accounts. At the state level, the concerning statutes in question are contained within the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), primarily in Article 8, which deals with securities.

WallBuilders’ Pro-Family Legislative Network (PFLN), and other organizations and leaders, urge state legislators to carefully consider this alarming infringement on private property.

This letter explains our concerns, summarizes the legal aspects of UCC Article 8, and outlines near-term options for state policymakers who want to take action to protect their constituents and their states. Read the full letter for additional information.

What can you do to help?

Share this Information: We encourage you to forward this to your friends, family and state legislators to help make them aware of this critical issue in your state’s uniform commercial code.

Stay Apprised of the Issue: If this issue is important to you, sign up for our Concerned Citizens legislative update email and we will keep you apprised of this issue.

Sign the Letter: If you represent an organization, or are an elected official who would like to sign this letter, please email us for consideration.

Contribute: If you would like to support this effort to help us brief more lawmakers across the country on this matter, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to WallBuilders Pro-Family Legislative Network Fund.

Lawsuit Challenges D.C. Transit Authority for Violating the First Amendment

In December 2023, First Liberty, ACLU, and Steptoe filed a lawsuit on behalf of WallBuilders.

First Liberty Press Release

Lawsuit Challenges D.C. Transit Authorit – First Liberty

First Liberty Article

https://firstliberty.org/news/ads-about-americas-religious-history-not-allowed/ 

WallBuilders Rejected Ads




WallBuilders Article

These ads would have linked to a collection of quotes by numerous Founding Fathers via our article “The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible”: https://wallbuilders.com/resource/the-founding-fathers-on-jesus-christianity-and-the-bible/

Additional Information & Questions

We have asked our attorneys to handle all media inquiries. Please contact Jeremy Dys at 304-881-5196 or [email protected]. Thank you.

David Barton: A Dominionist and Reconstructionist?

Over the past several decades, numbers of my detractors have resorted to making extremist claims about me intended to create distrust or even fear in the minds of those who might hear me. By so doing, they hope potential listeners or readers will reject my message out of hand before even considering the evidence. One common ridiculous claim is that I am a Dominionist (someone who wants to reinstitute Old Testament law and establish a theocracy).

As a result, over the years, I have received questions like this one:

Does David adhere to or teach Dominion Theology or “Kingdom Now” theology? That is in part, that the Church of Jesus Christ will bring in God’s reign of righteousness rather than it happening through the physical return of Jesus Christ?

I disagree with Dominion and Kingdom Now theology and I am not a Dominionist.

Additionally, to establish a theocracy in America would require the abolition of our elective constitutional government. I have worked for decades to educate Americans about the history, excellence, and importance of the US Constitution. I am passionate about knowing and applying it and preserving its principles through the elective voting process. Since having elections precludes the possibility of a theocracy, and since I am such a strong promoter of citizen involvement in the election process, I definitely don’t seek a theocracy.

Furthermore, I am clearly on record about the definite limits of Old Testament law in modern culture. (As an example, see my commentary accompanying Exodus 20 in the very popular Founders’ Bible1.)

The evidence is abundant that their claims are wrong.

The allegations about me and Dominionism originated decades ago, almost exclusively from defamatory articles of atheist and anti-religious writers. Over subsequent years, many individuals doing casual web searches of my name found those earlier articles and innocently accepted their wild claims and then repeated or reposted them without any serious investigation of the truth. As a result, today scores of newer articles brand me as something I am not, and never have been.

Understanding the Original Claims

Examining the writings of those who originally made these errant claims two decades ago, it is clear that the issues the critics considered to be reflective of Dominionism were actually issues that were mainstream across the depth and breadth not only of the Christian community but of much of the nation. Notice the things they pointed to as evidence of Christian support for Dominionism.

According to Eric La Freniere, at the time a columnist for the Daily News Record, one of the most obvious indicators of those who seek a Theocracy is their belief that traditional marriage is to be between one man and one woman (what they often describe as following Old Testament law). He warned that to vote for any state constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage (which was extremely popular in the 2000s and the 2010s, with support up to 70% in some states2) was “to cast a vote for Dominionism….the righteous religious-political movement to reclaim America as a Christian nation.”3 If La Freniere was correct, the tens of millions of voters in the 31 states who passed a state marriage amendment4 (before the US Supreme Court redefined marriage in 20155) were all part of the Christian Dominionist movement.

Author and journalist Chip Berlet agreed, asserting that the “anti-democratic tendencies in the Christian Right6 concerning marriage amendments proved their Dominionist and Theocratic beliefs. By the way, notice his oxymoronic logic: having citizens publicly vote on marriage amendments placed on the public ballot through the elected legislative process was “anti-democratic.”

Chris Hedges in Harper’s Magazine linked such Dominionists to Adolf Hitler and fascism,7 asserting that conservative Christians were so dangerous that it was acceptable to confront and defeat them outside “the old polite rules of democracy8—that is, the normal rules of constitutional republicanism could be set aside in order to defeat Christians. So is it Christians or the Secular Left who is really anti-democratic?

The Southern Poverty Law Center similarly warned that “Dominionist” Christians “seek to impose Old Testament law on the United States,” and that this desire runs “all the way to the [George W.] Bush White House.”9 What indications did they have of this Dominionism? —what role did the George W. Bush White House have in imposing “Old Testament law on the United States”? They, too, pointed to the state marriage amendments, and the further fact that President Bush had openly endorsed a federal Marriage Amendment.10

A Michigan newspaper (Eastern Echo) likewise alerted voters that a candidate running for Governor was part of Dominionism—that he was “seek[ing] to legislate American life under an ultimate authority of a right-wing interpretation of the Bible.”11 What made him a Dominionist? He not only supported traditional marriage but even opposed embryonic stem cell research. Clearly, he was a religious extremist seeking to impose Old Testament law on Michigan.12

Political commentator and writer Kevin Phillips added that “Christian Reconstructionists” also describe the separation of church and state as a “myth.”13 During the time he made these claims, some 1,800 legal incidents related to “separation of church and state” had occurred.14 Christian attorneys argued that the proper application of the historic separation of church and state did not mean people of faith could not express their faith in public, and that they had the same right to express their beliefs that secular folks did. But for secularists, the “separation of church and state” requires full secularization; therefore, those Christians arguing for equal protection were pursuing a “myth” and attempting to establish a Theocracy. (In recent years the US Supreme Court has issued a series of landmark decisions constitutionally repudiating the extremist views of the secularists, and, according to these arguments, they, too, are apparently Dominionists.)

More Claims

Numerous books and other seemingly countless articles used similar extremist rhetoric in attacking the Christian leaders who supported what were typically mainstream public issues.15 National Jewish writer and columnist Stanley Kurtz reviewed many of those writings and sarcastically summarized the ridiculous claims about Christians he found in those attack pieces:

What is the real agenda of the religious far Right? I’ll tell you what it is. These nuts want to take over the federal government and suppress other religions through genocide and mass murder rather than through proselytizing. They want to reestablish slavery. They want to reduce women to near-slavery by making them property, first of their fathers, and then of their husbands. They want to execute anyone found guilty of pre-martial, extramaritial, or homosexual sex. They want to bring back the death penalty for witchcraft. But aren’t extremists like this far from political power? On the contrary, the political and religious movement called “Dominionism” has gained control of the Republican Party, and taken over Congress and the White House as well. Once they take over the judiciary, the conversion of America to a theocracy will be sealed. The Dominionists are very close to achieving their goal. Once they have the courts in their hands, a willing Dominionist Republican-controlled Congress can simply extend the death penalty to witchcraft, adultery, homosexuality, and heresy. The courts will uphold all this once conservatives are in control, since [Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia himself appears to be a Dominionist.16

Kurtz then singled out one of the voices making these ridiculous claims, Kathryn Yurica. He noted that she and her extremist accusations were actually mainstream among a considerable number of secularist groups:

Yurica’s article [“The Despoiling of America”] is so wild-eyed and strange that it would barely be worth mentioning were Yurica not a featured speaker at a recent conference called, “Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right.” That conference . . . was supported by the National Council of Churches, People for the American Way, The Nation, The Village Voice, and United Americans for Separation of Church and State.17

The speakers at that conference identified five congressional policies they believed provided absolute proof that America was being placed under Old Testament law by Christian Dominionists. What were those five theocratic policies?

(1) Enacting tax cuts;
(2) Funding faith-based programs;
(3) Decreasing welfare spending;
(4) Giving the Federal Communication Commission additional tools to crackdown on indecency on television; and
(5) Attempts to end judicial filibusters.18

Horrors! Once Christians begin enacting tax cuts, the next thing they’ll do is stone rebellious children and publicly pillory adulterers! Yet as Kurtz noted, most of what were labeled Dominionist views were rational positions widely embraced by a majority of the population.

Interestingly, a much later 2020 study claimed that more than half of all Americans today are Dominionists who want a Christian Nation.19 Really??? At a time when public polls show church attendance,20 Bible reading,21 and Biblical worldview22 are at record lows, more than half the nation are Christian Dominionists? This claim is just as absurd today as it has been for the past several decades. (A brilliant rebuttal of that study and its ridiculous conclusion was done by Prof. Mark David Hall in his “Tilting at Windmills: The ‘Threat’ of Christian Nationalism.”23)

Perhaps Supreme Court Attorney David French, who has handled countless federal court cases in his career, best summarized the ludicrous nature of the false call of Dominionism:

If originalist legal arguments and a call to return our country to its founding constitutional ideals constitute dominionism, which social conservatives aren’t dominionist? Is free speech a dominionist concept? What about religious liberty? How about protecting life and ensuring that it cannot be taken without due process of law? We’re all dominionists now.24

In summary, holding traditionally conservative and constitutional positions is what it meant to be a Dominionist when the term became popular some 20 years ago and when it was first applied to me. Those who used the term intended that it should scare unknowing citizens away from fearsome “Dominionist” leaders such as Justice Anthony Scalia, President George Bush, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, or me, all of whom publicly supported traditional marriage, opposed abortion and embryonic stem cell research, and thought voluntary prayer was appropriate in schools. This is how I came to be labeled a “Dominionist.”

