Category Archives: General
Patriot statesman James Otis died on May 23, 1783. Otis was graduated from Harvard College and became the King’s advocate-general of the vice-admiralty court at Boston in 1756. In 1761, he was elected as a representative of Boston to the Massachusetts General Court. His patriotic efforts led to the Stamp Act Congress of 1765.
In 1764, James Otis cited the reason for government in “The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved:”
“The first principle and great end of government being to provide for the best good of all the people, this can be done only by a supreme legislative and executive ultimately in the people or whole community where God has placed it….
“Has [government] any solid foundation? Any chief cornerstone?… I think it has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God, the author of nature, whose laws never vary … We have a King, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, but eternally watches for our good; whose rain falls on the just and unjust….
“Tyranny of all kinds is to be abhorred, whether it be in the hands of one, or of the few, or of the many… The power of God Almighty is the only power that can properly and strictly be called supreme and absolute.
“The sum of my argument is that civil government is of God .. [and] that no parts of His Majesty’s dominions can be taxed without consent, that every part has a right to be represented in…some legislature.”*
James Otis’ argument based on Biblical principles is another lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: James Otis, The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved (London: J. Williams and J. Almon, 1766), 11, 98. Bracketed items added.
“God of our fathers, give unto us, thy servants, a true appreciation of our heritage, of great men and great deeds in the past, but let us not be intimidated by feelings of our own inadequacies for this troubled hour.
“Remind us that the God they worshipped, and by whose help they laid the foundations of our Nation, is still able to help us uphold what they bequeathed and give it new meanings…”*
Chaplain Marshall’s prayer before the Senate is a lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: Catherine Marshall, ed., The Prayers of Peter Marshall (New York: McGraw Hill Book Company, 1949), 173.
Puritan minister and missionary who became known as “The Apostle to the Indians,” the Rev. John Eliot died on May 21, 1690. Born in England, Eliot graduated from Cambridge and joined the Puritan wave to Boston in 1631 to serve as a teacher and pastor. His was a life filled with firsts. John Eliot and fellow ministers Thomas Weld and Richard Mather are credited with being the editors of the Bay Psalm Book, which was the first book published in the colonies.
Also, Eliot was the first to actively teach Christianity to the Indians of New England. A young Indian convert helped Eliot learn various Indian dialects. Based on that knowledge, Eliot translated the Bible into the Massachusett language and published it in 1663. His grammar of Massachusett, titled The Indian Grammar Begun, was published in 1666, the first book of its kind.
Eliot was also the first to propose the creation of planned towns governed by the Native Americans in hopes of encouraging them to recreate a Christian society. At one point in time, there were 14 of these self-governing towns of so-called “Praying Indians.” Based on his cross-cultural mission work involving the creation of local governments, Eliot wrote The Christian Commonwealth: or, The Civil Policy Of The Rising Kingdom of Jesus Christ, which is considered the first book on politics written by an American and also the first book to be banned by an American government.
In this book, Eliot proposed a new model of civil government based on the system he had instituted among his converts, which in turn was based on Exodus 18:21 and the representative government instituted by Moses and the Insraelites in the wilderness. He writes:
“There is undoubtedly a forme of Civil Government instituted by God himself in the Holy Scriptures; whereby any Nation may enjoy all the ends and effects of Government in the best manner, were they but persuaded to make trial of it.”*
Eliot futher argued that “Christ is the only right Heir of the Crown of England,” and called for the institution of an elected theocracy in England, the colonies, and throughout the world. However, the Massachussetts Bay General Court banned the book under pressure from King Charles II’s ministers and ordered all copies to be burned in 1661.
The “firsts” of Missionary John Eliot are another lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: John Eliot, The Christian Commonwealth: or, The Civil Policy of the Rising Kingdom of Jesus Christ (London: Livewell Chapman, at the Crown in Popes-Head-Alley, 1659) as found in Massachusetts Historical Collections, 3rd series, vol. 9:133.
“The days of our childhood forecast our lives…’Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,’ Solomon tells us. Clearly, the future is in the care of our parents. Such is the responsibility, promise, and hope of fatherhood. Such is the gift that our fathers give us.”*
President Reagan’s quotation of Proverbs 22:6 in his Father’s Day Proclamation is another lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: United States Code: Congressional and Administrative News, 90th Congress – First Session, 1981, volume 3, (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1982), 2827.
On May 19, 1643, Gov. John Winthrop organized the New England Confederation among the Colonists of New Plymouth, New Haven, Massachusetts and Connecticut. They covenanted together under the Constitution of the New England Confederation:
“Whereas we all came to these parts of America with the same end and aim, namely, to advance the Kingdome of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to injoy the liberties of the Gospell thereof with purities and peace, and for preserving and propagating the truth and liberties of the gospell….
“The said United Colonies for themselves and their posterities to jointly and severaly hereby enter into a firm and perpetual league of friendship and amity for offence and defence, mutual advice and succor upon all just occasions both for preserving and propagating the Gospel and for their own mutual safety and welfare.”*
The purpose of the New England Confederation is another lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: William Hubbard, ed., A General History of New England from the Discovery to 1680 (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1815), 467-68.