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The purpose of this page is to link to sources of good information on the faith of the founding fathers of the United States and the background that led up to what they believed and practiced. This section gives some perspective on the progress over time, as God granted it, to democracy and the rule of law, individual liberty and the most successful republic in history.
It would help for the reader to have an understanding of the dark ages, the wolrd of despot kings, nobles, surfs and slavery, empires and renaissance which preceeded and led to the faith and pioneering accomplishment of the founding fathers, but that is not the scope of this project. I hope it will be somewhat helpful for those who are trying to find as accurate information as is possible on the faith of our fathers. It is incomplete, a work in progress, but a good start I believe. Feel free to email me using the link at the bottom. MCM's web manager 6/13/10
Early Pre-Colonial History
Suggested Wikipedia articles to understand much of the U.S. founding fathers' and colonial thinking and mindset as it developed for the basis of republican government, law and revolution.
The Bible, The Pilgrims, John Locke, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Jonathan Edwards, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville, the History of England from King Henry VIII through the Glorious Revolution.
Magna Carta 1215: "...also called Magna Carta Libertatum (the Great Charter of Freedoms), is an English legal charter, originally issued in the year 1215. It was written in Latin and is known by its Latin name. The usual English translation of Magna Carta is Great Charter.
Magna Carta required King John of England to proclaim certain rights (pertaining to freemen), respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be bound by the law. It explicitly protected certain rights of the King's subjects, whether free or fettered — and implicitly supported what became the writ of habeas corpus, allowing appeal against unlawful imprisonment.
Magna Carta was arguably the most significant early influence on the extensive historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law today in the English speaking world. Magna Carta influenced the development of the common law and many constitutional documents, including the United States Constitution.
Magna Carta was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects (the barons) in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges. It was preceded by the 1100 Charter of Liberties in which King Henry I voluntarily stated that his own powers were under the law.
History of the United States
Christopher Columbus: "Christopher Columbus (c. 31 October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. Those voyages, and his efforts to establish permanent settlements in the island of Hispaniola, initiated the process of Spanish colonization, which foreshadowed the general European colonization of the 'New World'".
Colonial U.S. History
The Jamestown Settlement (and the first democratic assembly) 1607: "Jamestown, located on Jamestown Island in the Virginia Colony, was founded on May 14, 1607. It is commonly regarded as the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States of America, following several earlier failed attempts." (From the article Jamestown, Virginia) "The Virginia House of Burgesses was the elected lower house in the legislative assembly established in the Colony of Virginia in 1619. Over time, the name came to represent the entire official legislative body of the Colony of Virginia, and later, after the American Revolution, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia."
The Pilgrims 1620: "Pilgrims (US), or Pilgrim Fathers (UK), is a name commonly applied to early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States. ...The colony, established in 1620, became the oldest continuously inhabited British settlement and the second successful English settlement (after the founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607) in what was to become the United States of America. The Pilgrims' story of seeking religious freedom has become a central theme of the history and culture of the United States."
The English "Glorious Revolution" of 1688: "The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, was the overthrow of King James II of England (VII of Scotland and II of Ireland) in 1688 by a union of Parliamentarians with an invading army led by the [Protestant] Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau (William of Orange) who, as a result, ascended the English throne as William III of England."
The English Bill of Rights 1689: "The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament in December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Rights presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689, inviting them to become joint sovereigns of England. It enumerates certain rights to which subjects and permanent residents of a constitutional monarchy were thought to be entitled in the late 17th century, asserting subjects' right to petition the monarch, as well as to have arms in defence. It also sets out—or, in the view of its drafters, restates—certain constitutional requirements of the Crown to seek the consent of the people, as represented in parliament."
"In the United Kingdom, the Bill of Rights is further accompanied by the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 as some of the basic documents of the uncodified British constitution. A separate but similar document, the Claim of Right Act, applies in Scotland. The English Bill of Rights 1689 inspired in large part the United States Bill of Rights."
