“It is hoped that by God’s assistance, some of the continents in the Ocean will be discovered….for the Glory of God.”
“My hope in the One who created us all sustains me; He is an ever present help in trouble…When I was extremely depressed, He raised me with His right hand, saying,`O man of little faith, get up, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Christopher Columbus From his Libro de profecias (Book of Prophecies)
“At a very early age I began to sail upon the ocean. For more than forty years, I have sailed everywhere that people go.
I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart’s great desire, and He gave me the spirit and the intelligence for the task: seafaring, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, skill in drafting spherical maps and placing correctly the cities, rivers, mountains and ports. I also studied cosmology, history, chronology and philosophy.
It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me.
There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit, because he comforted me with rays of marvelous illumination from the Holy Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony from the 44 books of the Old Testament, from the four Gospels, and from the 23 Epistles of the blessed Apostles, encouraging me continually to press forward, and without ceasing for a moment they now encourage me to make haste.
Our Lord Jesus desired to perform a very obvious miracle in the voyage to the Indies, to comfort me and the whole people of God. I spent seven years in the royal court, discussing the matter with many persons of great reputation and wisdom in all the arts; and in the end they concluded that it was all foolishness, so they gave it up.
But since things generally came to pass that were predicted by our Savior Jesus Christ, we should also believe that this particular prophecy will come to pass. In support of this, I offer the gospel text, Matt. 24:25, in which Jesus said that all things would pass away, but not his marvelous Word. He affirmed that it was necessary that all things be fulfilled that were prophesied by himself and by the prophets.
I said that I would state my reasons: I hold alone to the sacred and Holy Scriptures, and to the interpretations of prophecy given by certain devout persons. It is possible that those who see this book will accuse me of being unlearned in literature, of being a layman and a sailor. I reply with the words of Matt. 11:25: “Lord, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them unto babes.” The Holy Scripture testifies in the Old Testament by our Redeemer Jesus Christ, that the world must come to an end. The signs of when this must happen are given by Matthew, Mark and Luke. The prophets also predicted many things about it.
Our Redeemer Jesus Christ said that before the end of the world, all things must come to pass that had been written by the prophets.
The prophets wrote in various ways. Isaiah is the one most praised by Jerome, Augustine, and by the other theologians. They all say that Isaiah was not only a prophet, but an evangelist as well. Isaiah goes into great detail in describing future events and in calling all people to our holy catholic faith. Most of the prophecies of Holy Scripture have been fulfilled already…
I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolations since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence.
For the execution of the journey to the Indies I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied. All this is what I desire to write down for you in this book.
No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will even though He gives advice.
He lacks nothing that it is in the power of men to give him. Oh what a gracious Lord, who desires that people should perform for Him those things for which He holds Himself responsible! Day and night moment by moment, everyone should express to Him their most devoted gratitude.
I said that some of the prophecies yet to be fulfilled. These are great and wonderful things for the earth, and the signs are that the Lord is hastening the end. The fact that the gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time, this is what convinces me.
From his Journal of the First Voyage (El Libro de la Primera Navegacion)
October 12, 1492. At two hours after midnight appeared the land, at a distance of 2 leagues. They handed all sails and set the treo, which is the mainsail without bonnets, and lay-to, waiting for daylight Friday, when they arrived at an island of the Bahamas that was called in the Indians’ tongue Guanahani’ [San Salvador]….
So that they might be well-disposed towards us, for I knew that they were a people to be delivered and converted to our Holy Faith rather by love than by force, I gave to some red caps and to others glass beads, which they hung around their necks, and many other things of slight value. At this they were greatly pleased and became so entirely our friends that it was a wonder to see… I believe that they would easily be made Christians, for it seemed to me that they had no religion of their own. Our Lord willing, when I depart, I shall bring back six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn to talk our language.
October 16, 1492. I don’t recognize in them any religion, and I believe that they very promptly would turn Christians, for they are of very good understanding.
