The Righter Report

God’s Warning to America

“On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, Messianic Jewish Rabbi, Jonathan Cahn, spoke at the fourth annual Washington—A Man of Prayer event held at the U.S. Capitol, delivered on the 226th anniversary of the inauguration of President George Washington. Cahn’s sermon in Washington was the most anointed prophetic utterance he has ever given, and many members of the Congress were in attendance.” – Freedom Outpost

A Powerful message by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish Rabbi. There’s no question in my mind that this was a God-given, Spirit-filled message, and a warning to our nation.

Excerpt: “Supreme Court Justices, can you judge the ways of God? Can you, with manmade verdicts, overrule the eternal laws of God? There is another court, and there is another Judge. And before Him, all men and all judges will give account. If a nation’s high court should pass judgment on the Almighty, should you then be surprised if the Almighty should pass judgment on that court and that nation?”

A transcript of the speech can be found at: http://freedomoutpost.com/2015/05/rabbi-jonathan-cahn-gives-america-a-final-warning/

– The Righter Report

Advertisements

May 7, 2015 Posted by | America, Evangelical, God, Government, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Founding Fathers and Slavery

by David Barton – 07/2011

Even though the issue of slavery is often raised as a discrediting charge against the Founding Fathers, the historical fact is that slavery was not the product of, nor was it an evil introduced by, the Founding Fathers; slavery had been introduced to America nearly two centuries before the Founders. As President of Congress Henry Laurens explained:

I abhor slavery. I was born in a country where slavery had been established by British Kings and Parliaments as well as by the laws of the country ages before my existence. . . . In former days there was no combating the prejudices of men supported by interest; the day, I hope, is approaching when, from principles of gratitude as well as justice, every man will strive to be foremost in showing his readiness to comply with the Golden Rule [“do unto others as you would have them do unto you” Matthew 7:12]. 1

Prior to the time of the Founding Fathers, there had been few serious efforts to dismantle the institution of slavery. John Jay identified the point at which the change in attitude toward slavery began:

Prior to the great Revolution, the great majority . . . of our people had been so long accustomed to the practice and convenience of having slaves that very few among them even doubted the propriety and rectitude of it. 2

The Revolution was the turning point in the national attitude–and it was the Founding Fathers who contributed greatly to that change. In fact, many of the Founders vigorously complained against the fact that Great Britain had forcefully imposed upon the Colonies the evil of slavery. For example, Thomas Jefferson heavily criticized that British policy:

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]. 3

Benjamin Franklin, in a 1773 letter to Dean Woodward, confirmed that whenever the Americans had attempted to end slavery, the British government had indeed thwarted those attempts. Franklin explained that . . .

. . . 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. 4

Further confirmation that even the Virginia Founders were not responsible for slavery, but actually tried to dismantle the institution, was provided by John Quincy Adams (known as the “hell-hound of abolition” for his extensive efforts against that evil). Adams explained:

The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented by all the southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction than by the author of the Declaration himself [Jefferson]. No charge of insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural step-mother country [Great Britain] and they saw that before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of Jefferson to his dying day. In the Memoir of His Life, written at the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and emphatic warning that the day was not distant when they must hear and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves. 5

While Jefferson himself had introduced a bill designed to end slavery, 6 not all of the southern Founders were opposed to slavery. According to the testimony of Virginians James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and John Rutledge, it was the Founders from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia who most strongly favored slavery. 7

Yet, despite the support for slavery in those States, the clear majority of the Founders opposed this evil. For instance, when some of the southern pro-slavery advocates invoked the Bible in support of slavery, Elias Boudinot, President of the Continental Congress, responded:

[E]ven the sacred Scriptures had been quoted to justify this iniquitous traffic. It is true that the Egyptians held the Israelites in bondage for four hundred years, . . . but . . . gentlemen cannot forget the consequences that followed: they were delivered by a strong hand and stretched-out arm and it ought to be remembered that the Almighty Power that accomplished their deliverance is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. 8

Many of the Founding Fathers who had owned slaves as British citizens released them in the years following America’s separation from Great Britain (e.g., George Washington, John Dickinson, Caesar Rodney, William Livingston, George Wythe, John Randolph of Roanoke, and others). Furthermore, many of the Founders had never owned any slaves. For example, John Adams proclaimed, “[M]y opinion against it [slavery] has always been known . . . [N]ever in my life did I own a slave.” 9

Notice a few additional examples of the strong anti-slavery sentiments held by great numbers of the Founders:

[N]ever in my life did I own a slave. 10 John Adams, Signer of the Declaration, one of only two signers of the Bill of Rights, U. S. President

