Who inspired the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? Who do the framers say inspired them? The documentation is presented here.
Further information can be found at
But I hope, sir, you will not accuse me of presumption, of affectation, or of singularity, if I venture to express my opinion, that it is yet too soon to undertake a complete history of that great event; and that there is no man, either in America or Europe, at this day, capable of performing it, or who is in possession of the materials requisite and necessary for that purpose.
To engage in such a work, the writer ought to divide the history of America into several periods.
1. From the first establishment of the Colonies, in 1600, to the commencement of their disputes with Great Britain, in 1761.
2. From the commencement of those disputes in 1761, occasioned by an order of the board of trade and plantations in Great Britain, sent to the officers of the customs in America, to carry into execution in the strictest manner the acts of trade, and to apply to the courts of judicature for writs of assistance for that purpose, to the commencement of hostilities on the nineteenth of April, 1775. During this period of fourteen years, there was little more than a war of the quill.
3. From the battle of Lexington to the signature of the treaty with France, on the sixth of February, 1778. During this period of three years, the war was exclusively between Great Britain and the United States.
4. From the treaty with France to the commencement of hostilities between Great Britain and France, in the first place; afterwards, with Spain; then to the gradual progress of the armed neutrality, and the war of England against Holland. Finally, all these scenes have their catastrophe in the negotiations of the peace.
Without a distinct knowledge of the history of the colonies in the first period, a writer will find himself embarrassed, from the beginning to the end of his book, to account for events and characters which will present themselves in every step of his path, as he advances to the second, third, and fourth periods. To acquire a sufficient knowledge of the first period, it will be necessary to read all the charters granted to the colonies, and the commissions and instructions given to governors, all the codes of laws of the different colonies, (and thirteen volumes in folio, of dry, disgusting statutes, cannot be read with pleasure, or in a short time,) all the records of the legislatures of the several colonies, (which cannot be found but in manuscript, and by travelling in person from New Hampshire to Georgia); the records of the board of trade and plantations in Great Britain, from its institution to its dissolution; as also the files in the offices of some of the Secretaries of State.
There is another branch of reading which cannot be neglected, if the former might be omitted. I mean those writings which have appeared in America from time to time. I pretend not, however, in the place where I am, at a distance from all books and writings, to make an exact enumeration. The writings of the ancient Governors Winthrop and Winslow, Dr. Mather, Mr. Prince, Neal's History of New England [Volume One, Volume Two], Douglas's Summary, the Progressive Amelioration of the Lands and the present state of the British Colonies [Volume One, Volume Two], Hutchinson's History of the Massachusetts Bay, Smith's History of New York, Smith's History of New Jersey, the Works of William Penn, Dummer's Defence of the New England Charters, the History of Virginia, and many other public writings. All these were anterior to the present quarrel, which began in 1761.
During the second period, the writings are more numerous, and more difficult to be procured. There were then given to the public, works of great importance. In the controversies between those who were actors in this scene, as writers, there are some who ought to be distinguished. Among them are the Governors under the king, Pownall, Bernard, and Hutchinson, Lieutenant-Governor Oliver, Mr. Sewall, the Judge of Admiralty for Halifax, Jonathan Mayhew, D. D., James Otis, Oxenbridge Thacher, Samuel Adams, Josiah Quincy, Joseph Warren; and perhaps the following have not been less important than the foregoing, namely,--the writings of Mr. Dickinson, Mr. Wilson, and Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia; of Mr. Livingston, and Mr. McDougall, of New York; of Colonel Bland and Arthur Lee, of Virginia, and of many others. The records of the town of Boston, and especially of the Committee of Correspondence, the records of the Board of Commissioners of the Customs in Boston, the journals of the House of Representatives, and of the Council of Massachusetts Bay. Moreover, the gazettes of the town of Boston, not forgetting those of New York and Philadelphia, ought to be collected and examined from the year 1760. All this is necessary in order to write with precision, and in detail, the history of the discussions, before hostilities commenced, during the period from the year 1761, to the nineteenth of April, 1775. ...
Later published as Revolutionary Reminiscences in Niles' National Register, containing political, historical, geographical, scientifical, statistical, economical, and biographical documents, essays and facts : together with notices of the arts and manufactures, and a record of the events of the times, August 6, 1842. Online as Niles' Weekly Register, Volume 62. Also here.
This produced, in 1760 and 1761, an awakening and a revival of American principles and feelings, with an enthusiasm which went on increasing till in 1775 it burst out in open violence, hostility, and fury.
The characters the most conspicuous, the most ardent and influential in this revival, from 1760 to 1766, were first and foremost, before all and above all, James Otis; next to him was Oxenbridge Thatcher; next to him Samuel Adams; next to him John Hancock; then Dr. Mayhew; then Dr. Cooper and his brother. Of Mr. Hancock's life, character, generous nature, great and disinterested sacrifices, and important services, if I had forces, I should be glad to write a volume. But this I hope will be done by some younger and abler hand.
... "The second Scriptural viewpoint overwhelmingly embraced by most Americans during the Revolutionary Era was that God would not honor an offensive war, but that He did permit civil self-defense (e.g., Nehemiah 4:13-14 & 20-21, Zechariah 9:8, 2 Samuel 10:12, etc.). The fact that the American Revolution was an act of self-defense and was not an offensive war undertaken by the Americans remained a point of frequent spiritual appeal for the Founding Fathers."
"In all their previous state papers[, t]he men who formed the Constitution had declared Christianity to be 'fundamental to the well-being of society and government, and in every form of official authority had stated this fact. ... The various States who had sent these good and great men to the convention to form a Constitution had, in all their civil charters, expressed, as States and as a people, their faith in God and the Christian religion."
"Mr. Otis, ye. Son, understanding the Foibles of human Nature, although he did not always practise upon that Theory, advanced one shrewd Position, which seldom fails to promote popular Commotions, vizt. that it was necessary to secure the black Regiment, these were his Words, & his Meaning was to engage ye. dissenting Clergy on his Side. He had laid it down as a Maxim, in nomine Domini incipit omne malum; & where better could he fly for aid than to the Horns of the Altar? & this Order of Men might, in a literal Sense, be stiled such, for like their Predecessors of 1641 they have been unceasingly sounding the Yell of Rebellion in the Ears of an ignorant & deluded People."
... "It may not be amiss, now, to reconnoitre Mr. Otis's black Regiment, the dissenting Clergy, who took so active a Part in the Rebellion. 24
24 The term "black regiment" was used in Oliver's article in the Boston Weekly News-Letter, Jan. 11, 1776. It was used earlier by "Israelite" in the Boston Gazette, Dec. 7, 1772.
"The congregational perswasion of Religion might be properly termed the established Religion of the Massachusetts, as well as of some other of the New England Colonies; as the Laws were peculiarly adapted to secure ye Rights of this Sect; although all other Religions were tolerated, except the Romish. This Sect inherited from their Ancestors an Aversion to Episcopacy; & I much question, had it not been for the Supremacy of the British Government over them, which they dared not openly deny, whether Episcopacy itself would have been tolerated; at least it would have been more discountenanced than it was & here I can not but remark a great Mistake of the Governors of the Church of England, in proposing to the Colonies to have their consent to a Bishops residing among them for the purpose of Ordination."