November 6, 1492. I maintain, Most Serene Princes, that if they had access to devout religious persons knowing the language, they would all turn Christian, and so l hope in Our Lord that Your Highnesses will do something about it with much care…
November 27, 1492. But now, please our Lord, I shall see the most that I may, and little by little I shall come, to understand and know, and I will have this language taught to people of my household, because I see that all so far have one language. And afterwards the benefits will be known, and it will be endeavored to have these folk Christians, for that will easily be done, since they have no religion; nor are they idolaters… And I say that Your Highness ought not to consent that any foreigner does business or sets foot here, except Christian Catholics, since this was the end and the beginning of the enterprise, that it should be for the enhancement and glory of the Christian religion, nor should anyone who is not a good Christian come to these parts.
December 16, 1492. Because they [the Arawak tribe], are the best people in the world and above all the gentlest, I have much hope in Our Lord that Your Highnesses will make them all Christians…
December 22, 1492. The Admiral ordered the lord to be given some things, and he and all his folk rested in great contentment, believing truly that they had come from the sky, and to see the Christians they held themselves very fortunate.
December 24,1492. Your Highnesses may believe that in all the world there can be no better or gentler people. Your Highnesses should feel great joy, because presently they will be Christians, and instructed in the good manners of your realms; for a better people there cannot be on earth, and both people and land are in such quantity that I don’t know how to write it.
Letter written to King Ferinand and Queen Isabella, Feb. 15, 1493
To the first island which I found I gave the name San Salvador [Holy Savior], in recognition of His Heavenly Majesty, who marvelously hath given all this; the Indians call it Guanahani.
I forbade that they should be given things so worthless as pieces of broken crockery and broken glass, and lace points, although when they were able to get them, they thought they had the best jewel in the world; thus it was learned that a sailor for a lace point received gold to the weight of two and a half castellanos, and others much more for other things which were worth much less; yea, for new blancas, for them they would give all that they had, although it might be two or three castellanos’ weight of gold or an arroba or two of spun cotton; they even took pieces of the broken hoops of the wine casks and, like animals, gave what they had, so that it seemed to me wrong and I forbade it, and I gave them a thousand good, pleasing things which I had brought, in order that they might be fond of us, and furthermore might become Christians and be inclined to the love and service of Their Highnesses and of the whole Castilian nation [Spain], and try to help us and to give us of the things which they have in abundance and which are necessary to us.
And they know neither sect nor idolatry, with the exception that all believe that the source of all power and goodness is the sky, and they believe very firmly that I, with these ships and people, came from the sky, and in this belief they everywhere received me, after they had overcome their fear.
And this does not result from their being ignorant (for they are of a very keen intelligence and men who navigate all those seas, so that it is wondrous the good account they give of everything), but because they have never seen people clothed or ships like ours….
Praise be to our eternal God, our Lord, who gives to all those who walk in His ways victory over all things which seem impossible; of which this is signally one, for, although others have spoken or written concerning these countries, it was all conjecture, as no one could say that he had seen them-it amounting only to this, that those who heard listened the more, and regarded the matter rather as a fable than anything else.
But our Redeemer has granted this victory to our illustrious King and Queen and their kingdoms, which have acquired great fame by an event of such high importance, in which all Christendom ought to rejoice, and which it ought to celebrate with great festivals and the offering of solemn thanks to the Holy Trinity with many sincere prayers, both for the great exaltation which may accrue to them in turning so many nations to our holy faith, and also for the temporal benefits which will bring great refreshment and gain, not only to Spain, but to all Christians.
Done on board the Caravel, off the Canary Islands, on the fifteenth day of February, Fourteen hundred and ninety-three. At your orders,
May 29, 1493,
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel granted Columbus’ request for a second voyage, pronouncing:
It hath pleased God, Our Lord, in His abundant mercy to reveal the said Islands and Mainland to the King and Queen, our Lords, by the diligence of the Don Christopher Columbus, their Admiral, Viceroy and Governor thereof who hath reported it to Their Highnesses that he knew the people he found residing therein to be very ripe to be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith, since they have neither dogma nor doctrine; wherefore it hath pleased and greatly pleaseth Their Highnesses (since in all matters it is meet that their principal concern be for the service of God, Our Lord, and the enhancement of Our Holy Catholic Faith); wherefore, desiring the augmentation and increase of our Holy Catholic Faith, Their Highnesses charge and direct the said Admiral, Viceroy and Governor that by all ways and means he strive and endeavor to win over the inhabitants of the said Islands and Mainland to be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith….
