Category Archives: Founding Fathers

In America, the Law is King

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

“Let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.” – Thomas Paine

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Thanksgiving Proclamation Issued by President George Washington, 1789

Following a resolution of Congress, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to

George Washington

George Washington

“the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” Reflecting American religious practice, Presidents and Congresses from the beginning of the republic have from time to time designated days of fasting and thanksgiving (the Thanksgiving holiday we continue to celebrate in November was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and made into law by Congress in 1941).

In setting aside a day for Thanksgiving, Washington established a non-sectarian tone for these devotions and stressed political, moral, and intellectual blessings that make self-government possible, in addition to personal and national repentance. Although the First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise, Presidents, as well as Congress, have always recognized the American regard for sacred practices and beliefs. Thus, throughout American history, Presidents have offered non-sectarian prayers for the victory of the military and in the wake of catastrophes. Transcending passionate quarrels over the proper role of religion in politics, the Thanksgiving Proclamation reminds us how natural their relationship has been. While church and state are separate, religion and politics, in their American refinement, prop each other up.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

Thanksgiving Proclamation, Issued by President George Washington, 1789

Thanksgiving Proclamation, Issued by President George Washington, 1789

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Filed under Divine Providence & Sovereignty, Fear & Reverence of God, Founding Fathers, George Washington, God & Government, God & Nation, Nature's God/Creator, Prayer & Nation, Virtue

The Natural Cure for an Ill-Administration…

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

“The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men.” — Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21, 1787

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Filed under Alexander Hamilton, Constitution, Democracy, Democratic Republic, Founding Fathers, Free Elections, Individual Responsibility, Representative Government, Will & Consent of the People

There is a Rank Due to the United States Among Nations…

George Washington

George Washington

“There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” — George Washington, Fifth Annual Message, 1793

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We Must Make Our Election… Liberty

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

“We must make our election between economy and Liberty, or profusion and servitude.” — Thomas Jefferson (1816)

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Every Government Degenerates When Trusted to the Rulers of the People Alone…

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.” — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIV, 1781

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Government is Instituted for the Common Good

John Adams

John Adams

“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.” — John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

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