tv Lectures in History Jeffry Morrison on Religion the American Revolution CSPAN November 4, 2017 8:00pm-9:50pm EDT
conversation, we will take your tweets and facebook questions. watch in-depth with author michael lewis sunday live from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern >> next on "lectures in history," jeffrey morrison, academic director of the james madison memorial fellowship foundation, teaches a class on the role of religion and the american revolution. he explores the meaning of words or phrases in the declaration of independence such as references to a creator, a supreme judge, or divine providence. he also highlights the importance of the great awaken awakening, a protestant religious revival in the 1740s, that influenced many founding fathers. this class took place at georgetown university and is an hour and 45 minutes. it was organized by the james madison fellowship foundation.
>> good morning, everyone. aren't you a smart-looking set this morning? the topic today is religion and the american revolution. you recall from our last session together, i laid out what i think are some headwaters of early american constitutionalism. that's what i was calling them. so we looked at classical republicanism, primarily roman, greco-roman, but primarily roman. we looked at enlightenment liberalism, primarily british, which included the common law tradition and some older things. then i mentioned protestant christianity as the third of those headwaters that i believe feeds into early american constitutionalism. and we deferred that to today. so that's where we are today. you recall this image of the missouri river and its headwaters. great rivers' main streams have head waters that flow into them and are at some point indistinguishable from one another and the river. these are the headwaters of the missouri river, the gallitan, the madison, and the jefferson rivers, discovered by lewis and clark.
and in a graphic way i just tried simply to illustrate those three headwaters. classical republicanism to the left there. enlightenment liberalism. and protestant christianity. so, that's where we are, looking at protestant christianity. this is a representation of one of those camp meetings during the first great awakening of the sort of mid-18th century. and we're going to be looking at that in a little bit. so, where i want to go today is make some introductory remarks about the declaration and whether we have an american creed and whether it's found in the declaration. in the second section there, we'll look at some revolutionary characters and their views of religion and its influence on the american revolution. i'd rather hear from their mouths than read a secondary source or some historian's interpretation. and i want you to hear what they had to say. thirdly, we'll take a very quick tour of what i'm calling the age of awakening.
and we'll look specifically at the first great awakening that preceded the revolution by several decades. in section 4, we'll look at what i'm calling the political theology of the revolution. and there we'll look back at the declaration. so we'll return to where we began and we'll look at a couple of sermons, political sermons of the revolutionary era and finally, we'll sum up at the end. so let's begin with some introductory remarks. the english social critic g.k. chesterton once said, america is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. that creed is set forth with dog
-- dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the declaration of independence. it does also by inference condemn atheism, it being the declaration, since it clearly names the creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derive. nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas. and in the matter of god and government, it is naturally god whose claim is taken more lightly. chesterton says, though, the point is that there is a creed. if not about divine, at least about human things. and this comes from an essay that he wrote called "what is america?" and chesterton called america "a nation with a soul of a church." a nation with the soul of a church. this was especially true, i think, during the revolutionary period. so how did this nation, or more precisely, this people, to use the language of the declaration itself -- remember, it's one people, not one nation, who separate themselves from great britain. how did this one people with a soul of a church bring off a revolution, the first successful separation of colonies from the parent stem in the history of the western world? and what effect did religion
have on political culture and constitutionalism in our revolutionary period? so let's begin by looking at, as i say, some revolutionary cashes. you'll recognize maybe the title of one of gordon wood's more recent books there. we're going to look at individuals, some of whom helped make the revolution, some of whom fought against it, some americans, some britons. i want you to have a full slice of opinion about religion and the revolution from various vantage points. let's given with this man, john adams. this is a portrait of him in old age. toothless. but he's looking back at this time on the revolution of almost 50 years ago, almost half a century before. and adams, who presumably knew something about the causes of the revolution, yes? adams wrote, "the revolution was effected before the war
commenced. the revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people. a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations." this in a letter from adams to hezikiah niles in 1818. now, i want to note that in our overarching text and gordon woods' "revolution" on page 3 he has a quotation from adams from this letter, but he leaves out something that has to do with their religious duties and obligations. and i'm not accusing him, don't hear me accusing him of any sleight of hand. i'm just saying that this tends to drop out in the account in the secondary account. this religious emphasis. and so, i want to try to underscore that a little bit. what did adams mean by saying the religious sentiments of their duties and obligations? reflecting back on that revolution of half a century ago, adams wrote, around the same time, 1815, to another correspondent. "who will believe that the
apprehension of episcopacy, contributed 50 years ago as much as any other cause to arouse the attention not only of the inquiring mind but of the common people and urged them to close thinking on the constitutional authority of parliament over the colonies." this, nevertheless, was a fact as certain as any in the history of north america. the reasoning was this. if parliament can erect diocese and appoint bishops, they may introduce the whole hire yaurry, establish ties, forbid marriages and funerals, establish religions, forbid dissenters, make schism heresy, impose penalties extending to life and limb, as well as to liberty and property. now, i know there's a lot of text there and laden with 18th-century prose. the apprehension of episcopasc, the fear of bishops, religion governed by bishops.
adams says this fear aroused americans of all kinds, not only inquiring minds -- that is to say elites -- but common people, to close thinking on the constitutional authority of parliament over the colonies. so adams thought that religion and politics went together in the revolutionary era. both in america and abroad. in 1793, during the french revolution, after louis xvi and marie antoinette had been beheaded, adams doubted that "the french republic will last longer than the english one in the last century. i think there will be a general revolution in religion and government all over europe." religion and government go together if his mind. in that quotation adams was comparing the short-lived english commonwealth under cromwell to what he correctly predicted would be an equally short-lived republican and post-revolutionary france.
recall that napoleon bonaparte, who claimed to be vindicating the french revolution and its principles, all the while having himself crowned emperor. and you saw that bust of napoleon in jefferson's monticello, recall in the parlor there. and what was the rallying cry of that revolution that napoleon claimed to be protecting and vindicating? you may also know the story of his coronation in notre dame, right? he was so anxious to get that crown he couldn't even wait, he actually took it out of the hands and placed it on his own head, he was so anxious to become a kind of modern-day emperor for france. so much, right, for revolution and the people. during that french revolution in which adams doubted that the french could sustain a successful revolution, word came that there had been a massacre of catholic priests touring ss
-- during the terror. some 200 of them were set afire on barges in the middle of the seine. they were given the exquisite choice of drowning or burning to death. after learning of this, adams said, "i know not what to make of a nation of 30 million atheists." what he means by this is, i don't know how you can have a successful republic, a successful government, based on the people and their will, without some kind of religious base to stabilize it. revolutionary americans, rather than seeing religion as a necessary enemy of enlightenment as the french did, and their philosophies. by the way, if you want proof of this you should look at the -- one of the coeditors of the french encyclopedia, denny diderot.
