Welcome to the American Christian Heritage Group blog where we give you glimpses of our country's early Christian foundations. We hope you enjoy these, learn more about our Christian heritage and undertake reading of the many cited sources and end notes. Please feel free to register and leave comments.

DANIEL BOONE, A BELIEVER

November 2nd, 2010

Today is Daniel Boone’s birthday (1734-1820). In spite of modern interpretation of his life as portrayed in a television series and writings, he was raised as a Quaker (although his family

Daniel Boone(2)

was expelled for a marriage of one son to a non-Quaker) and firmly believed in the Lord.

On October 17, 1816, Daniel Boone wrote to his sister-in-law Sarah Boone: “The religion I have is to love and fear God, believe in Jesus Christ, do all the good to my neighbor and myself that I can, do as little harm as I can help, and trust on God’s mercy for the rest.”

Although there is little history to indicate how his Christian life was expressed, we do know all his children were baptized. He was a true patriot and fought in war and served as a legislator.

Daniel Boone served with George Washington in 1755 during the French and Indian War. In 1765, Daniel Boone explored Florida. Virginia Governor Patrick Henry sent Daniel Boone to survey Kentucky and in 1775, the Pennsylvania Company had him erect a fort on the Kentucky River, which he named Boonesboro.

In 1778, during the Revolution, Daniel Boone went to Blue Licks to get salt for his settlement but was captured by Shawnee Indians and taken to Detroit. He learned of British plans to incited Indians to attack his settlement, so he escaped and ran nearly 400 miles in 5 days to warn Boonseboro.

Daniel Boone became a Major in the militia and served in Virginia’s legislature. He bought land in Kentucky but lost it due to poorly prepared titles. Boone left Kentucky in 1799 and bought land from Spain in Missouri, west of the Mississippi River.

Boone then lost this land in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase. An act of Congress gave him back his land just six years before his death, which was SEPTEMBER 26, 1820.(1)

(1) Daniel Boone: I Believe in Jesus Christ, American Minute with Bill Federer, September 26, 2010

(2) 1820 painting by Chester Harding  is the only portrait of Daniel Boone made from life

PASTOR SERVES AS FIRST SPEAKER OF HOUSE

April 1st, 2010

Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg (1750-1801) was the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. A Pennsylvania delegate and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he was also a Lutheran Pastor by profession. He served as Speaker of the House a second time (1793-1795), two years after his first election as Speaker (1789-1791).

During the war, he was in New York when the British marched on the city, forcing him and his family to flee to his parents’ home in Pennsylvania. Frederick changed his mind about Pastors being directly involved in the fight with the British and became involved. He is one of the patriots who fought valiantly behind the battle lines as America forged its way to power and greatness. He became active in Pennsylvania politics and was elected to the US Congress. He was also the first signer of the Bill of Rights. While serving in Congress, he cast the deciding vote on a controversial bill, and was stabbed by his brother-in-law. He survived the attack, but apparently his vote did cost him his political career, proving that taking a stand on political issues is dangerous, even among close relatives. [1]

Frederick Muhlenberg was the son of Pastor Henry Muhlenberg, an immigrant from Germany and considered the founder of the Lutheran Church in America. His brother, Peter, was a General in the Continental Army. Muhlenberg was born in Trappe, Pennsylvania.

He attended the University of Halle, Germany, where he studied theology, and was ordained by the Pennsylvania Ministerium as a minister of the Lutheran Church on October 25, 1770. He preached in Stouchsburg, Pennsylvania, and Lebanon, Pennsylvania, from 1770–1774, and in New York City from 1774 – 1776. When the British entered New York at the onset of the American Revolutionary War, he felt obliged to leave, and returned to Trappe. He moved to New Hanover Township, Pennsylvania, and was pastor there and in Oley and New Goshenhoppen until August 1779. [1]

His Pastor Brother Also a Patriot

The Muhlenberg family and the two brothers Frederick and John Peter, both Lutheran Pastors, had an enormous impact on the early history of the United States.