[Priest and clerics will be sent] to see that they be carefully taught the principles of Our Holy Faith.
[The Admiral should] force and compel all those who sail therein as well as all others who are to go out from here later on, that they treat the said Indians very well and lovingly and abstain from doing them any injury, arranging that both people hold much conversation and intimacy, each serving the others to the best of their ability. Moreover, the said Admiral shall graciously present them with things from the merchandise of Their Highnesses which he is carrying for barter, and honor them much; and if some person or persons should maltreat the said Indians in any manner whatsoever, the said Admiral, as Viceroy and Governor of Their Highnesses, shall punish them severely by the virtue of the authority vested in him by Their Majesties for this purpose…
Bartolomé de Las Casas, (1474-1566)
The priest who was call “the Apostle of the Indies” knew Christopher Columbus personally, his father and uncle were shipmates and colonists under him. This is his description of Columbus.
In matters of the Christian religion, without doubt he was a Catholic and of great devotion, for in everything he did and said or sought to begin, he always interposed “In the name of the Holy Trinity I will do this,” or “launch this” or “this will come to pass.”
In whatever letter or other thing he wrote, he put at the head “Jesus and Mary be with us on the way,” and of these writings of his in his own hand I have plenty now in my possession….
He observed the fasts of the Church most faithfully, confessed and made communion often, read the canonical offices like a churchman or member of a religious order, hated blasphemy and profane swearing… seemed very grateful to God for benefits received from the divine hand, wherefore, as in the proverb, he hourly admitted that God had conferred upon him great mercies, as upon David…
He was extraordinarily zealous for the divine service; he desired and was eager for the conversion of these people [native Americans], and that in every region the faith of Jesus Christ be planted and enhanced. And he was especially affected and devoted to the idea that God should deem him worthy of aiding somewhat in recovering the Holy Sepulchre…
He was a gentleman of great force of spirit, of lofty thoughts, naturally inclined to undertake worthy deeds and signal enterprises; patient and long-suffering, and a forgiver of injuries, and wished nothing more than that those who offended against him should recognize their errors, and that the delinquents be reconciled with him; most constant and endowed with forbearance in the hardships and adversities which were always occurring and which were incredible and infinite; ever holding great confidence in divine Providence.
And verily, from what I have heard from him and from my own father, who was with him when he returned to colonize Hispaniola in 1493, and from others who accompanied and served him, he held and always kept on terms of intimate fidelity and devotion to the Sovereigns.
(The son of Christopher) The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus
There is reason to believe that many souls that Satan expected to catch because they had not passed through the waters of baptism were by the Admiral made dwellers in the eternal glory of Paradise….
The Admiral was a well built man of more than average statute, the face long, the cheeks somewhat high, his body neither fat nor lean. He had an aquiline nose and light-colored eyes; his complexion too was light and tending to bright red. In his youth his hair was blonde, but when he reached the age of thirty, it all turned white.
In eating and drinking, and in adornment of his person, he was very moderate and modest. He was affable in conversation with strangers and very pleasant to the members of his household, though with a certain gravity. He was so strict in matters of religion that for fasting and saying prayers he might have been taken for a member of a religious order.
He was so great an enemy of swearing and blasphemy that I give my word I never heard him utter any other oath than “by St. Ferdinand!” and when he grew very angry with someone, his rebuke was to say “God take you!” for doing or saying that.
If he had to write anything, he always began by writing these words: IESUS cum MARIA sit nobis in via. And so fine was his hand that he might have earned his bread by that skill alone.
On May 20, 1506 he uttered his last words:
In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum.
(Into your hands, Father, I commend my soul.)
Embarkation of the Pilgrims
Mayflower Compact, 1620
“Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian Faith and honor of our King and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by the presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic…”
Declaration of Independence
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Articles of Confederation
“Whereas the delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled did on the fifteenth day of November in the Year of Our Lord 1777, and in the second year of the independence of America agree on certain Articles of Confederation and perpetual union between the States…
The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense…
And whereas it has pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the Legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation.