... "The Town of Boston being the Metropolis, it was also the Metropolis of Sedition; and hence it was that their Clergy being dependent on the People for their daily Bread; by having frequent Intercourse with the People, imbibed their Principles. 25
25"Freeman" in the Censor for Jan. 4, 1772, p. 25, observed that the Boston clergy 'have temporised, against their own judgments, in compliance with the prejudices of their people!'
"In this Town was an annual Convention of the Clergy of the Province, the Day after the Election of his Majestys Charter Council; and at those Meetings were settled the religious Affairs of the Province; & as the Boston Clergy were esteemed by the others as an Order of Deities, so they were greatly influenced by them. There was also another annual Meeting of the Clergy at Cambridge, on the Commencement for graduating the Scholars of Harvard College, at these two Conventions, if much Good was effectuated, so there was much Evil. And some of the Boston Clergy, as they were capable of the Latter, so they missed no Opportunities of accomplishing their Purposes. Among those who were most distinguished of the Boston Clergy were Dr. Charles Chauncy, Dr. Jonathan Mayhew & Dr. Samuel Cooper. 26 & they distinguished theirselves in encouraging Seditions & Riots, untill those lesser Offences were absorbed in Rebellion. 27
26 Other members of the "black regiment" were Jonas Clark, of Lexington, whose wife was Hancock's cousin; Andrew Eliot, who was a correspondent of Thomas Hollis; John Lathrop, of Old North Church; and Samuel Cooke, of Arlington, who was a good friend of Jonas Clark and John Cleaveland.
27 Samuel Cooper and his successor were accused of "sowing sedition and conspiracy among parishioners" a practice that had gone on ever since the cornerstone of the church was laid. See Alice M. Baldwin, The New England Clergy and the American Revolution (Durham, N.C., 1928), p. 94, n. 34.
Morse, New Haven, August 9, 1809: "I have undertaken, should I have leisure to continue, A General History of the United States (particularly in reference to remarkable interpositions of Divine Providence in favor of this country, from its settlement to this day), begun by Revd. Dr. Trumbull, and which he has brought down to the year 1766, in MSS. ready for the press. With events in our country since that period, you, Sir, are more intimately acquainted than most other men. I have a great desire to avail myself of such information as to events and facts most prominent and interesting, as you possess, and shall be willing to communicate. In a personal interview I could more fully disclose my wishes and plan."
Jay: "A proper history of the United States I would have much to recommend it: in some respects it would be singular, or unlike all others; it would develop the great plan of Providence, for causing this extensive part of our world to be discovered, and these 'uttermost parts of the earth' to be gradually filled with civilized and Christian people and nations. The means or second causes by which this great plan has long been and still is accomplishing, are materials for history, of which the writer ought well to know the use and bearings and proper places. In my opinion, the historian, in the course of the work, is never to lose sight of that great plan.
"Remarkable interpositions of Divine Providence are fine subjects, but the exhibition cannot have a full effect, unless accompanied with a distinct view of the objects and state of things to which they relate; it is by discerning how admirably they are accommodated and fitted to answer their intended purposes, that the reader is made to reflect and feel properly.
"Few among us have time and talent for such a work. I am pleased with the prospect of your undertaking it; and I do believe that, with a due allowance of time, that is, of several years, you would execute it well."
This gazette [Boston Gazette] was much celebrated for the freedom of its disquisitions in favor of civil liberty. It has been observed that it will be a treasury of political intelligence for the historians of this country. Otis, Thacher, Dexter, Adams, Warren and Quincy, Doctors Samuel Cooper and Mayhew, stars of the first magnitude in our northern hemisphere, whose glory and brightness distant ages will admire; these gentlemen of character and influence offered their first essays to the public through the medium of the Boston Gazette, on which account the paper became odious to the friends of prerogative, but not more disgusting to the tories and high church than it was pleasing to the whigs. See collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society. ["Continuation of the Narrative of Newspapers Published in New-England, from the Year 1704 to the Revolution." MHS, Collections, first series, VI (1799): 70.]
Sixth President of the United States. Read more about John Quincy Adams here, here and here.
... "But, it is the God of the Hebrews alone, who is announced to us as the Creator of the world. The ideas of God entertained by all the most illustrious and most ingenious nations of antiquity were weak and absurd. The Persians worshipped the sun; the Egyptians believed in an innumerable multitude of gods, and worshipped not only oxen, crocodiles, dogs, and cats, but even garlics and onions. The Greeks invented a poetical religion, and adored men and women, virtues and vices, air, water, and fire, and everything that a vivid imagination could personify. Almost all the Greek philosophers reasoned and meditated upon the nature of the gods; but scarcely any of them reflected enough even to imagine that there was but one God, and not one of them ever conceived of him as the Creator of the world. Cicero has collected together all their opinions upon the nature of the gods, and pronounced them more like the dreams of madmen than the sober judgment of wise men. In the first book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, there is an account of the change of chaos in the world. Before the sea, and the earth, and the sky that surrounds all things (says Ovid), there was a thing called chaos, and some of the gods (he does not know which), separated from each other the elements of this chaos, and turned them into the world; thus far and no farther could human reason extend. But the first words of the Bible are, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' The blessed and sublime idea of God, as the creator of the universe, the source of all human happiness for which all the sages and philosophers of Greece and Rome groped in darkness and never found, is recalled in the first verse of the book of Genesis. I call it the source of all human virtue and happiness; because when we have attained the conception of a Being, who by the mere act of his will, created the world, it would follow as an irresistible consequence--even if we were not told that the same Being must also be the governor of his own creation--that man, with all other things, was also created by him, and must hold his felicity and virtue on the condition of obedience to his will."
..."The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes adapted to that time only, and to the particular circumstances of the nation to whom it was given; they could of course be binding upon them, and only upon them, until abrogated by the same authority which enacted them, as they afterward were by the Christian dispensation: but many others were of universal application -- laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws."
... "But if you would remark the distinguishing characteristics between true and false religion, compare the manner in which the ten commandments were proclaimed by the voice of the Almighty God, from Mount Sinai, with thunder, and lightning, and earthquake, by the sound of the trumpet, and in the hearing of six thousand souls, with the studied secrecy, and mystery, and mummery, with which the Delphic and other oracles of the Grecian gods were delivered. The miraculous interpositions of Divine power recorded in every part of the Bible, are invariably marked with grandeur and sublimity worthy of the Creator of the world, and before which the gods of Homer, not excepting his Jupiter, dwindle into the most contemptible pigmies; but on no occasion was the manifestation of the Deity so solemn, so awful, so calculated to make indelible impressions upon the imaginations and souls of the mortals to whom he revealed himself, as when he appeared in the character of their Lawgiver. The law thus dispensed was, however, imperfect; it was destined to be partly suspended and improved into absolute perfection many ages afterward by the appearance of Jesus Christ upon earth. But to judge of its excellence as a system of laws, it must be compared with human codes which existed or were promulgated at nearly the same age of the world in other nations. Remember, that the law was given 1,490 years before Christ was born, at the time the Assyrian and Egyptian monarchies existed: but of their government and laws we know scarcely anything save what is collected from the Bible. Of the Phrygian, Lydian, and Trojan states, at the same period, little more is known. The president Gorget, in a very elaborate and ingenious work on the origin of letters, arts, and sciences, among the ancient nations, says, that 'the maxims, the civil and political laws of these people, are absolutely unknown; that not even an idea of them can be formed, with the single exception of the Lyclians, of whom Herodotus asserts, that their laws were the same as the Greeks.' -- The same author contrasts the total darkness and oblivion into which all the institutions of these mighty empires have fallen, with the fulness and clearness and admirable composition of the Hebrew code, which has not only descended to us entire, but still continues the national code of the Jews (scattered as they are over the whole face of the earth), and enters so largely into the legislation of almost every civilized nation upon the globe. He observes that 'these laws have been prescribed by God himself: the merely human laws of other contemporary nations can not bear any comparison with them.'"
