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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what was the key?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaders in Industry, Technology, and Science

Cyrus McCormick and His Reaper (1831)

Cyrus McCormick

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

McCormick Reaper

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

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

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

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

Workshop where McCormick invented his reaper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morse Telegraph 1837

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew Maury and Ocean and Air Currents (1842)

Matthew Maury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Washington Carver and the Peanut

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carver related how he came to focus on the peanut:

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

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

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

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

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

“Why did You make the peanut?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— — — ⧫ ⧫ ⧫ — — —

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

Leaders in Business

John Wanamaker and the Department Store

John Wanamaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wanamaker’s Philadelphia store

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

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

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

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

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

Leaders in Education

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

Noah Webster 

Noah Webster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another work declared of him:

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

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

William McGuffey 

William McGuffey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many other Christians were among the famous western trailblazers.

Government

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

US Senator Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Garfield 

James Garfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

William McKinley

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

William McKinley

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Second Great Awakening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End of Slavery

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

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

Thomas Jefferson

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

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

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

Benjamin Franklin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George Washington

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

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

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

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

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

Frederick Douglass

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

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

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

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

He explained:

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

Douglass therefore concluded:

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

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

Abolition

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

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

Underground Railroad

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

Ministers Encourage Lincoln toward Emancipation
Levi Coffin

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

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

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

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

Abraham Lincoln

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

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

— — — ⧫ ⧫ ⧫ — — —

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

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

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

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

Gen. John Pershing

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

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

To The American Soldier:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sgt. Alvin York

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

Sgt. Alvin York

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mitsuo Fuchida and Jake DeShazer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisconsin 1997

THE STATE of WISCONSIN

OFFICE of the GOVERNOR

A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS; our state has been richly blessed in natural beauty, reflecting God’s miracle of creation; and

WHEREAS; Christian Heritage is important to our state’s traditions and values; and

WHEREAS; religious holidays, festivals, and celebrations have brought welcome respite from labor, as well as renewed respect and meaning for nature’s seasons of change; and

WHEREAS; the community church serves a vital function in binding folk together and providing crucial education and charitable services; and

WHEREAS; teaching future generations of our state the all important role of Christian heritage is of concern to citizens of all faiths;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, TOMMY G. THOMPSON, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, do hereby proclaim November 23 through November 29, 1997 CHRISTIAN HERITAGE WEEK in the State of Wisconsin, and I commend this observance to all citizens.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of Wisconsin to be affixed.

Done at the Capitol in the City of Madison this thirteenth day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven.

TOMMY G. THOMPSON

GOVERNOR

By the Governor:

DOUGLAS LA FOLLETTE

Secretary of State

Tennessee 1994

STATE OF TENNESSEE

PROCLAMATION

BY THE GOVERNOR

WHEREAS, our state has been richly blessed in natural beauty, reflecting God’s miracle of creation; and

WHEREAS, the importance of Christian heritage to the traditions and values of our state is immeasurable; and

WHEREAS, religious holidays, festivals and celebrations have brought welcome respite from weary labor, as well as renewed respect and meaning for nature’s seasons of change; and

WHEREAS, the community church serves a vital function in binding folk together and providing crucial education and charitable services; and

WHEREAS,  teaching future generations of our state the all-important role of Christian heritage is of crucial concern to citizens of all faiths;

NOW, THEREFORE, I Ned McWherter, as Governor of the State of Tennessee, do hereby proclaim November 20-26, 1994, as CHRISTIAN HERITAGE WEEK in Tennessee, and urge all citizens to join me in this worthy observance.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I HAVE HEREUNTO SET MY HAND AND CAUSED THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE TO BE AFFIXED AT NASHVILLE ON THIS 21ST DAY OF NOVEMBER, 1994.

Ned McWherter

GOVERNOR

Riley C. Darnell

SECRETARY OF STATE

Lesson 4: American Founding and Federal Era (1785-early 1800s)

Lesson 4: American Founding and Federal Era (1785-early 1800s)

Words such as “virtue,” “piety” and “learning” are emphasized in the writings of our Founding Fathers and therefore appear in many of our governmental documents. In fact, when modern political scientists examined seventy-six of the most representative pamphlets and essays written by our Founders, they found the word “virtue” stressed over 300 times.[1] Additionally, various synonyms meaning the same thing (such as “religion,” “morality,” and “knowledge”) also frequently appear in official writings (such as in the famous Northwest Ordinance, by which territories become states). [2] Significantly, to our Founders, “religion” meant Christianity; “morality” or “virtue” meant Biblical character; and “knowledge” meant information or skills acquired within the framework of a Biblical worldview.

The Founders consistently emphasized the elements of religion and morality (or piety and virtue) as the indispensable foundation and supports of our American system of government. They believed that if these pillars were lost, then our nation would eventually collapse. Notice some of their representative declarations affirming this:

[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. [3] [R]eligion and virtue are the only foundations…of republicanism and of all free governments. [4] Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. [5] John Adams, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION

Samuel Adams

[R]eligion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness. [6] While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader. [7] Samuel Adams, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION

[A] free government….can only be happy when the public principles and opinions are properly directed….by religion and education. It should therefore be among the first objects of those who wish well to the national prosperity to encourage and support the principles of religion and morality. [8] Abraham Baldwin, SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION

Charles Carroll

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion (whose morality is so sublime and pure)… are undermining the solid foundation of morals– the best security for the duration of free governments. [9] Charles Carroll, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION

Sensible of the importance of Christian piety and virtue to the order and happiness of a state, I cannot but earnestly commend to you every measure for their support and encouragement….Manners, by which not only the freedom but the very existence of the republics are greatly affected, depend much upon the public institutions of religion. [10] John Hancock, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION

[T]he great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone, that renders us invincible. [11] Patrick Henry

[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy…the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people.[12]I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [13] [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God. [14] Gouverneur Morris, SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION

Religion and morality…[are] necessary to good government, good order, and good laws. [15] William Paterson, SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION

Benjamin Rush

Without [religion] there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. [16] Benjamin Rush, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION

George Washington

The practice of morality being necessary for the well-being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. [17] [T]he studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make [us] better citizens. [18] Thomas Jefferson,SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION

Purity of morals [is] the only sure foundation of public happiness in any country. [19] [R]eligion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society. [20] George Washington, SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION

[T]he primary objects of government are the peace, order, and prosperity of society….To the promotion of these objects, particularly in a republican government, good morals are essential. Institutions for the promotion of good morals are therefore objects of legislative provision and support, and among these…religious institutions are eminently useful and important. [21] Oliver Ellsworth, DELEGATE TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION; CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT

[G]overnment…is a firm compact sanctified from violation by all the ties of personal honor, morality, and religion. [22] Fisher Ames, FRAMER OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS

[T]he cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness…inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric. [23] Moral habits…cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits….Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. [24] Daniel Webster, “DEFENDER OF THE CONSTITUTION”

Noah Webster

Republican government loses half of its value where the moral and social duties are…negligently practiced. To exterminate our popular vices is a work of far more importance to the character and happiness of our citizens, than any other improvements in our system of education. [25] [T]he moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws….All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible. [26] Noah Webster, “SCHOOLMASTER TO AMERICA”

There are many additional examples affirming the Founders’ belief that Biblical morality and Biblical faith were vital for the proper operation of both society and civil government. But the Founders did more than just hold these convictions, they also acted on them. This is apparent in the very first governments they created.

Significantly, America’s separation from Great Britain had wiped out all state and colonial governments, for each had been British authorized and operated. New purely American governments were needed, so many of the Founders who signed the Declaration returned home to assist in drafting their state’s first constitution and establishing its new government. They took deliberate steps to ensure that both Biblical religion and morality were directly incorporated into government from the beginning.

For example, Declaration signers George Read and Thomas McKean helped draft [27] Delaware’s 1776 constitution, which required:

Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust…shall…make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: “I, _________, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and the Holy Ghost, one God – blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.” [28]

Massachusetts’ 1780 constitution (written with the help of Declaration signers Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and John Adams, [29] as well as Constitution signer Nathaniel Gorham [30]) similarly required:

Any person chosen governor, lieutenant-governor, counselor, senator, or representative, and accepting the trust, shall—before he proceed to execute the duties of his place or office – make and subscribe the following declaration, viz. “I, ___________, do declare, that I believe the Christian religion and have a firm persuasion of its truth.” [31]

Declaration signers Benjamin Franklin and James Smith of Pennsylvania helped write its 1776 Constitution, [32] which likewise stipulated:

And each member [of the legislature] before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: “I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the universe, the Rewarder of the good, and the Punisher of the wicked; and I acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by Divine inspiration.” [33]

Other constitutions contained similar clauses. [34] The Christian spirit undergirding America was so readily apparent even to the British that in England…

Sir Richard Sutton read a copy of a letter…from a governor in America to the Board of Trade showing that….”If you ask an American, ‘Who is his master?’ he will tell you he has none—nor any governor but Jesus Christ.” [35]

Another reflection of the Founder’s insistence that Biblical principles be part of public affairs is seen in the fact that all the states had Sabbath laws, requiring rest and abstinence from work on that day. In some cases, these laws continued for centuries; in fact, even today some states still use parts of those Sabbath laws.

Across the years, there were attempts to secularize the government and repeal these Sabbath laws and (until recent years) those efforts were largely rejected. For example, in 1838, the Legislature of New York received a petition seeking “the repeal of the laws for the observance of the Sabbath.”[36] They refused that call in a nearly unanimous vote, explaining:

With us it is wisely ordered that no one religion shall be established by law but that all persons shall be left free in their choice and in their mode of worship. Still, this is a Christian nation. Ninety-nine hundredths, if not a larger proportion of our whole population, believe in the general doctrines of the Christian religion. Our government depends for its being on the virtue of the people—on that virtue that has its foundation in the morality of the Christian religion and that religion is the common and prevailing faith of the people. There are, it is true, exceptions to this belief; but general laws are not made for excepted cases. [37]

The Articles of Confederation 
George Washington, President of the Constitutional Convention, declared of the Convention, “The event is in the hands of God.”

Just as the Founders created new state governments after their separation from Great Britain, so, too, they also created a national government. In 1777, they penned the Articles of Confederation, under which Congress governed itself throughout the remainder of the War for American Independence. But their experience over that time demonstrated that it had three major weaknesses:

  1. Congress had no power to raise the money needed to fund its appropriate activities, such as national defense and operating the Continental Army.
  2. Congress had no power to enforce any of its decisions.
  3. There was no clear national leader—that is, no single executive head. Congress, as a body, had been the governing entity, but it was bulky, slow, and inefficient when it came to making important and timely decisions.

These flaws caused the government to be weak and inept, resulting in almost fatal problems. For example, because of these shortcomings, many times during the war the army lacked supplies and received no pay, which not only contributed to the suffering of the troops in places such as Valley Forge in 1777 but also caused some officers and men to threaten a military coup in 1783. It was evident that something must be done to correct these glaring weaknesses. Some proposed amending the Articles of Confederation; others, including James Madison, George Washington, and Noah Webster, felt that an entirely new system was needed.

The Constitutional Convention, 1787

In an attempt to solve the problems in the national government, in the spring of 1787 delegates from across the country met together at the State House in Philadelphia (also known as Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence had been signed). Most came prepared to keep (but amend) the Articles of Confederation; but the Virginia delegates proposed an entirely new and different governing document. The initial reaction by the other delegates was hesitancy and doubt, believing any dramatic change would be opposed by the people and would fail; they felt that half-measures would be far more acceptable.

George Washington (who had been chosen by the other delegates to preside over this assembly) then arose and addressed the Convention in a brief but immortal speech. He agreed that it was indeed “probable that no plan we propose will be adopted,” but warned that if this occurred, then it was entirely possible that we would have to endure another dreadful war. [38] He therefore challenged the delegates to be bold, telling them, “If—to please the people—we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work?”[39] He concluded by urging the delegates to “raise a standard” of the best government they could possibly devise, no matter how much change it required, and then trust in the fact that “The event is in the hands of God.”[40] They accepted his challenge, but their way forward was neither easy nor smooth.

In fact, after only a few weeks of deliberations, the Constitutional Convention was on the verge of collapsing. For more than a month the delegates had been deadlocked on different issues, such as that of fair representation between the small and large states. With this impasse, and no forward progress, patience was wearing thin and emotions were on edge. A somber George Washington began to despair of seeing success.

At this point, Benjamin Franklin, the oldest delegate (he was then 81-years-old at a time when the average lifespan in America was only about thirty-three [41]), asked for permission to speak. On previous occasions, he had always written his remarks and had someone else read them to the Convention, but this time Franklin was stirred to personally address the delegates, telling them:

Benjamin Franklin

In this situation of this assembly, groping, as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Britain when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the Divine Protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor….And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel…and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages.I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of the city be requested to officiate in that service. [42]

Most modern observers, even critics, would certainly concede that these eleven sentences spoken by Franklin carry a general religious overtone, but they likely would not admit much more. However, there is much more. Unrealized by most today is that in those eleven sentences, Franklin had specifically referenced or quoted by memory eight different Bible phrases that appear in thirteen different Bible verses:

  1. “groping in the dark” (Job 12:25)
  2. “the Father of Lights” (James 1:17)
  3. “illuminate our understanding” (James 1:5)
  4. “a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice” (Matthew 10:29, Luke 12:6)
  5. “can an empire rise without His aid” (Daniel 4:17, Psalm 75:7)
  6. “except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1)
  7. “the builders of Babel” (Genesis 11:1-9)
  8. “a reproach and a byword” (Deuteronomy 28:37, 2 Chronicles 7:20, 1 Kings 9:7, Psalm 44:14)

Many Americans now know so little of the Bible that they no longer recognize these Bible references and phrases. In fact, unless speakers today announce they are citing a specific Bible verse, people listening usually don’t recognize Bible quotations or references. But in the Founders’ day, they didn’t need to call attention to which Bible verses they were quoting, for nearly all Americans had learned to read from the Bible and studied it in school and therefore knew and recognized its phrases.

Roger Sherman of Connecticut seconded Franklin’s motion for prayer, but then Hugh Williamson of North Carolina pointed out that they had no funds to pay the salary of a full-time chaplain. [43] Edmund Randolph of Virginia then proposed “that a sermon be preached, at the request of the Convention, on the Fourth of July, the anniversary of Independence” and that “thenceforward prayers to be read in the Convention every morning.”[44]

The Constitutional Convention therefore recessed for three days, attended church, and listened to patriotic orations. [45] They gathered at the Calvinist Reformed Church in Philadelphia, and the Rev. William Rogers prayed a special prayer over them:

[W]e fervently recommend to Thy fatherly notice…our Federal Convention….[F]avor them from day to day with Thy immediate presence; be Thou their wisdom and their strength! Enable them to devise such measures as may prove happily instrumental for healing all divisions and promoting the good of the great whole…that the United States of America may furnish the world with one example of a free and permanent government….May we….continue, under the influence of republican virtue, to partake of all the blessings of cultivated and civilized society. [46]

Calvin Coolidge

After those three days off, with attending church, listening to orations, and having special prayer, there was an apparent change in atmosphere: the delegates slowly began making progress and were gradually able to reach a solution on major problematic issues. This resulted in the best form of government ever devised by man, and the US Constitution has proven to be the most valuable and stable civil document in history. [47]

As President Calvin Coolidge affirmed, “no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. The good it has wrought can never be measured.”[48] He correctly concluded that “To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”[49] The finished Constitution was signed by thirty-nine delegates on September 17, 1787 (which is why September 17 is annually celebrated nationally as “Constitution Day”), and then sent to the states for approval. The ratification debates in several of the state conventions were heated, and in many states the votes were close.

Significantly, some forty-four clergy from various denominations had been elected by their states as delegates to the state ratification conventions, [50] and in states such as Connecticut, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, the ratification conventions for the Constitution were actually held in churches. [51] Many of those clergy delegates (especially in Massachusetts, North Carolina, and New Hampshire) played key roles in securing approval for the Constitution.

For example, twenty clergy in Massachusetts served in that state’s convention, and their support was crucial since the Constitution was ratified in that state by a margin of only nineteen votes (187 to 168). Benjamin Lincoln of Massachusetts (one of George Washington’s most trusted generals during the final campaigns of the War for Independence) reported to his former Commander-in-Chief: “It is very fortunate for us that the clergy are pretty generally with us.”[52]

In South Carolina, celebration broke out after the successful ratification vote was announced. When order was restored, elder statesman Christopher Gadsden addressed the convention. Acknowledging his advanced age, he said that he would probably not live long enough to see the happy results of the final adoption of the Constitution by the entire nation, but for his own part, he declared: “I shall say with good old Simeon [when he saw the Christ child brought into the Temple] ‘Lord, now let Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen the salvation of my country [Luke 2:29]’”[53]

He believed the new Constitution would be a significant force for good in the nation, and was grateful to have lived long enough to see it approved before he died.

Despite sometimes vigorous debates, state after state continued approving the Constitution. New Hampshire became key; if it ratified, it would be the ninth state to do so, which meant that the necessary threshold had been reached for the Constitution to officially become the new governing document for America. Just prior to that vote, George Washington told American hero Marquis de Lafayette:

Should everything proceed with harmony and consent according to our actual wishes and expectations, it will be so much beyond anything we had a right to imagine or expect eighteen months ago that it will, as visibly as any possible event in the course of human affairs, demonstrate the finger of Providence. [54]

The Constitution was indeed ratified by New Hampshire; and all of the remaining states also eventually approved it.

Significantly, numerous Framers of the Constitution openly avowed that the final document reflected God’s hand and providence. For example, signer William Samuel Johnson of Connecticut declared that the finished Constitution was the result of “a signal [obvious]intervention of Divine providence.”[55]

Alexander Hamilton similarly affirmed:

For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests. [56]

James Madison

James Madison agreed, and reported:

It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution. [57]

According to these delegates (and others), the finger of God—that is, His Divine power (specifically referenced in Bible passages such as Exodus 8:19, Exodus 31:18, Deuteronomy 9:10, Luke 11:20)—had guided their writing of the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin certainly believed this to be the case, explaining:

[I] beg I may not be understood to infer that our general Convention was Divinely inspired when it formed the new federal Constitution…[yet] I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing (and to exist in the posterity of a great nation) should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler in Whom all inferior spirits “live and move and have their being” [Acts 17:28]. [58]

George Washington (president of the Convention) similarly attested:

As to my sentiments with respect to the merits of the new Constitution…It appears to me then little short of a miracle that the delegates from so many different states…should unite in forming a system of national government. [59]

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration from Philadelphia (and a ratifier of the Constitution), closely monitored the proceedings and openly testified:

I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of [Divine] inspiration, but I am as perfectly satisfied that the Union of the states in its form and adoption is as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament were the effects of a Divine power. [60]

Clearly, many of the Founding Fathers involved with writing and approving the US Constitution believed that God had been a direct force in its creation.

The US Constitution

Sadly, despite the abundant historical evidence, numerous modern jurists, academics, and others today wrongly claim the US Constitution is a Godless document. In fact, in the book Godless Constitution, two professors firmly assert the Constitution was completely secular and not influenced by religious principles.On what authoritative historical sources do those professors rely to prove this errant claim? Significantly, in their “Note on Sources” at the end of the book, they candidly admit: “we have dispensed with the usual scholarly apparatus of footnotes.”[61]

There are no footnotes—they use no original historical documentation to prove their “historical” claims. What a startling admission, but this is reflective of what often occurs in far too much of academia and media today.

For several reasons, the truth is actually the opposite of what they claim.

First, many of the specific ideas presented in the Constitution were developed from the Christian culture of the preceding two centuries. This is confirmed by the extensive work of political scientists who embarked on an ambitious ten-year project to analyze writings from the Founding Era (1760-1805) with the goal of isolating and identifying the specific political authorities quoted during in those writings. If the sources of the specific quotes in those writings could be identified, then the origin of the Founders’ political ideas could be documented.

Selecting some 15,000 representative writings, the researchers isolated 3,154 direct quotations, and then documented the origin of those quotations. [62]

Their research revealed the single most cited authority in the writings of the Founding Era was the Bible: thirty-four percent of the documented quotes were taken from the Bible—a percentage almost four times higher than the second most-quoted source. [63]

A second proof that the Constitution is not secular or Godless is that it was deliberately designed to be utilized alongside the Declaration of Independence—a document that explicitly refers to God multiple times. The Declaration is the foundation upon which first our nation and then our Constitution were built, and the Declaration and the Constitution were intended to be used side-by-side—hand-in-hand; one will not work properly if separated from the other. As the US Supreme Court attested (1897):

[T]he latter [Constitution] is but the body and the letter of which the former [Declaration of Independence] is the thought and the spirit, and it is always safe to read the letter of the Constitution in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. [64]

This reality was also affirmed by John Quincy Adams in his famous oration, “The Jubilee [that is, the fiftieth anniversary] of the Constitution,” in which he explained:

John Quincy Adams

[T]he virtue which had been infused into the Constitution of the United States…was no other than the concretion of those abstract principles which had been first proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence….This was the platform upon which the Constitution of the United States had been erected. Its virtues, its republican character, consisted in its conformity to the principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and as its administration…[and] was to depend upon the…virtue, or in other words, of those principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Constitution of the United States. [65]

From the beginning, the interdependent relationship between these two documents was clear: together, both of them form our founding charter; and the entire framework of our government as expressed in both documents is built upon the Christian idea of man and government.

A third proof that the Constitution is not a Godless secular document is found in its internal content. Several of its specific clauses actually incorporate specifically recognizable Biblical provisions and rhetoric. Here are a few examples.

Sundays Excepted

The Constitution recognizes and sets apart Sunday from governmental work. Article II of the Constitution stipulates that when Congress passes a bill, for that bill to become law the president has ten days to sign it—not counting Sundays, or as the Constitution says, “Sundays excepted.”

Significantly, Christianity is the only major religion in the world that has a Sunday Sabbath. As the Supreme Court of California observed (1858), the Sabbaths observed by various religions included “the Friday of the Mohammedan, the Saturday of the Israelite, or the Sunday of the Christian.”[66] The South Carolina Supreme Court (1846) similarly noted the fact that the US Constitution officially recognized and set apart the Christian Sabbath:

Christianity is a part of the common law of the land, with liberty of conscience to all. It has always been so recognized….The US Constitution allows it as a part of the common law. The President is allowed ten days [to sign a bill], with the exception of Sunday. The Legislature does not sit; public offices are closed; and the government recognizes the day in all things….The observance of Sunday is one of the usages of the common law recognized by our US and state governments….Christianity is part and parcel of the common law. [67]

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary similarly commented (in 1853) on this constitutional provision, reaching the same obvious conclusion:

In the law, Sunday is a “dies non” [a day on which no legal business can be conducted]. It cannot be used for the services of legal process, the return of writs, or other judicial purposes. The executive department, the public establishments—are all closed on Sundays; on that day neither House of Congress sits….Here is a recognition by law and by universal usage not only of a Sabbath but of the Christian Sabbath, in exclusion of the Jewish or Mahammedan Sabbath….The recognition of the Christian Sabbath [by the Constitution] is complete and perfect. [68]

For decades, the specific recognition of the Christian Sabbath in the Constitution was cited by state and federal courts as proof of the Christian nature of our Constitution (and many other governing documents contain the same recognition of the Christian Sabbath).

Oath-Taking

The five oath-taking clauses in the Constitution also demonstrate its religious nature, for the Founders universally affirmed oath-taking to be a singularly religious activity. For example, James Madison called an oath “the strongest of religious ties”[69]; John Adams said oaths were sacred obligations”[70]; Declaration signer John Witherspoon said taking an oath “indeed is an act of worship[71]; Declaration signer Oliver Wolcott said that an oath “is a direct appeal to…God[72]; US Supreme Court Justice James Iredell said it was a “solemn appeal to the Supreme Being[73]; and George Washington warned to never let oath-taking become a secular activity.a href=”#_edn74″ name=”_ednref74″>[74] For the Founding Fathers and Framers of the Constitution, the oath-taking clauses were overtly religious.

Rufus King

In fact, Constitution signer Rufus King declared that oaths were a “principle which is proclaimed in the Christian system.”[75] Consider how this is “principle” from the “Christian system” is reflected in our American oath-taking process even today.

Traditionally, in taking an oath an individual raises their right hand, places the other on the Bible, takes the oath, and concludes with “So help me God.” Notice how the elements in this sequence directly parallels specific verses in the Bible.

For example, in Genesis 26:2-3, God told Isaac “I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father”—so God Himself swore an oath. Concerning the oath, God declared: “i raised my hand in an oath. . .” (Ezekiel 20:15, 23; 36:7; Psalm 106:26). The Scripture further tells us that “The Lord has sworn by His right hand” (Isaiah 62:8). And when God’s people were instructed about how to take an oath, they were told: “You shall . . . take oaths in his name” (Deuteronomy 10:20), which is what we do today when we use the phrase “So help me God.”

Clearly, the oath-taking clauses of the Constitution reflect specific Biblical practices.

Attestation Clause

The Constitution declares in Article VII that it was written “in the year of our Lord” 1787. Most legal documents of that day gave only the year; a few added “in the year of the Lord”; but the drafters of the Constitution personalized that phrase, making it “in the year of our Lord.” Our Founders deliberately dated the Constitution in a way that recognized the birth of Christ.

Other Clauses

Notice the extremely close parallels between the explicit wording of the Bible and the almost identical wording of that unique thought or idea in the Constitution. For instance:

The Natural-Born Citizen Presidential Requirement 
  • Concerning the selection of a national executive leader, the Bible says “One from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother” (Deuteronomy 17:15, ESV). The national leader cannot be an immigrant but must be native-born.
  • Reflecting this same requirement, the Constitution stipulates: “No person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President” (Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 5). The Constitution allows a US Senator or Representative to be an immigrant, but it requires that the national leader—the President—must be native-born (or as the Bible specified, “one from among your brethren” who is “not a foreigner”).
Capital Punishment 
  • Concerning the death penalty, the Bible says: “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.” (Deuteronomy 17:6, NKJV)
  • Concerning treason (a death penalty offense specifically named in the Constitution), the Constitution likewise requires: “No person shall be convicted of treason [and put to death], unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act” (Article, Section 3, Paragraph 3).
Attainder
  • The Bible says: “The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20, NKJV). The family is not to be punished for the wrongdoing of a single member of the family.
  • Attainder (common in European governments at the time) punishes an entire family for the wrongdoing of one member of the family. For example, if one person in the family commits treason, then the bloodline of the entire family becomes “corrupt” and for generations thereafter no member of the family can own property or enjoy other rights. But the Constitution, echoing the Bible’s teaching, says: “No attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attained” (Art. III, Sec. 3, Clause 2).

And notice also the three branches of government—the Judicial, Legislative, and Executive—is set forth in Isaiah 33:22 (“The Lord is our judge [the judicial] , the Lord is our lawgiver [the legislative] , the Lord is our king [the executive]). And the type of tax exemptions the Founders gave to churches (tax exemptions that still exist today) is found in Ezra 7:24: “You have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty on any of the priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.”

And the mandate of republicanism set forth in the Constitution in Art. IV, Sec. 4 (that is, of selecting our leaders at the local, county, state, and federal levels) has its origins in Exodus 18:21(“select capable men from all the people…as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens”) and also Deuteronomy 1:13. In fact, Noah Webster (the Founder personally responsible for Art. I, Sec 8, ¶8 of the Constitution) specifically cites Exodus 18:21, [76] as do Declaration signers John Witherspoon and Benjamin Rush. [77]

Further demonstrating the Constitution’s reliance on and incorporation of Biblical precepts, on multiple occasions John Adams directly affirmed that the principle undergirding the constitutional separation of powers was specifically taken from the Bible is teaching in Jeremiah 17:9. Adams explained:

John Adams

To expect self-denial from men when they have a majority in their favor (and consequently power to gratify themselves) is to disbelieve all history and universal experience—it is to disbelieve [Divine] Revelation and the Word of God, which informs us, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” [Jeremiah 17:9]….There is no man so blind as not to see that to talk of founding a government upon a supposition that nations and great bodies of men, left to themselves, will practice a course of self-denial is either to babble like a new-born infant, or to deceive like an unprincipled impostor.[78]

To understand Adams’ reference to Jeremiah 17:9, recall that the Founders largely viewed man from a Christian perspective. As such, they believed in what Christian theologians call “the depravity of man.” This meant that man is in a fallen state; consequently, doing the wrong thing comes naturally to him—unless he has chosen to live by God’s principles and the uplifting standards of the Bible. Because of man’s sinful proclivity to do what is wrong, it was not likely that governments formed by men will automatically be inherently good and always serve the people. In fact, the record of countless governments across history repeatedly proves just the opposite—that nearly all governments which do not have internal safeguards and restraints that account for the inherent “depravity of man” will eventually become corrupt, selfish, oppressive, and tyrannical.

The Founders believed that the branches of government therefore needed to be separated from, and able to check and balance each other so that perhaps all might not go wicked at the same time. Thus, if the Judiciary became selfish and corrupt, then perhaps the Legislative and Executive could negate that influence; and the same was true with the other branches. So, using their Biblical understanding of the general fallen nature of man, the Founders were careful to construct a form of government that would not entrust any man or branch with too much power, knowing that sinful man tends to abuse that power.

Not only did John Adams cite Jeremiah 17:9 (on multiple occasions) to explain separation of powers, but the same point was similarly made by signers of the Constitution George Washington [79] and Alexander Hamilton. [80] And James Madison, affirming the same Biblical view of the fallen and sinful nature of man, in Federalist 51 affirmed:

What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place oblige it to control itself.[81]

The Preamble to the Constitution

Significantly, the Preamble (that is, the introduction) to the Constitution set the tone for the limited nature of that document. It identifies five basic functions of civil government, and each reflects Biblical precepts. Those five enumerated purposes of America’s federal government are to:

  1. Establish justice.” Dozens of Bible verses specifically address this as being a proper and primary object of government. For example:
  • Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Execute true justice.” (Zechariah 7:9)
  • All His ways are justice—a God of truth and without injustice. (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  • Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne. (Psalm 89:14)

Government must administer God’s justice.

  1. “Insure domestic tranquility.” In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, the Bible urges Christians to pray for civil rulers “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all Godliness and dignity.” God wants His people to seek and enjoy, and the government to produce domestic tranquility.
  2. Provide for the common defense.” In Romans 13:4, the Bible affirms that civil government “does not bear the sword in vain.” The “sword” is a military weapon, and even Jesus Christ taught His disciples the legitimacy of being armed, telling them in Luke 22:36, “Now…let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one.” Protecting innocent human life is a primary purpose of government (cf. Romans 13:1-5 and 1 Peter 2:13-14), and to fulfill this purpose, governments organize armies to protect citizens from international threats, and establish police forces to protect citizens from domestic threats.
  3. “Promote the general welfare.” Romans 13:4 says that civil leaders are to be servants “to you for good”—they are to serve and seek the common good of all classes of citizens. God wants government to reflect equality in the same way He does; after all, God uses the same standards for all (see Matthew 5:45), and all were created equal by and before God. As the Bible affirms:
  • Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? (Malachi 2:10)
  • God does not show favoritism. (Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11)
  • For the Lord your God…shows no partiality. (Deuteronomy 10:17)

By the way, notice that the Preamble says that government is to promote the general welfare,” not provide for the general welfare.” Numerous Scriptures make clear that needy individuals are to be cared for by private acts of charity from individuals, churches, and families, but not from government. The Framers of our government frequently reiterated the same point about promoting welfare.[82]

  1. The fifth purpose of American government set forth in the preamble is to “Secure the blessings of liberty.” “Blessings” means “God’s favor and protection” and liberty is one of God’s blessings for all the people.
  • Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof. (Leviticus 25:10)
  • Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
  • You have been called unto liberty. (Galatians 5:13)
The US Constitution contains many Biblical ideas and principles.

Significantly, the most basic of our Creator-endowed blessings are identified in the Declaration of Independence as well as in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution as “life, liberty, [and] private property.” Just as God is the source of liberty, the Scriptures also identify Him as the source of life (Genesis 1:27, “And God created man…” and Acts 17:28 “In Him we live, move, and have our being”). God is also the source of private property (Ecclesiastes 5:19 states, “For every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them…and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God”; and 1 Chronicles 29:12, likewise affirms: “Both riches and honor come from Thee.”)

The purpose for which American government exists and the Constitution was written is set forth in the five clauses of the Preamble, and all five are firmly rooted in Bible teachings.

The First Inauguration, 1789
Washington took the Presidential oath of office with his hand on the Bible.

By June 1788, the Constitution had been ratified. Electors from the states then unanimously chose George Washington as the first president. He was the only president in US history to be elected with no opposition.[83]

Constitutional experts abounded at that first presidential inauguration in March 1789. Not only did George Washington help create the Constitution that was now to govern the nation but one fourth of the members of the Congress that organized and directed his inauguration had been delegates with him in writing that Constitution.[84]

Furthermore, this very same Congress also penned the First Amendment to the Constitution with its religion clauses. Clearly, therefore, this Congress definitely knew what was and was not constitutional; so the religious activities that were part of the first inauguration may well be said to have had the approval of the greatest congressional collection of constitutional experts America has ever known.

That inauguration occurred in New York City, which served as the nation’s capital during the first year of the new federal government. The preparations had been extensive; everything had been well planned; and religious activities abounded.

The newspapers reported on the very first activity of the inauguration:

[O]n the morning of the day on which our illustrious President will be invested with his office, the bells will ring at nine o’clock, when the people may go up to the house of God and in a solemn manner commit the new government, with its important train of consequences, to the holy protection and blessing of the Most High. An early hour is prudently fixed for this peculiar act of devotion and…is designed wholly for prayer. [85]

As the parade carrying Washington by horse-drawn carriage to the swearing-in was nearing Federal Hall, it was realized that no Bible had been obtained for administering the oath, and New York state law required that a Bible be part of the ceremony.[86] Parade Marshal Jacob Morton therefore hurried off and soon returned with a large 1767 Bible.

The inauguration ceremony was conducted on the balcony at Federal Hall; and with a huge crowd gathered below watching the proceedings, the Bible was laid upon a crimson velvet cushion and the oath of office was administered. The Bible was opened (at random) to Genesis 49;[87] Washington placed his left hand upon the open Bible, raised his right, took the oath of office, then bent over and reverently kissed the Bible.[88] Washington and the other officials then departed the balcony and went inside Federal Hall to the Senate Chamber, where Washington delivered his Inaugural Address.

In that first-ever presidential speech, Washington opened with his own heartfelt prayer. [89] He then called on his listeners to remember and acknowledge God.[90] Finishing his address, Washington offered his closing prayer.[91]

Moving on to the next inaugural activity, the Senate directed:

That after the oath shall have been administered to the President, he—attended by the Vice-President and members of the Senate and House of Representatives—proceed to St. Paul’s Chapel to hear Divine service.[92]

The House approved the same resolution, [93] so the president and Congress thus went en masse to church as an official body. As affirmed by congressional records:

The President, the Vice-President, the Senate, and House of Representatives, &c., then proceeded to St. Paul’s Chapel, where Divine Service was performed by the chaplain of Congress.[94]

There were thus at least seven distinctly religious activities included in this first presidential inauguration, and those activities have been repeated in whole or part in every inauguration since: (1) the use of the Bible to administer the oath; (2) solemnifying the oath with multiple religious expressions (placing a hand on the Bible, saying “So help me God,” and then kissing the Bible); (3) prayers offered by the president himself; (4) religious content in the inaugural address; (5) the president calling on the people to pray or acknowledge God; (6) church inaugural worship services; and (7) clergy-led prayers.

Christianity and the Congress

The Continental Congress had passed an important act known as “The Northwest Ordinance.” President Washington and Congress passed a federal law to ensure that this Ordinance would be in effect under the new Constitution.[95]

It is so important that even today, it is still considered one of the four organic, or fundamental American laws on which all others are to be based.[96] It not only declared that “civil and religious liberty…form the basis whereon these republics, their laws, and constitutions are erected,”[97] but it was also the first federal law to address education. Article III of that national law directly linked religion and public education together, declaring:

Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. [98]

(Across history, numerous state constitutions, complying with this provision, likewise declared that religion, morality, and knowledge were to be part of public education, and many state constitutions today still retain this requirement.[99])

Some six weeks later on September 25, 1789, Congress finished framing the Bill of Rights (the first Ten Amendments, setting forth the God-given inalienable rights that belong to every individual). The Bill of Rights was the Capstone of the Constitution. Significantly, 165 years later, US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren declared:

I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it: freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice under law, and the reservation of powers to the people….I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country. [100]

On that notable day in 1789 on which the Bill of Rights was completed, the Journals of Congress record that:

Ten of the twelve originally proposed amendments to the Constitution were ratified by the states, and those then are now known as the Bill of Rights.

Mr. [Roger] Sherman [the only Founding Father to sign all four founding documents] justified the practice of thanksgiving on any signal [important] event not only as a laudable one in itself but as warranted by precedents in Holy Writ [i.e., the Scriptures]: for instance, the solemn thanksgivings and rejoicings which took place in the time of Solomon after the building of the temple was a case in point [1 Kings 8, 2 Chronicles 5-7]. This example he thought worthy of Christian imitation on the present occasion. [101]

Congress therefore unanimously requested that President Washington issue a proclamation for the people of the United States to thank Almighty God for the “opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.”[102] Washington happily complied with that request, affirming that 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.”[103]

Notice that George Washington said nations—not just individuals, but nations—have four distinct duties: (1) to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, (2) to obey His will, (3) to be grateful for His benefits, and (4) humbly to implore His protection and favor. Our Congress and our presidents have fulfilled this duty hundreds of times in our nation’s history.

The First Amendment

The First Amendment to the Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights passed by the Congress) is misunderstood by many people today, including numerous courts. Concerning religion, the Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Many today claim that this Amendment mandates a “separation of church and state,” which to them means that government can have nothing to do with religion in general, or Christianity in particular. But our Founders wrote this clause only to ensure that Congress could not establish a national church, or give official preference to a particular religious denomination, as had been the centuries-long practice for many European governments at that time.

The Founders considered the idea of separating God from government, or making government purely secular, a ridiculous notion. They repeatedly affirmed that God was Supreme over all earthly governments; to them, any attempt to separate government from Godly principles would mean the death of the nation. As George Washington openly reminded Americans:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness—these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. [104]

According to Washington, anyone who sought to remove religion or morality from government could not be considered a patriot—he was not a friend to or supporter of America. Founding Father John Witherspoon likewise declared:

[H]e is the best friend to American liberty who is the most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every king. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country. [105]

The Founders were adamantly opposed to any notion of a secular society or a Godless public square.