But to the eye of reason, what can be more clear than that all men have an equal right to happiness? Nature made no other distinction than that of higher or lower degrees of power of mind and body. . . . Were the talents and virtues which Heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges? . . . No! In the judgment of heaven there is no other superiority among men than a superiority of wisdom and virtue. 11 Samuel Adams, Signer of the Declaration, “Father of the American Revolution”

[W]hy keep alive the question of slavery? It is admitted by all to be a great evil. 12 Charles Carroll, Signer of the Declaration

As Congress is now to legislate for our extensive territory lately acquired, I pray to Heaven that they may build up the system of the government on the broad, strong, and sound principles of freedom. Curse not the inhabitants of those regions, and of the United States in general, with a permission to introduce bondage [slavery].13 John Dickinson, Signer of the Constitution; Governor of Pennsylvania

I am glad to hear that the disposition against keeping negroes grows more general in North America. Several pieces have been lately printed here against the practice, and I hope in time it will be taken into consideration and suppressed by the legislature. 14 Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration, Signer of the Constitution, President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society

That mankind are all formed by the same Almighty Being, alike objects of his care, and equally designed for the enjoyment of happiness, the Christian religion teaches us to believe, and the political creed of Americans fully coincides with the position. . . . [We] earnestly entreat your serious attention to the subject of slavery – that you will be pleased to countenance the restoration of liberty to those unhappy men who alone in this land of freedom are degraded into perpetual bondage and who . . . are groaning in servile subjection. 15 Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration, Signer of the Constitution, President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society

That men should pray and fight for their own freedom and yet keep others in slavery is certainly acting a very inconsistent, as well as unjust and perhaps impious, part. 16 John Jay, President of Continental Congress, Original Chief Justice U. S. Supreme Court

The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. . . . And with what execration [curse] should the statesman be loaded, who permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other. . . . And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever. 17 Thomas Jefferson

Christianity, by introducing into Europe the truest principles of humanity, universal benevolence, and brotherly love, had happily abolished civil slavery. Let us who profess the same religion practice its precepts . . . by agreeing to this duty. 18 Richard Henry Lee, President of Continental Congress; Signer of the Declaration

I have seen it observed by a great writer that Christianity, by introducing into Europe the truest principles of humanity, universal benevolence, and brotherly love, had happily abolished civil slavery. Let us, who profess the same religion practice its precepts, and by agreeing to this duty convince the world that we know and practice our truest interests, and that we pay a proper regard to the dictates of justice and humanity! 19 Richard Henry Lee, Signer of the Declaration, Framer of the Bill of Rights

I hope we shall at last, and if it so please God I hope it may be during my life time, see this cursed thing [slavery] taken out. . . . For my part, whether in a public station or a private capacity, I shall always be prompt to contribute my assistance towards effecting so desirable an event. 20 William Livingston, Signer of the Constitution; Governor of New Jersey

[I]t ought to be considered that national crimes can only be and frequently are punished in this world by national punishments; and that the continuance of the slave-trade, and thus giving it a national sanction and encouragement, ought to be considered as justly exposing us to the displeasure and vengeance of Him who is equally Lord of all and who views with equal eye the poor African slave and his American master. 21 Luther Martin, Delegate at Constitution Convention

As much as I value a union of all the States, I would not admit the Southern States into the Union unless they agree to the discontinuance of this disgraceful trade [slavery]. 22 George Mason, Delegate at Constitutional Convention

Honored will that State be in the annals of history which shall first abolish this violation of the rights of mankind. 23 Joseph Reed, Revolutionary Officer; Governor of Pennsylvania

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. 24 Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration

The commerce in African slaves has breathed its last in Pennsylvania. I shall send you a copy of our late law respecting that trade as soon as it is published. I am encouraged by the success that has finally attended the exertions of the friends of universal freedom and justice. 25 Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration, Founder of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, President of the National Abolition Movement

Justice and humanity require it [the end of slavery]–Christianity commands it. Let every benevolent . . . pray for the glorious period when the last slave who fights for freedom shall be restored to the possession of that inestimable right. 26 Noah Webster, Responsible for Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution

Slavery, or an absolute and unlimited power in the master over the life and fortune of the slave, is unauthorized by the common law. . . . The reasons which we sometimes see assigned for the origin and the continuance of slavery appear, when examined to the bottom, to be built upon a false foundation. In the enjoyment of their persons and of their property, the common law protects all. 27 James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice

[I]t is certainly unlawful to make inroads upon others . . . and take away their liberty by no better means than superior power. 28 John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration

For many of the Founders, their feelings against slavery went beyond words. For example, in 1774, Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush founded America’s first anti-slavery society; John Jay was president of a similar society in New York. In fact, when signer of the Constitution William Livingston heard of the New York society, he, as Governor of New Jersey, 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, and that He is no respecter of persons, succeed a design so laudably calculated to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke. 29

