| OUR REAL AMERICAN HISTORY
Class Number 3
America's Founding Documents
By Ken Williams
Copyright (c) 2007 - All rights reserved
In the 130 years since the first missionaries had come to Jamestown and Plymouth to reach the Indians for Jesus Christ, many more people had come, and many had been born. The population had mushroomed. Major cities had grown up along the east coast. Churches of many denominations were represented. The Church of England, today known as the Episcopal Church in the United States, was the first to send missionaries. The church established by the Pilgrims, and later settlers in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, is today known as the Congregational Church - still strong in New England. The Roman Catholics settled in Maryland. The Quakers, and German settlers from the south of Germany (today known as Pennsylvania Dutch), made their homes in Pennsylvania. Presbyterians from Scotland moved into New Jersey. The Baptists, a rather loosely knit group, which originally settled Rhode Island, had spread throughout the colonies, becoming the largest single group. The second largest denomination was the Methodists, as Wesleyan doctrine had crossed the Atlantic.
While all of these groups had different beginnings, all had one thing in common - they fiercely defended the Scriptures, and demanded their adherents live by biblical precepts. The pulpits of the colonies were aflame with revival preaching.
It was in these pulpits that the Revolution began. The preachers proclaimed that God was King, and that the King of England was to be obeyed only so long as he did not require his subjects to violate God's holy commands. They said God's law, or natural law, superseded anything the King of England might order of them. Then from one church to another, in cities and rural communities, the resident pastors and itinerant preachers began to list the twenty-seven mandates of the King that were in violation of God's law, and God's will. They preached that all mankind was created equal before God; that they all have inalienable human rights; and that government was instituted to protect the rights that came from God.
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
The people who signed the Declaration of Independence put their lives on the line. Most of them were either killed or lost all of their earthly possessions as a result of signing the document. Did you know that over half of them were pastors of churches or had been theological students? Did you know that they listed 27 reasons for wanting to separate from England - and that all of them were biblically based? Today our history books only list one of them; and then, one of the less important. Ask anyone today why these American leaders signed the Declaration of Independence, and if you get any answer at all, it will be, "Taxation without representation." Did you know that "Taxation without representation" was all the way down to number 17 on the list? Why do our history books today give us only one of the 27? It is because all of them are based on the Bible; and all were the subject of preachers' sermons to their congregations. "Taxation without representation" can be tied to the Boston Tea Party, without any mention of the Bible.
Four times the Declaration of Independence refers to God. If you read the writings of the founding fathers (and there are some 34,000 of them), you will discover the twenty-seven violations of "natural law" or "God's Law," which resulted in the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War. Do you have any idea what was the number one thing on the list? It was SLAVERY! The Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War were as much about slavery as was the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War nearly 100 years later. The King of England was, by far, the largest slave trader in the world. It was a requirement for any businessman or farmer in the colonies who needed help beyond that of his own family, to own slaves purchased from the King. This is why there were so many black people in the north who formed fighting brigades of their own to fight against England.
The Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War were the result of holy people, wanting to live a holy life, in a holy land. Dispite their many theological differences, they were united under God.
With the war over, the British forced to surrender, and the king's appointed governors sent packing, there was little government left in the former colonies. Yes, there was the Continental Congress, but it was weak, ineffective and viritually bankrupt.
The call went out for a Constitutional Convention to birth a new government. Leaders from each of the former colonies gathered in Philadelphia. They were godly men, determined to forge a govenment based on the principles of God's Word. How do I know that? Listen to these words from our founders.
Noah Webster, author of the first American English Dictionary, and one of the most influential people of his times, said, "The moral prnciples and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of our civil constitution and laws. All the miseries and evils that men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war proceed from their dispensing or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."
George Mason, addressing the Constitutional Convention said, "As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence (God) punishes national sins by national calamities." Mason called for a government founded on the principles of God's Word, the Bible.
Benjamin Franklin told the Constitutional Convention, June 28, 1787, "We need God to be our friend. We need Him to be our ally, not our adversary. We need to be sure we keep God's concurring aid. If a sparrow can't fall to the ground without God noticing it, how do we possibly think a nation can rise without His aid." Franklin called for daily prayer meetings at the Constitutional Convention, "to make sure we keep God alongside what we are doing."
There is so much more that could be written on the subject, but let it suffice to say that the Constitutional Convention was bathed in prayer and the delegates believed they were building a government established upon the precepts of God's Word, the Bible.