The proper view of the meaning of the First Amendment was accurately set forth by early Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (called a “Father of American Jurisprudence,” placed on the Court by President James Madison). Story authored the famous Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833), considered one of the most respected American legal works. Concerning the First Amendment, he explained:

At the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendment to it now under consideration [i.e., the First Amendment], the general if not the universal sentiment in America was that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state….An attempt to level all religions and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation….The real object of the [First] Amendment was not to countenance [approve], much less to advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects [denominations] and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government [i.e., establish an official national church or denomination, such as Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, or any other].[106]

Justice Story further explained:

In some of the states, Episcopalians constituted the predominant sect [denomination]; in others, Presbyterians; in other, Congregationalists; in others, Quakers; and in others again, there was a close numerical rivalry among contending sects [denominations]. It was impossible that there should not arise perpetual strife and jealousy…if the national government were left free to create a [national] religious establishment….Thus the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments.[107]

Significantly, even Thomas Jefferson (the man often credited today with being the originator of the phrase “separation of church and state”) adamantly opposed the concept of a secular nation, or Godless public square. In fact, he frequently introduced religious activities directly into the public arena.

For example, in 1774 while serving in the Virginia state legislature, he introduced a resolution for a colony-wide day of fasting and prayer. And in 1779 as governor of Virginia, he issued a proclamation calling for a statewide day of prayer and thanksgiving.[108]

In 1789, he began serving in the federal government as Secretary of State for President George Washington where he was placed in charge of laying out the city of Washington DC, including building the White House and the US Capitol. He then became Vice President under President John Adams, and during this time,on November 22, 1800, Congress moved into the newly constructed US Capitol building.

Two weeks later on December 4, 1800, with Theodore Sedgwick presiding over the House and Thomas Jefferson over the Senate, a plan was approved whereby Christian church services would be held every Sunday in the Hall of the House of Representatives[109] —the largest room in the Capitol building. The spiritual leadership for each Sunday’s service would alternate between the chaplain of the House and the chaplain of the Senate, each of whom would either personally conduct the service or invite some other minister to preach.

It was in this most recognizable of all government buildings that Vice President Jefferson attended church[110] —a practice he continued throughout his two terms as president.[111] In fact, US congressman Manasseh Cutler, who also attended church at the Capitol, affirmed that “He [Jefferson] and his family have constantly attended public worship in the Hall.”[112] Mary Bayard Smith, another attendee at the Capitol services, confirmed, “Mr. Jefferson, during his whole administration, was a most regular attendant.”[113] She even noted that Jefferson had a designated seat at the Capitol church: “The seat he chose the first Sabbath, and the adjoining one, which his private secretary occupied, were ever afterwards by the courtesy of the congregation left for him and his secretary.”[114]

Each Sunday, Jefferson rode his horse from the White House to the church at the Capitol, [115] a distance of 1.6 miles and a trip of about thirty minutes. He made this ride regardless of weather conditions. In fact, among Representative Cutler’s entries is one noting that “[i]t was very rainy, but his [Jefferson’s] ardent zeal brought him through the rain and on horseback to the Hall.”[116] Other diary entries similarly confirm Jefferson’s faithful attendance despite unfavorable weather.[117]

Interestingly, the Marine Corps band, now known as the President’s Own Band, played worship services at the Capitol. [118] According to attendee Margaret Bayard Smith, the band, clad in their scarlet uniforms, made a “dazzling appearance” as they played from the gallery, providing instrumental accompaniment for the singing. [119] However, good as they were, they seemed too showy for the services and “the attendance of the Marine Band was soon discontinued.”[120]

Under President Jefferson, Sunday church services were also started at the War Department and the Treasury Department[121] —government buildings of the Executive Branch under Jefferson’s direct control. If Jefferson thought such religious services in government buildings and government settings were unconstitutional or improper, he certainly had the power to stop them; but he did not. To the contrary, he helped start them and encouraged their use. Therefore, on any given Sunday, worshippers could choose between attending church at the US Capitol, the War Department, or the Treasury Department—all with the blessing of Jefferson. (By 1867, the church in the Capitol that Jefferson helped start had become the largest church in Washington, DC.[122])

When Jefferson was asked why he attended church at the Capitol, he answered:

No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion—nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example. [123]

Additionally, while serving as President of the United States, Jefferson authored the original plan of education for the public schools of Washington, DC. He used the Bible and Watt’s Hymnal (one of the greatest doctrinal hymnals in Christendom) as the primary reading texts.[124] In 1803, he signed a federal act renewing provisions related to propagating the Gospel among the Delaware Indian tribe[125] and also approved a treaty with the Kaskaskia tribe to provide them Christian ministry and teaching.[126] And in 1804 he signed a federal act related to the propagation of the Gospel among Indians on federal land trusts.[127] President Jefferson not only personally undertook federal initiatives to help propagate Christianity and Christian teachings among native peoples, he also praised others who did the same.[128]

After he left the presidency, Jefferson established the University of Virginia, where he encouraged the teaching of religion and set apart space in the Rotunda for chapel services.[129] He also praised the use of the local courthouse in his home town for religious services.[130]

Congressional Actions

Many significant acts of Congress in promoting religion and Biblical Christianity have already been noted, but there are many more. For example, between 1836 and 1847, Congress commissioned four massive paintings to be hung in the Rotunda of the US Capitol for public viewing. They were designed to depict events reflecting the Christian heritage of the nation, and among the four paintings are featured three Christian prayer services, a Christian Bible study, and a Christian baptism. [131]

A few years later in 1852-1853, a group petitioned Congress for a complete secularization of the public square and a cessation of all religious activities by government. But Congress rejected that request, instead making unambiguous declarations about America as a God-centered and Christian nation:

House Judiciary Committee: Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, not any one sect [denomination]….In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity. That [Christianity], in its general principles, is the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions.[132]

Senate Judiciary Committee: We are Christians, not because the law demands it, not to gain exclusive benefits or to avoid legal disabilities, but from choice and education; and in a land thus universally Christian, what is to be expected—what desired—but that we shall pay a due regard to Christianity? [133]

In 1856, the House of Representatives likewise declared:

[T]he great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and Divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. [134]

There are countless other examples from congressional records that could similarly be cited to affirm that America’s culture and institutions, including that of civil government, were shaped by Christianity.

American Courts

The Christian presence so visible across America and throughout government was also openly acknowledged in the Judicial Branch. For example, in a unanimous decision in 1844, the US Supreme Court affirmed that America was “a Christian country.”[135] Then in 1892, after having reviewed scores of historical documents, the Court again delivered a unanimous ruling, declaring:

[N]o purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national because this is a religious people….[T]his is a Christian nation. [136]

In 1931, the Court rearticulated the same message:

We are a Christian people…according to one another the equal right of religious freedom, and acknowledging with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God. [137]

These “Christian country,” “Christian nation,” and “Christian people” declarations were subsequently cited by numerous lower federal courts for decades, including well into the modern era.[138] And because the Supreme Court viewed America as a Christian nation, it is not surprising that it regularly invoked Christian principles as the basis of its rulings on marriage,[139] citizenship,[140] foreign affairs, [141] domestic treaties,[142] and other issues.

(By the way, these decisions about America as a “Christian nation” were not issued because only Christians inhabited America, for such was never the case—not ever, not at any time. These decisions were rendered because the Court rightly recognized that Christianity had indeed shaped America’s institutions and formed the basis of its unique culture, and that those principles provided freedom and liberty for all citizens, regardless of whether or not they happened to be Christians. Thus, being a Christian nation did not exclude anyone from participation in or protection by American government.)

Significantly, state courts were just as forthright in their declarations on this subject as the federal courts had been. For example:

[O]ur laws and institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise. And in this sense, and to this extent, our civilization and institutions are emphatically Christian. [143] Illinois Supreme Court, 1883

Democracy is the outgrowth of Christianity. Although the constitutional decree of freedom of religion and worship embraces any faith…ours is a Christian nation.[144]Kentucky Court of Appeals, 1945

Our great country is denominated a Christian nation….We imprint “In God We Trust” on our currency. Our state has even sometimes been referred to by cynics as being in the “Bible Belt.” It cannot be denied that much of the legislative philosophy of this state and nation has been inspired by the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount and other portions of the Holy Scriptures.[145] Mississippi Supreme Court, 1950

[I]t is well settled and understood that ours is a Christian Nation, holding the Almighty God in dutiful reverence. It is so noted in our Declaration of Independence and in the constitution of every state of the Union. Since George Washington’s first presidential proclamation of Thanksgiving Day, each such annual proclamation reiterates the principles that we are such a Christian Nation….At public expenditure we engrave on our coins, “In God We Trust” and print the same on currency. Our National Motto adopted by joint resolution of Congress is “In God We Trust.” Our National Anthem closes with these words “In God is Our Trust.”…[W]e consider the language used in our Declaration of Independence, and in our national Constitution, and in our Constitution of Oklahoma, wherein those documents recognize the existence of God, and that we are a Christian Nation and a Christian State. [146]Oklahoma Supreme Court, 1959

Numerous other courts made similarly succinct pronouncements.

The Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were clearly founded upon Christian ideas of man and government. Our Founders were the first civil leaders to (as the Declaration of Independence announced) “hold these truths” and establish a nation upon them. Without Christianity, there never would have been the US Constitution that has caused America to become the longest on-going constitutional republic in the history of the world. As Noah Webster (father of the American dictionary and a key individual in the passage of the Constitution) affirmed:

The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government. [147]

___________
[1] Charles Hyneman and Donald Lutz, American Political Writing during the Founding Era 1760-1805 (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1983), see listing for “virtue” in the index.

[2] The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, & c.(Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1787), Vol. II, p. 191, “An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States Northwest of the River Ohio,” July 30, 1787, Article III.

[3] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1850),Vol. IX p. 401, to Zabdiel Adams on June 21, 1776.

[4] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1850), Vol. IX p. 636, to Benjamin Rush on August 28, 1811.

[5] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1854), Vol. IX, pp. 228-229, “A Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, October 11, 1798.”

[6] Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905), Vol. IV, p. 74, to John Trumbull on October 16, 1778.

[7] Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams,Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905), Vol. IV, p. 124, to James Warren on February 12, 1779.

[8] Charles C. Jones, Biographical Sketches of the Delegates from Georgia to the Continental Congress (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1891), pp. 6-7.

[9] Bernard C. Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers Company, 1907), p. 475, Charles Carroll to James McHenry on November 4, 1800.

[10] The Independent Chronicle(Boston: Nathaniel Willis) on November 4, 1780, Vol. XIII, p. 4, from John Hancock’s Inaugural Address as Governor of Massachusetts. See also Abram English Brown, John Hancock, His Book (Boston: Lee and Shepard Publishers, 1898), p. 269.

[11] Patrick Henry,Life, Correspondence and Speeches, William Wirt Henry (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. II, p. 592, to Archibald Blair on January 8, 1799.

[12] Gouverneur Morris, A Diary of the French Revolution (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1939), Vol. II, p. 172, April 29, 1791.

[13] Gouverneur Morris, A Diary of the French Revolution (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1939), Vol. II, p. 452, to Lord George Gordon, June 28, 1792.

[14] Jared Sparks, The Life of Gouverneur Morris (Boston: Gray and Bowen, 1832), Vol. III, p. 483, from his “Notes on the Form of a Constitution for France.”

[15] United States Oracle(Portsmouth, NH), May 24, 1800. See also The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789-1800, Maeva Marcus, editor (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), Vol. III, p. 436.

[16] Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas and Samuel Bradford, 1798), p. 8, “On the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic.”

[17] Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, DC: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XII, p. 315, to James Fishback on September 27, 1809.

[18] Daniel Webster, The Writings and Speeches of Daniel Webster Hitherto Uncollected (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1903), Vol. IV, pp. 657, to Professor Pease on June 15, 1852.

[19] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1936), Vol. XIII, p. 118, from General Orders, October 21, 1778.

[20] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1838), Vol. XII, p. 245, to the Clergy of Different Denominations Residing in and Near the City of Philadelphia, on March 3, 1797.

[21] Connecticut Courant, June 7, 1802, p. 3.

[22] Independent Chronicle(Boston), February 22, 1787, Fisher Ames writing as Camillus. See also Fisher Ames, The Works of Fisher Ames, Seth Ames, editor (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1983), Vol. I, p. 67.

[23] Daniel Webster, Mr. Webster’s Address at the Laying of the Cornerstone of the Addition to the Capitol; July 4th, 1851 (Washington: Gideon and Co., 1851), p. 23.

[24] Daniel Webster, A Discourse Delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1820. In Commemoration of the First Settlement of New England (Boston: Wells and Lilly, 1821), pp. 49-50.

[25] Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 6.

[26] Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 339, ¶ 53.

[27] Proceedings of the Convention of the Delaware State Held at New-Castle on Tuesday the Twenty-Seventh of August, 1776 (Wimington: Star Publishing, 1927; reprint of Wilmington: James Adams, 1776), pp. 12 & 15.

[28] The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of the America (Boston: Norman and Bowen, 1785), pp. 99-100, Delaware, 1776, Article 22.

[29] Samuel Adams, Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1865), Vol. III, pp. 84-85.

[30] Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, James Grant Wilson and John Fiske, editors (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1888), s.v. “Nathaniel Gorham.”

[31] A Constitution or Frame of Government Agreed Upon by the Delegates of the People of the State of Massachusetts-Bay (Boston: Benjamin Edes & Sons, 1780), p. 44, Chap. VI, Art. I.

[32] The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Francis Bailey, 1784), pp. 32, 34.

[33] The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of the America (Boston: Norman and Bowen, 1785), p. 81, Pennsylvania, 1776, Article II, Section 10.

[34] See, for example, The Constitutions of the Several Independent States of the America (Boston: Norman and Bowen, 1785), p. 108, Maryland, 1776, Declaration of Rights, Section 35; p. 4, New Hampshire, 1783, Bill of Rights, Article I, Section 6; etc.

[35] Hezekiah Niles, Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America (Baltimore: William Ogden Niles, 1822), p. 198, debate on the bill for regulating the civil government of Massachusetts Bay, April 26, 1774.

[36] Documents of the Assembly of the State of New-York, Sixty-First Session. 1838 (Albany: E. Croswell, 1838), Vol. V, p. 1, “No. 262: Report of the committee on the judiciary on the petition of Joseph Frost, Joseph Sibley, and others, praying the repeal of the laws for the observance of the Sabbath & c.,” March 13, 1838.

[37] Documents of the Assembly of the State of New-York, Sixty-First Session. 1838 (Albany: E. Croswell, 1838), Vol. V, p. 6, “No. 262: Report of the committee on the judiciary on the petition of Joseph Frost, Joseph Sibley, and others, praying the repeal of the laws for the observance of the Sabbath & c.,” March 13, 1838.

[38] Gouverneur Morris, An Oration Upon the Death of General Washington by Gouverneur Morris. Delivered at the Request of the Corporation of the City of New York, On the 31stday of December 1799 (New York: John Furman, 1800), p. 21. Evans #38002.

[39] Gouverneur Morris, An Oration Upon the Death of General Washington by Gouverneur Morris. Delivered at the Request of the Corporation of the City of New York, On the 31stday of December 1799 (New York: John Furman, 1800), p. 21. Evans #38002.

[40] Gouverneur Morris, An Oration Upon the Death of General Washington by Gouverneur Morris. Delivered at the Request of the Corporation of the City of New York, On the 31stday of December 1799 (New York: John Furman, 1800), p. 21. Evans #38002.

[41] “The Changes in American Lifestyle: 1776 vs. 2005,” Mineral Information Institute (at: https://mineralseducationcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/minerals1776vstoday.pdf), p. 1.

[42] James Madison, The Papers of James Madison, Henry D. Gilpin, editor (Washington: Langtree and O’Sullivan, 1840), Vol. II, pp. 984-985, Benjamin Franklin on June 28, 1787.

[43] James Madison, The Papers of James Madison, Henry D. Gilpin, editor (Washington: Langtree and O’Sullivan, 1840), Vol. II, p. 986, June 28, 1787.

[44] James Madison, The Papers of James Madison, Henry D. Gilpin, editor (Washington: Langtree and O’Sullivan, 1840), Vol. II, p. 986, June 28, 1787. Hamilton opposed the resolution, saying such an action at that time might communicate to the populace (who knew nothing of the events in the closed convention) they were having troubles and, hence, undermine the people’s support. Mr. Sherman from Connecticut pointed out they would have greater troubles if they neglected this important duty. It was also proposed to have a sermon preached on July 4th at the request of the convention. Dayton records the motion appointing a chaplain was seconded and carried. Madison records they did not vote on the issue. If this were so, it was because they had no funds to officially invite a chaplain, as pointed out by Delegate Williamson. (See James Madison, The Papers of James Madison, Henry D. Gilpin, editor (Washington: Langtree and O’Sullivan, 1840), Vol. II, p. 986, June 28, 1787.) However, chaplains were certainly obtained in some manner as they opened future daily sessions with prayer. (See Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911), Vol. III, p. 472, from William Steele to Jonathan Steele, September 1825 recounting a conversation with Jonathan Dayton.)

[45] James Madison’s records for Monday, July 2, 1787 notes, “That time might be given to the Committee, and to such as chose to attend to the celebration on the anniversary of Independence, the Convention adjourned till Thursday.” (James Madison, The Papers of James Madison, Henry D. Gilpin, editor (Washington: Langtree and O’Sullivan, 1840), Vol. II, pp. 1023-1024.) George Washington’s notes on July 4, 1787, “and (the Convention having adjourned for that purpose), [he] went to hear an Oration on the anniversary of Independence.” (Worthington Chauncy Ford, George Washington (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900), Vol. II, p. 132.)

[46] The Massachusetts Centinel, August 15, 1787, p. 1.

[47] See The North American Review (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, January 1867), Vol. 104, p. 249: “Mr. [J. Arthur] Partridge…“the American government and Constitution is the most precious possession which the world holds, or which the future can inherit.” This is true—true because the American system is the political expression of Christian ideas.”; Daniel Webster, An Anniversary Address, Delivered Before the Federal Gentlemen of Concord and Its Vicinity, July 4th, 1806 (Concord, NH: George Hough, 1806), p. 6: “We live under the only government that ever existed, which was formed by the deliberate consultations of the people. Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in six thousand years, cannot be expected to happen often. Such a government, once destroyed, would have a void to be filled, perhaps for centuries, with evolution and tumult, riot and despotism.”

[48] Calvin Coolidge, The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge (Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific, 2004; originally printed in 1929), p. 40.

[49] James M. Beck, The Constitution of the United States, 1787-1927, Edwin L. Miller, C. C. Barnes, editors (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1927), p. viii, a letter from the White House by Calvin Coolidge, December 12, 1924.

[50] John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987), p. 352, n. 15.

[51] The Debates in the Several Conventions, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, editor (Washington, DC: 1836), Vol. II, p. 2-3, Massachusetts Convention, January 10, 1788; Vol. IV, p. 1, North Carolina Convention, July 21, 1788; Mark David Hall, Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 118-119, n75.

[52] George Washington, The Papers of George Washington, Dorothy Twohig, editor (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997), Vol. 6, pp. 104-105, from Benjamin Lincoln on February 9, 1788.

[53] George Bancroft, History of the United States of America (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1882), Vol. VI, p. 420, address by Christopher Gadsden originally reported in the Pennsylvania Packet, June 14, 1788.

[54] George Bancroft, History of the United States of America (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1882), Vol. VI, p. 414, George Washington to Marquis de la Fayette on May 28, 1788.

[55] George Bancroft, History of the Formation of the Constitution of the United States of America (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1882), Vol. II, p. 257, address by William Samuel Johnson originally reported in the Pennsylvania Packet, January 24, 1788.

[56] Essays on the Constitution of the United States, Published During its Discussion by the People, 1787-1788, Paul Leicester Ford, editor (Brooklyn: Historical Printing Co. 1892), p. 288, Caesar to Mr. Childs, October 17, 1787, originally printed in The Daily Advertiser. (This was written under his pseudonym Ceasar.)

[57] Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, & James Madison, The Federalist on the New Consitution; Written in 1788 (Philadelphia: Benjamin Warner, 1818), p. 194, James Madison, Federalist #37.

[58] Benjamin Franklin,The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, and Company, 1840), Vol. V, p. 162, from “A Comparison of the Conduct of the Ancient Jews and of the Anti-Federalists in the United States of America,” no date.

[59] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf, 1835), Vol. IX, p. 317, to Marquis de Lafayette on February 7, 1788.

[60] Benjamin Rush,Letters of Benjamin Rush, L. H. Butterfield, editor (Princeton, New Jersey: American Philosophical Society, 1951), Vol. I, p. 475, to Elias Boudinot on July 9, 1788.

[61] Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore, The Godless Constitution (New York: W.W. Nortion & Company, 1996) p. 179.

[62] Donald S. Lutz, “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth Century American Political Thought,” American Political Science Review, Vol. 78, Issue 1, March 1984, p. 191.

[63] Donald S. Lutz, “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth Century American Political Thought,” American Political Science Review, Vol. 78, Issue 1, March 1984, pp. 192-193. See also Donald Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988), pp. 141-142.

[64] Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company v. Ellis, 165 U. S. 150, 160 (1897).

[65] John Quincy Adams, The Jubilee of the Constitution. A Discourse Delivered at the Request of the New York Historical Society, in the City of New York, On Tuesday the 30thof April, 1839; Being the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Inauguration of George Washington as President of the United States, on Thursday, the 30thof April, 1789 (New York: Samuel Colman, 1839), p. 54.

[66] Ex parte Newman, 9 Cal. 502, 509 (1858).

[67] City Council of Charleston v. S. A. Benjamin, 2 Strob. 508, 518-521 (Sup. Ct. S.C. 1846)

[68] The Reports of Committees of the Senate of the United States For the Second Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852-53 (Washington: Robert Armstrong, 1853), pp. 3, “Rep. Com. No. 376,” January 21, 1853.

[69] James Madison, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904), Vol. V, p. 30, to Thomas Jefferson on October 24, 1787.

[70] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor(Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1854), Vol. IX, p. 229, to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts on October 11, 1798.

[71] John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. VII, p. 139, from his “Lectures on Moral Philosophy,” Lecture 16 on Oaths and Vows.

[72] Jonathan Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Washington: Printed for the Editor, 1836), Vol. II, p. 202, Oliver Wolcott on January 9, 1788.

[73] Jonathan Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Washington: Printed for the Editor, 1836), Vol. IV, p. 196, James Iredell on July 30, 1788.

[74] George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States, and Late Commander in Chief of the American Army, to the People of the United States, Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: Christopher Jackson, 1796), p. 23.

[75] Reports of the Proceedings and Debates of the Convention of 1821, Assembled for the Purpose of Amending The Constitution of the State of New York (Albany: E. and E. Hosford, 1821), p. 575, Rufus King, October 30, 1821.

[76] Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education (New Haven: S. Converse, 1823), pp. 18-19, Letter 1. See also a similar comment in Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), pp. 336-337, ¶ 49, although the Scripture citation in this work is closer to 2 Samuel 23:3 than Exodus 18:21.

[77] John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1804), Vol. V, pp. 266-267, from “A Sermon Delivered at a Public Thanksgiving after Peace”; and a handwritten manuscript of Dr. Benjamin Rush in the private collection of David Barton. In that work, Dr. Rush lists several headings, and under the heading, verses that he believed pertained to that subject. Under the heading, “Government” in his manuscript, Dr. Rush lists Exodus 18:21 as an applicable verse.

[78] John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (London: C. Dilly, 1788), Vol. III, p. 289.

[79] George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States, and Late Commander in Chief of the American Army, to the People of the United States, Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: Christopher Jackson, 1796), p. 13.

[80] Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, & James Madison, The Federalist on the New Constitution; Written in 1788 (Philadelphia: Benjamin Warner, 1818), p. 85, Federalist #16 by Alexander Hamilton.

[81] Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, & James Madison, The Federalist on the New Constitution; Written in 1788 (Philadelphia: Benjamin Warner, 1818), p. 281, Federalist #51 by James Madison.

[82] See The Founders Bible (Newbury Park, CA: Shiloh Road, 2017), articles relating to Deutereonmy 15:11 (p. 311) and Deutereonmy 24 (p. 337).

[83] For George Washington’s unanimous vote, see:  Journal of the First Session of the Senate of the United States of America, Begun and Held at the City of New York, March 4, 1789 (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1820), Vol. 1, p. 8, Senate vote of April 6, 1789, and p. 9, John Langdon’s letter to George Washington on April 6, 1789.

[84] Significantly, many of the US Senators at the first Inauguration had been delegates to the Constitutional Convention that framed the Constitution including William Samuel Johnson, Oliver Ellsworth, George Read, Richard Bassett, William Few, Caleb Strong, John Langdon, William Paterson, Robert Morris, and Pierce Butler; and many members of the House had been delegates to the Constitutional Convention, including Roger Sherman, Abraham Baldwin, Daniel Carroll, Elbridge Gerry, Nicholas Gilman, Hugh Williamson, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimmons, and James Madison.

[85] The Daily Advertiser, New York, Thursday, April 23, 1789, p. 2.

[86] Laws of the State of New York(New York: Thomas Greenleaf, 1798), p. 21, “Chap. XXV: An Act to dispense with the usual mode of administering oaths, in favor of persons having conscientious scruples respecting the same, Passed 1stof April, 1778”; and James Parker, Conductor Generalis: Or the Office, Duty and Authority of the Justices of the Peace (New York: John Patterson, 1788), pp. 302-304, “Of oaths in general.”

[87] Clarence W. Bowen, The History of the Centennial Celebration of the Inauguration of George Washington (New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1892), p. 52, Illustration.

[88] Gazette of the United States(May 9-13, 1789), p. 3, “Extract of a letter from New-York, May 3.” See alsoThe American Museum: Or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, & c. Prose and Poetical (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1789), Vol. V, p. 505.

[89] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, p. 27. See also George Washington, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson, editor (Washington, D.C.: 1899), Vol. 1, pp. 44-45, April 30, 1789, Inaugural Address.

[90] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, pp. 27-29, April 30, 1789.

[91] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, pp. 27-29, April 30, 1789.

[92] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, p. 25, April 27, 1789.

[93] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, p. 241, April 29, 1789.

[94] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1834), Vol. I, p. 29, April 30, 1789.

[95] The Constitutions of the United States of America With the Latest Amendments (Philadelphia: Robert Campbell, 1800), p. 272, “An Act to Provide for the Government of the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio,” August 7, 1789.

[96] United States Code Annotated (St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1987), “The Organic Laws of the United States of America,” p. 1. This work lists America’s four fundamental laws as the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Northwest Ordinance.

[97] The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, & c. (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1787), Vol. II, p. 190, “An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States Northwest of the River Ohio,” July 30, 1787.

[98] The American Museum, or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, & c. (Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1787), Vol. II, p. 191, “An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States Northwest of the River Ohio,” July 30, 1787, Article III.

[99] The Constitutions of the United States of America With the Latest Amendments(New York: Evert Duygkinck, 1820), p. 409, Mississippi, 1817, Article 6, §16; House of Representatives, Mis. Doc. No. 44, 35th Congress, 2nd Session, February 2, 1859, pp. 3-4, Article 1, §7, of the KansasConstitution; The Constitution of North Carolina (Raleigh: Rufus L. Edmisten, 1989), p. 42, Article 9, §1; Constitution of the State of Nebraska (Lincoln: Allen J. Beermann, 1992), pp. 1-2, Article 1, §4; Page’s OhioRevised Code Annotated (Cincinnati: Anderson Publishing Co., 1994), p. 24, Article 1, §7; The Constitution of Michigan, Article VII, §1; and so forth.

[100] “Breakfast in Washington,” Time Magazine, February 15, 1954 (at: https://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,936197,00.html).

[101] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor(Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1834) Vol. I, pp. 949-950, September 25, 1789.

[102] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Joseph Gales, editor(Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1834) Vol. I, pp. 949-950, September 25, 1789.

[103] The Providence Gazette and Country Journal (Providence: October 17, 1789), p. 1. George Washington, “A Proclamation,” issued on October 3, 1789, observance date November 26, 1789.

[104] George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States, and Late Commander in Chief of the American Army, to the People of the United States, Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: Christopher Jackson, 1796), pp. 22-23.

[105] John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon (Philadelphia: William Woodward), Vol. III, p. 42, from “The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men,” May 17, 1776.

[106] Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, and Company, 1833), Vol. III, pp. 726, 726, §1868 & §1871.

[107] Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, and Company, 1833), Vol. III, p. 731, §1873.

[108] Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia, H. R. McIlwaine, editor (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1928), Vol. II, p. 65, Thomas Jefferson, “Proclamation,” November 11, 1779.

[109] Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington, D. C.: Gales and Seaton, 1851), 6th Cong., p. 797, December 4, 1800.

[110] Bishop Claggett’s letter of February 18, 1801, attests that while Vice-President, Jefferson attended church services in the House. Available in the Maryland Diocesan Archives.

[111] Margaret Smith, The First Forty Years of Washington Society (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 13.

[112] Rev. Manasseh Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, editors (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 119, to Joseph Torrey on January 3, 1803.

[113] Margaret Smith, The First Forty Years of Washington Society (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 13.

[114] Margaret Smith, The First Forty Years of Washington Society (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 13.

[115] See, for example, Rev. Manasseh Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence, William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, editors (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 119, to Dr. Joseph Torrey on January 3, 1803.

[116] Rev. Manasseh Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, editors (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 119, to Joseph Torrey on January 3, 1803.

[117] Rev. Manasseh Cutler, Life, Journal, and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, William Parker Cutler and Julia Perkins Cutler, editors (Cincinnati: Colin Robert Clarke & Co., 1888), Vol. II, p. 114, diary entry for December 26, 1802.

[118] James Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 89.

[119] Margaret Smith, The First Forty Years of Washington Society (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 14.

[120] Margaret Smith, The First Forty Years of Washington Society (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), p. 16.

[121] John Quincy Adams, Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1874), Vol. I, p. 265, diary entry for October 23, 1803; and Vol. I, p. 268, diary entry for October 30, 1803; National Intelligencer, December 9, 1820, p. 3. See also James Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 89.

[122] James Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 91.

[123] James Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1998), p. 96, quoting from a handwritten history in possession of the Library of Congress, “Washington Parish, Washington City,” by Rev. Ethan Allen.

[124] Records of the Columbia Historical Society (Washington, D. C.: Columbia Historical Society, 1897), Vol. 1, pp. 122-123, 127, from the report by Mr. Henry Ould on February 10, 1813. See also National Intelligencer, March 20, 1817, p. 2.

[125] The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1851), 7th Cong., 2nd Sess., p. 1602, “An Act to Revive and Continue in Force An Act in Addition to an Act, Entitled, ‘An Act in Addition to an Act Regulating the Grants of Land Appropriated for Military Services, and for the Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen,’ and for Other Purposes,” March 3, 1803.

[126] American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive of the Congress of the United States, Walter Lowrie and Matthew St. Claire Clarke, editors (Washington, D. C.: Gales and Seaton, 1832), Vol. IV, p. 687, “The Kaskaskia and Other Tribes,” October 31, 1803.

[127] The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, Richard Peters, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1845), Vol. II, pp. 271-272, “An Act Granting Further Time for Locating Military Land Warrants, and for Other Purposes,” March 19, 1804.

[128] See, for example, Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XVI, p. 289, to Thomas, Ellicot, and Others on November 13, 1807.

[129] Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIX, pp. 449-450, “A Meeting of the Visitors of the University of Virginia on Monday the 4th of October, 1824.”

[130] Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, editor (Charlottesville: F. Carr and Co., 1829), Vol. IV, p. 358, to Doctor Thomas Cooper on November 2, 1822.

[131] See information about all the painting in the US Capitol Rotunda from Architect of the Capitol (at: https://www.aoc.gov/artwork/type/historic-rotunda-paintings). These paintings include: “Landing of Columbus,” Architect of the Capitol (at: https://www.aoc.gov/art/historic-rotunda-paintings/landing-columbus), showing some of the members of Columbus’ landing party kneeling in prayer; “Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto,” Architect of the Capitol(at: https://www.aoc.gov/art/historic-rotunda-paintings/discovery-mississippi-by-de-soto), depicting “a monk pray[ing] as men set a newly constructed crucifix in the ground”; “Baptism of Pocahontas,” Architect of the Capitol (at: https://www.aoc.gov/art/historic-rotunda-paintings/baptism-pocahontas), showing Pocahontas kneeling as the minister rests his hand on the “baptismal font”; “Embarkation of the Pilgrims,” Architect of the Capitol (at: https://www.aoc.gov/art/historic-rotunda-paintings/embarkation-pilgrims), “The group appears solemn and contemplative of what they are about to undertake as they pray for Divine protection through their voyage.”

[132] Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1854), pp. 6, 8, “Rep. No. 124,” March 27, 1854.

[133] The Reports of Committees of the Senate of the United States for the Second Session of the Thirty-Second Congress, 1852-53 (Washington: Robert Armstrong, 1853), p. 3, “Rep. Com. No. 376,” January 21, 1853.

[134] Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States: Being the First Session of the Thirty-Fourth Congress (Washington: Cornelius Wendell, 1855), p. 354, January 23, 1856.

[135] Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 43 U. S. 126, 198 (1844).

[136] Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S., 143 U. S. 457, 465, 471 (1892).

[137] United States v. Macintosh, 283 U. S. 605, 625 (1931).

[138] See for example, Warren v. United States, 177 F.2d 596 (10thCir. Ct. of App., 1949); United States v. Girouard, 149 F.2d 760 (1stCir. Ct. of App., 1945); Steiner v. Darby, 88 Cal. App. 2d 481 (1948); Vogel v. County of Los Angeles, 68 Cal. 2d 18(Ca. Sup. Ct., 1967); and many others.

[139] See, for example, Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333, 341-344, 348 n (1890); The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States,136 U. S. 1, 49 (1890); and many others.

[140] See, for example, U. S. v. Macintosh, 283 U. S. 605, 625 (1931); and many others.

[141] See, for example, Ross v. McIntyre, 140 U. S. 453, 463 (1891); Kinsella v. Krueger, 351 U. S. 470 (1956); Reid v. Covert, 354 U. S. 1 (1957); and many others.

[142] See, for example, Beecher v. Wetherby, 95 U. S. 517, 525 (1877); Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock, 187 U. S. 553, 565 (1903); Yankton Sioux Tribe of Indians v. U. S., 272 U. S. 351 (1926); U. S. v. Choctaw Nation, 179 U. S. 494 (1900); Atlantic & P R Co v. Mingus, 165 U. S. 413 (1897); Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company v. Roberts, 152 U. S. 114 (1894); Buttz v. Northern Pac. R. Co., 119 U. S. 55 (1886); Tee-Hit-Ton Indians v. United States, 348 U. S. 272 (1955); and many others.

[143] Richmond v. Moore, 107 Ill. 429 (Ill. Sup. Ct.,1883).

[144] Mordecai F. Ham Evangelistic Ass’n v. Matthews, 30 Ky. 402, 189 S.W. 2d. 524 (Ky. Ct. of Ap., 1945).

[145] Paramount-Richards Theatres v. City of Hattiesburg, 210 Miss. 271 (Miss. Sup. Ct., 1950).

[146] Town of Pryor v. Williamson, 374 P.2d 204, 207 (Ok. Sup. Ct. 1959).

[147] Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 300.

Lesson 3: American War for Independence (1765-1785)

Lesson 3: American War for Independence (1765-1785)

America’s Liberty and Independence: Founded on the Christian Faith

The positive influence of Christianity so evident in the colonization of America (presented in Lessons 1 and 2) was also plainly visible throughout the American War for Independence. In fact, the historical story of America’s quest for freedom reveals there would be no America as we have come to know it—no “land of liberty”—without the Bible and Christianity. George Washington frequently acknowledged God’s hand in the birth of America, openly affirming that “the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection.”[1] In fact, he had strong words for those who refused to see the obvious and believed otherwise.

For example, in 1778, he wrote General Thomas Nelson (who had signed the Declaration of Independence two years earlier) that“The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all of this [i.e., the events of the first three years of the war], that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations”.[2] In other words, in Washington’s view, if someone had seen all the miraculous Divine interventions so frequent and apparent throughout the War and did not feel compelled to thank God as a result, then that person must indeed be callous and wicked.

Stamp Act 1765

The train of events that led to the American War for Independence actually began more than a decade before the Declaration of Independence was penned. In 1765, England imposed a Stamp Act tax upon the colonists. This required that all printed materials in America (books, newspapers, documents, and so forth) be printed only on paper that bore an embossed royal stamp, meaning that a tax had been paid on those materials. The colonists were not opposed to paying taxes, but they were opposed to paying taxes when they had no voice in the decision—they objected to Parliament taxing them without their input. In their view, the Stamp Act tax violated the principle of private property: the British were taking their private property (their money) without their permission, or the permission of those they themselves had chosen to represent them.[3] Many leaders spoke out against the Stamp Act, including Christian ministers such as the Rev. George Whitefield and the Rev. Charles Chauncy, as well as political leaders such as James Otis and Samuel Adams in Massachusetts, and Patrick Henry in Virginia.

Patrick Henry: “If this be treason, make the most of it.”

Henry had become a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses (the state legislature) shortly after the Stamp Act Tax had been imposed.[4] He was new in the state assembly, but when he found no one willing to stand publicly and oppose the tax, he felt compelled to take action. He therefore penned resolutions against the Stamp Act and introduced them in the legislature. Because several members were staunchly pro-British and therefore supported whatever the British did, Henry reported, “Upon offering them [the resolutions] to the house, violent debates ensued. Many threats were uttered, and much abuse cast on me.”[5] Those debates were intense and highly emotional.

At one point in the discussions, Henry brought up lessons from history he felt were applicable. He invoked ancient Roman history and noted that when Caesar (the Roman Emperor and leader) disregarded the wishes of the people, Brutus rose up to kill him for the good of the country. He similarly noted that in England’s own history, when King Charles I had similarly disregarded the people, Oliver Cromwell had him executed for the good of the people and the country. Henry then brought his lesson home to the current British ruler, King George III, noting, “Caesar had his Brutus; Charles the First, his Cromwell; and George the Third…,” but before he could finish his sentence, the shout of “Treason! Treason!” erupted from every part of the room. They believed he was calling for the murder of King George III, but, as one historian recorded, without any hesitation Henry “finished his sentence with the firmest emphasis, ‘may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it’.”[6] In an instant he turned the debate in an unexpected direction, and had refused to back down.

Henry’s speech had a significant impact in rallying the patriots in the Virginia legislature. He reported the outcome:

Patrick Henry

After a long and warm contest, the resolutions [against the Stamp Act] passed by a very small majority….The alarm spread throughout America with astonishing quickness, and the ministerial party [the pro-British] were overwhelmed. The great point of resistance to British taxation was universally established in the colonies. This brought on the war, which finally separated the two countries, and gave independence to ours. Whether this 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 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 thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.[7]

Henry’s passionate speech had turned the tide. One early historian records that Henry “was hailed as the leader raised up by Providence for the occasion,”[8] and further explained:

America was filled with Mr. Henry’s fame, and he was recognized on both sides of the Atlantic as the man who rang the alarm bell which had aroused the continent. His wonderful powers of oratory engaged the attention and excited the admiration of men, and the more so as they were not considered the result of laborious training but as the direct gift of Heaven.[9]

Of Henry’s speech, Thomas Jefferson reported:

I attended the debate….and heard the splendid display of Mr. Henry’s talents as a popular orator. They were great indeed—such as I have never heard from any other man. He appeared to me to speak as Homer wrote [a brilliant Greek writer from the 7th century BC].[10]

Dr. Charles Chauncy’s sermon delivered on July 24, 1766, in response to the repeal of the Stamp Act.