... "But my motive in forming the comparison, is to present to your reflections as a proof--and to my mind a very strong proof-- of the reality of their divine origin: for how is it that the whole system of government, and administration, the municipal, political, ecclesiastical, military, and moral laws and institutions, which bound in society the numberless myriads of human beings who formed for many successive ages the stupendous monarchies of Africa and Asia, should have perished entirely and been obliterated from the memory of mankind, while the laws of a paltry tribe of shepherds, characterized by Tacitus, and the sneering infidelity of Gibbon, as 'the most despised portion of their slaves,' should not only have survived the wreck of those empires, but remain to this day rules of faith and practice to every enlightened nation of the world, and perishable only with it? The reason is obvious: it is their intrinsic excellence which has preserved them from the destruction which befalls all the works of mortal man. The precepts of the decalogue alone (says Gorget), disclose more sublime truths, more maxims essentially suited to the happiness of man, than all the writings of profane antiquity put together can furnish. The more you meditate on the laws of Moses, the more striking and brighter does their wisdom appear."
Congregationalist. Read about Samuel Adams here.
Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature.
All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.
When men enter into society, it is by voluntary consent; and they have a right to demand and insist upon the performance of such conditions and previous limitations as form an equitable original compact.
Every natural right not expressly given up, or, from the nature of a social compact, necessarily ceded, remains.
All positive and civil laws should conform, as far as possible, to the law of natural reason and equity.
As neither reason requires nor religion permits the contrary, every man living in or out of a state of civil society has a right peaceably and quietly to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience.
"Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty," in matters spiritual and temporal, is a thing that all men are clearly entitled to by the eternal and immutable laws of God and nature, [Page 418] as well as by the law of nations and all well-grounded municipal laws, which must have their foundation in the former.
In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practised, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. (* See Locke's Letters on Toleration.) Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach doctrines subversive of the civil government under which they live. The Roman Catholics or Papists are excluded by reason of such doctrines as these, that princes excommunicated may be deposed, and those that they call heretics may be destroyed without mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so absolute a manner, in subversion of government, by introducing, as far as possible into the states under whose protection they enjoy life, liberty, and property, that solecism in politics, imperium in imperio, leading directly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil discord, war, and bloodshed. (* Political disabilities were not removed from the Catholics in England until 1820--Editor)
The natural liberty of man, by entering into society, is abridged or restrained, so far only as is necessary for the great end of society, the best good of the whole.
In the state of nature every man is, under God, judge and sole judge of his own rights and of the injuries done him. By entering into society he agrees to an arbiter or indifferent judge between him and his neighbors; but he no more renounces his original right than by taking a cause out of the ordinary course of law, and leaving the decision to referees or indifferent arbitrators.
In the last case, he must pay the referees for time and trouble. He should also be willing to pay his just quota for the support of government, the law, and the constitution; the end of which is to furnish indifferent and impartial judges in all cases that may happen, whether civil, ecclesiastical, marine, or military.
[Page 419] The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule. (* Locke on Government)
In the state of nature men may, as the patriarchs did, employ hired servants for the defence of their lives, liberties, and property; and they should pay them reasonable wages. Government was instituted for the purposes of common defence, and those who hold the reins of government have an equitable, natural right to an honorable support from the same principle that "the laborer is worthy of his hire." But then the same community which they serve ought to be the assessors of their pay. Governors have no right to seek and take what they please; by this, instead of being content with the station assigned them, that of honorable servants of the society, they would soon become absolute masters, despots, and tyrants. Hence, as a private man has a right to say what wages he will give in his private affairs, so has a community to determine what they will give and grant of their substance for the administration of public affairs. And, in both cases, more are ready to offer their service at the proposed and stipulated price than are able and willing to perform their duty.
In short, it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.
These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.
[Page 420] By the act of the British Parliament, commonly called the Toleration Act, every subject in England, except Papists, &c., was restored to, and re-established in, his natural right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. And, by the charter of this Province, it is granted, ordained, and established (that is, declared as an original right) that there shall be liberty of conscience allowed in the worship of God to all Christians, except Papists, inhabiting, or which shall inhabit or be resident within, such Province or Territory. (* See 1 Wm. and Mary, St. 2, C. 18, and Massachusetts Charter.) Magna Charta itself is in substance but a constrained declaration or proclamation and promulgation in the name of the King, Lords, and Commons, of the sense the latter had of their original, inherent, indefeasible natural rights, (*Lord Coke's Inst. Blackstone's Commentaries VI., p. 122. The Bill of Rights and the Act of Settlement) as also those of free citizens equally perdurable with the other. That great author, that great jurist, and even that court writer, Mr. Justice Blackstone, holds that this recognition was justly obtained of King John, sword in hand. And peradventure it must be one day, sword in hand, again rescued and preserved from total destruction and oblivion. ...
"I heartily congratulate you on the entire Victory obtained by General Gates over Burgoin. This is a Striking Instance of the Truth of the Observation in Holy Writ "Pride goeth before a Fall." Our sincere Acknowledgments of Gratitude are due to the supreme Disposer of all Events. I suppose Congress will recommend that a Day be set apart through out the United States for solemn Thanksgiving.
"I rejoyce that my Friend General Gates, after what had happend, is honord by Providence as the Instrument in this great Affair."
Samuel Adams to James Warren: "I hope our Countrymen will render the just Tribute of Praise to the Supreme Ruler for these signal Instances of his Interposition in favor of a People struggling for their Liberties. Congress will, I suppose recommend the setting apart one Day of publick Thanksgiving to be observd throughout the united States."
"I believe my Country will fix their Eyes and their Choice on a Man of Religion and Piety; who will understand human Nature and the Nature and End of political Society-who will not by Corruption or Flattery be seducd to the betraying, even without being sensible of it himself, the sacred Rights of his Country.
"The Success of the present Campain hitherto has been great beyond our most sanguine Expectation. Let us ascribe Glory to God who has graciously vouchsafd to favor the Cause of America and of Mankind."
Pastor. First cousin of John Adams, the second president of the United States.
Baptist preacher. Delegate to the First Continental Congress. Founded Rhode Island College, later Brown University. Learn about Backus here.
Published in Belfast, Northern Ireland: James Henderson.
English Jurist. Knighted in 1770. Read more about Blackstone here and here and here.
"Divine Providence, which, in compassion to the frailty, the imperfection, and the blindness of human reason, hath been pleased, in sundry times and diverse manners, to discover and enforce its laws by an immediate and direct revelation. The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures"
"The Commentaries of Blackstone continue to be the text book of the student and of the man of genereal reading, notwithstanding the alterations in the law since the time of their author. The great principles which they unfold remain the same, and are explained in so simple and clear a style, that, however much the details of the law may be changed, they will always be read with interest. It is no small commendation of Blackstone, that many of the modern improvements adopted in England and in the United States were suggested by him: and that the arrangement which he used in treating the different subjects, has been followed in a great degree by the Revisers of the Statutes of New-York.
