He lost two sons in the Revolution and was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration…via American Minute
By Bill Federer
He lost two sons in the Revolution and was the only clergyman to sign the Declaration.A delegate from New Jersey, he declared:
“Gentlemen, New Jersey is ready to vote for independence…The country is not only ripe for independence, but we are in danger of becoming rotten for the want of it!”
He served on 120 Congressional Committees and was a primary proponent of the separation of powers, insisting checks be placed on the power of government.
His name was John Witherspoon, and he died NOVEMBER 15, 1794.
Born in Scotland, he was a descendant of the Reformer John Knox.
His other Princeton students included a U.S. Vice-President, 3 Supreme Court Justices, 10 Cabinet Members, 13 Governors, 21 Senators and 39 Congressmen and 114 ministers.
After his wife died in 1789, he headed up a committee in the New Jersey legislature to abolish slavery.
John Adams described John Witherspoon as “A true son of liberty…but first, he was a son of the Cross.”
“If your cause is just, if your principles are pure, and if your conduct is prudent, you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts.
He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind.
Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy of his country…”
“It is in the man of piety and inward principle, that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier…
God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable
and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to the support and establishment of both.”
When peace was made with Britain, John Witherspoon exhorted all in his “Thanksgiving Sermon” to live for:
“…the Glory of God, the public interest of religion and the good of others, as civil liberty cannot be long preserved without virtue.
A Republic must either preserve its virtue or lose its liberty.”
Interested in more on John Witherspoon? Continue reading…
“There is not a single instance in history, in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved entire….
If therefore we yield up our…property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage…
Governments are to defend and secure rights of conscience.”
“Universal profligacy makes a nation ripe for divine judgments and is the natural means of bringing them to ruin;
reformation of manners is of the utmost necessity in our present distress.”
In regards to man’s need for redemption, Rev. Witherspoon explained:
“The corruption of our nature…is the foundation-stone of the doctrine of redemption. Nothing can be more absolutely necessary to true religion, than a clear conviction of the sinfulness of our nature and state…”
“Men of lax and corrupt principles take great delight in speaking to the praise of human nature, and extolling its dignity, without distinguishing what it was at its first creation from what it is in its present fallen state…
The evil of sin appears from every page of…the history of the world…
Nothing is more plain from scripture…than that man by nature is in fact incapable of recovery without the power of God specially interposed.”
“Religion is the grand concern of us all…the salvation of our souls in the one thing needful.”
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By Bill Federer
Mercy Otis Warren was called “The Conscience of the American Revolution.”She was wife of Massachusetts House Speaker James Warren, sister of patriot James Otis, and she corresponded with Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton and John Adams.
In 1805, Mercy Otis Warrenpublished a 3 volume History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution.
“The immediate gift of the Creator obliges every one…to resist the first approaches of tyranny, which at this day threaten to sweep away the rights for which the brave Sons of America have fought…”
“Behold the insidious efforts of the partisans of arbitrary power…to lock the strong chains of domestic despotism on a country…”
“Save us from anarchy on the one hand, and the jaws of tyranny on the other…”
“It has been observed…that ‘the virtues and vices of a people’ when a revolution happens in their government, are the measure of the liberty or slavery they ought to expect.”
“And when asked, what is become of the rich produce of their farms– they may answer in the hapless style of the Man of La Mancha, ‘The steward of my Lord has seized and sent it to Madrid.’
Or, in the more literal language…Government requires that the collectors of the revenue should transmit it to the Federal City.”
“Monarchy is a species of government fit only for a people too much corrupted by luxury, avarice, and a passion for pleasure, to have any love for their country…
Monarchy is…by no means calculated for a nation that is…tenacious of their liberty – animated with a disgust to tyranny – and inspired with the generous feeling of patriotism.”
Mercy Otis Warrenconcluded:
“The origin of all power is in the people, and they have an incontestable right to check the creatures of their own creation.”
Mercy Otis Warren and Abigail Adams were two of the most influential women of the Revolutionary War era.
