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A Founding Father and President – Elias Boudinot

February 22nd, 2012

Elias Boudinot

When you think of the Founding Fathers of our country certain popular and well-known names come to mind. The fact is there are many Founding Fathers with names we may never have heard. Some of these were very influential in shaping our country, and one is Elias Boudinot.

The most important fact about Elias Boudinot, as you will read,  is the clear-cut establishment of Christianity in the founding of the American society, its laws and Constitution.

Elias Boudinot (1740-1821) is a name not known by many. Would it surprise you that he was President? Probably the biggest surprise is that we had Presidents before George Washington, and Boudinot was the tenth President of the Continental Congress in 1782-1783.1

Elias Boudinot was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 2nd 1740 and died in Burlington, New Jersey October 24th, 1821. His great-grandfather, Elias, was a French Huguenot, who fled to this country after the revocation of the decree of Nantes. After receiving a Liberal Arts education, Elias Boudinot studied law with Richard Stockton of New Jersey and became distinguished in this profession in the early 1770’s. Boudinot was dutiful to the cause of independence in New Jersey, serving as a member of the Committee of Correspondence for Essex County in 1774. He often used his influence and great legal mind to persuade the New Jersey Provincial Congress to approve the resolutions of the Continental Congress and the United States in Congress Assembled. Boudinot was appointed NJ Commissary-General of Prisoners in 1777. In the same year he was elected a delegate to Continental Congress from New Jersey, serving from 1778 until 1779. He also served in the United States in Congress Assembled from 1781 until 1784.

Boudinot, a wealthily New Jersey lawyer and leader of the Presbyterian Church, won the presidency by a narrow margin The delegate count was 16 to 11. The law however of One state One Vote ended the tally seven states to four and two states not voting.

The other four states cast their votes for three different southern delegates. Eliphalet Dyer wrote to Jonathan Trumbull, November 8, 1782:

 Mr. Boudinot of the State of New Jersey, a gebtn of good character, virtuous, and decent behavior, was elected President of Congress on Monday last for the year ensuing; the choice was clear, no strift, as it is the prevailing inclination of Congress, to proceed in course through the States when it can be done with propriety, Jersey having none before.2

Boudinot was elected President of the United States in Congress Assembled on November 4th, 1782. Boudinot was a humble man who did not seek position or stature. Yet, his diplomacy, manner, and intelligence had a great influence as a Founding Father.

Justice Rehnquist, in his dissent in Wallace v. Jaffree (1985), listed Elias Boudinot (1740-1821) as one of the Christian founding fathers whose views contributed to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Boudinot is one example proving the authenticity of America’s Christian heritage. He set out his Christian viewpoint in The Age of Revelation (excerpted below), which was a pamphlet, written as a letter to his daughter in 1795, to uphold Christian beliefs and to refute Thomas Paine’s pamphlet (The Age of Reason) which advocated “the religion of nature” and sought to discredit the accuracy and infallibility of the Bible. (Boudinot, in contrast, upheld the Bible’s accuracy.) At the time Boudinot wrote this pamphlet, he was the Director of the United States Mint.

Consider this Boudinot statement: “There is no other instance (than that of the Mosaic code) of a body of laws being produced at once, and remaining without addition afterwards….” American society (including its early laws) were based primarily on Christianity, which in turn was based on the Mosaic code (the Ten Commandments). That was the view of many Early Americans, including founders like Elias Boudinot, who certainly would know their own generation better than we would.3

Earlier, in 1782, Boudinot was a member of the third (final) committee to design the Great Seal of the United States (especially the Coat of Arms portion). This committee turned the task of designing the United States Coat of Arms over to attorney William Barton, an expert in heraldry, upon whose knowledge the committee depended.3

When the United States government was formed in 1789, New Jersey sent Boudinot to the House of Representatives. He was elected to the second and third congresses as well, where he generally supported the administration, but refused to join the growing forces that led to formal political parties. In 1794, he declined to serve another term, and left Congress in early 1795. In October 1795, President Washington appointed him the Director of the United States Mint, a position he held until his retirement in 1805. He was scrupulous in his accounting, as reported to Congress, and left the US Mint in excellent order for the future.

In addition to serving in political office, Elias supported many civic, religious, and educational causes during his life. In Revolutionary times, Princeton was the College of New Jersey, and Boudinot served as one of its trustees for nearly half a century, from 1772 until 1821. When the Continental Congress was forced to leave Philadelphia in 1783 while he was its president, he moved the meetings to Princeton, where they met in the University’s Nassau Hall.

A devout Presbyterian, Boudinot supported missions and missionary work. He was one of the founders of the American Bible Society, and served as its President after 1816. He argued for the rights of black and American Indian citizens, and sponsored students to the Board School for Indians in Connecticut. One of these, a young Cherokee named Gallegina Watie, stayed with him while traveling to the school. The two so impressed each other that Gallegina asked for and was given permission to use his name. He later was known as Elias Boudinot.4

 1 There were 16 presidents of Congress. John Hanson (#9) was the first President elected under the terms of the Articles of Confederation with Boudinot being the second Continental Congress President. The presiding officer of the Continental Congress was usually styled “President of the Congress” or “President of Congress.” After the Articles of Confederation were adopted on March 1, 1781, the Continental Congress, previously officially known as simply “The Congress”, became officially known as “The United States in Congress Assembled.” Thereafter, the president was referred to as the “President of the United States in Congress Assembled”, although “President of (the) Congress” was used in some official documents.