John Locke 1632-1704: "John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704), widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers." A summary of Locke's works from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, John Locke (tho I think they are mistaken in the comment that "Locke got Isaac Newton to write Newton's most powerful anti-Trinitarian tract.") The works of Locke cover medical practice, views on morality, republican government, law, justice, economics, political and social theory, religious tolerance and his views on Christianity and the Bible. He derived many of views from his Christian beliefs and background, human reason and from other "enlightenment" philosophers, especially Isaac Newton. His views are still considered radical for his time. His involvement in English and colonial government diverged significantly from his theories. All of the U.S. founding fathers looked to and based much of their thinking and ideas on their understanding of Christianity and the Bible and on the works of John Lock, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. (Regarding some of Locke's views relating to the Bible, see God, Locke, and Equality: Christian Foundations in Locke's Political Thought, by Jeremy Waldron, Pg. 44, et al. See also a helpful review, Servants of one Sovereign Master. Locke's philosophy included unbiblical concepts such as the view that humans were by nature rational and good (though his treatise on The Reasonableness of Christianity toward the end of his life seems to indicate that he believed or came to believe otherwise) and "equal distribution" -- not taken up by the Founding Fathers. He also believed that the natural "rights" of man were God-given. (See John Locke, Human Nature and God's Purposes.) Regarding the Trinity (and thus by implication, the deity of Christ), he insisted in a letter that in all of his works "there is not to be found any thing like an objection against the Trinity" nor was he sure of it one way or the other. See "A Letter to the Right Reverend Edward, pg 197 et al."))
American Enlightenment 1700s: "...For many decades the consensus was that liberalism [referring to classical liberalism as opposed to later social (or modern) liberalism], especially that of John Locke (as well as Bacon, Hooker, Sydney and Harrington), was paramount and that republicanism had a distinctly secondary role. The new interpretations were pioneered by J.G.A. Pocock who argued in The Machiavellian Moment (1975) that, at least in the early eighteenth-century, republican ideas were just as important as liberal ones. Pocock's view is now widely accepted.. Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood pioneered the argument that the Founding Fathers of the United States were more influenced by republicanism than they were by liberalism. Cornell University Professor Isaac Kramnick, on the other hand, argues that Americans have always been highly individualistic and therefore Lockean.
In the decades before the American Revolution (1776), the intellectual and political leaders of the colonies studied history intently, looking for guides or models for good (and bad) government. They especially followed the development of republican ideas in England."
"Enlightenment philosophers [such as John Locke] chose a short history of scientific predecessors — Galileo, Boyle, and Newton principally — as the guides and guarantors of their applications of the singular concept of Nature and Natural Law to every physical and social field of the day. ... Monboddo and Samuel Clarke resisted elements of Newton's work, but eventually rationalized it to conform with their strong religious views of nature." Wikipedia article on Isaac Newton.
Jonathan Edwards 1703-1758: "Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758), was a preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans. Edwards "is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian," and one of America's greatest intellectuals." He railed against John Locke whom he called an "atheist" for his lack of orthodox views on salvation and the Trinity, though Locke actually agreed with some key orthodox Christian doctrines, such as the full inspiration of scripture, salvation through Jesus Christ alone (but with the Unitarianish view that in Christ's redemption, "all men" are saved) and the resurrection of Christ. (See John Locke's treatise, The Reasonableness of Christianity, As Delivered In the Scriptures and his defense against Jonathan Edward's writings against him.)
George Whitefield 1714-1770: George Whitefield (December 16, 1714 – September 30, 1770) was an Anglican/Methodist itinerant priest and preacher "who helped spread the Great Awakening in Great Britain and, especially, in the British North American colonies." "Known for his unorthodox ministry of itinerant open-air preaching" across New England and Georgia. Tens of thousands from across the colonies and beyond along with some of the Founding Fathers would come to hear Whitefield preach the truths of the Bible in the open fields. Benjamin Franklin heard him often though he did not believe as Whitefield did, and was a close friend.
First Great Awakening 1730s: "The First Great Awakening began in the 1730s. ... Leaders of the Awakening such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield had little interest in merely engaging parishioners' minds; they wanted far more to elicit an emotional response from their audience, one which might yield the workings and evidence of saving grace. ... Edwards, for instance, continued to preach an ardent and intellectual vision of Calvinism — his sermons contained "[both] transparent emotion, heartfelt sincerity,...[and] inexorable logic," which along with a sustained theme, could create quite the "cumulative impact.""
Influence on political life
"Joseph Tracy, the minister and historian who gave this religious phenomenon its name in his influential 1842 book The Great Awakening, saw the First Great Awakening as a precursor to the American Revolution. The evangelical movement of the 1740s played a key role in the development of democratic concepts in the period of the American Revolution." [From Wikipedia article Great Awakening]
Samuel Adams 1722-1803: "(September 27 [O.S. September 16] 1722 – October 2, 1803) was a statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped the political culture of the United States. He was a second cousin to John Adams.
