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.


January 10th, 2011

In 1774, Livingston was chosen as a member of the New York delegation to the First Continental Congress. Eventually, after repeated appeals to the British king were denied, he

Phillip Livingston, January 15, 1716 – June 12, 1778

accepted the fact that fighting was inevitable.

While serving in Congress, he continued to be active in politics in New York and was appointed president of a provincial congress in 1775. In February 1776, he was unanimously appointed as member of the colonial general assembly. In April of 1777, after a constitution for the state of New York was adopted, he was chosen as state senator and served on the board of treasury and as a member of the marine committee.

He was also a member of the Secret Committee which imported weapons and gunpowder for the army. He spent a huge amount of his own personal resources in purchasing military supplied for the army.

Phillip Livingston, the austere aristocrat who feared the Sons of Sons of Liberty, did not escape the wrath of the British. Before the British landed, his lucrative mercantile business was already bankrupt. In 1774, Livingston had strongly supported the voluntary boycott of British imports, which was so effective that imports to the value of 437,937 pounds at New York in 1774 dropped to only 1,228 pound in 1775,

When Phillip Livingston signed the Declaration, he believed he was putting his vast fortune in jeopardy, and indeed it was so. All his business interests fell to the enemy. His mansion on Duke Street was seized by the British and turned into a barracks for enemy troops. His country estate on Brooklyn Heights was turned into a British naval hospital. Homeless, his family fled up the Hudson River to Kingston, New York. They were again endangered when the British burned Kingston. Phillip Livingston was never able to return home, and his health was devastated because of the strain from the war. Remaining faithful to the cause, he and his family sold some of their remaining property to help maintain the country’s credit.

For Phillip Livingston, the revolution meant personal ruin and yet his spirit remained strong. Although in poor health by 1778, his country’s great need impressed upon him so much that despite his doctor’s report of dropsy in the chest with no rational prospect of recovery, he bid his final goodbye to his loved ones and pressed himself to take his seat in Congress. The British had taken possession of Philadelphia, forcing Congress to leave the city and meet in New York.

Yet in this dubious and anxious state, his love to his country continued strong
And unwavering. For her good he had made many sacrifices; and now that her
Interests seemed to require his presence in Congress, he hesitated not to relinquish
His comforts of home, and those attentions which, in his feeble and declining state,
He peculiarly needed from a beloved family.

His son Henry, who was now a member of George Washington’s family by marriage, attended his father in the last few days of his life. On June 12, 1778, he breathed his last and was deeply mourned by family, friends and all of Congress.

His last moments were correspondent with the tenor of his well-spend life.
He met, with characteristic firmness and Christian fortitude, the trying hour
With separated him from this world.

He never lived to see Cornwallis’ surrender and freedom procured.

End Note: This edited version of Philip Livingston is taken from For You They Signed by Marilyn Boyer (see Bibliography). This wonderful book tells the story of each of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. As noted in the Introduction, King George ordered his troops to hunt down and kill every signer to quash the rebellion. These  stories of our founding fathers and brave men should be known by everyone of us. We recommend you read the book.  Go to New Leaf Publishing Company website at http://tinyurl.com/4j5tvsc to review the book for purchase. We will publishing more edited versions of these signers stories in future postings.

Bibliography: Marilyn Boyer, For You They Signed, Copyright © 2009 Marilyn Boyer (Master Books, P O Box 726, Green Forest, AR 72638) Printing 2009 and 2010. Reprinted by permission of the Publisher.


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.


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.


March 30th, 2010

Matthew Thornton (1714 – 1803), was a signer of the United States

Matthew Thornton

Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Hampshire. As President of the Provincial Congress, he delivered a letter to the citizens of New Hampshire declaring that they needed to come together as Christians to rest upon their faith for the coming war with England.

He was born in Ireland and later his family immigrated to America when he was three years old, settling first at Wiscasset, Maine, and moving shortly thereafter to Worcester, Massachusetts. Thornton became a physician and was appointed surgeon to the New Hampshire Militia troops in the expedition against Fortress Louisbourg. He had royal commissions as justice of the peace and colonel of militia. He became Londonderry Town Selectman, a representative to, and President of the Provincial Assembly, and a member of the Committee of Safety, drafting New Hampshire’s plan of government after dissolution of the royal government, which was the first state constitution adopted after the start of hostilities with England.

He was first President of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Associate Justice of the Superior Court of New Hampshire. He was elected to the Continental Congress after the debates on independence had occurred, arriving just in time to actually sign the Declaration of Independence.