2  Read his letters and other correspondence at http://eliasboudinot.com/

3 Belcher Foundation, ©2001, All Rights Reserved; http://www.belcherfoundation.org/boudinot.htm

4  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elias_Boudinot



October 10th, 2011

By Attorney Rees Lloyd

On September 17, 1787, after weeks of often bitter debate by delegates of the States gathered at the Constitutional Convention at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Constitution of

United States Constitution

the United States, beginning with the words, “We, the People,” was signed by thirty-nine of the fifty-five delegates. The world was changed forever as America began its ‘great experiment’ in self-government.

Never before had a constitution been established in the name of “the People” of a nation, rather than by and in the name of a monarch, a state, or other governmental power. Many of the most erudite thinkers of the so-called “Age of Enlightenment,” did not believe that a constitutional republic of limited government “by, for, and of the people” could survive in a broad land containing a large and diverse population. America is still an ongoing experiment in liberty.

The Constitutional Convention had commenced on May 14, 1787, with a challenge to the conscience and integrity of delegates by George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army which had won the Revolutionary war. Washington, then and now the model American patriot, was elected President of the Constitutional Convention by unanimous vote.

“If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterward defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the event is in the Hand of God,” said Washington, who would later become the First President of the United States and be regarded as “the Father of his country.”

The delegates were learned American patriots who had studied history deeply to meet the task of creating a constitution fit for a free people. Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence but did not participate in the Constitutional Convention because he was in Paris representing the United States, wrote of the delegates with utmost respect as “a gathering of demigods.”

The Constitution the framers wrought in the name of “We, the People,” was one creating a government of expressly limited powers – a limited federal government of not a national government of self-expanding powers.

The subsequently adopted “Bill of Rights,” contained in the First Ten Amendments, for which the efforts of James Madison earned him recognition as “the Father of the Constitution,” begin with five words limiting powers of the federal government over the people:

‘”Congress shall make no law…,” respecting an establishment of religion nor abridging the fundamental rights of free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, of press, of assembly, of petition for redress of grievance. These are rights which the Founding Fathers believed Americans were “endowed by their Creator,” as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. That is, the Founders believed these were natural rights, rights granted by the “hand of God, not the hand of a generous government.,” as the late President John F. Kennedy would express it.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments reinforced the words “Congress shall make no law…” by mandating that the people and the states retained all rights not enumerated as possessed by the central government.

Never before in history had “We, the people,” had their natural rights so expressly protected by a constitution so expressly limiting the government as to its powers. By changing the relationship of the people and their government, limiting the power of government and making the retained rights of the people superior, the Founding Fathers changed the world. Ever after, the people of the world who have dreamed of the freedoms of Americans, have looked to the values expressed in the American Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution, as a model for liberty in a constitutional republic.

The framers of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers of America, were faced with a great challenge, and they met it. The Constitution which they framed was finally ratified by all states by January 10, 1791. It has now endured for 224 years since it was signed on Sept. 17, 1787.

“What kind of government have you given us, Mr. Franklin,” an American woman asked Founding Father Benjamin Franklin at the close of the convention.

“A republic, Madam,” Ben Franklin replied. “If you can keep it.”

That, the keeping of the free constitutional republic that the Founding Fathers bequeathed to us, is our challenge.

We owe a great debt to all those Founding Fathers and other Americans who came before us who preserved our freedom. We pay that debt by what we do to preserve freedom for those Americans who will come after us.

By Attorney Rees Lloyd, September 20, 2011; NewsWithViews.com

Reprinted with permission; © 2011 Rees Lloyd – All Rights Reserved; E-Mail: ReesLloydLaw@gmail.com



November 9th, 2010

Washington’s Views

“It appears to me,” writes Washington to Lafayette, February 8, 1788, “little short of a miracle that the delegates from so many States, differing from each other, as you know, in their means, circumstances, and prejudices, should unite informing a system of national government so little liable to well-founded objections. It will at least be a recommendation to the proposed Constitution that it is provided with more checks and barriers against the introduction of tyranny, and those of a nature less liable to be surmounted, than any government hitherto instituted among mortals. We are not to expect perfection in this world; but mankind in modern times have apparently made some progress in the science of government.” (1)

“We may with a kind of pious and grateful exultation,” writes Washington to Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, July 20, 1788, “trace the finger of Providence through those dark and mysterious events which first induced the States to appoint a general convention, and then led them one after another, by such steps as were best calculated to effect the object, into an adoption of the system recommended by the general convention, thereby, in all human probability, layi8ng a lasting foundation for tranquility and happiness, when we had too much reason to fear that confusion and misery were coming upon us.” (2)

His Address on the Adoption of the
Constitution to the People of Philadelphia

On his way to New York, after its adoption, to assume the administration of the new government, processions and ovations were frequent in honor of the adoption of the Constitution and as a tribute to the good and great man who had presided over the convention that formed it. At Philadelphia twenty thousand people met and welcomed Washington with cries of “Long live George Washington! Long live the father of his country!” Washington, in addressing the people of that city, spoke as follows –

“When I contemplate the interposition of Providence, as it has been visibly manifested in guiding us through the Revolution, in preparing us for the General Government, and in conciliating the good will of the people of America towards one another in its adoption, I feel myself oppressed and overwhelmed with a sense of the Divine munificence.”

In that procession at Philadelphia, to honor the new Constitution, “the clergy formed a conspicuous part, manifesting by their attendance a sense of the connection between good government and religion. They marched arm in arm, to illustrate the General Union. Care was taken to associate ministers of the most dissimilar opinions with each other, to display the promotion of Christian charity by free institutions. “The rabbi of the Jews, with a minister of the gospel on each side, was a most delightful sight. It exhibited the political equality, not only of Christian denominations, but of worth men of every belief.”