(Recall from Lesson 2 that Henry had learned his remarkable oratorical skills at the feet of the Rev. Samuel Davies.)

Due to the efforts of Henry in Virginia and patriots in other states, the British decided to repeal the Stamp Act. When those rumors reached America, many pastors began preaching happy sermons in commemoration of the anticipated news.[11] Then when official word of the repeal actually arrived, the Massachusetts legislature responded by setting aside a day of prayer and thanksgiving to Almighty God.[12] On that state-designated day, noted minister Charles Chauncy (a Massachusetts pastor who had openly opposed the Stamp Act) delivered a famous sermon commemorating the glorious event[13] (as did numerous other ministers)[14]. Chauncy chose his text from Proverbs 25:25, and both the sermon and Chauncy were praised by John Adams.[15]

The Committees of Correspondence

Before American independence, the thirteen colonies were highly independent from each other, with no reliable system of intercommunication between them. Recall from Lesson 2 that the Rev. Jonathan Mayhew of Massachusetts proposed the use of circular letters—that is, messages to be circulated widely (their form of social media) throughout the various colonies in order to unite them in thinking and action.[16] Mayhew died before his proposal could be implemented, but his idea was eventually brought to reality by Founding Father Samuel Adams, who became known as the “Father of the American Revolution.”[17] Like most of the other Founding Fathers, Adams was a strong Christian. As famous historian George Bancroft affirmed:

Adams….was a member of the church….Evening and morning, his house was a house of prayer; and no one more revered the Christian Sabbath. The austere purity of his life witnessed the sincerity of his profession [of Christianity].[18]

Samuel Adams

Adams fully understood that the conflict between the colonies and England was not just an economic and political struggle but also a spiritual one. He believed that the British government had violated the colonists’ rights not only as men and subjects but also as Christians. He realized that for independence to be achieved, a knowledge of their rights in each of these three areas must be widely appreciated. Adams understood that for the colonies to “be united” would require “time and patience to remove old prejudices, to instruct the unenlightened, convince the doubting, and fortify the timid.”[19] If the various colonies could be taught and then embrace a consensus of ideas and principles, it would promote solidarity and help them become the United States of America.

To help achieve this unity, in 1772 Adams proposed that “Committees of Correspondence” be established in each colony.[20] These committees would set up communication with the others, reporting what was occurring in each state/colony. The Committees would also provide materials that could be shared to help educate and alert the colonists in every state to the principles for which they were all fighting, and the actions each should take.

The response of other colonies to Adams’ proposal for “Committees of Correspondence” was enthusiastic. Of course, there were some naysayers, including one patriot who predicted that most people would not join in the effort because “they are dead and the dead can’t be raised without a miracle.”[21] But Adams disagreed, replying, “All are not dead!—and where there is a spark of patriotic fire, we will rekindle it!”[22]

Adams’ plan moved forward, and in 1772, he himself wrote the first letter circulated among the colonists. It was called the Rights of the Colonists, and in it Adams explained:

The rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.[23]

Adams thus openly affirmed that the important principles and rights for which they were contending came from the Bible.

We often hear that the reason America separated from the British was “taxation without representation.” This is partially correct, but that was only one of the twenty-seven grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence. Another very real concern (rarely mentioned today) was the direct threat against religious liberties. Britain was threatening to control the religious beliefs and expressions of Americans by placing a state-established church over them, just as they had already done in England. This would destroy not only religious tolerance but also their individual rights of religious conscience. As John Adams warned: “if Parliament could tax us, they could establish the Church of England (with all its creeds, articles, tests, ceremonies, and tithes) and prohibit all other churches.”[24]

Significantly, several of the Founding Fathers specifically joined the effort for independence in order to secure complete freedom of religion. As signer of the Declaration Charles Carroll openly acknowledged:

To obtain religious as well as civil liberty I entered jealously into the Revolution, and observing the Christian religion divided into many sects, I founded the hope that no one would be so predominant as to become the religion of the State. That hope was thus early entertained because all of them joined in the same cause, with few exceptions of individuals.[25]

The Boston Tea Party
Benjamin Franklin

Although Great Britain had repealed the Stamp Act, the relief was short-lived. England continued to insist on taxing the colonies without their consent, and did so again through measures such as the Townsend Act of 1767 (taxes intended to show the colonists that Great Britain could tax them at will) and then the Tea Act of 1773 (which placed a tax on tea—one of the most popular drinks in America at the time). The Americans still didn’t want to pay these unjust taxes, so in the case of the Tea Act, they simply refused to buy any tea upon which the tax had been placed. As a result of this boycott, tea began to pile up in warehouses in England.

The Boston Tea Party

With the resulting dramatic drop in tea sales, tea merchants in England asked the British government to intervene and do something. Parliament therefore voted to subsidize (that is, underwrite) the tea. This action would greatly lower the price of tea, and Great Britain believed the colonists could be induced to buy the tea if it was cheap. But Benjamin Franklin pointed out that the Americans were concerned by the principles of unjust taxation, not the price of the tea; so even if the tea were cheap but still had the tax, the Americans would stand steadfastly by their principles and not buy it.[26] Franklin was right, and Americans refused to purchase even the inexpensive tea.King George III of Great Britain decided he would force the colonists to buy the tea. He therefore ordered it to be sent to America. He would make the Americans use it—and they were going to pay for it as well!

The patriots in the various ports across the colonies where the ships with the tea were scheduled to arrive held town meetings to decide what to do. At four cities, the ships were turned back—flatly denied entry into the ports.[27] But in Boston, one ship did dock. The patriots, however, didn’t want the tea unloaded so they put a guard on the ship. But that decision put Mr. Rotch, the owner of the ship, in a very difficult situation.

Almost 7,000 people gathered at Boston’s Old South Meeting House to hear Rotch explain his dilemma. If he attempted to sail back to England without unloading the tea, both his life and business would be in danger, for the British had promised they would seize and confiscate his ships unless the tea was offloaded by a certain date.

The colonists came up with a solution to deal with the hard-fisted British policy and at the same time protect Mr. Rotch’s ships and business. The Americans would board the ships and throw the tea overboard; the ship could therefore return to England without the tea, and so his ship would be safe. But at the same time, the Americans still would not be compromising their principles by buying the tea. In their eyes, it would be a win-win situation for both.[28]

To protect the Americans from British punishment, those specifically chosen to board Mr. Rotch’s ship and throw the tea overboard disguised themselves as Indians. Early historian Richard Frothingham reported:

The Virginia proclamation, authored by Thomas Jefferson and the Members of the Virginia House, set apart June 1 “as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer,” instructing the Members of the Virginia House to attend church to pray and hear a sermon.

The party in disguise,…whooping like Indians, went on board the vessels; and warning their officers and those of the customhouse to keep out of the way, unlaid the hatches, hoisted the chests of tea on deck, cut them open, and hove [dumped] the tea overboard. They proved quiet and systematic workers. No one interfered with them. No other property was injured; no person was harmed; no tea was allowed to be carried away; and the silence of the crowd on shore was such that the breaking of the chests was distinctly heard by them. “The whole,” [Governor] Hutchinson wrote, “was done with very little tumult.”[29]

This event became sarcastically known as the “Boston Tea Party.”

Boston Port Bill

When King George III and the English government learned what the colonists had done, they were furious and retaliated by passing the Boston Port Bill. Starting on June 1, 1774, the British Navy would blockade and completely close the port of Boston, thus shutting down all commerce to and from one of America’s busiest ports.[30] They intended to cut off the Bostonians’ supplies and starve the townspeople into submission.

When the Committees of Correspondence informed the other colonies what has happening, wagon loads of food and supplies began rolling into Boston from across the country.[31]

Additionally, several colonies (including Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Virginia) responded by calling for days of fasting and prayer, with the citizens of those states fervently asking God to intervene on behalf of their oppressed brethren. Early historian Richard Frothingham described the day the Act went into effect:

Members of the Virginia House gathered with a large assembly at Brutton Parish Church in the State Capitol of Williamsburg to observe the Day of Prayer

The day was widely observed as a day of fasting and prayer. The manifestations of sympathy were general. Business was suspended. Bells were muffled and tolled from morning to night; flags were kept at half-mast; streets were dressed in mourning; public buildings and shops were draped in black; large congregations filled the churches.[32]

Thomas Jefferson had penned Virginia’s prayer resolve in support of the Massachusetts brethren. It called on the legislature and the people “to implore the Divine Interposition…to give us one heart and one mind firmly to oppose, by all just and proper means, every injury to American rights.”[33] Frothingham reported the official Virginia response:

Our national seal declares E Pluribus Unum (out of many, comes one), reflecting the principle of Christian union.

The members of the House of Burgesses assembled at their place of meeting and went in procession—with the speaker at their head—to the church and listened to a discourse [sermon]. “Never,” a lady wrote, “since my residence in Virginia have I seen so large a congregation as was this day assembled to hear Divine service.” The preacher selected for his text the words: “Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee nor forsake thee [Deuteronomy 31:6].” “The people,” Jefferson says, “met generally with anxiety and alarm in their countenances [i.e., their faces], and the effect of the day through the whole colony was like a shock of electricity, arousing every man and placing him erect and solidly on his center.” These words describe the effect of the Port Act throughout the thirteen colonies.[34]

For the first time, all thirteen colonies came together in joint action—a deep cooperation had finally been achieved on a national level. John Adams spoke of the miraculous nature of this new unity, explaining: “Thirteen clocks were made to strike together, a perfection of mechanism which no artist had ever before effected.”[35] (An old clock shop filled with various wind-up clocks never sounds all the bells and chimes together at the same time; but this time it was different.)

The external union of the colonies came about because of an internal unity of ideas and key Biblical principles sown into the hearts of the American people by leaders, families, and churches. The Latin phrase on our National Seal reflects this Christian union: E Pluribus Unum (out of many, comes one).

The First Continental Congress

Further evidence of America’s new unity was apparent when our first national Congress met in Philadelphia in September, 1774. One of its earliest acts was “that the Reverend Mr. Duché be desired to open the Congress tomorrow morning with prayers, at the Carpenter’s Hall, at nine o’clock.”[36] Significantly, the delegates from the various colonies—many of whom had never met each other—agreed to open that important meeting with an appeal to God in prayer. The records of Congress thus reported:

George Washington, Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Adams, and the other members of the First Continental Congress joined with the Rev. Jacob Duche in prayer.

Agreeable to the resolve of yesterday, the meeting was opened with prayers by the Reverend Mr. Duché. Voted: that the thanks of the Congress be given to Mr. Duché…for performing Divine Service, and for the excellent prayer which he composed and delivered on the occasion.[37]

Delegate Silas Deane wrote that “Mr. Duché…prayed without book about ten minutes so pertinently, with such fervency, purity, and sublimity [simplicity] of style and sentiment…that even Quakers shed tears.”[38] He further declared that Duché’s prayer “was worth riding one hundred mile to hear”[39]—that is, it was worth traveling two or three days on horseback just to be there for that remarkable prayer.

But the Rev. Duché did more than just pray; he also spent time in reading and teaching the Bible. As John Adams affirmed to his wife, Abigail:

Duché….read several prayers in the established form, and then read the collect [the Bible lesson] for the seventh day of September, which was the thirty-fifth Psalm….I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning. After this, Mr. Duché, unexpected to everybody, struck out into an extemporary [spontaneous heartfelt] prayer which filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess I never heard a better prayer…with such fervor, such ardor [passion], such earnestness and pathos [emotion], and in language so elegant and sublime, for America, for the Congress, for the province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially the town of Boston. It has had an excellent effect upon everybody here.[40]

(Significantly, Duché covered not just Psalm 35, but also Amos 9, Matthew 8, and Psalm 36.)

The Colonists Begin to Think and Feel Together

Back in Virginia as legislative opposition to the British became more widespread and unified, many members argued that although the British were in the wrong, the colonies were too weak to take on the mighty British. Henry nevertheless urged decisive action (just as he had ten years earlier), telling the other members:

Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty and in such a country as that which we possess are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. [2 Chronicles 32:8] There is a just God [Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:6] Who presides over the destinies of nations [Psalm 75:7; Daniel 4:17], and Who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; [Ecclesiastes 9:11] it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave….Gentlemen may cry, “Peace, Peace,” but there is no peace. [Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11] The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms [Jeremiah 50:22]! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle [Matthew 20:6]? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death![41]

Henry knew that the time for words had passed. The time for action had arrived.

The Battle of Lexington
Gov. Jonathan Trumbull’s Prayer Proclamation

The situation between America and England continued to deteriorate, and this was especially apparent in New England. Henry had warned Virginians that “the next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms,”[42] and he was right. Just seven months after the national Congress first met in Philadelphia, Paul Revere set out on his famous ride to alert colonists of the British forces being sent out from Boston against them. But on that ride Revere did more than just issue random alerts; he was specifically riding to find and warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whom the British had ordered to be seized and killed.[43] Revere headed directly to where he knew they would be staying: the home of the Rev. Jonas Clark, pastor in the small town of Lexington.

The Rev. Clark had been teaching the Biblical principles of liberty to his church (as well as the prominent men of Massachusetts), and had prepared his church members to defend themselves if necessary. After being informed that British troops were on their way to Lexington, the Rev. Clark was asked if the people would fight; he acknowledged that he had trained them for that very hour.[44]

What is often called “the shot heard around the world” (that is, the first battle of the American War for Independence) took place the next morning, April 19, 1775. Approximately 70 members[45] of Rev. Clark’s congregation (both black and white parishioners) gathered on the lawn of the church to face 800 British.[46] At the end of the skirmish, eighteen Americans—both white and black—lay dead or wounded on the ground, all of them from his church.[47] Upon seeing the slain, The Rev. Clark declared, “From this day will be dated the liberty of the world!”[48]

State of Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull in the US Capitol

Interestingly, in March, 1775 (which was a month before the battle at Lexington), Governor Jonathan Trumbull of neighboring Connecticut had called for…

a day of public fasting and prayer…that God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us, to bring us to a thorough repentance and effectual reformation…That He would restore, preserve, and secure the liberties of this and all the other American colonies, and make this land a mountain of holiness and habitation of righteousness forever.[49]

Governor Trumbull had decided back in March, 1775, that the particular day of prayer and fasting he had called would be observed, of all days, on “Wednesday, the nineteenth day of April”[50]—the day on which (unknown to them at the time) the Battle of Lexington would occur! So God had an entire state praying on the very day that the fighting began.

The Battle of Lexington was quickly followed later the same day by the Battle of Concord, and then by armed conflict along the road to Boston. (And just a few days later in Virginia, Patrick Henry led several hundred men against British forces then who had tried to seize the colonists’ weaponry.)

With the escalation of hostilities in Massachusetts, the British ordered it be placed under martial law. On the day martial law went into effect, Congress called for a day of fasting and prayer. In that call to prayer, Congress appealed to “the Great Governor of the world Who “frequently influences the minds of men to serve the wise and gracious purposes of His Providential government,” recommending “to Christians of all denominations to assemble for public…humiliation, fasting, and prayer.”[51]

The Declaration of Independence
Proclamation for a day of fasting and prayer issued by the Continental Congress (John Hancock was its president), July 20, 1775, to be observed on the British imposition of martial law.

The armed fighting had begun, but it would still be another fourteen months before the colonists would finally declare their independence. They still considered themselves British citizens and sought all means possible to settle the conflict without a total break from England. For eleven years (from 1765 until 1776), the Americans worked hard to achieve reconciliation. In fact, in late 1775, the Americans had sent the Olive Branch Petition to the king, seeking to settle their differences, but the king refused even to consider the document—he flatly negated it out of hand. [52]

By July 1776, the delegates to Congress had concluded that a settlement was not possible and that it was time to declare independence.

The Continental Congress spent several days first in debating and approving independence, and then in finalizing the wording of the Declaration of Independence, which fifty-six individuals eventually signed. From Great Britain’s perspective, that act marked those fifty-six as traitors, making them all subject to the death penalty.

Faith of the Signers

Sadly, too little is known by the general public today about these Founding Fathers who risked so much. In fact, they are often wrongly presented as self-serving and largely irreligious—as atheists and secularists, or at best deists.[53] But in reality they were almost all Christians; in fact, twenty-nine of the fifty-six signers held degrees from what in their day were considered seminaries or Bible schools.[54]

Reading the voluminous writings of the individual Founders who signed the Declaration of Independence reveals the strong Christian faith that characterized so many of them. Here are a few representative examples:

Richard Stockton

Richard Stockton:[I] subscribe to the entire belief of the great and leading doctrines of the Christian religion, such as the being of God; the universal defection and depravity of human nature; the Divinity of the person and the completeness of the redemption purchased by the blessed Savior; the necessity of the opera­tions of the Divine Spirit; of Divine faith accompanied with an habitual virtuous life; and the universality of the Divine Providence. [I]…exhort and charge [my children] that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, that the way of life held up in the Christian system is calculated for the most complete happiness that can be enjoyed in this mortal state, [and] that all occasions of vice and immorality is injurious either im­mediately or consequentially—even in this life.[55]

Charles Carroll: On the mercy of my Redeemer I rely for salvation and on His merits, not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts.[56] [I am] grateful to Almighty God for the blessings which, through Jesus Christ Our Lord, He has conferred on my beloved country.[57] I give and bequeath my soul to God who gave it, my body to the earth, hoping that through and by the merits, sufferings, and mediation of my only Savior and Jesus Christ, I may be admitted into the Kingdom prepared by God for those who love, fear and truly serve Him.[58]

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush: The Gospel of Jesus Christ prescribes the wisest rules for just conduct in every situation of life. Happy they who are enabled to obey them in all situations! . . . . My only hope of salvation is in the infinite transcendent love of God manifested to the world by the death of His Son upon the Cross. Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins [Acts 22:16]. I rely exclusively upon it. Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly! [Revelation 22:20].[59] The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effective means of limiting Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible at schools.[60] [C]hristianity is the only true and perfect religion; and…in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts, they will be wise and happy.[61] [T]he Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.[62]

John Witherspoon:Christ Jesus—the promise of old made unto the fathers, the hope of Israel [Acts 28:20], the light of the world [John 8:12], and the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth [Romans 10:4]—is the only Savior of sinners, in opposition to all false religions and every uninstituted rite. as He Himself says (John 14:6): “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”[63] [N]o man, whatever be his character or whatever be his hope, shall enter into rest unless he be reconciled to God though Jesus Christ.[64] [T]here is no salvation in any other than in Jesus Christ of Nazareth.[65] [I]f you are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ—if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness—you must forever perish.[66] Whoever is an avowed enemy to God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.[67]

Robert Treat Paine

Robert Treat Paine:I believe the Bible to be the written word of God and to contain in it the whole rule of faith and manners.[68] I desire to bless and praise the name of God most high for appointing me my birth in a land of Gospel Light where the glorious tidings of a Savior and of pardon and salvation through Him have been continually sounding in mine ears.[69] I am constrained to express my adoration of the Supreme Being, the Author of my existence, in full belief of His Providential goodness and His forgiving mercy revealed to the world through Jesus Christ, through whom I hope for never ending happiness in a future state.[70]

Samuel Adams:I…[rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.[71]

John Hancock

John Hancock officially called the State of Massachusetts to prayer on twenty-two occasions.Typical of his requests, he asked the state to pray:

  • [T]hat all may bow to the scepter of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the whole earth be filled with His glory.[72]
  • [T]hat the spiritual kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be continually increasing until the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.[73]
  • [T]hat the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may be established in peace and righteousness among all the nations of the earth.[74]

Thomas McKean was chief judge in Pennsylvania. In the case Respublica v. John Roberts,[75] after a jury sentenced John Roberts to death for treason, McKean then told Roberts:

You will probably have but a short time to live. Before you launch into eternity, it behooves you…to repent of your evil deeds; to be incessant in prayers to the great and merciful God to forgive your manifold transgressions and sins; to teach you to rely upon the merit and passion of a dear Redeemer, and thereby to avoid those regions of sorrow—those doleful shades where peace and rest can never dwell, where even hope cannot enter….May you, reflecting upon these things, and pursuing the will of the great Father of light and life, be received into [the] company and society of angels and archangels and the spirits of just men made perfect; and may you be qualified to enter into the joys of Heaven—joys unspeakable and full of glory![76]

Oliver Wolcott: Through various scenes of life, God has sustained me. May He ever be my unfailing friend; may His love cherish my soul; may my heart with gratitude acknowledge His goodness; and may my desires be to Him and to the remembrance of His name….May we then turn our eyes to the bright objects above, and may God give us strength to travel the upward road. May the Divine Redeemer conduct us to that seat of bliss which He himself has prepared….It is most evident that this land is under the protection of the Almighty, and that we shall be saved not by our wisdom nor by our might, but by the Lord of Host Who is wonderful in counsel and Almighty in all His operations.[77]

Roger Sherman

Roger Sherman: I believe that there is one only living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance, equal in power and glory. That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him….I believe that God…did send His own Son to become man, die in the room and stead of sinners, and thus to lay a foundation for the offer of pardon and salvation to all mankind, so as all may be saved who are willing to accept the Gospel offer.[78] God commands all men everywhere to repent. He also commands them to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and has assured us that all who do repent and believe shall be saved….in a way of free grace through the atonement. “Ask and ye shall receive [John 16:24]. Whosoever will, let him come and take of the waters of life freely [Revelation 22:17]. Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out” [John 6:37].[79]

Many additional declarations of Christian faith were made by other signers of the Declaration. Similar affirmations can likewise be found among signers of the Constitution, presidents of Congress, supreme court justices, military generals, early presidents, and many others. With such an abundance of pronouncements of strong Christian faith from so many leaders, it was quite obvious to those of previous generations that our Founding Fathers, with only a few individual exceptions, were collectively a group of largely Christian men.

One such confirmation of this comes from the writings of Richard Henry Lee (signer of the Declaration, President of the Continental Congress, and a framer of the Bill of Rights). Following his death in 1794, his papers and correspondence, including numerous original handwritten letters from other patriots (such as George Washington, Benjamin Rush, John Dickinson, and so forth), were passed on to his grandson, who compiled those documents into a two-volume work published in 1825. After having studied those personal letters of America’s greatest Founders and statesmen, the grandson described the great body of men who founded the nation in these words:

The wise and great men of those days were not ashamed publicly to confess the name of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In behalf of the people, as their representatives and rulers, they acknowledged the sublime doctrine of his mediation![80]

Similarly, John Quincy Adams (the son of a signer of the Declaration, he personally knew most of the Founders) also affirmed that they were predominantly Christian, declaring:

From the day of the Declaration, the people of the North American Union and of its constituent states were associated bodies of civilized men and Christians….They were bound by the laws of God (which they all) and by the laws of the Gospel (which they nearly all) acknowledged as the rules of their conduct.[81]

And in 1854, the US House Judiciary Committee similarly declared:

Christianity….was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.[82]

Leviticus 25:10 is engraved on the Liberty Bell.

The evidence is abundant that the Founders were predominantly Christians.

On July 8, 1776, four days after the Declaration of Independence had been approved, the Liberty Bell rang out from the State House in Philadelphia, calling citizens together to hear the first public reading of the Declaration. It was appropriate that the Liberty Bell should be rung that day, for emblazoned around its top is a Bible verse which reads “Leviticus 25:10: Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

The Cost They Paid

Returning to the great personal risk faced by those who signed the Declaration of Independence, they were not thinking they would someday be famous for what they had done; rather, they were thinking they would most likely be killed. Yet they did not cower in fear, nor were they ashamed of standing for their principles. In fact, it was just the opposite.

For example, John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, after signing the document with unusually large writing, purportedly declared: “John Bull [King George] can read my name without spectacles and may now double his reward of £500 [$100,000 today] for my head. That is my defiance!”[83] He added, “We must be unanimous. There must be no pulling different ways; we must all hang together.”[84]

Benjamin Franklin, responding with his characteristic wit, reportedly agreed, “Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately!”[85]

Years later, Benjamin Rush (one of the signers of the Declaration) reminisced to fellow-signer John Adams about what had occurred on the day they signed the Declaration, and the fact they might all be hanged for what they were doing. Rush reminded Adams:

Elbridge Gerry

Do you recollect the pensive and awful [deep and somber] silence which pervaded the house when we were called up, one after another, to the table of the President of Congress to subscribe [sign our names to] what was believed by many at that time to be our own death warrants? The silence and the gloom of the morning was interrupted, I well recollect, only for a moment by Colonel Harrison of Virginia [a very strong and big man], who said to Mr. Gerry [a very tiny man] at the table: “I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead!” The speech procured a transient [temporary] smile, but it was soon succeeded by the solemnity [seriousness] with which the whole business was conducted.[86]

While this comment temporarily lightened the somber mood of the day, they all understood that because of what they had done, death was a very real likelihood for each of them. They clearly realized that, as one historian noted, “history was strewn with the bones and blood of freedom fighters.”[87] America would be fighting the mighty British Empire, which had the greatest military power on the earth. These men faced the very real possibility of losing everything they had; and in some way, they all suffered for their decision.

As noted historian T.R. Fehrenbach writes:

All but a very few signers of the Declaration were Christians. These leaders sacrificed much to secure liberty for all of us and for generations to come.

Nine signers died of wounds or hardships during the Revolutionary War. Five were captured or imprisoned, in some cases with brutal treatment. The wives, sons, and daughters of others were killed, jailed, mistreated, persecuted, or left penniless. One was driven from his wife’s deathbed and lost all his children. The houses of twelve signers were burned to the ground. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Every signer was proscribed as a traitor; every one was hunted. Most were driven into flight; most were at one time or another barred from their families or homes. Most were offered immunity, freedom, rewards, their property, or the lives and release of loved ones to break their pledged word or to take the King’s protection. Their fortunes were forfeited, but their honor was not. No Signer defected or changed his stand throughout the darkest hours. Their honor, like the nation, remained intact.[88]

These signers have largely been forgotten today, along with the high price they paid for the liberty we possess (and that we too often take for granted). As John Adams reminded the younger generation of his day, the sacrifice made by the Founders should always be remembered and honored:

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it. [89]

Celebrating Independence
John Dickinson
Engraved in stone in the Jefferson Memorial are Jefferson’s words about the importance of relying on and openly acknowledging God.

But our Founders not only wanted the high cost they paid for our liberty to be remembered, they also wanted us to recall that our liberty was the result of Biblical faith and dependence on God. In fact, John Adams declared that Independence Day should “be celebrated by succeeding generations…as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”[90]

John Dickinson (a general in the War and later a signer of the Constitution) similarly declared, “Our cause…is nothing less than to maintain the liberty with which Heaven itself ‘hath made us free’.”[91] And Thomas Jefferson likewise avowed: “God who gave us life gave us liberty.[92] [C]an 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?”[93]

In subsequent years as American independence was celebrated, the Founders kept a remembrance of God at the forefront of their festivities. For example, on July 4, 1793, Founding Father Elias Boudinot (a President of the Continental Congress and a Framer of the Bill of Rights) reminded citizens:

Let us then, my friend and fellow-citizens, unite all our endeavors this day to remember with reverential gratitude to our Supreme Benefactor all the wonderful things He has done for us in a miraculous deliverance from a second Egypt [that is, God delivered America from Britain in the same way he delivered His people Israel from the Egyptians thousands of years earlier]—another house of bondage. “And thou shalt show thy son on this day, saying, this day is kept as a day of joy and gladness because of the great things the Lord has done for us when we were delivered from the threatening power of an invading foe” [Exodus 13:8]….[M]ay these great principles in the end become instrumental in bringing about that happy state of the world when from every human breast, joined by the grand chorus of the skies, shall arise with the profoundest reverence that Divinely celestial anthem of universal praise, “Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth; good will towards men [Luke 2:14].”[94]

The Founders knew and regularly reminded Americans that God was the Author of our liberties.

Congressional Actions Affirming America’s Religious Faith

Shortly after the Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain, it appointed multiple chaplains to open the daily meetings of Congress in prayer including the Rev. Jacob Duché (an Anglican), the Rev. Patrick Allison (a Baptist), and the Rev. William White (an Episcopalian).

Congress also made George Washington commanding general over the Continental Army. One of his first military orders established chaplains for each regiment, and he then told the soldiers:

The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.[95]

Prayer and Fasting

The American Congress frequently declared days of fasting and prayer to seek God for His aid and assistance in their struggle for freedom, followed later by days of thanksgiving to acknowledge the Hand of God after victories in battle and other significant events. In fact, they issued fifteen official calls for prayer during the War for Independence.[96] Publicly acknowledging God and seeking His help was indeed a central part of American public life. (See Appendix 1).

Bibles and Congress

By 1777, as a result of British blockades of American ports, America began experiencing a shortage of several important commodities, including Bibles. A request was therefore placed before the Continental Congress to print or import more, because “unless timely care be used to prevent it, we shall not have Bibles for our schools and families and for the public worship of God in our churches”[97] Congress recognized this need and announced: “The Congress desire to have a Bible printed under their care and by their encouragement.”[98] A special congressional committee investigated and found it would be cheaper and quicker to import the Bibles than print them here in America, so it therefore recommended:

[T]he use of the Bible is so universal and its importance so great,…your Committee recommend that Congress will order the Committee of Commerce to import 20,000 Bibles from Holland, Scotland, or elsewhere, into the different ports of the States of the Union.[99]

Congress agreed, and ordered the Bibles imported.[100]

Interestingly, decades later in 1854 when a group claimed that the government was violating the so-called “separation of church and state” by allowing government-sponsored religious activities and funding in public, the Chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee responded with a lengthy report refuting their claims. In so doing, he specifically cited that 1777 act of Congress, noting:

On the 11thof September, 1777, a committee, having consulted with Dr. Allison [an early congressional chaplain] about printing an edition of thirty thousand Bibles, and finding that they would be compelled to send abroad for type and paper with an advance of £10,272, 10s [over $2 million in today’s currency], Congress voted to instruct the Committee on Commerce to import twenty thousand Bibles from Scotland and Holland into the different ports of the Union. The reason assigned was that the use of the book was so universal and important. Now what was passing on that day? The army of Washington was fighting the battle of Brandywine; the gallant soldiers of the Revolution were displaying their heroic though unavailing valor; twelve hundred soldiers were stretched in death on that battlefield; Lafayette was bleeding; the booming of the cannon was heard in the hall where Congress was sitting [in Philadelphia]—in the hall from which Congress was soon to be a fugitive. At that important hour, Congress was passing an order for importing twenty thousand Bibles; and yet we have never heard that they were charged by their generation of any attempt to unite Church and State or surpassing their powers to legislate on religious matters.[101]

Front of Aitken Bible “Whereupon, Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled…recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States.”

For whatever reason, those Bibles were not imported as Congress had ordered in 1777; and as the war prolonged, the shortage increased.

So in 1781, Robert Aitken, official printer of the Continental Congress, petitioned Congress for permission to print Bibles on his presses in Philadelphia, thus precluding the need to import them. Explaining that this Bible would be “a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools,”[102] Congress approved his request and appointed a congressional committee to oversee the project.[103] On September 12, 1782, that Bible received the approval of the full Congress[104] and soon began rolling off the presses—with a congressional endorsement printed in front [105] Known as “The Bible of the Revolution,” it was the first English-language Bible printed in America.

God’s Hand Visible

America eventually prevailed in its struggle for freedom, becoming an example to the world of a free nation that embraced Biblical principles. It had indeed became “a city set upon a hill” as long before envisioned by Puritan leader John Winthrop (see Lesson 1).

Throughout the American War for Independence, Americans believed God performed many miracles on behalf of the American army. Here are some examples of what they perceived to be God’s direct intervention.

Long Island (August 1776)

The Battle of Long Island

In August 1776, fighting erupted on the western end of Long Island (in New York) between British and American forces. British General Howe and his army of 32,000 men inflicted great losses on the heavily outnumbered 8,000 troops of the American army. At Brooklyn Heights, General Howe prepared to capture or destroy the remaining Americans, thus ending the war only a month after America had declared independence.

The British army had forced Washington’s troops up against the nearly mile-wide East River and created a great semicircle around them, fully entrapping them. Washington realized that to stand and fight against such odds would mean defeat and the end of the war; but to surrender was unthinkable. Strangely, however, British General Howe—despite his superior position and numbers—for two days chose not to attack and end the war; had he struck, victory would have been certain due to overwhelming British numbers and superiority.

Meanwhile, Washington, with all land routes blocked by the British, decided to retreat across the East River. He issued orders for every rowboat, sailboat, and seagoing vessel in the area to be quietly collected and used for an escape. However, unknown to Washington, the British were planning to close that route by sailing their ships up the river, taking up position behind the Americans. But as Washington’s men gathered the small craft, a heavy storm entered the region: rain began falling, and strong winds blowing, which kept the British ships from sailing up behind them and blocking their escape.

By that evening, the American fleet of little crafts had finally been gathered, and some boats began loading and departing on the rough waves, but the waters were so turbulent that the boats could only be partially loaded. By eleven o’clock, the raging winds stopped, at which time it was too dark for the British ships to make their advance up the river. A gentle breeze then began to blow from the south and southwest, which actually favored the Americans, allowing them to fully fill the rest of the boats and depart.

Washington’s men crossed the river all night without being heard or seen. Butas the sun began to rise, not all the troops had been evacuated. The British would surely see what they were doing and stop them; death for the remaining Americans would be certain. But something else completely unexpected happened. American Major Benjamin Tallmadge, still with the remaining men on the island, reported:

As the dawn of the next day approached, those of us who remained in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety, and when the dawn appeared, there were several regiments still on duty. At this time a very dense fog began to rise and it seemed to settle in a peculiar manner over both encampments. I recollect this peculiar Providential occurrence perfectly well; and so very dense was the atmosphere that I could scarcely discern a man at six yards distance.[106]

The fog hovered over the area until the last American boats left, carrying the remaining troops to safety. Providentially, Washington and the Americans had been miraculously preserved and kept alive to continue the fight for freedom.

But there was more to the story—another miraculous event had also occurred during the retreat.

The American retreat from Long Island

A family of British-sympathizers lived near the point where the American troops were being evacuated. The lady of the house, when she learned what the Americans were doing, sent a servant to alert the British. He safely slipped past the American guards, but upon reaching the British lines was stopped by German-speaking mercenaries serving with the British, with whom he was unable to communicate. They therefore put him under guard and held him until the next morning, when a British officer finally questioned him. Upon learning the news of the American evacuation, British troops were immediately sent to confirm the report, only to find the Continental camp completely empty. The British then rushed toward the shore, arriving just as the fog lifted enough for them to see the last boats crossing the East River. Over eight thousand American soldiers and their supplies had miraculously escaped.[107]

This extraordinary retreat was one of the many remarkable events of the war, and the outcome was attributed to the direct intervention of God. (By the way, notice that in this account and others to follow that many of these miraculous events often involved unusual and sudden changes in the weather. Such changes certainly cannot be summoned or controlled by any human hand but only by God Himself.)

Trenton and the Crossing of the Delaware (December 1776)
Washington crossing the Delaware

A few months after the retreat from Long Island, Washington found himself in another desperate situation that again threatened to end the War for Independence. The American army was made up of citizen volunteers who enlisted for one year at a time. It was now December at the end of the first year of the conflict, so most of the men’s one-year enlistments were up at the end of the month. Since few American military victories had been won, morale was low and re-enlistments were few. Washington’s army was rapidly dwindling, and a defeat at the hands of the British would likely destroy all remaining hope. Washington knew he had to make a bold decision, so he went on the offensive.

In a desperate move, he decided to cross the treacherous Delaware River in pre-dawn hours in order to surprise the enemy. He chose the early morning of December 26 to attack the British German-Hessian garrison quartered at Trenton. (He knew that the German custom of drinking on Christmas would help assure their deep slumber the next morning.)

As the American troops prepared to cross the Delaware River, a violent snow and hailstorm suddenly began. This hardship, however, worked in their favor by reducing the visibility to near zero, thus causing the enemy’s sentries to leave their posts and seek cover. The Americans entered Trenton so unexpectedly and with such surprise, that after only 45 minutes of fighting, some 1,000 Hessian prisoners were taken captive. Only three Americans were wounded in the battle. (Two others died, but not from the fighting; they froze to death on the harsh march.) General Henry Knox reported: “The hurry, fright, and confusion of the enemy was not unlike that which will be when the last trump will sound”[108] (a reference to 1 Corinthians 15:52, describing the last trumpet sounding and Christ returning to earth, thus creating immense confusion among His enemies). General Knox affirmed, “Providence seemed to have smiled upon every part of this enterprise.”[109] This victory raised American spirits, causing new enlistments. God once again was helping secure American liberty.

Battle of Saratoga (October 1777)

Despite the welcome victory at Trenton, the Americans were still losing more battles than they were winning. One of their more notable losses was at the Battle of Brandywine, where 1,200 American were killed in a great defeat. Following that tragic loss, Washington prayed fervently for a change—for a “signal stroke of Providence.”[110]

Surrender of British General Burgoyne at Saratoga

The British leaders had been emboldened by that Brandywine victory and sought to crush the Americans as quickly as possible. So in a bold move of overwhelming force, Lord North of Great Britain made plans to send British General Howe with his 30,000+ men north from New York City to join General Burgoyne’s 7,000 men at Saratoga in northern New York. Together, these nearly 40,000 soldiers would crush the American army of some 9,000 soldiers led by General Horatio Gates. It was an excellent plan—except that in Lord North’s haste to leave London for a holiday, he forgot to sign the order for General Howe to move his thirty thousand troops. And unexpectedly adverse weather conditions in the Atlantic kept additional British reinforcements from arriving on time. The result was a massive American victory. The British forces at Saratoga surrendered to General Gates in October 1777, with 5,000 British soldiers being taken prisoner.

(Incidentally, an indication of the generally just and honorable attitude of the Americans was seen in their treatment of those British prisoners. After receiving their pledge that they would no longer take up arms against the Americans, the British were allowed to keep their weapons; and three armed American officers then led the 5,000 armed prisoners back to Boston to put them on ships to send them back to England.[111] (What an amazing sight that must has been!)

Following the victory, the Continental Congress proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and praise, explaining:

Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the Superintending Providence of Almighty God,…and it having pleased Him in His abundant mercy…to crown our arms with most signal success: It is therefore recommended…[a day] for solemn thanksgiving and praise.[112]

Congress further recommended that Americans take time to confess any of their own personal sins and humbly ask God “through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance” so that He would be able to continue pouring out His blessings upon the nation.[113]

That victory at Saratoga is considered one of the most significant battles in world history,[114] and it certainly was a turning point in the American War for Independence. One consequence of this victory was that France realized their long-time enemy Britain might be defeated. They therefore decided to help the Americans, sending them much-needed French munitions, ships, and money, as well as highly experienced troops, all of which were invaluable to the American cause.