Other prominent Founding Fathers who were members of societies for ending slavery included Richard Bassett, James Madison, James Monroe, Bushrod Washington, Charles Carroll, William Few, John Marshall, Richard Stockton, Zephaniah Swift, and many more. In fact, based in part on the efforts of these Founders, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts began abolishing slavery in 1780; 30 Connecticut and Rhode Island did so in 1784; 31 Vermont in 1786; 32 New Hampshire in 1792; 33 New York in 1799; 34 and New Jersey did so in 1804. 35

Additionally, the reason that Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa all prohibited slavery was a Congressional act, authored by Constitution signer Rufus King 36 and signed into law by President George Washington, 37 which prohibited slavery in those territories. 38 It is not surprising that Washington would sign such a law, for it was he who had declared:

I can only say 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]. 39

The truth is that it was the Founding Fathers who were responsible for planting and nurturing the first seeds for the recognition of black equality and for the eventual end of slavery. This was a fact made clear by Richard Allen.

Allen had been a slave in Pennsylvania but was freed after he converted his master to Christianity. Allen, a close friend of Benjamin Rush and several other Founding Fathers, went on to become the founder of the A.M.E. Church in America. In an early address “To the People of Color,” he explained:

Many of the white people have been instruments in the hands of God for our good, even such as have held us in captivity, [and] are now pleading our cause with earnestness and zeal. 40

While much progress was made by the Founders to end the institution of slavery, unfortunately what they began was not fully achieved until generations later. Yet, despite the strenuous effort of many Founders to recognize in practice that “all men are created equal,” charges persist to the opposite. In fact, revisionists even claim that the Constitution demonstrates that the Founders considered one who was black to be only three-fifths of a person. This charge is yet another falsehood. The three-fifths clause was not a measurement of human worth; rather, it was an anti-slavery provision to limit the political power of slavery’s proponents. By including only three-fifths of the total number of slaves in the congressional calculations, Southern States were actually being denied additional pro-slavery representatives in Congress.

Based on the clear records of the Constitutional Convention, two prominent professors explain the meaning of the three-fifths clause:

[T]he Constitution allowed Southern States to count three-fifths of their slaves toward the population that would determine numbers of representatives in the federal legislature. This clause is often singled out today as a sign of black dehumanization: they are only three-fifths human. But the provision applied to slaves, not blacks. That meant that free blacks–and there were many, North as well as South–counted the same as whites. More important, the fact that slaves were counted at all was a concession to slave owners. Southerners would have been glad to count their slaves as whole persons. It was the Northerners who did not want them counted, for why should the South be rewarded with more representatives, the more slaves they held? 41 Thomas West

It was slavery’s opponents who succeeded in restricting the political power of the South by allowing them to count only three-fifths of their slave population in determining the number of congressional representatives. The three-fifths of a vote provision applied only to slaves, not to free blacks in either the North or South. 42 Walter Williams

Why do revisionists so often abuse and misportray the three-fifths clause? Professor Walter Williams (himself an African-American) suggested:

Politicians, news media, college professors and leftists of other stripes are selling us lies and propaganda. To lay the groundwork for their increasingly successful attack on our Constitution, they must demean and criticize its authors. As Senator Joe Biden demonstrated during the Clarence Thomas hearings, the framers’ ideas about natural law must be trivialized or they must be seen as racists. 43

While this has been only a cursory examination of the Founders and slavery, it is nonetheless sufficient to demonstrate the absurdity of the insinuation that the Founders were a collective group of racists.

Endnotes

1. Frank Moore, Materials for History Printed From Original Manuscripts, the Correspondence of Henry Laurens of South Carolina (New York: Zenger Club, 1861), p. 20, to John Laurens on August 14, 1776.

2. John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Henry P. Johnston, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1891), Vol. III, p. 342, to the English Anti-Slavery Society in June 1788.

3. Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, D. C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. I, p. 34.

4. 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.

5. 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 4, 1837 (Newburyport: Charles Whipple, 1837), p. 50.

6. Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, D. C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903), Vol. I, p. 4.

7. Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, D. C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1903),Vol. I, p. 28, from his autobiography. See also James Madison, The Papers of James Madison (Washington: Langtree and O’Sullivan, 1840), Vol. III, p. 1395, August 22, 1787; James Madison, The Writings of James Madison, Gaillard Hunt, editor, (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1910), Vol. IX, p. 2, to Robert Walsh on November 27, 1819.

>8. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (Washington, D. C.: Gales and Seaton, 1834), 1st Congress, 2nd Session, p. 1518, March 22, 1790. See also George Adams Boyd, Elias Boudinot, Patriot and Statesman (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1952), p. 182.

9. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1854), Vol. IX, pp. 92-93, to George Churchman and Jacob Lindley on January 24, 1801.

