The Theme of our Governmental Philosophy
IN GOD WE TRUST The founders of our nation believed that Spiritual is supreme, man is of divine origin, and man's spiritual nature is of supreme value. No other people have ever made this principle the basis of their governmental philosophy.
America's founding philosophy that man is God's creation endowed with inalienable rights must be accepted or rejected as an indivisible whole together with its obligations, responsibilities, and benefits. It cannot be rejected or accepted piece-meal.
Independent America understood that man's rights are not granted by government but by God as Providential Ruler of the universe. Man has been given unalienable rights by virtue of being God's creation, and no government can take them away.
The concept of man over government because of America's belief in God and the rights He gave man lead America to develop a constitutionally-limited government for a sovereign people. The Constitution which limits government by man over man was adopted primarily to make and keep individual rights secure.
As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. The Federalist No. 55, James Madison.
Weaknesses in human nature never change; therefore, the need for these safeguards cannot change.
As it signifies the spiritual relationship of God to man and of man to man, our constitution is essentially religious in foundation and purpose. Man's unalienable rights are sacred for the same reason that they are unalienable--because they are of Divine origin.
Only those laws consistent with the concept that the "Spiritual is supreme" are truly, deeply American. Any laws or rulings in conflict with this concept is non-American in the traditional sense.
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? Thomas Jefferson ("Notes on the State of Virginia," 1782)
Resolved, that the inhabitants of this Province are unalienably entitled to those essential rights "founded in the law of God and of Nature" in common with all men: and that no law of society can, consistent with the law of God and nature, divest them of those rights. Resolutions of House of Representatives, Massachusetts, 1765
In short it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one or any number of men at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights when the great end of civil government from the very nature of its institution is for the support, protection, and defense of those very rights: the principal of which as is before observed, are life, liberty, and property. If men through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave....Resolutions of Town of Boston, 1772, "The Rights of The Colonists,...."
God hath given to every Man an Unalienable Right in Matters of His Worship to Judge for himself as his Conscience reserves ye Rule from God. Petition from Church Organizations in 19 Towns in Massachusetts, 1749
New York Spectator. August 23, 1831
"The court of common pleas of Chester county, [New York] rejected a witness who declared his disbelief in the existence of God. The presiding judge remarked that he had not before been aware that there was a man living who did not believe in the existence of God; that this belief constituted the sanction of all testimony in a court of justice: and that he knew of no cause in a Christian country where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief."
It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
Christianity to which the sword and the fagot [burning stake or hot branding iron] are unknown! General tolerant Christianity is the law of the land!
Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.
John Jay, America's first Supreme Court Chief Justice
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity. . . . I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature.
To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.
"There certainly can be no doubt as to the practice of employing chaplains in deliberative bodies previous to the adoption of the Constitution. We are, then, prepared to see if any change was made in that respect in the new order of affairs. . . . On the 1st day of May, Washington’s first speech was read to the House, and the first business after that speech was the appointment of Dr. Linn as chaplain. By whom was this plan made? Three out of six of that joint committee were members of the Convention that framed the Constitution. Madison, Ellsworth, and Sherman passed directly from the hall of the Convention to the hall of Congress. Did they not know what was constitutional? . . . It seems to us that the men who would raise the cry of danger in this state of things would cry fire on the 39th day of a general deluge. . . . But we beg leave to rescue ourselves from the imputation of asserting that religion is not needed to the safety of civil society. It must be considered as the foundation on which the whole structure rests. Laws will not have permanence or power without the sanction of religious sentiment—without a firm belief that there is a Power above us that will reward our virtues and punish our vices.
Whereas, the people of these United States, from their earliest history to the present time, have been led by the hand of a kind Providence and are indebted for the countless blessings of the past and present, and dependent for continued prosperity in the future upon Almighty God; and whereas the great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it eminently becomes the representatives of a people so highly favored to acknowledge in the most public manner their reverence for God: therefore, Resolved, That the daily sessions of this body be opened with prayer and that the ministers of the Gospel in this city are hereby requested to attend and alternately perform this solemn duty."from House Report on March 27, 1854 Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A.O.P.Nicholson,1854).
"We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. . . . When the State encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe." Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U. S. 306, 312-314 (1952).