Abigail Adams, wife of the 2nd President and mother of the 6th President, wrote to Mercy Otis Warren on NOVEMBER 5, 1775:
“A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox as an honest Man without the fear of God.
Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind, can have any real Good Will towards Men?”
Abigail Adams continued in her letter to Mercy Otis Warren:
“Can he be a patriot who, by an openly vicious conduct, is undermining the very bonds of Society, corrupting the Morals of Youth, and by his bad example injuring the very Country he professes to patronize more than he can possibly compensate by intrepidity, generosity and honour?…
Scriptures tell us ‘righteousness exalteth a Nation.'”
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‘Government has no right to absolute, arbitrary power over the lives of the people’ – Sam Adams via American Minute
by Bill Federer
Crying “No taxation without representation,” he instigated the Stamp Act riots and the Boston Tea Party.After the “Boston Massacre,” he spread Revolutionary sentiment with his Committees of Correspondence.
Samuel Adams called for the first Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence, stating
“We have explored the temple of royalty, and found that the idol we have bowed down to, has eyes which see not, ears that hear not our prayers, and a heart like the nether millstone.
We have this day restored the Sovereign, to whom alone all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven…
We have fled from the political Sodom; let us not look back…
We may, with humility of soul, cry out, ‘Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy Name be the praise’…
Providence is yet gracious unto Zion, that it will turn away the captivity of Jacob.”
“Among the natural rights of Colonists are: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to defend them…
The supreme power cannot justly take from any man any part of his property without his consent.”
In The Rights of the Colonists, section “The Rights of the Colonist as Subjects,” Samuel Adams wrote:
“Government has no right to absolute, arbitrary power over the lives and fortunes of the people;
nor can mortals assume a prerogative…reserved for the exercise of the Deity alone.”
“In regards to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced…
It is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the church.”
“The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, the rights of the Colonists as Christians may best be understood by reading and carefully studying the institutions of The Great Law Giver and the Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”
“…Christian men, who had come together for solemn deliberation in the hour of their extremity, to say there was so wide a difference in their religious belief that they could not, as one man, bow the knee in prayer to the Almighty, whose advice and assistance they hoped to obtain.”
“When the Congress met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with Prayer.
It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York, and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina because we were so divided in religious sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists, that we could not join in the same act of worship.
Mr. Samuel Adams arose and said that he was no bigot, and could hear a Prayer from any gentleman of Piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his Country.
He was a stranger in Philadelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duche’ (Pastor of Christ Episcopal Church, Philadelphia), deserved that character and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche’, an Episcopal clergyman might be desired to read Prayers to Congress tomorrow morning.
The motion was seconded, and passed in the affirmative.”
In 1775, when British General Gage tried to intimidate him, Samuel Adams sent the message back:
“I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of Kings. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my country.
Tell Governor Gage it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated people.”
“Revelation assures us that ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation.’
Communities are dealt with in this world by the wise and just Ruler of the Universe. He rewards or punishes them according to their general character…
Public liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals.
‘The Roman Empire,’ says the historian, ‘must have sunk, though the Goths had not invaded it. Why? Because the Roman virtue was sunk.’
Could I be assured that America would remain virtuous, I would venture to defy the utmost efforts of enemies to subjugate her.”
Samuel Adams stated:
“Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.”
“A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.
While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”
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by Bill Federer
“The power to tax is the power to destroy,” wrote John Marshall, 4th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who was born SEPTEMBER 24, 1755.No one had a greater impact on Constitutional Law than John Marshall.Home schooled as a youth, he served with the Culpeper Minutemen at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
Marshall joined the Continental Army and served as a captain in Virginia Regiment under General George Washington, enduring the freezing winter at Valley Forge.
John Marshall later described George Washington:
“Without making ostentatious professions of religion, he was a sincere believer in the Christian faith, and a truly devout man.”
John Marshall then studied law under Chancellor George Wythe at the College of William and Mary.
He as a U.S. Congressman from Virginia, and became Secretary of State under President John Adams, who then nominated him to the Supreme Court.
John Marshall swore in as Chief Justice on February 4, 1801, and served 34 years.
