Skip to comments.Religious Affiliation of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
Posted on 07/04/2010 4:53:44 PM PDT by NoLibZone
Religious Affiliation of the Signers of the
Declaration of Independence
The signers of the Declaration of Independence were a profoundly intelligent, religious and ethically-minded group. Four of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were current or former full-time preachers, and many more were the sons of clergymen. Other professions held by signers include lawyers, merchants, doctors and educators. These individuals, too, were for the most part active churchgoers and many contributed significantly to their churches both with contributions as well as their service as lay leaders. The signers were members of religious denominations at a rate that was significantly higher than average for the American Colonies during the late 1700s.
These signers have long inspired deep admiration among both secularists (who appreciate the non-denominational nature of the Declaration) and by traditional religionists (who appreciate the Declaration's recognition of God as the source of the rights enumerated by the document). Lossing's seminal 1848 collection of biographies of the signers of the Declaration of Independence echoed widely held sentiments held then and now that there was divine intent or inspiration behind the Declaration of Independence. Lossing matter-of-factly identified the signers as "instruments of Providence" who have "gone to receive their reward in the Spirit Land."
From: B. J. Lossing, Signers of the Declaration of Independence, George F. Cooledge & Brother: New York (1848) [reprinted in Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, WallBuilder Press: Aledo, Texas (1995)], pages 7-12:
From no point of view can the Declaration of American Independence, the causes which led to its adoption, and the events which marked its maintenance, be observed without exciting sentiments of profound veneration for the men who were the prominent actors in that remarkable scene in the drama of the world's history...
The signing of that instrument was a solemn act, and required great firmness and patriotism in those who committed it... neither firmness nor patriotism was wanting in that august body...
Such were the men unto whose keeping, as instruments of Providence, the destinies of America were for the time intrusted; and it has been well remarked, that men, other than such as these,--an ignorant, untaught mass, like those who have formed the physical elements of other revolutionary movements, without sufficient intellect to guide and control them--could not have conceived, planned, and carried into execution, such a mighty movement, one so fraught with tangible marks of political wisdom, as the American Revolution...
Their bodies now have all returned to their kindred dust in the grave, and their souls have gone to receive their reward in the Spirit Land.
From: Robert G. Ferris (editor), Signers of the Declaration: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington, D.C. (revised edition 1975), pages 27-28:
Liberally endowed as a whole with courage and sense of purpose, the signers [of the Declaration of Independence] consisted of a distinguished group of individuals. Although heterogeneous in background, education, experience, and accommplishments, at the time of the signing they were practically all men of means and represented an elite cross section of 18th-century American leadership. Everyone one of them of them had achieved prominence in his colony, but only a few enjoyed a national reputation.
The signers were those individuals who happened to be Delegates to Congress at the time... The signers possessed many basic similarities. Most were American-born and of Anglo-Saxon origin. The eight foreign-born... were all natives of the British Isles. Except for Charles Carroll, a Roman Catholic, and a few Deists, every one subscribed to Protestantism. For the most part basically political nonextremists, many at first had hesitated at separation let alone rebellion.
Clic k my screen name and scroll 1/2 way down the page or so . :)
There were two. Click my screen name and scroll more than 1/2 way down.
Roger Williams and the 11 or 12 men with him (including Benedict Arnold’s ancestor), did found the first Baptist church in America in 1638.
Baptists are now the most numerous Protestants, they are only outnumbered by the Catholics, Southern Baptists alone, are second in number only to the Catholics.
Thomas Mifflin, Lutheran (Calvinist-lite)
Jacob Broom, Lutheran
Thanks, I never knew that.
I read your post and do not see your point. The fact that the Government cannot enact and control religion has nothing to do with ‘banning’ anyone (except Muslims) from saying a prayer in school.
I read a story about a child sent home simply because he brought a Bible to school. Explain that. Is that what the founders wanted?
Football players are being told that they cannot pray or say anything religious after scoring a touchdown. That is what the founders wanted?
No, my friend, it is you who has no idea. The modern concept of the so called ‘separation’ is equivalent to a ‘ban’ on religion. (except Muslims)
There was never an intent of any founding father that religion should not be a full part of public life, government, and schools.
Their noble intent was to restrict government from interfering, forcing, or controlling a particular religion.
BTW, my friend, posting 3 pages of legal writings does not automatically make you 'right'. If you have a point then make it succinctly. Make a point.
If you can't dazzle them with your intelligence, the baffle them with your BS. doesn't work well on FR.
“The first Muslim Member of Congress was John Randolph of Virginia, who served in Congress from 1799-1834. Significantly, Francis Scott Key, author of the “Star Spangled Banner,” befriended Randolph and faithfully shared Christ with him. Randolph eventually converted from Islam to Christianity and became a strong personal advocate for his newfound faith. (Key also shared Christianity with other Muslims, and even bought them copies of the Christian Bible printed in Arabic.)”
—From “An Historical Perspective on a Muslim Being Sworn into Congress on the Koran,” by David Barton, January, 2007
Context is important is it not?
You cited “The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State (Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819).”
as one of your examples and I am assuming you are saying Madison defined and supported the current liberal/progressive view of “separation of church and state” I believe. But when you read the full context you may see things differently. Specifically the line just before your quote “It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the
last, that Civil Govt could not stand without the prop of a Religious
establishment, & that the Xn religion itself, would perish if not supported
by a legal provision for its Clergy.”
Full Paragraph and link to letter below.