David Barton


Endnotes

1 The Founders Bible (Newbury Park, CA: Shiloh Road, 2017), Exodus 20.
2 See, for example, ballot measures passed with 70% or greater approval in 2004 for Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Oklahoma (“Ballot Measures,” 2004, CNN); in 2006 for South Carolina and Tennessee (“Ballot Measures,” 2006, CNN); and numerous other ballot measures throughout the early 2000s for states with a pass rating of over 50% but lower than 70% (“Ballot Measures, 2008, CNN; “Approved Amendments,” Wikipedia, accessed on March 14, 2022).
3 Eric La Freniers, “You Can Vote For Dominionism,” Daily News-Record, October 31, 2006.
4 See, for example, constitutional amendments passed in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin: “Approved Amendments,” Wikipedia, accessed on March 14, 2022.
5 Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. 644 (2015).
6 Chip Berlet, “The Christian Right & Theocracy,” Political Research Associates, accessed on March 14, 2022.
7 Chris Hedges, “Soldiers of Christ,” Harpers Magazine, May 5, 2005; Stanley Kurtz, “Dominionist Domination,” National Review, May 2, 2005.
8 Chris Hedges, “Soldiers of Christ,” Harpers Magazine, May 5, 2005; Stanley Kurtz, “Dominionist Domination,” National Review, May 2, 2005.
9 Mark Potok, “Democracy vs. Theocracy,” Southern Poverty Law Center, October 19, 2006.
10 George W. Bush, “Remarks on the Constitutional Amendment Protecting Marriage,” The White House, February 24, 2004.
11 Staff Edit / In Our Opinion, “Governor campaign fails to address issues,” Eastern Echo, October 30, 2006.
12 “Motors and Voters: Michigan’s Gubernatorial Race,” Wall Street Journal, 2006.
13 Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (Viking, 2006), 233.
14 See the publication Undeniable by First Liberty, available at https://firstliberty.org/undeniable/.
15 See, for example, Tony Kiddie, Republican Jesus: How the Right Had Rewritten the Gospels (University of California Press, 2021); James C. Sanford, Blueprint for Theocracy: The Christian Right’s Vision for America (Metacomet Books, 2014); Michael L. Weinstein and Davin Seay, With God On Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military (Thomas Dunne Books, 2013); Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation: A Challenge to the Faith of America (Transworld, 2011); Clyde Wilcox, Onward Christian Soldiers? The Religious Right in American Politics (New York: Routledge, 2011); Michael Lerner, The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right (Harper San Francisco, 2006); Damon Linker, The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege (Doubleday, 2009); Robin Rex Meyers, Why the Christian Right is Wrong: A Minister’s Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2006); Phillips, American Theocracy (2006); Jim Wallis, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (HarperCollins, 2006); Bill Press, How the Republicans Stole Christmas: the Republican Party’s Declared Monopoly on Religion and What Democrats Can Do to Take it Back (Crown Publishing Group, 2005); Clint Willis, Jesus is Not a Republican: the Religious Right’s War on America (De Capo Press, 2005); Philip Gold, Take Back the Right : How the Neocons and the Religious Right have Betrayed the Conservative Movement (Basic Books, 2004); Jan G. Linn, What’s Wrong with the Christian Right (Florida: Brown Walker Press, 2004); Douglas Anthony Long, Fundamentalists and Extremists (2002); Rob Boston, Close Encounters with the Religious Right: Journeys into the Twilight Zone of Religion and Politics (New York: Prometheus Books, 2000); Frederick Clarkson, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy (University of Michigan, 1997); William Curtis Martin, With God on Our Side: the Rise of the Religious Right in America (Broadway Books, 1996); Bruce Barron, Heaven on Earth? The Social & Political Agendas of Dominion Theology (Zondervan, 1992); Sara Diamond, Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right (New York: Black Rose Books, 1989); and numerous others.
16 Stanley Kurtz, “Dominionist Domination,” National Review, May 2, 2005.
17 Stanley Kurtz, “Dominionist Domination,” National Review, May 2, 2005.
18 Jon Ward, “Left aims to smite ‘theocracy’ movement,” The Washington Times, May 1, 2005.
19 Andrew Whitehead and Samuel Perry, Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), 25.
20 Jeffery M. Jones, “U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Times,” Gallup, March 29, 2021.
21 Alec Gallup & Wendy W. Simmons, “Six in Ten Americans Read Bible at Least Occasionally: Percentage of frequent readers has decreased over last decade,” Gallup, October 20, 2000.
22 George Barna, “Perceptions about Biblical Worldview and Its Application,” Center for Biblical Worldview, May 2021, 6.
23 Mark David Hall, “Tilting at Windmills: The “Threat” of Christian Nationalism,” Standing for Freedom, February 8, 2022.
24 David French, “I’m a Dominionist? I Had No Idea,” National Review, September 1, 2011.

America: God Shed His Grace on Thee Tract

This tract contains a variety of quotes that exemplify the Founders’ regard for a Biblically based system of government. See the complete text below and download it for your personal use!


America God Shed His Grace on Thee

By David Barton

America is not only one of the greatest nations in the history of the world, it has also become its longest ongoing constitutional republic. Its original government has now endured well over two centuries. However, America’s longevity is only as stable and secure as its foundation, so what is the foundation of American government?

Political scientists now know that the greatest source of political inspiration for our founding fathers was the Bible, which was cited in 34% of the quotations from the founding era (1760-1805).1

This discovery, while it might surprise many today, would have come as no surprise to the founders. It was John Adams who explained:

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were….the general principles of Christianity.2

Founding father Noah Webster echoed the same message:

The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His Apostles….This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.3

Founder after founder declared the same belief:

Whether this [new government] will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation [Proverbs 14:34]. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this, and in they sphere practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others.4 Patrick Henry

Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.5 Thomas Jefferson

Contrary to what is often asserted today, the founders never intended that God’s Word or His principles be separated from public life. They knew these principles were vital to the success of our new government. James Madison explained:

Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.6

And to the same Divine Author of every good and perfect gift [James 1:17] we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.7

Furthermore, the founders saw the Bible as inseparable from public education. Benjamin Rush, the first founder to call for free national public schools, explained:

Let the children…be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education.8

The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effectual means of extirpating [removing] Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible at schools.9

The founders even viewed the principles of the Bible as inseparable from civil law. James Wilson, a signer of the Constitution and an original Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, explained:

Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is diving….Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.10

These statements, despite the prominence of those who made them, are virtually unknown today. Instead, for the last four decades we have been taught that our founders were irreligious, desiring a complete separation between religious principles and public policy. However, the facts dispute the contention.

First, consider the actions of the founding fathers. The overwhelming majority of these men were so firmly committed to the principles of God’s Word that they went to great lengths to propagate those principles. For example, do you realize that many founders helped organize and lead several of the Christian societies which today are still spreading the gospel? Those men helped found the American Tract Society; the American Sunday School Union; over one hundred city, county, and state Bible societies, including the American Bible Society; the American Board of Foreign Missions; the Christian Constitutional Society; the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; the American Society for Educating Pious Youth for the Gospel Ministry; and many other similar groups. Are such organizations likely to be started by supposedly irreligious men who wanted God’s principles separate from society?

Second, consider their words––or their lack thereof. Today’s well-known phrase “separation of church and state” appears in no part of the Constitution. Furthermore, the discussions of the ninety founding fathers who framed the First Amendment (which the Courts now tell us means “separation of church and state”) are recorded in the Congressional Journal from June 7 to September 25, 1789. Interestingly, not once in those months of discussions did one of the founders ever mention that phrase. Doesn’t it seem logical that if they had intended today’s doctrine of “separation of church and state” that at least one of those ninety would have mentioned it? Ironically, today we no longer learn about what our founders did say in the Constitution; instead, we learn about something that they didn’t say!

The Bible reminds us that the most important part of any structure is its foundation: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). It is time to remember our foundations, and to listen again to the words of those who were instrumental in making this country one of the world’s most powerful and respected nations. As George Washington reminded us:

No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United State….We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious [favorable] smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation which disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself ordained.11

For America’s continuing survival and world leadership, we must recapture the founders’ vision of the importance of God’s Word and His gospel for this nation. America must again embrace the wisdom articulated so well by President John Adams:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion….Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.12

Download the complete tract here!


Endnotes

1 Origins of American Constitutionalism, 1987
2 Letter to Thomas Jefferson, June 28, 1813
3 History of the United States, 1832
4 From Henry’s handwritten notes on the back of his copy of the Stamp Act resolutions, made public after his death
5 Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781
6 A Memorial and Remonstrance, 1785
7 Presidential Proclamation, 1815
8 A Plan for Free Schools, 1787
9 “A Defense of the Use of the Bible in Schools,” 1791
10 “Lectures on Law, Delivered in the College of Philadelphia,” 1790-1791
11 “Inaugural Address,” April 30, 1789
12 Letter of October 13, 1789.

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/.


Endnotes

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/.

The Founders Thanksgivings

Some of America’s Founding Fathers were direct descendants of the hearty Pilgrim settlers from which the tradition of our modern Thanksgiving originates. Included in this group are John Adams, John Trumbull, and Noah Webster.1 These descendants openly maintained the faith of their forefathers and expressed continued thankfulness to God.

In fact, Noah Webster, “The Schoolmaster to America” and a descendant of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, defined Thanksgiving as:

A public celebration of Divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities or danger, or in the ordinary dispensation of His bounties. The practice of appointing an annual thanksgiving originated in New England.2

War for Independence

Following the Pilgrim’s example, Thanksgiving celebrations were common throughout New England. After the April 1775 battles of Lexington and Concord, a city in Massachusetts issued a Thanksgiving proclamation that November. It urged the people, even as war continued, to give thanks for all their blessings, including…

devoutly to offer up their unfeigned Praises to Almighty God…that the lives of our officers and soldiers have been so remarkably preserved, while our enemies have fell before them…that our unnatural enemies, instead of ravaging the country with uncontrolled sway, are confined within such narrow limits, to their own mortification and distress, environed by an American Army, brave and determined.3

Throughout the War for Independence, the Continental Congress called for official days of thanksgiving and prayer4 through eight separate Proclamations. (Congress also issued seven proclamations for times of fasting and prayer. Thus, the national governing body of which many Founders were a part, called for a total of 15 official times of prayer.5)

New Hampshire Speaker of the House John Langdon (later signer of the US Constitution and governor of New Hampshire) wrote a Thanksgiving proclamation in 1778 which is available in WallBuilders’ collection. Clearly acknowledged in this proclamation is a strong reliance on God:

The mercies which, notwithstanding our great unworthiness, we are constantly receiving at the hands of Almighty God, ought ever to remind us of our obligations to Him; and it becomes our especial duty at the close of a year, to unite together in rendering thanks to the Divine Disposer of all good for the bounties of His providence conferred on us in the course thereof.6

Early Federal Proclamations

America’s first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789, after having won independence and adopting the US Constitution. According to the Congressional Record for September 25th of that year, the first act after the framing of the Bill of Rights was that:

Mr. [Elias] Boudinot said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:

Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer. . . .

Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving on any single event not only as a laudable one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ. . . . This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion.7

That congressional resolution was delivered to President George Washington who subsequently issued the first federal Thanksgiving proclamation, declaring in part:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor. . . . Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November [1789] . . . that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.8

Following this 1789 initial proclamation, national Thanksgiving Proclamations occurred only sporadically. For example, another was issued by President Washington in 1795, John Adams issued proclamations in 1798 and 1799, and James Madison issued them in 1814 and 1815.9 Most official Thanksgiving observances during this time occurred at the state level.

Proclamation Examples

In fact, by 1815, the various state governments had issued at least 1,400 official prayer proclamations, almost half for times of thanksgiving and prayer and the other half for times of fasting and prayer.10

Below are representative examples of the scores of Thanksgiving proclamations penned by various Founding Fathers.

[Congress] recommended [a day of] . . . thanksgiving and praise [so] that . . . the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and . . . join . . . their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive [our sins] and . . . [to] enlarge [His] kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.11 Continental Congress, 1777 – written by SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION SAMUEL ADAMS AND RICHARD HENRY LEE

[I] appoint . . . a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God . . . to [ask] Him that He would . . . pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would . . . spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; . . . and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue.12 GOVERNOR THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1779

[I] appoint . . . a day of public thanksgiving and praise . . . to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us . . . [by giving to] us . . . the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation. And [to] present our supplications…that He would forgive our manifold sins and . . . cause the benign religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the inhabitants of the earth.13 GOVERNOR JOHN HANCOCK, 1790

As it hath pleased Almighty God to continue to the people of this Commonwealth great and unmerited Favors in the course of the year past; it is highly becoming, that after the example of our pious and renowned ancestors, a day should be set apart, at this season of the year, for the special purpose of rendering to the Father of all mercies the just tribute of gratitude and praise.14 GOVERNOR SAMUEL ADAMS, 1794

See additional Thanksgiving Proclamations and Sermons on our Resources page. Below are a few specific items of interest:

  • See Thanksgiving Proclamations issued by the Continental Congress in 1777,15 1781,16 1782,17 and many other historic proclamations.
  • Read the 1795 Thanksgiving Sermon by the Rev. Thomas Baldwin18 in response to George Washington’s call for a Day of Thanksgiving.