Benedict Arnold’s Treason (September 1780)

Late in the war, American general Benedict Arnold devised a treacherous secret plan to hand a key American fort and General George Washington over to the British. That treasonous plot was uncovered through what Washington described as “a combination of extraordinary circumstances.”[115]

The American traitor General Benedict Arnold (sitting) plots his treasonous action with British Major André (standing).

British Major John André had secretly met with General Arnold at American-held West Point, New York. André obtained from Arnold vital information on how and when to capture that fort and then either kill or capture General Washington. Dressed in civilian clothing, André returned from that meeting to a British-held region of the state to deliver the crucial information to his superiors. When he reached that British-controlled area, he encountered some folks he assumed to be British supporters, but who were actually American militiamen dressed as common citizens. André talked too freely to them, which aroused their suspicion. They searched him and found incriminating secret papers hidden in the bottom of his boot.

André offered them large amounts of money to release him, but they refused. As Washington himself later affirmed, “They [the American militiamen] were offered, I am informed, a large sum of money [by André] for his release, and as many goods as they would demand, but without effect. Their conduct gives them a just claim to the thanks of their country.”[116] Those American soldiers had refused to be bribed or bought, no matter what André offered.

The militiamen took André to the nearest American military outpost, where the commanding officer carried the news to his immediate superior, General Benedict Arnold, not realizing that Arnold was actually part of the plot. Arnold, now having been accidentally warned of André’s capture and the plan’s exposure, fled to British lines for safety. But had not Arnold’s treasonous plans been providentially uncovered, West Point and General Washington would surely have fallen into British hands, which would have been a defeat too great for the Americans to overcome.

God had once again intervened to save the American Army and its fight for freedom. As Washington affirmed to his troops:

Treason of the blackest dye was yesterday discovered! General Arnold, who commanded at West Point, lost to every sentiment of honor, of public and private obligation, was about to deliver up that important post into the hands of the enemy. Such an event must have given the American cause a deadly wound if not a fatal stab. Happily, the treason has been timely discovered to prevent the fatal misfortune. The Providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine protection.[117]

General Washington later told Colonel John Laurens, “In no instance since the commencement of the War has the interposition of Providence appeared more conspicuous than in the rescue of the post and garrison of West Point from Arnold’s villainous perfidy [treachery].”[118]

When the Continental Congress learned of the event, they, too, saw God’s hand in the affair and therefore recommended the states set aside a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. Congress asked the people not only to praise and thank God for His direct intervention in uncovering the secret treason but also to ask Him to pardon their sins, smile upon their endeavors, and “cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.”[119]

The Battle of Yorktown (October 1781)
The Surrender of British Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown

By late 1781, British General Cornwallis (the commander of all British forces in America) had moved his troops and stationed them at Yorktown, Virginia. George Washington therefore marched his army from New York down to Yorktown.

Cornwallis was awaiting a British fleet to reinforce him and move his troops into winter quarters at a new location. But unknown to him, a French fleet under Admiral De Grasse had been sent, and it arrived just in time to stop the British fleet from reaching Cornwallis.

When Cornwallis learned that his forces were outnumbered and no help would be coming, he decided to retreat across the York River. At ten o’clock on the night of October 17th, sixteen large boats were loaded with troops and sent out. The first few boats landed safely, but then Cornwallis reported: “[A]t this critical moment, the weather, from being moderate and calm, changed to a violent storm of wind and rain and drove all the boats, some of which had troops on board, down the river.”[120]

Because of this unexpected, even miraculous change in the weather, Cornwallis was unable to complete the withdrawal of the rest of his troops. He now found his army divided, half on one side of the river and half on the other. At daybreak, Washington’s artillery opened up on the stranded Cornwallis, who ordered the troops across the river to come back and help him, but it was too late. Later that day, he surrendered his remaining forces to Washington, essentially marking the end of the American War for Independence.

Both Washington and the Continental Congress recognized God’s hand in the events at Yorktown, and wanted to thank Him. The Journals of the Continental Congress reports:

Resolved, that Congress will at two o’clock this day go in procession to the Dutch Lutheran Church and return thanks to Almighty God for crowning the allied arms of the United States and France with success by the surrender of the Earl of Cornwallis.[121]

Congress went to church together, en masse, to thank God for the victory. Then in Washington’s congratulatory order to the army the day after the surrender, he wrote:

The General congratulates the army upon the glorious event of yesterday….Divine service is to be performed tomorrow in the several brigades and divisions. The Commander-in-Chief recommends that the troops not on duty should universally attend with that seriousness of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us.[122]

So not just Congress but also the American army gathered together in public religious services to thank God.

Ending the War for Independence

On February 4, 1783, sixteen months after the victory at Yorktown, England officially declared an end to hostilities. On September 8, the peace treaty was signed by John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin and then approved by the full Congress. That final document, like so many others of the Revolution, contained explicitly Christian acknowledgements, with its opening line declaring:

In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.[123]

The Christian spirit undergirding the American Founding was clear. And most Americans openly acknowledged (as did our military leaders and public officials) that God had directly influenced events leading to the birth of America and a new era of liberty in the world. They were unashamed in identifying Christian principles as the basis of what had been accomplished.

Without these Biblical principles, America would not have been born, nor would it have become a beacon of liberty for the world. Jedidiah Morse, who lived through the American War for Independence and wrote one of the early histories of the conflict, openly affirmed:
To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy.[124]

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Lesson 3: Appendix A

Public Prayer Proclamations

Early Americans were predominantly Christians, and they strongly embraced the doctrine of Divine Providence. The word “Providence” is sometimes difficult to fully grasp today because it is no longer a term used as commonly as it had been by previous generations.

Proclamation by the Massachusetts government for a day of fasting,September 22, 1670-possibly the first printed broadside for a day of prayer. Before this, fast and thanksgiving proclamations were written by hand.

A better understanding of the meaning of that word can be found by examining words or phrases used as synonyms for “Providence” in early Bible translations. Those terms include “tender mercies,” “loving kindness,” “compassion,” “watchfulness,” “preservation,” “favor,” and “protection.” They all convey the same meaning: “Providence” indicates (1) an active God, (2) Who is watching over His beloved with foresight, care, and protection. Founding Father Noah Webster, when defining this term in America’s first dictionary (1828), affirmed the same two meanings, noting that (1) “by Divine providence is often understood God Himself,” and that (2) “Providence” means “the care and superintendence which God exercises over His creatures.”[125]

Earlier generations looked to the Scriptures as a source and guidebook for both personal and civil behavior. They firmly believed God’s blessings would come upon those who obeyed His commands, and curses would come upon the disobedient (see Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26). Consequently, whenever there were times of calamity or crisis, both church and civil authorities would proclaim days of fasting and prayer to seek God’s direct intervention; and then when God answered those prayers and responded with deliverance and blessing, the leaders would routinely proclaim days of prayer and thanksgiving to express their gratitude to God. Such days of direct appeal to God were a regular part of American life.

There are many examples illustrating this alternating pattern. For example,in October 1746, France sent a fleet to attack Boston. Governor Shirley of Massachusetts proclaimed a day of fasting to seek God’s intervention,[126] and people everywhere thronged to the churches to pray for deliverance. God then miraculously sent a storm that wiped out the French fleet.[127] God clearly had answered their prayers, so everyone gathered in a time of thanksgiving to God.[128]

During the American War for Independence, the Continental Congress followed this pattern of alternating between days of prayer and fasting and days of prayer and thanksgiving. It issued at least eight different prayer and fasting day proclamations during the conflict, and seven intervening thanksgiving proclamations.[129] (As already seen, times of thanksgiving were called after events such as the victory of Saratoga, the discovery of the treason of Benedict Arnold, and the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.)

As has been evident throughout this lesson, the proclamations of the Continental Congress were not bland, vague, or deistic documents but rather explicitly Christian—asin March 1776, when the Founders asked the country to observe…

a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, that we may…appease His righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ obtain His pardon and forgiveness.[130]

Subsequent calls to prayer were just as forthright—as when they called the nation…

    • to“join the penitent confession of their manifold sins…that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance…and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth ‘in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost’ [Romans 14:17].”][131] November 1, 1777
    • to thank God that “above all, that He hath diffused the glorious light of the Gospel, whereby, through the merits of our gracious Redeemer, we may become the heirs of His eternal glory,” asking America also to pray “that He would…spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth.”[132] October 20, 1779
    • “to offer our fervent supplications to the God of all grace…to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.”[133] October 18, 1780

Individual states also followed this alternating pattern of fasting and thanksgiving. During such times, people would gather at their local meeting houses and churches to hear a sermon. And there were also times when Congress as a body, or the full state assembly would go to church together on such days. State legislatures also regularly invited ministers to preach on these days, and many of those sermons were printed and distributed at state expense.[134]

Significantly, in the period from 1620 to 1815, at least 1,400 official proclamations calling for either public days of fasting or thanksgiving were issued by civil government (including colonial, state, national, and federal governments).[135] Such proclamations continued regularly after 1815 as well, and on through the nineteenth century. Even today the practice endures, with thousands more official calls to prayer having been issued in the twentieth century.

The practice of publicly issuing official proclamations calling the nation, states, and cities to prayer now spans more than four centuries of American history. ■

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[1] George Washington, Revolutionary Orders of George Washington, Issued During the Years 1778, ‘80, ‘81, & ‘82, Henry Whiting, editor (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1844), p. 109, General Order from September 26, 1780.

[2] George Washington, The Writings of George, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, 1840), Vol. VI, p. 36, to Brigadier General Nelson on August 20, 1778.

[3] America’s Founding Fathers believed that property rights are a foundational component of a free society. As Samuel Adams explained, “Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life; secondly, to liberty; thirdly, to property.” (Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906), Vol. II, p. 351, from “The Rights of the Colonists.”) A person’s property is whatever he has exclusive right to possess and control. We have God-given rights to both internal property (thoughts, opinions, conscience, ideas, mind, talents) and external property (land, money, possessions, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly). Signer of the Constitution John Dickinson reveals the Founders’ view of how their right to property was being violated by the action of the English government, writing: “Men cannot be happy without freedom; nor free without security of property; nor so secure unless the sole power to dispose of it be lodged in themselves; therefore, no people can be free but where taxes are imposed upon them with their own consent.” (John Dickinson, The Life and Writings of John Dickinson, Paul Leicester Ford, editor (Philadelphia: The Historical Society of Philadelphia, 1895), p. 202, “An Address to ‘Friends and Countrymen’ on the Stamp Act,” November 1765.)

[4] William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1817), p. 51.

[5] William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1817), p. 58, later written by Patrick Henry on the back of the 1765 resolutions he presented relating to the Stamp Act.

[6] William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1817), p. 65.

[7] William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1817), p. 58, handwritten note by Patrick Henry on the back of resolutions he presented relating to the Stamp Act.

[8] William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. 1, p. 94. Patrick Henry’s Christian faith was common among our Founders. An affirmation of that strong faith is seen in his last will and testament, dated November 20, 1798, in which, after distributing his estate among his descendants, he concluded: “This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.” (Patrick Henry’s Will. From a photocopy in the author’s possession. The transcription can be found at The Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation, https://www.redhill.org/biography/henrys-will.)

[9] William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. 1, p. 101.

[10] Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1914), p. 8.

[11] See, for example, Samuel Stillman, Good News from a Far Country, A Sermon Preached at Boston, May 17, 1766, upon the Arrival of the Important News of the Repeal of the Stamp-Act (Boston: Kneeland & Adams, 1766), Evans #10503; and Nathaniel Appleton, A Thanksgiving Sermon on the Total Repeal of the Stamp-Act, Preached in Cambridge New-England, May 20th, in the Afternoon preceding the Public Rejoicings of the Evening upon that Great Occasion (Boston: Edes and Gill, 1766), Evans #10230; and Jonathan Mayhew, The Snare Broken, A Thanksgiving-Discourse, Preached at the Desire of the West Church in Boston, N.E. Friday May 23, 1766, Occasioned by the Repeal of the Stamp-Act (Boston: R. & S. Draper, 1766), Evans #10389; and Elisha Fish, Joy and Gladness: A Thanksgiving Discourse, Preached in Upton, Wednesday, May 28, 1766; Occasioned by the Repeal of the Stamp-Act (Providence: Sarah Goddard and Co., 1767), Evans #10612; and David Sherman Rowland, Divine Providence Illustrated and Improved, A Thanksgiving Discourse, Preached (By Desire) in the Presbyterian, or Congregational Church in Providence, N.E. Wednesday June 4, 1766, Being His Majesty’s Birth Day, and Day of Rejoicing, occasioned by the Repeal of the Stamp-Act (Providence: Sarah Goddard and Co., n.d.), Evans #10483; and John Joachim Zubly, The Stamp-Act Repealed, A Sermon, Preached in the Meeting at Savannah in Georgia, June 25th, 1766 (Savannah, 1766), Evans #10531; and Benjamin Troop, A Thanksgiving Sermon, upon the Occasion of the Glorious News of the Repeal of the Stamp Act; Preached in New-Concord, in Norwich, June 26, 1766 (New London: T. Green, 1766), Evans #10506.

[12] Francis Bernard, “A Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving,” issued on July 4, 1766, to be observed on July 24, 1766. Evans #10380.

[13] Charles Chauncy, A Discourse on “The Good News from a Far Country.” Delivered July 24th. A Day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God, throughout the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, on Occasion of the Repeal of the Stamp Act (Boston: Kneeland and Adams, 1766) (at: https://wallbuilders.com/sermon-stamp-act-repeal-1766/). Evans #10255.

[14] See, for example, Joseph Emerson, Thanksgiving Sermon Preach’d at Pepperrell, July 24th1766, A Day Set Apart by Public Authority as a Day of Thanksgiving on the Account of the Repeal of the Stamp-Act (Boston: Edes and Gill, 1766), Evans #10293; and William Patten, A Discourse Delivered at Hallifax in the County of Plymouth, July 24th1766, on the Day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God, throughout the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New England, for the Repeal of the Stamp-Act (Boston: D. Kneeland, 1766), Evans #10440.

[15] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1856), Vol. X, p. 191, to Dr. Jedediah Morse on December 5, 1815.

[16] Alden Bradford, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, D.D. (Boston: C.C. Little & Co., 1838), pp. 427-430, to James Otis, June 8, 1766.

[17] See, for example, Mark Puls, Samuel Adams; Father of the American Revolution (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006).

[18] George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1852), Vol. 5, pp. 194-195.

[19] Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. III, pp. 304-305, to Benjamin Kent on July 27, 1776.

[20] William V. Wells, The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1865), Vol. I, pp. 496-497.

[21] Richard Frothingham, Life and Times of Joseph Warren (Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1865), p. 212, James Warren to Samuel Adams on December 8, 1772.

[22] Warren-Adams Letters (The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1917), Vol. I, p. 14, Samuel Adams to James Warren, December 9, 1772.

[23] Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1906), Vol. II, p. 355, “The Rights of the Colonists, a List of Violations of Rights and a Letter of Correspondence,” November 20, 1772.

[24] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), Vol. X, p. 288, to Hezekiah Niles on February 13, 1818.

[25] Kate Mason Rowland, The Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737-1832, With His Correspondence and Public Papers (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1898), Vol. II, p. 358, to Rev. John Stanford on October 9, 1827.

[26] Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia: William Duane, 1809), Vol. VI, p. 310, to Thomas Cushing on June 4, 1773, in which Franklin said, “They have no idea that any people can act from any other principle but that of interest; and they believe that three pence on a pound of tea, of which one does not perhaps drink ten pounds in a year, is sufficient to overcome all the patriotism of an American.”

[27] For more about the ships that attempted to land with tea, see: George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1854), Vol. VI, pp. 488, 525.

[28] The events leading up the Boston Tea Party are covered in Richard Frothingham, The Rise of the Republic of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1872), pp. 306-308; and George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1854), Vol. VI, pp. 482-487.

[29] Richard Frothingham, The Rise of the Republic of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1872), p. 309.

[30] “Great Britain: Parliament—The Boston Port Act,” March 31, 1774, The Avalon Project (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/boston_port_act.asp).

[31] For information about specific shipments that came into Boston from across the American colonies, see: George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1858), Vol. VII, pp. 73-75.

[32] Richard Frothingham, The Rise of the Republic of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1872), p. 324.

[33] Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Julian P. Boyd, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), Vol. 1, pp. 105–107, “Resolution of the House of Burgesses Designating a Day of Fasting and Prayer, 24 May 1774.”

[34] Richard Frothingham, The Rise of the Republic of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1872), p. 324.

[35] John Adams,The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), Vol. X, p. 283, to Hezekiah Niles on February 13, 1818.

[36] The Journals of the American Congress, from 1774 to 1788 (Washington, D. C.: Way and Gideon, 1823), Vol. I, p. 8, September 6, 1774.

[37] The Journals of the American Congress, from 1774 to 1788 (Washington, D. C.: Way and Gideon, 1823), Vol. I, p. 8, September 7, 1774.

[38] Silas Deane, The Silas Deane Papers (New York: New York Historical Society, 1886), Vol. I, p. 20, to Elizabeth Deane on September 7, 1774. See also Letters of Delegates to Congress, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1976), Vol. I, p. 34, Silas Deane to Elizabeth Deane on September 7, 1774.

[39] Silas Deane, The Silas Deane Papers (New York: New York Historical Society, 1886), Vol. I, p. 20, to Elizabeth Deane on September 7, 1774. See also Letters of Delegates to Congress, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1976), Vol. I, p. 34, Silas Deane to Elizabeth Deane on September 7, 1774.

[40] John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1841), Vol. I, pp. 23-24, to Abigail Adams on September 16, 1774.

[41] William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (New York: M’Elrath, Bangs & Co., 1834), p. 141, speech on March 23, 1775.

[42] William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (New York: M’Elrath, Bangs & Co., 1834), p. 141, speech on March 23, 1775.

[43] The London Chronicle (June 15-June 17, 1775), Vol. XXXVII, No. 2890, p. 2, excerpts from a letter by a member of the British Army noting orders were given to “seize….the bodies of Mess. Hancock and Adams, who were both attained and were at that place enforcing by all their influence the rebellious spirit of the Provincial Congress.”

[44] J.T. Headley, The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution (New York: Charles Scribner, 1864), pp. 78-79.

[45] Jonas Clark, The Fate of Blood-Thirsty Oppressors and God’s Tender care of His Distressed People. A Sermon, Preached at Lexington, April 19, 1776. To Commemorate the Murder, Bloodshed and Commencement of Hostilities Between Great-Britain and America in that Town, by a Brigade of Troops of George III under Command of Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, on the Nineteen of April 1775. To Which is Added A Brief Narrative of the Principal Transactions of That Day (Boston: Powers and Willis, 1776), p. 5, “A Narrative & c.,” where he says, “for 800 disciplined troops of Great-Britain, without notice or provocation, to fall upon 60 or 70 undisciplined Americans.”

[46] Benson Lossing, A History of the United States for Families and Libraries (New York: Mason Brothers, 1860), p. 232.

[47] J.T. Headley, The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution (New York: Charles Scribner, 1864), p. 79.

[48] J.T. Headley, The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution (New York: Charles Scribner, 1864), p. 81.

[49] Governor Jonathan Trumbull, “A Proclamation” (for fasting and prayer), issued on March 22, 1775, to be observed on April 19, 1775. Evans #13879.

[50] Governor Jonathan Trumbull, “A Proclamation” (for fasting and prayer), issued on March 22, 1775, to be observed on April 19, 1775. Evans #13879.

[51] Journals of The Continental Congress (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1905), Vol. II, pp. 87-88, June 12, 1775 (a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer).

[52] George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1860), Vol. VIII, pp. 130-132.

[53] There are countless scores of articles and books making this claim during the modern era, including Professor William Edelen, “Our founding presidents were not Christians,” Santa Barbara News-Press, February 4, 2001, G-5; Dr. Steven Morris, “The Founding Fathers Were Not Christians,” Free Inquiry, Fall 1995, p. 12; Rob Massey, “Authors of the Declaration were Enemies of Christ,” Sun Herald, July 3, 1999, editorial; Dr. Steven Morris, “America’s Unchristian Beginnings,” The Los Angeles Times, August 3, 1995, p. B-9; and many others.

[54] All colleges up until this time were started by Christian denominations or by Christian leaders, all with a primary mission of training Godly ministers. The instruction in these seminary/colleges covered theological training and also a Biblical worldview on all spheres of life (law, science, history, etc.). Twenty-nine signers of the Declaration attended such colleges, including John Adams, Samuel Adams, Braxton Carter, Charles Carroll, William Ellery, Elbridge Gerry, Lyman Hall, John Hancock, Benjamin Harrison, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, Francis Hopkinson, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Lewis, Philip Livingston, Thomas Lynch, Arthur Middleton, Lewis Morris, Thomas Nelson Jr, William Paca, Robert Treat Paine, Benjamin Rush, James Smith, Richard Stockton, William Williams, James Wilson, John Witherspoon, Oliver Wolcott, and George Wythe.

[55] From the Last Will & Testament of Richard Stockton, dated May 20, 1780, on file at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

[56] From an autograph letter in WallBuilders’ possession written by Charles Carroll to Charles W. Wharton, Esq., September 27, 1825. See also, Lewis A. Leonard, Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (New York: Moffit, Yard & Co, 1918), p. 226.

[57] Lewis A. Leonard, Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (New York: Moffit, Yard & Co, 1918), pp. 256-257.

[58] Kate Mason Rowland, Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890), Vol. II, pp. 373-374, will of Charles Carroll, December 1, 1718 (later replaced by a subsequent will not containing this specific phrase, although he re-expressed this same sentiment on several subsequent occasions throughout the latter years of his life).

[59] Benjamin Rush, A Memorial Containing Travels Through Life or Sundry Incidents in the Life of Dr. Benjamin Rush (Lanoraie: 1905), p. 127, “An Account of the Sundry Incidents in the Life of Benjamin Rush, Written by Himself.”

[60] Benjamin Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, L.H. Butterfield, editor (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. I, p. 521, to Jeremy Belknap on July 13, 1789.

[61] Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), p. 93, “A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book.”

[62] Benjamin Rush, Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), p. 93, “A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book.”

[63] John Witherspoon, The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Philadelphia: William Woodward, 1802), Vol. II, p. 349, “The Absolute Necessity of Salvation Through Christ,” January 2, 1758.

[64] John Witherspoon, The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Philadelphia: William Woodward, 1802), Vol. II, p. 342, “The Absolute Necessity of Salvation Through Christ,” January 2, 1758.

[65] John Witherspoon, The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Philadelphia: William Woodward, 1802), Vol. II, p. 344, “The Absolute Necessity of Salvation Through Christ,” January 2, 1758.

[66] John Witherspoon, The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon (Philadelphia: William Woodward, 1802), Vol. II, p. 366, “The Absolute Necessity of Salvation Through Christ,” January 2, 1758.

[67] John Witherspoon, The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men. A Sermon Preached at Princeton on the 17thof May 1776 (Philadelphia: 1777), p. 33.

[68] Robert Treat Paine, The Papers of Robert Treat Paine, Stephen T. Riley and Edward W. Hanson, editors (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1992), Vol. I, p. 49, Robert Treat Paine’s Confession of Faith, 1749.

[69] Robert Treat Paine, The Papers of Robert Treat Paine, Stephen T. Riley and Edward W. Hanson, editors (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1992), Vol. I, p. 48, Robert Treat Paine’s Confession of Faith, 1749.

[70] From the Last Will & Testament of Robert Treat Paine, attested May 11, 1814.

[71] From the Last Will & Testament of Samuel Adams, attested December 29, 1790. See also Samuel Adams, Life & Public Services of Samuel Adams, William V. Wells, editor (Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 1865), Vol. III, p. 379, Last Will and Testament of Samuel Adams.

[72] John Hancock, “A Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving,” issued on October 5, 1791, to be observed on November 17, 1791.

[73] John Hancock, “A Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving,” issued on October 29, 1788, to be observed on November 27, 1788.

[74] John Hancock, “A Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving,” issued on October 25, 1792, to be observed on November 29, 1792.

[75] A.J. Dallas Reports of Cases Ruled and Adjudged in the Courts of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: P. Byrne, 1806), p. 39, Respublica v. John Roberts, Pa. Sup. Ct. 1778.

[76] William B. Reed, Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1847), Vol. II, pp. 36-37.

[77] Letters of Delegates to Congress: January 1, 1776-May 15, 1776, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1978), Vol. 3, pp. 502-503, Oliver Wolcott to Laura Wolcott on April 10, 1776.

[78] Lewis Henry Boutell, The Life of Roger Sherman (Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Company, 1896), p. 272, “Confession of Faith,” handwritten by Roger Sherman, c. 1788.

[79] Correspondence Between Roger Sherman and Samuel Hopkins (Worcester, MA: Charles Hamilton, 1889), p. 9, from Roger Sherman to Samuel Hopkins, June 28, 1790.

[80] Richard Henry Lee, Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee, and His Correspondence, Richard Henry Lee, editor (Philadelphia: H.C. Carey and I. Lea, 1825), Vol. I, p. 201.

[81] John Quincy Adams, An Address Delivered at the Request of the Committee of Arrangements for the Celebrating the Anniversary of Independence at the City of Washington on the Fourth of July 1821 upon the Occasion of Reading The Declaration of Independence (Cambridge: Hilliard and Metcalf, 1821), p. 28. See also, John Quincy Adams, An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request, on the Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837 (Newburyport: Charles Whipple, 1837), pp. 5-6.

[82] Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, 1854), pp. 8-9, “H. Rep. 124: Chaplains in Congress and in the Army and Navy,” March 27, 1854.

[83] This anecdote is reported by many sources, including John F. Watson, The Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in Olden Times, Being a Collection of Memoirs, Anecdotes, and Incidents of the City and Its Inhabitants, and of the Earliest Settlements of the Inland Part of Pennsylvania from the Days of the Founders (Philadelphia: Elijah Thomas, 1857), Vol. I, p. 399n. This account has been repeated in numerous other sources over the decades.

[84] Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, with Notes and A Life of the Author, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan and Dennet, 1844), Vol. 1, p. 408.

[85] Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, with Notes and A Life of the Author, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Tappan and Dennet, 1844), Vol. 1, p. 408.

[86] Benjamin Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, L.H. Butterfield, editor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. II, p. 1090, to John Adams on July 20, 1811.

[87] T.R. Fehrenbach, Greatness to Spare (Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1968), p. 23.

[88] T.R. Fehrenbach, Greatness to Spare (Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1968), p. 247.

[89] John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1841), Vol. I, p. 218, to Abigail Adams on April 26, 1777.

[90] John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1841), Vol. I, p. 128, to Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776.

[91] Warren-Adams Letters (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1917), Vol. 1, p. 4, John Dickinson to James Otis on December 5, 1767. See also Mercy Otis Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, Interspersed with Biographical, Political, and Moral Observations (Boston: Manning and Loring, 1805), Vol. I, p. 414.

[92] Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America Set Forth in Some Resolutions Intended for the Inspection of the Present Delegates of the People of Virginia Now in Convention (Williamsburg: Clementina Rind, 1774), p. 43.

[93] Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1794), p. 237, “Query XVIII.”

[94] The Life, Public Services, Addresses, and Letters of Elias Boudinot, L.L.D. President of the Continental Congress, J.J. Boudinot, editor (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1896), Vol. II, pp. 358-359, 378, “Oration Before the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey,” July 4, 1793.

[95] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscripts, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1932), Vol. 5, pp. 244-245, General Orders, July 9, 1776.

[96] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1905-1922), Vol. II, pp. 87-88, day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, June 12, 1775; Vol. IV, pp. 208-209, day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, March 16, 1776; Vol. VI, p. 1022, day of fasting and humiliation, December 11, 1776; Vol. IX, pp. 854-855, day of thanksgiving and praise, November 1, 1777; Vol. X, p. 229-230, day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, March 7, 1778; Vol. XII, p. 1139, day of thanksgiving and praise, November 17, 1778; Vol. XIII, pp. 343-344, day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, March 20, 1779; Vol. XV, pp. 1191-1193, day of thanksgiving, October 20, 1779; Vol. XVI, pp. 252-253, day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, March 11, 1780; Vol. XVIII, pp. 950-951, day of thanksgiving and prayer, October 18, 1780; Vol. XIX, pp. 284-286, day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, March 20, 1781; Vol. XXI, pp. 1074-1076, day of thanksgiving and prayer, October 26, 1781; Vol. XXII, pp. 137-138, day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, March 19, 1782; Vol. XXIII, p. 647, day of thanksgiving, October 11, 1782; Vol. XXV, pp. 699-701, day of thanksgiving, October 18, 1783.

[97] Letters of Delegates to Congress, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington: Library of Congress, 1981), Vol. 7, p. 311, n1.

[98] Letters of Delegates to Congress, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington: Library of Congress, 1981), Vol. 7, p. 311, “Committee on Publishing a Bible to Sundry Philadelphia Printers,” on July 7, 1777.

[99] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. VIII, p. 734, September 11, 1777.

[100] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. VIII, p. 735, September 11, 1777.

[101] Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A.O.P. Nicholson, 1854), p. 3.

[102] Memorial of Robert Aitken to Congress, 21 January 1781, obtained from the National Archives, Washington, DC. See also the introduction to the Holy Bible As Printed by Robert Aitken and Approved & Recommended by the Congress of the United States of America in 1782 (Philadelphia: R. Aitken, 1782; reprinted New York: Arno Press, 1968).

[103] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1914), Vol. XXIII, p. 572, September 12, 1782.

[104] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. XXIII, pp. 572-573, September 12, 1782.

[105] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1914), Vol. XXIII, p. 574, September 12, 1782.

[106] Benjamin Talmadge, Memoir of Col. Benjamin Tallmadge, Prepared by Himself at the Request of His Children (New York: Thomas Holman, 1858), pp. 10-11.

[107] Washington Irving, Life of George Washington (New York: G.P. Putnam & Co., 1856), Vol. II, pp. 334-335.

[108] Francis Drake, Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox, Major-General in the American Revolutionary War (Boston: Samuel G. Drake, 1873), p. 36, to Mrs. Knox, December 28, 1776.

[109] Francis Drake, Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox, Major-General in the American Revolutionary War (Boston: Samuel G. Drake, 1873), p. 37, to Mrs. Knox, December 28, 1776.

[110] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf, 1834), Vol. V, p. 104n, to John A. Washington on October 18, 1777.

[111] Paul Allen, A History of the American Revolution (Baltimore: William Woody Jr, 1822), Vol. I, pp. 107-111.

[112] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. IX, pp. 854-855, day of thanksgiving and praise, November 1, 1777.

[113] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. IX, pp. 854-855, day of thanksgiving and praise, November 1, 1777.

[114] Sir Edward Creasy, The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World from Marathon to Waterloo (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1918), pp. 298-326.

[115] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf, 1835), Vol. VII, p. 256, to John Laurens on October 13, 1780.

[116] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf, 1835), Vol. VII, p. 220, to the President of Congress on September 26, 1780.

[117] Revolutionary Orders of General Washington, Issued During the Years 1778, ‘80, ‘81, & ‘82, Henry Whiting, editor (New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1844), p. 109, September 26, 1780.

[118] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf, 1835), Vol. VII, p. 256, to John Laurens on October 13, 1780.

[119] Journals of The American Congress: from 1774 to 1788 (Washington: Way and Gideon, 1823), Vol. III, pp. 537-538, October 18, 1780.

[120] Correspondence of Charles, First Marquis Cornwallis,Charles Ross, editor (London: John Murray, 1859), p. 129, Earl Cornwallis to Sir Henry Clinton, October 20, 1781.

[121] Journals of the American Congress: from 1774 to 1788 (Washington: Way and Gideon, 1823), Vol. III, p. 679, October 24, 1781.

[122] George Washington, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscripts, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1937), Vol. 23, pp. 245, 247, After-Orders attached to General Orders, October 20, 1781.

[123] The New Annual Register or General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature for the Year 1783 (London: G. Robinson, 1784), p. 113, “The Definitive Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between His Brittanic Majesty and the United States of America, Signed at Paris the 3rdDay of September, 1783.”

[124] Jedidiah Morse, A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America. Delivered at Charlestown. April 25, 1799, The Day of the National Fast (MA: Printed by Samuel Etheridge, 1799), p. 9. Evans #35838.

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

[126] William Shirley, “A Proclamation for a Public Fast,” proclaimed on October 6, 1746, for a fast day on October 16, 1764. Evans #5807.

[127] Narrative and Critical History of America, Justin Windsor, editor (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1887), Vol. V, Part 1, p. 147.

[128] William Shirley, “A Proclamation for a General Thanksgiving,” proclaimed on November 7, 1746 for a day of Thanksgiving on November 27, 1764, Evans #5809.

[129] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1905-1922), Vol. II, pp. 87-88, day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, June 12, 1775; Vol. IV, pp. 208-209, day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, March 16, 1776; Vol. VI, p. 1022, day of fasting and humiliation, December 11, 1776; Vol. IX, pp. 854-855, day of thanksgiving and praise, November 1, 1777; Vol. X, p. 229-230, day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, March 7, 1778; Vol. XII, p. 1139, day of thanksgiving and praise, November 17, 1778; Vol. XIII, pp. 343-344, day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, March 20, 1779; Vol. XV, pp. 1191-1193, day of thanksgiving, October 20, 1779; Vol. XVI, pp. 252-253, day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, March 11, 1780; Vol. XVIII, pp. 950-951, day of thanksgiving and prayer, October 18, 1780; Vol. XIX, pp. 284-286, day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, March 20, 1781; Vol. XXI, pp. 1074-1076, day of thanksgiving and prayer, October 26, 1781; Vol. XXII, pp. 137-138, day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, March 19, 1782; Vol. XXIII, p. 647, day of thanksgiving, October 11, 1782; Vol. XXV, pp. 699-701, day of thanksgiving, October 18, 1783. ​

[130] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1906), Vol. IV, p. 209, March 16, 1776.

[131] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907), Vol. IX, p. 855, November 1, 1777.

[132] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909), Vol. XV, p. 1192, October 20, 1779.

[133] Journals of the Continental Congress (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910), Vol. XVIII, pp. 950-951, October 18, 1780.

[134] See, for example, Samuel West, A Sermon Preached Before the Honorable House of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, May 29, 1776 (Boston: John Gill, 1776), inside information page, Evans #15217; and Samuel Webster, A Sermon Preached Before the Honorable Council, and the Honorable House of Representatives of the State of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. At Boston, May 28, 1777 (Boston: Edes & Gill, 1777), inside front cover, Evans #15703; and Jonas Clark, A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency John Hancock, Esq; Governor; His Honor Thomas Cushing, Esq; Lieutenant-Governor; The Honorable Council, and the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, May 30, 1781 (Boston: John Gill, 1781), inside information page, Evans #17114.J

[135] Deloss Love, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1895), pp. 464-514. DeLoss Love lists some 1,735 proclamations issued between 1620 and 1815, in a non-exclusive list. Of those, 284 were issued by churches and 1,451 by civil authorities. These, however, are only a part of what were issued; for example, WallBuilders 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 number in the thousands.

Lesson 2: Colonial Period (mid 1600s – 1765)

Lesson 2: Colonial Period (mid 1600s – 1765)

As was apparent in Lesson 1, Christianity was central to the planting of the first American colonies, including Virginia (1607), Plymouth Plantation (1620), Massachusetts Bay (1630), Maryland (1634), Rhode Island (1636), and Connecticut (1638). Christianity was also very evident in the founding charters and laws of the rest of the thirteen colonies.

Pennsylvania, 1682
William Penn

In 1681, King Charles II gave Quaker minister William Penn the land between New York and Maryland to repay a debt Charles owed Penn’s father. Penn accepted the land; but understanding that it was not actually the king’s to give, Penn went to America and proceeded to purchase the land from the Indians, at the price they set.[1] In fact, he had to purchase some of the same land multiple times because several different tribes claimed it. [2] Of this land, he said, “My God that has given it to me…will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation.”[3]

In 1682, Penn wrote the Great Law of Pennsylvania, establishing“laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in opposition to all unChristian, licentious, and unjust practices, whereby God may have his due, Caesar his due, and the people their due.” [4]

Penn knew that good laws were necessary in order to have good government, but he also identified something even more important, explaining:

Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them….Wherefore governments rather depend upon men, than men upon governments. Let men be good and the government cannot be bad. If it be ill, they will cure it. But if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn. I know some say, “Let us have good laws, and no matter for the men that execute them.” But let them consider that though good laws do well, good men do better; for good laws may want [lack] good men and be abolished or invaded by ill men; but good men will never want [lack] good laws, nor suffer [allow] ill ones. [5]

Penn realized that to produce good government the quality of leaders was more important than the quality of laws, although both were necessary. He understood that rarely do bad people follow good laws, or good people enact bad laws; so while good civil laws are important, good character in a leader is even more important. Penn once told the Russian Czar, Peter the Great, “If thou wouldst rule well, thou must rule for God—and to do that, thou must be ruled by Him.” [6] Penn was simply espousing the position set forth in the Bible in Proverbs 29:2, which declares: “When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Consequently, the Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges (1701) contained qualifications for officials whereby:

[A]ll persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, shall be capable…to serve this government in any capacity, both legislatively and executively. [7]

Penn was a wise lawgiver, and his great wisdom was “derived from that book of Gospel statutes.” [8] Penn is honored in the US Capitol in the House of Representatives as one of the world’s greatest lawgivers.

Georgia
Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray

Fifty years after the founding of Pennsylvania, Georgia became the last of the original thirteen colonies to be established. (Several other colonies had been founded during those intervening fifty years.) Instrumental in Georgia’s founding was the Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray (the founder of England’s Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts and also of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge [9]). Bray founded an organization to send missionaries to America, [10] and many of his associates [11] joined with General James Oglethorpe to found the colony of Georgia Colony in 1732. [12]

The original settlers to Georgia numbered 114 and were soon followed by Moravians (Protestant Christians from Czechoslovakia) and other persecuted Christians and Jews. When that original group touched shore in 1733, they knelt in thanks to God, declaring: “Our end in leaving our native country was not to avoid want, God having given us plenty of temporal blessings; nor to gain the dung or dross of riches and honor; but singly this: to save our souls; to live wholly to the glory of God.” [13] The object of the devout Oglethorpe and others was “to make Georgia a religious colony.” [14] Thus, when the city of Savannah (the first city in the colony) was laid out, it was done with numerous religious activities and ceremonies. [15]

Oglethorpe invited the Revs. John and Charles Wesley, and the Rev. George Whitefield from England to serve as chaplains in the colony, oversee Indian affairs, and build orphanages. Whitefield spent much time in Georgia, but his influence grew well beyond its borders. He eventually had a dramatic impact on all the colonies through his role in the national revival known as the First Great Awakening, which was foundational in preparing Americans in the Biblical character and worldview necessary for independence.

Other Early Colonies

While not every American colony has been specifically mentioned thus far, the influence of Christianity was nevertheless evident in all of them. Here are a few more examples.