"Born in Boston, Adams was brought up in a religious and politically active family. A graduate of Harvard College, he was an unsuccessful businessman and tax collector before concentrating on politics. As an influential official of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Boston Town Meeting in the 1760s, Adams was a part of a movement opposed to the British Parliament's efforts to tax the British American colonies without their consent. His 1768 circular letter calling for cooperation among the colonies prompted the occupation of Boston by British soldiers, eventually resulting in the Boston Massacre of 1770. To help coordinate resistance to what he saw as the British government's attempts to violate the British Constitution at the expense of the colonies, in 1772 Adams and his colleagues devised a committee of correspondence system, which linked like-minded Patriots throughout the Thirteen Colonies. Continued resistance to British policy resulted in the 1773 Boston Tea Party and the coming of the American Revolution.
"After Parliament passed the Coercive Acts in 1774, Adams attended the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, which was convened to coordinate a colonial response. He helped guide Congress towards issuing the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and helped draft the Articles of Confederation and the Massachusetts Constitution. Adams returned to Massachusetts after the American Revolution, where he served in the state senate and was eventually elected governor." Wikipedia
Samuel Adams' "Rights of the Colonists" (1772), the source for most of the "Declaration of Rights" of 1774, was the source for most of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson, Hanover.edu and "...Adams was probably the author of most of the bill of rights." Encyclopedia Britannica 1911
"...Samuel Adams [was] a man who was both born for the times and who made the times; of whom it has been said, "It is impossible to write the history of the American Revolution without the character of Samuel Adams; it is impossible to write the life of Samuel Adams without giving a history of the Revolution, for he was the father of the Revolution."
Harrper's Magazine, Vol 53 Pg 188, 1876, A brief sketch of Samuel Adams
More on Samuel Adams:
Samuel Adams' leading role in all spheres of public life and politics towards freedom, liberty, independence and republican government, heavily influenced all of the founding fathers, the people of Colonial America and the entire collection of newly formed governing bodies at the time of the Revolution, including the Massachusetts gatherings, committies, assemblies and legislatures, the first and second Continental Congresses and the their committees along with the ideas in and issuance of the Declaration of Independence. He continued in a leading role after the Revolution as a member of Congress with his participation in the formation of the first confederated government of the states. Leading up to the Revolution, "He wrote constantly for years in the Boston Gazette under a list of pseudonyms as long as your arm. He was a wholesale voice-vendor of ideas of freedom and liberty, whatever his particular jobs. His ideas run throughout the freedom documents." (Rev. Jim Craig)
Samuel Adams drew heavily for his ideas from John Locke, Bacon, Hooker, Sydney, Harrington, the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, the unwritten British Constitution and based all on his foundational Christian beliefs and knowledge of the Bible, especially the New Testament. He was continually energized and motivated by his faith in the living God of the Bible and his belief in the rightness of the cause for liberty, freedom and law as given by God.
In 1776 Adams opposed Mass. Royal Gov./General Thomas Gage in the midst of a large Boston town meeting of thousands before the Battle of Lexington (which started the Revolutionary War). Gage had occupied Boston with thousands of British soldiers. He warned Adams to "make your peace with the king (George)" and also tried to bribe him with a high paying position working for the British. "Sir," replied Adams, "I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of kings." He then proceeded to give General Gage a counter-warning of the danger he was in if he did not remove his troops from Boston at once. Gage gave in and withdrew the troops. Later, under orders from the British Prime Minister, Gage sent troops to Lexington (where Adams was staying with Hancock) to round up colonial stores of arms and ammunition and possibly to arrest Adams and Hancock. The Prime Minister's orders were, if he captured them, to send them to England to be tried for treason for their leadership in the "rebellion" against Parliament and the king.
Thomas Jefferson, “…considered him [Samuel Adams] as more than any other member in Congress, the fountain of our important measures. In mediating the matter of that address, I asked myself, is this exactly in the spirit of the patriarch of liberty, Samuel Adams? He was the Father of the Revolution.”2
On October 2, 1803, Samuel Adams passed away. In his will he wrote, “Principally, and first of all, I resign my soul to the Almighty Being who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying on the merits of Jesus Christ for the pardon of my sins.”1 Heritage of the Founding Fathers
A brief sketch of Samuel Adams and his times, Harper's Magazine, June 1876
Samuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll
The Revolution and Founding of the United States
The American Revolution 1750s-1787: "Political and social developments, and the origins and aftermath of the war."