Continue reading about the history of Thanksgiving: https://wallbuilders.com/resource/modern-thanksgiving-celebrations/


Endnotes

1 (Additionally, numerous Presidents can trace their lineage to the Mayflower Pilgrims, including John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Bush, and George W. Bush. See for example “The Pilgrims of the Mayflower,” June 2015, Pilgrim Monument: Provincetown Museum, https://www.pilgrim-monument.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Pilgrims-Bio-Information-rev-6-20151.pdf; Gary Boyd Roberts, “#42 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: Yankee Ancestors, Mayflower Lines, and Royal Descents and Connections of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.,” American Ancestors, December 1, 1999.)
2 “Thanksgiving,” Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828).
3 Watertown City Council, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued November 4, 1775, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1775-massachusetts/.
4 Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, “Religion and the Congress of the Confederation,” Library of Congress, accessed August 30, 2023, https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel04.html.
5 See the Journals of the Continental Congress (1905) for June 12, 1775; March 16, 1776; December 11, 1776; November 1, 1777; March 7, 1778; November 17, 1778; March 20, 1779; October 20, 1779; March 11, 1780; October 18, 1780; March 20, 1781; October 26, 1781; March 19, 1782; October 11, 1782; October 18, 1783.
6 Meshech Ware & John Langdon, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued November 19, 1778, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1778-new-hampshire/.
7 The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), I:949-950.
8 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/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1789/.
9 See, for example, H. S. J. Sickel, Thanksgiving: Its Source, Philosophy and History With All National Proclamations (Philadelphia: International Printing Co, 1940), 154-155, “Thanksgiving Day- 1795” by George Washington; 156-157, “Thanksgiving Day – 1798” by John Adams; 158-159, “Thanksgiving Day – 1799” by John Adams; 160, “Thanksgiving Day – 1814” by James Madison; 161, “Thanksgiving Day – 1815” by James Madison; etc.
10 Deloss Love, in his work The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England, lists some 1,735 proclamations issued between 1620 and 1820, in a non-exclusive list. Of those, 284 were issued by churches and 1,451 by civil authorities. 1,028 of the civil proclamations were issued prior to July 4, 1776, and 413 from July 4, 1776 to 1820. 278 of the church proclamations were issued before July 4, 1776, and six afterwards. These, however, are only a portion of what were issued; for example, the author personally owns hundreds of additional proclamations not listed in Love’s work. While the exact number of government-issued prayer proclamations is unknown, it is certain that they certainly number in the thousands.
11 Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), IX:855, November 1, 1777.
12 Thomas Jefferson, Proclamation Appointing a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, November 11, 1779, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), 3:178.
13 John Hancock, Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving (Boston, 1790), from an original broadside in possession of the author.
14 Samuel Adams, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued October 15, 1794, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1794-massachusetts/.
15 Continental Congress, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued November 1, 1777, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1777/.
16 Thomas McKean & Continental Congress, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued October 26, 1781, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1781/.
17 John Hanson & Continental Congress, “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” issued October 11, 1782, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/proclamation-thanksgiving-day-1782/.
18 Thomas Baldwin, “Thanksgiving Sermon,” February 19, 1795, WallBuilders, https://wallbuilders.com/sermon-thanksgiving-1795-massachusetts/.

The Pilgrims Thanksgiving

The tradition of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings was introduced by European Americans and dates back well over four centuries in America.

For example, such thanksgivings occurred in:

  • 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men1
  • 1565 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists2
  • 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de Oñate and his expedition3
  • 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers4
  • 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia.5

But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims

The Pilgrims were known as Separatists.6 This set of Protestants believed they would be unable to reform the Church of England and therefore needed to separate and form their own church. (In contrast, the Puritans believed they could reform the Church of England.7 They were wrong and, following severe persecution, some 20,0008 followed the Pilgrims to America.)

They set sail in the Mayflower for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. The Pilgrims had originally obtained a land grant for Virginia9, but after a rough ocean crossing, they landed some 200 miles north of Virginia10 in what became known as Massachusetts. On November 11, 1620, they finally dropped anchor and came ashore11.

Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters. However, they were unprepared for a harsh New England winter, and nearly half of them died before spring.12 Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto13, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith.

Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to survive in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.”14

The 1621 Thanksgiving

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by their Indian neighbors,15 reaped a bountiful harvest.16 The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their generous friends.17 This was America’s first Thanksgiving Festival.

Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for these three days of feasting, play, and prayer. Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later governor of Plymouth), wrote about this time:

[O]ur harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want.18

Historian Benson Lossing later recounted:

[T]he Pilgrims at Plymouth rejoiced in an abundance of food in the autumn of 1621, the first year of their settlement. Thereby their hearts were filled with gratitude, and after the fruits of their labors had all been gathered, the governor sent out huntsmen to bring in supplies for a general and common thanksgiving. That was the first celebration of the great New England festival of Thanksgiving, now annually held in almost every State and Territory of the Union in the month of November. Great quantities of wild turkeys and deer were gathered at Plymouth, and for three days the Pilgrims indulged in rejoicing, firing of guns, and feasting – entertaining, at the same time, King Massasoit and ninety of his dusky followers, who contributed five deer to the banquets. Seven substantial houses had been built during the summer; the inhabitants were in good health; a few emigrants from England had come in a second ship, and there were happy homes in the wilderness the ensuing winter.19

After 1621

However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained:

It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing.20

The drought had been broken; the fall therefore produced an abundant harvest; there was cause for another thanksgiving. The Pilgrim practice of designating an official time of Thanksgiving spread into neighboring colonies and became an annual tradition.21 And just as those neighboring colonies followed the Pilgrims’ example of calling for days of thanksgiving, so, too, did they adopt their practice of calling for a time of prayer and fasting. The New England Colonies therefore developed a practice of calling for a day of prayer and fasting in the spring, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving in the fall.

Continue reading about the history of Thanksgiving: https://wallbuilders.com/resource/the-founders-thanksgivings/


Endnotes

1 “Lincoln and Thanksgiving,” May 12, 2021 National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/liho/learn/historyculture/lincoln-and-thanksgiving.htm.
2 “America’s Real First Thanksgiving,” The Jacksonville Historical Society, accessed August 30, 2023, https://www.jaxhistory.org/timucua_first_thanksgiving/.
3 “The First Thanksgiving?” Texas Almanac, accessed August 30, 2023, https://www.texasalmanac.com/articles/the-first-thanksgiving.
4 Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: James A. Bailey, 1895), 1:181-182; “The Reverend Robert Hunt: The First Chaplain at Jamestown,” National Park Service, accessed August 30, 2023, https://www.nps.gov/jame/learn/historyculture/the-reverend-robert-hunt-the-first-chaplain-at-jamestown.htm.
5 “Berkeley Plantation,” Berkeley Plantation, accessed August 30, 2023, http://berkeleyplantation.com/.
6 “Who Were the Pilgrims?” Plimoth Patuxet Museums, accessed August 30, 2023, https://plimoth.org/for-students/homework-help/who-were-the-pilgrims.
7 “Puritanism,” Encyclopedia Britannica, accessed August 30, 2023, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Puritanism.
8 Lynn Betlock, “New England’s Great Migration,” New England Ancestors (2003), 2:22-24, https://www.americanancestors.org/new-englands-great-migration.
9 Peggy M. Baker, “The Plymouth Colony Patent,” 2007, Pilgrim Hall Museum, https://pilgrimhall.org/pdf/The_Plymouth_Colony_Patent.pdf.
10 Christa Case, “Step aboard the Mayflower,” November 16, 2014, Christian Science Monitor, https://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1116/p18s02-hfks.html/(page)/2.
11 William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1854), 77, 80, https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Plymouth_Plantation/tYecOAN1cwwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR1&printsec=frontcover.
12 Bradford, History of Plymouth (1854), 91, https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Plymouth_Plantation/tYecOAN1cwwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR1&printsec=frontcover.
13 Bradford, History of Plymouth (1854), 93-95, https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Plymouth_Plantation/tYecOAN1cwwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR1&printsec=frontcover.
14 Bradford, History of Plymouth (1854), 95, https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Plymouth_Plantation/tYecOAN1cwwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR1&printsec=frontcover.
15 Bradford, History of Plymouth (1854), 100, https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Plymouth_Plantation/tYecOAN1cwwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR1&printsec=frontcover.
16 Bradford, History of Plymouth (1854), 105, https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Plymouth_Plantation/tYecOAN1cwwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR1&printsec=frontcover.
17 Mourt’s Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth, ed. Henry Martyn Dexter (Boston: Jim Kimball Wiggin, 1865), 133, https://archive.org/details/mourtsrelationo00dextgoog/page/n192/mode/2up; Edward Winslow to George Morton, December 21, 1621, William S. Russell, Guide to Plymouth and Recollections of the Pilgrims (Boston: George Coolidge, 1846), 95, https://archive.org/details/guidetoplymouthr00russrich/page/94/mode/2up.
18 Mourt’s Relation, ed. Dexter (1865), 132-133, https://archive.org/details/mourtsrelationo00dextgoog/page/n192/mode/2up; Edward Winslow to George Morton, December 21, 1621, Russell, Guide to Plymouth (1846), 95, https://archive.org/details/guidetoplymouthr00russrich/page/94/mode/2up.
19 Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: Johnson, Wilson & Co., 1875), 372, https://www.google.com/books/edition/Our_Country/SdkGAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA372&printsec=frontcover. For another historican’s account of the Pilgrims Thanksgiving, see: Ashbel Steele, Chief of the Pilgrims: Or the Life and Time of William Brewster (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co, 1857), 269-270, https://www.google.com/books/edition/Chief_of_the_Pilgrim_Or_Life_and_Time_of/HsE8AAAAcAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA269&printsec=frontcover.
20 Bradford, History of Plymouth (1854), 142, https://www.google.com/books/edition/History_of_Plymouth_Plantation/tYecOAN1cwwC?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PR1&printsec=frontcover.
21 DeLoss Love, Jr, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1895), 87-90, https://archive.org/details/fastthanksgiving00loverich/page/86/mode/2up.

Sermon – July 4th – 1825, Pennsylvania

James Patterson preached this sermon on July 4, 1825 in Philadelphia.


sermon-july-4th-1825-pennsylvania

A

SERMON

ON THE

EFFECTS OF THE HEVREW SLAVERY

AS CONNECTED WITH SLAVERY IN THIS COUNTRY

PREACHED IN THE 7TH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, AT AN UNITED MEETING

OF CHRISTIANS OF DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS

PERSUASIONS

TO CELEBRATE OUR NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE

JULY 4, 1825.

BY THE REV. JAMES PATTERSON,
Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in the Northern Liberties.

ADVERTISEMENT.

We have yielded to the solicitations of the friends of religion; that the sermon delivered on the 4th of July, on SLAVERY, be immediately given to the public. And though owing to feeble health, and the extreme heat of the season, it was not prepared as it ought to have been – being got up for the particular occasion – Neither now can it be revised, as we could wish, before publication – Yet if there be anything in it that will add to the great cause of CHRISTIANITY and the RIGHTS OF MAN, we cheerfully yield it – and the glory be to God.

We believe that there is an excitement among Christians throughout the world, on the awful subject of slavery, such as never was since the commencement of the Christian era. And whenever the saints shall take hold of this subject as they ought, as sure as the sun shines SLAVERY must come to an end; and all its abettors, if they persist in it, will be destroyed.

We have added some things in an appendix; exhibiting the present state of slavery – in the exertions making for an universal emancipation – and its practices among the ancient pagan nations – and something of its origin.

JAS. PATTERSON

A SERMON, &c.EXODUS IV. 22,23.

THUS SAITH THE LORD – LET MY SON GO, THAT HE MAY SERVE ME, AND IF THOU REFUSE TO LET HIM GO, BEHOLD, I WILL SLAY THE SON.

Christian Brethren,

We are assembled today to commemorate one of the most glorious events recorded in our history: and we would here take occasion to give thanks to God that American citizens begin to celebrate this day in the sanctuary, instead of the places of sinful revelry. But while offering up our prayers and thanks to our Great Deliverer for our political redemption, Fellow citizens will you suffer us to remind you of a race of beings at our own firesides, wearing a chain much more galling than that of our fathers, when with their hearts up to heaven, and their swords in their hands they resolved to die, or be free.

It has always appeared to us equally incongruous and unchristian to assemble together to hear our Declaration of Independence read, while we at that very moment are holding men in slavery – and men whose blood is the same with that in our own veins.

See two men at the same door – of the same blood – of the same Creator – one mounts his horse, rides off to celebrate his independence, pouring forth the best feelings of his heart for his liberty – the other, perhaps at that very moment a chain sinking in his flesh, goes off to his hard work of bondage, pouring forth the direst execrations of his heart against the man who constantly deprives him of his liberty.