Pastor of the First Church of Boston. A precursor to the Unitarians. Great-grandson of Charles Chauncy (1592-1672), President of Harvard College. Read about both here.
American clergyman. Pastor of the Church of Christ in Lexington, Massachusetts on May 19, 1755. Read about Clark here and here.
American clergyman and author.
Pastor of the Second Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
" From this [2 Sam. 23:3, 4] and many other passages in the sacred oracles, it is evident that the Supreme Ruler, though he has directed to no particular mode of civil government, yet allows and approves of the establishment of it among men. "The ends of civil government, in divine revelation, are clearly pointed out, the character of rulers described, and the duty of subjects asserted and explained; and in this view civil government may be considered as an ordinance of God, and, when justly exercised, greatly subservient to the glorious purposes of divine providence and grace: but the particular form is left to the choice and determination of mankind."
30th President of the United States. Read more about Coolidge here and here.
Pastor of Brattle Street Church in Boston. Read about Cooper here
English puritan clergyman and co-founder of the American colony of New Haven. Read about Davenport here.
1. It is from the Light and Law of Nature, and the Law of Nature is God's Law.
2. The orderly ruling of men over men, in general, is from God, in its root, though voluntary in the manner of coalescing: It being supposed that men be combined in Family-Society, it is necessary that they be joyned in a Civil-Society; that union being made, the power of Civil-Government, and of making Laws, followeth naturally, though the manner of union, in a Political Body, is voluntary. That we defend our selves from violence and wrong, is a consequent of pure Nature: but that we do it by devolving our Power into the hands of Civil Rulers, this seems to be rather positively moral, than natural.
3. Because this special Form of Civil Government of Commonweales, by men orderly chosen, the Scripture ascribes unto God; and also Civil Government, administred by Judges and Magistrates, as Christ spake concerning Pilate, Joh. 19. 11. Jesus answered, Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: and they are said to judge not for man, but for the Lord, 2 Chron. 19. 6. hence they are called Gods, Psal. 82. 6,7. as appointed by him, according to Christ's exposition of those words, Joh. 10. 35. If he calleth them Gods, unto whom the Word of God was given. See what the Wisdom of God, which is Jesus Christ, saith in Prov. 8. 15,16. By me Kings reign, and Princes decree justice.
Clergyman. Read about Dexter here.
American lawyer and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware. Read about Dickinson here.
Mr. Dickenson, author of the much admired Farmer's Letters, the first copy of which he inclosed to his friend, Mr. Otis, and observed to him, that "the examples of public spirit in the cold regions of the north, had roused the languid latitudes of the south, to a proper vindication of their rights." See Appendix, Note, No. V. [John Dickinson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies (Philadelphia, 1768). The Letters are available in Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Political Writings of John Dickinson (Philadelphia, 1895).]
Author from Birmingham, Alabama.
Pastor at South Church, Andover, Massachusetts. Read about French here.
Preacher. Read more about Hooker here.
Their judgment is, therefore, that the Church of Christ should admit no law-makers but the Evangelists. The author of that which causeth another thing to be, is author of that thing also which thereby is caused. The light of natural understanding, wit, and reason, is from God; He it is which thereby doth illuminate every man entering into the world. If there proceed from us anything afterwards corrupt and naught, the mother thereof is our own darkness, neither doth it proceed from any such cause whereof God is the author. He is the author all that we think or do by virtue of that light which Himself hath given. And therefore the laws which the very heathens did gather to direct their actions by, so far forth as they proceeded from the light of Nature, God himself doth acknowledge to have proceeded even from Himself, and that He was the writer of them in the tables of their hearts. How much more, then, is He the author of those laws which have been made by His saints, endued further with the heavenly grace of His Spirit, and directed as much as might be with such instructions as His sacred word doth yield? Surely if we have unto those laws that dutiful regard which their dignity doth require, it will not greatly need that we should be exhorted to live in obedience unto them. If they have God himself for their author, contempt which is offered unto them cannot choose but redound unto Him.
Of Law there can be no less acknowledged, than that her Seat is the Bosom of God, her Voice the Harmony of the World: All things in Heaven and Earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted froom her Power--p. 289.
Puritan clergyman in the American colonies, chief founder of Hartford, Conn. Author of the world's first written constitution. Read about Hooker here.
"Founding Father John Jay was appointed by President George
Washington as the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Jay had a very distinguished history of public service. He was a member of the Continental Congress (1774-76, 1778-79) and served as President of Congress (1778-79); he helped write the New York State constitution (1777); he authored the first manual on military discipline (1777); he served as Chief-Justice of New York Supreme Court (1777-78); he was appointed minister to Spain (1779); he signed the final peace treaty with Great Britain (1783); and he was elected as Governor of New York (1795-1801). Jay is also famous as one of the three coauthors, along with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, of the Federalist Papers, which were instrumental in securing the ratification of the federal Constitution. John Jay was a strong Christian, serving both as vice-president of the American Bible Society (1816-21) and its president (1821-27), and he was a member of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions."--David Barton.
Read about Jay here.
"German legal historian and theorist who wrote on human and civil rights, electoral law, and the rights of minorities in the late 19th century. His history of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen shows the influence of the declarations of the individual colonies, such as Virginia, had on its formulation."-Online Library of Liberty. Read about Jellinek in The New International Encyclopædia, Volume 12 .
Congregationalist minister in Boston, Massachusetts. Read about Lathrop in Heralds of a Liberal Faith, Volume 1, edited by Samuel Atkins Eliot.
Clergyman. Read about Lathrop here.
... A PEOPLE under a free government will be happy, as long as they are virtuous and wise. They may become vicious and corrupt. They are then liable to be influenced by private connections, party spirit, bribery or flattery, promises or rewards, or the artifice and intrigue of crafty and designing men.
When this is the case, they give up their security, lose their liberty, and sink into slavery.
To frame and reform their own government, and to choose and change their own governors, is the natural right of mankind; but a right which few nations have the happiness to enjoy, or the boldness to claim. These American states are now in the full possession and free exercise of this right; and may they ever have the wisdom to retain it.
English philosopher. Learn more about Locke here and from his entry in this list of scientists of Christian faith.
242. Though yet, if any one should think, that out of the saying of the wise heathens, before Our Saviour's time, there might be a collection made of all these rules of morality, which are to be found in the Christian religion; yet this would not at all hinder, but that the world, nevertheless, stood as much in need of Our Savior, and the morality delivered by him. Let it be granted (though not true) that all the moral precepts of the gospel were known by some body or other, amongst mankind, before. But where, or how, or of what use, is not considered.