10. John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1854) Vol. IX, p. 92, letter to George Churchman and Jacob Lindley on January 24, 1801.

11. Samuel Adams, An Oration Delivered at the State House, in Philadelphia, to a Very Numerous audience; on Thursday the 1st of August, 1776 (London: E. Johnson, 1776), pp. 4-6.

12. Kate Mason Rowland, Life and Correspondence of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1898), Vol. II, p. 321, to Robert Goodloe Harper on April 23, 1820.

13. Charles J. Stille, The Life and Times of John Dickinson(Philadelphia: J. P. Lippincott Company, 1891), p. 324, to George Logan on January 30, 1804.

14. Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, John Bigelow, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904), Vol. 5. p. 356, letter to Mr. Anthony Benezet on August 22, 1772.

15. Annals of Congress, Joseph Gales, Sr., editor (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1834), Vol. 1, pp. 1239-1240, Memorial from the Pennsylvania Abolition Society from February 3, 1790 presented to Congress on February 12, 1790.

16. John Jay, The Life and Times of John Jay, William Jay, editor (New York: J. & S. Harper, 1833), Vol. II, p. 174, to the Rev. Dr. Richard Price on September 27, 1785.

17. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia(Philadelphia: Matthew Carey, 1794), Query XVIII, pp. 236-237.

18. Richard Henry Lee, Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee, Richard Henry Lee, editor (Philadelphia: H. C. Carey and I. Lea, 1825), Vol. I, p. 19, the first speech of Richard Henry Lee in the House of Burgesses of Virginia.

19. Richard H. Lee (Grandson), Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee (Philadelphia: H. C. Carey and I. Lea, 1825), Vol. 1, pp. 17-19, the first speech of Richard Henry Lee in the House of Burgesses of Virginia.

20. William Livingston, The Papers of William Livingston, Carl E. Prince, editor (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988), Vol. V, p. 358, to James Pemberton on October 20, 1788.

21. Luther Martin, The Genuine Information Delivered to the Legislature of the State of Maryland Relative to the Proceedings of the General Convention Lately Held at Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Eleazor Oswald, 1788), p. 57. See also Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, editor (Washington, D. C.: 1836), Vol. I, p. 374.

22. Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, editor (Washington, D. C.: 1836), Vol. III, pp. 452-454, George Mason, June 15, 1788.

23. William Armor, Lives of the Governors of Pennsylvania(Norwich, CT: T. H. Davis & Co., 1874), p. 223.

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

25. Benjamin Rush, Letters of Benjamin Rush, L. H. Butterfield, editor (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1951), Vol. 1, p. 371, to Richard Price on October 15, 1785.

26. Noah Webster, Effect of Slavery on Morals and Industry (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1793), p. 48.

27. James Wilson, The Works of the Honorable James Wilson, Bird Wilson, editor (Philadelphia: Lorenzo Press, 1804), Vol. II, p. 488, lecture on “The Natural Rights of Individuals.”

28. John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon (Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. VII, p. 81, from “Lectures on Moral Philosophy,” Lecture X on Politics.

29. William Livingston, The Papers of William Livingston, Carl E. Prince, editor (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1988), Vol. V, p. 255, to the New York Manumission Society on June 26, 1786.

30. 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.

31. 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.

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

33. Constitutions of the Sixteen State (Boston: Manning and Loring, 1797), p. 50, New Hampshire, 1792, Article I, “Bill of Rights.”

34. 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.

35. 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.

36. Rufus King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, Charles King, editor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894), Vol. I, pp. 288-289.

37. Acts Passed at a Congress of the United States of America (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1791), p. 104, August 7, 1789.

38. The Constitutions of the United States (Trenton: Moore and Lake, 1813), p. 366, “An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States Northwest of the River Ohio,” Article VI.

39. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, editor (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1932), Vol. XXVIII, pp. 407-408, to Robert Morris on April 12, 1786.

40. Richard Allen, The Life Experience and Gospel Labors of the Right Rev. Richard Allen (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1983), p. 73, from his “Address to the People of Color in the United States.”

41. Principles: A Quarterly Review for Teachers of History and Social Science (Claremont, CA: The Claremont Institute Spring/Summer, 1992), Thomas G. West, “Was the American Founding Unjust? The Case of Slavery,” p. 5.

42. Walter E. Williams, Creators Syndicate, Inc., May 26, 1993, “Some Fathers Fought Slavery.”

43. Walter E. Williams, Creators Syndicate, Inc., May 26, 1993, “Some Fathers Fought Slavery.”

Reprinted with permission from http://www.wallbuilders.com

– The Righter Report

January 20, 2015 Posted by | America, God, Government, History, Human Interest, Politics, Theology Articles | , | Leave a comment

We Need God in America Again

November 13, 2014 Posted by | America, Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Opinion, Politics, Theology, Theology Articles | , , | Leave a comment

Was George Washington a Christian?

by David Barton, Wallbuilders.com

This is a question often asked today, and it arises from the efforts of those who seek to impeach Washington’s character by portraying him as irreligious. Interestingly, Washington’s own contemporaries did not question his Christianity but were thoroughly convinced of his devout faith–a fact made evident in the first-ever compilation of the The Writings of George Washington, published in the 1830s.