by the way, during the enlightenment, there are a variety of national expressions of that and each one sort of leaves behind a kind of artifact. the french leave behind this encyclopedia encyclopedia. the scots leave behind a work that's still with us today, the encyclopedia britannica, which comes out in the mid-1760s. diderot here was famous for big -- being one of the rallying cries of the revolution. not the more famous one of liberty, equality, fraternity. let us strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest." this is what diderot says we ought to be embodying. you see how he thinks that sort of religion and monarchy. aristocracy, privilege, go together. and they have equally to be -- the field needs to equally be
cleared of both of those. what do we do here in this country? revolutionary americans, rather than seeing it as i say as an enemy of enlightenment, as the french do, they harness the power of religion. and indeed were overwhelmingly religious themselves and drew their arguments for resistance from protestant christian religious sources as professor driesbach laid out for us recently. also, there was a rumor that diderot, who was tasked off -- or tasked himself with giving the entry for religion in that encyclopedia, wanted to just have one line in which he said, religion is the enemy of the people. that's all he wanted to say. so this i think is -- it reveals the hostility that many of the french intellectuals had and revolutionary leaders had for religion. but not so here. contrast that with the accommodating spirit of the american revolutionaries. in april of 1776, the continental congress sent commissioners to canada, benjamin franklin, samuel chase, and roman catholics -- charles
carroll of maryland who will become a signer of the declaration of independence. and father john carroll, whose statue is right is right behind us in the turnaround, the founder of this university in 1789, later the first bishop of baltimore. you might recall you saw a bust of father carroll, where? in monticello. so, jefferson appreciates it. or was it in montpelier in montpelier, i'm sorry. madison appreciates the contribution the catholics have made. james, you're going to have to keep me honest if i make another. george washington, for example, as president of the newly united states, wrote to a group of catholics. "i presume that your fellow citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you catholics took in the accomplishment of their revolution and the establishment of their government or the
important assistance which they received from a nation, france, in which the roman catholic religion is professed." so adams' claim that the american revolution was tied to fears of an anglican establishment is supported by considerable historical evidence. for example, in 1767, the anglican thomas chandler wrote, "an appeal on behalf of anglicans in america" in which he claimed "arguments for sending english bishops to america were never so urgent and forcible as they are at present. present." a year later in 1768, a cartoon in the "political register," an attempt to land a bishop in america showed american colonials driving out an english bishop by pelting him with books. and i've put it up here for you. pardon me. it's also in the course packet. and i want you to notice some of
the book titles, which are being hurled at this bishop. you see in this man's hand, locke. then next to him, sydney on government. these are two men named by thomas jefferson as sources for his draft of the declaration. he said there are at least four authors of the books of public right people should be familiar with if they want to find the sources of the declaration. aristotle, cicero, locke, and sydney. pardon me. you can see two ancients and two moderns. there you have locke and sydney. but there's a third that jefferson left off, perhaps intentionally, perhaps sort of naturally. and it's the book that's just about to strike that bishop. can anybody see what that says? can anyone read that? it's a little tough. it says, "calvin's works."
"calvin's works." so back to this sort of protestant resistance literature and so forth as dr. driesbach pointed out for us. there are a number of they goes -- number of things going on in this and we don't have time to sort of parse out every one. but i think this is really a marvelous graphic illustration of some of the intellectual ferment that is going on at the time. so you see british enlightenment, liberals being cited there. you see calvin. there's a little play on words. where one of the fellows says, "no lord spiritual or temporal in new england," which is a reference to the house of lords. they had temporal lords and then they had bishops of the anglican church, who were de facto members of the house of lords. those were the spiritual lords. questions are asked like, shall they be obliged to maintain bishops that cannot maintain themselves? in other words, you're already taxing us. for what, for tea, for sugar,
for molasses. and now you're asking us to support or potentially asking us to support english bishops as well. so again, a very nice i think graphic illustration of what's going on in the minds of many americans. at least new england americans. in 1772, bostonians publish their votes and proceedings which condemn the british for threatening to impose anglican bishops on america. so did 1775 engraving which i put up here. by paul revere, titled "america in distress," or "a certain cabinet junto" which appeared in "the royal american" magazine. the engraving shows a king and his ministers reviewing -- it's on the table there -- a bill for the total abolition of civil and religious liberty in america. so once again, here's paul revere showing that kind of
genius he had for propaganda and for sort of ratcheting up the rhetoric, as he did in that wood cut on the boston massacre. it was he who labeled it a massacre. but you can see as well here that in the minds of many, many americans, religion and politics go together, right? the king and his ministers have an intention to do what, to suppress liberties. not merely civil liberties but religious liberties also. because they are integrally related to one another. so let's turn to some more revolutionary characters. and let's step through the years immediately preceding the revolution. and, in fact, during the revolution. and test adams by listening to what participants had to say about religion and its effects. this man, general thomas gage, the erstwhile friend and colleague during the french and indian war of george washington,
was, by 1774, the military governor of massachusetts. a year later washington of course will be called to massachusetts to oppose his old friend and comrade in arms. now, part of gage's proposed solution to rebellious sentiment in the bay state was rather curiously, i think, for a military man to restrain the congregational churches in and around boston and strengthen the anglican establishment. this comes in a letter that gage wrote to lord dartmouth in 1774. and he said in that letter, quote, "they," that is congregationalists, "have a particular manner in perverting and turning ever to their own purposes." so he has zeroed in on these congregationalists, these calvinist ministers who he says are perverting, they're turning everything, turning every argument to their own purposes. and their purposes are
resistance and perhaps even independence. next, benedict arnold's chaplain and the reverend george whitfield, or what was left of him by 1775. this is the frontis piece to a book of poetry, rather, one poem, by phyllis wheatley, whose name has already come up in our -- some of our discussions. and i want you to see this because it illustrates the entombment of whitfield. it looks like it should be pronounced whitefield, i know, but it's whitfield. one of the great leaders of the first great awakening. and it shows his clerical collar there. you see that geneva collar that he has on. you can't see as well but ministers in that tradition wore very prominent cuffs as well, or bands, as they called them. now you may know that whitfield made many trips, he was english, made many trips across the atlantic, but he died here, died in massachusetts, in 1770, relatively young. and was buried there.
so in 1775, which is a year after gage's letter that we just looked at, in newberry port, massachusetts, american forces under the command of benedict arnold, assembled to begin their ill life fated invasion of canada. and their chaplain led a group of officers to whitfield's tomb where they sought rather to enlist his help, even though he'd been dead for five years. so what do they do? they dig up his coffin. they pry the lid off. they cut off this clerical collar he's got on. they cut off the cuffs, his bands. and they cut them into squares. and the chaplain hands them out, one square to each of the officers, who is about to make this hazardous journey to canada. now what is the point of that? what is the point of that? well, they think -- they, the
chaplain and the officers themselves -- think that these relics have virtue and power in them. they think that -- they're like relics, they're like holy relics, to be carried into battle. and they believe that these relics will aid them in the coming fight. they're like relics of saints in the middle ages. they're like the ark of the covenant to the children of israel that's carried in front of the troops. now it didn't work. i know you know it didn't work. and, as they say, it's the thought that counts. but this again reveals, i think, in the minds of american troops, this coincidence of religion and politics. now that's america. let's go back across the atlantic. by the way, here's phyllis wheatley. and this is another frontis piece to her poems on various subjects, religious and moral, 1773.
and she converted to christianity. she was brought here -- we're not entirely sure, of course, against her will. and converted to the christian religion. and then wrote poetry which was praised by george washington and which was rather scorned by thomas jefferson. which reveals i think their relative attitudes. and by the way, washington, she dedicated a poem to washington in which she recommended that he be given a crown and sent a copy of it to him. and asked if he would endorse it in published copies. and he wrote back to her a note in which he said, "i'm honored to be so written about by someone visited by the muses as you have been." he said, "i'm afraid i can't endorse it because you recommend a crown for me, and i don't think it would be appropriate right now because we're fighting a war against a crown and it will make it look like i have
ambitions to become king george iv." so i can't do it. but "would you honor me with your presence? would you come visit my camp in boston? and i'd be honored if you do that." and she in fact did that. and so we have accounts of washington hosting her, he treated her with great respect and courtesy. at the same time jefferson is writing, she probably didn't write that poetry, or she had help, or something. so again, look at the contrast between the two men. but anyway, she wrote a similar emcomium to george whitfield who she admired greatly and may have been instrumental to her own conversion to christianity. there's whitfield again. let's go back across the atlantic. to edmund burke. this is the anglo-irish statesman, minister of parliament. at the same time that those officers are cutting up george whitfield's clerical garb, same time, march 22nd, 1775, edmund
burke was defending the colonies in parliament and urging reconciliation. and you recall we read his speech on conciliation for our first session. he was especially attentive to american religion and its relation to resistance. burke said in the house of commons, "religion, always a principle of energy, in this new people, is in no way worn out or impaired and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of this free spirit. the people are protestants and of that kind which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. this is a persuasion not only favorable to liberty but built upon it." so which persuasion is he talking about? he's talking about the calvinist persuasion here. and it's also interesting i think that he anticipates the language of the declaration of independence.