... But such a body of Ethics, proved to be the law of nature, from principles of reason, and reaching all the duties of life, I think nobody will say the world had before Our Saviour's time. 'Tis not enough, that there were up and down scattered sayings of wise men, conformable to right reason. The law of nature, was the law of convenience too; and 'tis no wonder that those men of parts, and studious virtue (who had occasion to think on any particular part of it), should by meditation light on the right, even from the observable convenience and beauty of it, without making out its obligation from the true principles of the law of nature, and foundations of morality. But these incoherent apophthegms of philosophers, and wise men, however excellent in themselves, and well intended by them, could never make a morality, whereof the world could be convinced; could never rise to the force of a law that mankind could with certainty depend on. Whatsoever should thus be universally useful, as a standard to which men should conform their manners, must have its authority either from reason or revelation. 'Tis not every writer of morals, or compiler of it from others, that can thereby be erected into a law-giver to mankind; and a dictator of rules, which are therefore valid, because they are to be found in his books, under the authority of this or that philosopher. He that any one will pretend to set up in this kind, and have his rules pass for authentic directions, must shew, that either he builds his doctrine upon principles of reason, self-evident in themselves, and that he deduces all the parts of it from thence, by clear and evident demonstration; or, must shew his commission from heaven, that he comes with authority from God, to deliver his will and commands to the world. In the former way, nobody that I know, before Our Saviour's time, ever did, or went about to give us a morality. Tis true, there is a law of nature: but who is there that ever did, or undertook to give it us all entire, as a law; no more nor no less, than what was contained in, and had the obligation of that law? Who, ever made out all the parts of it, put them together, and shewed the world their obligation? Where was there any such code, that mankind might have recourse to, as their unerring rule, before Our Saviour's time? If there was not, 'tis plain, there was need of one to give us such a morality; such a law, which might be the sure guide of those who had a desire to go right: and, if they had a mind, need not mistake their duty; but might be certain when they had performed, when failed in it. Such a law of morality, Jesus Christ hath given us in the New Testament; but by the latter of these ways, by revelation. We have from him a full and sufficient rule for our direction, and conformable to that of reason. But the truth and obligation of its precepts, have their force, and are put past doubt to us, by the evidence of his mission. He was sent by God: His miracles shew it; and the authority of God in his precepts cannot be questioned. Here morality has a sure standard, that revelation vouches, and reason cannot gainsay, nor question; but both together witness to come from God the great law-maker. And such an one as this out of the New Testament, I think the world never had, nor can any one say is any where else to be found. Let me ask any one, who is forward to think that the doctrine of morality was full and clear in the world, at Our Saviour's birth; whether would he have directed Brutus and Cassius (both men of parts and virtue, the one whereof believed, and the other disbelieved a future being), to be satisfied in the rules and obligations of all the parts of their duties; if they should have asked him where they might find the law, they were to live by, and by which they should be charged or acquitted, as guilty or innocent? If to the sayings of the wise, and the declarations of philosophers, he sends them into a wild wood of uncertainty, to an endless maze, from which they should never get out: if to the religions of the world, yet worse: and if to their own reason, he refers them to that which had some light and certainty; but yet had hitherto failed all mankind in a perfect rule; and we see, resolved not the doubts that had risen amongst the studious and thinking philosophers; nor had yet been able to convince the civilized parts of the world, that they had not given, nor could, without a crime, take away, the lives of their children, by exposing them....
Editor, Works of John Locke, Ninth edition, 1793: "From one who knew so well how to direct the researches of the human mind, it was natural to expect that Christianity and the Scriptures would not be neglected, but rather hold the chief place in his inquiries. These were accordingly the object of his more mature meditations; which were no less successfully employed upon them, as may be seen in part above. His Reasonableness of Christianity, as delivered in the Scriptures, is a work that will richly repay the labour of being thoroughly studied, together with both its Vindications, by all those who desire to entertain proper notions concerning the pure, primitive plan of Christ's religion, as laid down by himself: where they will also meet with many just observations on our Saviour's admirable method of conducting it. Of this book, among other commendations, Limborch says, 'Plus verae 'Theologiae ex ill quam ex operotis multorum Systematibus haufiffe me ingenue fateor.' Lee. March 23, 1697."
"Thus the law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's actions, must, as well as their own and other men's actions, be conformable to the law of nature, i.e. to the will of God, of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law of nature being the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good, or valid against it."
Book II, p. 285, Chapter XI, §135.
"Human laws are measures in respect of men whose actions they must direct, howbeit such measures they are as have also their higher rules to be measured by, which rules are two, the law of God, and the law of nature; so that laws human must be made according to the general laws of nature, and without contradiction to any positive law of scripture, otherwise they are ill made."
Book II, p. 285, Chapter XI, §135. Citing Richard Hooker, from Eccl. Pol. 1. iii, sect. 9 (1888 edition):
"The same Thomas, therefore, whose definition of human laws we mentioned before, doth add thereunto this caution concerning the rule and canon whereby to make them: 'Human laws are measures in respect of men whose actions they must direct, howbeit such measures they are, as have also their higher rules to be measured by, which rules are two, the law of God and the law of Nature. So that laws human must be made according to the general laws of Nature, and without contradiction unto any positive law in Scripture, otherwise they are ill made.'
"When the Reverend Jeremy Belknap, a Boston minister, brought together nine acquaintances in a friend's parlor on January 24, 1791, his goal was to find a way to gather and protect the basic sources of American history. As he envisioned it, the historical society would become a repository and a publisher collecting, preserving, and disseminating resources for the study of American history. Through their pledges of family papers, books, and artifacts the founding members made the Society the nation's most important historical repository by the end of their initial meeting. With the appearance of their first title at the start of 1792, they also made the MHS the nation's first institution of any description to publish in its field."
Read about the Massachusetts Historial Society here.
New England reverend. Read about Mitchel here.
French writer, philosopher and publicist. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: "His magnum opus, the enormous The Spirit of the Laws (1750), contained an original classification of governments by their manner of conducting policy, an argument for the separation of the legislative, judicial, and executive powers, and a celebrated but less influential theory of the political influence of climate. The work profoundly influenced European and American political thought and was relied on by the framers of the U.S. Constitution." Read more about Baron Montesquieu here, and here.
CHAPTER I.- Of Religion in General.
As amidst several degrees of darkness we may form a judgment of those which are the least thick, and among precipices, which are the least deep; so we may search among false religions, for those that are most conformable to the welfare of society; for those which, though they have not the effect of leading men to the felicity of another life, may contribute most to their happiness in this.
I shall examine, therefore, the several religions of the world, in relation only to the good they produce in civil society ; whether I speak of that which has its root in heaven, or of those which spring from the earth.
As in this work, I am not a divine, but a political writer, I may here advance things which are no otherwise true, than as they correspond with a worldly manner of thinking, not as considered in their relation to truths of a more sublime nature.
With regard to the true religion, a person of the least degree of impartiality, must see that I have never pretended to make its interests submit to those of a political nature, but rather to unite them: now, in order to unite, it is necessary that we should know them.
The Christian religion, which ordains that men should love each other, would, without doubt, have every nation blest with the best civil, the best political laws; because these, next to this religion, are the greatest good that men can give and receive. --Vol. II, Book XXIV, 1802 edition. "Of Laws as relative to Religion, considered in itself, and in its Doctrines," pp. 125-126. 1758 edition, pp. 144-145. 1793 edition, p. 129. 1873 edition, p. 119.
CHAP. III.- That a moderate Government is most agreeable to the Christian Religion, and a despotic Government to the Mahometan.
The Christian religion is a stranger to mere despotic power. The mildness so frequently recommended in the Gospel, is incompatible with the despotic rage with which a prince punishes his subjects, and exercises himself in cruelty.
As this religion forbids the plurality of wives, its princes are less confined, less concealed from their subjects, and consequently have more humanity: they are more disposed to be directed by laws, and more capable of perceiving, that they cannot do whatever they please.
While the Mahometan princes incessantly give or receive death, the religion of the Christians renders their princes less timid, and consequently less cruel. The prince confides in his subjects, and the subjects in the prince. How admirable the religion, which, while it only seems to have in view the felicity of the other life, continues the happiness of this!