That compilation of Washington’s writings was prepared and published by Jared Sparks (1789-1866), a noted writer and historian. Sparks’ herculean historical productions included not only the writings of George Washington (12 volumes) but also Benjamin Franklin (10 volumes) and Constitution signer Gouverneur Morris (3 volumes). Additionally, Sparks compiled the Library of American Biography (25 volumes), The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution (12 volumes), and the Correspondence of the American Revolution (4 volumes). In all, Sparks was responsible for some 100 historical volumes. Additionally, Sparks was America’s first professor of history–other than ecclesiastical history–to teach at the college level in the United States, and he was later chosen president of Harvard.

Jared Sparks’ decision to compile George Washington’s works is described by The Dictionary of American Biography. It details that Sparks began . . .

. . . what was destined to be his greatest life work, the publication of the writings of George Washington. [Supreme Court] Justice Bushrod Washington, [the nephew of George Washington, the executor of the Washington estate, and] the owner of the Washington manuscripts, was won over by an offer to share the profits, through the friendly mediation of Chief Justice [of the Supreme Court, John] Marshall [who from 1804-1807 had written a popular five volume biography of George Washington], who also consented to take an equal share, twenty-five per cent, with the owner. In January 1827, Sparks found himself alone at Mount Vernon with the manuscripts. An examination of them extending over three months showed that years would be required for the undertaking; and with the owner’s consent, Sparks carried off the entire collection, eight large boxes, picking up on the way to Boston a box of diplomatic correspondence from the Department of State, and the [General Horatio] Gates manuscripts from the New York Historical Society. Not content with these, he searched or caused to be searched public and private archives for material, questioned survivors of the Revolution, visited and mapped historic sites. In 1830, for instance, he followed [Benedict] Arnold’s [1775] route to Quebec. The first of the twelve volumes of The Writings of George Washington to be published (vol. II) appeared in 1834 and the last (vol. I, containing the biography) in 1837.

In Volume XII of these writings, Jared Sparks delved into the religious character of George Washington, and included numerous letters written by the friends, associates, and family of Washington which testified of his religious character. Based on that extensive evidence, Sparks concluded:

To say that he [George Washington] was not a Christian would be to impeach his sincerity and honesty. Of all men in the world, Washington was certainly the last whom any one would charge with dissimulation or indirectness [hypocrisies and evasiveness]; and if he was so scrupulous in avoiding even a shadow of these faults in every known act of his life, [regardless of] however unimportant, is it likely, is it credible, that in a matter of the highest and most serious importance [his religious faith, that] he should practice through a long series of years a deliberate deception upon his friends and the public? It is neither credible nor possible.

One of the letters Sparks used to arrive at his conclusion was from Nelly Custis-Lewis. While Nelly technically was the granddaughter of the Washingtons, in reality she was much more.

When Martha [Custis] married George, she was a widow and brought two young children (John and Martha–also called Patsy) from her first marriage into her marriage with George. The two were carefully raised by George and Martha, later married, and each had children of their own. Unfortunately, tragedy struck, and both John and Patsy died early (by 1781). John left behind his widow and four young children ranging in age from infancy to six years old.

At the time, Washington was still deeply involved in guiding the American Revolution and tried unsuccessfully to convince Martha’s brother to raise the children. The young widow of John was unable to raise all four, so George and Martha adopted the two younger children: Nelly Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, both of whom already were living at Mount Vernon.

Nelly lived with the Washingtons for twenty years, from the time of her birth in 1779 until 1799, the year of her marriage and of George Washington’s untimely death. She called George and Martha her “beloved parents whom I loved with so much devotion, to whose unceasing tenderness I was indebted for every good I possessed.”

Nelly was ten years old when Washington was called to the Presidency, and she grew to maturity during his two terms. During that time, she traveled with Washington and walked amidst the great foreign and domestic names of the day. On Washington’s retirement, she returned with the family to Mount Vernon. Nelly was energetic, spry, and lively, and was the joy of George Washington’s life. She served as a gracious hostess and entertained the frequent guests to Mount Vernon who visited the former President.

On Washington’s birthday in 1799, Nelly married Washington’s private secretary, Lawrence Lewis. They spent several months on an extended honeymoon, visiting friends and family across the country. On their return to Mount Vernon, she was pregnant and late that year gave birth to a daughter. A short few weeks later, on December 14, General Washington was taken seriously ill and died.