Those scriptures connected with the text teach slave holding nations one of the most awful lessons, ever taught by the God of nations. Where see one of the greatest nations then in the world holding in cruel bondage, a people who by the Providence of God were thrown into their country. Egypt had grown wealthy – lustful, and infidel, on the sweat and blood of the Hebrews. Such is the effect on the masters. And the effect on the slaves was to make them ignorant of God so that they began to cease to answer the great end of their creation. Hence that just and righteous demand from heaven, Let them go that they may serve me.

That criminal ignorance of God was the effect of their “bondage” is abundantly taught in their future history, by their worshipping the ox or golden calf, which idolatry they had learned in Egypt it being part of the worship of the country; for almost every great city in Egypt at that time had its Apis 1 or ox as an object of religious worship.

But to a people not gearing God, this was a reason of no weight – they refused to let the people go.

Nay from first to last, whenever there was any conversation on the subject of their emancipation, or plans forming it, the Egyptians immediately increased their bondage; entering into counter-plans to crush them: “Come” say they “let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and it come to pass, that when there falleth out any war, they join our enemies, and fight against us and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them task-masters to afflict them with their burdens – and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar – in brick, and in all manner of hard service in the field. But the more they afflicted the more they grew – and this grieved the Egyptians [Exodus 1:10-12].

Then they had recourse to another stratagem; and an awful one it was. – It was this. To cut off the increase of population by destroying the male children – so brake the arm of their power and holding safe bondage forever what salves they already had. 2

This seemed to put the climax upon the oppression of the oppressor. – It was a plan for an eternal servitude. Now they seem to have lost all sight of their slaves as human beings. – But at this awful crisis the groans of the bondman penetrated the abode of Him who has commanded, “be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth.” God heard – God raised them up a deliverer. It was Moses. About this time he was born. His birth, preservation, and education was altogether of God.

And when we see him, who was to the future liberator of his countrymen, lying a helpless and hopeless infant, amid the rushes and alligators of the Nile; who will dare to say that he was not raised up as their deliverer?

And who else of all the men of the earth ever had disinterestedness enough, to refuse a crown and kingdom, and identify himself with his countrymen to die, or to be free?

For when he came to years he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter [Hebrews 11:24], refusing the crown of Egypt. 3 Quitted the place for the fields where his countrymen were in chains – and seeing one of them cruelly scourged or “smitten” by an overseer, his indignation was kindled he instantly interfered – and in the scuffle he killed the Egyptian. This coming to Pharaoh’s ears he sought to slay Moses, but he fled the country. Fain would the patriotic arm of Moses have sundered the chains of his countrymen – But Egypt’s cup was not yet full O Egypt! Unhappy Egypt! Forty years more ingredients are to be poured into the cup of thy misty! And this patriot – this man of God – though raised at the court educated for the throne, and of great power in Egypt was hunted 4 from the dominions of slavery.

Such their determination to hold their slaves. Full well they knew their slaves were their wealth. Yea, the monuments of the arts, were all extracted out of the very sweat, blood, bones, and sinews of the Hebrew slaves. – ’Tis well known that some of their finest cities 5 were built by the Israelites – to what other end could they have appropriated such an immense quantity of brick as their slaves made?

And after forty years of instruction by God, for a work so difficult and so arduous, Moses was sent back with the commission in our text.

We call it a work difficult and arduous, for scarcely ever has a long standing system of slavery been broken up without scenes of blood and carnage.

A great increase of power over others never yet has made men humane and benevolent; but generally leads to cruelty and oppression. David and Solomon both speak of this fact as notorious in the history of men – And with the exception of Washington and Bolivar perhaps there is not another instance on record, where such great power was laid down peaceably at the feet of the people. And every attempt to arrest out of the hands of men, ill-gotten and overgrown power, from whatever source it comes, even from God himself, only makes the oppression of the oppressor greater.

This is painfully verified in the present case – for when God sent back Moses to Egypt with that most reasonable command, “Let my son go, that he may serve me,” what was the effect? Who is the Lord said Pharaoh, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, neither will I let Israel go [Exodus 5:2].

Here is the core of the contest, God will rule – God must rule, and this impious oppressor would not submit to it. I know not God, says he, neither will I let the people go. Wherefore do you, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works, GET YE TO YOUR BURDENS, and the same day he commanded the task-masters saying ye shall no more give the people straw as heretofore; let them go and gather straw for themselves; and the tale (or number) of the bricks which they did make heretofore ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof [Exodus 5: 4-8] And when they could not make the same number of bricks per day, because they had to hunt the stubble throughout the country, and carry it great distance, they were unmercifully beaten.

“Let my son go that he may worship me.” Was this an unreasonable demand? The God of mercy had seen their cruel oppression. They were his creatures. – He had a right to demand their release – but did they let them go? No – and did God execute His threat? Yes; and to this very day, which is about forty hundred years, that nation has never recovered from that stroke. 6

And now what imagination can possibly describe the heart-rending effects of that stroke upon the land of Egypt, which those slave masters provoked from the Almighty. To make the scene more terrific it was at midnight. Behold says the sacred historian “it came to pass that at midnight the Lord smote all of the first born in the land of Egypt, from the first porn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the first born of cattle – and there was a great cry in Egypt – such as there was none like it; nor shall be like it any more, for there was not a house wherein there was not one dead. Thus he broke the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham.” [Exodus 12:29-30 & Psalm 78:51]

And is this the effect of slavery, upon slave-holders when persisted in against reason and revelation? Moses had reasoned with them – and of revelation they could not have been entirely ignorant. Joseph, that eminent saint, having lived so long among them – and if they had, God had revealed his own arm before their eyes in the plagues that threatened their destruction. But they would not be taught. And alas this was but the beginning of their sorrows. – The finishing stroke – the death of Egypt, was at the Red Sea –there was buried all the strength and flower of the nation – and their wealth and their wrath were together engulfed in the waves – and there tale of woe, the funeral of the nation, is talked of on those shores till this very day.

Six hundred chosen chariots and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them, and an immense cavalry, all sunk to rise no more [Exodus 14:7]. – Yes says the sacred historian, there remained not so much as one of them [Exodus 14:28].

And it would seem that to this very day she has never risen from that stroke. “About this time the Egyptian historians place an invasion of their country by swarms of Phoenician shepherds. But who these shepherds were, whether Amalekites, that fled from Chedorlamoer, or Canaanites, who fled from Joshua, or Arabs, we cannot possibly determine.” – Brown’s Dict. Bib.

Soon after that it was prophesied that the “pomp of her strength should cease in her – that she should become a base kingdom – yea the basest of the kingdoms – that she herself should go into captivity, and there should be no more a prince of the land of Egypt – and that many of her cities should suffer extremely and groan.” 7

And from within a few years after this prophecy was delivered until now. Egypt has been groaning, being governed by foreigners and tributary to other nations.

And what is she this monument but a nation groaning under most severe degradation and misery. 8

She was long the most renowned kingdom in the world; but having first, grievously oppressed the people of God – then seduced them – then deceived them – this blasting decree of heaven went forth against her, “and the pomp of her strength has ceased.” She was conquered and subdued successively by the Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Saracens, Mamelukes, and lastly the Turks, to whom she remains in the most abject servitude to this day. Thus for more than 20 centuries they have been a base and tributary kingdom; and during all those ages they have not been permitted to live under princes of their own race. On one occasion God sold all Egypt to a foreign prince for performing a piece of service to Him. 9

It would indeed be interesting to know, if the pages of history could be accurately turned over and read, whether some of the posterity of those very kings that oppressed the Hebrews, were not now living in the most debasing slavery.

Now Brethren, if there be anything in North America similar to the bondage of Egypt; ought not this country to learn a lesson from their destruction. And though that bondage may not exactly coincide with the slavery among us, yet is there not a coincidence enough to teach us to fear that this country will one day suffer if we do not repent of our cruelty in African slavery.

And I appeal to every citizen if this is not the public sentiment; both as it regards, the most Godly men among us, and the wisest statesmen, viz. that America must suffer; if something is not done and that speedily too, to release from the most cruel bondage, more than a MILLION 10 AND A HALF OF IMMORTAL BEINGS, whom she holds in chains, and that both soul and body, that they cannot serve God.

With the increasing growth of Christianity among us, it is impossible that slavery can exist. Christianity and slavery cannot be identified. For truly if we measure slavery by the enormity of its crimes and sufferings; it is the greatest practical evil that ever afflicted the human race.

Yes Says Mr. Jefferson, “The love of justice and the love of country plead equally the cause of this people, and it is a mortal reproach to us that they should have pleaded it so long in vain. The hour of emancipation, (says he,) is advancing in the march of time; it will come, whether brought on by the generous energy of our own minds, or by the bloody process of St. Domingo.”

We would now then say to every slave holder in the United States, in the language of the Almighty to the slaveholders of Egypt. “Let go my son, that he may serve me; and if thou refuse to let him go, behold I will slay thy son.”

Now, if it be true that slavery prevents any people from answering the great end of their creation, i.e. to serve God – and if it be true that God has made all the nations of the earth for that service – and no man will deny either – then He is in justice, in reason, and in revelation, bound to demand the release of any people from servitude – but particularly so, when a Christian nation keeps His creatures from serving Him as they ought.

Now there are three things we would present to every slave-holder in this country.

1st That he let go his slaves, that they may receive an education and become useful citizens, and so answer the end of their creation. Knowledge is power, and if rightly used makes a good citizen – and without some considerable degree of it, a man never can be a good citizen. Ignorance begets vice. And who will deny that this power is eternally wrested out of the hands of the slave? I appeal to fact – into what schools and colleges do we send our slave children for education? Who will deny that the masters find it necessary to keep them in ignorance? And to this end, have enacted laws time after time. Educate them and they never can be held in slavery. Such is the nature and power of enlightened intellect. Who ever heard of a million of educated and enlightened men held in slavery? What page of history records it?

To retain them in slavery then, it is necessary to keep them something like brutes – the mind; the immortal mind is to receive no food; but crush it; and bury it; and the deeper it is buried the better the slave- the less he knows about the rights of man the better for the master – My God! My God! Is this the humanity of man to man?

“Man’s inhumanity to man, makes countless thousands mourn.”

It is the glory of this Christian land that such liberal provision is made for education.

“It is now nearly 200 years since school funds were established in this country, by that aboriginal and immortal hive of intelligence, piety and self government, the Plymouth Colony. And by the constitution of the United States, it is the duty of government to promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Not one of the eleven states has been admitted into the union without provision in its constitution for schools, academies, colleges and universities. In most of the original states large sums in money were appropriated to education. Reckoning all these contributions, federal and local, it may be asserted that nearly as much as the whole national expenditure of the United States is set apart by law to enlighten the people of this country.” 11

And all of these millions spent in educating our citizens, to enable them to be good citizens, is there naught to be spent on the poor African? Must he and his posterity be doomed to eternal ignorance? Of the thousands that he helps to pour into the public treasury, must he never reap anything? Must he forever be deprived of the fruit of his own hands? And will heaven always wink at this? O heaven! Righteous Heaven; remember injured Africa!!!

How, then, are they to become good citizens? – Deprived of everything necessary to make them such shut out by Christians from all knowledge – all information – all mental food – doomed forever to a dwarfish growth in the great forest of mankind, and good for nothing but to curse and impoverish the earth.

Look at the natural soil 12 where they live, and see how it is cursed and impoverished under their very feet.

“Besides more than half a million educated at our schools, there are more than 3000 graduates annually matriculated at our colleges and universities – not less than 1200 at the medical schools – several hundred at the theological schools – and at least 1000 students of law.” 13

Now, all of these colleges, theological and medical, which of them ever opens their doors to the sons of the African? Heaven has given him talents to be a good citizen – yea even a statesman – but the white man has deprived him of this privilege. Then let my son go, says God, that he may serve me as a good citizen of the earth. And if thou refuse, behold I will slay thy son.