Every Supreme Court session opens with the invocation:
“God save the United States and this Honorable Court.”
John Marshall helped write over 1,000 decisions, usually favoring the Federal Government, which put him at odds with President Thomas Jefferson who championed State Governments.
John Marshall decided in favor of the Cherokee Indian nation to stay in Georgia against the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which was hurriedly pushed through Congress by Democrat President Andrew Jackson.
Ignoring John Marshall’s decision, the Federal Government removed over 46,000 Native Americans from their homes and relocated them west, leaving vacant 25 million acres open to the expansion of slavery.
Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278):
“No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the
The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and religion are identified.
It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and express relations with it.”
According to tradition, the Liberty Bell cracked while tolling at John Marshall’s funeral, July 8, 1835.
Inside the Supreme Court chamber are Adolph A. Weinman’s marble friezes depicting lawgivers throughout history, including Moses holding the Ten Commandments, and John Marshall.
A story was originally published in the Winchester Republicannewspaper, and recounted in Henry Howe’s Historical Collections of Virginia (Charleston, South Carolina, 1845, p. 275-276; Albert J. Beveridge, The Life of John Marshall, Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919, Vol. 4, The Building of the Nation, 1815-1835):
“There is, too, a legend about an astonishing flash of eloquence from Marshall – ‘a streak of vivid lightning’ – at a tavern, on the subject of religion.
The impression said to have been made by Marshall on this occasion was heightened by his appearance when he arrived at the inn.
The shafts of his ancient gig were broken and ‘held together by switches formed from the bark of a hickory sapling'; he was negligently dressed, his knee buckles loosened.
In the tavern a discussion arose among some young men concerning ‘the merits of the Christian religion.’
The debate grew warm and lasted ‘from six o’clock until eleven.’
No one knew Marshall, who sat quietly listening.
Finally one of the youthful combatants turned to him and said:
‘Well, my old gentleman, what think you of these things?’
Marshall responded with a ‘most eloquent and unanswerable appeal.’
He talked for an hour, answering ‘every argument urged against the teachings of Jesus.’
‘In the whole lecture, there was so much simplicity and energy, pathos and sublimity, that not another word was uttered.’
The listeners wondered who the old man could be.
Some thought him a preacher; and great was their surprise when they learned afterwards that he was the Chief Justice of the United States.”
Albert J. Beveridge wrote in The Life of John Marshall(Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919, Vol. IV, The Building of the Nation, 1815-1835, p. 70):
“John Marshall’s daughter makes this statement regarding her father’s religious views:
‘He told me that he believed in the truth of the Christian
He determined to apply to the communion of our Church, objecting to communion in private, because he thought it his duty to make a public confession of the Saviour.'”
Albert J. Beveridge continued in The Life of John Marshall(referencing Bishop William Meade’s Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, 2 Vols., Richmond, 1910, Vol. 2, p. 221-222):
“He attended (Episcopal) services. Bishop William Meade informs us, not only because ‘he was a sincere friend of religion,’ but also because he wished ‘to set an example.’
The Bishop bears this testimony: ‘I can never forget how he would prostrate his tall form before the rude low benches, without backs, at Coolspring Meeting-House (Leeds Parish, near Oakhill, Fauquier County) in the midst of his children and grandchildren and his old neighbors.’
When in Richmond, Marshall attended the Monumental Church where, says Bishop Meade, ‘he was much incommoded by the narrowness of the pews…
Not finding room enough for his whole body within the pew, he used to take his seat nearest the door of the pew, and, throwing it open, let his legs stretch a little into the aisle.'”