It is the Christian religion, that, in spite of the extent of the empire and the influence of the climate, has hindered despotic power from being established in Ethiopia, and has carried into the heart of Africa, the manners and laws of Europe.
The heir to the Empire of Ethiopia (*" Description of Ethiopia." by M. Ponce, Physician. "Collection of Edifying Letters.") enjoys a principality and gives to other subjects an example of love and obedience. Not far thence may we see the Mahommedan shutting up the children of the King of Sennar, at whose death the Council sends to murder them, in favor of the prince who mounts the throne.
Let us set before our eyes, on the one hand, the continual massacres of the kings and generals of the Greeks and Romans, and, on the other, the destruction of people and cities by those famous conquerors Timur Beg and Jenghiz Khan, who ravaged Asia, and we shall see that we owe to Christianity, in government, a certain political law; and in war, a certain law of nations--benefits which human nature can never sufficiently acknowledge.
It is owing to this law of nations that among us victory leaves these great advantages to the conquered, life, liberty, laws, wealth, and always religion, when the conqueror is not blind to his own interest. --"Chap. III.--That a moderate Government is most agreeable to the Christian Religion, and a despotic Government to the Mahometan." 1873 edition, pp. 121-122.
Men are governed by several kinds of laws: by the law of nature; by the divine law, which is that of religion; by ecclesiastical, otherwise called canon law, which is that of religious polity; by the law of nations, which may be considered as the civil law of the whole globe, in which sense every nation is a citizen; by the general political law, which relates to that human wisdom from whence all societies derive their origin; by the particular political law, the object of which is each society; by the law of conquest founded on this, that one nation has been willing and able, or has had a right to offer violence to another; by the civil law of every society, by which a citizen may defend his possessions and his life, against the attacks of any other citizen; in fine, by domestic law which proceeds from a society's being divided into several families, all which have need of a particular government.
There are therefore different orders of laws, and the sublimity of human reason consists in perfectly knowing to which of these orders the things that are to be determined ought to have a principal relation, and not to throw into confusion those principles which should govern mankind." --Book XXVI. "Of Laws As Relative To The Order Of Things On Which They Determine. Chapter I.--Idea of this Book." 1873 edition, p. 156.
There are kingdoms, in which the laws are of no value, as they depend only on the capricious and fickle humour of the sovereign. If in these kingdoms the laws of religion were of the same nature as the human institutions, the laws of religion too would be of no value. It is, however, necessary to the society that it should have something fixed; and it is religion that has this stability. 1873 edition, p. 157.
American minister at Old West Church, Boston, Massachusetts, the first Unitarian Congregational Church in New England. He is erroneously credited with coining the phrase "no taxation without representation." See John Joachim Zubly. Read more about Mayhew here.
Mr. Otis made a speech, the outlines of which he has recorded in the pamphlet, urging a compliance with the governor's recommendation and General Amherst's requisition; and concluding with a motion for a committee to consider of both. A committee was appointed, of whom Mr. Otis was one, and reported, not only a continuance of the troops already in service, but an addition of nine hundred men with an augmented bounty to encourage their enlistment. If the orators, on the 4th of July, really wish to investigate the principles and feelings which produced the revolution, they ought to study this pamphlet and Dr. Mayhew's sermon on passive obedience and non-resistance, and all the documents of those days. They have departed from the object of their institution as much as the society for propagation of the gospel in foreign parts have from their charter. The institution had better be wholly abolished, than continued an engine of the politics and feelings of the day, instead of a memorial of the principles and feelings of the revolution half a century ago--I might have said for two centuries before. April 5, 1818.
Jonathan Mayhew. "The Snare Broken," a Thanksgiving Discourse, preached at the desire of the West Church in Boston, May 23, 1766. Occasioned by the Repeal of the Stamp-Act.
Samuel Langdon. "Government Corrupted by Vice," a sermon preached before the Honorable Congress of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, on the 31st of May, 1775.
Jacob Duche. "The Duty of Standing Fast in Our Spiritual and Temporal Liberties," a sermon preached in Christ Church, July 7th, 1775, before the first battalion of the city and liberties of Philadelphia.
William Smith. "A Sermon on the Present Situation of American Affairs," preached in Christ Church, Philadelphia, June 23rd, 1775.
John Joachim Zubly. "The Law of Liberty," a sermon on American Affairs, preached at the opening of the Provincial Congress of Georgia, 1775.
John Hurt. "The Love of Country," a sermon preached before the Virginia Troops in New Jersey. 1777.
William Gordon. "The Separation of the Jewish Tribes, after the death of Solomon, accounted for, and applied to the present day, in a sermon, delivered on July 4, 1777.
Nathaniel Whitaker. "An Antidote against Toryism, or the Curse of Meroz.
Oliver Hart. "Dancing Exploded, a sermon showing the unlawfulness, sinfulness, and bad consequences of Balls, Assemblies, and Dances in general;" delivered in Charleston, SC, 1778.
Samuel Stillman. "A Sermon preached before the Honorable Council, and Honorable House of Representatives of the State of Massachusetts Bay, May 26th, 1779."
David Tappan. "A Discourse delivered in the Third Parish in Newbury, Massachusetts, on the 1st of May, 1783, occasioned by the Ratification of the Treaty of Peace between Great Britain and the United States of America."
John Rodgers. "The Divine Goodness Displayed in the American Revolution," a sermon preached in New York, December 11th, 1783.
George Duffield. "A Sermon preached in the Third Presbyterian Church in the City of Philadelphia, on December 11, 1783, on the Restoration of Peace."
Chaplain. Tutor, Fellow and Treasurer at Harvard. Read about Nowell in the Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 41, p. 250.
Patriot. Read more about Otis here, and here.
President John Adams: "I wish I could transcribe the whole of this pamphlet, because it is a document of importance in the early history of the Revolution, which ought never to be forgotten. It shows, in a strong light, the heaves and throes of the burning mountain, three years, at least, before the explosion of the volcano in Massachusetts or Virginia."
"... If the orators on the 4th of July really wish to investigate the principles and feelings which produced the Revolution, they ought to study this pamphlet, and Dr. Mayhew's sermon on passive obedience and non-resistance, and all the documents of those days." From The Works of John Adams, second president of the United States: with a life of the author, notes and illustrations. Volume 10. Boston, 1850-1856, p. 300.
"Has it [government] any solid foundation? any chief cornerstone, but what accident, chance or confution may lay one moment and destroy the next? I think it has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God, the Author of Nature whose laws never vary. The same omniscient, omnipotent, infinitely good and gracious Creator of the universe, who has been pleased to make it necessary that what we call matter should gravitate, for the celestial bodies to roll around their axis, dance their orbits, and perform their various revolutions in that beautiful order and concert, which we all admire, has made it equally necessary that from Adam and Eve to these degenerate days, the different sexes should sweetly attract each other, from societies of single families, of which larger bodies and communities are as naturally, mechanically, and necessarily combined, as the dew of Heaven and the soft distilling rain is collected by the all-enlivening heat of the sun. Government is therefore most evidently founded on the necessities of our nature. It is by no means an arbitrary thing depending merely on compact or human will for its existence.
". . . The power of God Almighty is the only power that can properly and strictly be called supreme and absolute. In the order of nature immediately under Him comes the power of a simple democracy, or the power of the whole over the whole.