The government that our founding fathers established was completely different than any that had ever existed on the face of the earth. Where did they get the idea for a representative type of democracy known as a republic? Where did the idea come from to have three separate but equal branches, none of which had any control over the others?
If you read today's history books, if the subject is even addressed, you will be told that the ideas came out of the early Greek city-states. That is absolutely not true for at least three reasons. First, we don't know how much our founding fathers knew about the Greek city-states. They never referred to them in their writings. Second, the Greek city-states were hardly either republics or democratic. 75% of their inhabitants were slaves. Even most of the free people had no voice in governent. It was "rule by the elite" who would never stoop to manual labor. And there certainly was no separation of powers. Third, we know where they got their ideas, because they left a written record in their voluminous writings.
A University of Houston political science professor conducted a ten year long research project with some of his graduate students. They gathered some 34,000 writings of the founding fathers (certainly not close to all of them). These were winnowed down to 15,000 of what they called "significant writings." Then they laboriously went through them to determine who the fouunding fathers quoted and where they got their ideas.
The three individuals most quoted by the founding fathers were Montesquieu, Blackstone and John Locke. But 34% of all their quotes were directly from the Bible. That's four times more than they quoted from Montesquieu, twelve times more frequently than Blackstone and sixteen more times than Locke. Another 60% of all quotes were from men who, themselves, were quoting the Bible, or who based their conclusions on the Bible. So, 94% of all quotes of the founding fathers were either direct quotes from the Bible, or from other people who were either quoting from the Bible, or got their ideas from the Bible.
Where did they tell us they got the idea for three separate branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial? They said it came from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, chapter 33. Where did the idea come from for separating the powers of each branch and making them equal? They said it came from the Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah, chapter 17.
They did not come to these conclusions easily. The Convention was deadlocked. The delegates were talking about going home for an extended stay, and perhaps coming back at some much later date and giving another "go at it." But Benjamin Franklin called the delegates to prayer. The prayer meeting/Bible study session lasted three days before they came to the conclusion God had revealed something great to them.
The next challenge was, who would run the executive branch of the government? The big discussion was how the "king" would be chosen. It was only natural that the newly freed colonies would have a king. That was all they knew. There was no royal line from which the king could come. How would he be chosen? Would he be elected by the people, appointed by the legislative branch, chosen by the state legislatures, or even rotated among the states? There was support for all of those ideas.
When word got back to the people that their representatives were hung up on how to choose a king to run the new nation, pandemonium broke loose. The headlines screamed, "No king but King Jesus!" That set the tone for one of the strongest grass roots movements the young nation had seen (besides, of course, the revolution itself). From America's pulpits came the cry, "We will have no king but King Jesus!" Demonstrations were held in the major cities with large portions of the populations chanting, "We will have no king but King Jesus!" The delegates were bombarded with mail and couriers delivering petitions declaring that if a king were to run the new government, the Constitution would never be ratified, because the people would have "no king but King Jesus!"
Now that it was obvious that the new nation would not permit a king to rule over them, the Constitutional Convention was at a loss to know what to call the head-of-state. After searching the Bible, delegates said that in the Old Testament of the Bible, God had appointed righteous men called prophets and judges to "preside" over the People of Israel in God's place. One who "presided over" would be a "pre-si-dent" (or "president"), a term which up to that time had only been used to denote the head of groups and organizations (although John Hancock had used it in his position of presiding over the old Continental Congress). Therefore, today we have no king, because the people would have "no king but King Jesus!" Instead, as God had chosen holy men to "preside" over Israel in His place, the United States would have a "president" to preside over the Executive Branch of the government, to carry out God's will as determined by the Legislative Branch.
The members of the Constitutional Convention did put in a system of checks and balances to guarantee that the three branches would remain "separate but equal." Those checks and balances did tip the balance of power toward the legislative branch. The Legislative Branch could impeach the head of the Executive Branch (the President) for just cause, and with certain restrictions. The Legislative Branch could also impeach members of the Supreme Court. Also, Congress has the right to limit the scope of cases the Supreme Court can consider. It is called the Exceptions Clause" of the Constitution. The Exceptions Clause gives Congress the right to withhold any cases it deems proper from consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. The process has been used over 200 times in the history of our government operations. However, it has not been used in the last 50 years.
You read it in the history books; you hear it on the national news that "the framers of the Constitution gave us a secular government." Those proponents are either ignorant of the process that went into the construction of the Constitution, or they have an agenda of their own. It is true that the word "God" is mentioned only one time in the Constitution. But virtually every section, article and phrase comes from the Bible.