“It has sometimes been concluded”, says a writer*, “that Christianity cannot have any direct connection with the Constitution of the United States, on the ground that the instrument contains no express declaration to that effect. But the error of such a conclusion becomes manifest when we reflect that the same is the case with regard to several other truths, which are notwithstanding, fundamental in our constitutional system. The Declaration of Independence says that ‘governments are instituted among men to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;’ and that ‘whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government.’ These principles lie at the foundation of the Constitution of the United States. No principles in the Constitution are more fundamental than these. But the instrument contains no declaration to this effect; these principles are nowhere mentioned in it, and the references to them are equally slight and indirect with those which are made to the Christian religion. The same may be said of the great republican truth that political sovereignty resides in the people of the United States because this is nowhere expressly declared in the instrument, he ought, in reason, to be equally convinced that the same Constitution is not built upon and does not recognize the sovereignty of the people, and the great republican truths above quoted from the Declaration of Independence. This argument receives additional strength when we consider that the Constitution of the United States was formed directly for political and not for religious objects. The truth, is they are all equally fundamental, though neither of them is expressly mentioned in the Constitution.

“Besides, the Constitution of the United States contemplates, and is fitted for: such a state of society as Christianity alone can form. It contemplates a state of society in which strict integrity, simplicity, and purity of manners, wide diffusion of knowledge, well-disciplined passions, and wise moderation, are the general characteristics of the people. These virtues, in our nation, are the offspring of Christianity, and without the continued general belief of its doctrines and practices of its precepts that will gradually decline and eventually perish.” (3)

The Constitution declares that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (4)

(1) The Papers of George Washington, The Making of the Constitution, George Washington to Lafayette, 7 February 1788 (The Papers, Confederation Series, 6:95-97); Alderman Library, University of Virginia
(2) Life and Times of Washington, Volume 2, John Frederick Schroeder and Benson John Lossing, Pages 310-311; copyright 2007, The Echo Library, Teddington, Middlesex, UK
(3) *The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States, sermon by Reverend J. Adams, President, College of Charleston of Carolina and (exOfficio) Horry Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy February 13, 1833, St. Michael’s Church, Charleston
(4) EndNote: Entire article is quoted from The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Benjamin F. Morris, American Vision, Inc., Pages 304-307; Sources added by Editor.


May 25th, 2010

James Wilson; Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of Congress

James Wilson of Pennsylvania may be a name you do not recognize. He arrived in Pennsylvania in 1765. As one of the eight framers of the Constitution, it is said that Wilson was second only to James Madison, and was perhaps on a par with him, in terms of influence on the Constitution. [1] He was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

There is much to say about this amazing man that we can not cover in one blog. There are two very important points to be made this time; one, he held the vision for a nation, and second, he was a devout Christian.

Christianity has been a major influence on the founding of our nation and in spite of increasing secularism it still is very much a force today. To say that our political tradition is not influenced by Christianity raises the question of why presidential candidates deem it so important to address Christians. That in itself demonstrates the recognition of reality – there is a practicing Christian population that influences politics. Political questions are ultimately moral questions and most moral views are framed by one’s religious commitments. James Wilson, without a doubt, was a major Christian influence on the framing of our nation’s constitution and law (he became a Supreme Court Judge later). He based formulating constitutional law on Christian natural law.

James Wilson was born in 1742 (Carskerdo, Scotland) and dedicated to the ministry at birth. He entered the University of St. Andrews and studied there for four years before entering their Divinity School. He was unable to complete his studies and had to withdraw due to his father’s death. After caring for family matters he came to Pennsylvania in 1765. He began his life in Pennsylvania by teaching Latin and Greek at the College of Philadelphia and then studied law under John Dickinson. He then became a lawyer and entered politics. It was one of his writings the jumpstarted him into the national scene.

“Wilson achieved national recognition in 1774 with the publication of ‘Considerations on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament,’ the first essay to argue that Americans had absolutely no obligation to obey Parliament. He was able to put his theory of resistance into practice after he was appointed to the Continental Congress in 1775. He became an important participant in the debates over the controversy with Great Britain, and eventually cast the tie-breaking vote in the Pennsylvania delegation in favor of independence.” [2]

All this led to his being one of eight framers of the Declaration of Independence and he also attended the Constitutional Convention where he was one of only six to sign both documents. Significantly, he also was among the few delegates that attended the convention from beginning to the finish. It is stated that he spoke 168 times, more than any other member. This is why he is ranked as the second most influential participant of the Constitutional Convention.

“Wilson clearly and consistently appealed to Christian principals throughout his works, something particularly evident and relevant with respect to his natural law theory. Given this reality, why do most contemporary students of Wilson ignore or refuse to take seriously his religious views?” [3]

“Wilson contended that because God created the world and has ‘infinite power-infinite wisdom-and infinite goodness,’ he has ‘supreme right to prescribe a law for our conduct, and that we are under the most perfect obligation to obey that law.’ [4] Similarly, he stated several times that our obligation to obey natural law is rooted in the ‘will of God.’ [5][6]

Space does not permit us to eleborate more fully on Wilson’s faith and Christian reasoning, but an excellent publication for this may be found at Google Books at http://goo.gl/SpTR starting at Page 181.