". . . But let the origin of government be placed where it may, the end of it is manifestly the good of the whole. Salus populi suprema lex efto, is the law of nature, and part of that grand charter given the human race (though too many of them are afraid to assert it) by the only monarch in the universe who has a clear and indisputable right to absolute power; because He is the only ONE who is omniscient as well as omnipotent.
"The sum of my argument is, That civil government is of God: that the administrators of it were originally the whole people ... "
Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Rochester, and Protestant religious leader. Read about Ponet in Biographia evangelica by Erasmus Middleton.
General, and governor-in-chief of British North America. Read about Prescott here and Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 46, 1896, pg. 304.
Attorney, "the Patriot", newspaper propagandist, son of
Josiah Quincy I (1709-1784), Revolutionary War soldier, built Josiah Quincy House (1770). Read about Quincy here and here.
Father of Josiah Quincy III (1772-1864), president of Harvard University (1829-1845), US representative (1805-1813), mayor of Boston (1823-1828).
American Congressman, physician and historian. OCLC Bio/History from David Ramsay Papers: David Ramsay was born April 2, 1749 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania where he was a friend and student of the physician Benjamin Rush. After practicing medicine in Maryland for one year, he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he immersed himself in local politics and society. He served as a member of the Charleston Council of Safety, member of the South Carolina legislature and Privy Council, Continental Congress, and United States Congress. Ramsay was an early member of the newly formed Medical Society of South Carolina and was elected president in 1798. He was an early advocate for the creation of a Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston. He authored numerous works on medicine and history, including A dissertation on the means of preserving health in Charleston and the Lowcountry (1796) and The history of the revolution of South-Carolina, from a British province to an independent state (1785). On May 8, 1815 he was shot dead on Broad Street in Charleston by an unstable patient whose insanity he had certified previously. Read about Ramsay here and here.
Swiss pastor and theologian. Read about Roustan from the Biographie Universelle. "ROUSTAN (Antoine-Jacques)". Biographie universelle ou Dictionnaire de tous les hommes qui se sont fait remarquer par leurs écrits, leurs actions, leurs talents, leurs vertus ou leurs crimes, depuis le commencement du monde jusqu'a ce jour (in French). 17 Ritzon - Scheremetof. Brussels: H. Ode. 1846, p. 140.
Philosopher. Read about Sidney here.
John Quincy Adams:
"I knowe my Redeemer liues [sic, lives]; and, as he hath in a great measure upheld me in the day of my calamity, hope that he will still uphold me by his Spirite in this last moment, and giving me grace to glorify him in my death, receive me into the glory prepared for those that feare him, when my body shall be dissolved. Amen."-- p. 306.
"HAVING lately seen a book, intitled, 'Patriarcha,' written by Sir Robert Filmer, concerning the universal and undistinguished right of all kings, I thought a time of leisure might be well employed in examining his doctrine, and the questions arising from it: which seem so far to concern all mankind, that, besides the influence upon our future life, they may be said to comprehend all that in this world deserves to be cared for."-- p. 309.
THE COMMON NOTIONS OF LIBERTY ARE NOT FROM SCHOOL DIVINES, BUT FROM NATURE.
"IN the first lines of this book he seems to denounce war against mankind, endeavouring to overthrow the principle of liberty in which God created us, and which includes the chief advantages of the life we enjoy, as well as the greatest helps towards the felicity, that is the end of our hopes in the other. To this end he absurdly imputes to the school divines that which was taken up by them as a common notion, written in the heart of every man, denied by none, but such as were degenerated into beasts, from whence they might prove such points as of themselves were less evident. Thus did Euclid lay down certain axioms which none could deny that did not renounce common sense, from whence he drew the proofs of such propositions as were less obvious to the understanding; and they may with as much reason be accused of Paganism, who say that the whole is greater than a part, that two halves make the whole, or that a straight line is the shortest way from point to point, as to say, that they who in politics lay such foundations as have been taken up by schoolmen and others as undeniable truths, do therefore follow them, or have any regard to their authority. Though the schoolmen were corrupt, they were neither stupid nor unlearned: they could not but see that which all men saw, nor lay more approved foundations, than, that man is naturally free; that he cannot justly be deprived of that liberty without cause; and that he doth not resign it, nor any part of it, unless it be in consideration of a greater good, which he proposes to himself. But if he doth unjustly impute the invention of this to school divines, he in some measure repairs his fault in saying, 'this hath been fostered by all succeeding Papists for good divinity: the divines of the reformed churches have entertained it, and the common people every where tenderly embrace it.' That is to say, all Christian divines, whether reformed or unreformed, do approve it, and the people every where magnify it, as the height of human felicity. But Filmer, and such as are like him, being neither reformed or unreformed Christians, nor of the people, can have no title to Christianity; and, inasmuch as they set themselves against that which is the height of human felicity, they declare themselves enemies to all that are concerned in it; that is, to all mankind.
"But, says he, 'they do not remember, that the desire of liberty was the first cause of the fall of man.' And I desire it may not be forgotten, that the liberty asserted is not a licentiousness of doing what is pleasing to every one against the command of God; but an exemption from all human laws, to which they have not given their assent. If he would make us believe there was any thing of this in Adam's sin, he ought to have proved, that the law which he transgressed was imposed upon him by man, and consequently that there was a man to impose it; for it will easily appear that neither the reformed nor unreformed divines, nor the people following them, do place the felicity of man in an exemption from the laws of God, but in a most perfect conformity to them. Our Saviour taught us, 'not to fear such as could kill the body, but him that could kill, and cast into hell:' and the apostle tells us, that 'we should obey God rather than man.' It hath been ever hereupon observed, that they who most precisely adhere to the laws of God, are least solicitous concerning the commands of men, unless they are well grounded; and those who most delight in the glorious liberty of the sons of God, do not only subject themselves to him, but are most regular observers of the just ordinances of man, made by the consent of such as are concerned, according to the will of God.
Pastor of Third Church in Dedham.
Swiss philosopher, diplomat, and legal expert whose theories laid the foundation of modern international law and political philosophy. Read about Vattel here and here.
American doctor and patriot. Died at Battle of Bunker Hill. Read about Warren here and here.
May this Almighty Being graciously preside in all our councils. May he direct us to such measures as he himself shall approve, and be pleased to bless. May we ever be a people favored of God. May our land be a land of liberty, the seat of virtue, the asylum ot the oppressed, a name and a praise in the whole earth, until the last shock of time shall bury the empires of the world in one common undistinguished ruin!
American historian and playwright. "The Conscience of the American Revolution." Read more about Warren here, here, here and from Doris Weatherford, American Women's History: An A to Z of People, Organizations, Issues, and Events. [New York: Prentise Hall, 1994] pp. 364-365.
 At the same time that these wayward appearances began early to threaten their internal felicity, the inhabitants of America were in general sensible, that the freedom of the people, the virtue of society, and the stability of their commonwealth, could only be preserved by the strictest union; and that the independence of the United States must be secured by an undeviating adherence to the principles that produced the revolution.
