Thursday, July 29, 2010

Treaty of Tripoli by David Barton

The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli is the source of Washington’s supposed statement. That treaty, one of several with Tripoli, was negotiated during the “Barbary Powers Conflict,” which began shortly after the Revolutionary War and continued through the Presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. The Muslim Barbary Powers Tunis, Morocco, Algiers, and Tripoli were warring against what they claimed to be the “Christian” nations England, France, Spain, Denmark, and the United States. In 1801, Tripoli even declared war against the United States, thus constituting America’s first official war as an established independent nation.

Throughout this long conflict, the four Barbary Powers regularly attacked undefended American merchant ships. Not only were their cargoes easy prey but the Barbary Powers were also capturing and enslaving “Christian” seamen in retaliation for what had been done to them by the “Christians” of previous centuries e.g., the Crusades and Ferdinand and Isabella’s expulsion of Muslims from Granada.

In an attempt to secure a release of captured seamen and a guarantee of unmolested shipping in the Mediterranean, President Washington dispatched envoys to negotiate treaties with the Barbary nations. Concurrently, he encouraged the construction of American naval warships to defend the shipping and confront the Barbary “pirates” a plan not seriously pursued until President John Adams created a separate Department of the Navy in 1798.

The American envoys negotiated numerous treaties of “Peace and Amity” with the Muslim Barbary nations to ensure “protection” of American commercial ships sailing in the Mediterranean. However, the terms of the treaty frequently were unfavorable to America, either requiring her to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of “tribute” i.e., official extortion to each country to receive a “guarantee” of safety or to offer other “considerations” e.g., providing a warship as a “gift” to Tripoli, a “gift” frigate to Algiers, paying $525,000 to ransom captured American seamen from Algiers, etc.. The 1797 treaty with Tripoli was one of the many treaties in which each country officially recognized the religion of the other in an attempt to prevent further escalation of a “Holy War” between Christians and Muslims. Consequently, Article XI of that treaty stated:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Formal Peace Treaty by David Barton

Three months later, on September 8, 1783, the formal peace treaty with Great Britain was signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay. Like so many of the other official records of the Revolution, that document, too, openly acknowledged God. The opening line of the peace treaty declared: In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.

When word reached America that the peace was now official, there was first a time of great celebration; and then on October 17, 1783, Congress appointed James Duane, Samuel Huntington, and Samuel Holten to prepare a proclamation for a day of prayer and thanksgiving. Congress approved that proclamation on October 18, 1783, and distributed it among the States, announcing: Whereas it hath pleased the Supreme Ruler of all human events to dispose the hearts of the late belligerent powers to put a period to the effusion of human blood by proclaiming a cessation of all hostilities by sea and land, and these United States are not only happily rescued from the dangers and calamities to which they have been so long exposed, but their freedom, sovereignty and independence ultimately acknowledged.

And whereas in the progress of a contest on which the most essential rights of human nature depended, the interposition of Divine Providence in our favor hath been most abundantly and most graciously manifested, and the citizens of these United States have every reason for praise and gratitude to the God of their salvation. Impressed, therefore, with an exalted sense of the blessings by which we are surrounded, and of our entire dependence on that Almighty Being from whose goodness and bounty they are derived, the United States in Congress assembled, do recommend it to the several States a day of public thanksgiving that all the people may then assemble to celebrate with grateful hearts and united voices the praises of their Supreme and all bountiful Benefactor for his numberless favors and mercies and above all that he hath been pleased to continue to us the light of the blessed Gospel and secured to us in the fullest extent the rights of conscience in faith and worship.

Many of the State Governors also issued their own individual proclamations for days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving, including John Hancock of Massachusetts, William Livingston of New Jersey, John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, and others. This type of open acknowledgment of and reliance on God by our civic leaders was common practice. In addition to the fifteen national Congressional proclamations issued throughout the Revolution, literally scores of similar proclamations often strongly and openly Christian were issued by individual Governors for their States.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Rights of the Colonists by David Barton

Samuel Adams assumed personal responsibility for the first goal of the Committees, and his resulting work, “The Rights of the Colonists,” was first circulated on November 20, 1772. In that work, Adams urged Americans to study the Scriptures to understand the basis of the struggle to preserve their God-given rights. He declared: The Rights of the Colonists as Christians. These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament.

In fact, the spiritual nature of the American resistance became so clear that even in the debates of the British Parliament: Sir Richard Sutton read a copy of a letter relative to the government of America from a Crown-appointed governor in America to the Board of Trade showing that if you ask an American, “Who is his master?” He will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ. On March 5, 1774, in an oration commemorating the Boston Massacre of 1770 in which British troops had opened fire on the Americans, John Hancock proclaimed:

I have the most animating confidence that the present noble struggle for liberty will terminate gloriously for America. And let us play the man for our God, and for the cities of our God; whilst we are using the means in our power, let us humbly commit our righteous cause to the great Lord of the Universe, who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity. And having secured the approbation of our hearts by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty to our country, let us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of Him who raiseth up and pulleth down the empires and kingdoms of the world as He pleases; and with cheerful submission to His sovereign will, devoutly say, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail and the field shall yield not meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet we will rejoice in the Lord, we will joy in the God of our salvation” HABAKKUK 3:17-18.