In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress. Done at Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight, and in the Third Year of the independence of America.”
John Wentworth Jr.
John Bayard Smith
Nicholas Van Dyke
Richard Henry Lee
Francis Lightfoot Lee
William Henry Drayton
Thos Heyward Jr.
The U.S. Constitution
Effective June 21, 1788
The Constitution’s 55 writers were:
26 Episcopalian, 11 Presbyterian, 7 Congregationalist, 2 Lutheran, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodist, 2 Roman Catholic, 2 Quaker and 1 Deist-Dr. Franklin
“If we will not be governed by God, we must be governed by tyrants.”
“Let the children…be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education. The great enemy of the salvation of man, in my opinion, never invented a more effectual means of extirpating [removing] Christianity from the world than by persuading mankind that it was improper to read the Bible at schools.”
Noah Webster, 1823
“It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defectice views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the Scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.”
In the preface of his original Dictionary on April 14, 1828
“No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
Noah Webster, 1832
History of the United States
“[I]t is the sincere desire of the writer [Noah Webster] that our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament or the Christian religion.
The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and his apostles, which enjoins humility, piety and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government.
The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws…. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from, vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.
When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprinciped men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good, so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregared. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. Intriguing men can never be safely trusted.”
Noah Webster, 1833
Common Version of the Holy Bible,
containing the Old and New Testaments,
with Amendments of the Language
“It is extremely important to our nation, in a political as well as religious view, that all possible authority and influence should be given to the scriptures, for these furnish the best principles of civil liberty, and the most effectual support of republican government.”
“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be;
If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will;
If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of this land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”
Address to the New York Historical Society, 1852
“If we and our posterity…live always in the fear of God and shall respect His Commandments…we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country…. But if we…neglect religious instruction and authority; violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.”
“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 [Proverbs 14:34]. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this, and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself and encourage it in others.”
From his Last Will and Testament:
“I wish I could leave you my most cherished possession–my faith in Jesus Christ. For with Him you have everything; without Him you have nothing at all.”
Rev. John Witherspoon
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Continental Congressman, President of Princeton College.
” . . . 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 [would not hesitate] to call him an enemy to his country.
It is in the man of piety and inward principle that we may…find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier. God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable.”
Wrote in 1750
“He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man….”
in a letter to James Warren dated February 12, 1779
“A general dissolution of 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 when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader . . . If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.”
“The rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.”
Address at the Constitutional Convention Thursday June 28, 1787
“I have lived, 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, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages.
And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from 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 blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to officiate in that service.”
In a pamphlet for Europeans titled “Information to Those Who Would Remove to America,” 1754
“Bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there; infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel.”
President of the First Continental Congress in 1783 and the founder of the American Bible Society.
“If the Moral character of a people degenerate, their political character must follow. These considerations should lead to an attentive solicitude to be religiously careful in our choice of all public officers…and judge of the tree by its fruits.”
First Session Congressman from Massachusetts
Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble… The reverence for the sacred book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and, probably, if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind… In no Book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant, and by teaching all the same they will speak alike, and the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith.
Sept. 20, 1789, Palladium magazine
We have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education. We’re starting to put more and more textbooks into our schools… We’ve become accustomed of late of putting little books into the hands of children containing fables and moral lessons… We are spending less time in the classroom on the Bible, which should be the principle text in our schools… The Bible states these great moral lessons better than any other manmade book.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Letter to James McHenry, November 4, 1800
“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure,…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”
“The Father of the Bill of Rights”
His suggested wording of the First Amendment, September 25, 1789:
“All men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”
In “The Farmer Refuted,” February 1775, Hamilton wrote:
“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power….Good and wise men, in all ages…have supposed that the Deity, from the relations we stand in to Himself, and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind.”
On April 16, 1802, Hamilton wrote to James Bayard:
“Let an association be formed to be denominated ‘The Christian Constitutional Society,’ its object to be first: The support of Christian religion; second: The support of the United States.”
