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.

THE SETTLERS OF NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, PENNSYLVANIA, ETC.

November 13th, 2010

Map of early settlements in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey

“The spirit of the age was present when the foundations of New York were laid. Every great European event affected the fortunes of America. Did a State prosper—it sought an increase of wealth by plantations in the West. Was a sect persecuted—it escaped to the New World. The Reformation, followed by collisions between English Dissenters and the Anglican Hierarchy, colonized New England. The Reformation, emancipating the United Provinces, led to European settlements on the Hudson. The Netherlands divide with England the glory of having planted the first colonies in the United States; they also divide the glory of having set the example of perfect freedom. If England gave our fathers the idea of popular representation, Holland originated for them the principle of federal union.”*

In the year 1609 the long conflict of Holland with Spain was suspended at the suggestion of Philip III, a confession on the part of Spain that she could no longer hope to successfully contest the supremacy of Holland, and a practical establishment of the independence of the United Netherlands. In the very same year that Holland took her position among the nations as a free, self-governing republic, Henry Hudson appeared at Manhattan Island and took possession of the region from the capes of Delaware to Canada, which he styled New Netherlands. The first occupancy was trading stations by the merchants of Amsterdam, who quickly perceived its admirable adaptation as a center for trade and commerce. First, the New Netherlands Company, in 1614, then the West India Company, in 1621, held the situation, the latter purchasing the island of the Indians. The West India Company appointed its governors, and public affairs were conducted by Dutch men on Dutch principles.

Through trade was the prime object with the first settlers at Manhattan, colonization soon became the ruling motive. Bold and enterprising were the first colonists, and intent upon the acquisition of wealth, but, having been educated in the National Dutch Church, they were much attached to it, and adopted early measures to establish religious worship in their home. Although the Dutch came to Manhattan in troublous times, they were not fugitives from persecution, as were the Huguenots, or from Protestant persecution, as were the Puritans. They belonged to the ruling party in the mother country, and brought with them the established Church order and the Calvinistic creed. These “contra-remonstrants” brought the Heidelberg Catechism stamped with the seal of orthodoxy by the Synod of Dort. A wise policy guided the West India Company in supplying their trading-posts and colonies with the means of religion and education at a very early date.

The earliest settlers in New Jersey were from New York. English Puritans from the eastern end of Long Island, at an early period, settled at Elizabethtown; and others from Connecticut soon followed. Later a considerable number of Scotch and Irish emigrants—all Protestants and most of them Presbyterian—settled in the central portions. English Quakers settled in West Jersey. Among them all the Puritan type decidedly predominated.

Delaware was claimed by the Dutch, in right of discovery, who made an unsuccessful attempt to settle it; but subsequently it fell into the hands of Gustavus Adolphus, the eminent Swedish prince and benefactor, and an eager promoter of colonization. Falling on the plains of Lutzen, his minister, Oxenstein, carried out his plans, and Delaware was settled with Lutheran Swedes. Though the colony was subsequently subdued by the Dutch from New York the Swedes are supposed to have constituted a large part of the substratum of the population. Quakers, New Englander, Scotch and Irish Presbyterians were subsequently added. (1)

1) Christianity in the United States, Daniel Dorchester, D.D., © 2009 American Vision Press, Powder Springs, GA; originally published by Phillips & Hunt, New York, 1888; Page 30-32

THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND CHRISTIANITY

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.

THE FOUNDERS OF THE SOUTHERN COLONIES

November 4th, 2010

Widely different in character were the early colonists of the Southern from those of the Northern States. It has been said, if New England may be regarded as colonized by the Anglo-Saxon race, with its simple manners, more equal institutions, and love of liberty, the South was colonized by men very Norman in blood, aristocratic in feeling and spirit, and with superior dignity of demeanor and elegance of manners.

The Virginia Colony was a Christian colony in intent and in fact. The charger required the maintenance of religious worship; boroughs were erected into parishes, with glebes and other provisions for the clergy. The assembly and the governor were urged to civilize the natives and bring them under the influence of the Gospel, and Indian children were educated. The Proprietaries of North and South Carolina were not wanting in high professions of zeal for the propagation of the Gospel, but it was left for later settlers to practically illustrate the purpose. Varied in origin, the number of those interested in promoting religious ends soon increased. “The good Oglethrope, one of the finest specimens of a Christian gentleman of the cavalier school,” let over a mixed people to settle upon the banks of the Savannah – poor debtors from English prisons, with godly Moravians from Germany, and brave Highlanders from Scotland.(1)

(1) Christianity in the United States, Daniel Dorchester, D.D., © 2009 American Vision Press, Powder Springs, GA; originally published by Phillips & Hunt, New York, 1888; Page 30

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