New York: Early Governor Richard Nicolls, in his February 1665 letter establishing a legislature for the colony, recommended the people choose rulers with Godly characteristics, the result of which would be “the propagation of true religion amongst us.” [16] And the New York Charter of Liberties and Privileges (October 30, 1683) declared: “No person or persons which profess faith in God by Jesus Christ shall at any time be any ways molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question for difference in opinion.”[17]

New Jersey: The Fundamentals of West New Jersey (1681) declared: “[I]t hath pleased God to bring us into this Province…that we may be a people to the praise and honor of His name.”[18]

Carolina: The Fundamental Constitution of Carolina (1669) was written with the help of noted English philosopher and lay theologian John Locke, an outspoken Christian. That constitution required: “No man shall be permitted to be a [citizen] of Carolina or to have any estate or habitation within it that doth not acknowledge a God, and that God is publicly and solemnly to be worshipped.”[19] Religious freedom was also acknowledged for others, including: “Jews, [non-Christians], and other dissenters from the purity of Christian religion.” [20]

The Carolina colony was divided into North and South Carolina in 1710, and in South Carolina’s An Act to Ascertain the Manner and Form of Electing Members to Represent the Province (1721), one qualification for voting or holding public office was that of “professing the Christian religion.”[21] Additionally, officials “shall take the following oath on the Holy Evangelists [that is on the Bible, including the New Testament]: I______, do sincerely swear that I am duly qualified to be chosen and serve…So help me God.[22]

This same pattern of open acknowledgment of God and Christianity was apparent in each of the colonies. In fact, during the colonization period of America, at least 128 different covenants, compacts, charters, and constitutions were written. Of these, eighty-six were written in the American colonies, and forty-two were written in England for the colonists, [23] but the Christian element was readily apparent throughout. These were the foundational civil documents of the original colonies, and subsequently of the thirteen states that comprised the United States of America.

Pastors in Public Affairs in the 1600s
Ministers were the primary educators in early America.

Clergymen in the early colonies had a significant positive impact on both the personal lives of citizens and the public affairs of the day. For example:

  • 1619: The Rev. William Wickham served in Virginia’s original General Assembly—the first elected governing body in America. [24]
  • 1620: The Rev. John Robinson shaped the Mayflower Compact—the first governing document written in America.[25]
  • 1636: Harvard—six ministers helped found the first successful college in America.[26]
  • 1636: The Rev. Roger Williams and Rev. John Clarke founded the colony of Rhode Island.[27]
  • 1639: The Rev. Thomas Hooker and the Rev. John Davenport founded the colony of Connecticut and helped produce the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut—the first constitution ever written in America.[28]
  • 1641: The Rev. Nathaniel Ward wrote the Massachusetts Body of Liberties—the first bill of rights in America.[29]
  • 1681: Quaker minister William Penn founded Pennsylvania and wrote its Frame of Government. [30]

These are only a few examples of the scores of ministers who had a beneficial public impact on policy in the seventeenth century (the 1600s).

The Role of the Church and the Clergy in the Cultivation of Liberty

Early author David Gregg correctly observed of the early American republic: “The people made the laws, and the churches made the people.” [31] Although the church as an official ecclesiastical body did not directly hold political power or specifically make civil law, the power of Bible teachings in the lives of citizens and the community indisputably had a wholesome influence. As affirmed by French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville in his famous book Democracy in America:

Alexis de Tocqueville

Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other….Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country. [32]

Another early French visitor to America was Achille Murat, who penned A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States of North America (1833). Unlike De Tocqueville, Murat was openly hostile to Christianity, declaring that “its [America’s] religion is the only feature which disgusts a foreigner.”[33] Nonetheless, he saw the influence of Christianity and the Bible throughout every aspect of America’s culture, reporting:

[T]here is no country in which the people are so religious as in the United States…The great number of religious societies existing in the United States is truly surprising: there are some of them for everything. For instance, societies to distribute the Bible; to distribute tracts; to encourage religious journals; to convert, civilize, educate the savages; to marry the preachers; to take care of their widows and orphans; to preach, extend, purify, preserve, reform the faith; to build chapels, endow congregations, support seminaries; catechize and convert sailors, Negroes, and loose women; to secure the observance of Sunday and prevent blasphemy by prosecuting the violators; to establish Sunday schools where young ladies teach reading and the catechism to little rogues, male and female; to prevent drunkenness, and so forth.[34]

Despite his personal dislike for religion, Murat nevertheless conceded that:

While a death-struggle is waging in Europe…it is curious to observe the tranquility which prevails in the United States.[35]

So even those who disliked Christianity and the Bible openly acknowledged its powerful positive influence on America.

Thus, early American clergy, by their teaching of the Bible and its principles, were the primary shapers of thinking during the colonial period. As explained by Yale professor Harry Stout: “The average weekly church-goer in New England (and there were far more church-goers than church members) listened to something like seven thousand sermons in a lifetime, totaling somewhere around fifteen thousand hours of concentrated listening.” [36] The sermons and writings of the clergy had a definite impact on the thinking of both leaders and the people.The influence of clergy was also felt with their training of the rising generations. For example, many noted Founding Fathers (including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Mason, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Rush, Noah Webster, and scores of others) were personally tutored by ministers. And other youth who attended college without the aid of such tutors were also directly influenced by the clergy, for clergy were frequently the president of the colleges as well as their professors.

The Rev. John Wise

Many ministers could be singled out to show their significant impact, but the Rev. John Wise, (a clergyman in Massachusetts in the late 1600s and early 1700s) is worthy of special notice. He has been identified as one of the six most influential persons in shaping the American thinking that led to independence.[37]

As early as 1687, the Rev. Wise was teaching that “taxation without representation is tyranny,”[38] the “consent of the people” was the foundation of government,[39] and that “every man must be acknowledged equal to every man.”[40] If this language sounds strikingly similar to that later found in the Declaration of Independence, there is a good reason.

In 1772, with the American War for Independence looming on the horizon, leading patriots reprinted two of Wise’s works (which were distributed by Sons of Liberty, along with others) to reintroduce core Biblical principles of government to the thinking citizens of that day. [41] The first printing sold so fast that a second reprint was quickly issued,[42] and many of the points made by Wise in that work subsequently appeared four years later in the language of the Declaration of Independence. As historian Benjamin Franklin Morris affirmed in 1864:

[S]ome of the most glittering sentences in the immortal Declaration of Independence are almost literal quotations from this [1772 reprinted] essay of John Wise….It was used as a political text-book in the great struggle for freedom.[43]

Calvin Coolidge

Decades later in 1926 when President Calvin Coolidge delivered a speech on the 150thanniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he similarly acknowledged:

[T]hese thoughts [in the Declaration] can very largely be traced back to what John Wise was writing in 1710. He said, “Every man must be acknowledged equal to every man.” Again, “The end of all good government is to cultivate humanity and promote the happiness of all and the good of every man in all his rights, his life, liberty, estate, honor, and so forth”….His works were reprinted in 1772 and have been declared to have been nothing less than a textbook of liberty for our Revolutionary fathers.[44]

But Wise not only advocated the Biblical principles of civil liberty, he also stood boldly in their defense. For example, when British-appointed Governor Edmund Andros tried to seize the charters of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, revoke their representative governments, and force the establishment of the British Anglican Church upon them, Wise was a key leader against Andros’ plan. [45] He was imprisoned for his resistance but remained an unflinching voice for freedom, forcefully asserting that representative government was God’s ordained plan in both Church and State.[46]

It was Christian ministers such as John Wise (and scores like him) who, through their writings, countless sermons, and bold leadership not only helped found free governments in America but also laid the intellectual basis for American independence.

The First Great Awakening

America was originally founded on the teachings of the Bible, but it is a sad truth of both history and human nature that just because something begins in a good manner does not mean it will remain that way.

The early colonists truly were, by and large, sincerely pious and devout, relying on the Bible, and guided by wholesome motives. But having been so in the past does not guarantee it will continue into the future. Each generation must always decide for itself whether to obey and keep lit the internal flame of God’s Word; and by the time Georgia (the last colony) was established (well over a century after the founding of the first colonies), America was experiencing a marked lull in religion.

George Whitefield preached to large crowds throughout the colonies.

Famous minister Jonathan Edwards described Massachusetts (originally the land of the Pilgrims and Puritans) as experiencing a “degenerate time” with “dullness of religion.” [47] And in Pennsylvania (founded by Quaker minister William Penn), the Rev. Samuel Blair (who later became a chaplain of Congress) likewise affirmed that “religion lay, as it were, dying and ready to expire its last breath of life in this part of the visible church.[48] By the 1720s and 1730s, the excitement and enthusiasm of Christian life had departed from many people and their churches. A great American spiritual awakening was needed—and it occurred, impacting not only America but other nations as well. This revival, known as the First Great Awakening, lasted from 1730-1770. It occurred through the hard work and leadership of ministers such as the Revs. George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, William Tennant, Samuel Davies, and many others who helped set the colonies aflame spiritually.

Benjamin Franklin (who later became a prominent Founding Father) developed a close friendship with the Rev. George Whitefield and often heard him preach. Franklin appreciated the great impact the revival had:

It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious so [that] one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street. [49]

For thirty-four years, Whitefield traveled up and down the colonies, preaching some 18,000 times, drawing huge crowds in churches, streets, and open fields.[50] In fact, it is estimated that an amazing eighty percent of all Americans actually heard him speak. [51] Thousands of people were converted, and churches were filled. Godliness swept the colonies, and a love for the Bible and its teachings was renewed among citizens and families.

Here are others of the many ministers who played important roles that contributed to the rekindling of practical Biblical faith in America.

The Rev. Elisha Williams

The Rev. Williams of Connecticut was a schoolteacher, state representative, judge, ambassador, and president of Yale. Greatly influenced by the Rev. George Whitefield, he was not only a chaplain of New England’s military forces during the French and Indian War but also became a colonel and led troops in the field. In 1744, he wrote The Essential Rights and Liberties of Protestants, which contained a clear and full explanation of the Biblical principles of equality, liberty, and property. The ideas that he preached during the revival were key in preparing people for the War for Independence a few decades later.

The Rev. Samuel Davies
Rev. Samuel Davies

The Rev. Davies was an influential pastor in Virginia who also served as a lawyer, ambassador to England, and president of Princeton College. He is considered the greatest pulpit orator in American history.[52]

When Patrick Henry was a young boy, his mother joined the church where Davies pastored. She always took Patrick to church with her, and each Sunday as they rode home in their buggy, Mrs. Henry and Patrick would review the sermon. Significantly, hearing the great Davies preach week after week greatly influenced the development of Patrick Henry’s own oratorical skills. As affirmed by an early biographer, Henry’s “early example of eloquence…was Mr. Davies, and the effect of his teaching upon [Henry’s] after life may be plainly traced.”[53]

Henry, who became one of the most noted orators among the Founding Fathers, affirmed that Davies was “the greatest orator he ever heard”[54] but Thomas Jefferson later called Henry“the greatest orator that ever lived.”[55] Clearly, Henry had learned from the best.

Jonathan Mayhew, “Father of Civil Liberty”

The Rev. Mayhew of Massachusetts was the first clergyman to begin preaching resistance to England’s tyranny. In fact, his 1750 sermon Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission[56] helped form the basis of an early motto of the American Revolution: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”[57]

In 1765, the British passed the onerous Stamp Act. Resistance in the colonies to that measure was organized and widespread. Under unified pressure from both civil and religious leaders, the Stamp Act was eventually repealed.

Mayhew, having witnessed the power of that unified stand, wrote to James Otis (mentor of Sam Adams, John Hancock, and other leading patriots), telling him: “You have heard of communion [i.e., unity]of the churches….[W]hile I was thinking of this,…[the] importance of a communion [unity]of the colonies appeared to me in a strong light.” [58] Mayhew thus proposed “to send circulars to all the rest [of the colonies][59] on key issues. This suggestion later became reality through what became known as the Committees of Correspondence, which distributed news flashes and educational materials among the various colonies in an effort to achieve unity in both thinking and action.

Jonathan Mayhew’s impact in numerous areas was substantial. In fact, John Adams affirmed that he was one of the individuals “most conspicuous, the most ardent, and influential” in the “awakening and revival of American principles and feelings” that led to our independence. [60]

Some Great Awakening Sermon Titles
An Election Sermon preached in 1790 before the government leaders in Massachusetts

Sermons preached and printed during the First Great Awakening helped bring about Biblical thinking on numerous issues, including civil liberties, the proper use of the military, limited government, equal rights, the wrongs of slavery, and much else. The titles of sermons from that era affirm that Biblical truth was shown to be relevant to all areas of life, including not only a personal but also political issues. A few of those sermons addressing civil topics included:

  • Civil Magistrates Must Be Just, Ruling in the Fear of God (1747), by Charles Chauncey [61]
  • Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers (1750), by Jonathan Mayhew [62]
  • Religion and Patriotism, the Constituents of a Good Soldier (1755), by Samuel Davies [63]
  • The Advice of Joab to the Host of Israel Going Forth to War (1759), by Thaddeus Maccarty [64]
  • Good News from a Far Country (sermon on the repeal of the Stamp Act) (1766), by Charles Chauncey [65]
  • An Oration upon the Beauties of Liberty (1773), by John Allen [66]
  • Scriptural Instructions to Civil Rulers (1774), by Samuel Sherwood [67]
  • Jesus Christ the True King (1778), by Peter Powers [68]
    (This sermon resulted in the political cry “No King but King Jesus!”
    [69]

These sermon topics (and countless others) demonstrate that church leaders truly believed (and taught the nation) that there was nothing in life that the Bible did not address, directly or indirectly. Early pastors were indispensable in shaping America and our unique view of government and liberty. As early historian Alice Baldwin affirmed:

There is not a right asserted in the Declaration of Independence which had not been discussed by the New England clergy before 1763. [70]

Baldwin further affirmed, “The Constitutional Convention and the written Constitution were the children of the pulpit.[71] No wonder Founding Father John Adams openly rejoiced that the“pulpits have thundered,[72] further affirming that:

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were….the general principles of Christianity….I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.[73]

There would have been no American War for Independence without the ideas and thoughts preached across America during the First Great Awakening. Significantly, the Founding Fathers who gave us our remarkable governing documents grew up during that revival—it molded their faith, character, and worldview, preparing them to give birth to an exceptional nation—the first truly Christian constitutional republic in history. But not only were our Founders shaped by the Bible and its teachings, many of them were even ministers of the Gospel.

Founding Fathers Who Were Ministers
Rev. John Witherspoon trained many of the men who established America as an independent nation.

The Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He had been a pastor in Scotland and came to America in 1768 to become president of the College of New Jersey (now called Princeton). He was elected to the Continental Congress and served on over l00 congressional committees.[74] He is said to have had more influence on the monetary policies found in the Constitution than any other individual. [75]

Witherspoon was not only directly involved in government as a member of Congress, but through his role as an educator he shaped many of the men who shaped America. During his tenure as president of the College of New Jersey (i.e., Princeton), there were 478 graduates. Of these, at least 86 became active in civil government and included one US president, one vice-president, 10 cabinet members, 21 senators, 39 congressmen, 12 governors, a Supreme Court justice, and one Attorney General of the United States (and these are only those who served at the national level; many others held local and state offices). In fact, nearly one-fifth of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, one-sixth of the delegates of the Constitutional Convention, and one-fifth of the members of the first federal Congress that framed the Bill of Rights were graduates of the College of New Jersey. [76]

Another signer of the Declaration who was a minister was Robert Treat Paine, a chaplain in the War for Independence who later became the attorney general of Massachusetts and a justice on the state supreme court. And signer William Williams was a licensed Baptist minister who filled various pulpits, and signer Lyman Hall was an ordained Congregationalist minister who later became governor of Georgia.

There were also several ministers among the signers of the Constitution. They included the Rev. Abraham Baldwin, who was a chaplain in the War for Independence and taught divinity at Yale. He founded the University of Georgia as a school to train Gospel ministers. He also served in the first US House of Representatives (where he helped frame the Bill of Rights) and then the US Senate. And Hugh Williamson was a licensed preacher of the Presbyterian Church who likewise served in the first US Congress, where he, too, helped frame the Bill of Rights. Roger Sherman (the only Founding Father to sign all four founding documents: the Articles of Association, 1774; the Declaration of Independence, 1776; the Articles of Confederation, 1781; and the US Constitution, 1787; and he also helped frame the Bill of Rights), was a noted lay theologian, penning multiple pieces on theological issues.

And there were numerous ministers in the first federal Congress that framed the Bill of Rights. In addition to those just mentioned were the Revs. Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, Abiel Foster, Benjamin Contee, John Peter Muhlenberg, and Paine Wingate. In fact, the Rev. Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg was elected the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, where he became one of only two individuals to sign the Bill of Rights.

Other Ministers

Clergy also contributed much to America’s freedoms and civil liberties in a variety of other arenas. On the military side, many clergymen experienced active combat and led soldiers in battle, even becoming military generals. [77] On the political side, in addition to the ministers already named among the signers, Baptist ministers Isaac Backus and John Leland were lobbyists for religious freedom in the 1780s, working with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. They became significant influences in helping provide the religious freedom protections of the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. And the Rev. Manassas Cutler was an author of the Northwest Ordinance (written in 1787), under which thirty-two territories eventually became states in the United States. [78] And forty-four clergymen were elected as delegates to ratify the US Constitution. [79] There are many more that could also be named, making clear that the number of clergy who held public office or directly influenced public policy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was large.[80]

Other Significant Clergy-Statesmen

Ministers continued to be engaged in civil affairs throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For example, the Rev. Charles Finney led the fight against slavery. US President James Garfield was a preacher, college president, military general, and then a Member of Congress, where he helped end slavery and pass numerous civil rights laws. And the Revs. Lyman Beecher, D.L. Moody, and Billy Sunday stood against alcohol abuse and for women’s rights. Others built hospitals and provided leadership for various charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. In more recent times, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worked to end racial discrimination, the Rev. Jerry Falwell fought against abortion and pornography, the Rev. Franklin Graham led benevolence efforts in America and across the world, and the Rev. James Robison provided wells and clean drinking water in villages across Africa. And still today, numerous ministers serve in civil government, including a number of current Members of Congress who are pastors.

Teaching the Principles of Liberty

Returning to the influence of clergy in the 150 years leading up to the American War for Independence, pastors used every opportunity possible to educate the people in the principles of liberty. Some of the more common means included:

  • The Election Sermon. Of the many types of sermons on government and liberty, probably the most popular and recognizable one was called the Election Sermon—the longest traditional form of annual sermon in America. The first documented election sermon was preached in 1634 in Massachusetts, [81] and it became an annual practice for centuries thereafter. Many states began each year’s legislative session by inviting a minister to preach a sermon to civil leaders addressing Biblical principles regarding government, lawmaking, and the civil issues of the day.

Significantly, many of these sermons involved notable Founding Fathers such as John Hancock [82] and Samuel Adams [83] (each was a governor of Massachusetts and a signer of the Declaration of Independence); Samuel Huntington [84] (a governor of Connecticut and a signer of the Declaration of Independence); Caleb Strong [85] (a governor of Massachusetts and a framer of the Constitution); Oliver Wolcott [86] (a governor of Connecticut and a signer of the Declaration of Independence); and many others. These Election Sermons were often printed and distributed at state expense, [87] being widely read across the state and even throughout other colonies.

Of these Election Sermons, eighteenth-century historian John Wingate Thornton says that:

[T]he clergy were generally consulted by the civil authorities; and not infrequently the suggestions from the pulpit on election days (and other special occasions) were enacted into laws. The statute-book—the reflex of the age—shows this influence. The State was developed out of the Church. The annual “Election Sermon” (a perpetual memorial continued down through the generations from century to century) still bears witness that our fathers ever began their civil year and its responsibilities with an appeal to Heaven, and recognized Christian morality as the only basis of good laws.…The sermon is styled the Election Sermon, and is printed. Every representative has a copy for himself, and generally one or more for the minister or ministers of his town.[88]

The practice of Election Sermons continued until the twentieth-century.

  • The Weekday Lecture. Many churches offered regular training on applying Biblical principles to pressing problems of the day. One way of doing this was the community-wide weekly lecture. This tradition began in Boston in 1633 when the Rev. John Cotton provided Thursday lectures discussing the current social and political issues. The practice spread to other communities and colonies, and continued for centuries, [89] with ministers directly applying the Bible to the questions of the day, thus showing citizens that the Bible and its principles were applicable and relevant to everything in daily life. Founding historian Benjamin Trumbull wrote that not only were the clergy “the principal instructors” of those who would become the political leaders but that…

For many years, they [the clergy] were consulted by the legislature in all affairs of importance, civil or religious. They were appointed on committees with the Governor and magistrates to advise, make drafts, and assist them in the most delicate and interesting concerns of the Commonwealth.[90]

  • The Artillery Sermon. These were sermons delivered to the military on the annual election of their officers. As can be expected, such sermons addressed issues relevant to the military, covering such topics as what constitutes a just war, [91] the sin of cowardice, [92] the character and courage of a soldier, [93] the necessity of a militia, [94] and many other relevant military topics.
  •  Special FastThanksgiving, and Anniversary Sermons. Those sermons were commonly associated with governmental calls to prayer issued by the governor or US president (by 1815, there had been some 1,400 government-issued calls to prayer [95]). In regions like New England, there was usually an annual day of fasting in the spring (and an accompanying sermon), and an annual day of thanksgiving in the fall (with an accompanying sermon). And there were also sermons related to national days of prayer, such as those surrounding President George Washington’s calls for national times of thanksgiving, President John Adams’ calls for national times of fasting, President James Madison’s numerous calls to prayer, and similar calls by other presidents.
An Execution Sermon
  •  Execution Sermons. Ministers would often address the community before public executions were carried out for capital crimes. [96] In these Execution Sermons, the guilty party would be called to repentance and citizens publicly warned of the consequences for criminal behavior. (It was also common practices for judges in the courtroom to deliver a Gospel message to defendants if they had been found guilty of a capital crime and sentenced to death by the jury. [97])
  • Occasional Sermons. These sermons related to some significant occasion, and might be preached in observance of military victories, calamities and natural disasters, or societal events and trends—such as immigration issues, the sin of dueling, or the rise of alcohol use. Anything in the news might be covered from the pulpit, including sermons on earthquakes, fires, solar eclipses, sighting of comets, the discovery of a new planet, a particular naval disaster, the death of a president or statesman, and countless other topics. [98] Breaking news stories were often the subject of sermons in order to provide a Biblical perspective on issues arising in and pertaining to daily life.
  • Anniversary, Historical, and Holiday Sermons. These included things such as Century Sermons (preached in the year 1701, 1801, or 1901, to review significant events of the previous century from a providential viewpoint—looking at what God had done in that century) and Decade Sermons (similarly reviewing the previous decade). And there were sermons commemorating the anniversary of events such as the Pilgrims’ Landing, the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument, or the 100thanniversary of a major battle or event. And there were countless Fourth of July sermons looking back at that important holiday. In short, sermons were preached about significant events from the past, viewing them from a Biblical perspective.

— — — ⧫ ⧫ ⧫ — — —

All of these (and other) types of sermons had a direct positive impact in shaping early America’s thinking. In fact, modern political scientists have documented that an amazing ten percent of all published pamphlets in the Founding Era were sermons. [99]

And significantly, those published sermons represented only a fraction of the tens of thousands of additional unpublished sermons that were also preached. From an historical viewpoint, it is clear that colonial clergymen may properly be considered part of our American Founding Fathers.

Higher Education
This is the Wen Building at the College of William and Mary-America’s second college. It was started primarily by the efforts of Rev. James Blair.

Ministers colonized states, wrote laws and constitutions, served as judges and legislators and military leaders, helped shape the thinking of citizens, and were also key figures in the establishment and development of higher education. In fact, until the twentieth century nearly every university was started by a minister or Christian denomination.

Reflective of this pattern, in 1636 Harvard was founded by and for Congregationalists(so, too, with Yale in 1701 and Dartmouth in 1769). In 1692 the College of William and Mary was founded by and for Anglicans(as was the University of Pennsylvania in 1740, Kings College in 1754, and the College of Charleston in 1770). In 1746 Princeton was founded by and for Presbyterians(as was Dickinson in 1773 and Hampden-Sydney in 1775). In 1764 the College of Rhode Island (now Brown University) was founded by and for the Baptists. In 1766 Queens College (now Rutgers) was founded by and for the Dutch Reformed. In 1780 Transylvania University was founded by and for the Disciples of Christ, and so on.

With few exceptions, America’s earliest universities were closely associated with particular denominations and were typically run by ministers from that denomination. In fact, by 1860, 262 out of 288 college presidents were ministers of the Gospel—as were more than a third of all university faculty members, [100] and only seventeen colleges and universities at that time were state institutions.[101] But even the state schools were not secular, for the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Georgia, and others had self-declared purposes of Christian education and the inculcation of Christian character. In fact, in 1890, James Angell, President of the University of Vermont and the University of Michigan, reported that even at state universities, over 90 percent conducted chapel services; at half of them, chapel attendance was compulsory; and a quarter of them even required regular church attendance in addition to chapel attendance. [102] Well into the 20th century, this remained the practice of state universities.

Yale College

These universities were the principal educators of leaders in every sphere of life, including law, medicine, government, religion, economics, education, literature, science, and all other areas. Here is a closer look at the beliefs and practices of some of the more notable early universities. (Since Harvard and William and Mary were covered in Lesson 1, some of the other famous colleges will be covered here.)

Yale University, 1701

Yale University in Connecticut was started by colonists whose purpose was “to plant and, under the Divine Blessing, to propagate in this wilderness the blessed reformed Protestant religion in the purity of its order and worship.”[103] Some famous graduates of this school included Constitution signers Jared Ingersoll, William Samuel Johnson, William Livingston, early educator Noah Webster, and other notables such as Nathan Hale, Eli Whitney, and Samuel F.B. Morse.[104]

Princeton, 1746

One of the early presidents of the college was noted signer of the Declaration John Witherspoon, and his educational philosophy was clear:“Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.”[105] Significantly:

[T]he two principal objects the trustees had in view [when founding Princeton] were science and religion. Their first concern was to cultivate the minds of the pupils in all those branches of erudition [knowledge] which are generally taught in the universities abroad. And to perfect their design, their next care was to rectify the heart by inculcating the great precepts of Christianity in order to make them good men.[106]

Famous graduates of Princeton included signer of the Declaration Benjamin Rush, signers of the Constitution James Madison, William Paterson, Jonathan Dayton, and Constitutional Convention delegate William Houston (who was also a professor at Princeton). [107]

University of Pennsylvania, 1751

Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in founding the University of Pennsylvania. While this school was not started by a specific denomination, its policies nevertheless openly reflected its Christian character. For example, its Laws Relating to the Moral Conduct and Orderly Behaviour of the Students and Scholars of the University of Pennsylvania required:

  1. None of the students or scholars belonging to this seminary [i.e., university] shall make use of any indecent or immoral language, whether it consist in immodest expressions, in cursing and swearing, or in exclamations which introduce the name of God without reverence and without necessity.
  2. None of them shall without a good and sufficient reason be absent from school or late in his attendance—more particularly at the time of prayers and of the reading of the Holy Scriptures.[108]

Some famous graduates of the University of Pennsylvania included signers of the Declaration Francis Hopkinson and William Paca, and signers of the Constitution Thomas Mifflin and Hugh Williamson. [109] Trustees of the university included Declaration signer Thomas McKean and Constitution signers George Clymer, John Dickinson, Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, and Robert Morris. [110] And Declaration signer Benjamin Rush and Constitution signer James Wilson both taught classes at the University of Pennsylvania.[111]

Columbia, 1754

In 1754, an Anglican minister, the Rev. Samuel Johnson, became the first president of what is now called Columbia. (It was known as King’s College from its founding until 1784, but with America’s independence, it no longer seemed appropriate to honor a king, so its name was changed.) At that time, William Samuel Johnson (a signer of the Constitution, and the son of the school’s founder, the Rev. Samuel Johnson) became president. [112] Originally founded as an Anglican school, it became a non-denominational Christian college. An advertisement for the college affirmed its purpose and objective:

The chief thing that is aimed at in this college is to teach and engage the children to know God in Jesus Christ, and to love and serve him in all sobriety, godliness, and righteousness of life, with a perfect heart and a willing mind, and to train them up in all virtuous habits and all such useful knowledge as may render them creditable to their families and friends. [113]

Some of the school’s students included signer of the Constitution Alexander Hamilton, original US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay, and Robert Livingston (the highest judicial official in New York, and one of the five assigned by Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence). [114]

Others

Most other colleges reflected the same pattern, and in addition to the influential graduates mentioned above, tens of thousands more were produced by these Christian, Bible-based schools. Sadly, many of these once Christian universities have now abandoned their heritage and today have become completely secularized, even hostile to Christianity. But that does not alter the fact that genuinely Christian education shaped the leaders that shaped early America.

Early Textbooks of American Common Education

In addition to the strong Christian influence in higher education, that same influence was present in the general common school classrooms that students attended before entering college. This was particularly evident in the sequence of textbooks used in early American education.

John Locke (a political philosopher who penned the constitution for America’s Carolina colony and whose writings had a significant influence upon the Founding Fathers [115]) described the typical educational path for children. According to Locke, students learned to read by following “the ordinary road of Hornbook, Primer, Psalter, Testament, and Bible.”[116] Consider each of these five texts.

A Hornbook was a flat piece of wood with a handle, upon which a sheet of printed paper was attached, covered with transparent animal horn to protect it. A typical hornbook had the alphabet, the vowels, a list of syllables, the acknowledgement of the Christian Trinity, and the Lord’s Prayer.

Next on the “ordinary road” of education were Primers. They contained catechisms that taught the fundamentals of the Christian faith through a system of questions and answers. Hundreds of different catechisms were used. At first, William Perkins’ The Foundation of Christian Religion Gathered into Six Principles was a highly popular one, but it was eventually passed by the Westminster Catechism, and later the New England Primer.

The Psalter, next in the sequence of educational texts, was a songbook whose text was composed solely from the book of Psalms in the Bible.

Next came the Testament—that is, the New Testament, a part of the Bible.

Finally, came the full Bible.

All five of the texts mentioned by Locke, and used to teach reading in America, were clearly Bible-centered.

The New England Primer

Of the primers mentioned above, The New England Primer was the most widely used textbook of the eighteenth century. Interestingly, it was the first textbook ever published in America, [117] originally printed in Boston around 1690 and reprinted frequently over the next two centuries. Well into the 20th century, The New England Primer remained a common text from which American students learned to read. [118]

The New England Primer taught the alphabet with a clear Biblical message.

The Primer was the equivalent of a first-grade textbook. (There were no grade levels in early American education at that time, but the Primer was the beginning reader—it was where students began their reading lessons; so today it would be called a first-grade textbook.)

Significantly, Founding Father Samuel Adams (called the “Father of American Independence”) had advocated that students be instructed in Christian principles[119] and he himself helped accomplish this goal by reprinting the New England Primer for students in Massachusetts.[120] The Primer was also reprinted by Noah Webster for students in Connecticut, and by Benjamin Franklin for students in Pennsylvania.[121]

The fact that Franklin was directly involved with personally distributing such an overtly Christian schoolbook might surprise many today, for Franklin is considered one of the least religious of our Founding Fathers. However, “least” is a comparative term, and certainly does not mean he was anti-religious, for he definitely was not. In fact, he was more openly religious than many so-called devoutly religious individuals today.

For example, in the 1760s he helped found schools in which African American students were taught not only academics but also the principles of Christianity. [122] Before that he had helped found the University of Pennsylvania for the explicitly declared purpose of instructing youth in the knowledge of the Christian religion, [123] and in his Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania he discussed the content of the academic curriculum of the state’s new university, noting that in its history classes:

History will…afford frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion from its usefulness to the public [and] the advantage of a religious character among private persons…and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern. [124]

But returning to the content of The New England Primer as used in classrooms over the centuries (and reprinted by leading Founding Fathers), perhaps its most characteristic feature is what was called the rhyming alphabet. It taught the alphabet by using a rhyme based on Bible facts and teachings:

A—In Adam’s Fall
We sinned all. [Romans3:23]

B—Heaven to find
The Bible Mind. [Deuteronomy 13:4 & Matthew 7:21]

C—Christ crucified
For sinners died. [Romans 5:8]

D—The Deluge drowned
The Earth around. [Genesis 7]

E—Elijah hid
By Ravens fed. [1 Kings 17:2-16]

F—The judgment made
Felix afraid. [Acts 24]

G—As runs the Glass,
Our Life doth pass [James 4:14]

H—My Book and Heart
Must never part…. [Joshua 1:8]

And so forth. [125]

Conclusion

It is clear that Christians were a direct influence in founding and shaping the early American colonies as well as many of the great institutions and admirable features of America, including elective governments, written constitutions, bill of rights, public schools, universities, textbooks, and much else. There is no doubt that Christianity and the Bible was a substantial positive force in helping America become the greatest and freest nation in the world. ■

___________
[1] Mrs. Mary Hugh, The Life of William Penn (Philadelphia: Carey, Lee and Carey, 1828),pp. 94, 109.

[2] Samuel M. Janney, The Life of William Penn: With Selections from His Correspondence and Autobiography (Philadelphia: Friends Book Association, 1852), p. 442.

[3] John Fanning Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: John Pennington and Uriah Hunt, 1844), Vol. I, p. 82, from William Penn to Robert Turner on January 5, 1681.

[4] Charter to William Penn, and Laws of the Province of Pennsylvania, Passed Between the Years 1682 and 1700 (Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1879), p. 107, “The Great Law or The Body of Laws, of the Province of Pennsylvania & Territories Thereunto Belonging,” December 1682.

[5] Thomas Clarkson, Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn (London: Longman, 1813), Vol. I, p. 303.

[6] Samuel M. Janney, The Life of William Penn: With Selections from His Correspondence and Autobiography (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1852), p. 407, letter from William Penn to the Czar of Muscovy.

[7] “Charter of Privileges Granted by William Penn, to the Inhabitants of Pennsylvania and Territories,” The Avalon Project, October 28, 1701 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/pa07.asp).

[8] John Fanning Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: John Fanning Watson, 1850), Vol. I, p. 311.

[9] George Gresley Perry, A History of the English Church: From the Accession of Henry VIII to the Silencing of Convocation in the Eighteenth Century (London: John Murray, 1880), p. 561.

[10] Charles McLean Andrews and Frances Gardiner Davenport, Guide to the Manuscript Materials for the History of the United States to 1783 in the British Museum, in Minor London Archives, and in the Libraries of Oxford and Cambridge (Washington DC: Carnegie Institution of Washington, 1908), p. 331; and George Gresley Perry, A History of the English Church: From the Accession of Henry VIII to the Silencing of Convocation in the Eighteenth Century (London: John Murray, 1880), p. 561.

[11] William Stevens Perry, The History of the American Episcopal Church: 1587-1883 (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1885), p. 143.

[12] “Charter of Georgia: 1732,” The Avalon Project (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/ga01.asp); and “Trustee Georgia, 1732-1752,” New Georgia Encyclopedia, updated September 2, 2015 (at: https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/trustee-georgia-1732-1752).

[13] John Whitehead, Life of the Rev. John Wesley (Boston: Dow & Jackson, 1845), p. 288.

[14] Benson Lossing, A Pictorial History of the United States (New York: Mason Brothers, 1857), p. 130.

[15] See, for example, George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1853), Vol. III, pp. 421, 425.

[16] John Romeyn Brodhead, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York (Albany: Weed, Parsons and Company, 1883), Vol. 3, p. 564, “The Governor to the Inhabitants of Long Island, Touching a General Meeting of Deputies at Hempstead,” February 1665.

[17] C.B. Richardson, The Historical Magazine: And Notes and Queries Concerning the Antiquities, History, and Biography of America (New York: Charles B. Richardson, 1859), Vol. 3, p. 313, “Acts of the Assembly of 1683.”

[18] “Province of West New-Jersey, in America,” The Avalon Project, November 25, 1681 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/nj08.asp).

[19] “The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina,” The Avalon Project, March 1, 1669 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/nc05.asp).

[20] “The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina,” The Avalon Project, March 1, 1669 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/nc05.asp).

[21] A.S. Johnston, The Statutes at Large of South Carolina: Acts from 1716 to 1752  (Columbia: A.S. Johnston, 1838), p. 50, “An Act to Ascertain the Manner and Form of Electing Members to Represent the Inhabitants of This Province in the Common House of Assembly, and to Appoint Who Shall be Deemed and Adjudged Capable of Choosing or Being Chosen Members of the Said House,” 1719.

[22] A.S. Johnston, The Statutes at Large of South Carolina: Acts from 1716 to 1752  (Columbia: A.S. Johnston, 1838), p. 52, “An Act to Ascertain the Manner and Form of Electing Members to Represent the Inhabitants of This Province in the Common House of Assembly, and to Appoint Who Shall be Deemed and Adjudged Capable of Choosing or Being Chosen Members of the Said House,” 1719.

[23] Publius(Oxford University Press, Fall 1980), Vol 10, No. 4, pp. 129-132, Donald S. Lutz, “From Covenant to Constitution in American Political Thought.” See the text of many of these compacts, charters, and constitutions on The Avalon Project from the Yale Law School under “17th Century Documents” and “18th Century Documents” (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/).

[24] William Henry Foote, Sketches of Virginia (Philadelphia: William S. Martien, 1850), p. 21.

[25] John Robinson and Robert Ashton, The Works of John Robinson, Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers (London: John Snow, 1851), pp xlvii-li, “Memoir of Rev. John Robinson.”

[26] Samuel Atkins Eliot, A History of Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1630-1913 (Cambridge: Cambridge Tribune, 1913), p. 30.

[27] The Blue Laws of New Haven Colony: Usually Called Blue Laws of Connecticut; Quaker Laws of Plymouth and Massachusetts; Blue Laws of New York, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina. First Record of Connecticut; Interesting Extracts from Connecticut Records; Cases of Salem Witchcraft; Charges and Banishment of Rev. Roger Williams (Hartford: Case, Tiffany & Co, 1838), p. 64; and May Emery Hall, Roger Williams (Boston: The Pilgrim Press, 1917), p. 62.

[28] Margaret Huntington Hooker and Edward Hooker, The Descendants of Rev. Thomas Hooker, Hartford, Connecticut, 1586-1908 (Rochester: Margaret Huntington Hooker, 1909), pp. xxiii-xxiv; and Old South Meeting House, The Founders of New England (Boston, Old South Meeting House, 1894), p. 16

[29] John Ward Dean, A Memoir of the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, A.M., Author of The Simple Cobbler of Agawam in America. With Notices of his Family (Albany: Joel Munsell, 1868), pp. 59-60

[30] “Frame of Government of Pennsylvania,” The Avalon Project, May 5, 1682 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/pa04.asp); and George Hodges, William Penn (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1901), pp. 65-66.

[31] David Gregg, Makers of the American Republic (New York: E.B. Treat, 1896), p. 319, “The Church and the Republic.”

[32] Alexis de Tocqueville, The Republic of the United States of America and Its Political Institutions, Henry Reeves, translator (Garden City, NY: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1851), Vol. I, pp. 335, 337.