Samuel Adams and the English Tax Acts: "Samuel Adams emerged as an important public figure in Boston soon after the British Empire's victory in the Seven Years' War (1756–1763). Finding itself deep in debt and looking for new sources of revenue, the British Parliament sought, for the first time, to directly tax the colonies of British America. This tax dispute was part of a larger divergence between British and American interpretations of the British Constitution and the extent of Parliament's authority in the colonies."
The Boston and Chestertown Tea Parties
Boston Tea Party: The Boston Tea Party was a direct action by colonists in Boston, a town in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to [allow the return of] three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists [disguised as Indians] boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor.
Chestertown Tea Party (and Chestertown Resolves): The Chestertown Tea Party was a protest which may have taken place in May 1774 in Chestertown, Maryland as a response to the British Tea Act. Following suit of the more famous Boston Tea Party, colonial patriots boarded the brigantine Geddes in broad daylight and threw its cargo of tea into the Chester River.
The British "Intolerable Acts": "The Intolerable Acts or the Coercive Acts are names used to describe a series of five laws passed by the British Parliament in 1774 relating to Britain's colonies in North America. The acts triggered outrage and resistance in the Thirteen Colonies that later became the United States, and were important developments in the growth of the American Revolution."
First Continental Congress: "The First Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from twelve of the thirteen North American colonies that met on September 5, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, early in the American Revolution. Called in response to the passage of the Coercive Acts (also known as Intolerable Acts by the Colonial Americans) by the British Parliament, the Congress was attended by 56 members appointed by the legislatures of twelve of the Thirteen Colonies, the exception being the Province of Georgia, which did not send delegates."
American Revolutionary War: The effort by Congress and a usually ill-equipped, sometimes starving Continental Army to defeat the British Empire came close to failure and collapse more than once. Only by Divine intervention in numerous ways with men and nations in the right place at the right time did Washington and others with the help of France (and military leaders from Germany and Poland) prevail. "The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) or American War of Independence began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen former British colonies in North America, and concluded in a global war between several European great powers."
The Battles of Lexington and Concord: "The battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. They were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (present-day Arlington), and Cambridge, near Boston. The battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in the mainland of British North America."
Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlet: "...First published anonymously on January 10, 1776, during the American Revolution. Common Sense, signed "Written by an Englishman", became an immediate success. In relation to the population of the Colonies at that time, it had the largest sale and circulation of any book in American history. Common Sense presented the American colonists with a powerful argument for independence from British rule at a time when the question of independence was still undecided. Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood; forgoing the philosophy and Latin references used by Enlightenment era writers, Paine structured Common Sense like a sermon and relied on Biblical references to make his case to the people. Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as, "the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era".
Second Continental Congress: "The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that met beginning on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774, also in Philadelphia. The second Congress managed the colonial war effort, and moved incrementally towards independence, adopting the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. By raising armies, directing strategy, appointing diplomats, and making formal treaties, the Congress acted as the de facto national government of what became the United States. With the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, the Congress became known as the Congress of the Confederation."
Declaration of Independence: "The United States Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson [who drew primarily from the Declaration of Rights written by Samuel Adams Hanover.edu, Suite101], the Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The birthday of the United States of America—Independence Day—is celebrated on July 4, the day the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress."
The Declaration of Independence comes primarily from a report issued by a Massachusetts Committee of Correspondence led by Samuel Adams in 1772, convened for the purpose of issuing a report on the rights of the colonists under British rule.
"Samuel Adams," says Hutchinson, writing to a friend, " had prepared a long report, but he let Otis appear in it"; and again, in another letter: "the Grand Incendiary of the Province prepared a long report for a committee appointed by the town, in which, after many principles inferring independence were laid down, many resolves followed, all of them tending to sedition and mutiny, and some of them expressly denying Parliamentary authority.