The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion but abuses and corruptions of it. Noah Webster
The government of America is not officially or forcefully Christian, but America is, by choice, a Christian nation. Historical documents surrounding the Barbary Powers Conflict confirm that it was viewed as a conflict between Christian America and muslim nations even though America did not want countries of the world to divide themselves into categories based on religion.
It is true that the Founders themselves openly approved of Christianity in America; but they did not believe anyone should be forced into Christianity. A constitutional prohibition against a federal establishment in religion left religion as a matter of choice for the individual states.
The purpose of Article XI was to distinguish America from past strains of Christian Europeans which had shown hatred toward muslims. It explained that the United States was not a Christian nation like those of previous centuries because muslims were free to live in our country without persecution. America's Christianity was "wise and virtuous," (John Jay), "civilized," (John Quincy Adams) and "rational" (John Adams).
The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, specifically Article XI
The article explains that America and the muslim countries should be in harmony because America is not a Christian nation with enmity against the religion of the muslims. It further clauses that America itself is not guilty of ever being in a war against any muslim nation, nor shall harmony be interrupted because of religious differences.
It was signed at Tripoli on November 4, 1796, and at Algiers (for a third-party guarantee) on January 3, 1797, by Joel Barlow, the United States consul-general to the Barbary states of Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis.
The treaty was broken in 1801 by the Pasha of Tripoli and renegotiated in 1805 after the First Barbary War.
Article 11 reads:
As the Government (Note: referring to Federal government) of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
At the time of the Treaty, the Mediterranean Sea lanes were vulnerable to Muslim states of the Barbary Coast through piracy. Christian cargo was seized and hostages were either ransomed or sold into slavery unless Christians paid a yearly tribute. Once America became an independent country, she was no longer under the protection of the British tribute treaties and suffered severe losses. Not yet having a Navy, the U.S. decided to form tribute treaties with the Barbary states, such as the Treaty of Tripoli. It was one of the many treaties in which each country gave official recognition to the religion of the other in an attempt to prevent further escalation of a "Holy War" between Christians and muslims.
The terms of the treaty were unfavorable to America, either requiring her to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to each country in exchange for safety, or the muslims would accept other gifts such as a warship or frigate to Algiers. Americans were directed to pay $525,000 in ransom for captured American seamen from Algiers, etc.
Negotiations continued, but trying to keep the peace was exasperating. Demands grew larger and more frequent and expressed with increased bullying. Eaton* wrote to the State Department:
`....(t)he game of the Mediterranean Christians (has been) wrested from them by the more mighty hunters of the North and East; what have they for one hundred and twenty bloodhounds, which now lie kenneled in their ports, to be employed about? They must be let loose upon somebody. They already scent our merchantmen. And finding the least plausible pretext, they will be loosed to the chase. If then our stipulations be not punctually observed, where is the guarantee of our safety? Shall we rely on treaty compact? Treaties are dead languages with these regencies...We cannot place any reliance in their good faith. Can humanity move them? Why should we expect from inveterate pirates virtues seldom practiced among civilized and Christian nations? Have we the vanity to believe they are afraid of us? What should have produced this impulse? They have seen nothing here to excite terror but the little Miss Sophia disguised in men's clothes. The poor thing excited pity rather than alarm. When I observed to the Bey at one of our interviews that we had whipped the English, he shrewdly asked whether we did it or whether the French did it for us? As I have before said, nothing will prevent us from being blood-sucked by this daughter of the horseleech except formidable force, faithful fulfillment of our stipulations or further sacrifices.* "The Sophia was a converted merchantman mounting twelve cannon
In March 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli demanded more tribute than previously agreed upon. Newly inaugurated Thomas Jefferson, having long disagreed with the policy of paying tribute, refused the pasha's demand. On May 10, 1801, the pasha declared out-and-out war against the United States. After all, the U.S. was Christian and her ships were easy prey.
Eaton later complained when Jefferson sent him the old warship Hero because it served to feed an already-held opinion by the Tunis muslims of a weak America.
(T)he weak, the crazy situation of the vessel and equipage [armaments] tended to confirm an opinion long since conceived and never fairly controverted among the Tunisians, that the Americans are a feeble sect of Christians.