[1] James Bryce, “James Wilson: An Appreciation”, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (October 1936), Pg 360.
[2] Daniel L. Dreisback, Mark D. Hall, Jeffrey H. Morrison, Editors, The Founders On God and Government, 2004, Page 182, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
[3] Daniel L. Dreisback, Mark D. Hall, Jeffrey H. Morrison, Editors, The Founders On God and Government, 2004, Page 186, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
[4] Robert McClosky, Editor, The Works of James Madison, 2 Volumes (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967) Pages 128, 126, 132-33
[5] Robert McClosky, Editor, The Works of James Madison, 2 Volumes (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967) Pages 132, 150, 153
[6] Daniel L. Dreisback, Mark D. Hall, Jeffrey H. Morrison, Editors, The Founders On God and Government, 2004, Page 189, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.


May 4th, 2010

The flag of Rhode Island is white and consists of a gold anchor in the center (a symbol for hope) surrounded by thirteen gold stars (for the original 13 colonies and Rhode Island's status as the 13th state to ratify the Constitution).

On May 4th, 1776, two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted, the state declared its independence from England. It is one of the original thirteen colonies and its official name (still to this day) is State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It is the longest official state name and geographically smallest state in our country.

The first European settler in what is now Rhode Island was an Anglican minister, William Blackstone, who settled near what is now called Blackstone River, close to modern Lonsdale, in 1635. In June 1636, the father of Rhode Island, Roger Williams, brought some of his followers from Massachusetts to escape religious oppression. The people of Massachusetts were Congregationalists—Puritans who had fled England due to persecution by the Church of England. Roger Williams wanted to establish a colony where people could worship freely. He believed that that one should not infringe on another’s right to worship, and should have the ability to practice any religion of choice. [1]

The name Rhode Island and Providence Plantations derives from the merger of two colonies, Providence Plantations and Rhode Island. Providence Plantations was the name of the colony founded by Roger Williams in the area now known as the City of Providence. Rhode Island, the other colonial settlement, was founded in the area of present-day Newport, on Aquidneck Island, the largest of several islands in Narragansett Bay. [2]

The Consitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was birthed out of freedom of religion and acknowledgement of God and His sovereignity over the people of the state. Here are some excerpts of the Constitution:

of the
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations


We, the people of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing upon our endeavors to secure and to transmit the same, unimpaired, to succeeding generations, do ordain and establish this Constitution of government.



In order effectually to secure the religious and political freedom established by our venerated ancestors, and to preserve the same for our posterity, we do declare that the essential and unquestionable rights and principles hereinafter mentioned shall be established, maintained, and preserved, and shall be of paramount obligation in all legislative, judicial and executive proceedings.

Section 1. Right to make and alter Constitution — Constitution obligatory upon all. — In the words of the Father of his Country, we declare that “the basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and alter their constitutions of government; but that the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.”

Section 2. Laws for good of whole — Burdens to be equally distributed — Due process — Equal protection — Discrimination — No right to abortion granted. — All free governments are instituted for the protection, safety, and happiness of the people. All laws, therefore, should be made for the good of the whole; and the burdens of the state ought to be fairly distributed among its citizens. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender or handicap be subject to discrimination by the state, its agents or any person or entity doing business with the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.

Section 3. Freedom of religion. — Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; and all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness; and whereas a principal object of our venerable ancestors, in their migration to this country and their settlement of this state, was, as they expressed it, to hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil state may stand and be best maintained with full liberty in religious concernments; we, therefore, declare that no person shall be compelled to frequent or to support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatever, except in fulfillment of such person’s voluntary contract; nor enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in body or goods; nor disqualified from holding any office; nor otherwise suffer on account of such person’s religious belief; and that every person shall be free to worship God according to the dictates of such person’s conscience, and to profess and by argument to maintain such person’s opinion in matters of religion; and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect the civil capacity of any person. [3]

Rhode Island’s present constitution was adopted in 1842 and has been often amended. Excerpts above are from the Constitution as it is today.

[1] U.S. History Encyclopedia
[2] From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
[3] State of Rhode Island and General Assembly, http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/RiConstitution/C01.html

No Intermeddling and No Flagrant Usurpations

April 14th, 2010

James Madison

Founding Father and U.S. President James Madison is often called the “Father of the Constitution”, having written most of it at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. He then wrote over one-third of the Federalist Papers, essays that were intended to sway public opinion to ratifying the new Constitution.

Significantly, Madison has often also been referred to as a primary source for the separation of church and state. He, and others, has been used to justify acts such as removal of prayers in schools, or limiting religious expression by teachers in public schools. Those court decisions have had the effect of chilling free speech in the classroom, at least in regards to religion.

Madison certainly came out in opposition of anything that directed tax monies from taxpayers to go directly to churches. For example, there was a move in Virginia in 1784-85 to create a special tax to pay ministers of churches. Eventually the popular bill let each taxpayer decide which church should receive his share of the tax. Madison, a Virginian, saw problems with this down the road, and didn’t think the government had any business directing church funding. He opposed it vigorously, even working to get the bill’s principal supporter elected governor so he could not vote for the bill.

But believing that Government should not be involved in religion is the polar opposite of Government prohibiting freedom of religion, or more distinctly, the prohibition of the expression of religion. Madison apparently believed Government should not be involved in religion (though if you look at the context of the culture and times in which he lived, he would have never dreamed of creating a government that promoted a vacuum of religion). But he also did not believe in Government prohibiting the free exercise of religion. As Virginians considered whether or not to ratify the U. S. Constitution he wrote, some suggested he include a clause in it to establish the protection of religion. He argued it already did protect it:

Fortunately for this commonwealth, a majority of the people are decidedly against any exclusive establishment–I believe it to be so in the other states. There is not a shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a most flagrant usurpation. I can appeal to my uniform conduct on this subject, that I have warmly supported religious freedom.

