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Ten Quotes From Ten Founders

October 3, 2010

The Founding Fathers were, among other things, the product of the merging of two compelling streams of influence, The Enlightenment and The Great Awakening. 

The Enlightenment as articulated by Rousseau, Montesquieu and John Locke, promoted and produced a new relationship between man and his government. This stream, often quoting Cicero and invoking individual liberty and the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God, flowed through Europe in the early 1700’s and then to the 13 Colonies.

A second stream, the Great Awakening, swept throughout Colonial America from 1740 to 1770 led by Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. This stream, promoted and produced a new personal   relationship between man and his God. The resulting spiritual awakening, that sometimes drew crowds in the tens of thousands, provided inspiration and a renewed identity to an entire generation of Americans.

These two refreshing streams formed a mighty river which flowed into and transformed the lives of our Founding Fathers. Though some of the Founders were more eloquent orators than others, all left a written legacy of their passion for liberty and humble, yet absolute, trust in God.

Below is a  selected quote from ten of these uniquely remarkable men that captures the essence of their shared passions for liberty and faith. They can be read in about 5 minutes. I recommend that, after reading them, you consider reflecting on them one by one for ten days and ponder their relevance in your own life and to our beloved America in 2010.

1. George Washington, the Father of our Republic, had this to say as he began his second term as our first President…”I am sure there never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe, that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God, who is alone able to protect them.”

2. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and our third President expressed a similar sentiment…”God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

3. James Madison, the author of our Constitution, chief advocate for our Bill of Rights and our fourth President had this amazing observation…”It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”

4. Benjamin Franklin, a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, was also influenced by these streams…”I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance [as the framing of the Constitution]…should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that…beneficent Ruler in whom all inferior spirits live and move and have their being.”

5. John Adams, our second President and signer of the Declaration of Independence, leaves no doubt as to his position…”We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”

6. Patrick Henry’s impassioned speech on March 23, 1775, reflecting the merging of these two streams, was delivered in a church to the Virginia Delegates…”Sir, we are not weak if we make proper use of those means which the God of Nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations…I know not what course other may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

7. John Hancock, whose famous signature on the Declaration of Independence was penned as he presided over the Second Continental Congress, made this profound observation…”In circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us, as man and Christians, to reflect that whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgements,…at the same time all confidence must be withheld from the means we use; and reposed only on that God rules in the armies of heaven, and without His whole blessing, the best human counsels are but foolishness…We recognize no Sovereign but God and no King but Jesus.”

8. Samuel Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the Sons of Liberty, reflects the merging of these two steams in this quote…”Were the talents and virtues which Heaven hath bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges, to be sacrified to the follies and ambition of a few? Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all?

9. Alexander Hamilton, aide-de-camp to General Washington, author of a majority of the Federalist Papers and signer of the Constitution, had this to say in a Federalist Paper…”The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms, and false reasonings is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges. You would be convinced, that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficient Creator to the whole human race, and that civil liberty is founded in that; and cannot be wrestled from any people, without the most manifest violation of justice.”

10. Dr Benjamin Rush, who served in the Continental Congress, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and surgeon general in the Continental Army,  made this stunning observation…”I do not believe that the Constitution was the offspring of inspiration, but I am perfectly satisfied that the Union of the States in its form and adoption is as much a work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testaments.”

Some of the Founder’s passions for liberty and faith in their own words.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Gary Curry permalink
    October 3, 2010 12:07 pm

    Barney,

    Well said. Thank you for bearing the torch and illuminating the truths of Liberty.

    Keep up the good work!

    Gary

  2. jbarnabas63 permalink*
    October 3, 2010 8:02 pm

    Thank you for the encouragement.

    Barney

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