He was a physician in the Revolutionary War, a member of the Continental Congress and a signer of the Constitution. Stated in 1813:
“Neither let it be overlooked, that public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures.
The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness.
In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw intrenchments around our institutions.
Bibles are strong intrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience…”
President George Washington’s
Prayer for the Nation given at Newburg, June 8, 1783, and copies sent to the Governors of all the States.
Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the Unites States at large.
And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and specific temper of mind which were the characteristics of Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.
Grant our supplications, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
President George Washington
Inaugural Address, 1789
“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
President George Washington
Regarding the Constitution; wrote to the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, May 10, 1789.
“If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it.”
President George Washington
The first National Day of Thanksgiving, 1789
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will… I do recommend… Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November… to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be… that we may… humbly offer our prayers… to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national… transgressions.”
President George Washington
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… And let us indulge with caution the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion… Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle.”
His Prayer At Valley Forge
“Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great Creator of heaven and earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven in pity and compassion upon me Thy servant, who humbly prorate myself before Thee.
Bless O Lord the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus.”
“Of all dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”
“To the distinguished character of a Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of a Christian.”
George Washington’s Vision
Originally published by Wesley Bradshaw. Copied from a reprint in the National Tribune. Vol. 4, No. 12, December 1880.:
“This afternoon, as I was sitting at this table engaged in preparing a dispatch, something seemed to disturb me. Looking up, I beheld standing opposite me a singularly beautiful female. So astonished was I, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that it was some moments before I found language to inquire the cause of her presence. A second, a third and even a fourth time did I repeat my question, but received no answer from my mysterious visitor except a slight raising of her eyes.
By this time I felt strange sensations spreading through me. I would have risen but the riveted gaze of the being before me rendered volition impossible. I assayed once more to address her, but my tongue had become useless, as though it had become paralyzed.
A new influence, mysterious, potent, irresistible, took possession of me. All I could do was to gaze steadily, vacantly at my unknown visitor. Gradually the surrounding atmosphere seemed as if it had become filled with sensations, and luminous. Everything about me seemed to rarify, the mysterious visitor herself becoming more airy and yet more distinct to my sight than before. I now began to feel as one dying, or rather to experience the sensations which I have sometimes imagined accompany dissolution. I did not think, I did not reason, I did not move; all were alike impossible. I was only conscious of gazing fixedly, vacantly at my Companion.
Presently I heard a voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn,’ while at the same time my visitor extended her arm eastwardly. I now beheld a heavy white vapor at some distance rising fold upon fold. This gradually dissipated, and I looked upon a strange scene. Before me lay spread out in one vast plain all the countries of the world-Europe, Asia, Africa and America. I saw rolling and tossing between Europe and America the billows of the Atlantic, and between Asia and America lay the Pacific.
‘Son of the Republic,’ said the same mysterious voice as before,’look and learn.’ At that moment I beheld a dark, shadowy being, like an angel, standing, or rather floating in midair; between Europe and America. Dipping water out of the ocean in the hollow of each hand, he sprinkled some upon America with his right hand, while with his left hand he cast some on Europe. Immediately a cloud raised from these countries, and joined in mid-ocean. For a while it remained stationary, and then moved slowly westward, until it enveloped America in its murky folds. Sharp flashes of lightning gleamed through it at intervals, and I heard the smothered groans and cries of the American people.
A second time the angel dipped water from the ocean, and sprinkled it out as before. The dark cloud was then drawn back to the ocean, in whose heaving billows it sank from view. A third time I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn,’ I cast my eyes upon America and beheld villages and towns and cities springing up one after another until the whole land from the Atlantic to the Pacific was dotted with them.
Again, I heard the mysterious voice say, ‘Son of the Republic, the end of the century cometh, look and learn.’ At this the dark shadowy angel turned his face southward, and from Africa I saw an ill-omened spectre approach our land. It flitted slowly over every town and city of the latter. The inhabitants presently set themselves in battle array against each other. As I continued looking I saw a bright angel, on whose brow rested a crown of light, on which was traced the word ‘Union,’ bearing the American flag which he placed between the divided nation, and said, ‘Remember ye are brethren.’ Instantly, the inhabitants, casting from them their weapons became friends once more, and united around the National Standard.