On June 4, 1805, the Treaty of Peace and Amity was negotiated with the Pasha Yusuf. To the dismay of many Americans, this included a ransom of $60,000 for the release of prisoners from the USS Philadelphia and several U.S. merchant ships. Below is an assessment of our problem as expressed by Eaton*:
To the United States, they believe they can dictate terms. Why should they not? Or why should they believe it will ever be otherwise? They have seen nothing in America to controvert the opinion. And all our talk of resistance and reprisal, they view as the swaggering of a braggadocio...But whatever stratagem may be used to aid our measures, it is certain, that there is not access to the permanent friendship of these states, without paving the way with gold or cannon balls; and the proper question is, which method is preferable.
By 1807, Algiers had gone back to taking U.S. ships and seamen hostage. Because preludes to the War of 1812 kept America occupied, they were not able to respond to Algiers until the Second Barbary War (1815).
Over and over, history shows that Adams was a Christian and believed America was a Christian nation. Additionally, the writings of General William Eaton testify how the conflict was viewed at that time. Eaton's correspondence confirms that the conflict was a Muslim war against a Christian America. For example, when writing to Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, Eaton apprised him of why the Muslims would be such dedicated foes:
Taught by revelation that war with the Christians will guarantee the salvation of their souls, and finding so great secular advantages in the observance of this religious duty [the secular advantage of keeping captured cargoes], their [the Muslims'] inducements to desperate fighting are very powerful.
After giving extortion compensations to the Barbaries, Eaton wrote to Pickering about their response:
He said, "To speak truly and candidly . . . . we must acknowledge to you that we have never received articles of the kind of so excellent a quality from any Christian nation."
When John Marshall became the new Secretary of State, Eaton informed him:
It is a maxim of the Barbary States, that "The Christians who would be on good terms with them must fight well or pay well."
And when General Eaton finally commenced his military action against Tripoli, his personal journal noted:
April 8th We find it almost impossible to inspire these wild bigots with confidence in us or to persuade them that, being Christians, we can be otherwise than enemies to Musselmen. We have a difficult undertaking!
May 23rd Hassien Bey, the commander in chief of the enemy's forces, has offered by private insinuation for my head six thousand dollars and double the sum for me a prisoner; and $30 per head for Christians. Why don't he come and take it?
*Eaton was appointed by President Adams as "Consul to Tunis," and President Jefferson later advanced him to "U. S. Naval Agent to the Barbary States," authorizing him to lead a military expedition against Tripoli.
Naval Documents related to the U.S. Wars with the Barbary Powers, six volumes, by the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Records and Library (Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1939-1944).
Treaties and Other International Acts of the U.S., 1776-1818, edited by Hunter Miller, in two volumes (Washington, D.C.: U.S. GPO, 1931)
Treaties with the Barbary Powers: 1786-1836, "The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy," Yale Law School www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/diplomacy/barbary/barmenu.htm
It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves.
Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, pp 198-199, Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788 at the North Carolina Ratifying Convention
The opinion that human reason left without the
constant control of Divine laws and commands will preserve a just
administration, secure freedom and other rights, restrain men from violations
of laws and constitutions, and give duration to a popular government is as
chimerical as the most extravagant ideas that enter the head of a maniac . . .
. Where will you find any code of laws among civilized men in which the
commands and prohibitions are not founded on Christian principles? I need not
specify the prohibition of murder, robbery, theft [and] trespass.
Noah Webster, Letters, Harry A Warfel, ed., (NY: Library Publishers, 1953) pp. 453-454, to David McClure, Oct. 25, 1836.
Link to: Elias Boudinot, The Age of Revelation (1801)
While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to laud the more distinguished Character of Christian.
February 22, 1812 The patriot who feels himself in the service of God, who acknowledges Him in all his ways, has the promise of Almighty direction, and will find His Word in his greatest darkness, a lantern to his feet and a lamp unto his paths.' He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation....
Francis Scott Key http://www.fire-of-god.com/francis_scott_key.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli ^ a b c The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1796 - Hunter Miller's Notes. The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=125
Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion. WallBuilders.
The Faiths of the Founding Fathers. Oxford University Press.
London, Joshua E., Victory in Tripoli, Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken,
On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding. Encounter Books.
Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers. Baker Book House.
Brooke Allen. "Our Godless Constitution". The Nation. Feb. 3, 2005.
The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1796 - Hunter Miller's Notes. The Avalon Project at Yale Law School.
Issues and Articles - Treaty of Tripoli. WallBuilders.