Even the tiniest little bit of  “intermeddling” would be a “flagrant usurpation.” Merriam-Webster defines “usurpation” as “to seize and hold (as office, place, or powers) in possession by force or without right.” If government interfered with religion at all, it would be a most flagrant seizure and taking of power, without right, and by force! He was saying, literally, that government would take the place that it had no right to take—the place of power to determine or limit religious expression.

Furthermore, he pointed out that even a bill of rights would not protect people from being taxed to outright support certain religions:

Is a bill of rights a security for religion? Would the bill of rights, in this state, exempt the people from paying for the support of one particular sect, if such sect were exclusively established by law? If there were a majority of one sect, a bill of rights would be a poor protection for liberty. Happily for the states, they enjoy the utmost freedom of religion. This freedom arises from that multiplicity of sects, which pervades America, and which is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society. For where there is such a variety of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest.

In his mind, there was never any doubt that men would be able to freely discuss and take part in religion as they wished. He never even mentions those who were outside religion as having the right to supersede and direct those who were practicing religion. And with a multiplicity of sects—diverse groups of believers in different denominations—freedom of religion would be guaranteed by the sheer numbers of different churches, with no sect taking precedence over other groups. But others wished to see freedom of religion clearly delineated in the American government, and so it became part of the U.S. Bill of Rights as the First Amendment. As the First Amendment has been twisted in the last 50 years to enforce the limitation of the freedom of expression of religion, Madison may been right in that even an official government recognition of religious freedom in the form of a bill of rights would not be enough to protect the freedom to express religion.

End Notes:

About James Madison

Virginia Ratifying Convention:

Madison’s Speech at the Ratifying Convention
James Madison, Virginia Ratifying Convention
12 June 1788Papers 11:130–31
The Founders’ Constitution
Volume 5, Amendment I (Religion), Document 49
The University of Chicago Press
The Papers of James Madison. Edited by William T. Hutchinson et al. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1962–77 (vols. 1–10); Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977–(vols. 11–).

Usurpation definition:


April 9th, 2010

Part of our efforts in presenting early American Christian history is to know and understand the Constitution of the United States.

That being said, there is a national debate going on about recent health legislation passed by Congress. A major issue is that parts of this health bill are unconstitutional. One glaring part is about every citizen being required by law to purchase health insurance and being subject to penalties if they do not. The reply to this is the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution contains that power. The National Center for Constitutional Studies disagrees and recently issued this reply:

Background of the Power of Congress to Regulate Interstate Commerce

One of the challenges facing the states after the Revolutionary War was raising money to pay their expenses and debts. Most states knew taxing the people would be futile because the people had no money and they had just fought a war over the subject of oppressive taxation. So some states decided to set up taxes on commerce, that is, goods coming into or leaving the state, either at the ports or the inland borders. This tactic, however, tended to set states up as individual nations rather than as a common market. It would pit state against state and would lead to discriminatory taxation on certain industries.

Virginia was one of the principal offenders in this respect. While the Constitution was up before the convention of the various states for ratification, Washington wrote to Lafayette that his own state had recently tried to pass “some of the most extravagant and preposterous edicts on the subject of trade” that had ever been written.

But the other states were also gouging their neighbors with discriminatory regulations of commerce. Rhode Island , for example, met all of her expenses out of duties levied at one port where commerce had to enter from other states. New York also demanded oppressive duties on all imports coming through her major shipping channels. It was apparent that if the regulation of commerce were left to the states they would soon degenerate into isolated economic fiefs with each one using discriminatory and retaliatory regulations against surrounding states.

The question had to be resolved as to how to keep states from setting up these tariffs and regulations on goods flowing into or out of a state. To leave this to the states to solve might lead to civil war. It would certainly lead to dissolution of the union. There was no other way to keep a state from setting up these restrictions than by giving the authority to do so to a neutral entity, and that was the federal government.

James Monroe of Virginia (while serving in Congress from 1783 to 1786) had unsuccessfully tried to include the federal regulation of commerce in the Articles of Confederation. He is also credited with suggesting it for the Constitution. Madison felt it was “necessary to preserve the Union,” for “without it, it (the Union ) will infallibly crumble to pieces.”

So by the time the Constitutional Convention was held in 1787 it was clear to many of the delegates that unless the regulation of interstate commerce was placed in the hands of the national government, the states would wreck the union with their petty regulations designed to promote local prosperity at the expense of the general welfare.

Emphasis was on Maintaining a Free Flow of Commerce Among the States

Giving the national government the power to regulate interstate commerce, as a constitutionally delegated power proved to be the answer to maintaining a common market among the states. The commerce clause has consistently served as a barrier to the suppressive efforts of individual states to favor their own industry or economy. In more than 2,500 cases which have been brought before the state and federal courts, tax laws, license laws, and regulations of an infinite variety enacted by state legislatures have been held invalid as interfering with the free flow of interstate commerce.

As Economics Professor Gary Galles of Pepperdine University recently wrote: “The Commerce Clause was designed to take that abusive power from the states by giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce; ‘regulate’ meant ‘to make regular or normal’ or ‘to remove impediments….” ( Washington Times , March 27, 2010)

As with most constitutional provisions, the United States was the pioneer in discovering the advantages which the free flow of commerce among its several states contributed to national economic prosperity. Australia followed the opposite policy until 1900, when she conceded that provincial or state barriers to commerce were repressive. Brazil , Canada , and other nations with modern constitutions have generally followed the American Constitution in this respect.