"The report created a powerful sensation, both in America and in England, where it was for some time attributed to Franklin, by whom it was republished. It is divided into the three subjects specified in the original motion. The first, in three subdivisions, considering the rights of the Colonists as men, as Christians, and as subjects, was from the pen of Samuel Adams; his original draft, together with the preparatory rough notes or headings, being in perfect preservation. It is important, not only as a platform upon which were afterwards built many of the celebrated state papers of the Revolution, but as the first fruits of the Committee of Correspondence." Samuel Adams,The Rights of the Colonists The Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston Town Meeting, Nov. 20, 1772 (Hanover Historical Texts Project)
During the signing of the Declaration of Independence, [Samuel] Adams proclaimed these words, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.” He stated, “I conceive we cannot better express ourselves than by humbly supplicating the Supreme Ruler of the World.”1 Heritage of the Founding Fathers
The Preamble to the Declaration:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States...
First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving: "The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777:
FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of... It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance..."
Siege of Yorktown: "The Siege of Yorktown or Battle of Yorktown in 1781 was a decisive victory by combined assault of American forces led by Major General George Washington and French forces led by General Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis. It proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War, as the surrender of Cornwallis's army prompted the British government eventually to negotiate an end to the conflict."
Constitutional Convention: The Constitutional Convention "took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to address problems in governing the United [Sovereign] States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following independence from Great Britain. Although the Convention was purportedly intended only to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, was from the outset to create a new government rather than fix the existing one."
The U.S. Civil War
The American Civil War: "The American Civil War (1861–1865), also known as the War Between the States as well as several other names, was a civil war in the United States of America. Eleven Southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America, also known as "the Confederacy". Led by Jefferson Davis, they fought against the United States (the Union), which was supported by all the free states and the five border slave states." See also U.S. Revenue Act of 1862: "The Revenue Act of 1862 was passed by the United States Congress to help fund the American Civil War. The Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, introducing the first progressive rate income tax to the country." Gettysburg Address
Original U.S. Documents
ThisNation.com: Very extensive and comprehensive coverage and original content, documents and political essays and speeches which lay the foundation for our republic and leading to our modern day concepts of what the United Sates of America is (or should be) as a nation from the Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, Articles of Confederation, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Amendments through the latest news, documents and Supreme Court rulings today (including speeches and writings by Frederick Douglass, Davey Crockett, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan, Joseph Lieberman). Including a section on Federalism and the Federalist Papers and Antifederalist Papers in which the arguements for and against Federalism (stronger federal government vs. states/individual rights) by the founding fathers were put forth leading up to the creation of the U.S. Constitution and tripartite/equal-powers government.
Constitution Society: "This site aims to eventually provide almost everything one needs to accurately decide what is and is not constitutional in most situations, and what applicable constitutions require one to do. It is for constitutional decision support."
Wikipedia: Bill of Rights: "The Bill of Rights is the name by which the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known. They were introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of articles, and came into effect on December 15, 1791, when they had been ratified by three-fourths of the States. An agreement to create the Bill of Rights helped to secure ratification of the Constitution itself."
Constitution Society: Documentary History of the Bill of Rights
US Constitution Online: Other critical U.S. historical documents including Thomas Jefferson's wall of separation letter (from whence comes the commonly misunderstood statement relating to the 1st amendment, "There is a wall of separation between Church and state").
Archiving Early America: "Here you will discover a wealth of resources — a unique array of primary source material from 18th Century America. Scenes and portraits from original newspapers, maps and writings come to life on your screen just as they appeared to this country's forebears more than two centuries ago.
As you browse through these pages, you will find it easier to understand the people, places and events of this significant time in the American experience."
WallBuilders: "Presenting America's forgotten history, patriarchs and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built." In depth, documented books and articles by David Barton based on original documents and letters from our founders and others, with many of the original and/or quoted documents available on the site. In a departure from the norm, they also dig into Black history and the slavery issue which is vital to understanding our history and who we are as a nation. The accuracy of the message and research in the books, articles and media materials varies from good to fair in quality. David Barton, overall, usually does better than most similar Evangelical attempts to convey the Christian/biblical basis of our beginnings, the original intent of our founders and our constitution. However, the balance of depicting the extent of non or partly Christian (mainly Masonic, Deistic, Judaic, and commercial/profit) influence is weak, as it is in most such endeavors by Christians that I'm aware of. (e.g. "I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken stronger hold on the affections of men..." Tocqueville, emphasis mine) Keeping that in mind, I think this site provides some of the best information and documentation on the preponderance of the Christian mindset in/biblical roots of our history. I highly recommend reading their About Us page. "...The propitious [favorable] smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation which disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself has ordained," George Washington. Also highly recommended original sources: Democracy in America by Tocqueville (or see some key quotations), The Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers. The web manager
American Experiment: 'A republic, if you can keep it' ... or remember what that means: On what form of government we have.
