There are many today who would doubt or deny that this is true. There has even been an attempt to cover up and, in some cases, to destroy the legacy of Christian thinking that has gone into the formation of our republic. Yet what were the true thoughts and intentions of the men and women who came before us?
A careful look into the past reveals landmarks which were essential in guiding America along the pathway that led us to where we are today. More often than not, at each one of these landmarks, there also appears irrefutable evidence that a sense of divine destiny accompanied the most important events of our history.
Here in part are some of these landmarks:
1490-1492 – Columbus’ commission was given to set out to find a new world.
According to Columbus’ personal log, his purpose in seeking undiscovered worlds was to “bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the heathens. …. It was the Lord who put into my mind … that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies … I am the most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely … No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service.” (Columbus’ Book of Prophecies)
April 10, 1606 – The Charter for the Virginia Colony read in part:
“To the glory of His divine Majesty, in propagating of the Christian religion to such people as yet live in ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God.”
November 3, 1620 – King James I grants the Charter of the Plymouth council.
“In the hope thereby to advance the enlargement of the Christian religion, to the glory of God Almighty.”
November 11, 1620 – The Pilgrims sign the Mayflower Compact aboard the Mayflower, in Plymouth harbor.
“For the glory of God and advancement of ye Christian faith … doe by these presents solemnly & mutually in ye presence of God and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick.”
March 4, 1629 – The first Charter of Massachusetts read in part:
“For the directing, ruling, and disposeing of all other Matters and Thinges, whereby our said People may be soe religiously, peaceablie, and civilly governed, as their good life and orderlie Conversacon, maie wynn and incite the Natives of the Country to the Knowledg and Obedience of the onlie true God and Savior of Mankinde, and the Christian Fayth, which in our Royall Intencon, and The Adventurers free profession, is the principall Ende of the Plantacion..”
January 14, 1638 – The towns of Hartford, Weathersfield and Windsor adopt the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.
“To mayntayne and presearve the liberty and purity of the Gospell of our Lord Jesus, which we now professe…”
August 4, 1639 – The governing body of New Hampshire is established.
“Considering with ourselves the holy will of God and our own necessity, that we should not live without wholesome laws and civil government among us, of which we are altogether destitute, do, in the name of Christ and in the sight of God, combine ourselves together to erect and set up among us such government as shall be, to our best discerning, agreeable to the will of God…”
September 26, 1642 – The rules and precepts that were to govern Harvard were set up.
“Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, John 17:3 and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdome, Let every one seriously set himselfe by prayer in secret to seeke it of him Prov. 2.3.”
Harvard College was founded on Christi Gloriam and later dedicated Christo et Ecclesiae. The founders of Harvard believed that “all knowledge without Christ was vain.”
The charter of Yale University clearly expressed the purpose for which the school was founded: “Whereas several well disposed and Publick spirited Persons of their sincere Regard to & zeal for upholding & propagating of the Christian Protestant Religion … youth may be instructed in the Arts & Sciences who through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church & Civil State.”
In addition to Harvard and Yale, 106 out of the first 108 schools in America were founded on the Christian faith.
April 3, 1644 – The New Haven Colony adopts their charter.
“That the judicial laws of God, as they were delivered by Moses … be a rule to all the courts in this jurisdiction …”
1647 – Governor William Bradford publishes Of Plimouth Plantation.
“Lastly, (and which was not least,) a great hope and inward zeall they (the Pilgrims) had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for ye propagation and advancing of ye gospell or ye kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of ye world; yea, though they should be but stepping-stones unto others for ye performing of so great a work … their desires were set on ye ways of God, and to employ his ordinances; but they rested on his providence, and know whom they had beleeved.”
April 21, 1649 – The Maryland Toleration Act is passed.
“Be it therefor … enacted … that no person or persons whatsoever within this province … professing to believe in Jesus Christ shall … henceforth be any ways troubled, molested (or disapproved of) … in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof …”
April 25, 1689 – The Great Law of Pennsylvania is passed.
“Whereas the glory of Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and the end of government … therefore government itself is a venerable ordinance of God …”
May 20, 1775 – North Carolina passes the Mecklenburg County Resolutions.
“We hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people; are, and of a right ought to be, a sovereign and self-governing association, under control of no other power than that of our God and the general government of Congress.”
Summer 12, 1775 – Continental Congress issues a call to all citizens to fast and pray and confess their sin that the Lord might bless the land.
“And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and to abstain from servile labor and recreation on said day.”
Summer 2-4, 1776 – Declaration of Independence written and signed.