Rev. John Peter Muhlenberg told his Woodstock, Virginia congregation on Sunday January 21, 1776, “a time to preach and a time to pray. But there is also a time to fight and that time has now come.” He faced a crowded church that Sunday morning. In his long black clerical gown, he read the first eight verses of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, then preached the sermon that has come down through the years as a tradition and a challenge.

After the benediction, he then cast aside his clerical robe to stand before the congregation in the uniform of a Colonel in the Eighth Virginia Regiment. He marched down that aisle as he said “we came here to practice our religious and civil liberties and if we don’t get involved we are going to lose those liberties. Who’s going with me to defend those liberties?” Drums beat in the churchyard and 300 men and boys followed him and enlisted in the Continental Army with their pastor as their leader which became the 8th Virginia Brigade.

He became a Major General and was one of George Washington’s most trusted men. His brother the Reverend Frederick Muhlenberg disagreed with him at the onset and had sent him a letter telling him he would have acted for the best if he’d kept out of this business from the beginning and that John Peter was wrong.

John Peter wrote back in his letter “you accused me of getting involved-that I shouldn’t because I am a clergyman. I am a clergyman it is true. I am a member of society as we ll as the poorest of laymen. My liberty is as dear to me as it is to any man shall I then sit still? Heaven forbid it. I am convinced it is my duty so to do and duty I owe to God and my country” [quotes is from David Barton of Wallbuilders on his CD America’s Birthday]

In 1777 British invaded NY City and they desecrated and seized his church. Rev. Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg then changed his mind. He too got involved– so much so that he became the First Speaker of the House. His is one of the two signatures on the Bill of Rights (other is John Adams).

Do you think he would want the First Amendment misinterpreted as the Courts do now? Most certainly not. He and his brother are great examples to the truth behind the first amendment. Courts need to do their job which is to interpret it according to the Founding Fathers intent. Now you know.

These pastors were great leaders of the American Revolution. Another example–the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord. Their leader was the Rev. Jonas Clark. They fought so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy today and one of them is to fight for change in our government peaceably–with discourse and informed votes. Hope many pastors will take up their stand and become involved. [2]

[1] www.answers.com/topic/frederick-muhlenberg
[2] Faith Facts, Charles and Cindy Meek

Endnote: THE EPIC STORY OF THE HEROIC MUHLENBERG FAMILY, Published by the MVHLENBERG BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION, Inc., MuhLenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, May 23, 1942 ; Gordon B. Foster, Editor – a digital book at http://goo.gl/Zfib

“GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH”

January 28th, 2010

Most all of us have heard the quote, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Very few know the entire speech that ended with this strong cry to stand for our freedom. Our current textbooks have deleted the context of these words. Once again, we see the faith of our ancestors in this speech. Let there be no mistake about where Patrick Henry stood; later in 1775, he wrote, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded the freedom of worship here.” [1]

To avoid interference from Lieutenant-Governor Dunmore and his Royal Marines, the Second Virginia Convention met March 20, 1775 inland at Richmond–in what is now called St. John’s Church–instead of the Capitol in Williamsburg. Delegate Patrick Henry presented resolutions to raise a militia, and to put Virginia in a posture of defense. Henry’s opponents urged caution and patience until the crown replied to Congress’ latest petition for reconciliation.

On the 23rd, Henry presented a proposal to organize a volunteer company of cavalry or infantry in every Virginia county. By custom, Henry addressed himself to the Convention’s president, Peyton Randolph of Williamsburg. Henry’s words were not transcribed, but no one who heard them forgot their eloquence, or Henry’s closing words: “Give me liberty, or give me death!” [2]

St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia
March 23, 1775.

MR. PRESIDENT: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free² if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending²if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable²and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! [3]

[1] Speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses, May, 1765
[2] “Give me Liberty or Give Me Death” Introduction, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, http://www.history.org/almanack/life/politics/giveme.cfm

[3] Source: Wirt, William. Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry. (Philadelphia) 1836, as reproduced in The World’s Great Speeches, Lewis Copeland and Lawrence W. Lamm, eds., (New York) 1973.