John F. Dillon wrote in John Marshall-Life, Character and Judicial Services-As Portrayed in the Centenary and Memorial Addresses and Proceedings Throughout the United States on John Marshall Day, 1901(Chicago: Callaghan & Company, 1903):
“John Marshall Day, February 4, 1901, was appropriately observed by exercises held in the hall of the House of Representatives, and attended by the President, the members of the Cabinet, the Justices of the Supreme and District courts, the Senate and House of Representatives, and the members of the Bar of the District of
The program, prepared by a Congressional committee acting in conjunction with committees of the American Bar Association and the Bar Association of this District, was characterized by a dignity and simplicity befitting the life of the great Chief Justice…”
After an invocation delivered by John Marshall’s great-grandson, Rev. Dr. William Strother Jones of Trenton, N.J., Chief Justice Fuller made introductory remarks:
“The August Term of the year of our Lord eighteen hundred of the Supreme Court of the United States had adjourned at Philadelphia… However, it was not until Wednesday, February 4th, when John Marshall…took his seat upon the Bench…”
U.S. Attorney General Wayne MacVeagh then stated:
“The centennial anniversary of the entrance by John Marshall into the office of Chief Justice of the United States…
Under his forming hand, instead of becoming a dissoluble confederacy of discordant States, became a great and indissoluble nation, endowed with…the divine purpose for the education of the world…securing to the whole American continent ‘government of the people, by the people, and for the people’…
Venerating the Constitution…as ‘a sacred instrument’…we have lived to see…such generous measures of political equality, of social freedom, and of physical comfort and well-being as were never dreamed of on the earth before…
Let us, on this day of all days…acknowledge that nations cannot live by bread alone…
We have heretofore cherished, the Christian ideal of true national greatness; and our fidelity to that ideal, however imperfect it has been, entitled us in some measure to the divine blessing, for having offered an example to the world for more than an entire generation of how a nation could marvelously increase in wealth and strength and all material prosperity while living in peace with all mankind…
We all believe that the true glory of America and her true mission in the new century…is what a great prelate of the Catholic Church has recently declared it to be: to stand fast by Christ and his Gospel; to cultivate not the Moslem virtues of war, of slaughter, of rapine, and of conquest, but the Christian virtues of self-denial and kindness and brotherly love…
Then we may some day hear the benediction: ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me’…
The true mission of nations as of men is to promote righteousness on earth…
and taking abundant care that every human creature beneath her starry flag, of every color and condition, is as secure of liberty, of justice and of peace as in the Republic of God.
In cherishing these aspirations…we are wholly in the spirit of the great Chief Justice; and…so effectually honor his memory.” (Dillon, Vol. 1, p. 7-42)
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray gave an address the same day in Virginia:
“Gentlemen of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and of the City of Richmond: One hundred years ago today, the Supreme Court of the United States, after sitting for a few years in Philadelphia, met for the first time in Washington, the permanent capital of the Nation; and John Marshall, a citizen of Virginia, having his home in Richmond, and a member of this bar, took his seat as Chief Justice of the United States…
Chief Justice Marshall was a steadfast believer in the truth of Christianity as revealed in the Bible. He was brought up in the Episcopal Church; and Bishop Meade, who knew him well, tells us that he was a constant and reverent worshipper in that church, and contributed liberally to its support, although he never became a communicant.
All else that we know of his personal religion is derived from the statements (as handed down by the good bishop) of a daughter of the Chief Justice, who was much with him during the last months of his life.
She said that her father told her he never went to bed without concluding his prayer by repeating the Lord’s Prayer and the verse beginning, ‘Now I lay me down to sleep,’ which his mother had taught him when he was a child;
and that the reason why he had never been a communicant was that it was but recently that he had become fully convinced of the divinity of Christ, and he then ‘determined to apply for admission to the communion of our church objected to commune in private, because he thought it his duty to make a public confession of the Saviour and, while waiting for improved health to enable him to go to the church for that purpose, he grew worse and died, without ever communing.'” (Dillon, Vol. 1, p. 42, 47, 88)
New Hampshire Supreme Court Judge Jeremiah Smith gave an address:
“And this brings us to what is…the great distinguishing feature in Marshall s life; the real secret of his extraordinary success…that is his high personal character…
John Marshall was pre-eminently single minded. His whole life was pervaded by an overpowering sense of duty and by strong religious principle. A firm believer in the Christian religion, his life was in accord with his belief.” (Dillon, Vol. 1, p. 162)
Charles E. Perkins, nephew of Harriet Beecher Stowe and President of the Connecticut Bar Association stated:
“As a man, Marshall appears to have been as near perfection in disposition, habits, and conduct as it is possible for a mortal man to be…He had no vices and, I may almost say, no weaknesses.