What Our Founding Fathers Believed
This section is incomplete so far. Coming -- Info on Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, S. Adams, J. Adams, Madison and others.
Most of our founding fathers (besides most of the colonists) publically spoke, proclaimed, wrote as and considered themselves to be Christians and most were firm believers in and students of the Bible and believers in the God of the Bible as they understood it. Many in government, education and leadership today claim that the United States of America was not founded on Christian values or principles and that few of the founding fathers were serious Christians. It is true that some were Deists and Freemasons (usually with a Christian/Enlightenment world view -- See The Problem with America's Roots by Dr. Mary Craig) and most based their political views of government on the works of John Locke (who actually defended Christianity and the need for religious values) and other Enlightenment philosophers (see another view of the Enlightenment philosophers). Good research will show that most of our founding fathers and colonialists believed in Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament and in the Bible as the inspired word of God and the ultimate authority for truth and life.
Note that the current president (2009) himself has never said, so far, that America was not a Christian nation. But that America "is no longer a Christian nation" (with the presumption that it was). Nations actually cannot be "Christian" -- individuals are -- though nations can be founded and governed on Christian/Biblical principles.
Faith of Our Fathers: Samuel Adams: "Samuel Adams lived from September, 1722, to October 2, 1803. This patriot leader suffered otherwise shattering losses, his first wife and four of their children dying of natural causes before the Revolutionary War began. A close friend was decapitated, his head presented as a trophy to the British commanding general. He spent nearly three years at the Congress in Philadelphia separated from his family. His house was vandalized by British troops. He was targeted by the British crown for his stance for America's independence, and more.
"Samuel Adams saw himself as a conserver of the New England Puritan tradition. He was ahead of his time; for example, he declined to accept a slave as a gift, appealed to the American Indians for aid in the Revolution, and extended public education in Massachusetts to girls. He has become a "mostly forgotten" founder, though Thomas Jefferson called him "truly the Man of the Revolution" and many credit him as the Father of America more than George Washington...."
Religious affiliation of the Founding Fathers: Tables and summaries of the religious affiliation and background of the Founding Fathers. Note that the Deistic and Masonic views and affiliations of Washington and others is missing. (Though Washington after the Revolution publically renounced his affiliation with the Masons.) My understanding so far is that the overall corrections to the listing and summary in this regard, while needed (See The Problem with America's Roots), would not be significant. (The website manager)
Wikipedia: Founding Fathers: Discussion and list of the American revolutionary founding fathers.
From Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (29 July 1805, Paris – 16 April 1859, Cannes) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in western societies. Democracy in America (1835), his major work, published after his travels in the United States, is today considered an early work of sociology and political science.
Moreover, almost all the sects of the United States are comprised within the great unity of Christianity, and Christian morality is everywhere the same. In the United States the sovereign authority is religious, and consequently hypocrisy must be common; but there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility, and of its conformity to human nature, than that its influence is most powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
The 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; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.
There are certain populations in Europe whose unbelief is only equaled by their ignorance and their debasement, while in America one of the freest and most enlightened nations in the world fulfills all the outward duties of religion with fervor.
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."
From Democracy in America, Alexis_de_Tocqueville
Highly recommended chapters from Democracy in America by Tocqueville, 1835. Alexis de Tocqueville was a brilliant French statesman who was sent to America in 1831 to study the U.S. prison system. He ended up studying and writing (in French) on the entire 18th and early 19th century makeup of political, social and religious life in America. These and other chapters throughout the book give a sense of the political and religious climate and mindset in America in the 18th and 19th centuries among both the leaders and populace. His books are still considered classics and are studied in the U.S. and around the world for it's in depth analysis of early American democracy.
Quotes from Tocqueville
Religion Considered As A Political Institution Which Powerfully Contributes To The Maintenance Of A Democratic Republic Among The Americans.
Religion Considered As A Political Institution Which Powerfully Contributes To The Maintenance Of A Democratic Republic Among The Americans (Alternate translation by Arthur Goldhammer, probably the best translation of Tocqueville to date. See especially pages 334-347)
How Religion In The United States Avails Itself Of Democratic Tendencies
Principal Causes Which Tend To Maintain The Democratic Republic In The United States
Tocqueville on the Benefits of Religion to Democracy
More notable quotes from Alexis de Tocqueville from his observations of Democracy in America
- The best laws cannot make a constitution work in spite of morals; morals can turn the worst laws to advantage.