2. Let him go forth from that felness of despair in servitude, which calls forth all the hellish and murderous passions of the heart, and makes a many a very fiend on earth.

There is a period in slavery that may be called the very felness of despair; when the poor suffer, long galled prefers death to these chains; then in the paroxysm of his rage nothing is too hellish for him to plot and to perpetrate. One vast and indiscriminate massacre of men, women and children is plotted, and sometimes effected too – witness St. Domingo. 14 Now this is a degree of exterminating hellishness that is enormous. No man can read the bloody horrors of St. Domingo without asking himself what could excite such fury in a being, made in the image of God. The answer is, provocation and oppression – iron handed oppression. And ‘tis the insanity of despair, ruthless as hell against its oppressors. Then let every slave master let his slaves go, that they may fear God and regard the lives of their fellow men; and not be provoked to act out this fiend like temper.

3. Let them go, that they may acquire a religious education to serve God. Who will deny that the slaves in this country are kept in such ignorance 15 that they cannot intelligibly worship God – that there are exceptions, masters who allow them to be, or have them religiously taught is freely admitted. But is this the case generally? Are they instructed in Christianity as the whites are? No man will affirm this. Slavery, 16 as a system, knows nothing of religious education. Her voice is this, Who is the Lord that we should serve him? Nay, it not only degrades and depresses the mind, but restrains the expansion of the faculties, and stifles almost every effort of genius; so that after ages of oppression, slaves seem almost as a race of beings endued with capacities inferior to the rest of mankind.

This is an item in slavery which we believe of all others is connected with the deepest curse, and that both to master and slave: viz. that it operates in keeping so many immortal beings from all the practices of Christianity, by which they are to prepare for eternity.

If then they are held fast in a situation, in which they cannot serve God as they ought, His demand for their release is a most reasonable one, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” And although they are not God’s son exactly in the sense that Israel was, nor their slavery exactly the same, yet they are God’s rational creatures – He made them – and they are bound to serve him according to the best of their powers – and woe, woe, to the man or the nation that interposes between an immortal soul and its service to its Creator!! Let such remember Egypt and the Red Sea!!

And now Brethren, all the objections that can be possibly brought against universal emancipation, I answer by that single precept of Christ, Matt vii 12. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. This is a summary of all Christian duty towards our fellow men. And not now only, but Christ declares it was so from the beginning. This is the law and the prophets, says he, i.e. the substance of christen duty towards our fellow men as taught in the law and the prophets – but the law and the prophets make up the whole bible down to that time; therefore the bible down to the days of Christ did not authorize slavery; and no man will dare to say that the New Testament authorizes it; consequently by induction, revelation nowhere authorizes slavery. But expressly forbids it; commanding in the most positive manner that the man stealer shall be put to death.

Now if it be wrong to steal a slave, it is then wrong to hold a stole slave. This is a principle recognized both by the laws of God and man, viz. that he who receives and holds the stolen goods, if he knows them to be stolen, is as party concerned with the thief. It is in a degree identifying our interest with his, and taking part of his crime upon us. “When thou sawest a thief, thou consentedst with him.” [Psalm 50:18] Our consenting to the thing is what connects us with him in his guilt. Then to hold a stolen man in slavery is substantially the same crime as to steal him. For if it was wrong to deprive him of his liberty in the first instance, it is equally wrong to deprive him of it in the second.

The slavery we speak of, and of which we have been speaking all along, is the third of three kinds – 1st. A person may become a slave by their own consent for a time. 2nd May be made so by the government, as a punishment for crime. 3rd. Made a slave by force, and held so forever through all their posterity.

This third and last is the kind of which we have been speaking, which Revelation never did authorize and reason cannot.

In favor of slavery there is plausible argument, the deceitfulness of which is not immediately seen. Permit us to analyze it a moment. The argument is this, viz. That the African slave is in a more eligible state 17 in this country, enjoying the Christian religion, that he would be were he a free heathen in his native country 18 i.e. It is better to go out of his chains in this country to heaven, than to go out of his native country, a free heathen into hell.

The answer is this. When such a thing occurs, it is God; of his overruling Providence; and not of the master or slave. Was this the motive of the man stealer when he stole the slave in heathen Africa? Was it motive to teach him the Christian religion? Or was it the motive of the American master when he chased him of the slaver? None will affirm either. Then the question needs no answer. The motives of the heart, make the actions right or wrong. But the motives in this case have been wrong all the way from first to last. To look into the hold of a slave ship on the coast of Africa, where his slaves are crammed together that about one fourth die 19 ere they reach this country, we would have a poor opinion of the piety of the slaver’s motives.

And even if men went to Africa to steal or purchase slaves, with honest motives of Christianizing them, still the action would be unjustifiable. For if it were justifiable, then we ought to authorize all our missionaries to steal or purchase all the heathen youth they could, and ship them to Christian countries, and there sell them in eternal slavery to be Christianized.

But what says God on this mode of Christianizing the heathen? Exod. xxi. 15. He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be bound in his hand, shall surely be put to death. There shall be no contravening of this my command: he shall surely be put to death. 1Tim. i. 10 The law was not made for a righteous man, but for men-stealers, &c.

And if the apostle Paul had justified this horrid traffic as some think he did, why would he have called the slavers man-stealers? Branding them with and epithet so universally hated.

And by this mode of reasoning the slave master might justify even Judas in selling the Savior for money, for the world was vastly the better by His death. But what was Judas’s motive? Was it to better the world, or to get money?

No man will act wrong to his fellow men if he correctly follow his precept of Christ – “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” [Matthew 7:12]

And we fearlessly affirm that no Christian with this precept in his heart can justify forced slavery for it is grounded upon that great commandment, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” We must do that to our neighbor which we ourselves acknowledge to be fit and reasonable. The appeal is made to our own judgment and feelings, we being in his place and he in ours; then, asking ourselves what we would wish him to do toward us – thus let every man reason on the subject of slavery – standing in the shoes of the slave and the slave in his, let him ask himself how he would wish to be treated.

And in all the difficulties connected with an universal and immediate emancipation. I do beseech and implore that every master would bring his mind to those scriptures given to him by his Maker, to guide him in his duty towards his neighbor – “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself – and all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them”

To Greece and Rome in their slave holding days, this precept of Christ was not a guide, as it is now to us therefore the cases are not analogous. And let no man then justify himself by the conduct of those pagan nations.

And now whatever objections lie in the way of immediate and universal emancipation, none of these lie in the way of aiding the American Colonization Society, to which we now invite your aid. The plan of this society is to send to Africa all the free people of color willing to go, and as many of the slaves as their masters give freedom to as fast as their funds will permit.

The colony at Mensurado, on the West coast of Africa is a prosperous state, ‘gradually lengthening her cords, and strengthening her stakes.’ And with the blessings of God promises the most extensive usefulness to that country.

Then let everyone that is a friend to God and the rights of man, come forward and aid this society, as far as their circumstances will permit.

We have as yet seen no solid objections to this plan. To us it seems the most Christian and feasible of any plan yet proposed.

If the government should take hold of this plan, and we do not despair to see the day when they will take hold of it, they are certain competent to remove slavery, this awful curse, entirely from among us. That it is unconstitutional 20 for the government to take hold of it, we do not believe is the real objection why they do not- and why they have hitherto rejected all petitions, praying them to take it under their care. As for our part, we cannot conceive how this country could make a greater reparation to Africa for the wrongs done her. Would this government give a Christian education to her slaves, which she is abound to d, and then return them to their native country, what greater favor under heaven could they possibly confer on Africa? It would be 60,000,000 of souls, sunk in the most cruel heathenism, with the most efficient missionaries.

Yes, every cargo, of Christianly educated Africans, you enable this society to return home, will be a cargo of balm to bleeding Africa.

And when this colony shall have ripened into Christian manhood, and shall have once stricken hands in a Christian covenant with the English colony at Sierra Leone, 21 both having come to full maturity, they will most assuredly put a stop to “man-stealing,” by hanging every slaver and kidnapper within their reach!

Yes, they will more effectually than all the governments of the earth, bind up those wounds all along that coast of Africa, which for centuries have been draining away her heart’s blood.

The death of General Harper was a sore stroke to this society. His heart was in the thing. And had he lived he would doubtless have accomplished what we deem of vast importance, viz. his plan of connecting schools with the society and instructing the Africans in husbandry, mechanic arts, and the various branches of a common education before they are returned home.

But He who called away Finley, Mills, and Caldwell, so active in originating this society, can raise it up other friends. It is saying much for this society that such men as Finley and Mills were connected with its origin. And I would place more confidence in their prayers alone that the thing of God, than in all the arguments hitherto advance to show the contrary. And we are happy to be able to state to you that this society is growing in the public estimation. And particularly in the Southern States, where it is largely patronized by some of the most enlightened statesmen and sincere Christians. And until some better plan is proposed it does appear to us that every well wisher of his country ought to lend it his aid.

It ought to be remembered that the first settlement of this country was by Christian men – and on Christian principles – flying from slavery, the slavery of the mind. And we have grown up into a government the most Christian in the earth. Founded upon Christianity, this government for nearly half a century, has been growing, consolidating and extending, the wonder of the world.

But slavery is the worm at the root of our gourd. All consider it as the curse of this government.

We hold it as a principle, that this government will flourish or wither, live or die, just as we cultivate or reject vital Godliness. “The nation that will not serve God shall perish: and that slavery is antichristian and not the service of God, no man can doubt believing his bible. Then let every American friendly to the life and health of his country, feel himself bound to aid this society, unless aiding some other plan he conscientiously deems better.

When Greece whose sons we had never enslaved, called on us for aid, who refused to contribute, or rather who did not rejoice to contribute? And shall we hold back from Africa, when this society would send home her sons, whom we have stolen away?

And as to the disasters that have befallen this colony, what are they, more than have befallen other colonies in their infancy? Not one half that befell the first colonist in colonizing our own country. 22

Who does not know that there have been colonies planted all along the coast, from Cape Verde to the Cape of Good Hope, and that for years too by the English, French, Danes, Dutch, and Portuguese?

And can they accomplish, and many of them in quest of money too, what Americans seeking the good of souls cannot? Did the British colony at Sierra Leone originate as ours has done? Was not the land originally purchased of the native to colonize free colored people? Has not that colony succeeded triumphantly, and why cannot ours?

And as to the unhealthiness of the climate, no proof yet has been exhibited that it is more so than other tropical climates – than even some of the alluvial districts of the United States. 23

And if that colony even should not drain away slavery entirely from us, it may establish a seed there, which fostered by God, will not cease to grow till all that country is evangelized. This idea alone 24 ought to enlist every Christian in its cause. To evangelize a country, no missionaries are equal to native missionaries.

To raise the coloured people 25 to their proper rank of citizenship among us, is impossible – neither is it desireable. Who would wish to see them in our legislative halls, making us laws? Let us then send them to Africa – their native land – their own land – a land seemed to be given them by God, their constitutions suiting the climate. And there let us colonize, and nourish and protect them till they can stand alone – and there let them enjoy the rights and immunities of freemen, and have a name among the nations of the earth. There “they will have a stake in the hedge,” and a soil to cultivate which is their own.

There let them sit in their own legislative assemblies – and make their own laws – tread their own college halls, and nurture their own sons to be ministers and statesmen. – And let us never despair to see the day when Africa shall have her halls of literature and legislation, equal to America or to Europe.

APPENDIX.Many persons think, because Christian governments have enacted so many severe laws against slavery it must be nearly extinct; or at least its horrors in practice greatly abated.

A few extracts from the last Report of the African Society on the Suppression of Slavery, held in London on May 13th 1825, will give us a succinct view of the state of the slave trade and what the Christian nations are doing to suppress it.

“His royal highness, the Duke of Gloucester, was in the chair. The Secretary read the report of the society on the state of the Slave Trade in general, and the measures taken for its suppression. By our own laws all dealings in the trade are now considered as piracy. A treaty to the same effect was made by this country with Sweden.”