Clearly, Nelly was someone who knew the private and public life of her “father” very well. Therefore, Jared Sparks, in searching for information on Washington’s religious habits, dispatched a letter to Nelly, asking if she knew for sure whether George Washington indeed was a Christian. Within a week, she had replied to Sparks, and Sparks included her letter in Volume XII of Washington’s writings in the lengthy section on Washington’s religious habits. Of that specific letter, Jared Sparks explained:

I shall here insert a letter on this subject, written to me by a lady who lived twenty years in Washington’s family and who was his adopted daughter, and the granddaughter of Mrs. Washington. The testimony it affords, and the hints it contains respecting the domestic habits of Washington, are interesting and valuable.”

Woodlawn, 26 February, 1833.

Sir,

I received your favor of the 20th instant last evening, and hasten to give you the information, which you desire.

Truro [Episcopal] Parish is the one in which Mount Vernon, Pohick Church [the church where George Washington served as a vestryman], and Woodlawn [the home of Nelly and Lawrence Lewis] are situated. Fairfax Parish is now Alexandria. Before the Federal District was ceded to Congress, Alexandria was in Fairfax County. General Washington had a pew in Pohick Church, and one in Christ Church at Alexandria. He was very instrumental in establishing Pohick Church, and I believe subscribed [supported and contributed to] largely. His pew was near the pulpit. I have a perfect recollection of being there, before his election to the presidency, with him and my grandmother. It was a beautiful church, and had a large, respectable, and wealthy congregation, who were regular attendants.

He attended the church at Alexandria when the weather and roads permitted a ride of ten miles [a one-way journey of 2-3 hours by horse or carriage]. In New York and Philadelphia he never omitted attendance at church in the morning, unless detained by indisposition [sickness]. The afternoon was spent in his own room at home; the evening with his family, and without company. Sometimes an old and intimate friend called to see us for an hour or two; but visiting and visitors were prohibited for that day [Sunday]. No one in church attended to the services with more reverential respect. My grandmother, who was eminently pious, never deviated from her early habits. She always knelt. The General, as was then the custom, stood during the devotional parts of the service. On communion Sundays, he left the church with me, after the blessing, and returned home, and we sent the carriage back for my grandmother.

It was his custom to retire to his library at nine or ten o’clock where he remained an hour before he went to his chamber. He always rose before the sun and remained in his library until called to breakfast. I never witnessed his private devotions. I never inquired about them. I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those who act or pray, “that they may be seen of men” [Matthew 6:5]. He communed with his God in secret [Matthew 6:6].

My mother [Eleanor Calvert-Lewis] resided two years at Mount Vernon after her marriage [in 1774] with John Parke Custis, the only son of Mrs. Washington. I have heard her say that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother before the revolution. When my aunt, Miss Custis [Martha’s daughter] died suddenly at Mount Vernon, before they could realize the event [before they understood she was dead], he [General Washington] knelt by her and prayed most fervently, most affectingly, for her recovery. Of this I was assured by Judge [Bushrod] Washington’s mother and other witnesses.

He was a silent, thoughtful man. He spoke little generally; never of himself. I never heard him relate a single act of his life during the war. I have often seen him perfectly abstracted, his lips moving, but no sound was perceptible. I have sometimes made him laugh most heartily from sympathy with my joyous and extravagant spirits. I was, probably, one of the last persons on earth to whom he would have addressed serious conversation, particularly when he knew that I had the most perfect model of female excellence [Martha Washington] ever with me as my monitress, who acted the part of a tender and devoted parent, loving me as only a mother can love, and never extenuating [tolerating] or approving in me what she disapproved of others. She never omitted her private devotions, or her public duties; and she and her husband were so perfectly united and happy that he must have been a Christian. She had no doubts, no fears for him. After forty years of devoted affection and uninterrupted happiness, she resigned him without a murmur into the arms of his Savior and his God, with the assured hope of his eternal felicity [happiness in Heaven]. Is it necessary that any one should certify, “General Washington avowed himself to me a believer in Christianity?” As well may we question his patriotism, his heroic, disinterested devotion to his country. His mottos were, “Deeds, not Words”; and, “For God and my Country.”

With sentiments of esteem,
I am, Nelly Custis-Lewis

George Washington’s adopted daughter, having spent twenty years of her life in his presence, declared that one might as well question Washington’s patriotism as question his Christianity. Certainly, no one questions his patriotism; so is it not rather ridiculous to question his Christianity? George Washington was a devout Episcopalian; and although as an Episcopalian he would not be classified as an outspoken and extrovert “evangelical” Founder as were Founding Fathers like Benjamin Rush, Roger Sherman, and Thomas McKean, nevertheless, being an Episcopalian makes George Washington no less of a Christian. Yet for the current revisionists who have made it their goal to assert that America was founded as a secular nation by secular individuals and that the only hope for America’s longevity rests in her continued secularism, George Washington’s faith must be sacrificed on the altar of their secularist agenda.