As President of the Provincial Congress, he addressed the following letter to the inhabitants of the Colony of New Hampshire :

Exeter, June 2d, 1775.
To the Inhabitants of the Colony of New Hampshire :

Friends and Brethren : You must all be sensible that the affairs of America have at length come to a very affecting and alarming crisis. The Horrors and Distresses of a civil war, which, till of late, we only had in contemplation, we now find ourselves obliged to realize. Painful beyond expression have been those scenes of Blood and Devastation which the barbarous cruelty of British troops have placed before our eyes. Duty to God, to ourselves, to Posterity, enforced by the cries of slaughtered Innocents, have urged us to take up Arms in our Defense. Such a day as this was never before known, either to us or to our fathers. You will give us leave therefore — in whom you have reposed special confidence — as your representative body, to suggest a few things which call for the serious attention of everyone who has the true interest of America at heart. We would therefore recommend to the Colony at large to cultivate that Christian Union, Harmony and tender affection which is the only foundation upon which our invaluable privileges can rest with any security, or our public measures be pursued with the least prospect of success.

We also recommend that a strict and inviolable regard be paid to the wise and judicious councils of the late American Congress, and particularly considering that the experience of almost every day points out to us the danger arising from the collection and movements of bodies of men, who, notwithstanding, we willingly hope would promote the common cause and serve the interest of their country, yet are in danger of pursuing a track which may cross the general plan, and so disconcert those public measures which we view as of the greatest importance. We must, in the most express and urgent terms, recommend it that there may be no movements of this nature, but by the direction of the Committees of the respective Towns or Counties; and those Committees, at the same time, advising with this Congress or with the Committee of Safety in the recess of Congress, where the exigence of the case is not plainly too pressing to leave room for such advice.

We further recommend that the most industrious attention be paid to the cultivation of Lands and American Manufacture, in their various branches, especially the Linen and Woolen; and that the husbandry might be particularly managed with a view thereto — accordingly that the Farmer raise Flax and increase his flock of sheep to the extent of his ability.

We further recommend a serious and steady regard to the rules of temperance, sobriety and righteousness, and that those Laws which have heretofore been our security and defense from the hand of violence may still answer all their former valuable purposes, though persons of vicious and corrupt minds would willingly take advantage from our present situation.

In a word, we seriously and earnestly recommend the practice of that pure and undefiled religion which embalmed the memory of our pious ancestors, as that alone upon which we can build a solid hope and confidence in the Divine protection and favor, without whose blessing all the measures of safety we have or can propose will end in our shame and disappointment.


Matthew Thorton's home, Derry, NH

He became a political essayist. He retired from his medical practice and in 1780 moved to Merrimack, New Hampshire where he farmed and operated a ferry with his family. He died in Newburyport, Massachusetts, while visiting his daughter. Matthew Thornton is buried in Thornton Cemetery in Merrimack, New Hampshire and his grave reads “An Honest Man.” The town of Thornton, New Hampshire is named in his honor, and a Londonderry elementary school as well. Thornton’s residence in Derry, which was part of Londonderry at the time, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of his descendants live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as in Maryland, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Yulee, Florida.

Matthew Thornton, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Matthew Thornton, Colonialhall.com


March 23rd, 2010


”]John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was the sixth President of the United States from March 4, 1825, to March 4, 1829. He was also an American diplomat and served in both the Senate and House of Representatives. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of President John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams. The name “Quincy” came from Abigail’s maternal grandfather, Colonel John Quincy, after whom Quincy, Massachusetts is also named.

Adams is best known as a diplomat who shaped American’s foreign policy in line with his deeply conservative and ardently nationalist commitment to America’s republican values. More recently he has been portrayed as the exemplar and moral leader in an era of modernization when new technologies and networks of infrastructure and communication brought to the people messages of religious revival, social reform, and party politics, as well as moving goods, money and people ever more rapidly and efficiently. [1]

A little known oration was delivered to the people of Newburyport, Massachusetts on July 4th that is amazing as to the clear statements of United States being a nation of Christians founded by Divine Providence. As Presidfent of the Unites he even declared that the United States was predestined according to God’s plan and quotes scriptures throughout his oration. Here in part is the opening of his oration and an isolated statement from another section of the oration. Check the references to read the entire oration.

The Oration

AN Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, At Their Request On The Sixty-First Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837.

” Say ye not, A Confedfcracy, to all them to whom this people shall say
A Confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.” Isaiah 8:12.