- By the side of these religious men I discern others whose looks are turned to the earth more than to Heaven; they are the partisans of liberty, not only as the source of the noblest virtues, but more especially as the root of all solid advantages; and they sincerely desire to extend its sway, and to impart its blessings to mankind. It is natural that they should hasten to invoke the assistance of religion, for they must know that liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith; but they have seen religion in the ranks of their adversaries, and they inquire no further; some of them attack it openly, and the remainder are afraid to defend it.
- I know of no country, indeed, where the love of money has taken stronger hold on the affections of men.
- Though it is very important for man as an individual that his religion should be true, that is not the case for society. Society has nothing to fear or hope from another life; what is most important for it is not that all citizens profess the true religion but that they should profess religion.
- The 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; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren traditionary faith which seems to vegetate in the soul rather than to live.
- Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?
...and from the beginning, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved.
. . .
Atlantic Times: America Discovered. The enduring relevance of Alexis de Tocqueville. By Gebhard Schweigler: A good summary of Tocqueville's analysis of America and American society in 1835.
America: It's Christian Roots and the Secularist Concept of Separation of Church and State: Some enlightening information on America's Christian Roots and how the concept of "Separation of Church and State" came about. Information not fully documented and "vetted" yet, but is worth checking into.
WallBuilders: The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity and the Bible: King James I, First charter of Virginia 1606, William Bradford 1620, George Washington, Samuel Adams 1770, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, John Adams 1790, Alexander Hamilton 1800, Daniel Webster, Noah Webster, James Madison, George Mason, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Rush, John Q. Adams, Josiah Bartlett, Elias Boudinot, Francis Scott Key, Congress 1854, John Dickenson, John Jay
Read with caution some of WallBuilder's quotations. The author, David Barton, has a tendency to include false or misleading information in some cases to support his views. One example of many: "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." An apparently fictitious quote attributed to James Madison.
A list of false or questionable quotes from David Barton and WallBuilders:
DebatePolitics.com forum topic: A Must-See Episode of Glenn Beck - Faith of our Founders
Wikipedia: David Barton (WallBuilders)
. . .
In an article titled "Unconfirmed Quotations," Barton conceded that he has not located primary sources for eleven of the alleged quotes from James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, but maintained that the quotes were "completely consistent" with the views of the Founders. This drew heavy criticism from Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who accused Barton of "shoddy workmanship", and said that despite these and other corrections, Barton's work "remains rife with distortions of history and court rulings". WallBuilders responded to its critics by saying that Barton followed "common practice in the academic community" in citing secondary sources, and that in publishing "Unconfirmed Quotations," Barton's intent was to raise the academic bar in historical debates pertinent to public policy.
Barton has denied saying that, in Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists, "Jefferson referred to the wall of separation between church and state as 'one-directional'—that is, it was meant to restrain government from infringing on the church's domain but not the other way around. There is no such language in the letter." This denial is contradicted by a 1990 version of Barton's video America's Godly Heritage in which Barton states:
“On January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote to that group of Danbury Baptists, and in this letter, he assured them—he said the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, he said, but that wall is a one-directional wall. It keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.”
Wikipedia: David Barton
Christian Ethics Today: WallBuilders or MythBuilders? Support for the alternative, liberal view of the Founding Fathers -- Analysis of some of Barton's claims regarding the constitution and founders. This author debunks some of David Barton's research and views. This does not affect the value or validity of the many original documents available on his site. It remains to be seen whether someone doing solid research might rebut some of this article and/or bring up the other side. There appears to be some straw man arguments and misinterpretation of founders' and Barton's statements mixed in. (Many on both sides of this debate, including the author of this article, use the facts and quotes that support their views and leave out the rest.) Miller's (the author's) main rebuttal points:
1. The Myth of the Explicit Constitution. 2. The Myth of the Hasty Metaphor. 3. The Myth of the One-Sided Wall. 4. The Myth of the National Church 5. The Myth of Founder Uniformity 6. The Myth of the Impeccable Founders. 7. The Myth of the Unchanging Constitution. 8. The Myth of Dependent Christianity.
Shades of Grace: Is America a Christian nation? More quotes from our fathers (Be alert to the same issues as with WallBuilders)
WallBuilders: Sermon - Election 1790, Rev. Daniel Foster July 26: Message preached by Rev. Daniel Foster on the first election day before the Massachusetts legislature and founding fathers.