For much more on George Washington and the evidences of his strong faith, examine the following sources:

⦁ George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, Publisher, 1838), Vol. XII, pp. 399-411.
⦁ George Washington, The Religious Opinions of Washington, E. C. M’Guire, editor (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1836).
⦁ William Johnson, George Washington The Christian (1917).
⦁ William Jackson Johnstone, How Washington Prayed (New York: The Abingdon Press, 1932).
⦁ The Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson, editor (Published by the Authority of Congress, 1899), Vol. I, pp. 51-57 (1789), 64 (1789), 213-224 (1796), etc.
⦁ George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States, Late Commander in Chief of the American Army, to the People of the United States, Preparatory to his Declination (Baltimore: George & Henry S. Keatinge, 1796), pp. 22-23.
⦁ George Washington, The Maxims of Washington (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1855).

Acknowledgements and thanks for permission to reprint this article go to Wallbuilders: http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=127

October 29, 2014 Posted by | America, God, History, Human Interest, Theology Articles | , , | Leave a comment

Were the Founding Fathers Deists?

Were the Founding Fathers Deists, and why does it matter?

by Pete Righter

One might be surprised at how many people today believe the mantra that the founding fathers were deists, in spite of the historical evidence to the contrary.   What’s not surprising in our culture today is that very few people have done their due-diligence on the subject to the point where (1) they understand what deism is, and (2) why it’s important that we understand its influence – or lack thereof – in the founding of our nation.

First, what is Deism?

Deism, the religious attitude typical of the Enlightenment, especially in France and England, holds that the existence of God can be only proved based on the application of reason and the world can be discovered through observation experience and reasoning. A Deist is defined as “One who believes in the existence of a God or Supreme Being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason.” Deism was often synonymous with so-called natural religion because its principles are drawn from nature and human reasoning. In contrast to Deism there are many cultural or revealed religions, such as Judaism, Trinitarian Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and others, which believe in supernatural intervention of God in the world; while Deism denies any supernatural intervention and emphasizes that the world is operated by natural laws of the Supreme Being. – Wikipedia, “Deism in England and France in the 18th century.”

“Deism has come to denote the theological belief that God created the universe according to scientific laws, but does not interfere in its daily operation.”  – The New World Encyclopedia

 Deism: “[From Latin Deus, God Deity] The doctrine or creed of a Deist.” “One who believes in the existence of a God or supreme being, but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature and reason.” – Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1941.

Deism is not a religion, but a religious philosophy. It advances the theory that God exists, that He created the universe, but does not intervene in the affairs of humankind. – ushistory.com.

Deism, as it came to be known in Colonial America, was largely advanced by the French philosopher and historian Voltaire, who believed during the “Enlightenment” that God was little more than a watchmaker who wound up the universe and then sat back and did not further involve himself in the affairs of men and nations.  This movement, if you will, was part and parcel of an effort to de-Christianize French society and replace Christianity with rationalism and pagan philosophies.  The movement was critical of traditional institutions and essentially sought to discard long-revered moral principles and beliefs.

 Based on the definitions above and elsewhere, the two principle beliefs of Deism were:

 1. Although God created the universe, he did not intervene in the affairs of men and nations.  He did not guide men into the founding of nations, or do miracles, or answer prayer, or provide providential protection to his followers.

2. God did not give divine / revealed revelation to man (i.e. the Bible, prophecy, etc.)

 I think one would be hard pressed to find many our founding fathers who fit those descriptions.

Why is all this important?

Today we have a “progressive” movement in America which seeks to expunge or minimize any mention of God, along with his moral values and teachings, from the public square and from American’s traditional Godly heritage.  Their thinking is if they can eliminate the Judeo-Christian God and his influence from America’s historical writings and from the public square, it will be easier to promote their godless agenda into American life.  And if there has to be a god, then it will be one who has no moral agenda and one who will not interfere in the affairs of men and nations – i.e. the god of deism.

The dangers in that kind of thinking are obvious:  First, it’s historical revisionism.  And second, it negates the providence and moral foundations of God in our American culture and historical foundations.

How widespread was deism among America’s Founding Fathers?

Dr. M. E. Bradford of the University of Dallas conducted a study of the Founding Founders to look at this question (whether the Founding Fathers were deists or Christians). He discovered the Founders were members of denominations as follows: twenty-eight Episcopalians, eight Presbyterians, seven Congregationalists, two Lutherans, two Dutch Reformed, two Methodists, two Roman Catholics, and three deists. – Reference: M. E. Bradford, A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution (Marlborough, NH: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1982), iv–v.

