In the Founders’ Words: The Connection between God, Liberty and the Founding of America

John Jay

— from a speech to the American Bible Society, on May 9, 1822 — while he was seated as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States!

One of the biggest mistakes people make when they speak about what the founders believed is that they never cite the founders. Instead, they assert what they heard in class, on the television or radio or maybe something they read in a history book. It is always better to go straight to the horses mouth(s) and let them speak for themselves.  This is because there is no higher authority on what a person thinks or believes than the person, themselves.

Now, as you read the following citations, keep a few things in mind. First, there are more than 230 individuals who are considered “founding fathers” of this nation. This list only cites what a few of them said about this subject. Now, I already anticipate the accusation of ‘cherry picking:’ an assertion that I only used these citations because they are the only ones I can find that support my case. The truth is just the opposite. I chose these men because they make the case most forcefully and because some of them are the ultimate experts on the issues and, therefore, speak with the ultimate authority. What you will find is that they assert a belief 180 degrees opposite of the popular opinions of our time. What’s more, I could easily have cited more from each of these men, as well as many other founders. But what I could not do even if I tried is find any of these men openly attacking the connection between religion and self-government. Nor can I find them declaring their intentions to create a secular government. Both of which should be in abundance – if these assertions were true. But you cannot find such evidence because it is not true and these men never uttered such words.

Finally, as you are reading these quotes, take time to look at who some of these men were, what they did and the positions they held. Also, look at when they lived. The understanding that this nation was founded as a Christian nation was held nearly universally until shortly after the Civil War which – coincidentally – is about the time that the students of Hegel and Marx started to find their way to America. Then ask yourself which makes the most sense: that these men actually believed what they said, in which case, this nation cannot be viewed as secular; or were they “men of reason” who intentionally built a nation divorced from religion and God? And if you find that it is most likely they were men of reason who wanted to build a secular government, then how do you explain the irrationality of saying these words and then acting 180 degrees in opposition to your stated beliefs? By definition, that would be a self-refuting assertion: that these “rational” men knowingly and intentionally acted irrationally.

The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.

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 was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

–John Adams

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?

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.

–John Quincy Adams

We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.

–Samuel Adams, upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence

[Why] should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples 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.”

…we have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education….We’ve become accustomed of late to putting little books in the hands of children containing fables with 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 man made book.

Fisher Ames, author of the final wording for the First Amendment

Let us enter on this important business under the idea that we are Christians on whom the eyes of the world are now turned… [L]et us earnestly call and beseech Him, for Christ’s sake, to preside in our councils. . . . We can only depend on the all powerful influence of the Spirit of God, Whose Divine aid and assistance it becomes us as a Christian people most devoutly to implore. Therefore I move that some minister of the Gospel be requested to attend this Congress every morning . . . in order to open the meeting with prayer.

— Elias Boudinot, Served as President of Congress, signed the Peace Treaty of Paris to end the War for Independence, framer of the Bill of Rights, and respondent to Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason with The Age of Revelation

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, which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.

— Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration and member of Continental Congress

[Governments] could not give the rights essential to happiness… We claim them from a higher source: from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth.

–John Dickinson, Penman of the Revolution and delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and chosen because of how it supports Jefferson’s reference to “The King of Kings”

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth–that God Governs 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?

–Benjamin Franklin

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is impossible that a nation of infidels or idolaters [Atheists and pagans] should be a nation of freemen. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

–Patrick Henry

I think the Christian religion is a divine institution and I pray to God that I may never forget the precepts of His religion or suffer the appearance of an inconsistency in my principles and practice.

–James Iredell, US Supreme Court Justice under Washington

I have long been of the opinion that the evidence of the truth of Christianity requires only to be carefully examined to produce conviction in candid minds, and I think they who undertake that task will derived advantages. . . . As to The Age of Reason, it never appeared to me to have been written from a disinterested love of truth or of mankind.

–John Jay, co-author of the Federalist Papers and the original Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was comforted by the fact that Christianity would prevail despite Paine’s attack

By conveying the Bible to people thus circumstanced, we certainly do them a most interesting kindness. We thereby enable them to learn that man was originally created and placed in a state of happiness, but, becoming disobedient, was subjected to the degradation and evils which he and his posterity have since experienced.