It is well known that slavery, by the U. States government, is considered piracy: and the following resolution was offered by C.F Mercer to Congress on the 28th of Feb. 1824, with a view to have it considered as piracy all over the civilized world.

Resolved –“That the President of the United States be required to enter upon, and prosecute from time to time, such negociations with the several maritime powers of Europe and America, as he may deem expedient for the effectual abolition of the African Slave Trade and its ultimate denunciation, as piracy under the law of nations, by the consent of the whole civilized world.”

The main question, on agreeing to this resolution, was taken by yeas and nays – yeas 131, – nays 9.

The government of South America has passed enactments, sentencing to ten years imprisonment, all persons, whether national or foreign who may be detected within their dominions engaged in the Slave Trade.

The Report above mentioned goes on the state that Spain and the Netherlands have agreed, in part, to its suppression so for as to give other nations the right of searching suspected vessels.”

And it speaks in terms of the most unqualified reprobation of the conduct of France. It states that she is now the great Slave Carrier of the world. That the arrival of her flag on the coast of Africa is the signal of universal devastation – that the hamlets of the weaker are instantly attacked and the inhabitants sold into slavery – that a powerful African chief purchased goods on trust from a French merchant, for which he was to pay with young slaves. At the appointed time of payment he had not the slaves, and in consequence his warriors made an attack upon a peace able and agricultural village, and in one hour exterminated in the inhabitants: the old people and infants were murdered and destroyed: and the young and vigorous all taken captive and carried off to pay the Frenchman.

Two companies have been voluntarily formed by the pious and humane in England called “The Tropical Free Labour Companies.” Their object is to encourage the cultivation of sugar and cotton in the East Indies, particularly sugar, and bring them to the English market, and undersell slave grown similar products bought from the slave countries, and thus gradually the effect of the extinction of slavery in the British Colonies. One of these companies has a capital of 4,000,000 sterling, with the Duke of Gloucester at the head of it.

They say they “contemplate no measure for their ultimate object more certain in its operation, than the general substitution of sugar grown by free labour for that which is grown by slaves.”

The following extract may show what Christians could do independent of legislative enactments, if all Christians and the humane would unite. By an effort in England alone they have, in a most surprising manner, arrested the current of trade in certain articles – taken it out of the hands of the Slave Master and put it into the hands of Free labourers. “Forty years ago little or no indigo was exported from British India. The whole of that article then used in Europe, was the product of Slave labour. A few individuals in Bengal employed their capital and influence in inciting the natives to enlarge the cultivation of it for the European market. They did so, and when free labour was brought properly into action, notwithstanding the enormous freights for a time the importers had to pay, the indigo of India has been gradually displacing from the market the indigo grown by slaves, so that now there is not one ounce of Indigo the produce of Slave labour imported into Europe: while the value of the Indigo grown in British India, grown by free labour, amounts to nearly 4,000,000 sterling.”

This is the substance of what the Christian nations of the world are doing to suppress the traffic of human souls.

And yet some of these very nations connive at its being carried on in the most cruel manner under their own flag. – The Report states that eight villages were lately desolated (in the manner described above, getting slaves for the Frenchman) for the purpose of carrying on the trade with Spain. And a countless number of murders were committed in consequence of the trade in muskets, powder, and rum, carried on with the Portuguese.

And that two Brazillian vessels were recently taken by a British frigate and when taken, “the unfortunate slaves were allowed a space of three feet square and a quarter a man, and were guarded by fierce dogs of the blood hound species. In one ship fifty of the negroes died during a short voyage. The captain of another had shipped more than he conveniently could carry, and threw the surplus 26 overboard.

And slave dealers to evade the law, lately have gotten to use fictitious names when speaking of the slaves. For instance, a gentleman giving an account of the state of the slave market; says, “the advantages which our market offers for the disposal of ebony, (i.e. negroes), gives a great preference over any other of our colonies. – The last cargo sold here was the Harriet of Nantz; 328 logs (i.e. slaves) were disposed of on their landing those were damaged excepted at $225 each, had the wood been good it would have had fine sale, but the cargo was bad, having suffered much in coming over.”

One or two extracts from the Reverend Richard Bickell’s “West indies as they are; a re4al Picture of Slavery,” will show whether the cruelties of slavery are abating.

Mr. Bickell speaks of West India slavery as whitnessed by him, and as it exists there now: having lived there about five years. “In the colonies of Great Britain there are at this moment upwards of 800,000 human beins in a state of degrading personal slavery. – One of the great evils of slavery is, that the slaves are so degraded and epressed in the eye of the law as not to be considered persons, but mere animals or chattels; so that they may not only be sold at the will of the master; but seized for debt by a writ of execution and sold at public auction to the highest bidder.

The distress and terror among a gang of negroes, when the Marshal’s deputy with his dogs and other assistants comes to levy upon them for the master’s debt, cannot be conceived by those who have not witnessed it. – I was once on a coffee-mountain spending a few days, and the night after I arrived I was awakened about an hour before daylight, by a great noise, as of arms and the cries of women and children. – In a few minutes a private servant came and informed me that it was the marshal’s deputies making a levy on the negroes. – I got up and went out; before I arrived at the negro-houses, the resistance ceased – ten or twelve men, many women and children, amounting to thirty or forty were taken and presented such a heart-rending scene as I never witnessed before. – Some of the children had lost their mothers – some mothers torn from their children. – One woman in particular had two or three of her children taken together with her infant – she wept aloud and bitterly for her infant, saying she must giver herself up if the child was not got back, for she could not live, separated from it. They were hand cuffed and driven off to Spanish Town a distance of about 20 miles.”

“In a season of a crop, which lasts 4 or 5 months in the year, their labour is protracted not only throughout the day, as at other times, but during either half of th night, or the whole of every alternate night.

”Besides being made to work under the lash all the week, they are obliged to labour for their own maintenance on the Sabbath.”

“It is certainly a most degrading sight to see one fellow creature following 20, 30m or 40 others, and every now and then lashing them as he would a team of horses or mules, but this is not all, for if any one offend more than ordinarily, the master driver, who has almost unlimited power, takes him or her from the ranks and having two or three strong negroes to hold the culprit down – lays on 20 or 30 lashes with all his might – 39* is the number specified by law, beyond which they cannot legally go in one day.”

Surely this does not look as if the cruelties of slavery were abating – Oh, slavery in thy best state, thou art a bitter draught – but it affords a ray of hope at least, that mors sceptra ligonibus aequat – Death mingles scepters with spades – the bond and the free will be equal in the grave!!

Except the Kryptia, or ambuscade, practised by the Spoartans over the Helots, I know nothing more cruel in the slavery of any age than what is practiced by some modern Christians, over their slaves. The heathen branded their slaves with a hot iron, so do the modern Christian masters. Mr. Bickell gives many instances of their being advertised in the Newspaper, in the following manner. – Philip a Creole, Sambo, man of Cartha-gena, 5ft. 5 inch marked ICD on left and LH on right shoulder.”

Since the writing of this Sermon, we have heard some strange things from the south on slavery, and that too from gentlemen in high official authority. Govern Troup in his address to the Legislature of Georgia says, “when we cease to be masters we become slaves ourselves.”

Exactly so the Pagan Spartans thought. “The freemen of Sparta, were forbidden the exercise of any mean or mechanical employment; and therefore the whole care of supplying the city with necessaries was devolved upon the Helots – the ground was tilled, and all sorts of trades managed by them. – Whilst their masters, gentlemen like, spent all their time in dancing and feasting – in their exercises – hunting matches and the λεςχαι 27 or places of conversation.” – Potter’s Archaeol. Graec.

They considered every species of handicraft as mean undignifying – and this very sentiment sowed the seeds of their destruction.

And Mr. Lumpkin, of the committee in the Georgia legislature to whom that part of the governor’s speech was committed, reported thus. “Let our Northern brethren then, if there is no peace in Union, if the compact has become too heavy to be longer borne, in the name of all the mercies, find peace among themselves. Let them continue to rejoice in their self righteousness – let them bask in their own Elysium, while they depict all south of the Potomac as hideous reverse.

“As Athens, as Sparta, as Rome was, we will be; they held slaves, we will hold them. Let them guard with tariffs their own interest – let them deepen their public debt, until an high minded aristocracy shall arise out of it.

“We want none of all these blessings. But in the simplicity of the patriarchal Government, We would still remain master and servant under our own vine, and our own fig-tree, and confide our safety upon Him who of old time, looked down upon this state of things without wrath.”

These gentlemen pride themselves in being classed with the Romans and Grecians as slave holders. We think such Christian gentlemen would do well to consider a little more thoroughly how those nations treated their slaves: and see whether it is honorable to be classed with such monsters.

It was the custom at Rome to expose their worn out or sick slaves, when no longer able to work, on an island in the Tyber: there to pine away and die. And the Emperor Claudius, though by no means a humane man, was so shocked at it that he issued an edict against it. And the same edict declares, that if anyone to avoid it “chose rather to kill than expose his slave; he should be liable to a prosecution for murder.”

And even the elder Cato, with all his boasted virtues, did by his slaves, just as a prudent farmer does by his horses. It “was his professed maxim to sell his superannuated slaves for any price, rather than maintain what he deemed an useless burden.” The following are his own words. “A master of a family should sell his old oxen – his old wagons – his old implements of husbandry – and such of his slaves as are old and infirm. And anything else that is old and useless.” What man in a Christian country would consider himself honoured by being classed with such an old pagan stock and oppressor.

What aggravates the cruelty of this man was this. That in attending all the slave markets, it is said he never purchased any but young slaves – and after he god all the fruit of their life he turned them adrift. And he never gave more for a slave than fifteen hundred drachmas, as not requiring delicate shapes and fine faces, but strength and ability to work.

“And he contrived means to raise quarrels among his slaves, always to keep them at variance with one another, ever fearing some bad consequence from their unanimity.” – Plut. In vit. Caton.

And yet he is called the virtuous Cato. We cannot envy any American his honor to be classed with such a man.

In Greece there were two kinds of servants. First, “those who through poverty were forced to serve for wages, being otherwise freeborn citizens, but by reason of their poverty, had no suffrage in public affairs.

The second sort were wholly in the power and at the disposal of their lords – “who had as good a title to them as to their land and estates, a considerable part of which they were esteemed. They were wholly at their command to be employed as they saw convenient, in the worst and most wretched drudgeries – and to be used at their discretion, pinched, staved, beaten, tormented, and that in most places without any appeal to superior power, and punished with death itself. 28

“And what most of all enhanced the misery of their condition was that they had no hopes of bettering it while they lived – and all the inheritance they could leave their children, was the possession of their parents’ miseries and a condition scarce any way better than that of beasts.”

They had a peculiar form after which they cut their hair and their clothes – for it was accounted an insupportable piece of impudence for a servant to wear his hair and his clothes like a freeman. A freeman’s coat had two sleeves, a slave’s but one. It was also attempted once in Rome to “discriminate the slaves by a peculiar habit, but it was justly apprehended that there might be some danger in acquainting them with their own numbers.” – Gib. Rom. Emp. The original is much stronger. “Quantum periculi imminiret, si servi nostril numerare nos coepissent.” How much danger would there be if our servants should begin to number us. – Seneca de Clementia. Lib. 1. Cap. 24.

They were not allowed to have the same names, as the free born citizens – “they were usually called after the names of their native countries, as Λυδος or Συρος, if born in Lydia or Syria. The most common slave names in Athens were Geta, and Davus, because their slaves were taken or capurted from among the Getes or Davi.” – Strabo.

These slaves were not colored as our Africans – but of the same color with the Greeks and Romans themselves. And many of them were men of splendid talents. This appears from the writings of some of them after they had acquired their liberty Aesop, the author of the celebrated Fables, Alcman the poet, and Epictetus the famous moralist, were all of them, once servants.

They “also branded their slaves. This was done by burning the part with a red hot iron, marked with certain letters. Then pouring ink into the furrows, that the inscription might be more conspicuous. They were usually marked in the forehead as being most visible. The design of this was, in case they would run away they might be known.” – Potter on the Civil Government of Athens.