It is crucial to note that, in the Founders’ formula, the whole power to regulate interstate commerce dealt only with matters to ensure the free flow of goods, or in other words, transportation of interstate commerce, not with any control over the production, manufacturing, or sale of goods going interstate. As W. Cleon Skousen explained:

Doctrines relating to the protection of the states’ sphere of power were set forth by the Supreme Court in the Sugar Trust Case. The court’s decision stated:

Production is always local, and under the exclusive domain of the states.

Commerce among the states (interstate commerce) does not begin until goods commence their final movement from their state of origin to that of their destination.

The sale of any product is merely an incident of its production and is therefore under the domain of the state because its effect on interstate commerce is merely incidental

Combinations or associations organized for the sale and distribution of goods are under the regulatory power of the state since the effect on interstate commerce is indirect, not direct.

As Justice George Sutherland pointed out in Carter v. Carter Coal Co.:

“Much stress is put upon the evils which come from the struggle between employers and employees over matters of wages, working conditions, the right of collective bargaining, etc., and the resulting strikes, curtailment and irregularity of production, and the effect on prices; and it is insisted that interstate commerce is greatly affected thereby. But … the conclusive answer is that the evils are all local evils over which the Federal Government has no legislative control. The relation of employer and employee is a local relation. As a common law it is one of the domestic relations. The wages are paid for the doing of local work. Working conditions are obviously local conditions. The employees are not engaged in or about commerce, but exclusively in producing a commodity…. Such effect as they may have upon commerce, however extensive it may be, is secondary and indirect.” ( The Making of America, p. 406)

Changing Emphasis from Commerce to Regulate

In the decades following the passage of The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 and usually under the pressure of war and depression, the Supreme Court twisted or reversed traditional cases on interstate commerce and introduced the unconstitutional doctrine that the federal government may regulate anything that affects interstate commerce directly or indirectly. (For a list of cases, see The Making of America , pp. 403-408) One must ask: “What doesn’t affect interstate commerce indirectly?” This has resulted in usurpation of power in the form of sweeping federal regulations over nearly every aspect of American life. These doctrines include:

Anything affecting the “current of commerce” from manufacturing to distribution is under federal authority.

Commerce includes all aspects of selling, trading, and trafficking, as well as interstate transportation. Therefore, the federal authority extends to every aspect of commercial activity connected with interstate commerce.

The federal government can regulate any activity which affects interstate commerce either directly or indirectly. It can therefore fix prices, wages, working conditions, health conditions, and the retirement of employees.

All interstate industries automatically come under federal authority for the purpose of intervening in strikes and labor relations. As the Supreme Court said: “When industries organize themselves on a national scale, making their relation to interstate commerce the dominant factor in their activities, how can it be maintained that their industrial labor relations constitute a forbidden field into which Congress may not enter when it is necessary to protect interstate commerce from the paralyzing consequences of industrial war?” This now includes all major industries in the country.

A Graphic Example – the American Hamburger!

In 1980, U. S. News and World Report published a Pictogram entitled, “Your Hamburger: 41,000 Regulations.” It reads:

“The hamburger, staple of the quick, inexpensive meal, is the subject of 41,000 federal and state regulations, many of those stemming from 200 laws and 110,000 precedent-setting court cases.

“These rules, cited in a three-volume study by Colorado State University, touch on everything involved in meat production—grazing practices of cattle, conditions in slaughterhouses and methods used to process meat for sale to supermarkets, restaurants and fast-food outlets. Together they add 8 to 11 cents per pound to the cost of hamburger.”

And that was 30 years ago!

In a cut-away graphic, the report gave several examples, two of which are: “Ketchup—to be considered Grade A fancy, it must flow no more than 9 centimeters in 30 seconds at 69 degrees Fahrenheit” and, “Pickles—Slices must be between 1/8 and 3/8 inches thick.” ( U. S. News and World Report , February 11, 1980, p. 64) (This Pictogram can be viewed at www.nccs.net/seminars . Scroll down the right side to Webinar Archives – Part 3, let it load, then slide over to 1 hour and 20 minutes into the presentation.)

Mandatory Health Care Invents even more
Authority in the Interstate Commerce Clause

As stated earlier, the proponents of the Health Care legislation recently passed by Congress and signed by the President cite the Commerce Clause as authority for doing such a thing. As we have just shown, any honest student who reads the Founders’ must admit there is no authority in the Constitution for such legislation, but, of course, the proponents like to cite Supreme Court cases to show how the authority has been added to the “living constitution” by the federal judiciary.

However, in citing court cases, no one can cite a single case in the history of the United States where it has been held constitutional for the federal government to require every person in this country to purchase a product or a service. This is exactly what this new legislation requires. Furthermore, it provides for a penalty to be paid if such health insurance is not purchased. This provision is so far beyond any authority in the history of this country, that it is difficult to envision even the Supreme Court of today approving such laws. The lawsuits are being filed. People are challenging. States are challenging. It seems that if by some irrational means the majority of the court does go along with this edict, which is far beyond even a liberal interpretation of the Commerce Clause to this point, there may be wholesale numbers ready to invoke the following paraphrased idea in the Declaration of Independence:

“…and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind [Americans] are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing [changing] the forms to which they are accustomed [that is, the form by which the people give Congress its power]. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government [or abusive power], and to provide new guards for their future security.”

Surely, this will push modern Americans to the point we reached in 1776.[2]

[1] National Center for Constitutional Studies, 37777 West Juniper Road, Malta, ID 83342; www.nccs.net
[2] Background of the Power of Congress to Regulate Interstate Commerce, by Earl Taylor, Jr.


April 5th, 2010

Delivered to the Federal Convention by Alexander Hamilton (NY)


18 June 1787

Mr HAMILTON introduced the following resolution


The supreme Legislative power of the United States of America to be vested in two different bodies of men;

The one to be called the Assembly, the other the Senate who together shall form the Legislature of the United States with power to pass all laws whatsoever subject to the negative hereafter mentioned.