Shortly after the conflict with Tripoli was terminated, its account was written and published as:
The Life of the Late Gen. William Eaton . . . commander of the Christian and Other Forces . . . which Led to the Treaty of Peace Between The United States and The Regency of Tripoli
Annals of Congress, 5th Congress
Article 1. There is a firm and perpetual peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary, made by the free consent of both parties, and guarantied by the most potent Dey and Regency of Algiers.
Art. 2. If any goods belonging to any nation with which either of the parties is at war, shall be loaded on board of vessels belonging to the other party, they shall pass free, and no attempt shall be made to take or detain them.
Art. 3. If any citizens , subjects, or effects, belonging to either party, shall be found on board a prize vessel taken from an enemy by the other party, such citizens or subjects shall be set at liberty, and the effects restored to the owners.
Art. 4. Proper passports are to be given to all vessels of both parties, by which they are to be known. And considering the distance between the two countries, eighteen months from the date of this treaty, shall be allowed for procuring such passports. During this interval the other papers, belonging to such vessels, shall be sufficient for their protection.
Art. 5. A citizen or subject of either party having bought a prize vessel, condemned by the other party, or by any other nation, the certificates of condemnation and bill of sale shall be a sufficient passport for such vessel for one year; this being a reasonable time for her to procure a proper passport.
Art. 6. Vessels of either party, putting into the ports of the other, and having need of provisions or other supplies, they shall be furnished at the market price. And if any such vessel shall so put in, from a disaster at sea, and have occasion to repair, she shall be at liberty to land and re-embark her cargo without paying any duties. But in case shall she be compelled to the land her cargo.
Art. 7. Should a vessel of either party be cast on the shore of the other, all proper assistance shall be given to her and her people; no pillage shall be allowed; the property shall remain at the disposition of the owners; and the crew protected and succored till they can be sent to their country.
Art. 8. If a vessel of either party should be attacked by an enemy, within gun-shot of the forts of the other , she shall be defended as much as possible. If she be in port she shall not be seized on or attacked, when it is in the power of the other party to protect her. And when she proceeds to sea, no enemy shall be allowed to pursue her from the same port, within twenty-four hours after her departure.
Art. 9. The commerce between the United States and Tripoli; the protection to be given to merchants, masters of vessels, and seamen; the reciprocal right of the establishing Consuls in each country; and the privileges, immunities, and jurisdiction, to be on the same footing with those of the most favored nations respectively.
Art. 10. The money and presents demanded by the Bey of Tripoli, as a full and satisfactory consideration on his part, and on the part of his subjects, for this treaty of perpetual peace and friendship, are acknowledged to have been received by him previous to his signing the same, according to a receipt which is hereto annexed, except such as part as is promised, on the part of the United States, to be delivered and paid by them on the arrival of their Consul in Tripoli; of which part a note is likewise hereto annexed. And no pretense of any periodical tribute of further payments is ever to be made by either party.
Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Note: Some attribute the Treaty of Tripoli statement, "The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion" to George Washington; but they are mistaken. The treaty did not arrive in America until months after Washington left office. He did not even see the treaty; therefore no aspect of it can be ascribed to him.
Art. 12. In case of any dispute, arising from a violation of any of the articles of this treaty, no appeal shall be made to arms; nor shall war be declared on any pretext whatever. But if the Consul, residing at the place where the dispute shall happen, shall not be able to settle the same, an amicable referrence shall be made to the mutual friend of the parties, the Dey of Algiers; the parties hereby engaging to abide by his decision. And he, by virtue of his signature to this treaty, engages for himself and successors to declare the justice of the case, according to the true interpretation of the treaty, and to use all the means in his power to enforce the observance of the same.
Signed and sealed at Tripoli of Barbary the 3d day of June in the year of the Hegira 1211— corresponding with the 4th day of November, 1796, by
JUSSOF BASHAW MAHOMET, Bey.
AMET, Minister of Marine.
GALIL, General of the Troops.
MAHOMET, Commander of the City.
ALLY, Chief of the Divan.
Signed and sealed at Algiers, the 4th day of Argill, 1211—corresponding with the 3d day of
January, 1797, by
HASSAN BASHAW, Dey,
And by the agent Plenipotentiary of the United States of America,
JOEL BARLOW (Note: Barlow was diplomat under Washington and Adams, Chaplain in the American Revolution for three years.)
The best rose-bush, after all, is not that which has the fewest thorns, but that which bears the finest roses.
Henry Van Dyke