And again I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ At this the dark, shadowy angel placed a trumpet to his mouth, and blew three distinct blasts; and taking water from the ocean, he sprinkled it upon Europe, Asia and Africa. Then my eyes beheld a fearful scene: from each of these countries arose thick, black clouds that were soon joined into one. Throughout this mass there gleamed a dark red light by which I saw hordes of armed men, who, moving with the cloud, marched by land and sailed by sea to America. Our country was enveloped in this volume of cloud, and 1 saw these vast armies devastate the whole country and burn the villages, towns and cities that I beheld springing up. As my ears listened to the thundering of the cannon, clashing of swords, and the shouts and cries of millions in mortal combat, I heard again the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ When the voice had ceased, the dark shadowy angel placed his trumpet once more to his mouth, and blew a long and fearful blast.
Instantly a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me, and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America. At the same moment the angel upon whose head still shone the word ‘Union,’ end who bore our national flag in one hand and a sword in the other, descended from the heavens attended by legions of white spirits. These immediately joined the inhabitants of America, who I perceived were well nigh overcome, but who immediately taking courage again, closed up their broken ranks and renewed the battle.
Again, amid the fearful noise of the conflict, I heard the mysterious voice saying, ‘Son of the Republic, look and learn.’ As the voice ceased, the shadowy angel for the last time dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it upon America. Instantly the dark cloud rolled back, together with the armies it had brought, leaving the inhabitants of the land victorious!
Then once more I beheld the villages, towns and cities springing up where I had seen them before, while the bright angel, planting the azure standard he had brought in the midst of them, cried with a loud voice:’While the stars remain, and the heavens send down dew upon the earth, so long shall the Union last.’ And taking from his brow the crown on which blazoned the word ‘Union,’ he placed it upon the National Standard while the people, kneeling down, said, ‘Amen.’
The scene instantly began to fade and dissolve, and I at last saw nothing but the rising, curling vapor I at first beheld. This also disappearing, I found myself once more gazing upon the mysterious visitor, who, in the same voice I had heard before, said, ‘Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union.’ With these words the vision vanished, and I started from my seat and felt that I had seen a vision wherein had been shown to me the birth, progress, and destiny of the United States.”
John Adams, 1798
Signing of the Constitution
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”
Entered into his diary February 22, 1756
“Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there contained ! Every member would be obliged in conscience to temperance, frugality and industry: to justice, kindness and charity towards his fellow men: and to piety, love and reverence toward Almighty God….What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”
Wrote on 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 in a greater Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.”
A letter to Mr. Warren
“This Form of Government…is productive of every Thing which is great and excellent among Men. But its Principles are as easily destroyed, as human nature is corrupted…A Government is only to be supported by pure Religion or Austere Morals. Private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics.”
Address to the militia of Massachusetts, 1798
“We have no government armed in power capable of contending in human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”
President John Adams
“The highest story of the American Revolution is this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”
A letter to her husband John, 1775
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; but the God of Israel is He that giveth strength and power unto His people. Trust in Him at all times, ye people, pour out your hearts before Him; God is a refuge for us.”
In a letter written to Mercy Warren, 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? 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? The Scriptures tell us ‘righteousness exalteth a Nation.’”
First Lady Abigail Adams
“…a true American Patriot must be a religious man…He who neglects his duty to his maker, may well be expected to be deficient and insincere in his duty towards the public.”
President Thomas Jefferson, 1781
Notes on the State of Virginia
“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 a 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.”
President Thomas Jefferson
“I hold the precepts of Jesus as delivered by Himself, to be the most pure, benevolent and sublime which have ever been preached to man…”
President Thomas Jefferson, 1801
First Inaugural Address
“Let us… with courage and confidence pursue our own federal and republican principles… enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them including honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter; With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Steal one thing more, fellow citizens—a wise and frugal government… which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned…
And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe, lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.”