[33] Achille Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States (London: Effingham Wilson, 1833), p. 142.

[34] Achille Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States (London: Effingham Wilson, 1833), pp. 113, 132.

[35] Achille Murat, A Moral and Political Sketch of the United States (London: Effingham Wilson, 1833), p. 111.

[36] Harry S. Stout, The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 3.

[37] Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1953), p. 2, “Introduction.”

[38] David Otis Mears, Oberlin Lectures of 1829: The Pulpit and the Pews (Oberlin: Edward G. Goodrich, 1892), p. 87.

[39]John Wise,A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches (Boston: John Boyles, 1772), p. 5.

[40] John Wise, A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches (Boston: John Boyles, 1772), p. 26.

[41] See the 1772 Boston reprintings of: John Wise,A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches (Boston: John Boyles, 1772); John Wise, Churches Quarrel Espoused (Boston: John Boyles, 1772). For information about some of the subscribers/distributors of these printings of John Wise’s sermons, see: Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Company, 1953), p. 225.

[42] Claude H. Van Tyne, The Causes of the War of Independence (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1922), p. 357.

[43] Benjamin Franklin Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States: Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia: G.W. Childs, 1864), p. 34, quoting from A Vindication of the Government of New England Churches and the Churches Quarrel Espoused (Boston: Congregational Board of Publication, 1860), p. xx, “Introductory Notice.”

[44] Calvin Coolidge: “Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” The American Presidency Project, July 5, 1926 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/address-the-celebration-the-150th-anniversary-the-declaration-independence-philadelphia).

[45] The National Magazine(Cleveland: Magazine of Western History Publishing Company, 1888), Vol. VIII, No. 5, p. 398, J.H. Crooker, “John Wise, The Forgotten American.”

[46] George Bancroft, History of the Colonization of the United States (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1838), Vol. II, p. 429.

[47] Jonathan Edwards, A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton (Edinburgh: Thomas Lumisden and John Robertson, 1738), p. 16

[48] Joseph Tracy, The Great Awakening: A History of the Revival of Religion in the Time of Edwards and Whitefield (Boston: Charles Tappan, 1845), p. 26, by the Rev. Samuel Blair on August 6, 1744.

[49] Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, John Bigelow, editor (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Company, 1868), p. 253.

[50] Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, James Grant Wilson and John Fiske, editors (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1889), Vol. VI, p. 478, s.v. “Whitefield, George.”

[51] See, for example, “George Whitefield: Did You Know?” Christian History, April 1993 (at: https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-38/george-whitefield-did-you-know.html); and Dave Schleck, “CW to Recreate Visit of Famous Preacher,” Daily Press, December 16, 1995 (at: https://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-xpm-19951216-1995-12-16-9512160076-story.html).

[52] William Edward Schenck, An Historical Account of the First Presbyterian Church of Princeton, N.J.: Being a Sermon Preached on Thanksgiving Day, December 12, 1850 (Princeton: John T. Robinson, 1850), p. 23.

[53] William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. 1, p. 16.

[54] William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), Vol. 1, p. 15.

[55] Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, James Grant Wilson and John Fiske, editors (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1889), Vol. III, p. 175, s.v. “Henry, Patrick.”

[56] Jonathan Mathew, A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-resistance to the Higher Powers (Boston: D. Fowle, 1750). Evans # 6549.

[57] John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1841), Vol. I, p. 152, to Abigail Adams on August 14, 1776.

[58] Alden Bradford, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, D.D. (Boston: C.C. Little & Co, 1838), p. 429, from Jonathan Mayhew to James Otis on June 8, 1766.

[59] Alden Bradford, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Rev. Jonathan Mayhew, D.D. (Boston: C.C. Little & Co, 1838), p. 428, from Jonathan Mayhew to James Otis on June 8, 1766.

[60] John Adams, Novanglus and Massachusettensis: or Political Essays Published in the year 1774 and 1775 (Boston: Hews & Goss, 1819), p. 235.

[61] Charles Chauncy, Civil Magistrates Must Be Just, Ruling in the Fear of God. A Sermon Preached Before his Excellency, William Shirley, the Honorable His Majesty’s Council, and House of Representatives, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, May 27, 1747 (Boston: Printed by Order of the Honorable House of Representatives, 1747). Evans #5919.

[62] Jonathan Mayhew, A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers (Boston: D. Fowle, 1750). Evans # 6549.

[63] Samuel Davies, Religion and Patriotism, the Constituents of a Good Soldier. A Sermon Preached to Captain Overton’s Independent Company of Volunteers, Raised in Hanover County, Virginia, August 17, 1755 (Philadelphia, 1755). Evans #7403.

[64] Thaddeus MacCarty, The Advice of Joab to the Host of Israel Going Forth to War, Considered and Urged. In Two Discourses Delivered in Worchester, April 5, 1759. Being the Day of the Public Annual Fast (Boston: Thomas and John Fleet, 1759). Evans #8388.

[65] Charles Chauncy, A Discourse on “the Good News from a Far Country.” Delivered July 24th. A Day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God, throughout the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New England, on Occasion of the Repeal off the Stamp Act (Boston: Kneeland and Adams, 1766). Evans #10255.

[66] John Allen, An Oration upon the Beauties of Liberty, or The Essential Rights of the Americans, Delivered at the Second Baptist Church in Boston. Upon the Last Annual Thanksgiving (Boston: Kneeland and Davis, 1773). Evans #13015.

[67] Samuel Sherwood, A Sermon Containing Scriptural Instructions to Civil Rulers and all Freeborn Subjects: In which the Principles of Sound Policy and Good Government are Established and Vindicated, and Some Doctrines Advances and Zealously Propagated by New England Tories are Considered and Refuted. Delivered on the Public Fast, August 31, 1774 (New Haven: T. and S. Green, 1774). Evans #13614.

[68] Peter Powers, Jesus Christ the True King and Head of Government. A Sermon Preached Before the General Assembly of the State of Vermont, on the Day of Their First Election, March 12, 1778, at Windsor (Newburyport: John Mycall, 1778). Evans #16019.

[69] This quote is a summary of a statement found in the records of Parliament in April 1774: “If you ask an American, ‘Who is his master?’ He will tell you he has none—nor any governor but Jesus Christ.” Hezekiah Niles, Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America (Baltimore: William Ogden Niles, 1822), p. 198.

[70] Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1928), p. 170.

[71] Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1928), p. 134.

[72] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1850), Vol. II, p. 154, diary entry for December 18, 1765.

[73] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1856), Vol. X, pp. 45-46, to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813.

[74] Dictionary of American Biography, Dumas Malone, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936), Vol. 20, p. 437, s.v. “Witherspoon, John.”

[75] See, for example, Robert A. Peterson, “John Witherspoon: Animated Son of Liberty,” Foundation for Economic Education, December 1, 1985 (at: https://fee.org/articles/john-witherspoon-animated-son-of-liberty/).

[76] Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker, Princeton: 1746-1896 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1946), p. 88; and Lawrence A. Cremin, American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607-1783 (New York: Evanston, and London: Harper & Row, 1970), p. 301; and Nation Under God: A Religious-Patriotic Anthology, Frances Brentano, editor (Great Neck, NY: Channel Press, 1957), pp. 41-42; and Dr. John Eidsmoe, Christianity and The Constitution (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987), p. 83; and Samuel Davies Alexander, Princeton College During the Eighteenth Century (New York: Anson D.F. Randolph & Company, 1872), pp. 121-185; and Mary-Elaine Swanson, The Education of James Madison, A Model for Today (Montgomery: The Hoffman Education Center for the Family, 1992), p. 53.

[77] See, for example, J.T. Headley, The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution (Springfield, MA: G. & F. Bill, 1861); and Franklin Cole, They Preached Liberty (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1941); and Daniel Dorchester, Christianity in the United States from the First Settlement Down to the Present Time (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1888); and Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1958); and John Wingate Thornton, Pulpit of the American Revolution (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1860); Frank Moore, ThePatriot Preachers of the American Revolution (Printed for the Subscribers, 1860); and Paul Wallace, The Muhlenbergs of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1950).

[78] Daniel C. Wewers, Major Acts of Congress (The Gale Group, Inc., 2004), “Northwest Ordinance (1787)” (at: https://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Northwest_Ordinance.aspx#2).

[79] John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987), p. 352, n15.

[80] See Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1928), passim, for a partial list.

[81] George Bancroft, The History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1853), Vol. I, p. 364.

[82] See Massachusetts election sermons “preached before His Excellency, John Hancock, Governor” in 1781, 1784, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, and 1792. (See these and many other election sermons from WallBuilders: https://wallbuilders.com/library-2/historical-sermons/.)

[83] See Massachusetts elections sermons “preached before…His Honor Samuel Adams, Lieutenant-Governor” from 1790, 1792, and 1794; and a Massachusetts election sermon “preached before His Excellency Samuel Adams, Governor” in 1796. (See these and many other election sermons from WallBuilders: https://wallbuilders.com/library-2/historical-sermons/.)

[84] Timothy Stone, A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency Samuel Huntington, Esq. L. L. D. Governor, and the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, Convened at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election. May 10, 1792 (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1792). Evans #24820.

[85] Thomas Baldwin, A Sermon Delivered Before His Excellency Caleb Strong, Esq. Governor, the Honorable the Council, Senate, and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, May 26, 1802. Being the Day of General Election (Boston: Young & Minns, 1802). Shaw/Shoemaker #1798.

[86] John Marsh, A Sermon Preached before His Honor Oliver Wolcott, Esq. L. L. D. Lieutenant-Governor and Commander in Chief, and the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut, Convened at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 12th, 1796 (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1796). Evans #30738.

[87] See, for example, the 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1794, 1796, and 1802 Massachusetts election sermons which acknowledged that they were printed by the “state printers” or the “printers to the Honorable General Court.”

[88] John Wingate Thornton, The Pulpit of the American Revolution: Or, the Political Sermons of the Period of 1776 (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1860), pp. xxii-xxiii, xxvi.

[89] Albert Bushnell Hart, Colonial Children (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1905), p. 153; and William Gordon, A Discourse Preached December 15th, 1774, Being the Day Recommended by the Provincial Congress and Afterwards at the Boston Lecture (Boston: Thomas Leverett, 1775), editor’s note, Evans #14072; and Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805 (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998), Vol. I, Foreword by Ellis Sandoz; R.W. Dale, Week-Day Sermons (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1845).

[90] Benjamin Trumbull, A Complete History of Connecticut, Civil and Ecclesiastical (New Haven: Maltby, Goldsmith and Co., 1818), Vol. I, p. 288.

[91] See, for example, Samuel Davies, Religion and Patriotism. The Constituents of a Good Soldier. A Sermon Preached to Captain Overton’s Independent Company of Volunteers, Raised in Hanover County, Virginia, August 17, 1755 (Philadelphia: James Chattin 1755). Evans #7403.

[92] See, for example, Simeon Howard, A Sermon Preached to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery-Company, in Boston, New England, June 7th, 1773: Being the Anniversary of Their Election of Officers (Boston: John Boyles, 1773), Evans #12813.

[93] See, for example, Samuel Davies, Religion and Patriotism. The Constituents of a Good Soldier. A Sermon Preached to Captain Overton’s Independent Company of Volunteers, Raised in Hanover County, Virginia, August 17, 1755 (Philadelphia: James Chattin 1755). Evans #7403.

[94] See, for example, J.G. Palfrey, A Plea for the Militia System in a Discourse Delivered Before the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company on its 197thAnniversary, June 1, 1835 (Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1835).

[95] William De Loss Love, The Fast and Thanksgiving Days of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1895), pp. 464-514, “Calendar.”

[96] See, for example, Moses Baldwin, The Ungodly Condemned in Judgment. A Sermon Preached at Springfield, December 13th, 1770, On Occasion of the Execution of William Shaw for Murder (Boston: Kneeland and Adams, 1771), Evans #11975; and Nathaniel Fisher, A Sermon Delivered at Salem, January 14, 1796 Occasioned by the Execution of Henry Blackburn, on That Day for the Murder of George Wilkinson (Boston: S. Hall, 1796), Evans #30424; and Nathan Strong, A Sermon Preached, Preached at Hartford, July 19th, 1797 at the Execution of Richard Doane (Hartford: Elisha Babcock, 1797), Evans #32888; and Henry A. Rowland, The Murderer and His Fate. A Sermon Occasioned by the Execution of Harris Bell for the Murder of Mrs. Williams (Honesdale, PA: Barker & Lewis, 1848); and many others.

[97] Report of the Trial of Dominic Daley and James Halligan, for the Murder of Marcus Lyon, Before the Supreme Judicial Court, Begun and Holden at Northampton, Within and for the County of Hampshire, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on the Fourth Tuesday of April 1806(Northampton: S. & E. Butler, 1806), pp. 86-87; and American State Trials, John D. Lawson, editor (St. Louis: F. H. Thomas Law Book Co., 1914), Vol. II, pp. 534-535, “The Trial of John Johnson for the Murder of James Murray, New York City, 1824”; and Trial of Professor John W. Webster, for the Murder of Doctor George Parkman (New York: Stinger & Townsend, 1850), pp. 75-76; and many others.

[98] For examples of these sermons, see WallBuilders’ Historical Sermons section: https://wallbuilders.com/library-2/historical-sermons/.

[99] The American Political Science Review(1984), Vol. 78, No. 1, p. 192, Donald S. Lutz, “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late Eighteenth-Century American Political Thought.”

[100] James Tunstead Burtchaell, “The Decline and Fall of the Christian College I,” (First Things, May 1991), p. 24.

[101] Ellwood P. Cubberley, Public Education in the United States (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919), p. 204.

[102] Wolcott B. Williams, Christian and Secular Education (Chicago: R.R. Donnelley & Sons, 1894), p. 17, President Angell’s 1890 report of religious life in Michigan’s state universities.

[103] Thomas Clap, A Brief History and Vindication of the Doctrines Received and Established in the Churches of New England with a Specimen of the New Scheme of Religion beginning to Prevail (New Haven: James Parker, 1755), pp. 9-10.

[104] See information about William Samuel Johnson, William Livingston, and Jared Ingersoll from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (at: https://bioguide.congress.gov/biosearch/biosearch.asp); and “Noah Webster History,” Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society (at: https://noahwebsterhouse.org/noahwebsterhistory/) (accessed on October 23, 2018); and “Nathan Hale,” Encyclopedia Britannica (at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nathan-Hale) (accessed on October 23, 2018); and “Eli Whitney,” ConnecticutHistory.Org (at: https://connecticuthistory.org/people/eli-whitney/) (accessed on October 23, 2018); and “Samuel Morse’s Other Masterpiece,” Smithsonian, August 16, 2011 (at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/samuel-morses-other-masterpiece-52822904/).

[105] The Second Report of the Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education at the West (New York: J.F. Trow & Co., 1845), p. 30, quoted by Rev. S.H. Cox.

[106] Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, William Nelson, editor (Paterson, NJ: Press Printing and Publishing Co., 1897), Vol. XIX, p. 252, quoting from The Pennsylvania Journal, April 26, 1753.

[107] See information about all from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (at: https://bioguide.congress.gov/biosearch/biosearch.asp).

[108] “Laws Relating to the Moral Conduct and Orderly Behavior of the Students and Scholars of the University of Pennsylvania,” September 10, 1801, Shaw-Shoemaker #803.

[109] See information about all from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (at: https://bioguide.congress.gov/biosearch/biosearch.asp).

[110] “Thomas McKean,” University of Pennsylvania (at: ) (accessed on October 23, 2018); “George Clymer,” University of Pennsylvania (at: https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-people/biography/george-clymer) (accessed on October 23, 2018); “John Dickinson,” University of Pennsylvania (at: https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-people/biography/john-dickinson) (accessed on October 23, 2018); “Thomas FitzSimons,” University of Pennsylvania (at: https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-people/biography/thomas-fitzsimons) (accessed on October 23, 2018); “Robert Morris,” University of Pennsylvania (at: https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-people/biography/robert-morris) (accessed on October 23, 2018); “Jared Ingersoll,” University of Pennsylvania (at: https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-people/biography/jared-ingersoll) (accessed on October 23, 2018).

[111] “Benjamin Rush,” University of Pennsylvania (at: https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-people/biography/benjamin-rush) (accessed on October 23, 2018); “James Wilson,” University of Pennsylvania (at: https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-people/biography/james-wilson) (accessed on October 23, 2018).

[112] “Columbia University President Profiles,” Columbia University (at: https://library.columbia.edu/locations/cuarchives/presidents.html) (accessed on October 23, 2018).

[113] A History of Columbia University: 1754-1904 (New York: The Columbia University Press, 1904), p. 444, Advertisement by Samuel Johnson, May 31, 1754.

[114] For Robert Livingston, see “History,” Columbia University (at: https://www.columbia.edu/content/history) (accessed on October 23, 2018); see information about Alexander Hamilton and John Jay from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (at: https://bioguide.congress.gov/biosearch/biosearch.asp).

[115] Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1988), pp. 142-144.

[116] John Locke, The Works of John Locke (London: 1812), Vol. IX, p. 148, “Some Thoughts Concerning Education,” 1693.

[117] Dictionary of American History, James Truslow Adams, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940), s.v. “New-England Primer,” p. 100.

[118] Paul Leicester Ford, The New England Primer: A History of its Origin and Development (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1897), pp. 16-19, 300.

[119] Four Letters: Being an Interesting Correspondence Between Those Eminently Distinguished Characters, John Adams, Late President of the United States, and Samuel Adams, Late Governor of Massachusetts, on the Important Subject of Government(Boston: 1801), pp. 9-10, letter from Samuel Adams to John Adams on October 4, 1790; pp. 25-27, letter from Samuel Adams to John Adams on November 20, 1790.

[120] Paul Leicester Ford, The New England Primer: A History of its Origin and Development (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1897), plate xxiv, following p. 300.

[121] Paul Leicester Ford, The New England Primer: A History of its Origin and Development (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1897), pp. 310, 313; Emily Ellsworth Fowler Ford, Notes on the Life of Noah Webster (New York: Privately Printed, 1912), Vol. II, p. 532.

[122] See, for example, Benjamin Franklin, The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Leonard W. Labaree, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1963), Vol. 7, pp. 100-101, letter from John Waring to Benjamin Franklin on January 24, 1757; p. 356, letter from Benjamin Franklin to John Waring on January 3, 1758; pp. 377-378, letter from Benjamin Franklin to John Waring on February 17, 1758; Vol. 9, pp. 12-13, letter from John Waring to Benjamin Franklin on January 4, 1760, also n1; pp. 20-21, “Minute of the Associates of the Late Dr. Bray” on January 17, 1760; Vol. 10, pp. 298-300, letter from Benjamin Franklin to John Waring on June 27, 1763; pp. 395-396, letter from Benjamin Franklin to John Waring on December 17, 1763; Vol. 13, p. 442, letter from Benjamin Franklin to Abbot Upcher on October 4, 1766; and others.

[123] Benjamin Franklin, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1931 reprint of 1749), p. vii, from the Introduction.

[124] Benjamin Franklin, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1931 reprint of 1749), p. 22.

[125] The New England Primer, Improved for the More Easy Attaining the True Reading of English, to which is Added the Assembly of Divines, and Mr. Cotton’s Catechism (Boston: Printed by Edward Draper, 1777, reprinted by WallBuilder Press, 1991).

Lesson 1: Discovery and Early Planting (1492-mid 1600s)

Discovery and Early Planting (1492-mid 1600s)

The recorded story of America begins with the European discovery of the New World in the late fifteenth-century by Christopher Columbus. Even though the Vikings had come inland in America as far as Minnesota hundreds of years earlier, it was the announcement of Columbus’ landing that opened up the Western Hemisphere to European interest and colonization.

Columbus eventually made four voyages from Europe to the new western lands, but few today know what inspired him to do so—a motivation he clearly revealed in a book he wrote in 1502 after his third voyage. That work, called his Book of Prophecies, contains his collection of scores of Scriptures addressing the propagation of the Christian Gospel in distant lands that he, Christopher (which means “the Christ bearer”), believed he was fulfilling.

Also included in his Prophecies is the letter he wrote to the King and Queen of Spain (Ferdinand and Isabella, who financed his voyage), in which he explained:

[I] have seen and put in study to look into all the Scriptures….Our Lord opened to my understanding (I could sense His hand upon me), so that it became clear that it was feasible to navigate from here to the Indies….All those who heard about my enterprise rejected it with laughter, scoffing at me….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 and sacred Scriptures….No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior, if it is right and if the purpose is purely for His holy service.[1]

Not only do Columbus’ writings affirm his strong Christian faith, so do the choice of names for the new lands he visited. For example, the massive painting of the Landing of Columbus permanently on display in the Rotunda of the US Capitol shows him arriving at an island in October 1492 in what today is the Bahamas. After coming ashore, he knelt, kissed the ground, led the men in prayer to God for their safe arrival, and christened that new land “San Salvador,” meaning “Holy Savior.”[2] Another island he named “Trinidad” after the Christian Holy Trinity of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[3]

Landing of Columbus displayed in the US Capitol.

For almost five centuries, Columbus was celebrated as a hero, with over 600 monuments being erected to honor him.[4] In fact, the city of Washington, DC was named after him (DC stands for District of Columbia, or Columbus).[5] But in recent years, he has been portrayed as a villain because of his so-called atrocious “treatment” of Native Indians. But sadly, too many of today’s narratives fail to give the true factual story of his encounters and relationships with those peoples.

Columbus was involved with two principal Indian tribes. The first, the Taíno, was a very kind and gentle people, and Columbus repeatedly praised them as “the best people in the world.”[6] He wrote Spain, advocating for their full equality, citizenship, and civil rights. The second tribe, the Caribs, was the mortal enemy of the Taíno, raiding their villages, enslaving their people, and especially cannibalizing them. When Columbus arrived on his first journey, the Taíno told him about these atrocities, so on his second voyage Columbus journeyed to the Carib lands to see if the reports were true.[7]

Arriving there, he discovered slave camps where the Caribs housed Taino captive women who were raped for the purpose of producing children for the Caribs to eat. The stories of the barbaric cannibalism were confirmed by the abundance of human remains found boiling in the cooking pots as well as the gnawed bones throughout the camps.[8] Columbus liberated the enslaved women and proceeded to fight against the Caribs whenever they engaged him (and the Caribs had attacked and murdered dozens of his men).[9]

So Columbus was largely just and kind with the Taíno tribes but did indeed war against the horrific cannibal Caribs. Yet claims abound today that Columbus sought to destroy and pillage all Indians, without discussing who he fought or even why he was fighting them. Modern critics also fail to mention the good relations he had with many tribes.

Columbus’ Return to Spain

Another modern claim is that Columbus enslaved Natives and forcibly carried them back with him. But nearly all those he forcibly brought to Spain were cannibalistic Carib murderers, captured in open war. Some of the friendly Indians had volunteered to travel back to Spain with Columbus, including an important local chieftain and his entire family, but Columbus urged him to stay in his own kingdom.[10] One Indian who chose to go with Columbus after his first voyage actually became a member of the royal Spanish court; another took Columbus’ last name and traveled with him as his interpreter for his various visits to native tribes. [11]

But returning to Columbus’ “discovery” of the New World, it is significant that while Columbus is credited with opening the western hemisphere to European colonization, neither he nor Spain (the nation for which he sailed) actually colonized what would eventually become the United States. This is fortunate, for at that time, civil and religious tyranny were common in Spain and numerous other nations of Europe.

This Spanish tyranny was not Columbus’ practice, however, for he was Italian, not Spanish. He sailed under the banner of Spain simply because they funded his voyages, not because he agreed with their people or practices. In fact, on numerous occasions, he openly denounced the atrocious behavior of many of the Spaniards who had been assigned to him as his crew.[12]

Fortunately, it was nearly a century after Columbus’ discovery of the new western lands before permanent colonists began arriving in America. Why the long wait? Nineteenth century historian B.F. Morris explained:

[G]od held this vast land [America] in reserve as the great field on which the experiment was to be made in favor of civil and religious liberty. He suffered not the foot of a Spaniard, or Portuguese, or Frenchman, or Englishman to come upon it until the changes had been wrought in Europe which would make it certain that it [America] would always be a land of [Biblical] freedom.[13]

Those “changes wrought in Europe” refer to what today is called the Reformation—a religious movement that birthed both civil and religious liberty in several nations. That movement began in the 1300s and for the next two centuries steadily spread across Europe and then into other parts of the world.

The movement began with several Catholic priests urging a return to the teachings of the Bible—teachings that had been largely ignored by both State and Church over the previous thousand years. This back-to-the-Bible movement (that is, the Reformation) began a reform of the Catholic Church and also birthed the Protestant Church.

One particularly strong emphasis of that movement was to make the Bible available to the average person in his own language. Over previous centuries, the Bible had been largely unavailable to the ordinary individual and was nearly always written in a foreign language that only a handful of the elite and most highly-educated could read. But with the Reformation, Bibles became available for all citizens in their own language; and when the people began to read and apply the Bible and its teachings, their personal lives and practices changed. This had a direct beneficial impact on both State and Church, for as Biblical principles of liberty became known and adopted, both civil and religious tyranny began decreasing.

With the gradual return to Biblical teachings, key theological ideas were recovered by the Church, including Sola Scriptura (“by Scripture alone”), Sola Fide (“by faith alone”), Sola Gratia (“by grace alone”), Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”), and Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”). Many new Christian denominations were built upon these ideas, and they impacted the society at large in a positive manner.

America, perhaps more than any other country at the time, was directly shaped by the Reformation, for the early colonists who settled here (including the Pilgrims, Puritans, and others) were a direct product of Reformation teachings. In fact, many of them had been driven from Europe simply because they sought to live out their faith according to Bible precepts, and in America they found the freedom to openly live their lives by its teachings on government, economics, law, family, education, and much else.

As a result, the Biblical concepts of religious freedom, representative government, individual enterprise, jurisdictional authority, limited government, and private property began to appear in many of the civil documents that came forth in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (such as the Mayflower Compact, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, the Frame of Government of Pennsylvania, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution). Personal liberty as well as religious, civil, political, and economic liberty was the result of applying the Bible’s teachings to all areas of life.

In fact, the Bible became so influential in the birth, growth, and development of the United States that even modern publications such as Newsweek affirm that “historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document.”[14] Without God and the Bible, there would be no free and prosperous America as we have come to know it today.

The Bible: The Rock of Our Republic

Interestingly, one group of American leaders that repeatedly affirmed the historic impact of Bible teachings in shaping America was US Presidents. For example:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

In the formative days of the Republic, the directing influence the Bible exercised upon the fathers of the Nation is conspicuously evident….We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a Nation without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic.[15] I suggest a nationwide reading of the Holy Scriptures….for a renewed and strengthening contact with those eternal truths and majestic principles which have inspired such measure of true greatness as this Nation has achieved.[16] President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

[T]he teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally—I do not mean figuratively, I mean literally—impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teachings were removed. We would lose almost all the standards by which we now judge both public and private morals—all the standards toward which we, with more or less resolution, strive to raise ourselves. Almost every man who has by his life-work added to the sum of human achievement of which the [human] race is proud—of which our people are proud—almost every such man has based his life-work largely upon the teachings of the Bible.[17] President Teddy Roosevelt

Ronald Reagan

Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive Nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible….The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding Fathers’ abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual—rights which they found implicit in the Bible’s teachings of the inherent worth and dignity of each individual.[18] President Ronald Reagan

It was for the love of the truths of this great Book [the Bible] that our fathers abandoned their native shores for the wilderness. Animated by its lofty principles, they toiled and suffered till the desert blossomed as the rose [Isaiah 35:1].[19] The Bible is the best of books and I wish it were in the hands of everyone. It is indispensable to the safety and permanence of our institutions; a free government cannot exist without religion and morals, and there cannot be morals without religion, nor religion without the Bible. Especially should the Bible be placed in the hands of the young. It is the best school book in the world….I would that all of our people were brought up under the influence of that Holy Book.[20] President Zachary Taylor

Ulysses S. Grant

Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties. Write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future.[21] President U.S. Grant

[The Bible] is the best gift God has given to men. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong.[22] President Abraham Lincoln

America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture.[23] President Woodrow Wilson

Harry S. Truman

The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days.[24] President Harry Truman

But long before our Presidents stressed the importance of the Bible, our Founding Fathers (the early leaders largely responsible for the birth and establishment of America as an independent nation) had already done so. For example:

John Adams

[T]he Bible is the best book in the world.[25] Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited…. What a Utopia—what a Paradise would this region be![26] John Adams, signer of the declaration of independence, president

[T]he Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.[27] By renouncing the Bible, philosophers swing from their moorings upon all moral subjects….It is the only correct map of the human heart that ever has been published.[28] Benjamin Rush, signer of the declaration of independence[The Bible] is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed.[29] Patrick Henry

[N]o book in the world deserves to be so unceasingly studied and so profoundly meditated upon as the Bible.[30] The first and almost the only book deserving such universal recommendation is the Bible.[31] John Quincy Adams, president

John Jay

[W]ere you to ask me to recommend the most valuable book in the world, I should fix on the Bible as the most instructive both to the wise and ignorant. Were you to ask me for one book affording the most rational and pleasing entertainment to the enquiring mind, I should repeat, it is the Bible. And should you renew the inquiry for the best philosophy, or the most interesting history, I should still urge you to look into your Bible. I would make it, in short, the alpha and omega of knowledge.[32] Elias Boudinot, president of the continental congress, framer of the bill of rights

The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the Word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.[33] John Jay, president of the continental congress, author of the federalist papers, original chief justice of the us supreme court

I believe the Bible to be the written Word of God and to contain in it the whole rule of faith and manners.[34] Robert Treat Paine, signer of the declaration of independence

[T]he Holy Scriptures….can alone secure to society order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability, and usefulness….Bibles are strong entrenchments [lines of defense]. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.[35] James McHenry, signer of the constitution

All of the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from them despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.[36] Noah Webster, early educator, “schoolmaster to America”

There are similar declarations from countless other noted national leaders.

The Virginia Colony

Many of the early explorers who had been influential in the growth and development of America were inspired by a love of God and His word. One such example was Richard Hakluyt (1558-1603), a Gospel minister and the greatest English geographer of America’s early colonization period. For decades he advocated for America to become a safe haven for those being persecuted for their desire to live by God’s Word. As he explained in his 1584 Discourse on Western Planting:

We shall, by planting there [in America], enlarge the glory of the Gospel, and from England plant sincere religion and provide a safe and a sure place to receive people from all parts of the world that are forced to flee for the truth of God’s Word.[37]

The Rev. Hakluyt was a member of the governing body of Virginia–America’s first successful colony. And not surprisingly, the original charter of Virginia (1606) openly declared its Christian beliefs, affirming that the colony was being started to propagate the “Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and [unhappy] ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”[38]

Jamestown, 1607

The first Virginia settlers landed in America in April 1607. They erected a wooden cross at Cape Henry, where they came ashore. At the foot of this cross, the Rev. Hunt led the 149 men of the Virginia Company in prayer, thanking God for their safe journey and recommitting the group to God’s plan and purpose for the New World.

John Smith and Pocahontas

Those settlers sailed up a nearby river and chose a site for their new colony. They named the waterway up which they journeyed the “James River,” and their new settlement “Jamestown”—both in honor of King James of England.

The initial reaction of the neighboring Indians to this unexpected but friendly arrival was fear, suspicion, and outright hostility. In fact, only two weeks after their arrival, 200 Indians made a surprise attack on the settlement, killing two and wounding ten others. But this hostile beginning eventually changed, thanks in large part to Pocahontas, the young daughter of Powhatan, chief of the neighboring Indians.

Carved relief in the US Capitol Rotunda showing Pocahontas saving John Smith’s life.

Pocahontas befriended the colonists from the beginning, causing John Smith (who would later become governor of the Virginia Colony) to state that it was the “ordinance of God thus to make her His instrument.”[39] According to Smith, she was “next, under God,…the instrument to preserve this colony from death, famine, and utter confusion.[40] His initial meeting with Pocahontas, however, was certainly unplanned.

Smith and a small group were exploring the region around their settlement when they were captured by a band of Indians and taken to Powhatan’s village. Those with him were tortured and killed, and Smith was held captive for weeks. Eventually, the Indians ordered him killed as well. They placed his head on a large stone, preparing, as Smith himself reported, “with their clubs, to beat out his brains.[41] At that moment, Pocahontas intervened. She took Smith’s “head in her arms and laid her own [head] upon his to save him from death.[42] She pleaded for his life, which her father granted.

Powhatan declared they were now friends and that Smith could go back to Jamestown. Smith did so, but fearfully, “still expecting, as [I] had done all this long time of [my] imprisonment, every hour to be put to one death or other….But Almighty God, by His Divine Providence, had mollified [softened] the hearts of those stern barbarians with compassion.”[43] Pocahontas saved Smith from death, and over the coming months she also saved many others of the Jamestown settlers as well.

The painting of the Baptism of Pocahontas in the US Capitol Rotunda.

For example, during their first winter, their food ran out; but Pocahontas was instrumental in getting Indians to bring them supplies. She brought food to the starving colonists at other times as well, and also helped them secure peace treaties with surrounding tribes. Early historian John Fiske writes of Pocahontas: “But for her friendly services on more than one occasion, the tiny settlement would probably have perished.”[44]

The colony survived and slowly began to grow, openly espousing Christian principles. For example, between 1609 and 1612, their code of civil laws (called their Lawes Divine, Morall, and Martiall, etc.) was penned, and it succinctly affirmed the intent of the colonists to live according to God’s commands.[45]

In 1619, civic elections were held in Jamestown, and the result was the first elected representative body of the New World. It opened with prayer, and then met in the choir loft of the church.[46] One of the early acts of this body was to encourage colonists to open their homes to Indian youth with the purpose of teaching them the precepts of the Bible.[47]

The painting of the Embarkation of the Pilgrims shows them on the ship the Speedwell observing a time of fasting and prayer before leaving Holland to come to America.

Significantly, many Native Americans became Christians, including Pocahontas, who was brought to a knowledge of Jesus Christ by the ministry of the Rev. Alexander Whitaker and others. In fact, a massive painting hanging in the US Capitol Rotunda (near that of Columbus’ landing) shows the baptism of Pocahontas by the Rev. Whitaker. After her baptism, Pocahontas adopted the Christian name Rebecca, by which she was called the remainder of her life.

Governor John Smith, like so many others in the Virginia Colony (including Rebecca) was an outspoken Christian. His personal faith was reflected in many open acknowledgments of God throughout his life, including his Last Will and Testament (1631):

[I] commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God, my Maker, hoping through the merit of Christ Jesus my Redeemer to receive full remission of all my sins and to inherit a place in the everlasting kingdom.[48]

The Pilgrims and the Plymouth Colony, 1620

Another of the massive paintings that hangs in the US Capitol Rotunda (each is 14 feet high and twenty feet wide) is the Embarkation of the Pilgrims at Delfts Haven, Holland, July 22nd, 1620, painted by Robert Weir and placed in the Capitol in 1843.[49]

Painted on the sail is the phrase, “God with us,” which was the heart cry of the Pilgrims.

This painting shows leading Pilgrims in prayer (including Pastor John Robinson, Governors John Carver and William Bradford, military leader Miles Standish, and others). In the center of the painting, Elder William Brewster has an open Bible upon his lap on which are written the words: “The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” On the sail of the ship can be seen the phrase, “God with Us,” which accurately describes the lifestyle of these men and women.

William Brewster is holding an open Geneva Bible with the words, “The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

The version of the Bible being held by Brewster (and the version used extensively by the Pilgrims) was known as the Geneva Bible. It was the primary Bible of the English Reformation and was the favorite Bible of the Dissenters—those who largely settled America. (They were called Dissenters because they objected to—that is, dissented from—the corrupt European practices of both State and Church).

The Geneva Bible was first published in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1560 by English reformers (and their followers) who had fled there to escape severe religious persecution at the hands of the state-established churches in their various home countries. That Bible went through 140 editions from 1560 to 1644.[50] It was the first Bible to add numbered verses to each chapter. It was also the first Bible to be taken to America, having been carried first by the Virginia colonists and then by the Pilgrims.

One factor that made the Geneva Bible distinctive from all other Bibles at the time was its unique marginal commentaries. Penned by prominent reformers, these commentaries regularly challenged the corrupt European culture of the day, especially criticizing practices that violated God’s Word, whether in government, judiciary, education, law, culture, or elsewhere.

The Dissenters, by their study of the Geneva Bible and its commentaries, saw how flawed the civil and religious system was at that time in most countries across Europe. When the Dissenters in England publicly pointed this out, they received vigorous persecution from the state-established national church. (This same pattern of ill-treatment by state-established churches was common across Europe.)

After years of enduring this government persecution, the Pilgrims (according to their governor and historian, William Bradford) finally “shook off this yoke of anti-Christian bondage, and as the Lord’s free people joined themselves (by a covenant of the Lord) into a church estate, in the fellowship of the Gospel, to walk in all His ways.”[51] They left England and went to Holland, where they finally found religious freedom.

But after twelve years in the secular culture of Holland, they became concerned for the faith of their children. They also preferred the overall English culture to that of the Dutch, so they decided to move to the new land of America, where they could (1) freely worship God, (2) raise Godly children, and (3) share the wonderful truths of the Christian Gospel with others. Concerning this third point, Bradford affirmed that the Pilgrims had: “a great hope and inward zeal…for the propagating and advancing the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world [i.e., America].”[52]

When they set sail for America in 1620 aboard the ship Mayflower, it bore 102 “Pilgrims and strangers” (which they called themselves—a quote from 1 Peter 2:11 in the Bible). But the ship also carried much more: it carried the Bible-based principles they had learned—principles that were to become the seeds of the greatest and freest nation the world has ever known.

After sixty-six days at sea, including sailing through some treacherous storms, the Mayflower finally reached America. The Pilgrims had intended to settle in the northern parts of the existing Virginia Colony and had tried diligently to reach that region, but despite their best efforts, fierce winds providentially blew them far north to a region completely outside Virginia’s jurisdiction. They finally put ashore at Cape Cod in the Massachusetts area, and after some searching they found an empty and uninhabited location in which to settle.

Significantly, had the Pilgrims arrived at that same place some years earlier, they would have been met by the fierce Patuxet Indian tribe, which likely would have attacked and killed them all. But in 1617, a plague had mysteriously wiped out all of the tribe except one man: Squanto. He had been in England at the time of the outbreak and returned to the area just before the Pilgrims arrived, finding his entire tribe gone. Due to the devastating nature of the epidemic, the neighboring tribes were afraid to come near the place; they believed that some great supernatural spirit had destroyed the people there and might also kill them as well. So the land was left abandoned and open—a perfect situation for the Pilgrims.

Having arrived in an area not under the authority of the Virginia Colony, the Pilgrims drew up their own governmental compact before leaving the Mayflower, which declared:

Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith, and the honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents [that is, by this legal document and charter] solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic.[53]

Signing of the Mayflower Compact

That document, known as the Mayflower Compact, was the first civil governing document written in America and the New World. It placed the Pilgrim’s civil government on a firm Christian basis and was the beginning of American constitutional government.