“The Helots were so called from Helos, a town in Laconia, conquered by the Spartans, who made all the inhabitants prisoners of war, and reduced them into the condition of slaves.” – Strabo, lib. 8 Harpocrat.

We have room to describe the Κρυπτια or ambuscade, only about their treatment of their slaves. – The Κρυπτια “was an ordinance by which they had the care of the free Spartan youth, despatched privately some of the ablest of them into the country from time to time armed only with daggers, and taking a little necessary provision with them; and in the day time concealed 29 themselves in the thickets and clefts, and at night rushed out upon the Helots and murdered all they could light upon. – Sometimes the fell upon them by day at work in the field, and killed them in cold blood.” – Plut.

And Thucydides, in his history Pelopon. Bel. says, on one occasion “they selected about 2000 of such as were most distinguished for their courage, and pretended that they were going to set them at liberty, for some good services they had rendered. They were crowned by proclamation, which is a token of being set free, and led about to all the temples in token of honor. Then they suddenly disappeared, and no man, either then or since, could tell how they came to their death.”

Many a slave has come to a secret and unseen death. Yet not unseen as to God. I think the inference is irresistible that those 2000 stout, robust Helots were surely murdered, because their masters feared they would rise up – and perhaps join their enemies in war.

The same fears drove the Egyptians to similar excesses in cruelty toward the Hebrew slaves.

The treatment of the Spartans towards the Helots was cruel beyond what almost any other heathen nation practiced towards their slaves. They were obliged to wear dog’s skin bonnets, and sheep skin vests. And once a day they received a certain number of stripes, merely lest they should forget that they were slaves. And to crown all they were constantly liable to the cryptia, whenever the peace officers thought the good of the state required it, or if they suspected them of plotting or planning about their liberties.

Aristotle says, that the Ephori, 30 as soon as elected into their office, declared war against the Helots, that they might be massacred (if the state required it) under a pretense of law.

It was the case not only in Greece, but in Rome and in all countries where forced slavery has existed, that slaves were constantly and cruelly oppressed merely through fear that they would rise up against the government and effect their own liberties.

Gibbon, in his Roman Empire, speaking of the slaves of Rome, says, “they consisted for the most part of barbarian captives, taken in thousands by the chance of war, and purchased at a vile price. 31 And having before been accustomed to a life of independence, they were always impatient to break their fetters and revenge themselves on their oppressors. Against such internal enemies, whose desperate insurrections had more than once reduced the public to the brink of destruction, the most severe regulations and the most cruel treatment seemed almost justified by the great law of self preservation. After a time, under the edicts of the emperors Adrian and the Antonies, projection of the laws was extended to the most abject part of mankind. The jurisdiction of life and death over the slaves, a power long exercised and often abused, was taken out of private hands and reserved to the magistrates alone. The subterraneous prisons were abolished, &c.

Gibbon says that the slaves in the Roman Empire, who were “valued as property,” were numerous beyond description. Phny, in his Nat. Hist. lib. 83. And Athenaeus in his Deipnosophist, lib. 6. p. 272. Particularly the latter, boldly asserts that he knew very many (παμπολλοι) Romans, who possessed 10 and even 20,000 slaves.

He also asserts that Rome had under her government at that time 120,000,000 of souls, forming “the numerous society that has never been united under the same system of government.” – Now what shall we think, when he asserts, that the number of slaves were at least equal in number to the free inhabitants of the Roman world! And if we have understood him right, his inference is that there must have been at least 20,000,000 of slaves in Rome.

Slavery most likely had its origin from the ruthless spirit of war. Justinian says the right of making slaves is esteemed a right of nations, and follows by jure gentium, as a natural consequence of captivity in war. “Jure gentium servi nostril sunt, qui ab hostibus capiuntur.” – Justinian, lib. i. 5.

This is the first origin of the right of slavery, as assigned by Justinian. Inst. 1, 3. 4. Whence slaves were called by the latins, mancipia, quasi manu capti.

And not uynlikely that Nimrod was among the first, who established the barbarous custom of transforming captives in war into slaves.

“Proud Nimrod first the bloody chace began,
“A mighty hunter, and his prey was man.”
POPE.

As far back before the Christian era as we have been able to go through history, we find three kinds of servitude p0ractised. First. From poverty, whereby men being unable to subsist of themselves, and perhaps deeply in debt, were forced to part with their freedom, and yield themselves servants to such as were willing to maintain them, or sell their bodies to pay in service what they could not do in money. Secondly, vast numbers were reduced to slavery, being captured in war – this barbarous custom seems to have prevailed, till done away by the Christian Religion. Thirdly, by the sheer hellishness of those who traded in slaves – stealing them from weak and ignorant nations – carrying them a distance and then selling them. The Scriptures early recognize this kind of villainy. Aristophanes says the Thessalians were notorious for it. And this accounts for the fact of the apostle Paul’s writing against man-stealers, in his letters to the churches in that quarter. – Timothy had labored a great deal with Paul among the Thessalians.

I trust the day is not far off, when this abominable traffic, by the united exertions of Christian nations will be declared piracy throughout the world. – The thing that above all others surprises me is, that England and America, two nations where Christianity is so far and so gloriously advanced should have kept such a fearful number of immortal beings in slavery so long – America more than a million and a half, and England 800,000 near a million, in her colonies.

 


Endnotes

1. At Heliopolis they had an ox consecrated to the sun and called it i.e. the ox, Mnevis – at Memphis they maintained another, named Apis, dedicated to the moon, &c.

2. They were not afraid of female slaves however numerous. But Josephus assigns another reason for their putting the male children to death, viz. – “One of their scribes or magi (to whose judgment the people in general paid a most implicit deference) informing the king that about an Hebrew male child would be born, who should humble the power of the Egyptians and Egyptians and exalt that of the Israelites, to so great a degree as to acquire immortal honor; Pharaoh alarmed instantly issued his royal edict, that all male children, henceforward born to the Israelites, should be immediately cast into the river and drowned; and annexed the penalty of death to the whole family, that would dare to evade the edict. He adds also that the calamity of the Hebrews, on this occasion, was great beyond description: not only as it subjected them to the loss of their children and in some degree rendered them accessary to their death, but as it must eventually have tended to the extinction of their race.” Ant. Jud. Lib. 2nd.

3. Josephus says, “in his childhood Moses gave proofs of knowledge far superior to his years, and so eminent were his mental abilities, and personal attractions, that he was the admiration of all who beheld him. And that Thermutis, Pharaoh’s daughter, having no issue, adopted him as her heir, and presented him to the king her father with this address, ‘I have trained up an infant, as singular for his genius, as the symmetry of his person; and having miraculously received him from the river, to which he was committed, am determined to adopt him my son, and establish him as thy successor on the throne of Egypt.’ Moses was therefore educated under the immediate care of the princess. Ant. Jud. Lib. 2 chap 9.

4. The Egyptians notwithstanding the important services rendered so lately by Moses at the head of their armies in the total defeat of the Ethiopian enemies, could not suppress the envy and hatred they had already imbibed.
And fearful that he would assume to great a power to the injury of their country, and aggrandizement of his own people, prosecuted a design of encompassing his death. And to this end accused him of murder before the king.
Moses apprized of their design withdrew from the army, and to elude the soldiers posted in the road to intercept him, directed his flight through the deserts and encountered the greatest difficulties – till he arrived at the city of the Midianites.” Joseph. Ant. Jud. Lib. 2

5. Exod. i. 11, and they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Ramses. The Septuagint adds ϰαι Ων ἡ εςτιν Ἡλιουπολις, and On, which is Heliopolis, i.e. the city of the sun.
Josephus says, one way by which they oppressed them was “by making them cut trenches to carry off the river Nile in small streams encompassing the city with walls, raising fortifications and banks to prevent any damage that might arise from inundations. And the stupendous pyramids, monuments of Egyptian folly, which remain to this day were raised by the art and labor of our nation, which was subjected to Egyptian vassalage, for the space of 400 years.” Antiq. Lib. 3 chap 9.
Dr. Scott’s objection to the pyramids being the work of the Hebrew slaves, because they are built of hewn stone, and the Hebrews were employed in making brick, is groundless; their making brick was not their only hard bondage. It consisted also “in all manner of hard service in the field or without.” Why making brick should form so prominent and item in the narrative of their bondage, most likely is, that their work consisted pretty much in building cities. Manetho, the Egyptian historian says, The Israelites labored in stone quarries εν ταις λατομιαις, in Lapicidinis. And Pliny says, they were built by the kings of Egypt to keep the rabble or common people from being idle. Pyramidum faciendum causâ Regibus Egypti, nè plebs esset otiose. Plin. 36. 12. Built by whom they may, they are certainly living monuments of the most amazing folly and oppression of the tyrants that projected them. And it is pretty certain they must have been built in a very unequal state of society: of consummate oppression on one part, and cruel bondage on the other. If it be true, according to the generally received opinion, that they were designed to be sepulchers for the kings of Egypt; the annals of history don’t furnish another equal instance of the pride of selfishness.
“The height of the large pyramid is definitively ascertained to be 600 feet – length at the base 700. Its pinnacle is about 30 yards square. The French Savans once dined there, i.e. on the pinnacle. And the names of Bruce, Algernon Sidney, Volney and others are carved on the stones there. The view from the pinnacle is frightfully barren an immeasurable waste of desert; interrupted only by the narrow flat of cultivated land, which separates the deserts of Lybia and Arabia.” Sir Robert Wilson, p. 137.

6. Though Egypt on one or two occasions, before Ezekiel’s withering prophecy took hold of her, seemed to rise up to something among the nations, yet it was only momentary. She was only a more alluring bait to some envious nation, which immediately stripped her of all her glory.

7. Vide 29, 30, 31, 32. Chapters of Ezekiel. Surely no slave holding nation can read such passages as these without serious reflection – “I will water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest – I will make many people amazed at thee, and their kings shall be horribly afraid.”

8. If any person doubts this description of Egypt’s present stat, let him read their degradation and misery as described by protestant missionaries now traveling through it.

9. He (Nebuchadnezzar) had no wages nor his army for the service that he had served. Therefore I have given him the land of Egypt; for his labor wherewith he served. Because they wrought for me saith the Lord God. Ezek. 29. 30.

10. The last census taken by virtue of an act of Congress of March 3, 1821, gives us 1,531,436 slaves in America.

11. Ingersoll’s Oration before the Amer. Phil. Soc.

12. Slavery according to a statement made by an intelligent gentleman from that state, has reduced the price of land in Virginia to about one fourth of that in Pennsylvania. So that the slave holders there are convinced that if they would remove off the soil the entire slave population, and in the room of it introduce and industrious white population, so that the land might rise to its proper value, they would be richer without their slaves than with them.

13. Ingersoll’s Orat.

14. Not only in St. Domingo is this seen, but in almost all countries of slavery. How often had the deep plots of the slaves of Greece and Rome, all but subverted these governments? “Athenaeus reports that in Attica the slaves once seized upon the castle of Sunium, and committed ravages throughout the country – and at the same time made their second insurrection in Sicily; for in that country they frequently rebelled; but were at last reduced with great slaughter; no less than a million of them being put to death.” Athenaeus Deipn. Lib. 2
Many efforts were made says Potter, in his Archeol. Graec. To extricate themselves from their cruel oppression, to the great danger and almost utter subversion of those countries where they lived – frequently in time of war “deserting to the enemy; but if taken again, they were tied to a wheel and unmercifully tortured.”
Who is ignorant of the horrid massacres and brutal scenes committed by the slaves in Rome, under Marius. The moment the exiled Marius set his foot on the Roman soil, he proclaimed liberty to the slaves. They ran away from their masters, and joined him in droves – and with these making a large part of his army he entered Rome. “And at the least word or sign given by Marius the slaves murdered all whom he marked for destruction. And after they had murdered the masters of families, they would in the most brutal manner indulge their passions with their wives and daughters.” – Plutarch in C. Mar.
About 467 years before Christ, “there happened the greatest earthquake at Sparta that was ever heard of. The ground in many parts of Laconia was cleft in sunder. The whole city was dismantled except five houses. A great part of Lacedaemon was overthrown about 20,000 Spartans perished.”
The Helots availing themselves of this Providence, determined to murder all the survivors and obtaining their freedom. But the peace officers discovering the plot, gave the alarm. The trumpets were blown, which was the signal to arms. And all run to arms in a moment. “And this was the only thing, which at that time save Sparta. For the Helots flocked together on all sides from the fields, to dispatch such as had escaped the earthquake.” – Plut. In Cimon. vit.
Aelian says, it was the common opinion of Greece, that this very earthquake was a judgment from heaven upon the Spartans, for treating these Helots with such inhumanity. – Hist. Var. lib. 3.
For their cruelty, see ϰρυπτια, ambuscade in the appendix.
And God only knows what would have been the effect, if the plot recently formed in Charleston, South Carolina had been completely carried into effect.