“We hold these truths … that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights … appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world … And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…”
As the Declaration was being signed, Samuel Adams said: “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.”
On the same day, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the national motto be: “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
Historian and philosopher G.K. Chesterton said of the founding of America that it is “the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth in dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence.”
September 17, 1787 – The Constitution of the United States is finished.
At least 50 out of the 55 men who framed the Constitution of the United States were professing Christians. (M.E. Bradford, A Worthy Company, Plymouth Rock Foundation., 1982).
Eleven of the first 13 States required faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible as qualification for holding public office.
The Constitution of each of the 50 States acknowledges and calls upon the Providence of God for the blessings of freedom.
1787 – James Madison, the “architect” of the federal Constitution and fourth president:
“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future .. upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves, according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
April 30, 1789 – Washington gives his First Inaugural Address.
“My fervent supplications to that Almighty Being Who rules over the universe, Who presides in the council of nations, and Whose providential aid can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a government instituted by Himself for these essential purposes.”
March 11, 1792 – President George Washington:
“I am sure that 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 so often manifested in the Revolution.”
December 20, 1820 – Daniel Webster, Plymouth Massachusetts:
“Let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers brought hither their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate … and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political and literary.”
July 4, 1821 – John Quincy Adams:
“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. From the day of the Declaration … they (the American people) were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the Gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct.”
1833 – Noah Webster:
“The religion which has introduced civil liberty, is the religion of Christ and his apostles … This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions and government … the moral principles and precepts contained in the Scripture ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws.”
1841 – Alexis de Tocqueville (Democracy in America):
“In the United States of America the sovereign authority is religious … there is no other country in the world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.”
Summer 8, 1845 – President Andrew Jackson asserts:
“The Bible is the rock upon which our Republic rests.”
February 11, 1861 – Abraham Lincoln, farewell at Springfield, Illinois:
“Unless the great God who assisted (Washington) shall be with me and aid me, I must fail; but if the same Omniscient Mind and Mighty Arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support me, I shall not fail … Let us all pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now.”
Lincoln on the Bible:
“In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it, we would not know right from wrong. All things most desireable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.” (George L. Hunt, Calvinism and the Political Order, Westminster Press, 1965, p.33)
1884 – U.S. Supreme Court reiterates the Declaration’s reference to our rights as being God-given.
These inherent rights have never been more happily expressed than in the Declaration of Independence, “we hold these truths to be self-evident” that is, so plain that their truth is recognized upon their mere statement “that all men are endowed” – not by edicts of emperors, or by decrees of parliament, or acts of Congress, but “by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to secure these” – not grant them but secure them “governments are instituted among men.”
1891 – The U.S. Supreme Court restates that America is a “Christian Nation.”
“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian … this is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation … we find everywhere a clear definition of the same truth … this is a Christian nation.” (Church of the Holy Trinity vs. United States, 143 US 457, 36 L ed 226, Justice Brewer)
1909 – President Theodore Roosevelt:
“After a week on perplexing problems … it does so rest my soul to come into the house of The Lord and to sing and mean it, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty’ … (my) great joy and glory that in occupying an exalted position in the nation, I am enabled, to preach the practical moralities of the Bible to my fellow-countrymen and to hold up Christ as the hope and Savior of the world.” (Ferdinand C. Iglehart, Theodore Roosevelt – The Man As I knew Him, A.L. Burt, 1919)
1913 – President Woodrow Wilson:
“America was born to exemplify the devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the Holy Scriptures.”
1952 – US Supreme Court defines the “Separation of Church and State.”
“We are a religious people and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being … No Constitutional requirement makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against the efforts to widen the scope of religious influence. The government must remain neutral when it comes to competition between sects … The First Amendment, however, does not say that in every respect there shall be a separation of Church and State.”
January 20, 1977 – President Jimmy Carter:
“Here before me is the Bible used in the inauguration of our first President in 1789, and I have just taken the oath of office on the Bible my mother gave me just a few years ago, opened to the timeless admonition from the ancient prophet Micah: ‘He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God’” (Micah 6:2).
1980 – President Ronald Reagan:
“The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the Healing of America … our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal.”
May 3, 1990 – President George Bush proclaims National Day of Prayer.
“The great faith that led our Nation’s Founding Fathers to pursue this bold experience in self-government has sustained us in uncertain and perilous times; it has given us strength to this very day. Like them, we do very well to recall our ‘firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,’ to give thanks for the freedom and prosperity this nation enjoys, and to pray for continued help and guidance from our wise and loving Creator.”