In spite of his eminent talents, his high positions, and his great reputation, there was no tinge of conceit…
His charities were constant and great. He bore no malice toward those who offended or injured him.
He was a sincere Christian and believed in and obeyed the commands of the Bible.” (Dillon, Vol. 1, p. 330)
U.S. Rep. William Bourke Cockran addressed the Erie County Bar Association, Buffalo, New York:
“Aside from the establishment of Christianity, the foundation of this republic was the most memorable event in the history of man…
And if the foundation of this government be the most momentous human achievement of all the centuries, then clearly the appointment of John Marshall to the Chief Justiceship of the United States was the first event of the last century no less in the magnitude of its importance than in the order of its occurrence.” (Dillon, Vol. 1, p. 404-405)
U.S. Senator and former Maryland Governor William Pinkney Whyte stated:
“Would you not call a man religious who said the Lord’s Prayer every day? And the prayer he learned at his mother’s knee went down with him to the grave.
He was a constant and liberal contributor to the support of the Episcopal Church.
He never doubted the fact of the Christian revelation, but he was not convinced of the fact of the divinity of Christ till late in life.
Then, after refusing privately to commune, he expressed a desire to do so publicly, and was ready and willing to do so when opportunity should be had. The circumstances of his death only forbade it…
He was never professedly Unitarian, and he had no place in his heart for either an ancient or a modern agnosticism.” (Dillon, Vol. 2, p. 2-3)
U.S. Rep. Horace Binney of Pennsylvania stated that Marshall:
“…was a Christian, believed in the gospel, and practiced its tenets.” (Dillon, Vol. 3, p. 325)
Nathan Sargent, former Commissioner of Customs, wrote inPublic Men and Events from 1817 to 1853 (Philadelphia, 1875, Vol. 1, p. 299), that Marshall’s “name has become a household word with the American people implying greatness, purity, honesty, and all the Christian virtues.”
One was elected the 2nd President and the other the 3rd.Once political enemies, they became close friends in later life.
An awe swept America when they both died on the same day, JULY 4, 1826, exactly 50 years since they signed the Declaration of Independence.
Their names were John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
John Quincy Adams, son ofJohn Adams, was the 6th President at the time and told Congress, December 5, 1826:
“Since your last meeting at this place, the 50th anniversary of the day when our independence was declared…
two of the principal actors in that solemn scene – the HAND that penned the ever-memorable Declaration and the VOICE that sustained it in debate –
were by one summons, at the distance of 700 miles from each other, called before the Judge of All to account for their deeds done upon earth.”
John Quincy Adams wrote in an Executive Order, July 11, 1826:
“A coincidence…so wonderful gives confidence…that the patriotic efforts of these…men were Heaven directed, and furnishes a new…hope that the prosperity of these States is under the special protection of a kind Providence.”
Jefferson described Adamsas: “the pillar of the Declaration’s support on the floor of Congress, its ablest advocate and defender.”
Defending the Declaration,John Adams told the Continental Congress, July 1, 1776:
“Before God, I believe the hour has come…
All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it…
Live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration.
It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment. Independence now, and Independence for ever!”
John Adams stated, June 21, 1776:
“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.
The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People…they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”
Inscribed on theJefferson Memorial on the south banks of Washington D.C.’s Tidal Basin, are Jefferson’swords:
“Almighty God hath created the mind free…
All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens…are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion…
No man…shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion…
God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?
Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
In the last letter Jefferson wrote, he told Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826:
“The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them.”
The last words of John Adams were:
“Thank God, Jefferson lives!”
“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood” James Madison
“The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” James Madison
“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy of monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” John Adams
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
“Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow.” Benjamin Franklin
“Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.” Benjamin Franklin
“A Citizen of New Haven” [Roger Sherman]
The Letters: I-II
New Haven Gazette, 18 and 25 December 1788
Observations on the Alterations Proposed as Amendments to the new Federal Constitution.