The Assembly to consist of persons elected by the people to serve for three years.


The Senate to consist of persons elected to serve during good behaviour;

Their election to be made by electors chosen for that purpose by the people: in order to this the States to be divided into election districts.

On the death, removal or resignation of any Senator his place to be filled out of the district from which he came.


The supreme Executive authority of the United States to be vested in a Governour to be elected to serve during good behaviour;

The election to be made by Electors chosen by the people in the Election Districts aforesaid;

The authorities and functions of the Executive to be as follows:

TO have a negative on all laws about to be passed, and the execution of all laws passed;

TO have the direction of war when authorized or begun;

TO have with the advice and approbation of the Senate the power of making all treaties;

TO have the sole appointment of the heads or chief officers of the departments of Finance, War and Foreign Affairs;

TO have the nomination of all other officers (ambassadors to foreign nations included) subject to the approbation or rejection of the Senate;

TO have the power of pardoning all offenses except treason; which he shall not pardon without the approbation of the Senate.


On the death, resignation or removal of the Governour his authorities to be exercised by the President of the Senate till a successor be appointed.


The Senate to have the sole power of declaring war, the power of advising and approving all treaties, the power of approving or rejecting all appointments of officers except the heads or chiefs of the departments of Finance, War and Foreign Affairs.


The supreme Judicial authority to be vested in ____ Judges to hold their offices during good behaviour with adequate and permanent salaries.

This Court to have original jurisdiction in all causes of capture, and an appellative jurisdiction in all causes in which the revenues of the general Government or the Citizens of foreign Nations are concerned.


The Legislature of the United States to have power to institute courts in each state for the determination of all matters of general concern.


The Governour, Senators and all officers of the United States to be liable to impeachment for mal– and corrupt conduct; and upon conviction to be removed from office, and disqualified for holding any place of trust or profit-all impeachments to be tried by a court to consist of the Chief ________ or Judge of the Superior Court of Law of each state, Provided, Such Judge shall hold his place during good behaviour, and have a permanent salary.


All laws of the particular states contrary to the Constitution or laws of the United States to be utterly void; and

The better to prevent such laws being passed, the Governour or President of each state shall be appointed by the General Government and shall have a negative upon the laws about to be passed in the state of which he is Governour or President.


No State to have any forces land or naval; and

The Militia of all the States to be under the sole and exclusive direction of the United States.

The officers of which to be appointed and commissioned by them.

Source: Read the entire proposal here: http://goo.gl/eeHE


March 18th, 2010

The Federalist Papers Vol I

The Federalist Papers were written and published during the years 1787 and 1788 in several New York State newspapers to persuade New York voters to ratify the proposed constitution.

In total, the Federalist Papers consist of 85 essays outlining how this new government would operate and why this type of government was the best choice for the United States of America. All of the essays were signed “PUBLIUS” and the actual authors of some are under dispute, but the general consensus is that Alexander Hamilton wrote 52, James Madison wrote 28, and John Jay contributed the remaining five.

The Federalist Papers remain today as an excellent reference for anyone who wants to understand the U.S. Constitution. [1]

In essence, these papers reveal a depth of understanding human nature, its depravity and contentions and the necessity to find unity to bring about a Constitution for our new country. These series of essays explained and defended the Constitution.

Paper Number 20 was titled as a continuation of Paper Number 15, “The Insufficiency of the Present to Preserve the Union”, was written by Hamiliton. Paper Number 20 was written by Madison with Hamilton. At one point, like taking a deep breath, they expressed the difficulties of getting agreement on the Constitution. Then, they wrote this:

“Let us pause, my fellow-citizens, for one moment over this melancholy and monitory lesson of history; and with the tear that drops for the calamities brought on mankind by their adverse opinions and selfish passions, let our gratitude mingle an ejaculation to Heaven for the propitious concord which has distinguished the consultations for our political happiness.”

Later, in Paper Number 37, titled “Concerning the Difficulties of the Convention in Devising a Proper Form of Government”, Madison says this:

“It is imposible 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.” [2]

In the great battle of secularists attempting to tear apart the argument of our being a Christian nation, they often attack the very beliefs of the founding fathers and others. They point out that they were mostly Freemasons and Deists. Unfortunately, due to their own ignorance and lack of understanding spiritual matters, they do not see or recognize that God’s sovereignty rules over men. The one common thread among many of our founding fathers is they, regardless of their personal belief system, did recognize and aknowledge God and His sovereignty over men.

The Federalists Papers explains the complexities of a constitutional government, its political structure and principles based on the inherent rights of man. We highly recommend you read these to learn more. See Footnote 2 below.

[1] http://www.foundingfathers.info/federalistpapers/
[2] As quoted in The Federalists Papers, edited by Clinton Rossitrer with an Introduction and Notes by Charles R. Kesler; Signet Classic, New American Library, 2003 [Based on the original McLean edition of 1788]


March 10th, 2010

John Hancock

One of the most distinguished personages of the War of Independence was John Hancock, who was born near the village of Quincy, in Massachusetts, in the year 1737. He was a soldier, public official and Harvard graduate (1754). He served several terms as a Selectman of Boston; member of the Provincial Legislature (1766-72); member of the Continental Congress (1774-78) where he was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and President of Congress (1774-77); He was a Senior Major-General of the Massachusetts Militia (1778); a delegate to the State constitutional convention (1779); and Governor of Massachusetts (1780-85, 1787-93).

He also was a Christian.