We must understand that back in the 1700's there were no DVD's, television cameras, or even voice recorders. Most pastors wrote, and then read their sermons to their congregations. Thousands and thousands of those sermons were then printed and distributed throughout the colonies. During the fifty years prior to the Revolution, and the construction of the Constitution, pastors preached on what was bibically wrong with the British government and its requirements on the Colonies. They also preached on what biblical government should be. Some of those subjects (those printed sermons are still available today) included:
- Concent of the governed (protecting the majority from the minority)
- Separation of powers
- Arms for self defense
- The republican form of government (not a democracy)
- Uniform immigration laws
- The head of government (the president) a natural born citizen
- Two or three witnesses required for conviction of a crime
- Capital punishment
- The Sundays excepted clause
- Judicial activism banned under the "exceptions clause"
- The free enterprise system
- Proper and improper forms of taxation
- Capital gains taxes
- Minimum wage
- Tax exemption for churches
- And there were many more
The majority of these subjects came from Old Testament texts, and all of these, and more, were incorporated into our Constitution. As you can see, the Constitution is a biblical document. To be sure, they did not put chapter and verse in the Constitution; but the pastors who preached those sermons certainly did. You won't find many pastors today preaching on these subjects. Most church members would say they had crossed the line into politics. Another reason you won't hear much preaching on these subjects today is that a church could lose its non-profit status under the Internal Revenue Service (never mind that the Constitution gives churches tax free status).
As the Constitutional Convention came to a close, and the new document was being prepared to be sent to the thirteen former colonies for ratification, the framers seemed pleased with what they had done.
John Aams said, "There is no government armed with power which is capable of contending with the human psssion unbridled by morality and religon. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to govern any other. We have no government capable of dealing with an irreligious people. Do away with religion and you do away with America."
Or, how about this from James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution, who wrote, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government. Far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutons upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."
If that quote is an eye-opener, check this one out from John Quincy Adams, "The greatest genius of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity."
THE FEDERALIST PAPERS
You may have heard of the Federalist Papers. They were written by three of our founding fathers to explain the Constitution to the people of the 13 former colonies. There was a great deal of fear among the population that the new proposed federal government would trump their state and local governments and become as oppressive as the European government from which they had just fought for independence. It was far from a sure thing that the new Constitution would be ratified by the states. John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and James Madison, who later became president, were two of the authors of the Federalist Papers. They explained that the Constitution could never be used to put restraints on the operations of the individual states. The federal government was only charged with operation of interstate and international activities. And, by the way, that pretty much sums up the Constitution, which forbade the federal government from any activity not specifically mentioned in the Constitution itself. There were only two statements in the Constitution which apply to the states. The first is that every state must be organized, as the federal government is, as a republic and not a democracy. The second is that in elections for federal positions (limited to federal elections), everyone must have an equal vote with all other citizens of the United States. That is all, period! That is far from what the federal government is doing today. Is it possible that we are no longer living under the Constitution? But we will address that in the next class.
THE BILL OF RIGHTS
The Constitution was kept especially simple, so it could not easily be misinterpreted. In it, the government had been set up in three equal, but separate branches, and the federal government was limited to function only in some dozen specifically outlined areas. Everything else was left up to the individual states. But still there was opposition. Many people were suspicious of government. They wanted as littled as was necessary.
Most of the former colonies flatly refused to ratify the new constitution without more guarantees. They wanted assurances that their inalienable, God given rights would not be violated by this new government as they had been by the British King. Hence the promise made that the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, would be presented to the states upon ratification of the Constitution.
In the middle of the drafting of the Bill of Rights, a quarrel came to the forefront which is hard for us to imagine today. The struggle was over which of the Protestant churches would become the nationally endorsed, state sponsored religion of the new nation. The thought of a nation without a state church was unknown to our founders. All nations had state sponsored religion.
Finally, after much negotiation, it was decided that the five largest denominations would share the spot as the national church. The Baptists had become the largest single denomination. While they were to be one of the five denominations included in the state church, they had not participated in the negotiations. When they heard of the compromise, they would have no part of it. It was the Baptists who forced the addition to the first amendment which guaranteed that Congress would never, ever choose any church to be the state endorsed, nationally supported church. So, after recognizing the inalienable human right of anyone to speak his or her conscience, the first amendment goes on to forbid Congress from ever choosing any church as the official denomination of the nation, and also prohibits Congress from interfering in any way with the free exercise of religion.