6. It is proposed that no commercial treaty should be made without the consent of two-thirds of the senators, nor any cession of territory, right of navigation or fishery, without the consent of three-fourths of the members present in each branch of congress.
It is provided by the constitution that no commercial treaty shall be made by the president without the consent of two-thirds of the senators present, and as each state has an equal representation and suffrage in the senate, the rights of the state will be as well secured under the new constitution as under the old; and it is not probable that they would ever make a cession of territory or any important national right without the consent of congress.
7. There is one amendment proposed by the convention of South Carolina respecting religious tests, by inserting the word other, between the words no and religious in that article, which is an ingenious thought, and had that word been inserted, it would probably have prevented any objection on that head. But it may be considered as a clerical omission and be inserted without calling a convention; as it now stands the effect will be the same
Observations on the New Federal Constitution
The immediate security of the civil and domestic rights of the people will be in the government of the particular states. And as the different states have different local interests and customs which can be best regulated by their own laws, it should not be expedient to admit the federal government to interfere with them, any farther than may be necessary for the good of the whole. The great end of the federal government is to protect the several states in the enjoyment of those rights, against foreign invasion, and to preserve peace and a beneficial intercourse among themselves; and to regulate and protect our commerce with foreign nations.
These were not sufficiently provided for by the former articles of confederation, which was the occasion of calling the late Convention to make amendments. This they have done by forming a new constitution containing the powers vested in the federal government, under the former, with such additional powers as they deemed necessary to attain the ends the states had in view, in their appointment. And to carry those powers into effect, they thought it necessary to make some alterations in the organization of the government: this they supposed to be warranted by their commission.
The powers vested in the federal government are clearly defined, so that each state still retain its sovereignty in what concerns its own internal government, and a right to exercise every power of a sovereign state not particularly delegated to the government of the United States. The new powers vested in the United States, are, to regulate commerce; provide for a uniform practice respecting naturalization, bankruptcies, and organizing, arming and training the militia; and for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States; and for promoting the progress of science in the mode therein pointed out. There are some other matters which Congress has power under the present confederation to require to be done by the particular states, which they will be authorized to carry into effect themselves under the new constitution; these powers appear to be necessary for the common benefit of the states, and could not be effectually provided for by the particular states
Read more from letters from Roger Sherman and our other Founders at Online Library of Liberty
“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
—The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.
“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.
“Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”
–Adams wrote this on June 28, 1813, excerpt from a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
3rd U.S. President, Drafter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. 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; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”
—Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237.
1st Signer of the Declaration of Independence
“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
—History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.
“I believe that there is one only living and true God, existing in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in substance equal in power and glory. That the scriptures of the old and new testaments are a revelation from God, and a complete rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. That God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, so as thereby he is not the author or approver of sin. That he creates all things, and preserves and governs all creatures and all their actions, in a manner perfectly consistent with the freedom of will in moral agents, and the usefulness of means. That he made man at first perfectly holy, that the first man sinned, and as he was the public head of his posterity, they all became sinners in consequence of his first transgression, are wholly indisposed to that which is good and inclined to evil, and on account of sin are liable to all the miseries of this life, to death, and to the pains of hell forever.
“I believe that God having elected some of mankind to eternal life, did send his own Son to become man, die in the room and stead of sinners and thus to lay a foundation for the offer of pardon and salvation to all mankind, so as all may be saved who are willing to accept the gospel offer: also by his special grace and spirit, to regenerate, sanctify and enable to persevere in holiness, all who shall be saved; and to procure in consequence of theirrepentance and faith in himself their justification by virtue of his atonement as the only meritorious cause.
“I believe a visible church to be a congregation of those who make a credible profession of their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, joined by the bond of the covenant.
“I believe that the souls of believers are at their death made perfectly holy, and immediately taken to glory: that at the end of this world there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a final judgement of all mankind, when the righteous shall be publicly acquitted by Christ the Judge and admitted to everlasting life and glory, and the wicked be sentenced to everlasting punishment.”
—The Life of Roger Sherman, pp. 272-273.
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