by calling us, what, a new people. a new people. like that one people that the continental congress will refer to in the declaration. to stay in great britain. david hume, later on fall, 1775, the scottish enlightenment philosopher. and infidel as he was called here. in fact, john witherspoon of princeton assigned hume to james madison and to his graduating seniors to read for his rhetorical powers. he said, don't pay any attention when he starts talking about religion, but listen to the beauty of his language and absorb that. hume, who was rather conservative in his politics, nevertheless wrote to his friend the bookseller william strong, "a limited government can never long be upheld at a distance." but if the british, if the english, were foolish enough to
try to subdue the colonyies, hume had a little advice for them. he said, you should "annul all the charters, confiscate the estates of all the chief planters." so take washington's property, take jefferson's property and everything. and do what? "hang three-fourths of their clergy." if you want to try to subdue these people, you better hang three-fourths of their preachers. now, the three-fourths is interesting. recall professor driesbach cited sydney allstrom's "history of the american people" and concluded maybe three-quarters, maybe more of americans were what kind of protestant? reformed protestants. calvinist protestants. so i think hume is acknowledging this very fact from across the waters. another brit, this man general -- and another scot, incidentally, james grant, the following year, that is the late summer of 1776, with the continental army bottled up around manhattan.
the scottish general wrote, if a good bleeding can bring those bible-faced yankees to their senses, the fever of independency should soon abate." this always struck me as interesting. what is a bible-faced yankee? and i've been reflecting on this. i think what he means is these people are always walking around with their noses in the bible. they're always reading the bible. they've got it in their camp baggage, they've got it everywhere. so if we're going to defeat them, we're going to have to give them a good bleeding. but what kind of people are they? they're bible-faced yankees up there in new england. back across here. if anyone knew what the revolution was about, other than john adams, it was george washington, who risked everything, lost roughly 50% of his net worth during that revolution, spent in the entire eight and a half years i believe one night, one night in his own bed at montanat.
-- at mount vernon. washington wrote to a group of german calvinists. "the establishment of civil and religious liberty was the motive which induced me to the field of battle. why did i fight? not merely for civil liberty, not merely so that i didn't have to pay threepence on the pound for tea or something like that. i fought for principle." and he says, "and i fought for religious liberty." civil and religious liberty. they always went together in the minds of the american revolutionaries. so what was it about this particular brand of colonial religion that led to these impressions of americans and britons and in what ways did religion affect political culture specifically? charles ingals, rector of trinity church in new york city, noted that "it is absolutely certain that on the part of many, the president is a religious war." the revolution is a religious war.
listen. even this man, even george iii, king george iii, knew that religion was driving the revolution. which he called "a presbyterian rebellion." a presbyterian rebellion. again, what kind of rebellion? a reformed rebellion, a calvinist rebellion. so let's take a little look now at the age of awakening. the 18th century is often called, as it was by tom paine, the age of reason. and so it was. and we're right to call it that. paine was right to call it that. but we ought not to forget that it was also the age of awakening. specifically the age of the so-called first great awakening. many of the american revolutionaries, for example, came to age during the great awakening. we have a little hard time
sometimes sorting out the eras of american history. but george washington was in his early teens. sort of a pre-teen during the great awakening in virginia. patrick henry, james madison a little bit later. so, what was this great awakening? it's a phrase that historians invented. but it is reflective of a reality. what was it? from the 1730s roughly to about 1770, i put that as one sort of book end because that's the year that whitfield dies. and one of the other great leaders had already predeceased him. it was a religious revival that flamed up and down the east coast. up and down the colonies. and burned its brightest in the 1740s and 1750s. it's called the great awakening because its impact was great. on a vast territory. in new england, in the middle colonies, in the deep south, and
on myriad aspects of colonial life and segments of society. some modern media scholars have called it the first national media event. first national media event. because it's covered so widely all across the colonies. pardon me. it's great because it has great leaders. whitfield, whom we've already mentioned, on the left there. and a man on the right who you may recognize as well, jonathan edwards. george whitfield, who dies as i said in 1770. and jonathan edwards dies in 1758. were the two spearheads of the great awakening here in the colonies. whitfield had been a student at oxford and had come under the influence of two people you may have heard of, brothers, john and charles wesley.
wesley. charles wesley, the great hymn writer. john wesley, the founder of methodism. and had been converted there in oxford. and sort of thought it was his calling in life to revive the church and particularly the church in america, in the colonies. and he had a great heart for common people here in america. as i say, made i think eight transatlantic trips. i guess it has to be an odd number, so seven. i guess he died on his seventh trip here. and whitfield was the mouth or the heart of the great awakening. edwards was the brain or the head. whitfield was the preacher. edward is theologian. system mattic theologian,
although he was a very powerful preacher in his own right. george whitfield, rather unprepossessing-looking man. i have another picture in just a moment. nevertheless because of the power of his boreds swords and ideas and delivery was the most famous man in america prior to the american revolution. just as another george w., george washington, would become the most famous after the revolution. whitfield was an evangelical anglican and a calvinist in theology, so he adhered to this reformed version of protestantism. anglicans, i suppose it's hair -- it's fair to call them protestant. they're a kind of halfway house between roman catholicism and dissenting protestantism. but reformed or at least protestant to a significant extent. whitfield was, as i say, evangelical and calvinist but he was really the first nondough -- nondenominational evangelical preacher in america. he's kind of a forerunner of billy graham or rick warren in california.
you recall the man who spoke at president obama's first inaugural. so it's kind of a nondenominational or transdenominational preacher. he wrote in his journal in the late 1730s, "i bless god, the partition wall of bigotry and sect religion was soon broken down in my heart, for as soon as the love of god was shed abroad in my soul, i loved all of whatsoever denomination who loved the lord jesus in sincerity of heart." he doesn't really care about denominational differences. he's just about changing hearts and changing lives. anyway, george whitfield loved the common folk. benjamin franklin was a lifelong friend of his and that was one of the things that franklin appreciated about whitfield. he didn't just cater to the elite. in fact, he had a very troubled relationship with them. when he came over, he didn't have the proper license to preach, and so he was denied the pulpits in many anglican churches here.