The amendment which prevented Congress from establishing a state church was not interpreted as having any domain over the individual states. Nothing in the Constitution was deemed to affect the individual states in any way. Almost all of the states had state churches, and that was not affected in any way by the prophibition on Congress from establishing a national church. Not until 1947 did any court even suggest that the First Amendment meant anything else.
The first amendment guarantees the right of every American to speak his or her conscience without fear of repercussions from the federal government. Then it goes on to say, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." There were twelve different versions of this amendment submitted. Each was aimed at the national government not treating one denominaion higher than another, nor establishing a national church. Congress finally narrowed the choices down to two. Both said the same thing. One was the wording quoted above, which was chosen and added to the amendment. The other stated, "By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion...and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing."
Our founding fathers thought these two statements were the same. They chose the form we have in our Constitution only because it was less wordy. Did you know that the founding fathers considered the Christian religion as the established religion of this country?
According to Joseph Story, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, appointed by President James Madison (who, incidentally, was the chief author of the Constitution), it was not the intent of Congress in the First Amendment to denigrate other religions such as "Judaism, Mohammedanism and infidelity," but since the Constitution and the new nation were "based on the principles of Christianity, it was deemed that the new government should encourage Christianity." In his commentary on the Constitution, Chief Justice Story wrote, "The real object of the First Amendment was...to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment in this country."
The thirteen colonies had been ruled by governors appointed by the King of England. By the time the Constitution was ratified, only ten had adopted state constitutions, but each had a religions qualification for holding public office which was not seen as violating the First Amendment. For instance, in Pennsylvania's document, the statement read, "And that all persons who also profess to believe in Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, shall be capable, notwithstanding their other persuasions and practices, and points of conscience and religion, to serve this government in any capacity both legislatively and executively." Or how about this from the Delaware Constitution: "Everyone appointed to public office must say, 'I do profess faith in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ, His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God and blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.'"
The people who wrote these state constitutional statements were the same people who penned the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and they saw no conflict between them.
THE NORTHWEST ORDINANCE
The day after Congress passed the First Amendment, it passed the Northwest Ordinance, one of the four principle documents in the founding of our country. It outlined how new states might be admitted to the Union. The northwest in those days was not the same as our northwest today. It included the areas west of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. And the Northwest Ordinance directed that schools should be "encouraged and established" in the area to teach (can you believe this?), to teach "religion, morality and knowledge." Each of these states, when it came into statehood, had similar statements in its constitution. Congress did not see any inconsistency between that and the First Amendment, which it had adopted only one day earlier.
It would appear to me that we have been fed truck loads, and truck loads of something other than the truth by the revisionists!
Links for more information...
"The greatest genius of the American revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble land, the principles of civil government and the principles of Christianity.
President John Quincy Adams
"The reason Christianity i the best friend of government is because Christianity is the only religion in the world that deals with the heart."
President Thomas Jefferson
THE FUNDAMENTAL ORDERS OF CONNECTCUT
The Colony's first constitution adopted in 1639
"To maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we now profess as also the disciples of the churches, which according to the truth of the said gospel is now practiced among us."
THE ARTICLES OF THE NEW ENGLAND CONFEDERATION
Adopted May 19, 1643
"Whereas we all came into these parts of America with one and the same end and aim, namely to advance the Kingdm of our Lord Jesus Christ and to enjoy the lierties of the gospel in purity with peace..."
Essays on Our Real American History
By Ken Williams
If you were to read a history book written before 1930, and compare one written in the past 25 years, you would not believe you were reading the history of the same nation. The reasons for our Declaration of Independence from England, the purpose of the new nation, and the basis upon which it rested have all been systematically eliminated from the pages of our histoy books. Read Ken Williams' essays on how our history used to read.
Essay #1: The Real Story of Columbus
Essay #2: The Real Story of the Jamestown Settlement
Essay #3: The Story of the Pilgrims as it Used to Appear in Our History
Essay #4: The French and Indian Wars
"A Story Lost to Modern Day History Books"
Essay #5: The American Revolution
Essay #6: The Birth of the Constitution of the United States of America
Essay #7: The Bill of Rights
Essay #8: The Role of the Church in the Founding of America
Essay #9: George Washington
Essay #10: The Greatest Depression and the Greatest Revival
Essay #11: Abraham Lincoln
Essay #12: James Garfield
Essay #13: Who Has Hi-jacked the Government of the United States
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