15. In one of the slave states there is a law, which operates against Sabbath Schools. And some pious females were told that if they continued teaching the blacks in the Sabbath school, they would subject themselves to the penalty of the law; which was a fine, and whipping on the bare back they modestly replied, we must go on; and will pay the fine, and if any person can be found to do the whipping, we will endure it.

16. A minister of Christ related to me this fact. An old black woman came to him once in great distress of soul. He conversed with her and asked her if she never had any convictions when she was young. She said no – once she asked her master to let her go to meeting – he said she was a fool – she need not go to meeting – she had no soul – that black people had no souls – and I never believed I had a soul, said she till I heard you preach.

17. Quere. Can it be called a more eligible state if less agreeable to themselves? To deprive a human being by force of his liberty, is to deprive him of all that is near and dear to him on earth – to deprive him of that for which nothing can compensate.

18. There is an interesting history related in the Christian Advocate for July 1825, of Prince Moro, a Mahomedan from Tombuctoo, in the interior of Africa, that will remarkably illustrate this case.

19. ‘They are crowded to closely into the holds and between the decks of vessels that they have scarcely room to lie down, and not room to sit up in an erect posture: the men at the same time fastened together with irons by two and two; and all this in the most sultry climate. The consequence is, that the most dangerous and fatal diseases are soon bred among them, and vast numbers perish in the voyage. Other in dread of that slavery which is before them, and in distress and despair from the loss of their parents, children, husbands, wives, and native country, all left behind, starve themselves to death, or throw themselves into the ocean. Those refusing to eat, are tortured by live coals of fire put to their mouths.
By these means according to the common computation, 25,000 out of every 100,000 which are annually exported from Africa to America, i.e. ¼, die on the passage. Another 25,000 die in the seasoning, as it is called i.e. within two years after they arrive in America. This is owing to the scantiness and badness of their food – dejection of their spirits, being sold apart as to husbands and wives, &c. after they come here – mortification and despair – and their unaccustomedness to labor, being bred in a country spontaneously yielding the necessaries of life.’
See Dr. Jonathan Edwards’s sermon on the injustice and impolicy of the Slave Trade, preached before the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom, and for the Relief of Persons unlawfully holden in Bondage, Sept. 15, 1791, and recently republished in Boston.

20. “In regard to what is called the constitutional question whether the United States have power to establish such a colony, we know not in what it differs from the question whether they have power to put their own laws in execution or take the only efficient measures to suppress an evil, whose contagion is daily spreading, and which threatens a more serious calamity than any other to our national prosperity, if not to our political being.
It would be strange indeed, if it should be made plain to our Legislators, that the constitution stops their ears to the cries of humanity- ties their hands from the work of benevolence, and compels them to nurture the seeds and foster the growth of their own destruction. And it comes to this if they have not the power to establish a colony abroad to receive the free blacks; for we hold it to be a position, as firmly grounded as any law in nature or society, that our black population can never be drawn off, except through the medium of such an establishment; let us then denominate it a Colony or Territory, if we will, then it will not differ from our other Territories, except in being separated from the confederated states, by an ocean instead of a river or a lake.
A voyage from Washington to Mensurado can be performed as quick as to the Falls of St. Anthony or the Saut of St. Mary and much quicker than to the Mandan Villages.” – Gen. Harper.

21. The Sierra Leone Colony was started by a private company, and originated thus: ‘At the close of the American Revolution, the negroes who had run away from their masters and joined the British, were dispersed in the Bahama Islands and Nova Scotia, where the white loyalists took refuge. Some found their way to London. Four hundred of these were shipped by their own consent to Sierra Leone, in 1787, the black settlers in Nova Scotia became dissatisfied with the rigorous treatment they received and complained to the British ministry. Emigration was thought the only remedy, and 1200 accepted the invitation to be transported at the expense of the government to Sierra Leone, where they arrived 5 years after those from London.’
The Maroons from Jamaica did not arrive till 1805. – The land for the colony was obtained by purchase of the natives.
That colony now consists of more than 12,000 inhabitants. Nearly ten thousand of whom are recaptured Africans, rescued from a cruel bondage, whichever would otherwise have been entailed on them and their posterity forever. The colony is still growing in agriculture, commerce, education, and all the blessing of Christianity. Already their native missionaries are preaching the gospel to the surrounding tribes.

22. From March 25, 1584, the date of Sir Walter Raleigh’s paten, obtained from Queen Elizabeth for lands in this country, down to 1610, so multiplied were the disasters that befell the colonists, attempting to colonize this country or that part of now called Virginia, that they agreed to abandon all farther attempts, after more than 20 years waste in men and money. When at last reinforcement came to them “they found the colony, which at the time of Capt. Smith’s departure, eight months before consisted of 500 souls, now reduced to 60, and those few in so distressed a situation, that with one voice they resolved to return to England. And for its purpose on the 7th of June 1610, (16 years from their first attempt,) the whole colony repaired on board their vessels broke up the settlement, and and sailed down the river on their way to their native country. On their way down the river, they met Lord De la War, coming with another reinforcement, who persuaded them to return to James Town. From this time we date the effectual settlement of Virginia.”

23. There seems no reason to suppose Western Africa more unhealthy than other parts of the world, to which people have emigrated for centuries, and where they have built cities, established governments, and grown into empires.
On speaking of the tracts of country around Cape Monte, and Cape Mensurado Dr. Leyden says, “these districts have been described by Des Marchais, Villault, Philips, Atkins, Bosman, and smith, as pleasant salubrious and fertile.”
Cape Mensurado is a detached mountain steep and elevated towards the sea, with a gentle declivity on the land side. And no man is better acquainted with the coast of Africa probably than Sir George R. Collier, who has been the chief commander of the British squadron stationed there for three of four years. In his 2nd Report to the British Government respecting the settlements in Africa, he thus alludes to the attempt to form a Colony at Sherbro. “Had America, who excepting Great Britain appears more in earnest than any other nation, established her lately attempted settlement at Cape Mesurado, or even at Cape Monte, she would at least have secured a more healthful and by far a more convenient spot, than her late ill-chosen one in the Serbro. And an establishment by America, either at Cape Monte or Cape Mesurado, would have afforded to the friends of humanity the most rational hopes, that in the immediate neighborhood of the American Colony, the demand for slaves would have been checked, and then a settlement would have been formed useful to the purposes of civilization. And from its actual though distant intercourse with the frontiers of Gaman and Ashantee, would have opened the line of lucrative speculation to the American merchant.”
These remarks are from a person who had the best opportunities for knowing – repeatedly traversed the coast, and whose business it was to supply his government with accurate knowledge. – Gen. Harper.

24. “Let the Navies of the world be combined and line the coast of Africa from Tangier to Babelmandel, and even make it certain that not a slave shall escape; this would not be abolishing the slave trade. The spirit would still lurk in the vitals of one hundred and fifty millions of people, and continue to show itself in all the miseries of intestine wars, plunderings, misrule in government, &c. &c.” – Gen. Harper.
They must be Christianized. This and this alone will put an end to it.

25. “There is no State in the union where a negro or mulatto can ever hope to be a member of Congress, a judge or even a justice of the peace; to sit down at the same table with respectable whites, or mix freely in their society” – Gen. Harper’s Advantages of Colonization in Africa.

26. It is “remarkable that the sharks in great numbers always hover round a slave ship.” What can this be for, unless to feed upon the slaves thrown overboard. Oh what a testimony will the sea give against such inhuman monsters, in that day when she shall give up her dead for judgment! And what an item will this traffic form in that great day???

27. Λεςχαι, ὰ, λεςχηνευω. Sermocinor, confabulor. Whether these leshai were taverns or coffee houses, or what, we do not exactly know. The etymology of the word seems to say they were something of that kind.

28. In the city of Athens they were treated with rather more humanity: for if grievously oppressed they were allowed to fly for sanctuary to Theseus’s temple, whence to force them was an act of sacrilege.

29. Κρυπτια, ὰ ϰρυπτω, Tego, Occulto, i. e. lie concealed or in ambush.

30. The Edphori, were a kind of tribunes of the people five in number like the Quinqueviri, in the Republic of Carthage, annually elected, by and from among the people, and seem to have been “intended as a check upon the senate and the kings.” – Aristot. Polit. Lib. V.
Their authority though well designed at first came at length to be in a manner boundless. The unanimous voice of the college of the Ephoria could declare war – make peace – treat with foreign princes – and they had a particular jurisdiction over the poor Helots – declaring war against them the moment they entered upon their office: they could at any moment, under the appearance of law, if they thought the public good required it, cut off any number of them they pleased. And in this way alone can we account for that strange fact; that 400,000 men should be kept groaning for ages under 30,000. For such was the comparative number of slaves and citizens in Attica. – Pot. Archaeol. Graec.

31. In the camp of Lucullus, an ox sold for a drachma, and a slave for 4 drachma, or about 3 shillings. – Plut. In. Lucullus.

* Originally Posted: December 25, 2016

Columbus and the American Story

Christopher Columbus. The name invokes images of either a brave and triumphant explorer discovering the New World, or a tyrannical and genocidal leader who was directly responsible for the death of millions. But which image is the truth?1

For nearly 500 years Christopher Columbus was almost universally regarded as a heroic man who, though flawed, exhibited great courage and virtue in his efforts to cross the Atlantic Ocean, where no man had done so before. Although he was hoping to find a way to sail to India, he nevertheless opened the doors to an entirely new continent which was practically unknown to the wider world.

Columbus was unequivocal in declaring his trust in God, and that it was God Who had guided him across the ocean for a certain purpose, writing:

Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that he [the Spirit], with marvelous rays of light consoled me through the holy sacred Scriptures…encouraging me to proceed, and, continually, without ceasing for a moment, they inflame me with a sense of great urgency. Our Lord wished to perform the clearest miracle.2

This Columbus sounds nothing like the false portrayal of him by the radical Left academics who attempt to tarnish the truth of the American story anyway that they can. The revisionists understand that if they can alter the past, they can change the present. This has always been the approach of radicals. As noted literary figure Washington Irving explained in his 1828 biography on Columbus:

There is a certain meddlesome spirit, which, in the garb of learned research, goes prying about the traces of history, casting down its monuments, and marring and mutilating its fairest trophies. Care should be taken to vindicate great names from such pernicious erudition. It defeats one of the most salutary purposes of history, that of furnishing examples of what human genius and laudable enterprise may accomplish.3

If you’d like to learn more about Christopher Columbus and the historical truth of who he really was and what he actually did, check out our book The American Story: The Beginnings4! Beginning with Columbus’ daring voyage and the world he found, The American Story tells the forgotten history of our nation and the ways God’s providence has guided America throughout the years.

Learn the truth about our nation’s history and celebrate Columbus Day!


1 “Discovering Columbus,” https://wallbuilders.com/discovering-columbus/.
2 Christopher Columbus, trans. Kay Brigham, “Letter from the Admiral to the King and Queen,” Christopher Columbus’s Book of Prophecies (Fort Lauderdale: CLIE Publishers, 1992), 179.
3 Washington Irving, A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (London: John Murray, 1828), 1: 64-65.
4 The American Story: The Beginnings.