The Bible will also inform them that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer, in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; that this Redeemer has made atonement “for the sins of the whole world,” and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve.

–John Jay, continued

The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. {Jesus} pushed his scrutinizes into the heart of man, erecting his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.

–Thomas Jefferson

It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.

–James Madison, Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788

The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and religion are identified. It would be strange indeed, if such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it.

–John Marshal, 4th Chief Justice of the United States and argue by some to be our greatest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

When we view the blessings with which our country has been favored, those which we now enjoy, and the means which we possess of handing them down unimpaired to our latest posterity, our attention is irresistibly drawn to the source from whence they flow. Let us then, unite in offering our most grateful acknowledgments for these blessings to the Divine Author of All Good.

–James Monroe, 5th President of the United States

Religion is the solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man toward God.

–Gouverneur Morris, delegate to the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention, head of the committee which created the final wording of the Constitution and the most active speaker, US Senator, Minister to France appointed by Washington

Blasphemy against the Almighty is denying his being or providence, or uttering contumelious reproaches on our Savior Christ. It is punished, at common law by fine and imprisonment, for Christianity is part of the laws of the land.

–Charles Pinckney, Signer of the U.S. Constitution

[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.

We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.

Surely future generations wouldn’t try to take the Bible out of schools. In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, if we were to remove the Bible from schools, I lament that we could be wasting so much time and money in punishing crime and would be taking so little pains to prevent them.

–Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, gratifier of the U.S. Constitution, Father of American medicine, founder of 5 universities and – at the time – one of the three men the Colonists considered most influential and important to the Revolution

You are further to declare that we hold sacred the rights of conscience, and may promise to the whole people, solemnly in our name, the free and undisturbed exercise of their religion. And…that all civil rights and the right to hold office were extended to persons of any Christian denomination.

-Roger Sherman, only founder to sign the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and U.S. Constitution, and clearly states here that the founders’ goal was to equate all forms of Christianity and not all religion in general

Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, not any government secure which is not supported by moral habits…. Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.

If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity.

~Daniel Webster, Early American Jurist and Senator

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look at his character. It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective 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, men of truth, hating covetousness. It is to the neglect of this rule that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, speculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country and which disgrace our government. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.

–Noah Webster, father of American education

Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both.

–James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence

Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.

— Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U. S. House,

To promote true religion is the best and most effectual way of making a virtuous and regular people. Love to God and love to man is the subtance of religion; when these prevail, civil laws will have little to do. … The magistrate (or ruling part of any society) ought to encourage piety … [and] make it an object of public esteem. Those who are vested with civil authority ought … to promote religion and good morals among all their government.

Shun, as a contagious pestilence, … those especially whom you perceive to be infected with the principles of infidelity [Atheism] or enemies to the power of religion. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not [do not hesitate] to call him an enemy to his country.

–John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Clergyman and President of Princeton University and mentor of many founding fathers

I will continue to add to this page as time permits, but I assure you, there are still volumes more to be added – and even then, this is but a summary of what our founders had to say that connects their beliefs and their foundation of this nation to the teachings of the Holy Bible.


10 thoughts on “In the Founders’ Words: The Connection between God, Liberty and the Founding of America

  1. What you have provided, by far, is the best argument against those who have said, and continue to say, including Obama, that America is not a Christian nation. You have done an awesome job, please continue to add more information, as you have indicated. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the very near future.

  2. This was so uplifting to read! Seeing the quotes from the founders of our nation is extremely helpful in combating the leftist lunatic totalitarian ideology that is (VERY unfortunately) invading the minds, hearts, souls and spirits of adults and children who are ignorant of these leftist schemes. We Christians know where such horrid mindsets of leftists comes from, and we are to expose them through sharing the TRUTH of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – God’s Living Word, as well as God’s written Word – the Bible.

    Thank you for posting this! It was like feeling a breath of fresh air! My hope is that the remnant of Christian believers in our nation who believe as the founders did will continue to share the truth and pray for God’s mercy, grace, and love to prevail upon the hearts of the lost unto salvation!

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