That there has been an increase of religious instruction since the
revolution can admit of no question. The English church was originally the
established religion, the character of the clergy that above described. Of
other sects there were but few adherents, except the Presbyterians who
predominated on the W side of the Blue Mountains. A little time previous to
the Revolutionary struggle the Baptists sprang up, and made a very rapid
progress. Among the early acts of the Republican Legislature, were those
abolishing the Religious establishment, and putting all Sects at full
liberty and on a perfect level. At present the population is divided, with
small exceptions, among the Protestant Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, the
Baptists & the Methodists. Of their comparative numbers I can command no
sources of information. I conjecture the Presbytenans & Baptists to form
each abt a third, & the two other sects together of which the Methodists are
much the smallest, to make up the remaining third. The Old churches, built
under the establisht at the public expence, have in many instances gone to
ruin, or are in a very dilapidated state, owing chiefly to a transition
desertion of the flocks to other worships. A few new ones have latterly been
built particularly in the towns. Among the other sects, Meeting Houses, have
multiplied & continue to multiply, tho’ in general they are of the plainest
and cheapest sort. But neither the number nor the style of the Religious
edifices is a true measure of the state of religion. Religious instruction
is now diffused throughout the Community by preachers of every sect with
almost equal zeal, tho’ with very unequal acquirements, and at private
houses & open stations and occasionally in such as are appropriated to Civil
use, as well as buildings appropriated to that use. The qualifications of
the Preachers, too among the new sects where there was the greatest
deficiency, are understood to be improving. On a general comparison of the
present & former times, the balance is certainly & vastly on the side of the
present, as to the number of religious teachers the zeal which actuates
them, the purity of their lives, and the attendance of the people on their
instructions. It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the
last, that Civil Govt could not stand without the prop of a Religious
establishment, & that the Xn religion itself, would perish if not supported
by a legal provision for its Clergy. The experience of Virginia
conspicuously corroborates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Govt,
tho’ bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the
requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst
the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion
of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the
Church from the State.
One source is http://www.constitution.org/jm/18190302_walsh.txt
There were not large associations or denominational structures of Baptists, but there were hundreds of local Baptist congregations all over the colonies.
English Baptist congregations had moved as whole bodies to the colonies.
The Rhode Island area had strong Baptist congregations from the 17th century. Many of those people had left the colonies from the north because of persecution toward them from the Congregational churches, which demanded public attendance at the Congregational churches. Many Baptists, Quakers, and independents were jailed, fined, taxed, run out in/from the northern colonies.
Thousands of converts of the great Evangelist George Whitefield (Anglican), never joined the Anglican churches, but joined with New Light Congregationalists, independents, and many, many of them with Baptists on the western frontier.
I recommend two books: (1)America in Crimson Red, The Baptist History of America by James Beller of Arnold, Missouri, and The Separate Baptists, The Life and Times of Shubal Stearns. The author's name for the latter escapes me at the moment, but it can be Googled. It is published by the University of Kentucky Press . Dr. Beller's book is published by Prairie Fire Press in Arnold, Missouri (hardback, high quality).
Shubal Stearns Baptist church near present day Greensboro, NC, had 1,000 members in the mid 18th century and was directly responsible for the planting of more than 1,000 local churches in the Carolina's, Kentucky, Tennessee, and north Georgia.
The Separate Baptists of the same strain planted churches all the way to the Wabash River and Vincennes, Indiana by 1825.
The Baptists of Virginia had very direct influence on the writing of the Bill of Rights, their prominent leader, John Leland, being a personal friend and confidante of James Madison.
Is this John RANDOLPH of the same Randolph family as intermarried with the Jeffersons? How did the Randolphs become followers of Islam?
Great article. Thanks.
Something to ponder there!
“I read your post and do not see your point.”
Well, that explains everything. No wonder the country is going down the collectivist statist socialist rat-hole. Thanks for your part in destroying my country.
I have no idea...the original reference citing John Randolph’s conversion is:
Hugh A. Garland, “The life of John Randolph”, pp. 87-88, in a letter from Francis Scott Key, May-June 1816; pp. 99-100, Randolph’s letter to Francis Scott Key, Sept. 7, 1818, pp. 103-104, Key’s letter to Randolf; 106-107, Key’s reply to Randolph’s letter of May 3, 1819, and pp. 108-109, Key’s reply to Randolph’s letter of Aug. 8, 1819.
>>>> Randolph was raised and remained within the Episcopalian Church. Historians reject assertions that Randolph at any time was a Muslim; the only evidence is one letter in 1818 in which he said that as a youth he rooted for the Muslim side when reading about the Crusades. <<<<<
I don’t think historians buy into that claim by that author, that John Randolph was a Muslim.
This is and has always been a myth created by Liberals.
Wrongo, on both counts. They're just reading a different Constitution.
Article 52 [Religion]
(1) Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed freedom of conscience, that is, the right to profess or not to profess any religion, and to conduct religious worship or atheistic propaganda. Incitement of hostility or hatred on religious grounds is prohibited.
(2) In the USSR, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church.
-Constitution of the USSR
Sorry I do not agree a theocracy is freedom. Freedom allows anyone to believe and worship as they choose, which means Christians are free to practice their religion and worship in any way they choose. Your view will oppress all those who do not believe as you do, and choose to worship God, or not, as they choose.
If you hate individual liberty so much, perhaps your should be a Muslim.
I’d die to preserve your freedom to believe and worship as you belive and choose, It’s obvious you would have me die if I do not embrace your beliefs. May your God have mercy on your enslaving soul.
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