and so he improvised. and he had this thing built. he had a portable pulpit built. and so he said, ok, you're not going to let me into your churches, i'll go preach out in the fields. we'll see if anybody comes to listen. and at first, a few people gathered. and pretty soon hundreds, and pretty soon thousands, and pretty soon tens of thousands of people would come to hear him. in this portable pulpit. in fact, there is an incident related in franklin's autobiography, which i commend to you. i won't go into this great detail. but he thinks that this is kind of charlatanism, and he thinks that like so many religious people, they invent stories and this is all kind of, you know -- this is all made up. he says, there's no way that this man can be preaching to 30,000 people at one time. that's impossible. well, whitfield comes to philadelphia and franklin knows the geography of downtown philly very well and he goes to hear, just out of curiosity. and he starts doing some rough
math in his head. counting the number of people in a square block and everything. and he concludes, my god, there are tens of thousands of people here and i'm in the back and i can hear him. it's true. and he also recounts how he had taken a little money in his pockets and he said, i sort of covenanted with myself i wasn't going to give money because these people are always passing the hat. you know how religious folks are. they're trying just to milk folks out of their money. he says, the more i listen the more my heart was warmed. he said, ok, if the plate comes by i'll just put the coppers in, i'll just put my pennies in. he says, the more i heard this preaching, it continued to work on me and i thought, well -- you know. maybe i'll put a little bit of silver in. and so by the time the thing came around he says, i'd emptied my pockets out and i was evening -- i was even asking people beside me if i could borrow money from them to put in the
plate. so franklin became close friends with whitfield. they had a mutual respectful affection of correspondants the rest of their lives. although franklin never converted as whitfield hoped and prayed that he would. and you can see, he's a very unprepossessing man, right, a very -- not -- well, it wasn't his physical bearing that people were coming to see, although he was very theatrical in his preaching style. in fact, he had crossed eyes. you can see it here. i think you can see it in that prior picture. and this is how good-natured he was, though. people would make fun of him for that. and accuse him of all kinds of things. and he said, yeah, it's true that my eyes -- my eyes are crossed, he says, but even in my infirmities the lord makes the sign of the cross in my eyes when i look at people. so this is the man who is the, as i say, the heart of the great awakening. and this man on the right, jonathan edwards, the brains of the awakening, we might say. by the way, they met, they met
one time, whitfield was invited to edwards' pulpit in 1740 in northampton. and whitfield recorded in his journal that night that while he occupied edwards' pulpit, he says, "good mr. edwards wept during my entire sermon." so that might be one of those moments i'd like to go back to in american history, to see that, to see these two in the same church and to see edwards shedding tears. edwards was known for being very stern, right? if you know one thing and one thing only that he wrote it is what? yes, "sinners in the hands of an angry god." but evidently he was -- his christianity was very emotional. and he was moved to tears by whitfield's sermon. but anyway. so that's really -- those are the sort of dramatis personae of the great awakening. what sort of effect did it have?
one more quick thing about whitfield's rhetorical abilities. david hume, whom we saw earlier, who is as i said -- called an infidel, clearly an atheist, still traveled 20 miles in an era when that was a long trip to hear whitfield preach. he was so interested in what the man had to say and how he had to say it. and the great shakespearean actor david garrick said whitfield "could move an audience to tears just by pronouncing the word mesopotamia." so, you know, reading these old testament accounts. it's amazing, it's amazing. indeed, whitfield had studied the theater and put his sort of theatrical gifts to work. well, what is it that the great awakening does in religious terms? there are innumerable dedicated and rededicated lives. there are spiritual commitments.
there are dramatic numbers of conversions. there are increased church numbers, for a time, at any rate. for a time. decades of religious fervor follow. numerous camp revivals. although one skeptic, lyman beecher, said, "more souls were probably begotten than saved in those camp meetings." i don't know what that means. but i'll let you -- let you think on that. so those are some of the spiritual effects. what were the political effects? and that's sort of what i want to focus on a little bit more. first i think there was a burgeoning sense of national identity that arose. remember scholars calling this the first national media event. secondly, there's a lexicon that affects political rhetoric in later decades that is developed. and thirdly, i'll just mention this one, the camp meetings evidently served as models for early political party nominating conventions. i don't want to make too much
hay of that. but this is -- this appears now regularly in political science scholarly literature. so let's look at this sense of national identity. the revivalism that moved all up and down the colonies tied churches together without denominational affiliations and it broke down geographical barriers. it provided a common discourse. it gave new models of public speaking. here's one example. edmund randolph, the historian of virginia and later washington's first attorney general, edmund randolph noted that patrick henry, for example, modeled his political rhetorical style on the great awakening preaching styles of the reverend samuel davies and george whitfield. so patrick henry is one of these young founders who comes of age during the great awakening, he goes to hear these great awakening preachers, and he, henry, absorbs their spiritual message. henry was one of the most
conventional and evangelical of the founders. but not only that, he takes their style of preaching and he incorporates that in his own very dramatic and powerful rhetorical style, right? give me liberty or give me death. it's one reason that jefferson comes to loathe and fear henry so much. he's a great orator, and jefferson has a very weak, reedy, thin voice and he's envious of henry's great rhetorical power and fears his political power as well. more importantly, i think, perhaps, this revival provided a political vocabulary or lexicon. words like liberty in christ, the tyranny of sin in the flesh and the devil, the virtue of the saints. each of these religious terms is going to take on an additional political meaning in later decades.
and one clear example. this is jonathan mayhue. we already looked at one of his pieces under dr. driesbach's impetus. in a sermon preached by mayhew in 1976, after repeal of the -- 1756, after the repeal of the stamp act, called "the snare broken: a thanksgiving discourse occasioned by the repeal of the stamp act. the reverend jonathan mayhew began by saying, "we only exercise that liberty where with christ hath made us free. being desirous that all other persons and churches should do the same. and not choosing that either they or we should be "intangled with any yoke of bondage." so if you have even a passing familiarity with the bible you can hear that mayhew is taking biblical texts, but he's updating them, right? he is improving them in the language of that day. and he's applying them to the political situation on the ground in 1776.
so liberty, the liberty of christians, yokes of bondage that are entangling people, the spiritual language then takes on a political meaning in these kinds of sermons. or to take another example. americans saw england in the 1760s and 1770s as increasingly, yes, tyrannical, but sinful. this is a word they use. lascivious. unchristian. listen to some overheated language from this man. sam adams. you've probably seen his image. maybe even on a bottle now and then, i don't know. this is the devout samuel adams, patriot, brewer, yes. but also a devout christian. again, one of the most
evangelical of the founding generation. who is raised by puritan parents and who wrote his thesis at harvard titled, "whether it be lawful to resist the supreme magistrate if the commonwealth cannot otherwise be preserved." adams complained that the british were out to destroy americans' "sense of true religion and virtue" in the spring of 1776. "from the king to the meanest free man in the nation, all is corrupt," he thundered. and he went on in typical new england congregationalist fashion to claim that god rewards or punishes nations "according to their general character." so the logic of adams was, if americans wanted god's blessing, they would have to separate themselves from an increasingly corrupt britain and not just politically corrupt, religiously corrupt, morally corrupt. he says, up until 1776, we americans have received "little besides the contagion of vice
and folly, not to say slavery and oppression," from our british brethren. moreover, large numbers of people, especially the common people, so loved by whitfield, claimed that they had direct personal unmediated experiences of god's grace. a grace that didn't need to be supplied to them through a special priestley class. that didn't take special learning to understand. you didn't have to understand obscure latin phrases, right, to understand it. you just needed to be literate. or maybe not even that. you just needed to be standing in a field while george whitfield was preaching to you. and take that in an unmediated fashion immediately. right? significant numbers of people began to read the bible for themselves.