When the Pilgrims came ashore, they fell to their knees and thanked God, reaffirming their continuing reliance upon Him. Squanto later met them and would become instrumental in their survival. (For more on this part of the story, see the article in the Appendix at the end of Lesson 1, “Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving”).

The Pilgrims’ Colony became known as Plymouth Plantation, or the Plymouth Colony. It was built on land purchased from the Indians—at the price set by the Indians.[54] In fact, the longest-lasting treaty in American history between Anglos and Native Americans was that of the Pilgrims. (For more on the relations between the Pilgrims and Indians, see “No, Revisionists, Thanksgiving is not a Day of Mourning,” also at the end of this Lesson).

In the beginning, life in that colony was very difficult. In fact, in the first winter alone, half the Pilgrims died. But despite that hardship, the next spring when the Mayflower returned to England, not one Pilgrim chose to go back. They all stayed, for they had come neither for personal convenience nor reward but rather that they might walk in religious and civil liberty and became what they called “stepping stones”[55] for others after them to follow and do the same. At the end of the first year, the Pilgrims celebrated the thanksgiving festival that has become the national holiday we still celebrate each year today in November.

The Laws of the Pilgrims

The Pilgrims believed the Bible was a complete guidebook for how to live all of life, and their code of laws clearly reflected this belief. Significantly, much of what they instituted (as early as 1623) became standard in America, including trial by jury and private property rights.[56] They also elected their civil leaders separately from their religious leaders[57]—a practice quite different from what had become customary for Europe.

A 1676 broadside of a proclamation for a Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving, with the deal of Massachusetts Bay at the top and an Indian speaking the words, “Come Over and Help Us.”

By 1636, the Pilgrims had compiled what historians describe as “the first comprehensive body of law in North America.[58] That legal code served as a model for future American codes of laws, and while the original Laws of the Pilgrims were revised over subsequent years, they always remained rooted in the Bible. In fact, the preface to the 1658 Book of Laws specifically states that “laws…are so far good and wholesome as by how much they are derived from and agreeable to the ancient platform of God’s Law.”[59] Reflecting this, many of their individual laws directly cited specific Scriptures as their basis.

The Puritans and Massachusetts, 1630

Jamestown was the first English colony in America; and in 1620 the Pilgrims founded the second English colony, but the first one in the northern parts of America. Over the next decade, other settlers occasionally arrived in the area, but in 1630 came the “Great Puritan Exodus” that left England, resulting in the founding of America’s second northern colony, and its third overall.

Those Puritans in that Exodus had spent years attempting to purify the tyrannical Church of England (from which they received their name “Puritans”), but with little result. In fact, they were severely persecuted by the king for their attempts to clean up the corrupt church. Finally deciding they could not purify that Church, they came to America and set up their own model Church of England to be an example of a true uncorrupted Church.

The Puritans (like the Pilgrims before them) were committed to God and His Word, wanting to share the good news of the Christian faith with others. Their original charter (1629) affirmed their desire to be…

so religiously, peaceably, and civilly governed, as their good life and orderly conversation [that is, their Godly lifestyle] may win and incite the natives of country to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Savior of mankind, and the Christian faith, which…is the peaceful end of this plantation [colony].[60]

In the spring of 1630, some 1,000 Puritans (which was more than the total number of inhabitants living in the then ten-year old Pilgrim Plymouth Colony) left England and sailed to America, establishing the Massachusetts Bay Colony. (Their new colony adjoined the Pilgrims’ Plymouth Plantation Colony, and in 1691, the two merged to become Massachusetts.) During their voyage from England, the Puritans “constantly served God, morning and evening, by reading and expounding a chapter [in the Bible], singing, and prayer.”[61]

While at sea, their leader, John Winthrop (who for many years after their arrival served as their governor) penned “A Model of Christian Charity,” setting forth the Puritan’s reasons for starting the new colony. Winthrop affirmed their desire to be “as a city upon a hill” (quoting from Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:14), where all the people of the earth could see their uncorrupted colony as a model (which they called the “New” England) and would say, “The Lord make [us] likely that of New England.”[62] But Winthrop warned those with him that, “If we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword [an example of something very bad] through the world.”[63] (Interestingly, more than three centuries later, President Ronald Reagan also spoke of America as being a “city upon a hill” for the rest of the world to see and copy,[64] just as our Pilgrim and Puritan Fathers had long before envisioned.)

Massachusetts Body of Liberties

When the Puritans arrived, they, like the Pilgrims, lived on land purchased from the Indians, at the price set by the Indians.[65] They then began building their system of civil governance. Their legal code, known as the Massachusetts Body of Liberties, was written in 1641 by the Rev. Nathaniel Ward. The Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) was the basis for that legal code. In addition to listing specific Bible verses as the basis for many of its laws,[66] it further affirmed that “in case of the defect [lack] of a law” the general standard to be what was in “the Word of God.”[67]

Sharing the Gospel
Title Page of John Eliot’s Algonquin Bible

The official seal of the Massachusetts Bay colony was an Indian speaking the words, “Come Over And Help Us.”[68] (This was a quote from Acts 16:9, where the Apostle Paul saw a vision of the neighboring people asking him to come over and preach the Gospel to them.) By this official colony seal, these early settlers yet again openly affirmed their desire to bring the Gospel to those who had never heard it before, including Native Americans.

Typical of the Puritans’ efforts in this regard was the work of the Rev. John Eliot (known as the “Apostle to the Indians”) and Daniel Gookin, a civil magistrate. These two men worked over forty years to evangelize and civilize the Algonquin tribe of Massachusetts. Eliot constantly traveled to Indian villages to teach them the Bible. Many Native Americans converted to Christianity, and Eliot set up fourteen self-governing and self-supporting “Praying Towns” where these Christian Indians could live out their new life as believers. A number of these Indians became ministers in order to carry on the work of the Gospel among their own people.

Eliot believed that for the Indians to fully enjoy the complete benefits of the Bible, they needed it in their own language. He therefore learned the Algonquin, or Massachusetts Indian language and then created a written language for them since none existed at that time. He worked twelve years in translating the Bible into their language, while simultaneously continuing his pastoral duties in his own church. In 1658, he completed the new Indian-language Bible, and it was published in 1661-1663. This was the first Bible ever printed in America, and it was printed in the Algonquin, or Massachusetts language.

Another way the Puritans’ sought to reach Native Americans with the Gospel was the founding of Harvard in 1636—America’s first successful university (an earlier college had been started in Virginia, but it was wiped out in a surprise attack by a nearby Indian tribe). The Puritans started Harvard not only to train ministers but also to evangelize and educate Indians. Many other early American colleges had the same dual purpose.

Roger Williams obtained land from the Narragansett Indians to start the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation.

For example, the College of William and Mary (founded in Virginia through the efforts of the Rev. James Blair in 1693) was started so that “the Church of Virginia may be furnished with a seminary of ministers of the Gospel, and that…the Christian faith may be propagated among the western Indians to the glory of Almighty God.”[69] The college of Dartmouth in New Hampshire began in 1770 when Congregational pastor Eleazar Wheelock (1711-1779) secured a charter from the governor of New Hampshire to establish a college to train young men for missionary service among the Indians. Its Latin motto means: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness” (quoting from John 1:23 and Isaiah 40:3) and it became known as “the Indian College.”[70]

Rhode Island, 1636

In 1631, a brilliant young minister, Roger Williams, came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony as a refugee from the tyranny of England’s King Charles I and the corrupt British state-established church. For a time, Williams served as minister in Plymouth (home of the Pilgrims), and then by mutual agreement left to pastor in Salem (in the Puritans’ colony).

His outspoken manner and firm convictions regarding liberty of conscience brought him into conflict with the sometimes intolerant Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After failing to comply with the edicts of those civil leaders, he was tried and banished from the Colony. In 1636, he purchased land from the Indians and founded the Providence Plantation Colony (later to become Rhode Island).[71]

Seal of Rhode Island Colony

Williams believed strongly that civil authorities should have no jurisdiction over the religious beliefs of any individual’s conscience and he incorporated this conviction into the laws of the new colony. With this official policy of religious tolerance, those who had been persecuted for their religious convictions began settling in Rhode Island.

Religious principles remained central to the colony—as affirmed by the 1663 Royal Charter of Rhode Island. It not only announced the colonists’ intentions both of “Godly edifying themselves, and one another, in the holy Christian faith and worship” but also of converting the Indians to Christianity.[72] It further declared that:

[The colonies are to pursue] with peaceable and loyal minds their sober, serious, and religious intentions…in holy Christian faith…[A] most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained…with a full liberty in religious concernments; and that true piety, rightly grounded upon Gospel principles, will give the best and greatest security to sovereignty and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to true loyalty.[73]

Maryland, 1633

In 1633, Cecil Calvert, a Catholic (known as Lord Baltimore), established the colony of Maryland. The Charter of Maryland describes him as “being animated with a laudable, and pious zeal for extending the Christian religion.”[74] In 1634, he established a policy of religious toleration that welcomed both Protestant and Catholic settlers. (At that time in world history, it was common that Catholics and Protestants alternately persecuted each other; but this colony welcomed any who were fleeing persecution, whether Catholic or Protestant—a policy very rare at that time.)

In 1649, the famous Maryland Toleration Act was passed, declaring that “No…persons… professing to believe in Jesus Christ shall [be] troubled, molested, or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion, nor in the free exercise thereof,”[75] thus further protecting both Catholic and Protestants. That Act provided the broadest protection of religious freedom that had been offered in the world in the 1600s.

Connecticut, 1636
Rev. Thomas Hooker

In 1633, English minister Thomas Hooker, like the Pilgrims and Puritans before him, was driven from England by the corrupt state-established national church. He came to the Puritans’ Massachusetts Bay Colony and became pastor of the Church at Newtown (now Cambridge). After observing the workings of the colony, he noticed some intolerance among Puritans there and attempted to correct it. Having little success, he asked the Bay Colony leaders and was granted permission to migrate to the Connecticut Valley.

In June 1636, he and most of his Newtown congregation (about 100 people) settled in what would become the Connecticut Colony, on land they had purchased from the Indians, at the price set by the Indians.[76] Other settlers followed, and by May 1637, 800 people had moved into the valley. In May 1638, Hooker presented an influential sermon preached before the General Court (that is, the Connecticut legislature). Three of the key principles he laid out included:

  • The foundation of civil authority is based on the willing consent of the people;
  • The choice—that is, the public election—of civil officials belongs to the people by God’s own permission;
  • The people not only have power to appoint officers and magistrates but also to set the bounds and limitations of the government.[77]
In 1636, Rev. Thomas Hooker led a company from his church in Massachusetts to settle in Connecticut.

As a result of that sermon, in January 1639, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut was penned and adopted as the colony’s first constitution. Significantly, it was the first constitution ever written in America. Early historian John Fiske wrote that “the government of the United States today is in lineal descent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to that of any of the other thirteen colonies.”[78] (This is why Connecticut is known as “the Constitution State.”) The Christian basis of that constitution was readily apparent.

For example, it began with the inhabitants covenanting together under God “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, which we now profess.”[79] And the oath taken by civil officials required them “to administer justice according to the laws here established, and for want [lack] thereof, according to the rule of the Word of God.”[80] The oath taken by the governor (and the magistrates) ended with these words: “I…will further the execution of justice according to the rule of God’s Word, so help me God, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”[81] Some of the key principles found in that Bible-based constitution included the rule of law, popular elections, representative government, freedom of speech, local self-government, and taxes levied on the people—but only through representatives elected by the people, which certainly was not the general practice of Europe at that time.

More than a century later, Noah Webster (a soldier in the American War for Independence, and then a judge, legislator, and teacher afterwards) used Connecticut’s constitution as a model for his 1785 work Sketches of American Policy—one of the first works in America to call for a federal constitution.[82] Webster said that Connecticut’s early constitution was “the most perfect on earth” and that it provided an excellent example to the American nation of the proper balance of power between local and state governments.[83]

In 1637, the year after Rev. Hooker had founded Connecticut, Puritan minister John Davenport founded the New Haven Colony, which adjoined the Connecticut Colony. He, too, purchased the land from the Indians,[84] and his motivations for starting that Colony were similar to those of Hooker. The New Haven Colony rested its frame of government upon the idea that “the Scriptures do hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duties…in families and commonwealths,”[85] thus making (as famous historian George Bancroft noted) “the Bible its statute-book.”[86] (In 1665, the New Haven Colony united with the Connecticut Colony to form Connecticut.[87])

The New England Confederation, 1643

In 1643, the four separate colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth Plantation, Connecticut, and New Haven agreed to form an association known as the New England Confederation. This was the first attempt to unite several colonies in mutual cooperation (such as later happened with the thirteen colonies during the American War for Independence). The governing document for that Confederation clearly states the Christian nature of the early settlements:

Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely, to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel in purity and peace….The said United Colonies…[do] enter into a firm and perpetual league of friendship…for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the Gospel and for their own mutual safety and welfare.[88]

The New England Confederation lasted until 1684.

America’s First Schools

The colonists of all the early colonies believed that every child should be educated—a belief very different from that in England and Europe at the time. While many children in America were educated at home, the colonists also started public schools as well and then later added colleges to provide higher education for students. Significantly, the concept of education for every individual was developed first in Christian and Biblical civilization.

Early Massachusetts School Laws
A colonial hornbook. The Lord’s Prayer was the first reading lesson.

In 1642, the General Court of Massachusetts (that is, its legislature) enacted an education law requiring each town to see that children were taught “to read and understand the principles of religion and the capital laws of this country.”[89] Five years later, the laws of 1647 noted education and schools were necessary because it was the “one chief project of that old deluder, satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scripture”[90]—that is, Satan wanted to keep people from knowing the Bible, but Massachusetts was not going to let this happen: it would establish schools for every child so they would be able to know and read the Bible. (This law became known as “The Old Deluder Satan Act.”)

This Massachusetts law was America’s first public education law, and it was the direct result of the horrific persecutions experienced by so many of the early settlers who had arrived in America. Those colonists were acutely aware of the civil atrocities that had earlier occurred across Europe, such as the tortures during the Inquisition and other similar purges often wrongly perpetrated under the banner of Christianity. They knew of these atrocities because many of them had personally experienced harsh persecution simply for practicing their Biblical faith.

The colonists and their leaders were convinced that a widespread lack of Biblical knowledge lay at the root of these barbarities. If people had been literate and able to read the Scriptures and judge the accuracy of what the leaders of both State and Church were telling them, they would not have blindly believed and followed, thus abetting the commission of that savagery.

The American Witch Trials

On rare occasions, even these early Christians fell into the same bad behavior from which they had fled. One example of this is seen in the Witch Trials of 1691-1692 in which twenty-seven individuals died at the hands of the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.[91]

While this behavior is indefensible, an appropriate question to ask is, “Why were only twenty-seven put to death in America?” After all, witch trials were also occurring across the world at that time, with 500,000 put to death in Europe,[92] including 30,000 in England, 75,000 in France, and 100,000 in Germany.[93]

Significantly, the American trials lasted eighteen months, while the European trials lasted for years and even decades.[94] The difference was that the American trials were brought to a close when Christian leaders such as the Reverend John Wise, the Reverend Increase Mather, and Thomas Brattle confronted civil leaders, pointing out that Biblical rules of evidence and due process were not being followed in the courts, thus convincing officials to end those trials.[95]

What are some of the Biblical rules of evidence? An answer comes from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer—one of the most secular-minded justices in Supreme Court history. Yet even he openly acknowledges that “The right of an accused to meet his accusers face-to-face is mentioned in, among other things, the Bible.”[96] In proof of this, Breyer cites Federal Practices & Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, which devotes more than twenty pages to show the ways in which the Bible directly shaped numerous of the individual Due Process protections for citizens now found in the Fourth through the Eighth Amendments of the Bill of Rights.[97]

When Biblically-informed Christians pointed out these basic rights to Puritan leaders:

The trials were stopped by Governor Phipps in October, 1692, and five years later the Massachusetts Court publicly repented and set apart a special day of fasting and prayer, that prayers might be offered asking for forgiveness for the “late tragedy raised amongst us by Satan,” while the twelve jurors published a declaration of sorrow for accepting insufficient evidence against the accused; and Judge Sewall rose in his pew in the South Church and made public confession of his sense of guilt.[98]

Sadly, modern texts are quick to emphasize the twenty-seven deaths that occurred under the Puritans but ignore the hundreds of thousands committed in Europe. But as an early historian pointed out, a knowledge of the actual facts “should moderate our denunciations and charges of severity, brutality and narrow-mindedness against the colonial forefathers, who, it clearly appears, were much in advance of their times.”[99] And offering even more evidence to prove his point, he noted:

When the Mayflower left England [in 1620], thirty-one offenses were punishable with death in the mother country. By the middle of that century [the 1650s], the black list had enlarged to 223, of which 176 were without the benefit of the clergy [i.e., there were no exceptions]. How far in advance the New England colonies were is evident from the fact that not a single colony code [in New England] recognized more than fifteen capital crimes.[100]

It is undeniable that some missteps were made in early America; but because of the significant positive influence resulting from a widespread knowledge of the Bible, we had less atrocities and more that was positive than any other nation at that time.

Recognizing the positive difference a knowledge of the Bible could produce, those early settlers therefore passed America’s first education law, which required:

After the Lord hath increased [the settlement] to the number of fifty householders, [they] shall then forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him, to write and read….And it is further ordered that where any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families or householders, they shall set up a grammar school…to instruct youths, so far as they may be fitted for the university. [101]

The fact that the purpose of public education was to equip students to know the Bible and thus better know the limits the Bible placed on governing authorities was confirmed by numerous foreign visitors to America. One such was Edward Kendall of Britain. While in Connecticut, he found the state’s illiteracy law of interest—particularly the opening declaration of that law:

This [legislature] observing that notwithstanding the former orders made for the education of children…there are many persons unable to read the English tongue, and thereby incapable of reading the Holy Word of God or the good laws of this [State]… [102]

Notice that the Connecticut legislature was concerned about illiteracy because if a child could not read, then he would not know the Word of God or the laws of the state, and thus might not prevent the passage of a bad law.

America’s First Colleges

Henricus College (1619)

In 1618, the Virginia Company obtained a charter from King James I for a college in Virginia. Its purpose was to train both the children of the settlers and the children of the Indians.[103] By 1622, a teaching staff had been chosen and construction at the college begun. But while it was being built, Native Americans led an unexpected surprise attack against the settlers (who had long been their neighbors) resulting in what is called the “Great Massacre.” This stopped further efforts for a college in Virginia until seventy years later, with the establishment of the College of William and Mary in 1693.

Harvard College (1636)
Harvard College

As noted earlier, Harvard (started in 1636 by the New England Puritans) was the first successful college in America. Some of its rules and precepts included:

Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well [that] the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life (John 17:3), and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.

>And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Prov. 2:3).

Everyone shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein…seeing the entrance of the Word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130).[104]

Harvard, with its motto “Christo et Eccleslae” (For Christ and the Church),[105] was typical of almost all of the early American colleges. In fact, over the next two centuries, some 246 colleges would be started, with 226 (ninety percent) of them directly founded on the Christian faith.[106]

— — — ⧫ ⧫ ⧫ — — —

So…

  • America was founded on the teachings of the Bible.
  • Our colonies were founded and populated largely by people who desired to freely worship the God of the Bible.
  • Our common schools were begun so that every young person would be able to read, study, and understand the Bible for themselves.
  • Our universities were founded to train civil and religious leaders who would be knowledgeable in the Scriptures.
  • Our civil laws and constitutions were routinely based on specific Biblical verses and ideas.

There is much additional historical documentation available from this early period of America’s history, and it affirms that America was founded on Christian principles and that the Bible was instrumental in shaping our institutions and securing our individual rights and liberties. The evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion reached by President Andrew Jackson that It [the Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.” [107]

_____________

Lesson 1: Appendix A

Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving
(And a Lesson in Economics)

Innumerable blessings have been bestowed upon the United States of America. Concerning these, President Abraham Lincoln affirmed, “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.”[108] In 1863, he therefore set apart the last Thursday of November as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father, Who dwelleth in the heavens.”[109] President Lincoln thereby established America’s official Thanksgiving holiday; but it was the Pilgrims’ 1621 Thanksgiving celebration over two centuries earlier that originally started the tradition observed annually by the nation over succeeding years.

The Pilgrims are going to church.

The Pilgrims had arrived in America in November 1620. As they gathered their harvest in autumn of 1621 and looked back over the preceding year, they knew they had so much for which to be thankful. It was a miracle they had not only survived their first year in the wilderness of New England but also that they had reaped a good harvest the following fall. And they had also found a home where they could freely worship God—a place for “propagating and advancing the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ.”[110] The Pilgrims were grateful for these blessings.

Their early days had been very difficult. Coming to America, they had spent sixty-six perilous days at sea; and the storms were so ferocious that their ship, the Mayflower, was blown literally hundreds of miles north of its intended destination. Their captain continued attempting to sail south to Virginia, but the weather didn’t permit, so the Pilgrims were forced to settle in New England.

Because of the long voyage, lack of provisions, and harsh conditions, numerous diseases afflicted the settlers when they reached land. Making the situation worse, the Pilgrims arrived in December, so winter had already set in, and they had no homes in which to take shelter. In their weakened physical condition, and in the unrelenting cold, they started to build houses to protect themselves. Under these extreme hardships, within only three months, half of the original 102 Pilgrims were dead.

During the height of the sickness, there were only six or seven persons strong enough to move about, but they worked hard on behalf of all the rest. As Governor Bradford affirmed, those few…

spared no pains night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them; in a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren. A rare example and worthy to be remembered.[111]

With only half of them surviving that first winter, the prospects of the coming year were bleak. They were surrounded by Indians (some hostile), short of food and supplies, and knew little of how to live in the American wilderness. But to their astonishment, an English-speaking Indian named Squanto unexpectedly came among them (from where they knew not) and took them under his care, teaching them how to survive in the new land.

He showed them how to plant corn (assuring its growth by setting it with fish) and he taught them how to catch fish during the times when they could find the creeks well stocked with fish (in the four months before Squanto’s arrival, the Pilgrims had caught only one cod). He also taught them to stalk deer, plant pumpkins, find berries, and catch beaver (whose pelts proved to be their economic deliverance). Additionally, Squanto was helpful in securing a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the neighboring Wampanoag tribe. (It became the longest-lasting treaty in American history between Anglos and Native Americans.) Pilgrim leader and governor William Bradford properly affirmed, “Squanto…was a special instrument sent of God for [our] good.”[112]

Squanto was indeed key to their survival, and he helped shape the story of America. But his own life story is amazing as well. In 1605, long before the arrival of the Pilgrims, he had been captured and taken to England. He remained there nine years, during which time he learned to speak English. In 1614, he came with Captain John Smith of Virginia back to New England, but shortly after Squanto’s return Captain Thomas Hunt took him and sold him into slavery in Spain. Thankfully, some local friars bought and rescued him.

The Pilgrims “set a part a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in this great distress. And He was pleased to give them gracious and speedy answer.”

Being freed in Spain, he went to England, where he remained until 1619, when he obtained passage back to his home in New England. As Squanto went ashore at his former home (which eventually became Plymouth, the Pilgrims’ home), he found his entire tribe (the Patuxets) had been wiped out by a plague. He was the only survivor; and had he been there instead of in Spain and England, he, too, surely would have died. Joining himself to a nearby tribe, he remained there until the spring of 1621, when he took the remaining half of the Pilgrims under his tutelage, determined to see them survive at the place where his tribe had not.[113]

With Squanto’s help, the Pilgrims harvested sufficient food for their upcoming second winter. They had no surplus, but things definitely looked much better than they had the preceding winter when they arrived. With this definite improvement over the previous years’ situation, Pilgrim Governor William Bradford appointed a Day of Thanksgiving and invited the nearby Wampanoag Indians (Squanto’s adopted tribe) to celebrate with them and give thanks to God.

Chief Massasoit and ninety of his men came and feasted with the fifty-one Pilgrims. They ate deer, turkey, fish, lobster, eels, vegetables, corn bread, herbs, berries, and pies; the Indians even taught the Pilgrims how to make popcorn. The Pilgrims and Indians also engaged in athletic competition, including running, wrestling, and shooting. Chief Massasoit enjoyed himself so much that he and his men stayed for three days.[114]

Historically, there had been thanksgivings in America prior to the one by the Pilgrims, including in Texas in 1541,[115] El Paso in 1598,[116] St. Augustine, Florida in 1564,[117] Jamestown, Virginia in 1607,[118] and Berkley Plantation, Virginia in 1619,[119] but these were primarily times of prayer. The Pilgrim thanksgiving certainly included prayer, but it also added feasting and athletic events, thus birthing the tradition that has become our modern Thanksgiving holiday.

Shortly after the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving celebration, thirty-five new settlers unexpectedly arrived. They were family and friends of the Pilgrims, who gladly welcomed them. The new group had brought no provisions with them, so the Pilgrims freely shared with them their own food, clothing, and homes. But with the new arrivals, their supplies were cut to half allowance for each person. Several died.

The following spring their provisions were almost completely exhausted when they spied a boat approaching on the horizon. The Pilgrims hoped that the English Company (which had sponsored their colonization of Plymouth) was sending them provisions, but the boat did not bring any food. To the contrary, it brought seven more hungry people to stay in Plymouth.

Early that summer, sixty more men, many of whom were sick, also showed up seeking help. The Pilgrims gladly took care of them all. The sixty men stayed nearly all summer and eventually left, expressing no gratitude for the help they had received; and their stay had further depleted the Pilgrim’s meager supplies. Yet the Pilgrims continued to put their trust in God. Significantly, no one starved to death, although, understandably, they had many days when, as Governor Bradford described it, they “had need to pray that God would give them their daily bread above all people in the world.”[120]

The following year (1623), the Pilgrims considered how to produce a larger harvest beyond what they predicted to be their immediate needs. After all, the previous year had presented to them many unexpected surprises that had depleted their scarce resources. So how could they produce enough to meet their own needs as well as others that might arise? Applying Biblical principles, the Pilgrims chose to replace the collective socialistic style of farming they had practiced in the two preceding years with an early free-market individual approach to farming, assigning to every family its own personal parcel of land.[121]

Of the new free-market system they began implementing, Pilgrim Governor Bradford reported:

This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use…and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege [fake, or pretend] weakness and inability.[122]

When the Pilgrims abandoned economic socialism and adopted the individual free-enterprise model, their productivity dramatically increased and abundance actually began to emerge among the people. In fact, because the Pilgrims’ were able to directly benefit from their own hard work and the fruit of their own labors, they planted about seven times more than they had only two years earlier.[123] The Pilgrims finally had great hopes for a large crop. But as is often the case in life, things did not go as planned, for according to Bradford:

[T]he Lord seemed to blast [plague] and take away the same, and to threaten further  and more sore famine unto them by a great drought which continued from the third week in May till about the middle of July without any rain and with great heat (for the most part) insomuch as the corn began to wither away.[124]

In response to this unexpected spring drought, Bradford reported that:

[T]hey set a part a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble  and fervent prayer in this great distress. And He was pleased to give them a gracious  and speedy answer both to their own  and the Indians’ admiration that lived amongst them. For all the morning, and greatest part of the day, it was clear weather and very hot and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen, yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God. It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken the decayed corn  and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold.[125]

An Indian named Hobamak who witnessed this event said to a Pilgrim:

Now I see that the Englishman’s God is a good God, for He hath heard you and sent you rain, and that without storms and tempests and thunder, which usually we have with our rain, which breaks down our corn; but yours stands whole and good still. Surely your God is a good God.[126]

The rains rejuvenated the dying crops and the harvest of 1623 brought plenty to each person, with the more industrious Pilgrims even having excess to sell to others. The Pilgrims once again set aside a time of Thanksgiving to God.

Significantly, from the time the Pilgrims adopted a Biblical economic system, no general want ever again existed among them.

This is the story of the Pilgrims’ thanksgivings that became the model for our modern national Thanksgiving celebrations.

_____________

Lesson 1: Appendix B

No, Revisionists, Thanksgiving is not a
Day of Mourning

When a modern college professor presented to his students the traditional view of the Thanksgiving holiday as a time for gratefulness and thankfulness a student objected and sent him eleven articles she found on the internet purporting to show that the Pilgrims actually killed and oppressed the Indians, and that Thanksgiving Day was thus not to be celebrated or honored.[127]

Of those articles and their claims, some referred to an encounter with the Indians in 1623, some referenced the Indian war of 1637, and others King Philip’s War of 1675 (the three early conflicts between Indians and the Pilgrims). So what is the truth? Did the Pilgrims indeed kill and oppress Indians?

— — — ⧫ ⧫ ⧫ — — —

Of the three major conflicts between the Pilgrims and the Indians, King Philip’s War of 1675 was by far the biggest and most serious. It finally broke the official 1621 peace between the Pilgrims and the Indians. No other treaty with Native Americans lasted longer than the 54 years of the Pilgrim treaty (1621–1675); and significantly, when the treaty was eventually broken during King Philip’s War, it was the Indians and not the Pilgrims who violated it.

Here is a brief overview of three conflicts, including the one that led to the breaking of the decades old treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags.

Chief Massasoit

The Pilgrims, after arriving in the New World December 1620, survived a difficult beginning with the help of Indians who befriended them.[128] Intending to live in the area where they had landed, the Pilgrims approached the local tribe, seeking to purchase land. The price was set by the Indians, and written documentation of sale was received for those purchased lands.[129]

The policy of purchasing land from the Indians came to characterize the general practice of New England and portions of the mid-Atlantic regions, being mirrored not only by the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony[130] but also by the Rev. Roger Williams with Rhode Island,[131] the Rev. Thomas Hooker with Connecticut,[132] and William Penn with Pennsylvania.[133] (On one occasion, Penn actually purchased some of the same tracts multiple times because at least three tribes claimed that specific land, having taken and retaken it from each other in conquest; so Penn secured it from each.[134]) The practice of purchasing land from the Indians was also followed[*] in New Hampshire,[135] New Jersey,[136] and New York.[137]

The Pilgrims and their Indian neighbors (the Wampanoag) had entered into a peace treaty in 1621. Two years later in 1623, Chief Massasoit informed his friends, the Pilgrims, of a treacherous surprise assault to be made against them by the Massachusetts tribe, which was gathering other chiefs for an unprovoked attack.[138] Facing potential extermination, Pilgrim Miles Standish led a preemptive strike against the Algonquin, thus saving the colonists. Without this, the Pilgrim story could have been as short-lived as that of the colonists in the failed colonies of Roanoke, Virginia, or Popham, Maine. But despite the conflict with some hostile tribes, good relations continued between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag. The next period of tensions between the Pilgrims and other tribes occurred in the 1637 Pequot War.

The Pequot tribe was warlike and aggressive, not only against colonists but also against their Indian neighbors on every side, including the Wampanoag (allies and friends of the Pilgrims), Narragansett, Algonquian, and Mohegan tribes. The warring Pequot tribes had established an exclusive trading monopoly with the Dutch, and they believed the arrival of English colonists threatened that monopoly. They therefore determined to strike and kill the English, completely ridding the area of them. After the Pequot murdered a number of English settlers, the colonists responded and organized strikes against the Pequot.[139] The war spread across much of Connecticut, and also threatened the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies. The conflict ended when Sassacus, the chief of the Pequot, was pursued and killed by the Mohegan and Mohawks tribes, against whom the Pequot also warred.[140]

King Philip

One of the aforementioned articles provided by the student specifically claimed that it was during this war that Pilgrims killed Indians;[141] but this claim is wrong. The Pilgrims’ participation in this conflict was limited to a skirmish at Manisses Villages, where no Indians were killed.[142] Some of the other articles provided by the student claimed that the Thanksgiving of 1637 was to give thanks that Indians were killed,[143] but this was also wrong. It was called to give thanks for the end of the Pequot War and a restoration of peace to the region.[144]

The Pilgrims lived in harmony with the Wampanoags from the time of their 1621 treaty, through the 1623 and 1637 conflicts, and until the long-lasting peace finally collapsed in 1675 with King Philip’s War. Today, revisionist scholars such as James D. Drake, Daniel R. Mandell, and Jill Lepore claim that this conflict was the result of Indians pushing back against greedy land-grabbing colonists, with the Indians simply trying to regain territory that was rightfully theirs,[145] but such a portrayal is inaccurate.

In fact, at the outbreak of the war Pilgrim Governor Josiah Winslow avowed:

I think I can clearly say that before these present troubles broke out, the English did not possess one foot of land in this colony but what was fairly obtained by honest purchase of the Indian proprietors.[146]

So, if King Philip’s War was not retaliation for the unjust seizing of Indian land by colonists, then what was its cause? The answer is simple: Christian missionaries. Metacom—who took the English name King Philip, and was chief of the Wampanoag Indians and the grandson of Massasoit, the friend of the Pilgrims—recognized that missionaries were converting Indians to Christianity, which was changing some Indian behaviors and “traditions.”

For example, Indians often engaged in prolonged barbarous and sadistic torture of their captives,[147] but missionaries sought to end those horrific practices by converting Indians and teaching them Christian morals.[148] Such missionaries, including John Eliot, Thomas Mayhew, and Andrew White, worked extensively with various tribes and had great success in converting Indians to Christianity. By 1674, Eliot’s Christian villages of “praying Indians” in Massachusetts numbered as many as 3,600 converts.[149] It was in the following year (1675) that Metacom, fearing that Christianity would change “traditional” Indian “culture,”[150] launched ferocious surprise assaults against settlers throughout the region.[151] All English colonists in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts were to be exterminated—no exceptions.

Colonists were indeed murdered and their belongings burned or destroyed.[152] This included even the town of Providence, where Roger William’s own home was burned.[153] Significantly, Williams had always been on the best of terms with the Indians, not only having purchased his colony from them[154] but also having championed Indian rights and claims.[155] Yet, regardless of how well Christian settlers had previously treated Indians, all Christians were all to be exterminated; their very existence was perceived as a threat to Indian practices.

But King Philip’s War cannot be accurately characterized as Indians versus the English, for many of those who were attacked by the Indians were themselves Indians—but they were Christian Indians. They, too, were targeted, hurt, or killed by their unconverted brethren,[156] and many of the converted Christian Indians fought side-by-side with the colonists throughout the conflict.[157] In fact, the war eventually ended when Metacom was killed—by an Indian, not a settler.[158]

Returning to the objections raised by the student, it is true that in this war Pilgrims and Puritans killed Indians—but in the context of a just and defensive war. The war lasted about fifteen months, and early in the war more settlers died than Indians—largely because of the surprise attacks. (Of the ninety towns in Massachusetts and Plymouth Colony, twelve were totally destroyed and forty more attacked and partially destroyed.[159]) But eventually the colonists organized local militias and fought back, finally gaining the upper hand. By the conclusion of the war, 600 settlers and 3,000 Indians had been killed—the highest casualty rate by percentage of total population of any war in American history.[160]

This information about King Philip’s War is not to suggest that the amount of land owned by Indians was not decreasing; it was. But the diminishing land holdings in this region during this time was definitely not for the reason we are often told today. Indian land in this period, especially in New England, was routinely purchased by settlers, not stolen.[161] Early historian George Bancroft (1800-1891), known as “The Father of American History” for his systematic approach to documenting the story of America,[162] confirmed that Indian lands were shrinking because the Indians’ own “repeated sales of land has narrowed their domains” to the point where “they found themselves deprived of their broad acres, and by their own legal contracts driven, as it were, into the sea”[163] (emphasis added).

This is not to say that land was never stolen from Indians. Some definitely was. For instance, during the heyday of westward expansion that began in the early nineteenth century, the Indian removal policies of Andrew Jackson certainly violated private property rights,[164] and such policies became the rule rather than the exception, forcibly driving Indians from their lands in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and elsewhere across the Southeast.[†] By 1845, the term “Manifest Destiny” was coined to describe the growing notion that it was America’s “destiny” to spread westward, and that nothing—including Indians—should be allowed to stand in the way. As a result, the Biblical view of purchasing private property from its owner was replaced with the anti-Biblical notion that “possession was nine-tenths of the law” and therefore whoever could take and hold the land was its “rightful” owner.[165]

But the 19th century deterioration in relations between Americans and Indians over unjust land seizures occurred most commonly two centuries after the Pilgrims. The original treaty the Pilgrims negotiated with the Indians lasted for 54 years—until the Indians broke it. In general, the Pilgrim and Puritan killings of Indians occurred first in their own self-defense against the perfidious unprovoked attacks from Metacom’s Indians, and then in ending the war he had started. There is no historical basis to support the claim that the Pilgrims oppressed the Indians. ■

___________
[*] WallBuilders (www.wallbuilders.com) owns one of the nation’s largest private collections of Founding Era materials, containing over 100,000 originals, or copies of original documents that predate 1812. Among these holdings are multiple original signed deeds in which Indians willingly and voluntarily sell their land to settlers. One example is an Indian deed dated February 9, 1769, and signed by four Indian leaders from the Aughquageys tribe, selling 300,000 acres—or nearly 470 square miles of land—to settlers in New York. The land-area sold by the Indians in just this one transaction was the equivalent of modern Los Angeles or San Antonio, was larger than modern New York City, and seven times larger than modern Washington DC. Another deed from March 12, 1664 transfers 1000 acres of land from eight Wappinger leaders to two English settlers in New York, in the area that is now the Bronx. There are hundreds of such deeds, legitimately transferring land by mutual agreement and purchase from various Indian tribes to colonists/settlers.

[†] Among the other original documents in the WallBuilders collection are land deeds from he state of Georgia selling parcels in Cherokee-held lands directly to settlers, seeking to drive the Cherokee from their homelands.

___________
[1] Kay Brigham, Christopher Columbus’s Book of Prophecies, Reproduction of the Original Manuscript with English Translation (/originally written 1501-1505; published Fort Lauderdale, Fl.: TSELF, Inc., 1992), pp. 178-183.

[2] Ferdinand Columbus (son of Christopher Columbus), The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Keen, translator (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1992), p. 59.

[3] Ferdinand Columbus (son of Christopher Columbus), The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Keen, translator (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1992), p. 180.

[4] “Columbus Monument Pages,”Peter van der Krogt (at: https://vanderkrogt.net/columbus/index.php) (accessed August 28, 2018).

[5] The Papers of George Washington. Presidential Series, Mark A Mastromarion, editor (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999), Vol. 8, pp. 506-508, from Thomas Jefferson, September 8, 1791.

[6] Christopher Columbus, The Journal of Christopher Columbus During His First Voyage, 1492-93, Clements Markham, translator (London: Hakluyt Society, 1883), entry dated December 16, 1492, p. 112.

[7] A.M. Fernandez De Ybarra, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections (Washington: Smithsonian Institutions, 1907), Vol. XLVIII, p. 436, letter of Dr. Diego Alvarez Chanca, 1494.