WallBuilders: Proclamation - Thanksgiving Day - 1795, Massachusetts, Samuel Adams Oct. 14
Shades of Grace: Americas Founders & Presidents: Proclamations for Public Fasting & Prayer
WallBuilders: Historical Writings: The Founders As Christians, A collection of quotes from the Founding Fathers: Should Christians - Or Ministers - Run For Office? By John Witherspoon, Founding Father John Witherspoon's sagacious rebuttal to the 1777 Georgia, Constitution's provision forbidding clergymen from serving in the Georgia legislature, Importance of Morality and Religion in Government, A collection of quotes from the Founding Fathers...
WallBuilders: Treaty of Tripoli: On the statement made, "The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion," in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797. This treaty was made with the Muslim leaders of Tripoli (now Libya) who were capturing many U.S. ships and holding the captives for huge ransoms. Note that there are serious issues raised as to the accuracy of this translation of the Arabic document. Either way, the authors of this statement are referring to the U.S. government, not to the faith of the founders or of the nation. The republican form of government created by the founders was not founded upon any religion or considered to be "Christian" by our fathers or by anyone in the nation. Separation of Church and state (federal), was considered sacrosanct -- Religion in any form was strictly kept out of the Constitution and laws.
Great American History: Lincoln's Faith in God: "It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."...
Faith, Family, Freedom Alliance: Religion and the Public Square: "At present, a war is being waged for the soul of American culture. Liberal revisionists and secular historians are attempting to rewrite the pages of United States history, replacing all references to God and Judeo-Christian influences with bland references to "deism" and "Enlightenment thought." While many Christian and conservative voices decry the removal of prayer from schools, or the lawsuits brought against manger scenes in public squares, a more subtle assault on our heritage has commenced. Liberals are attempting to simultaneously label any public acknowledgment of God as "theocracy" and to further assert that America is not, and never has been a Christian nation."
Enlightenment Miracles: All of our founding Fathers were highly dependent for their views of government, law, revolution, and the rights of man upon the well-known philosophers of the "Enlightenment" such as John Locke, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. Most of the founders looked to the Bible in varying degrees for their moral and religious views. This article is a dissertation on what most of the Enlightenment thinkers thought about God and miracles. (See also About this site.) Based on Joseph Waligor's primary documents research. The "age of enlightenment", late 17th to late 18th century, with concepts of natural law, natural rights of man, ideal government and economics particularly formulated and developed in the writings of John Locke and other enlightenment philosophers led to the founding fathers' views of republican government besides leading to many other world developments of that time including the French Revolution. While some of Waligor's apparent conclusions about spirituality fall short of Biblical truth, his research demonstrates that many Enlightenment thinkers and many Deists held to a firm belief in one all-powerful Creator God who could and did intervene at times (or as he thought necessary) in the affairs of men, nations and the world. This as opposed to what is commonly taught and believed today about most enlightenment philosophers' supposed rejection of God (or of a God who intervenes) and the supernatural.
"One of the most prevalent misconceptions about the Enlightenment period (1687-1794) is that its thinkers believed in a watchmaker God who never performed miracles because he governed the world through immutable natural laws. The historian Carl Becker articulated this common conception of the Enlightenment God; he said that the Enlightenment thinkers “denied miracles ever happened” because their God “having performed his essential function of creation, it was proper for him to withdraw from the affairs of men into the shadowy places where absolute being dwells.”[i] The Enlightenment thinkers supposed denial of miracles is commonly portrayed as part of their larger world view which saw God as remote, impersonal and abstract, and as an important aspect of their march towards secular modernity."
"Most Enlightenment thinkers defined a miracle as God changing the usual order of the laws of nature. The vast majority of Enlightenment thinkers believed God had made the natural laws and could suspend them whenever he wished."
Our Judeo Christian Nation, Congressman Randy Forbes May 6, 2009
The Bill of Rights
Key constitutional amendments acknowledging freedom of religion and limit of federal powers vs states' and individuals' rights
First Amendment to the Constitution:
Amendment I - Religion, Speech, Assembly, and Politics
"Congress shall MAKE NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." [Emphasis the web manager's]
Tenth Amendment to the Constitution:
Amendment X - Powers of the States and People vs the Limited Powers of Federal Government
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
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