John Hancock was the son of a dedicated Congregationalist minister of the gospel. His grandfather was also a minister of the gospel. When he was seven years old his father died, and John was sent to live with his grandparents. His uncle, Thomas Hancock, who had no children of his own, took John under his wing and sent him first to Boston Grammar School and then Harvard College. Upon graduation at age 17, John became clerk in his uncle’s mercantile business. He became an example to all the young men of the town. He was wholly devoted to business.

His uncle sent John on a business mission to England in 1760. In 1764, Thomas Hancock died, leaving most of his fortune to John, his shipping business and estate worth 80,000 pounds. At 27 years of age, John was one of the richest people in Massachusetts. He enjoyed his wealth. He owned enough suits to open a clothing store, drove about in a fancy carriage, and gave parties that were the talk of Boston. He also used his money for the public good, which made him very popular. Charity was the common business of his life. Hundreds of families, from his private benevolence, received their daily bread. He helped rebuild damaged structures after a fire, and every winter he donated food to poor Bostonians. There is, perhaps, no individual mentioned in history which has spent a more ample fortune in promoting the liberties of his country.

In May of 1775, John Hancock married Dolly Quincy, with whom he would have two children. Their daughter, Lydia, lived less than a year. Their son, John George Washington Hancock, hit his head while ice skating and died at the age of eight.

John Hancock was a member of the Massachusetts colonial legislature from 1766-1772. He was President of the Massachusetts provincial congress from 1774-1775. In 1776, Hancock was elected to the colonial legislature of Massachusetts. Sam Adams recruited Hancock for the Liberty Party. That was what the patriots were called. Sam Adams and John Hancock made an interesting contrast—Adams in his thread bare suit and Hancock a dashing young merchant. Hancock poured his heart, soul and money into the patriot cause. He gave so much money to the rebels that Bostonians joked, “Samuel Adams writes the letters to the newspapers, and John Hancock pays the postage.

In April 1775, British troops were sent from Boston to Lexington to capture Hancock and Samuel Adams, and also to capture the stored munitions at Concord. Paul Revere spread the warning during his famous midnight ride. Hancock was at this time engaged to Dolly Quincy, and this night, the two were at a dinner in the parsonage of Rev. Jones Clarke at Lexington. About midnight the silence of the night was broken by a messenger galloping up on horseback. The rider, out of breath yelled:

“Where’s Mr. Hancock?”
“Don’t make so much noise!’ the sentry ordered.
“Noise!” hollered Paul Revere. “You’ll have noise enough before long, The Regulars are coming out”

Hancock flung open his bedroom window and invited Revere into the house. When told the news, his first reaction was to join the Minutemen on the village green.

“We recognize no Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!” is a statement attributed to John Adams and John Hancock as their response to a British major who ordered them and those with them to disperse in the name of George the sovereign King of England on April 18 1775.

The others persuaded Hancock to run to avoid risk of capture. He and Samuel Adams, also residing there for the night, fled toward the village of Woburn. They heard the sound of the Minutemen’s drum and fife as they barely escaped the village. They then journeyed on to the meeting of the Second Continental Congress.

John Hancock was president of the Continental Congress from 1775-1777. He was the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Reportedly, while signing in large bold letters on July 4, 1776, Hancock said, “There! John Bull (a nickname for England) can read my name without spectacles and may double his reward on my head.”

The printed version of the Declaration that was sent to all the colonies to be read on July 5th, carried only the signature of John Hancock, as the official document wasn’t drawn up and ready for all to sign until August 2nd. As a result, John Hancock’s name swiftly became second only to that of George Washington, as a symbol of freedom in the colonies.

Hancock resigned his presidency of the Continental Congress in October, 1777, due to a severe case of gout. He did, however, continue on as a member of the Massachusetts delegation to Congress and in 1778, signed the Articles of Confederation. He was the first Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and served from 1780-1785. He was President of the Massachusetts state convention that ratified the United States Constitution. In 1787 he was again elected Governor of Massachusetts and remained in that office for the remainder of his life. Sometimes the gout was so painful he couldn’t walk and had to be carried around Boston. [1]

John Hancock issued a proclamation that demonstrates his Christian heritage:

“In circumstances as dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect that whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments, …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… Resolved; …Thursday the 11th of May…to humble themselves before God under the heavy judgments felt and feared, to confess the sins that have deserved them, to implore the Forgiveness of all our transgressions, and a spirit of repentance and reformation …and a Blessing on the … Union of the American Colonies in Defense of their Rights [for which hitherto we desire to thank Almighty God]…That the people of Great Britain and their rulers may have their eyes opened to discern the things that shall make for the peace of the nation…for the redress of America’s many grievances, the restoration of all her invaded liberties, and their security to the latest generations. [2]

He died on October 8, 1783, at fifty-five years of age. The funeral procession was extremely impressive. It included public officials, the militia, and thousands of citizens. Lieutenant Governor Samuel Adams, Hancock’s lifelong friend, walked in front of the coffin and Vice President of the United States, John Adams, walked behind.

John Adams summed up Hancock’s career and characteristics in the following words:

“Mr. Hancock had a delicate constitution. He was in poor health. A great part of his life was passed in acute pain. He had a certain sensibility, a keenness of feeling, a peevishness of temper that sometimes disgusted his friends. Yet it was astonishing with what patience, perseverance, and punctuality, he attended to business to the last. His talents were far superior to many who have been much more celebrated.”

1. For You They Signed, Marilyn Boyer; Learning Parent, Rustburg, VA, 2009
2. “A Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, with a total abstinence from labor and recreation,” Proclamation on April 15, 1775