Why is it, Friends and Fellow Citizens, that you are here assembled? Why is it, that, entering upon the sixty-second year of our national existence, you have honored with an invitation to address you from this place, a fellow citizen of a former age, bearing in the records of his memory, the warm and vivid affections which attached him, at the distance of a full half century, to your town, and to your forefathers, then the cherished associates of his youthful days? Why is it that, next to the birth day of the Saviour of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day? — And why is it that, among the swarming myriads of our population, thousands and tens of thousands among us, abstaining, under the dictate of religious principle, from the commemoration of that birthday of Him, who brought life and immortality to light, yet unite with all their brethren of this community, year after year, in celebrating this, the birthday of the nation?

Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Saviour? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? 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 corner stone of human “government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfilment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before ?

And, in another section, President Adams stated:

The United States of America were no longer Colonies. They were an independent Nation of Christians, recognizing the general principles of the European law of nations. [1] [2]

[1] John Quincy Adams, http://goo.gl/TgkY
[2] Oration at Newburyport by Honorable John Quincy Adams, a Google digital book; http://goo.gl/igdW
[3] See also http://goo.gl/GlbQ for a full text of this oration and http://goo.gl/fBOD


March 16th, 2010

William Whipple

William Whipple was the eldest son of five children, and was born at Kittery, Maine, in the year 1730. His father was a native of Ipswich, and was bred a maltster; but for several years after his removal to Kittery, he followed the sea. His mother was the daughter of Robert Cutts, a distinguished ship-builder, who established himself at Kittery, where he became wealthy, and at his death left a handsome fortune to his daughter.

The education of young Whipple was limited to a public school, in his native town. It was respectable but did not embrace that variety and extent of learning, which is generally obtained at some higher seminary. On leaving school, he entered on board a merchant vessel, and for several years devoted himself to commercial business, on the sea. His voyages were chiefly confined to the West-Indies, and proving successful, he acquired a considerable fortune.

In 1759, he relinquished a seafaring life, and commenced business with a brother at Portsmouth, where they continued in trade, until within a few years of the revolution.

Mr. Whipple early entered with spirit into the controversy between Great Britain and the colonies, and being distinguished for the general probity of his character, as well as for the force of his genius, was frequently elected by his townsmen to offices of trust and responsibility. In the provincial congress, which met at Exeter, January, 1775, for the purpose of electing delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, he represented the town of Portsmouth. He also represented that town in the provincial congress, which was assembled at Exeter the following May, and by that body was appointed one of the provincial committee of safety. In 1776 he was appointed a delegate to the general congress, of which body he continued a member until the middle of September, 1777.

In this important situation, he was distinguished for great activity, and by his perseverance and application commended himself to the respect of the national assembly, and to his constituents at home. He was particularly active as one of the superintendents of the commissary’s and quartermaster’s departments, in which he was successful in correcting many abuses, and in giving to those establishments a proper correctness and efficiency.

“The memorable day which gave birth to the declaration of independence afforded, in the case of William Whipple,” as a writer observes, “a striking example of the uncertainty of human affairs, and the triumphs of perseverance. The cabin boy, who thirty years before had looked forward to a command of a vessel as the consummation of all his hopes and wishes, now stood amidst the congress of 1776, and looked around upon a conclave of patriots, such as the world had never witnessed. He whose ambition once centered in inscribing his name as commander upon a crew-list, now affixed his signature to a document, which has embalmed it for posterity.”

In the year 1777, while Mr. Whipple was a member of Congress, the appointment of brigadier general was bestowed upon him, and the celebrated John Stark, by the assembly of New-Hampshire. Great alarm at this time prevailed in New-Hampshire, in consequence of the evacuation of Ticonderoga by the Americans, its consequent possession by the British, and the progress of General Burgoyne, with a large force, toward the state. The militia of New-Hampshire were expeditiously organized into two brigades, the command of which was given to the above two generals. The intrepid conduct of General Stark, in the ever memorable defence of Bennington, must be only alluded to in this place. The advantage thus gained, laid the foundation of the still more signal victory which was obtained in the October following by General Gates, over the distinguished Burgoyne and his veteran soldiers, at Saratoga; since it was here proved to the militias that the Hessians and Indians, so much dreaded by them, were not invincible. The career of conquest which had before animated the troops of Burgoyne was checked. For the first time, General Burgoyne was sensible of the danger of his situation. He had regarded the men of New Hampshire, and the Green Mountains, with contempt. But the battle of Bennington taught him both to fear and respect them. In a letter addressed about this time to Lord Germaine, he re marks: “The New-Hampshire Grants, till of late but little known, hang like a cloud on my left.”