To Dr. Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803
“My views… are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from the anti-christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others…”
To Henery Fry, 1804
“I consider the doctrines of Jesus as delivered by himself to contain the outlines of the sublimest system of morality that has ever been taught but I hold in the most profound detestation and execration the corruptions of it which have been invented…”
To William Canby, 1813
“Of all systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to be so pure as that of Jesus.”
From his will:
“I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.”
The papers of James Madison, June 20, 1785
“Religion is the basis and Foundation of Government.”
Memorial and Remonstrance
“Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe. And to the same Divine Author of every good and perfect gift [James 1:17] we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.”
Inaugural Address March 4, 1809
“We have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being, whose power regulates the destiny of nations.”
President James Madison
“The future and success of America is not in this Constitution, but in the laws of God upon which this Constitution is founded.”
John Quincy Adams
in his Fourth Of July Oration at Newburyport Massachusetts 1837
“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?” “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity”?
President John Quincy Adams
“It is no slight testimonial, both to the merit and worth of Christianity, that in all ages since its promulgation the great mass of those who have risen to eminence by their profound wisdom and integrity have recognized and reverenced Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God.”
President John Quincy Adams
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were…. the general principles of Christianity.”
President Andrew Jackson
“The Bible is the Rock on which this Republic rests.”
March 30, 1863 Proclamation appointing a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer:
“Whereas, the Senate of the United States devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and
Whereas, it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven.
We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity.
We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God.
We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and, multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Now, therefore, in compliance with the request and fully concurring in the view of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer.
And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessing no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.”
By the President: William H. Seward, Secretary of State.
“I know that the Lord is always on the side of right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I—and this nation—should be on the Lord’s side.”
“All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ results in the purest patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship. Those who manage the affairs of government are by this means reminded that the law of God demands that they should be courageously true to the interest of the people, and that the Ruler of the Universe will require of them a strict account of their stewardship. The teachings of both human and Divine law thus merging into one word, duty, form the only union of Church and state that a civil and religious government can recognize.”
In 1909, Roosevelt warned:
“The thought of modern industry in the hands of Christian charity is a dream worth dreaming. The thought of industry in the hands of paganism is a nightmare beyond imagining. The choice between the two is upon us.”
Woodrow Wilson, 1911
Pre-Presidential campaign speech
“America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scriptures. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a very simple thing to ask of you. I ask of every man and woman in this audience that from this night on they will realize that part of the destiny of America lies in their daily perusal of this great book of revelations. That if they would see America free and pure they will make their own spirits free and pure by this baptism of the Holy Scripture.”
From his (May 31, 1923) message entitled “The Destiny of America”:
“They were intent upon establishing a Christian commonwealth in accordance with the principle of self-government. They were an inspired body of men. It has been said that God sifted the nations that He might send choice grain into the wilderness… Who can fail to see in it the hand of destiny? Who can doubt that it has been guided by a Divine Providence?”
President Calvin Coolidge
On September 21, 1924, addressed the Holy Name Society in Washington, D.C., saying:
“The worst evil that could be inflicted upon the youth of the land would be to leave them without restraint and completely at the mercy of their own uncontrolled inclinations. Under such conditions education would be impossible, and all orderly development intellectually or morally would be hopeless.
The Declaration of Independence…claims…the ultimate source of authority by stating…they were…’appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of’ their ‘intentions.’… The foundations of our independence and our Government rests upon basic religious convictions. …the authority of our laws is the authority of the Supreme Judge of the World, to whom we still appeal.
It seems to me perfectly plain that the authority of law, the right to equality, liberty and property, under American institutions, have for their foundation reverence for God. If we could imagine that to be swept away, these institutions of our American government could not long survive.”
President Harry S. Truman
Attorney General’s Conference on Law Enforcement, 1950
“The fundamental basis of this nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teaching we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the right for anybody except the state.”
In a nationally broadcast address from an American Legion event, February 20, 1955
“Without God there could be no American form of government nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first – the most basic – expression of Americanism.”
Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States
Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.
The Founding Fathers believed that faith in God was the key to our being a good people and America’s becoming a great nation.