As a consequence of the Colonists expressing their frustration at the “Boston Tea Party” following eight years of rejected appeals by the Crown, Parliament passed the Boston Port Bill to blockade Boston harbor. That bill, designed to eliminate all trade to or from that key port, was to take effect on June 1, 1774. How did the American Colonists respond? News accounts in Great Britain reported: The province of Virginia appointed the first of June, the day on which the Boston Port Bill took place, to be set apart for fasting, prayer, and humiliation, to implore the Divine interposition to avert the heavy calamity which threatened destruction to their civil rights with the evils of a civil war; and to give one heart and one mind to the people firmly to oppose every injury to the American rights. This example was either followed or a similar resolution adopted almost everywhere and the first of June became a general day of prayer and humiliation throughout the continent. Mercy Otis Warren, one of the first historians of the American Revolution and the wife of a patriot, reported that not only did the Colonists pray, but they also began to organize relief for the Bostonians.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Liberty of Conscience by David Barton

Commonwealth v. Nesbit, 1859 Supreme Court of Pennsylvania In this final case on Blue Laws, the court ruled that such laws were both civil and religious in nature. It also took time to explain that such laws did not violate the constitutional guarantee for “liberty of conscience,” because liberty of conscience was indeed to be protected: We are not forgetting that the public acts of our Pennsylvania ancestors abound with declarations in favor of liberty of conscience. However, the court pointed out that “liberty of conscience” had its limitations: They the Founders could not admit this liberty of conscience as a civil justification of human sacrifices, or parricide killing one’s parents or close kin, infanticide, or thuggism religious murders, or of such modes of worship as the disgusting and corrupting rites of the Dionysia, and Aphrodisia, and Eleusinia, and other festivals of Greece and Rome.

They did not mean that the pure moral customs which Christianity has introduced should be without legal protection because some pagan, or other religionist, or anti-religionist, should advocate as matter of conscience concubinage, polygamy, incest, free love, and free divorce, or any of them. They did not mean that phallic processions and satyric dances and obscene songs and indecent statues and paintings of ancient or of modern paganism might be introduced under the profession of religion, or pleasure, or conscience, to seduce the young and the ignorant into a Corinthian degradation; to offend the moral sentiment of a refined Christian people; and to compel Christian modesty to associate with the nudity and impurity of Polynesian or of Spartan women.

No Christian people could possibly allow such things. By our laws against vice and immorality we do not mean to enforce religion; we admit that to be impossible. But we do mean to protect our customs, no matter that they may have originated in our religion; for they are essential parts of our social life. Instinctively we defend and protect them. It is mere social self-defense. Law can never become entirely infidel; for it is essentially founded on the moral customs of men and the very generating principle of these is most frequently religion.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Christianity of the Common Law by David Barton

The supreme court responded: The jury finds a malicious intention in the speaker to vilify the Christian religion and the Scriptures and this court cannot look beyond the record nor take any notice of the allegation that the words were uttered by the defendant, a member of a debating association which convened weekly for discussion and mutual information. That there is an association in which so serious a subject is treated with so much levity, indecency and scurrility vulgar and obscene language I am sorry to hear, for it would prove a nursery of vice, a school of preparation to qualify young men for the gallows and young women for the brothel, and there is not a skeptic of decent manners and good morals who would not consider such debating clubs as a common nuisance and disgrace to the city.

It was the outpouring of an invective so vulgarly shocking and insulting that the lowest grade of civil authority ought not to be subject to it, but when spoken in a Christian land and to a Christian audience, the highest offence contra bonus mores against proper standards. Having rejected the defense argument concerning a debating society, the court concluded by refuting the defense contention that the constitution disregarded Christianity: The assertion is once more made that Christianity never was received as part of the common law of this Christian land; and it is added that if it was it was virtually repealed by the Constitution of the United States and of this State.

We will first dispose of what is considered the grand objection the constitutionality of Christianity for, in effect, that is the question. Christianity, general Christianity, is and always has been a part of the common law not Christianity founded on any particular religious tenets; not Christianity with an established church but Christianity with liberty of conscience to all men. Thus this wise legislature framed this great body of laws for a Christian country and Christian people.

This is the Christianity of the common law and thus it is irrefragably undeniably proved that the laws and institutions of this State are built on the foundation of reverence for Christianity. In this the Constitution of the United States has made no alteration nor in the great body of the laws which was an incorporation of the common law doctrine of Christianity. No free government now exists in the world unless where Christianity is acknowledged and is the religion of the country. Its foundations are broad and strong and deep it is the purest system of morality, the firmest auxiliary and only stable support of all human laws.