 That’s correct – only three deists.

I think if one is skeptical of what was just presented then all one needs to do is perform a comprehensive study of quotations from the founders, keeping in mind the two main principles of deism:  no divine revelation to man and no influence or interaction in the affairs of men and nations.  A good reference source for study is the book in the photograph at the top of this article – “America’s God and Country” – Encyclopedia of Quotations, by William J. Federer. All quotations are referenced.

With this in mind let’s take a look at four of the Founding Fathers most often claimed to be deists by the progressive movement.

 Benjamin Franklin

In his younger years, Franklin was influenced by the writings of Robert Boyle, a 17th Century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor.  As a defender of the Christian faith, Boyle made a series of arguments against deism, but it was the arguments of deists in Boyle’s writings which appeared to have made a more lasting impression with Franklin, and for a time Franklin embraced deism.  These influences did not have a lasting effect on Franklin, though, and by the time of the American Revolution, Franklin had done a “180” and was a firm believer in the divine revelation and providence of the Biblical God.

On June 28, 1787, after much gridlock in the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin spoke the following:

“In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer 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. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that 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 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: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.

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 this City be requested to officiate in that service.”

It’s pretty obvious that Franklin believed in a God who did involve himself in the affairs of men and nations, and Franklin also alludes to the New Testament as “Sacred Writings,” which also reveal God’s revelation to man.   Franklin was no deist.

George Washington

He (Washington) was an open promoter of Christianity. For example, in his speech on May 12, 1779, he claimed that what children needed to learn “above all” was the “religion of Jesus Christ,” and that to learn this would make them “greater and happier than they already are”; on May 2, 1778, he charged his soldiers at Valley Forge that “To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian”; and when he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the military on June 8, 1783, he reminded the nation that “without a humble imitation” of “the Divine Author of our blessed religion” we “can never hope to be a happy nation.” Washington’s own adopted daughter declared of Washington that you might as well question his patriotism as to question his Christianity. (David Barton, Wallbuilders.com)

In addition, the inscription on Washington’s tomb at Mount Vernon is this:

WITHIN THIS ENCLOSURE REST THE REMAINS OF GENL. GEORGE WASHINGTON.” Over the door of the inner tomb is inscribed: “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.”

Thomas Jefferson

 Thomas Jefferson was hardly speaking from a strict deist standpoint when he said:

“Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?  Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”  (Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781)

Now, why should Jefferson tremble for his country if God does not involve himself in the affairs of men and nations?

And then there’s this:

“I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all  the necessities and comforts of life.” (Monday, March 4, 1805, in his 2nd Inaugural Address)

Another oblique reference to the Bible.  Remember, a strict deist was one who believed God was like a watchmaker, who wound up the universe and thereafter did not involve himself in the affairs of men and nations.  Jefferson obviously believed otherwise.

James Madison

James Madison trained for ministry with the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, and Madison’s writings are replete with declarations of his faith in God and in Christ. In fact, for proof of this, one only need read his letter to Attorney General Bradford wherein Madison laments that public officials are not bold enough about their Christian faith in public and that public officials should be “fervent advocates in the cause of Christ.” And while Madison did allude to a “wall of separation,” contemporary writers frequently refuse to allow Madison to provide his own definition of that “wall.” According to Madison, the purpose of that “wall” was only to prevent Congress from passing a national law to establish a national religion.  (David Barton, Wallbuilders.com)

Miscellaneous Quotations

Concerning the outcome of the American Revolution, John Quincy Adams noted, “The highest glory won from the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

In a letter to Thomas Jefferson dated June 28, 1813, John Adams wrote: “The general principles on which the (founding) fathers achieved independence were…the general principles of Christianity.”

Founding father Noah Webster proclaimed much the same message when he said, “The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His Apostles…This is genuine Christianity and to this we owe our free constitutions of government.”

Time after time, the founding fathers declared similar beliefs. From the archives of Patrick Henry’s personal notes (handwritten on the back of his copy of the “Stamp Act Resolutions,” made public after his death) we read:

“Whether this (new government) will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation.”

https://righterreport.com/2011/07/16/the-moral-foundations-of-america-2/

Concluding Remarks:  And so it goes, from one Founding Father to the next.  The most frequent and most  dominate influence among the founders was the Bible (divine revelation to man) which was referenced in some 34% of the founding father’s quotations.  The vast majority of the founders believed in an active God who not only gave divine revelation to man, but who was also providential in the affairs of men and nations.

References: 

America’s God and Country” – Encyclopedia of Quotations, by William J. Federer.  All quotations are referenced.

“The Founding Fathers on Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible. David Barton. May 2008. http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=8755

– The Righter Report

 

June 15, 2014 Posted by | America, Human Interest, Opinion, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , , , | Leave a comment