Politics and morality are inseparable. And as morality’s foundation is religion, religion and politics are necessarily related. We need religion as a guide. We need it because we are imperfect, and our government needs the church, because only those humble enough to admit they’re sinners can bring to democracy the tolerance it requires in order to survive.
There is no institution more vital to our Nation’s survival than the American family. Here the seeds of personal character are planted, the roots of public virtue first nourished. Through love and instruction, discipline, guidance and example, we learn from our mothers and fathers the values that will shape our private lives and our public citizenship.
Our forefathers drew on the wisdom and strength of God when they turned a vast wilderness into a blessed land of plenty called the United States of America. God has truly blessed this country, but we never should fall into the trap that would detract from the universality of God’s gift. It is for all mankind. God’s love is the hope and the light of the world.
If Benjamin Franklin rose to invoke the Almighty as the Constitution itself was being drafted, if the Congress of the United States opens each day with prayer, then isn’t it time we let God back into the classroom?
Here then is our formula for completing our crusade for freedom. Here is the strength of our civilization and our belief in the rights of humanity. Our faith is in a higher law. Yes, we believe in prayer and its power. And like the Founding Fathers of both our lands, we hold that humanity was meant not to be dishonored by the all-powerful state, but to live in the image and likeness of Him who made us.(speech in 1988 in London, England)
The Constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying; its declared purpose was to protect their freedom to pray.
Today, prayer is still a powerful force in America, and our faith in God is a mighty source of strength. Our pledge of Allegiance states that we are ‘one nation under God,’ and our currency bears the motto, ‘In God We Trust.’ The morality and values such faith implies are deeply embedded in our national character. Our country embraces those principles by design, and we abandon them at our peril. Yet in recent years, well-meaning Americans in the name of freedom have taken freedom away. For the sake of religious tolerance, they’ve forbidden religious practice in the classrooms. The law of this land has effectively removed prayer from our classrooms. How can we hope to retain our freedom through generations if we fail to teach our young that our liberty springs from an abiding faith in our creator?
We Americans are blessed in so many ways. We’re a nation under God, a living and loving God. But Thomas Jefferson warned us, ‘I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.’ We cannot expect Him to protect us in crisis if we turn away from Him in our everyday living. But you know, He told us what to do in II Chronicles. Let us reach out to Him. He said, ‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
The Founding Fathers believed that faith in God was the key to our being a good people and America’s becoming a great nation. George Washington kissed the Bible at his inauguration. And to those who would have government separate from religion, he had these words: ‘Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.’ And Ben Franklin, at the time when they were struggling with what was to be the American Constitution, finally one day said to those who were working with him that, ‘Without God’s help, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville found that all Americans believed that religious faith was indispensable to the maintenance of their republican institutions. Today, I join with the people of this Nation in acknowledging this basic truth, that our liberty springs from and depends upon an abiding faith in God.
Whenever I consider the history of this nation, I’m struck by how deeply imbued with faith the American people were, even from the very first. Many of the first settlers came for the expressed purpose of worshipping in freedom. Historian Samuel Morrison wrote of one such group: “Doubting nothing and fearing no man, they undertook all to set all crooked ways straight and create a new Heaven and a new Earth. If they were not permitted to do that in England, they would find some other place to establish their city of God.” Well, that place was this broad and open land we call America.
In his remarks at Gettysburg, President Lincoln referred to ours as a “nation under God.” We rejoice in the fact that, while we have maintained separate institutions of church and state over our 200 years of freedom, we have at the same time preserved spiritual beliefs. Although we are a pluralistic society, the giving of thanks can be a true bond of unity among our people. We can unite in gratitude for our individual freedoms and individual faiths. We can be united in gratitude for our nation’s peace and prosperity when so many in this world have neither.
The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history. He personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and Preserver.
I’m convinced more than ever that man finds liberation only when he binds himself to God and commits to his fellow man.
While never willing to bow to a tyrant, our forefathers were always willing to get to their knees before God. When catastrophe threatened, they turned to God for deliverance. When the harvest was bountiful, the first thought was thanksgiving to God. Prayer is today as powerful a force in our nation as it has ever been. We as a nation should never forget this source of strength.