to interpret it for themselves. believing that the holy spirit spoke directly to them. pardon me. or illuminated the text for them. it didn't take a special elite class to do that for them. so, i'm arguing, i'm suggesting at any rate, that weave the -- before the great awakening many americans were inclined to defer to authorities in church and state because they believed those people derived their authority from god in a top-down kind of way. so think of dr. hardwick's lectures. think of the divine right of kings. think of king james writing "basilicon do ron," the divine gift. right? americans are bring disposed -- predisposed against that now after the great awakening. this tended to get reversed actually in the minds of many americans. because god was seen as empowering and awakening people immediately, that is to say, directly, without an that is to
-- without an intermediary. this gave people a sense of sense to interpret the scripture themselves. and i'm suggesting this spiritual authority got translated into the political realm as well. into what? into consent. a huge concept, right, in american constitutionalism. consent essentially of equal people. so our experience makes up very well with thethyry we get from john locke and others in the british enlightenment. and this political thinking was especially at home in the
congregasionalism and that of the most postifferous of his apone wants. if you let me restrain the congressional churches, shut them down and strengthen the anglican churches, which tend to be royalist, i can strengthen them in massachusetts. i don't need anymore gunpowder or soldiers or bullets. why? well, because they called their ministers or recalled them. their little laboratories of democracy and republicinism. so i'm suggesting the popular religionosity of public awakening in the 1740s and 1750s helped to bring on the -- and encouraged its republican elements.
it was a great democratizing force or republican force in american revolution. so with that as a background i'd like to turn in the next section to the political theaelg and -- political theology look at some documents such as the declaration of independence, sort of the great artifact of the revolution and some political sermons. but i think it would be a good time now to pause and take a break of 10 minutes, no longer than ten minutes and deal with this next subject. welcome back. let's turn now to an examination of what's been called an american scripture. the declaration of independence, the best known certainly artifact of the american revolution.
that document called by thomas jefferson, a synthesizing of the harmonizing sinth ths of the day. it's my argument that one of those was protestantism. the declaration is the most explicitly religious of the most organic laws of the united states, of which it is the first. certainly it is more explicitly religious than the so-called godless constitution our fourth and supreme organic law. the declaration refers explicitly four time tuesday the -- four times to the diety, to natures god to all man's creator. in the first two sentences they look like paragraphs but each of those is a long sentence, a long compound sentence. and then it refers to the
supreme judge of the world. and the protection of the divine providence in the last two sentences. so literally the first and last lines of the declaration of independence begins and ends with two references to the diety. furthermore its political logic especially the grounding of so-called natural rights, you could just as well call them super natural rights because they're endowed by a super natural agents, depends on the existence arguably of a supreme being. and that was chesterten's point that i raised earlier.
yet the preciseness is unclear. one political theorist has argued per suasively these references to god add up to quote a religious iaelg that was saepsable to believers. i want to flush out those theistic clauses in the declaration and try to amplify for you what i think is a distinct theological voice of that day. the scholar i noted further notes that neither nature -- perhaps not. but i suggest that the other two references to god in the declaration to divine providence at the end and the supreme judge of the world would have sounded distinctly orthodox and even calvinistic to reformed americans in 1776. americans in 1776. and here again we're using the word reformed to mean calvinist,
that subset of the protestant reformations. i think it's plausible that the congress intentionally calibrated its phrasing to the ear of americans that collectively made up the largest religious constituency in the colonies in 1776. again, at least three quarters probably closer to 80%, 90% of americans at that time. thus, the declaration's religious clauses can best be seen as examples of what i'm calling strategic piety of the continental congress. by the way, i say the congress and not jefferson because jefferson's original draft
contained only one, in fact -- bless you -- explicit reference to the diety to nature's god. somebody thought the implicit reference to the creation ought to be explicit. so the implicit ought to be made explicit. jefferson had originally written all men are created equal and from this equal creation men derive rights. somebody, i think it's franklin, suggests talk about the creator instead of sort of in the back door -- bringing god in the back door, talking about creation. so that is the very first change. but the draft as it goes from the drafting committee to the congress had two references only to the dity and only those at the beginning.
and i think the other language in there, we do think of the declaration as sort of springing forward from jefferson's brain, but it didn't happen that way. perhaps some 85 changes made to that draft. so i'm going to be calling the continental congress the true maker of the declaration of the independence. i want to focus my remarks on the last two nonjeffersonian references to the diety frankly because everyone else seems to ignore them and focus on first two. now, when the congress appealed to the supreme judge of the world for the reckitude of their opinions in the ultimate senseitance of their declaration and relied on the declaration of independence in the ultimate sentence, they were not playing
to the deists in the american crowd. they'd already done that. or more popularly you could say they weren't playing to the unitarians in the american crowd. because those folks in particular were a tiny minority among the american population at large. instead, i suspect they were intentionally sounding notes that would resonate with all of those reformed protestants, and they hoped would stir them into action. once the americans publish their reasons for separating from great britain, they know that the most powerful empire in the history of the world will not let them go without a fight. and they need soldiers. they need people to enlist and shoulder muskets for that cause. so appeals to a supreme jumg of
-- judge of the world would indeed have pricked up the ears of revolutionary era american calvinists. for those people who had heard that very phrase and paraphrases from pulpits and catechisms their whole lives. now some of them might have possibly called john locke's allusion to god as the supreme judge of all men. but then locke himself can be seen an as era of reformation, of political thought, h-e-i-r, an heir. just as an aside, locke's father was a puritan. there's considerable circumstantial evidence that samuel rutherford was a guest in the locke home. that the john locke heard conversations between him and his father about protestant
resistance to what they considered a catholic journey. i think it's more likely that american protestants when they heard that phrase in the declaration would call to mind stern puritan tracks or sermons but his final judgment. the final judgment. in fact, it was edwards and not locke who had used the precise phrase the supreme being to the world before its appearance in the declaration of independence. in the final judgment, only slightly less terrifying than sinners in the hands of an angry god, edwards promised a show, "that god is the supreme judge of the world. that there's a time coming where he will judge the world and the person by whom he will judge it is god" so read it there.
god, because the supreme judge of the world, equals christ. edwards was drawing himself on earlier reform, that is to say calvinistic language, especially that of the west faith printed when locke was a boy of 15. by the way, going to the westminster school, there to the block of what's now london and which contained as he and all american calvinists knew the following line. "the supreme judge by which all controversy and private spirits are examined, and in who's sentence we are to rest can be no other but the holy spirit speaking in the scripture," closed quote. again, follow the logic. the supreme judge of the world for jonathan edwards, and for the reformed americans he represented was precisely the biblical god, right? god is a judge in the old testament. the lord shall judge the world in righteousness we read in psalm 9.
and according to jonathan edwards in the new testament. thethan edwards was merely most famous reformed clergyman language, prefiguring that of the declaration. there were many other dimmer calvinists likes that used similar language. and some of those preachers although not so well-known to us in posterity nevertheless carried great weight. sermons by new englanders like reverend samuel langden stopped for names of god that congress used in the declaration. for example, in december, 1776 the reverend wright preached "an increase of sin under special favors or frowns of divine providence ripen people for in harvest." so what's going on here?
he is preaching hellfire and brimstone, but he's using the very phrase that will show up in the declaration. my point is this is language reformed protestants are accustomed to hearing in pulpits, tracks, catechisms, from creeds. they grow up with this stuff. it's not necessarily an enlightened phrase. it's a reformed protestant phrase every bit as much as it's an enlightened phrase. the reverend noble gave a sermon in march of 1775, a political sermon commemorating the boston massacre on "the remarkable into positions of remind protestants in favor of the oppressed." in may of 1775 reverend langden delivered a sermon and prayed in these exact words, "divine providence will interpose to
fill every department with wives and just men." but two in may of 1776 stand out as especially note worthy examples of the calvinist political theology and diskrs -- discourse that found their way into the declaration. john witherspoon's sermon and the reverend samuel west's election sermon of may 29. both of which are in the reading packet. and i should pause for just for a moment to remind you of something my friend said. in 1776 the average american was more likely to hear a sermon in any given week than he was to read a newspaper or get his public opinions from any other source. so the pulpit -- although this is not true today, and part of our task is historical imagination to think ourselves
back into the past, their world was a world found politically through the pulpit. so these sermons carry tremendous weight. many of them were circulated and circulated throughout the colonies, go abroad. it was in scotland and in england for preaching this sermon. it goes all throughout the anglo phonian world. so let's turn and look at the dominion of providence over the passions of men. and here's that thealistic language in the declaration. on may 17, 1776, witherspoon preached a fast day sermon at princeton. the dominion of province over the passions of men whose title alone should tip us off to the
confidence between the declaration phrase, divine providence, and forth -- and orthodox reformed religious phrasing. and keep in mind witherspoon was a rigid calvinist. i'm tempted to ask is there any kinded calvinist? he was very rigid and very strict in his theological principles. he had gained name in scotland for fighting against the liberals and moderates as they were called. but he was also the leading figure in american presbyterianism. it was a farm in check -- former champion of the conservative party in scotland. now, the second paragraph of his printed discourse one of many , editions he went through, notes that providence is very complete. the providence at this time was a distinct branch of doctrinal theology. if you were a seminary student
you took a whole series of courses on providence. and witherspoon used the phrase divine providence four more times in this sermon. in fact divine providence was witherspoon's favorite formation for the deity. only in public contexts, such as the fact-based sermon. even his lectures on divinity to ministerial students contained the phrase, "the old testament is filled up with the history of providence were god's conduct to his chosen people. the new testament contains the resurrection of christ." -- note here, you don't have to make to happen theological hay out of this. but what i want you to hear is how witherspoon is linking providence and christ in the
same sentence. so in other words, providence is not a kind of sort of code language for some enlightenment language for some enlightenment view of god. this is in the minds of reformed americans a very distinct branch of doctrineal theology, and it is coupled to the second person of the trinity in their mind. divine providence evidently meant to witherspoon what it did mean to john calvin who used these words. "providence means not that god observes from heaven what takes place on earth but that he governs all events." so i want to pause here for a moment. we have i think a mistaken view of american deism or providential as him -- providentialism.
we tend to think that protestants were in fact all dies, which is not true.we tendt i'm sure you heard this aan aelg, a watchmaker god. who makes the world in the same way that a clock maker or watchmaker makes a watch in all of its intricate parts. and who in those days winds it up with a key, injects energy into the machine, in other words, and then takes the key out and puts it in his pocket and walks away. and the thing runs of itself. in fact, one of the great projects of the enlightenment was to invent a machine that would go of itself, a perpetual motion machine. they were optimistic this could happen. but this was not the view the american founders had and the authors of the declaration of independence had of providence. for them god intervenes in human affairs. providence means -- well, what do they rely on?
the protection of divine providence, right? this is an interposition to use their language. it is an active god. a god who makes the world, a god concerned with the world and who acts in it. and i've tried to show, too, that this notion of divine providence has a distinctly reformed cast to it. as i say, it evidently meant to and i've tried to show, too, witherspoon as it did to others that god governs all events. and the inclusion of protection of divine providence. that phrase in the declaration doubtless struck witherspoon as an appropriately pious reference to god's active care for his chosen people. there's even an oral tradition that witherspoon himself suggested the phrase be inserted into the declaration. and it must be true because that found its way into the musecome
-- the musical of 1776. into the declaration. and since i've seen that on television, then it has to be true. [laughter] >> and i've this is where i get most of my knowledge of american history, from videos and things like that. and there's a reason for that. it's not entirely implausible. tradition.al like so many other oral traditions, we can't prove that, nor can be disprove it. but it makes sense. and it here's why it makes sense to me. this phrase, divine providence, it is the favorite phrase for the diety that he uses. over and over and over again and his lectures. his sermons to the congregation there in princeton, new jersey. in more public addresses that he wrote. on behalf of the copt -- the continental congress, the phrase is everywhere. and we also know because we have
all of the various iterations of the draft and jefferson was very careful to note all of the changes, he called them -- what did he call them? mutilations i think in my text or something like that. we know the changes that the congress suggested. so what that means is somebody on the floor of the continental congress stood up and said i think we ought to insert the phrase the protection of divine province. toought to call upon god judge us for the rectitude of to judge us for the rectitude of our intentions, on the up rightness, the straightness of our intentions, and we need ask for his protection. so it makes perfect sense to me this man had this favorite phrase on the tip of his tongue. he is the only clergyman assigned the declaration of independence. just this way when he -- dress this way when he went on to the floor of congress.
there were a couple of other ministers during his tenure in the continental congress from 1776 to very early 1783. so he is there during the precise years of the american revolution. and by the way, it was this sermon that sort of catapulted him into the continental congress, and it was the fame that accrued to him after preaching this and having it published. pardon me. but when he would go to congress, he always made a point of wearing this clerical guard. and there were two others who were sometime ministers who were actually serving in the congress with him. not on july 4, 1776. one of them was defrocked. i think it was dr. lyman hall. he's portrayed as a medical doctor, but he was actually a doctor of divinity. but he was defrocked for some naughty. i don't know what it was.
but witherspoon would get on the other preachers for not wearing their caller. -- collar. he thought this was them showing they were somehow ashamed of their ministerial profession. or that they did not think religion had it appropriate place at the political table. and i mentioned to you that there was the bus of john carroll -- did i tell you that earlier? i'm trying to redeem myself. [laughter] >> now i've lost my train of thought. montpelier, john carol -- thank you very much. so i told you when we were at montpelier that when the new georgia constitution which banned ministers from holding public office was published , witherspoon wrote this satirical up-ed piece. he made fun of it sarcastically in which he said oh, i understand now.
if you're a good minister and you're a faithful shepherd of your flock and you behave yourself, you can't serve in the georgia legislator. but if they defrocked you for some sort of imorality, then you're allowed to serve in the legislator. good idea. [laughter] >> so his point is, ministers ought to be serving in congress, that ministry is not -- so the important point i'm trying to make here is that the declaration's phrase about divine province mirrors perfectly witherspoon's on usage in addresses to political and to religious audiences or we might say to enlightened and awakened audiences, both. next let's look at reverend samuel west's election day sermon of just two days later.
may 19, 1776. witherspoon's may 17, 1776. this is two weeks after witherspoon's sermon. it is a month before jefferson and the drafting committee began preparing a declaration. i should under score that both of these sermons predate the declaration. i'm trying to show how its -- how this language that finds its way into the declaration. it's already circulating in religious communities. reverend west preached the sermon that anticipated not only language about the supreme judge and divine providence but anticipated every theistic phrase and concept in the declaration. like witherspoon, west was a political preacher who moved in high calvinist circles, and he was no theological liberal either. his election sermon pays homage
to "the sacred scriptures and our blessed savior." west -- so the point is reverend west is clearly within the orthodox orb. and once again in his sermon of may 27th, we read the interpositions of divine providence, closed quote on america's behalf. he claimed divine providence we should have the powers of legislation and taxation amongst ourselves. and later the savior and providence are linked in the same line which should disabuse us, i think, of the notion that providence must always be read as some kind of enlightenment code for less than orthodox or even biblical god. besides divine providence, god also appears in the robes more or less of a supreme judge of the world.
to reverend west god is "our supreme magistrate that will reward or punish that is to say judge us as we obey or disobey." the supreme magistrate of the universe. to whom all are three -- two whom all earthly magistrates must answer. closer still to the language of the declaration, god is called by west, "the great judge of the quick and the dead." and the good people of mast having, "made our appeal to heaven cannot doubt but the judge of all the earth will do right." and i might add that west's deity is called the creator. he is the and our of rights and author of the laws of nature. in fact in the first four sentences alone of that sermon west employs the following concepts.
a creator who endows man kind with certain affections, all man's happiness, self-evident truths, laws of nature and a supreme magistrate who will judge the world. so i simply ask you do these sound familiar? are these echoed in the declaration of independence? it's a speculative argument. i wish i could, but i don't pull up a chapter or verse and say there is a journal entry in which west says -- i sent a copy ,f vista debt -- to jefferson but i am making a sort of circumstantial argument. and indeed it's not incompatible with jefferson's own account on how he came to disstill all those different ideas, the harmonizing sentiments of the day. he says it's merely meant to be a reflection of the mind. he says it wasn't my idea to
invent new ideas who have never before been articulated. now, these sermons by reverends witherspoon and west in may of 1776 and others mentioned i think reveal the deep harmonies between the idiom of reformed protestants in the colonies and the language employed by the second continental congress in the last two sentences of the declaration. the harmonies are so striking if we had ears to hear them that they were possibly inserted into the rough draft of the declaration to play into a large calvinist thuloanious audience. -- calvinist colonial audience. appeal to the supreme judge of the world. and their invocation of the protection of divine providence would have struck americans as simply good calvinist faith and practice and would have rallied their support for the cause of independence, which in the event, they gave.
the majority of chaplains, the overwhelming majority of chaplains in the revolutionary army and the continental army and even in the militias of were of reformed domnngzs. there's accounts of reformed pastors even enlisting in the army to fight. and one of them, mulenberg. kevin, remember his first name? peter mulianberg, i think -- frederick, all right, some name, evidently gave a sort of farewell sermon in his clerical robes and then hold them off to reveal copt nental refirm and then went directly from the church into the field. but the numbers are astoupding. the number of chaplains and foot
soldiers who fight. but regardless of the motives of the congress -- and again speculative -- they deployed stock language from the awakened protestants of the revolutionary period. soldiers who fight. and this continued into the early federal period when benjamin rush who reunited jefferson and adams in old age said, quote the union of the states in its form and adoption is as much the work of divine providence as any of the miracles recorded in the old and new testament with the effects of the divine power. way that i'm way that i'm suggesting, anyhow, that the second continental congress made strategic but not necessarily impious use of first ridge in -- use of religion in the first law of the united states, the declaration of independence. so my point is that it's intentional, my suggestion at any rate. it's intentional but it's not to be taken as cynical. they're not doing this merely to
get enlistees. i think they are doing that. they know that they're going to have to be soldiers who enlist in this army. and it would perhaps be unwise to begin our declaration of purpose and arguments and legitimacy of this revolution by alienating the largest political block -- i'm sorry, religious block of americans. 75% perhaps upwards of 90%. and there was some concern that would happen if only the diestic language from jefferson and the -- language went up. it's not incompatible with biblical coal is an -- biblical religion. not incompatible with christianity. they believe god is the creator, they believe he's the author of the laws of nature. but i think it's this more specifically reformed language that is deliberately inserted there.
not merely in a cynical way, but as a reflection both of their own genuine piety and their own religious affiliations but with their own strategic eye. so finally in terms of by way of conclusion, i'm suggesting -- had been suggesting that the legacy of religion in the revolutionary era was a substantial one. every bit as substantial as classic republicanism or enlightened liberalism, those other great head waters of mainstream early constitutionism. and we see this even in modern day juran's prudence. for example, jefren sfs wall of separation has been cited numerous times by the supreme court beginning most prominently in the everson case in 1947. citations to jefferson and madison.
in two cases in the last decade, locke v. davy, 2004. the supreme court of the united states -- pardon me -- is telling us that history matters. that the history of the revolutionary period and the early federal period matters. it matters for our modern understanding of the constitutionality of church state issues. and i should in the language of the young people give a shout out to dr. -- whose book was just cited this past week by the supreme court of the united states. so the court is telling us these things matter, history matters. it has a kind of living presence with us even today. and by the way i'm not suggesting -- i am suggesting with the court that it matters. but i'm not suggesting that the
18th century synthesis of religion and political culture of john witherspoon, or jonathan mayhew, or for that matter james madison in its continental congress in its particulars is for today. america has changed immensely since the revolution and in massachusetts, home of the puritans. madison wrote to jefferson in 1888, quote, "one of the objections to tunew england in the constitution that is, by prohibiting religious tests it open the door fortoday the old t open the door for jews, turks and infidels," closed quote. road of 1775 was spread by paul
revere is flanked by a jewish synagogue on one side and a mosque on the other. so in other words jews and infidels are on opposite sides. we cannot pour new wine into old wine. revere is flanked by a jewish synagogue on one side and a mosque on the other.i think it r us when we think about, when we reflect about religion and early american constitutionism to reexamine in a fresh way if we can the early experience of those americans. thank you very much. [applause] [applause] >> i did mens madison, and i thought it would be appropriate to give a little shout out to him, the namesake of our foundation. in old age madison wrote the following letter to frederick beasley in 1825. belief in a god all-powerful, good is so essential
to the moralered order of the world and to happiness of man that arguments which unforced cannot be drawn from too many sources, closed quote. it might be fair to say that madison was our most thelogically literal president. he studied, we heard this -- he later in life he wrote, all that i owe as to that one man. when he decided to go to college at the age of 18, he went to john witherspoon's princeton, rather than to wear most of the virginia planters were sent. and that i think had immense repercussions for american constitutionism.
because that means that the two principle intellectual influences in madison's life, the reverend donaldson in his pre-college years and then pre-college years and then reverend witherspoon in his college years, these are very dispositive years in our lives. think about yourself, think about myself. the careers between 1882 when we go away from home, when we are exposed to new ideas often set the course for the rest of our lives. so the principle intellectual influences are both calvinist ministers on the young and forming james madison. and in fact madison was so taken by witherspoon that after he graduated, madison stayed on about nine months, almost an entire year studying two things privately under witherspoon as his direct tutor. and they say he was hebrew and law. so he read the hebrew language
and he read law. at that time you couldn't get hebrew in the regular college curriculum. and what this tells us is madison was like many young people not sure what he was going to do with his life when he grew up. so he stayed on thinking about and inkingminister about -- inking about becoming a lawyer. and i traced this out when i was at princeton, and it turns out there were a number of young men who did exactly what madison did, but they only studied and g hebrew, and every one of them but madison went onto become an ordained minister. so it's clear he's thinking about the ministry as a vocation. and historians are of one mind about this. i'm not forcing the facts at all. so it's clear he's thinking and we know in any event he did neither. he did not become a minister or lawyer, he kind of became our first career politician instead.
even in old age madison was convinced as he says, "belief in god is essential to the moral order of the world. and to the happiness of man. that is which so prominently in the declaration. so for him it's kind of the building block for a successful society. so we have ended a few minutes early, and i would be willing and invite some questions or comments if you have any. let's start with amanda. >> i'm wondering about this -- i thought how odd for him to refer to it as unfashionable and was he referring to his specific nomination?
or was he referring to maybe seeming extremely optimistically confident about providence and independence to be unfashionable and putting that there? well, i think in adam's personal life he moves from being what we would call in orthodox squish -- orthodox christian to be would call in orthodox squish unitarian later in his life. you can see this in his correspondence with his son, john quincy adams, who is a john quincy adams, who is a christian and tries very hard to remain within the pail of orthodox christianity. but adams kind of chides himself for this point. he refers to what he called -- he says man kind will not progress, at least in religion, until we do away with what he
calls the blasphemy of the reincarnation. so if you know anything about orthodox christianity, that is not orthodox. that is heresy. so in his personal life he's moved into a more unitarian position. but it's not an atheist position. he continues to believe that god, the cree year, the natural law, the endow her of rights he continues to believe intervenes in human affairs, and intervenes on the cause of right as witherspoon's sermon points out. the dominion of providence over the passions of men. the dominion of province means that god acts, he interposes in the world, and he has a number of instances where he thinks the british are trying to -- pardon me -- they have an ill will
toward the americans and god sort of turns the circumstances in such a way that even their evil intentions turn out for the good of the americans. yes? >> i was just wondering. i work at the jewish museum in new york, and for a while i think it was just a fascsimile of a letter that washington road to the first synagogue for members of the americans and a country that will always protect the religious freedom. just wondering if you knew anything else about the context of this letter and also to what extent did the other founders share washington's acceptance of jewish people? because we talk a lot about religious liberty but other times it seems like christians and denominations are not the same. >> you're right to bring that up. and washington writes that -- if my memory serves in 1790 -- to the hebrew congregation in newport, rhode island.
and i think that's the first time in history where a head of state addresses a jewish congregation. i'm not positive of that. at any rate, for certainly the first time an american. american. and you're right, there are phrases from that letter which is a kind of hymn to religious liberty that have become well-known and justly so. for example, he says this country gives in the country gives in the constitution -- so the context is will the new constitution and the new federal government, central government -- if i have the date right, 1790. this is prior to the bill of rights. there isn't a first amendment yet. so some jews are concerned this new central government will be less careful with their religious liberties. and in fact this is a concern of a number of religious minorities
including baptists in virginia. it's one reason james madison feels compelled to move a bill of rights in the first congress because he'd made an election promise to baptists in virginia that he would do so. so there's some concern on the part of newburry jews and others. and washington writes them back, he echoes back some of their language. it asked that only its citizens comport themselves as good citizens. that they give up their ineffectual support. and he says furthermore to bigotry no sanction. so you needn't fear religious bigotry. as a matter of fact, you have every reason to be confident in asserting your religious liberty
which is more than mere toleration. washington as madison had done in 1776 in the virginia legislator, he follows the same line of thinking. and he says religious toleration is not good enough. so don't you think that we're merely going to tolerate you in this new government. you have religious liberty as an inherent natural right. and this new government will not threaten that in the least. so it's a very moving and, again, it's a kind of hymn to religious liberty. and a peculiarly american view of religious liberty, i might add. james. >> with the comments about the prevalence of calvinistic tendencies to supercede civil authority in those cases, the
first thing was i thought were there any compelling actions by those that were combatants that had any recognition in the war in order they were in relations -- i think i heard about opportunitiestic british officers that decided to stay here after the war. but in your research or work, did you find any evidence of people that abandoned the british cause for these american or calvinist tendencies? >> the answer, unfortunately, is no. and it's not because i was looking for them. so it's not my specialty. so i'm just going to have to plead ignorance on that. a number of them do stay, but i don't know whether that is driven by religious impetus or not. there's also some debate that goes on between equally devout
christians whether in fact the american revolution is just war. it would be an interesting project for somebody to call right the sermon, the political sermons. and we have good collections of patriot sermons. we don't have equally good collections of loyalist sermons. and to mention someone i referred to earlier, john wesley, the founder of methdism, famously is against the american revolution. he thinks it's an unjust war and an unbiblical war. , as a numberough did, oldt preachers testament and new testament biblical texts, it's more difficult in the new testament d to find explicit sanction for resisting civil authority. it's difficult to do. dr. dries balk mentioned rule
-- romans 13. ad that, one has to make large -- a logical argument out of the text and say, if the ruler is no longer acting, for filling or is her god ordained role of rewarding good and punishing evil. somehow inverted that, then you are justified, they are no longer true and your justified in resisting or rebelling. but that's an ilogical argumentd that, then you are you can't find in the explis st text, that sanctions a rebellion in civil authority. it's clear that protestants followed that line of thinking that i just traced out for you. but it's not one that comes directly from a proof text like that. so, again, there's a lot of
loyalist preachers relative to the patriots, their smaller in number. but they preach sermons which urge restraint, which urge moderation, which urge obedience. and they say basically our remedy is to go above the heads of our rulers and to pray to god for relief. yes, richard. yes, richard. the pilgrims left because the dutch didn't seem to be having too much fun. and when the dutch originally settled new amsterdam, it's my understanding that certainly there were many country preachers who were quite strict calvinists. but for the most part the dutch who mattered, again, make it more concerning with trade.
and i'm just wondering if that kind of pro forma calvinism had -- was this in conflict with people like witherspoon or were there other calvinist groupings or sects on moderated themselves? >> i heard those consonants, yeah. well, i don't know that there were any dedominations or sects that were moderately liberal or had more fun to use your phrases as others as there were for example in great britain. so i mentioned john witherspoon gained international fame. as an apologist for the more conservative wing for the
scottish curd. there was an entire party called the moderate party headed by francis hutchinson and others. by the way, the scottish enlightenment is almost entirely ordained by scottish ministers. francis hutchinson, thomas reid, they're all ordained ministers. but witherspoon is a member of the more conservative party. but there aren't parties like that i'm aware of in america. i'm not a religious historian, but i'm not aware of any particular religious dominations ects . it doesn't translate into as it does in our modern landscape. presbyterians have a more conservative denomination.
there's presbyterian church usa, which is more mainstream mib more theologically liberal, one might say. that's the best answer. ok, we have time for one more. yes. >> the question i want to ask is that in any of your research, have you came across the -- as sort of congruent with these churches as far as expressing some of these ideas? because there's obviously some biblical references in some of those ceremonies or notes they take. did that tran send from some of these protstpt values, or is it more inline in enlightenment? >> so the question is about free masonry and the early american religion and whether it's congruent or not with
christianity. i don't know a great deal about i don't think anyone outside the free masons does, because it's a secret society. although one time a guy gave me a handshake because he thought i was a free mason. and i wish i'd been paying better attention because then i could get into the lodge if i knew what that was. but my sense is 18th century masonry in america was freely congruent with christianity. in the so-called blue lodges there was a sacred book always the holy bible. when george washington was inaugurated, sworn in as the first president it was on a masonic bible. but the text on that bible is identical to bibles at the time.
there is no difference in the sacred text. free masons were and are a philanthropic society. they claim to be about making men moral and better. they see christianity in particular as furthering that end. and they encourage it. so many, many of the early founders were free masons. some of them were orthodox christians. some of them weren't. those who were orthodox christians clearly did not see a conflict. free masonry as i understand it at the time was sort of the lowest common denominator moral organization and embraced the teachings of christianity as expressions of this greater kind of humanitarian and humanist impulse. ok, well, thank you very much
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we know of a number, it is possible that there are more. there were fake accounts purchased on twitter and we know about actions on google. we do not yet know if there was collusion with the trump campaign in coordinating with buying ads for social media. goingnot know if it was for the election one way or another. >> some concerns lawmakers had about the company's lack of accountability in the law for them. for example, you had john kennedy not particularly active on tech issues grilling them about data privacy. data privacy is not something that had a huge bearing on the investigation, that it was something worrying him. i think we understood that while russia was the focus, there is a broader set of concerns that may be fueled this destructive platform. communicators
monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. all weekend long, american history tv is joining our cable partners to showcase the history of sioux falls, south dakota. to learn more about the cities on our current tour, visit c-span.org/cities tour. we continue with a look at our history of sioux falls. we are doing something a little different today with our driving tour. around going to drive us the city of sioux falls to talk about the history in the city. introduce yourself to our viewers. john: i am john and i live in sioux falls. proud to call it home. a beautiful place, booming city on the prairie and happy to be with you giving you the tour.