These principles were grounded on the natural equality of man, their right of adopting their own modes of government, the dignity of the people, and that sovereignty which cannot be ceded either to representatives or to kings. But, as a certain writer has expressed it,
On these principles, a due respect must ever be paid to the general will; to the right in the people to dispose of their own monies by a representative voice; and to liberty of conscience without religious tests: on these principles, frequent elections, and rotations of office, were generally thought necessary, without precluding the indispensable subordination and obedience due to rulers of their own choice. From  the principles, manners, habits, and education of the Americans, they expected from their rulers, economy in expenditure, (both public and private,) simplicity of manners, pure morals, and undeviating probity. These they considered as the emanations of virtue, grounded on a sense of duty, and a veneration for the Supreme Governor of the universe, to whom the dictates of nature teach all mankind to pay homage, and whom they had been taught to worship according to revelation, and the divine precepts of the gospel. Their ancestors had rejected and fled from the impositions and restrictions of men, vested either with princely or priestly authority: they equally claimed the exercise of private judgment, and the rights of conscience, unfettered by religious establishments in favor of particular denominations.
They expected a simplification of law; clearly defined distinctions between executive, legislative, and judiciary powers: the right of trial by jury, and a sacred regard to personal liberty and the protection of private property, were opinions embraced by all who had any just ideas of government, law, equity, or morals.
These were the rights of men, the privileges of Englishmen, and the claim of Americans: these were the principles of the Saxon ancestry of the British empire, and of all the free nations  of Europe, previous to the corrupt systems introduced by intriguing and ambitious individuals.
These were the opinions of Ludlow and Sydney, of Milton and Harrington: these were principles defended by the pen of the learned, enlightened, and renowned Locke; and even judge Blackstone, in his excellent commentaries on the laws of England, has observed, 'that trial by jury and the liberties of the people went out together.' Indeed, most of the learned and virtuous writers that have adorned the pages of literature from generation to generation, in an island celebrated for the erudite and comprehensive genius of its inhabitants, have enforced these rational and liberal opinions.
These were the principles which the ancestors of the inhabitants of the United States brought with them from the polished shores of Europe, to the dark wilds of America: these opinions were deeply infixed in the bosoms of their posterity, and nurtured with zeal, until necessity obligated them to announce the declaration of the independence of the United States. We have seen that the instrument which announced the final separation of the American colonies from Great Britain, was drawn by the elegant and energetic pen of Jefferson, with that  correct judgment, precision, and dignity, which have ever marked his character.
The declaration of independence, which has done so much honor to the then existing congress, to the inhabitants of the United States, and to the genius and heart of the gentleman who drew it, in the belief, and under the awe, of the Divine Providence, ought to be frequently read by the rising youth of the American states, as a palladium of which they should never lose sight, so long as they wish to continue a free and independent people.
This celebrated paper, which will be admired in the annals of every historian, begins with an assertion, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which nature and nature's God entitle them to claim; and, after appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of their intentions, it concludes in the name of the good people of the colonies, by their representatives assembled in congress, they publish and declare, that they are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States: in the name of the people, the fountain of all just authority, relying on the protection of Divine Providence, they mutually pledged themselves to maintain these rights, with their lives, fortunes, and honor.
[*]See Lessons to a Prince, by an anonymous writer. [David Williams, Lessons to a Young Prince on the Present Disposition in Europe to a General Revolution: with an Addition of a Lesson on the Mode of Studying and Profiting by the Reflections on the French Revolution by. . . Edmund Burke, by an old Statesman (6th. ed. New York, 1791).]
[**]The characters of Dickenson [sic, John Dickinson] and Otis are well known, but the early death of Mr. Quincy prevented his name from being conspicuous in the history of American worthies. He was a gentleman of abilities and principles which qualified him to be eminently useful, in the great contest to obtain and support the freedom of his country. He had exerted his eloquence and splendid talents for his purpose, until the premature hand of death deprived society of a man, whose genius so well qualified him for the investigation of the claims, and the defence of the rights of mankind. He died on his return from a voyage to Europe, a short time before war was actually commenced between Great Britain and the colonies.
The writings of the above named gentlemen, previous to the commencement of the war, are still in the hands of many.
Clergyman. Read more about West here. Disclaimer: West taught doctrine that became Unitarianism.
"Our obligation to promote the public good extends as much to the opposing every exertion of arbitrary power that is injurious to the state as it does to the submitting to good and wholesome laws. No man, therefore, can be a good member of the community that is not as zealous to oppose tyranny, as he is ready to obey magistracy.
... "If magistrates are ministers of God only because the law of God and reason points out the necessity of such an institution for the good of mankind, it follows, that whenever they pursue measures directly destructive of the public good, they cease being God's ministers, they forfeit their right to obedience from the subject, they become the pests of society, and the community is under the strongest obligation of duty both to God and to its own members, to resist and oppose them, which will be so far from resisting the ordinance of God that it will be strictly obeying his commands.
Reverend. Read more about Witherspoon here and here and here.
Ellis Sandoz, editor: ... "Witherspoon served intermittently in Congress until 1782 and was a member of over a hundred legislative committees, including two vital standing committees, the Board of War and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In the latter role, he took a leading part in drawing up the instructions for the American peace commissioners who concluded the Treaty of Paris, which ended the war in September 1783. He later served in the New Jersey legislature and was a member of that state's ratifying convention for the Constitution in 1787.
"Witherspoon has been called the most influential professor in American history, not only because of his powerful writing and speaking style--and he was carefully attended to on all subjects, both here and abroad--but also because of his long tenure at Princeton. His teaching and the reforms he made there radiated his influence across the country. He trained not only a substantial segment of the leadership among Presbyterians but a number of political leaders as well. Nine of the fifty-five participants in the Federal Convention in 1787 were Princeton graduates, chief among them James Madison (who, among other things, spent an extra year studying Hebrew and philosophy with Witherspoon after his graduation in 1771). Moreover, his pupils included a president and a vice-president of the United States, twenty-one senators, twenty-nine representatives, fifty-six state legislators, and thirty-three judges, three of whom were appointed to the Supreme Court. During the Revolution, his pupils were everywhere in positions of command in the American forces.
"Witherspoon's The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men caused a great stir when it was first preached in Princeton and published in Philadelphia in 1776, about a month before he was elected to the Continental Congress on June 22. He reminds his auditors that the sermon is his first address on political matters from the pulpit: ministers of the Gospel have more important business to attend to than secular crises, but, of course, liberty is more than a merely secular matter."
--Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols, Foreword by Ellis Sandoz (2nd ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998). Vol. 1.
"The assertion, that all religion countenances despotism, and Christianity more than any other, is diametrically opposite to fact. Survey the globe, and you will find that liberty has taken its seat only in Christendom, and that the highest degree of freedom is pleaded for and enjoyed by such as make profession of the gospel."
... "The Christian religion, while it commands due respect and obedience to superiors, nowhere requires a blind and unlimited obedience on the part of the subjects; nor does it vest any absolute and arbitrary power in the rulers. It is an institution for the benefit, and not for the distress, of mankind. It preaches not only "glory to God on high," but also "peace on earth, and good-will among men." The gospel gives no higher authority to magistrates than to be "the ministers of God for the good of the subject." From whence it must surely follow, that their power is to edify, and not to destroy. When they abuse their authority, to distress and destroy their subjects, they deserve not to be thought ministers of God for good; nor is it to be supposed, when they act so contrary to the nature of their office, that they act agreeably to the will of God, or in conformity to the doctrine of the gospel."
"In England there can be no taxation without representation, and no representation without election; but it is undeniable that the representatives of Great-Britain are not elected by nor for the Americans, and therefore cannot represent them; and so, if the Parliament of Great-Britain has a right to tax America, that right cannot possibly be grounded on the consideration that the people of Great-Britain have chosen them their representatives, without which choice they would be no Parliament at all."