The ill bodings of Burgoyne were realised too soon, for his own reputation. The militia from the neighbouring states hastened to reinforce the army of General Gates, which was now looking forward to an engagement with that of General Burgoyne. This engagement soon after took place, as already noticed, at Saratoga, and ended in the surrender of the royal army to the American troops. In this desperate battle General Whipple commanded the troops of New-Hampshire. On that occasion, his meritorious conduct was rewarded by his being jointly appointed with Colonel Wilkinson, as the representative of General Gates, to meet two officers from General Burgoyne, and settle the articles of capitulation. He was also selected as one of the officers, who were appointed to conduct the surrendered army to their destined encampment , on Winter Hill, in the vicinity of Boston. On this expedition, General Whipple was attended by a faithful negro servant, named Prince, a native of Africa, and whom the general had imported several years before ” “Prince,” said the general, one day, as they were proceeding to their place of destination, “we may be called into action, in which case, I trust you will behave like a man of courage, and fight bravely for the country.” “Sir,” replied Prince, in a manly tone, ” I have no wish to fight and no inducement, but had I my liberty, I would fight in defence of the country to the last; drop of my blood.” ” Well,” said the general, ” Prince, from this moment you are free.”

In 1778, General Whipple, with a detachment of New Hampshire militia, was engaged, under General Sullivan, in executing a plan which had for its object the retaking of Rhode Island from the British. By some misunderstanding, the French fleet, under Count D’Estaing, which was destined to co-operate with General Sullivan, failed of rendering the expected assistance, in consequence of which General Sullivan was obliged to retreat. General Sullivan, with his troops, occupied a position on the north end of the island. One morning, while a number of officers were breakfasting in the general’s quarters, a detachment of British troops were perceived on an eminence, at the distance of about three quarters of a mile. A field piece was soon after discharged by the enemy, the ball of which, after killing one of the horses at the door, passed through the side of the house, into the room where the officers were sitting, and so shattered the leg of the brigade major of General Whipple, that immediate amputation became necessary.

During the remaining years of Mr. Whipple’s life, he filled several important offices. In 1780, he was elected a representative to the general assembly of New-Hampshire, the duties of which office he continued to discharge during several re-elections, with much honour to himself, and to the general acceptance of his constituents.

In 1782, he received the appointment of receiver of public moneys for the state of New-Hampshire, from Mr. Morris, the superintendent of finance. The appointment was accepted by Mr. Whipple, but the duties devolving upon him were both arduous and unpopular. The collection of money was, at that time, extremely difficult. Mr. Whipple experienced many vexations in the exercise of his commission; and at length, in 1784, found it necessary, on account of the infirm state of his health, to relinquish his office. About the same time that he received the above appointment, he was created a judge of the superior court of judicature. He began now, however, to be afflicted with strictures in the breast, which prevented him from engaging in the more active scenes of life. He was able, however, to ride the circuits of the court for two or three years, but owing to an affection of the heart, he was unable to sum up the arguments of council, or state a cause to the jury.

In the fall of 1785, while riding the circuit, this disorder so rapidly increased, that he was obliged to return home. From this time he was confined to his room, until the 28th day of November, when he expired, in the 55th year of his age.

The mind of Mr. Whipple was naturally strong, and his power of discrimination quick. In his manners, he was easy and unassuming; in his habits correct, and in his friendships constant. Although his early education was limited, his subsequent intercourse with the world, united to his natural good sense, enabled him to fill with ability the various offices to which he was appointed.

Few men have exhibited a more honest and persevering ambition to act a worthy part in the community, and few, with his advantages, have been more successful in obtaining the object of their ambition.

Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 139 – 143. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)


Endnote: There is no historical evidence that William Whipple was a Christian. He is not listed as a member of any denomination, and there is no knowledge of his beliefs and faith. Nevertheless, his life spoke of his character and passion as a founding father of this nation.


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


March 8th, 2010


Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence from

Thomas Jefferson

England, believed that:

  • All men are equal because God made them that way
  • He personally gave them certain rights of freedom that Americans enjoy today
  • These people God made, to whom He gifted these certain rights, are the ones who give their agreement for Government to govern righteously
  • Therefore, a just Government gets its power to govern righteously from the agreement of people whom God made and bestowed certain rights.

In other words, God gave us our freedom and by our consent we give righteous government its power to govern. President Jefferson believed this so strongly, that he made it the cornerstone of our country’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence. A large number of Founding Fathers signaled their agreement that our rights flow from God by signing the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson thought it apparent to all of them that God made people equal and gave them the right to life, liberty and to pursue success and fulfillment.

Here is what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –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 new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Today, if you visit the Jefferson Memorial, you will see this inscribed on Panel One. These and other direct quotes from Jefferson are engraved on it, as a permanent record to all history that he believed men were free because of God.

End Notes: