American Glory

  American Glory    

William Henry Harrison died on April 4, 1841, one month after placing his hand on the Bible and repeating the oath of office to become the 9th President of the United States. In his Inaugural Address, he stated:


"I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion, and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness."


On April 25, 1799, Dr. Jedediah Morse, minister and "the father of American geography", assessed the decision our country faced, and faces still today:


"To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism."


On April 27, 1822, Ulysses S. Grant was born. The former Commanding General of the Union Army was elected 18th President of the United States. It was in this capacity that he wrote to the editor of the "Sunday School Times" in Philadelphia:


"Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this Book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this must we look as our guide in the future. 'Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.'"



On March 3rd, 1837, President Andrew Jackson put the finishing touches on the farewell address he would deliver the next day:


"You have the highest of human trusts committed to your care. Providence has showered this favored land blessings without number, and has chosen you as the guardians of freedom, to preserve it for the benefit of the human race. May He who holds in His hands the destinies of nations, make you worthy of the favors He has bestowed, and enable you, with pure hearts and hands and sleepless vigilance, to guard and defend to the end of time, the great charge He has committed to your keeping."


On March 26th, 1649, in the city of Boston, John Winthrop died. One of America's spiritual giants, Winthrop was painfully honest in his private journal:


"Teach me, O Lord, to put my trust in Thee, then shall I be like Mount Sion that cannot be moved....Before the week was gone....I waxed exceedingly discontent and impatient....then I acknowledged my un faithfulness and pride of heart, and turned again to my God, and humbled my soul before Him, and He returned and accepted me, and so I renewed my Covenant of walking with my God."

On March 30th, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the following proclamation:


"We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God....and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then, to humble confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."



One of Americas' most popular Presidents was born on February 6, 1911. Of the importance of the family, President Ronald Reagan wrote:


"The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation for our freedoms. In the family we learn our first lessons of God and man, love and discipline, rights and responsibilities...Families maintain the spiritual strength of religious commitment among our people...It is essential...that each of us remembers that the strength of our families is vital to the strength of our nation." 




In the preface of his American edition of the Bible, Noah Webster wrote


"The Bible is the chief moral cause for all that is good, and the best book for regulating the concerns of men. The principles of genuine liberty and the wise laws and administrations, are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man, therefore, who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that Book may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer...There are two powers only, sufficient to control men and secure the rights of individuals...the combined force of religion and law.




George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. Among the daily prayers that he copied to his field notebook is this:


"Direct my thoughts, words and work, wash away my sins in the immaculate Blood of the Lamb, and purge my heart by Thy Holy Spirit... Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son Jesus Christ"



On January 10, 1863, Lyman Beecher, first of the great New England evangelists of the 19th century, went home to be with the Lord. Earlier, looking back over his life, he had said:


"I was made for action. The Lord drove me, but I was ready. I have always been going at full speed...harnessed to the Chariot of Christ, whose wheels of fire have rolled onward, high and dreadful to His foes and glorious to His friends!"



On January 13, 1947, a Scottish immigrant, the Reverend Peter Marshall, was elected Chaplin of the United States Senate. From the pulpit he called upon America to make a decision:


"The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration. I am rather tired of hearing about our rights and privileges as American citizens. The time is come, it is now, when we ought to hear about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship. America's future depends upon her accepting and demonstrating God's government." 



On January 20, 1961, the youngest man ever elected President delivered his Inaugural Address. John F. Kennedy stirred the heart of America when he said:


"The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it....and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans....ask not what your country can do for you....ask what you can do for your country. Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."



Noah Webster is best known for the dictionary which bears his name, a colossal 26-year project published in 1828. He also wrote 'A History of the United States,' in which he stated:


"The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free constitutions of government."


In 1773, the new year was rung in by the men of Marlborough, Massachusetts, with a unanimous declaration:


"Death is more eligible than slavery. A free-born people are not required by the religion of Jesus Christ to submit to tyranny, but may make use of such power as God has given them to recover and support their laws and liberties ... [We] implore the Ruler above the skies, that He would make bare His arm in defense of His Church and people, and let Israel go."



Connecticut is known as the "Constitution State" for good reason: In 1639 it produced the first organization of civil society in the modern world based on the model of the New Testament Church. In fact, a number of its articles emphasized the importance of the Scriptures as both model and rule. The General Court, established under this constitution, ordered:


"That God's word should be the only rule for ordering the affairs of government in this commonwealth."



On January 10, 1863, Lyman Beecher, first of the great New England evangelists of the 19th century, went home to be with the Lord. Earlier, looking back over his life, he had said:


"I was made for action. The Lord drove me, but I was ready. I have always been going at full speed...harnessed to the Chariot of Christ, whose wheels of fire have rolled onward, high and dreadful to His foes and glorious to His friends!"




"If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end."

Daniel Webster


George Washington concluded his first Inaugural Address:

"No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency....We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained."


On December 22, 1820, speaking at the Pilgrim Bicentennial, Daniel Webster recalled that little band which had left such a profound impression:

"Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary. Let us cherish these sentiments and extend this influence still more widely; in the full conviction that that is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity."



When the Pilgrims, forced off course into uncharted land, realized that they would have to form their own government, they drew up the "Mayflower Compact" on November 11, 1620. It was the first instance in modern history of creation of government by the consent of the governed:

"In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten...having undertaken for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these present, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a body politic...." 


In the little colony they called Plimoth Plantation, the Pilgrims practiced their faith, not only with their lips but in their lives. Recalling their lives together, their perennially re-elected Governor, William Bradford would one day write:

"Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are, and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise."


When the Pilgrims brought in their first harvest, and it was bountiful, they decided to have a time of giving thanks. They invited their Indian fiends to join them and were dismayed when 90 braves arrived. But they had brought ample to eat with them including deer and wild turkey. There was more than enough for all. 

In future years, the celebration of Thanksgiving became an annual tradition, but they would begin by giving each person a plate with five kernels of corn, which had been their ration in the second winter, when things were at their lowest ebb.



On October 16, 1758, the pioneer lexicographer, Noah Webster was born. Seventy years later, when the first edition of the dictionary bearing his name was published, he spoke of the Book he considered so much greater than the one he had compiled:

"The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible."


On October 21, 1864, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for the second annual Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November:


"And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations."


In October of 1774, John Hancock, president of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, declared:

"We think it incumbent upon this people to humble themselves before God on account of their sins, for He hath been pleased in His righteous judgment to suffer a great calamity to befall us, as the present controversy between Great Britain and the Colonies. [And] also to implore the Divine Blessing upon us, that by the assistance of His grace, we may be enabled to reform whatever is amiss among us."

both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."


At the beginning of the 19th century, Methodist circuit-riders combed the wilderness bringing the Gospel to outposts and pioneer families in isolated cabins. These frontier missionaries were "on the stretch for God," and one of the best known was Peter Cartwright, born on September 1, 1785.


On September 11, 1834, a letter from Andrew Jackson, written the day before, was on its way to Andrew, Jr. In it, the former President said: "I nightly offer up my prayers to the throne of grace for the health and safety of you all, and that we ought all to rely with confidence on the promises of our dear Redeemer, and give Him our hearts, this is all He requires and all that we can do, and if we sincerely do this, we are sure of salvation through His atonement." 


On September 19, 1796, George Washington bade farewell to Congress. Immensely popular with the people, he now made in absolutely clear how important he felt was the influence of Church upon State: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports....And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."


In 1843, Emma Willard, a pioneer in education for women, wrote: "The government of the United States is acknowledged by the wise and good of other nations, to be the most free, impartial, and righteous government in the world; but all agree, that for such a government to be sustained for many years, the principles of truth and righteousness, taught in the Holy Scriptures, must be practiced. The rulers must govern in the fear of God, and the people obey the laws.




On August 3, 1923, following the sudden death of President Harding, Calvin Coolidge was sworn into the office of President of the United States by his father, a notary public, at Plymouth, Vermont. Coolidge once declared:


"The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country." 


Speaking of the regard the founding fathers had for the Bible, and that of the first Puritans to come to New England, Daniel Webster declared in 1843:


"The Bible came with them. And it is not to be doubted, that to free and universal reading of the Bible, in that age, men were much indebted for right views of civil liberty. The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of morals, and a book of religion, of especial revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow-man." 



On July 2, 1776, the Thirteen Colonies voted to separate from Great Britain. A hush fell over the room. The late afternoon sun fired a brass candlestick on a green felt tablecloth, a pair of spectacles, the silver knob of a walking stick. Men gazed out the window, some with tears in their eyes,a few prayed. Their chairman, John Hancock, broke the silence: "Gentlemen, the price on my head has just doubled!" A wry chuckle followed, then Sam Adams rose and declared: "We have this day restored the Sovereign, to Whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven and...from the rising to the setting sun, may His Kingdom come!"


Signed by the delegates in 1776, The Declaration of Independence contains these phrases: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...." "Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions...." "With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence...."


As the founding fathers grew older and looked back upon the glorious drama in which they had played a role, a number of them seemed more aware of the unseen hand of the Dramatist. The 2nd and 3rd Presidents, implacable adversaries during their active political lives, came to be close friends through correspondence in their waning years. Wrote John Adams to Thomas Jefferson: 

I have examined all religions, as well as my narrow sphere, my straightened means and busy life, would allow; and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world. It contains more philosophy than all the libraries I have seen."



On June 6, 1799, one of America's great statesmen went to his heavenly reward. A little known part of Patrick Henry's legacy to the American people are these words penned on the back of his Stamp Act resolves: 

"Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation. Reader! whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others."


When General George Washington resigned his commission from the army in 1783, he sent a letter to the governors of the thirteen states which concluded with this prayer: 

"Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection, and wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation."


On June 11, 1630, John Winthrop, future Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, put pen to paper and wrote 'A Model of Christian Charity' a document as important to our history as the Pilgrims' Mayflower Compact. At its heart was this summation:

"Thus stands the cause between God and us: we are entered into this covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a Commission; the Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles....Now the only way to avoid shipwreck and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah: to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end we must knit together in this work as one man.... So shall we keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."



William Henry Seward was born on May 16, 1801. He was Secretary of State under Lincoln during the Civil War, and would arrange the purchase of Alaska in 1867. As vice-president of the American Bible Society, he stated the following in 1836:

"I know not how long a republican government can flourish among a great people who have not the Bible....But this I do know: that the existing government of this country never could have had existence but for the Bible. And, further, I do in my conscience believe that if in every decade of years a copy of the Bible could be found in every family in the land, its republican institutions would be perpetuated."


A graduate of Kenyon College, Rutherford B. Hayes entered the Civil War as a major in the Ohio Volunteers. After seeing much action and being seriously wounded, he was promoted to major-general by the end of the war, and was still with his regiment when elected to Congress. He ultimately became our 19th President. This quote is an example of his witness for Christ:

"I am a firm believer in the Divine teachings, perfect example, and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I believe also in the Holy Scriptures as the revealed Word of God to the world for its enlightenment and salvation."


On Memorial Day in 1923, Vice-President Calvin Coolidge, who would become President in three-months, called upon Americans to recall the motives of their Puritan forbears:

"They were intent upon establishing a Christian commonwealth in accordance with the principle of self-government. They were an inspired body of men. It has been said that God sifted the nations that He might send choice grain into the wilderness....Who can fail to see in it the hand of destiny? Who can doubt that it has been guided by a Divine Providence?"


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