[8] A.M. Fernandez De Ybarra, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections (Washington: Smithsonian Institutions, 1907), Vol. XLVIII, p. 436, letter of Dr. Diego Alvarez Chanca, 1494.

[9] A.M. Fernandez De Ybarra, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections (Washington: Smithsonian Institutions, 1907), Vol. XLVIII, p. 439-440, letter of Dr. Diego Alvarez Chanca, 1494.

[10] Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus (New York: MJF Books, 1970), p. 476.

[11] Samuel Eliot Morison, Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus (New York: MJF Books, 1970), pp. 257, 360.

[12] See, for example, Christopher Columbus, The Journal of Christopher Columbus, Clements Markham, translator (London: Hakluyt Society, 1893), pp. 124-125, journal entry for December 21, 1492; pp. 127-128, journal entry for December 22, 1492; pp. 152-156, journal entries for January 8-10, 1493;  Select Letters of Christopher Columbus, R. H. Major, translator & editor(London: Hakluyt Society, 1870), 155-156, 158, 162-163, 165, Christopher Columbus, “Letter of the Admiral to the (quondam) nurse of the Prince John, written near the end of the year 1500,”; Journals and Other Documents on the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, translator Samuel Morrison, (New York: Heritage Press, 1963), pp. 215, Michele de Cuneo, “Michele de Cuneo’s Letter on the Second Voyage, 28 October 1495.”

[13] B.F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864), p. 69, quoting The Protestant Quarterly Review, Benjamin J. Wallace, editor (Philadelphia: Presbyterian House, 1858), p. 393, No. XXIII, “Article II. The Settlement of Maryland,” December 1857.

[14] Kenneth Woodward and David Gates, “How the Bible Made America,” Newsweek, December 27, 1982, p. 44.

[15] Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Statement on the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Printing of the English Bible,” American Presidency Project, October 6, 1935 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209257).

[16] Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Proclamation–Thanksgiving Day, 1944,” American Presidency Project, November 1, 1944 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210843).

[17] Bible Society Record (New York: The American Bible Society, 1901), Vol. 46, p. 99, Number 7, “Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt Addresses the Long Island Bible Society.”

[18] Ronald Reagan, “Proclamation 5018-Year of the Bible, 1983,” American Presidency Project, February 3, 1983 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/262128).

[19] The American Quarterly Register and Magazine (Philadelphia), February 23, 1849, Vol. II, No. 1, p. 239, “Quarterly Chronicle” (President Zachary Taylor).

[20] “The President and the Bible,” New York Semi Weekly Tribune, Wednesday, May 9, 1849, Vol. IV, No. 100, p. 1 (President Zachary Taylor).

[21] The New York Times,June 15, 1876, p. 4 (President Ulysses Grant). ​

[22] Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln Complete Works, John G. Nicolay and John Hay, editors (New York: The Century Co., 1894), Vol. II, p. 574, “Reply to Committee of Colored People of Baltimore Who Presented Him With a Bible,” September 7, 1864.

[23] Paul Pearson and Philip Hicks, Extemporaneous Speaking (New York City: Hinds, Noble & Eldredge, 1912), p. 177, Woodrow Wilson, “Addresses Delivered in Denver on the Occasion of the Tercentenary Celebrations of the Translation of the Bible into the English Language,” May 7, 1911.

[24] Harry S. Truman, “Address Before the Attorney General’s conference on Law Enforcement Problems,” American Presidency Project, February 15, 1950 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/address-before-the-attorney-generals-conference-law-enforcement-problems).

[25] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), Vol. X, p. 85, to Thomas Jefferson on December 25, 1813.

[26] John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Charles Little & James Brow, 1850), Vol. II, pp. 6-7, diary entry for February 22, 1756.

[27] Benjamin Rush,Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical (Philadelphia: Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, 1798), p. 93, “A Defence of the Use of the Bible as a School Book.”

[28] Benjamin Rush,Letters of Benjamin Rush, L. H. Butterfield, editor (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1951), p. 936, to John Adams on January 23, 1807.

[29] William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1818), p. 402.

[30] John Quincy Adams, Letters to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings (New York: Derby, Miller, & Co., 1848), p. 119.

[31] B.B. Edwards and W. Cogswell, The American Quarterly Register (Boston: Perkins & Marvin, 1840), Vol. XII, p. 86, letter from John Quincy Adams to members of a literary society in Baltimore on June 22, 1838.

[32] Elias Boudinot, The Age of Revelation or The Age of Reason Shewn to be an Age of Infidelity (Philadelphia: Asbury Dickins, 1801), p. xv, “Dedication. To Mrs. Susan V. Bradford.”

[33] John Jay, John Jay: The Winning of the Peace. Unpublished Papers 1780-1784, Richard B. Morris, editor (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980), Vol. II, p. 709, letter to Peter Augustus Jay on April 8, 1784.

[34] Robert Treat Paine, The Papers of Robert Treat Paine, Stephen T. Riley and Edward W. Hanson, editors (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1992), Vol. I, p. 49, “Confession of Faith,” 1749.

[35] Bernard C. Steiner, One Hundred and Ten Years of Bible Society Work in Maryland, 1810-1920 (Maryland Bible Society, 1921), p. 14 (James McHenry).

[36] Noah Webster, The History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), p. 339, ¶ 53.

[37] Richard Hakluyt, A Discourse Concerning Western Planting. Written in the Year 1584, Charles Deane, editor (Cambridge: John Wilson and Son, 1877), p. 158, “A brief collection of certain reasons to induce her Majesty and the state to take in hand the western voyage and the planting there.”

[38] Howard W. Preston, Documents Illustrative of American History: 1606-1863 (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1886), p. 3, “First Virginia Charter—1606.”

[39] John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the Names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their First Beginning An 1584 to This Present 1626 (London: I.D. and I.H: 1632), p. 122.

[40] John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the Names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their First Beginning An 1584 to This Present 1626 (London: I.D. and I.H: 1632), p. 122.

[41] John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the Names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their First Beginning An 1584 to This Present 1626 (London: I.D. and I.H: 1632), p. 49.

[42] John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the Names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their First Beginning An 1584 to This Present 1626 (London: I.D. and I.H: 1632), p. 49.

[43] John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles: with the Names of the Adventurers, Planters, and Governours from their First Beginning An 1584 to This Present 1626 (London: I.D. and I.H: 1632), p. 49.

[44] John Fiske, Old Virginia and Her Neighbors (New York, Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., 1897), Vol. I, p. 111.

[45] For the Colony in Virginia Britannia. Laws Divine, Moral, and Martial & c. (London: Walter Burree, 1612), pp. 9-12, “Articles, Lawes, and Orders, Divine, Politque, and Martiall for the Colony in Virginea,” 1610 & 1611.

[46] Narratives of Early Virginia: 1606-1625, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907; reprinted 1946 & 1959), p. 251, “Proceedings of the Virginia Assembly,” July 30, 1619.

[47] Narratives of Early Virginia: 1606-1625, Lyon Gardiner Tyler, editor (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907; reprinted 1946 & 1959), p. 264, “Proceedings of the Virginia Assembly: Instructions Given by His Majesty’s Council of Virginia in England,” August 2, 1619.

[48] John Smith, The Last Will and Testament of Captain John Smith (Cambridge: John Wilson and Son, 1867), p. 2.

[49] “Embarkation of the Pilgrims,” Architect of the Capitol (at: https://www.aoc.gov/art/historic-rotunda-paintings/embarkation-pilgrims) (accessed on September 18, 2018).

[50] The Encyclopedia Britannica (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 1910), Vol. III, p. 901, s.v. “Bible, English”.

[51] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 9.

[52] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 24.

[53] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 90.

[54] James Thacher, History of the Town of Plymouth, from its First Settlement in 1620 to the Present Time (Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1832), p. 145.

[55] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 24.

[56] For trial by jury, see: The Compact with the Charter and Laws of the Colony of New Plymouth, William Brigham, compiler (Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1836), p. 28, “Laws of the Colony of New Plymouth, 1623.” For private property rights, see: William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1856), pp. 134-136.

[57] See, for example, “Leadership in Plymouth Colony,” Pilgrim Hall Museum (at: https://www.pilgrimhallmuseum.org/ap_leadership_plymouth_colony.htm) (accessed on September 19, 2018).

[58] John D. Cushing, The Laws of the Pilgrims, A Facsimile Edition of The Book of the General Laws of the Inhabitants of the Jurisdiction of New Plimouth, 1672 & 1685 (Wilmington, DE: M. Glazier, 1977), p. xiv.

[59] Francis Baylies, An Historical Memoir of the Colony of New Plymouth (Boston: Wiggin & Lunt, 1866), Vol. I, Part Two, p. 75, excerpt from “The Book of the General Laws and Liberties of the Inhabitants of the Jurisdiction of New Plymouth,” 1658.

[60] William T. Davis, History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts (Boston Book Company, 1900), p. 379, “Charter of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay.”

[61] Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Life of Francis Higginson (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1891), p. 65, “A true relation of the last voyage to New England,” by Francis Higginson, 1629.

[62] Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1838), Third Series, Vol. III, p. 47, “A Modell of Christian Charity. Written on Board the Arbella, on the Atlantic Ocean,” by John Winthrop, 1630.

[63] Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1838), Third Series, Vol. III, p. 47, “A Modell of Christian Charity. Written on Board the Arbella, on the Atlantic Ocean,” by John Winthrop, 1630.

[64] President Reagan used this phrase several times in his addresses. See, for example, Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Annual Convention of the National Religious Broadcasters,” The American Presidency Project, January 31, 1983 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/262161); Ronald Reagan, “Remarks at the Opening Ceremonies of the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration in New York, New York,” The American Presidency Project, July 3, 1986 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/259193); Ronald Reagan, “Farewell Address to the Nation,” The American Presidency Project,January 11, 1989 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251303).

[65] George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848), Vol. I, pp. 350-351.

[66] The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts. Reprinted from the Edition of 1660, with the Supplements to 1672. Containing Also the Body of Liberties of 1641, William H. Whitmore, supervisor (Boston: 1889), pp. 6-8, “Introduction” by William H. Whitmore, and pp. 32-61, “The Body of Liberties. 1641.”

[67] The Colonial Laws of Massachusetts. Reprinted from the Edition of 1660, with the Supplements to 1672. Containing Also the Body of Liberties of 1641, William H. Whitmore, supervisor (Boston: 1889), p. 33, “The Body of Liberties. 1641.”

[68] George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1853), Vol. I, pp. 346-347.

[69] Abiel Holmes, The Annals of America, From the Discovery by Columbus in the Year 1492 to the Year 1826 (Cambridge: Hilliard and Brown, 1829), Vol. I, p. 443, quoting from the preamble of the 1693 charter of the College of William and Mary.

[70] See, for example, “Dartmouth at a Glance,” Dartmouth (at: https://home.dartmouth.edu/dartmouth-glance) (accessed on September 20, 2018); Memorials of Judges Recently Deceased, Graduates of Dartmouth College (Concord: Republican Press Association, 1881), p. 5.

[71] See, for example, Anne B. Wagner, “Highlights in Portsmouth, RI, History: 1638-2013,” Portsmouth Historical Society (at: https://www.portsmouthri375.com/uploads/5/6/9/3/5693083/a_brief_history_of_portsmouth3.pdf) (accessed on September 20, 2018).

[72] “Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” The Avalon Project, July 15, 1663 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/ri04.asp).

[73] “Charter of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” The Avalon Project, July 15, 1663 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/ri04.asp).

[74] “The Charter of Maryland,” The Avalon Project, 1632 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/ma01.asp).

[75] “Maryland Toleration Act,” The Avalon Project, September 21, 1649 (at: https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/maryland_toleration.asp).

[76] G.H. Hollister, The History of Connecticut, From the First Settlement of the Colony to the Adoption of the Present Constitution (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1855), Vol. I, pp. 18-19, 96.

[77] John Fiske, The Beginnings of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1902), pp. 154-155.

[78] John Fiske, The Beginnings of New England (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1902), p. 155.

[79] The Code of 1650, Being a Compilation of the Earliest Laws and Orders of the General Court of Connecticut (Hartford: Silas Andrus, 1825), pp. 11-12.

[80] The Code of 1650, Being a Compilation of the Earliest Laws and Orders of the General Court of Connecticut (Hartford: Silas Andrus, 1825), p. 12.

[81] The True-Blue Laws of Connecticut and New Haven, J. Hammond Trumbull, editor (Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1876), p. 58.

[82] See, for example, “Sketches of American Policy,” Lawbook Exchange (at: https://www.lawbookexchange.com/pages/books/52124/noah-webster-john-vile-new-intro-notes/sketches-of-american-policy-under-the-following-heads-i-theory) (accessed on September 21, 2018); “Noah Webster’s Story,” Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society (at: https://noahwebsterhouse.org/noah-websters-story/) (accessed on September 21, 2018).

[83] Noah Webster, Sketches of American Policy (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1785), pp. 33-35.

[84] Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society (New Haven: 1865), Vol. I, p. 29, “The New Haven Colony” by Henry White; and Edward E. Atwater, History of the Colony of New Haven (New Haven: 1881), pp. 67, 73.

[85] Benjamin Trumbull, A Complete History of Connecticut, Civil and Ecclesiastical (New Haven: Maltby, Goldsmith and Co. & Samuel Wadsworth, 1818), Vol. I, p. 503, “The fundamental articles, or original constitution of the colony of New-Haven, June 4th, 1639.”

[86] George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1853), Vol. I, p. 404.

[87] See, for example, “Timeline: Settlement of the Colony of Connecticut,” ConnecticutHistory.org (at: https://connecticuthistory.org/timeline-settlement-of-the-colony-of-connecticut/) (accessed on September 21, 2018); “Colony of Connecticut: A Brief history,” CelebrateBoston (at: http://www.celebrateboston.com/history/connecticut.htm) (accessed on September 21, 2018).

[88] The Federal and State Constitution, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909), Vol. I, p. 77, “The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England—1643-1684.”

[89] Public Documents of Maine: 1902, Being the Annual Reports of the Various Departments and Institutions for the Year 1901 (August: Kennebec Journal, 1902), pp. 29-30, “History of Education and the Evolution of the Present School System in Maine.”

[90] The Code of 1650, Being a Compilation of the Earliest Laws and Orders of the General Court of Connecticut (Hartford: Silas Andrus, 1825), p. 90.

[91] Of the 27, 14 women and 5 men were tried, found guilty and hanged; another man was tortured to death by crushing because he refused to cooperate with the court by not answering their questions. To persuade him to talk they took him to a field and put a board on him with rocks, they increased the number of rocks until he would cooperate but he continued to refuse and was crushed to death. He was therefore never convicted but is considered the 20th victim as he was on trial for being a wizard. And 7 individuals died in prison awaiting trial; one was a baby in prison with her mother, who was awaiting trial as a witch. “The Salem Witch Trials of 1692,” Salem Witch Museum, January 13, 2011 per the museum’s Department of Education.

[92] William Warren Sweet, The Story of Religion in America (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950), p. 61.

[93] Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth (Nashville: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898), p. 110. Lower numbers are calculated by Brian P. Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe (New York: Longmans, 1987), pp. 20-28, but still surpass 100,000. See also Ann Llewellyn Barstow, Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts (San Francisco: Pandora, 1994), pp. 179-181.

[94] Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth, p. 110.

[95] Dictionary of American Biography, Allen Johnson, editor (New York: Charles Scribber’s Sons, 1929), s.v. “John Wise,” “Increase Mather,” and “Thomas Brattle.” See also Mark Gribbean, “Salem Witch Trials: Reason Returns,” Court TV: Crime Library (accessed on February 28, 2013); David D. Hall, Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth-Century New England (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1991), pp. 350, 354 fn25; and Jonathan Kirsch, The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual (New York: Harper One, 2008), p. 245.

[96] See, for example, Lilly v. Virginia, 527 U. S. 116, 141 (1999), Breyer, J., (concurring).

[97] Charles Alan Wright, et al., Federal Practices & Procedure Federal Rules of Evidence (New York: West Publishing Co., 2010), Vol. 30, sec. 6342, pp. 200-207, 212-214, 234-246.

[98] William Warren Sweet, The Story of Religion in America (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1950), p. 62.

[99] Daniel Dorchester, Christianity in the United States from the First Settlement Down to the Present Time (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1889), p. 124.

[100] Daniel Dorchester, Christianity in the United States from the First Settlement Down to the Present Time (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1889), p. 122.

[101] The Code of 1650, Being a Compilation of the Earliest Laws and Orders of the General Court of Connecticut (Hartford: Silas Andrus, 1825), pp. 91-92.

[102] Edward Augustus Kendall, Travels Through the Northern Parts of the United States, in the Years 1807 and 1808 (New York: I Riley, 1809), Vol. I, pp. 270-271.

[103] The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (Richmond, VA: Virginia Historical Society, 1895), Vol. II, pp. 158-159, “The treasurer and company of adventurers and planters of the first colony in Virginia. To Captain Yeardley, Elect Governor of Virginia, and to the council of state therein being or to be greeting,” November 18, 1618.

[104] New England’s First Fruits (London: R.O. and G.D., 1643; reprinted New York: Joseph Sabin, 1865), p. 26, “Rules and Precepts that are observed in the College,” 1642.

[105] Alexander Young, The Life and Character of John Thornton Kirkland, and of Nathaniel Bowditch (Boston, Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1840), p. 11; and Josiah Quincy, The History of Harvard University (Cambridge: John Owen, 1840), p. 49.

[106] Ellwood P. Cubberley, Public Education in the United States (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919), p. 204.

[107] Ronald Reagan, “Proclamation 5018-`Year of the Bible, 1983,” American Presidency Project, February 3, 1983 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/262128). See also George H.W. Bush, “International Year of Bible Reading,” American Presidency Project, February 22, 1990 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/proclamation-6100-international-year-bible-reading-1990); The American Missionary (New York: American Missionary Association, 1876), Vol. XX, No. 8, p. 183, Rev. Addison P. Foster, “America’s Experiment with Republican Institutions.”

[108] Abraham Lincoln, “Proclamation 106—Thanksgiving Day, 1863,” The American Presidency Project, October 3, 1863 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/proclamation-106-thanksgiving-day-1863).

[109] Abraham Lincoln, “Proclamation 106—Thanksgiving Day, 1863,” The American Presidency Project, October 3, 1863 (at: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/proclamation-106-thanksgiving-day-1863).

[110] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 24.

[111] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 91.

[112] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 94-95.

[113] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 94-97; and Mourt’s Relation, or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth (Boston: John Kimball Wiggin, 1865), pp. 90-91; and Nathaniel Morton, New England’s Memorial (Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1826), pp. 55-56.

[114] Ashbel Steele,Chief of the Pilgrims: Or the Life and Time of William Brewster (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott and Co., 1857), pp. 269-270; and Mourt’s Relation, or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth (Boston: John Kimball Wiggin, 1865), pp. 132-133; and Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: James A. Bailey, 1895), Vol. 1, p. 372.

[115] “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001,” Library of Congress (at: https://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/thanksgiving/timeline/1541.html) (accessed on October 26, 2018).

[116] “The First Thanksgiving?” Texas Almanac (at: https://texasalmanac.com/topics/history/timeline/first-thanksgiving) (accessed on October 26, 2018).

[117] “Thanksgiving Timeline, 1541-2001,” Library of Congress (at https://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/thanksgiving/timeline/1564.html) (accessed on October 26, 2018).

[118] Benson Lossing, Our Country. A Household History of the United States (New York: James A. Bailey, 1895), Vol. 1, pp. 181-182; see also “The Reverend Robert Hunt: The First Chaplain at Jamestown,” National Park Service (at https://www.nps.gov/jame/historyculture/the-reverend-robert-hunt-the-first-chaplain-at-jamestown.htm) (accessed on October 26, 2018).

[119] “Berkeley Plantation,” Berkeley Plantation (at: http://www.berkeleyplantation.com/) (accessed on October 26, 2018).

[120] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 136.

[121] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 134.

[122] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 134-135.

[123] Dr. Judd W. Patton, “The Pilgrim Story: Vital Insights and Lessons for Today,” Bellevue University (at: http://jpatton.bellevue.edu/biblical_economics/pilgrimstory.html) (accessed on September 6, 2018).

[124] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 141-142n.

[125] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 142n.

[126] Nathaniel Morton, New England’s Memorial (Cambridge: S.G. & M.J., 1669; reprinted, 1855), pp. 64-65; and Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana: Or, the Ecclesiastical History of New England (London: 1702), p. 11.

[127] Email received by WallBuilders on November 26, 2016, which listed:

  1. Thanksgiving, a day of mourning for Native Americans: https://www.salon.com/2016/11/23/thanksgiving-a-day-of-mourning-for-native-americans/
  2. American Indian Perspective on Thanksgiving: https://americanindian.si.edu/sites/1/files/pdf/education/thanksgiving_poster.pdf
  3. Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?: https://americanindian.si.edu/sites/1/files/pdf/education/thanksgiving_poster.pdf
  4. For Me, Thanksgiving Is A “Day Of Mourning”: https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2016/11/130572/day-of-mourning-thanksgiving-protest-native-americans
  5. First Thanksgiving: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/history/first-thanksgiving/
  6. The REAL Story of Thanksgiving Introduction for Teachers The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story: https://www.manataka.org/page269.html
  7. For National Day of Mourning, Native Americans highlight their struggles: https://www.metro.us/boston/for-national-day-of-mourning-american-indians-highlight-their-struggles/zsJpkv—Q2Rg789wZSCBU
  8. National Day of Mourning Reflects on Thanksgiving’s Horrific, Bloody History: https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2014/11/26/national-day-of-mourning-reflects-on-thanksgivings-horrific-bloody-history
  9. Why these Native Americans are spending Thanksgiving marching and mourning, not celebrating: https://splinternews.com/why-these-native-americans-are-spending-thanksgiving-ma-1793863916
  10. National Day of Mourning: http://www.uaine.org/
  11. Local Native Americans consider the history of Thanksgiving: https://pilotonline.com/life/article_982d6590-fe10-57c8-b0b3-170e4d743490.html

[128] For example, Samaset and Squanto are both mentioned in William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 93-95; Squanto is called Tisquantum in Mourt’s Relation, or Journal of the Planation at Plymouth (Boston: John Kimball Wiggin, 1865), pp. 102, 106. Mourt’s Relation also mentions Hobamak (also known as Hobbamock), p. 123.

[129] James Thacher,History of the Town of Plymouth, from its First Settlement in 1620 to the Present Time (Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1835), p. 138.

[130] George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848), Vol. I, pp. 350-351.

[131] William Gammell, Makers of American History: Roger Williams (New York: The University Society, 1904), pp. 61-62.

[132] G.H. Hollister, The History of Connecticut, From the First Settlement of the Colony to the Adoption of the Present Constitution (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1855), pp. 18-19, 96.

[133] Samuel M. Janney, The Life of William Penn: With Selections from His Correspondence and Autobiography (Philadelphia: Hogan, Perkins & Co., 1852), pp. 114-115, 427-428; and George Bancroft, History of the Colonization of the United States (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1844), Vol. II, pp. 381-382.

[134] Samuel M. Janney, The Life of William Penn: With Selections from His Correspondence and Autobiography (Philadelphia: Hogan, Perkins & Co., 1852), pp. 427-428.

[135] Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire (Dover, NH: J. Mann & JK Remick, 1812), pp. 16-17.

[136] John Warner Barber, The History and Antiquities of New England, New York, and New Jersey (Worcester: Dorr & Howland & Co, 1841), p. 66.

[137] W.H. Carpenter and T.S. Arthur, History of New Jersey (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1853), pp. 25, 27-28.

[138] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), p. 131.

[139] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 351-352, 356-357.

[140] William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 349-361; and John Winthrop, The History of New England from 1630 to 1649, James Savage, editor (Boston: Phelps and Farnham, 1825), Vol. I, pp. 222-226.

[141] See, for example, Dennis W. Zotigh, “Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?” Huffington Post, November 19, 2012 (at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-w-zotigh/do-american-indians-celebrate-thanksgiving_b_2160786.html).

[142] For an account of the non-involvement of the Pilgrims in the 1837 Pequot War, see: William Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston: 1856), pp. 355-356; and John Winthrop, The History of New England from 1630 to 1649, James Savage, editor (Boston: Phelps and Farnham, 1825), Vol. I, p. 226.

[143] See, for example, Alli Joseph, “Thanksgiving, a day of mourning for Native Americans,” Salon, November 23, 2016 (at: https://www.salon.com/2016/11/23/thanksgiving-a-day-of-mourning-for-native-americans/); Susan Bates, “The REAL Story of Thanksgiving,” Manataka American Indian Council (at: https://www.manataka.org/page269.html) (accessed on September 5, 2018); Matt Juul, “National Day of Mourning Reflects on Thanksgiving’s Horrific, Bloody History,” boston.com, November 26, 2014 (at: https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2014/11/26/national-day-of-mourning-reflects-on-thanksgivings-horrific-bloody-history); and others.

[144] John Winthrop,The History of New England from 1630 to 1649, James Savage, editor (Boston: Phelps and Farnham, 1825), Vol. I, p. 226, entry for March 15, 1637.

[145] James D. Drake, King Philip’s War: Civil War in New England 1675-1676 (MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), pp. 1, 30-31; and  Daniel R. Mandell, King Philip’s War: Colonial Expansion, Native Resistance, and the End of Indian Sovereignty (MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), pp. 27, 30; and Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (Random House, 2009), “What’s in a Name?” More reputable writers have made similar claims. See, for example, Francis Jennings, The Invasion of America; Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975), pp. 128, 144-145; and New England Encounters: Indians and Euroamericans ca. 1600-1850. Essays Drawn from The New England Quarterly, Alden T. Vaughan, editor (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999), pp. 61-64, David Bushnell, “The Treatment of the Indians in Plymouth Colony”; and Karen Ordahal Kupperman, Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2000), p. 239.

[146] James Thacher,History of the Town of Plymouth, from its First Settlement in 1620 to the Present Time (Boston: Marsh, Capen & Lyon, 1835), p. 138; and Abiel Holmes, The Annals of America from the Discovery by Columbus in the Year 1492, to the Year 1826 (Cambridge: Hilliard & Brown, 1829), p. 383.

[147] See, for example, accounts such as:

  • Franklin B. Hough, A Narrative of the Causes which Led to Philip’s Indian War, of 1675 and 1676, by John Easton of Rhode Island (Albany, NY: J. Munsell, 1863), pp. 143-144, an eyewitness account dated February 25, 1675: “Thomas Warner one of the two that came down from Albany and had been prisoner with the Indians who arrived here this morn, being examined, faith, that he was one of the persons that begin sent out from Hatfield where the English Army lay, to discover the enemy, but a party of Indians waylaid them, and shot down 5 of their company, and took 3 of which he and his comrade are two, the 3rdthey put to death, the 9thwas an Indian that came with them and escaped away. That the Indians lay still two days after they were taken, and then a party of about 30 with whom he was marched to a river to the north-east from thence about 80 miles called Oasuck, where about a fortnight after the rest of the army came to them, having in the mean time burnt two towns: they killed one of the prisoners presently after they had taken him, cutting a hole below his breast out of which they pulled his guts, and then cut off his head. That they put him so to death in the presence of him and his comrade, and threated them also with the like. That they burnt his nails, and put his feet to scald them against the fire, and drove a stake through one of his feet to pin him to the ground. The stake about the bigness of his finger, this was about 2 days after he was taken.”
  • John S. C. Abbott, The History of King Philip (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1857), pp. 317-318, where Abbott, using the words of Cotton Mather, describes Indian tortures: “They stripped these unhappy prisoners, and caused them to run the gauntlet, and whipped them after a cruel and bloody manner. They then threw hot ashes upon them, and, cutting off collops of their flesh, they put fire into their wounds, and so, with exquisite, leisurely, horrible torments, roasted them out of the world.”
  • Richard Markham, A Narrative History of King Philip’s War and the Indian Troubles in New England (New York: Dodd, Mean & Company, 1883), pp. 241-242, describing an event at the beginning of King Philip’s War: “A little after the middle of April [1676] Sudbury was attacked…Captain Wadsworth with fifty men had been dispatched from Boston that day to strengthen the garrison at Marlborough. After his company reached Marlborough, more than a score of miles from Boston, they learned that the savages were on their way against Sudbury…A small party of Indians encountered them when about a mile from their destination, and withstood them for a short time, but yielding to their superior numbers retreated into the forest. Wadsworth and his men followed, but when they were well into the woods suddenly found themselves the centre of five hundred yelling demons, who attacked them on all sides. They made their way to the top of a hill close at hand, and for four hours fought resolutely, losing but five men, for the savages had suffered severely in the first hand-to-hand attack, and feared to come to close quarters. As night came on the enemy set fire to the woods to the windward of their position. The leaves were dry as tinder, and a strong wind was blowing. The flames and smoke rolled up upon the devoted band, threatening their instant destruction. Stifled and scorched, they were forced to leave the hill in disorder. The Indians came upon them so like so many tigers, and outnumbering them ten to one in the confusion slew nearly all. Wadsworth himself was slain. Some few were taken prisoners, and that night were made to run the gauntlet, and after that were put to death by torture.”

[148] See, for example, J.W. Barber, United States Book; Or, Interesting Events in the History of the United States (New Haven: L.H. Young, 1834), p. 53; and Methodist Quarterly Review: 1858, D.D. Whedon, editor (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1858), Vol. XL, pp. 244-245.

[149] Gustav Warneck, Outline of a History of Protestant Mission from the Reformation to the Present Time (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1903), p. 165.

[150] J.W. Barber, United States Book; Or, Interesting Events in the History of the United States (New Haven: L.H. Young, 1834), p. 53n; and John S. C. Abbott, History of King Philip (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1857), pp. 171-172.

[151] J.W. Barber, United States Book; Or, Interesting Events in the History of the United States (New Haven: L.H. Young, 1834), pp. 53-54; and Richard Markham, A Narrative History of King Philip’s War and the Indian Troubles in New England (New York: Dodd, Mean & Company, 1883), pp. 109-110.

[152] Franklin B. Hough, A Narrative of the Causes which Led to Philip’s Indian War, of 1675 and 1676, by John Easton of Rhode Island (Albany, NY: J. Munsell, 1863), p. 42, a letter dated June 29, 1675, pp. 176-177, “Record of a Court Martial, Held at Newport, R.I. in August, 1676, for the Trial of Indians charged with begin engaged in Philip’s Designs”; and William Hubbard, A Narrative of the Indian Wars in New-England from the First Planting Thereof, in the Year 1607, to the Year 1677 (Danbury: Stiles Nichols, 1803), p. 64, notes from a meeting of the commissioners of the united colonies held at Boston, Sept. 9, 1675, pp. 77-78.

[153] National Park Service, “Frequently Asked Questions,” Roger Williams National Memorial Rhode Island (at: https://www.nps.gov/rowi/faqs.htm) (accessed on October 26, 2018). See also Welcome Arnold Greene, The Providence Plantations for Two Hundred and Fifty Years. An Historical Review of the Foundation, Rise, and Progress of the City of Providence (Providence, RI: J.A & R.A. Reid, 1886), p. 42.

[154] William Gammell, Makers of American History: Roger Williams (New York: The University Society, 1904), pp. 61-62.

[155] Romeo Elton, Life of Roger Williams (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1852), pp. 21, 33-34, 39-41, 44-45.

[156] Methodist Quarterly Review: 1858, D.D. Whedon, editor (New York: Carlton & Porter, 1858), Vol. XL, pp. 244-245; and John S.C. Abbott, The History of King Philip (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1857), pp. 187-190, 216. Some specific accounts recorded by the Rev. John Holmes (Historical Sketches of the Missions of the United Brethren, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1857), include p. 210, “With a view to execute their horrid purpose, the young Indians got together, chose the most ferocious to be their leaders, deposed all the old Chiefs, and guarded the whole Indian assembly, as if they were prisoners of war, especially the aged of both sexes. The venerable old Chief Tettepachsit was the first whom they accused of possession poison, and having destroyed many Indians by his art. When the poor old man would not confess, they fastened with cords to two posts and began to roast him at a slow fire.”; pp. 210-211, “During this torture, he [Chief Tettepachsit] said, that he kept poison in the house of our Indian brother Joshua. Nothing was more welcome to the savages than this accusation, for they wished to deprive us of the assistance of this man, who was the only Christian Indian residing with us at that time….We knew nothing of these horrible events, until the evening of the 16th, when a message was brought that the savages had burned an old woman to death, who had been baptized by the Brethren in former times, and also that our poor Joshua was kept close prisoner.”; p. 139, “Their external troubles, however, did not yet terminate. They had not only a kind of tax imposed upon them to show their dependence on the Iroquois , but the following very singular message was sent them: “The great head, i.e., the Council in Onondago, speak the truth and lie not: they rejoice that some of the believing Indians have moved to Wayomik, but now they lift up the remaining Mahikans and Delawares, and set them down also in Wayomik; for there a fire is kindled for them, and there they may plant and think on God: but if they will not hear, the great head will come and clean their ears with a red-hot iron (meaning they would set their houses on fire) and shoot them through the head with musquet-balls.”

[157] Increase Mather, The History of King Philip’s War (Albany: J. Munsell, 1862), pp. 49-50, 127-128, 184; and Henry William Elson, History of the United States of America (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1904), p. 122; and George Madison Bodge, Soldiers in King Philip’s War (Boston: 1906), pp. 34, 37, 104.

[158] John S.C. Abbott, The History of King Philip (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1857), p. 361.

[159] John Fiske, The Beginnings of New England (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1890), p. 240.

[160] James David Drake, King Philip’s War: Civil War in New England, 1675-1676 (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1999), pp. 1–15.

[161] See, for example, George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848), Vol. II, p. 99.

[162] See, for example, “George Bancroft,” Encyclopedia Britannica (at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Bancroft-American-historian) (accessed on October 26, 2018).

[163] George Bancroft, History of the United States (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848), Vol. II, p. 99.

[164] William Garrott Brown, Andrew Jackson (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1900), pp. 130-131; and William Graham Sumner, American Statesmen: Andrew Jackson (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1899), pp. 224-229.

[165] See, for example, the Cherokee nation in Georgia, the Sioux nation in the Dakotas, and the Apaches in the southwest. Georgia wanted land so passed laws dividing Cherokee land up in various counties and put those lands in control of the state. Andrew Jackson, the president at that time, did not interfere with the Georgia laws and would not enforce or support the Supreme Court’s decision that declared this Georgia law unconstitutional. (See William Garrott Brown, Andrew Jackson (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1900), pp. 130-131.) The federal government promised to remain off Sioux land in the Dakota territory but when gold was found on those lands, they reversed this position; the land dispute is still ongoing. (See “Sioux Treaty of 1868,” National Archives, September 23, 2016 (at: https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/sioux-treaty); and “History of the Black Hills,” National Park Service, February 16, 2018). The Yavapai and Tonto Apaches were forced to march over 150 miles to another location because settlers wanted their land for development. (See “Yavapai and Tonto Apaches,” National Park Service, August 25, 2017 (at: https://www.nps.gov/tont/learn/historyculture/yavapai_and_apache.htm).)

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West Virginia 2023

Proclamation by Governor Jim Justice

Whereas, the Preamble to the Constitution of West Virginia declares, “Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people o West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God”; and

Whereas, the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of West Virginia guarantees religious freedom; and the “Sundays expected” provision of Article 7, Chapter 14 historically recognizes Sunday as a day of rest and worship; and

Whereas, For many West Virginians, public school days began with a daily Pledge of Allegiance, prayer and bible reading; and

Whereas, the state songs, The West Virginia Hills and West Virginia my Home Sweet Home, contain the lyrics, “With their summits bathed in glory, like our Prince Immanuel’s land!” and “there I work, and I play, and I worship Sunday,” ; and

Whereas, the influence of Christianity in West Virginia is evident by her many churches and Christian charities, ministries, missions and schools; cherished Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving holiday seasons; and a willingness of Mountaineers to love thy neighbor as thyself; and

Whereas, Thanksgiving week is an appropriate time to center attention on our thanks to Almighty God for His great and good Providence and for the Christian faith, which is part of West Virginia’s and America’s history.

Now, Therefore, Be it Resolved that I, Jim Justice, Governor of the Great State of West Virginia, do hereby proclaim November 19-25, 2023 as:

Christian Heritage Week

in the Mountain State and invite all citizens to join me in observance.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of West Virginia to be affixed.

Done at the Capitol, City of Charleston, State of West Virginia, this the Twentieth day of June, in the year of our Lord, Two Thousand Twenty-Three, and in the One Hundred Sixtieth year of the State.

Jim Justice , Governor
By the Governor:
Mac Warner, Secretary of State

Texas 2023

H.C.R.ANo.A29
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, The United States was established on principles of
religious freedom, and our founding fathers looked to their faith
for blessings and guidance as they worked to build an independent
nation with liberty and justice for all; and
WHEREAS, Millions of Americans are adherents of
Christianity, and that religious heritage has played a significant
role throughout our country ’s history; this influence is documented
in government records, including colonial charters, early laws,
original state constitutions, and hundreds of state and federal
court cases; and
WHEREAS, Through the centuries, a host of major American
historical figures have relied on Christian traditions, tenets, and
values to guide their actions and have stressed the importance of
those principles when addressing their fellow citizens; such
individuals as George Washington, Abigail and John Adams, James
Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower
drew strength from their Christian beliefs, and these prominent men
and women, like countless other Americans, did not hesitate to
express their faith; and
WHEREAS, Public officials across the country, at all levels,
have acknowledged this meaningful influence through the observance
of Christian Heritage Week; the occasion serves to highlight the
immeasurable impact of Christianity on our nation, from the
fellowship and good works offered by local churches to the respite
from life ’s ordinary travails afforded by religious holidays and
rituals; the continued vitality of this faith tradition is
evidenced by the ongoing proliferation of Christian houses of
worship, charities, ministries, missions, and schools; and
WHEREAS, The celebration of Christian Heritage Week provides
opportunities for adherents of the religion to more deeply examine
its vital role in society and for people of all faiths to learn more
about the rich fabric of our nation ’s history; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the 88th Legislature of the State of Texas
hereby designate the second to last week in April as Texas Christian
Heritage Week; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That, in accordance with the provisions of Section
391.004(d), Government Code, this designation remain in effect
until the 10th anniversary of the date this resolution is finally
passed by the legislature.
Leo-Wilson Dutton
Leach Sherman, Sr.
Harris of Williamson Cain
Cook Cunningham
Dorazio Hayes
Hefner Isaac
Jetton Patterson
Schatzline Swanson
Tepper Toth
Troxclair Vasut

H.C.R.ANo.A29
______________________________ ______________________________
President of the Senate Speaker of the House
I certify that H.C.R. No. 29 was adopted by the House on May
9, 2023, by the following vote:Yeas 143, Nays 3, 2 present, not
voting.
______________________________
Chief Clerk of the House
I certify that H.C.R. No. 29 was adopted by the Senate on May
23, 2023, by the following vote:Yeas 26, Nays 4, 1 present, not
voting.
______________________________
Secretary of the Senate
APPROVED: __________________
Date
__________________
Governor
H.C.R.ANo.A29