Category Archives: General
William H. Seward was born on May 16, 1801. He became Governor of the State of New York (1839-43), a U.S. Senator (1849-61), and Secretary of State under President Lincoln during the War between the States (1861-65) and under President Andrew Johnson (1865-69), working to implement the “reconstruction” in the South. Lincoln’s assassins had also attempted to kill him, but left him wounded. Among his accomplishments was the negotiation of the purchase of Alaska from Russia (1867). At the time, the Alaskan purchase was mockingly referred to as “Seward’s Folly” or Seward’s Icebox” because the land was thought to be of little or no use, but since has proved to be of tremendous value with all of its natural resources.
On May 9, 1839, the 23rd anniversary of the American Bible Society, Seward declared:
“I am asked, what is my opinion of the influence of the Holy Scriptures on human society? I answer, that I do not believe human society, including not merely a few persons in any state, but whole masses of men, ever have attained, or ever can attain, a high state of intelligence, virtue, security, liberty, or happiness without the Holy Scriptures; even the whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever-growing influence of the Bible….
“I know not how long a republican government can flourish among a great people who have not the Bible; the experiment has never been tried: but this I do know that the existing government of this country never could have had existence but for the Bible. And further I do in my conscience believe that if at every decade of years a copy of the Bible could be found in every family of the land its republican institutions would be perpetual.”*
William Seward’s belief that the Bible made our representative form of government possible is a lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: George E. Baker, ed., The Life of William H. Seward with Selections from His Works (New York: J. S. Redfield, 1855), 210.
“The Continental Congress having ordered Friday the 17th instant to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please Him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America upon a solid and lasting foundation; the General commands all officers and soldiers to pay strict obedience to the orders of the Continental Congress; that, by their unfeigned and pious observance of their religious duties, they may incline the Lord and Giver of victory to prosper our arms.”
General Washington’s compliance with the day declared by the Continental Congress for fasting, humiliation and prayer is a lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: Jared Sparks, ed., The Writings of George Washington; being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the original Manuscripts, 12 vols. (Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1837), 3:392.
Rev. Timothy Dwight was born on May 14, 1752. Dwight was the grandson of First Great Awakening Pastor Jonathan Edwards. He was graduated from Yale College at age 17, became a Congregational minister and served as a Chaplain in the Revolutionary War. He also became an educator and author, serving as President of Yale from 1795 to 1817. During his presidency at Yale, Dwight was a catalyst for a powerful revival that broke out at the New Haven, Connecticut campus.
On July 4th, 1798, Dwight delivered an address entitled, “The Duty of Americans, at the Present Crisis, Illustrated in a Discourse,” which analyzed the downside of the French Revolution and offered a lesson to America. Dwight declared:
“Where religion prevails…a nation cannot be made slaves, nor villains, nor atheists, nor beasts. To destroy us therefore, in this dreadful sense, our enemies must first destroy our Sabbath and seduce us from the house of God. Religion and liberty are the two great objects of defensive war. Conjoined, they united all the feelings and call forth all the energies of man….
“Religion and liberty are the meat and the drink of the body politic. Withdraw one of them and it languishes, consumes, and dies. If indifference to either, at any time, becomes the prevailing character of a people, one half of their motives to vigorous defense is lost, and the hopes of their enemies are proportionally increased. Here, eminently, they are inseparable.
“Without religion we may possibly retain the freedom of savages, bears, and wolves, but not the
freedom of New England. If our religion were gone, our state of society would perish with it; and nothing would be left, which would be worth defending.”*
Timothy Dwight’s prophetic warning is another lost episode in American history.
*Source Citation: Ellis Sandoz, ed., Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, 2 vols., (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1998), 2:1380.
“Gentlemen, We have the satisfaction of again observing, that by the blessing of Providence… we are transmitting essential benefits to multitudes in various regions….that… will endure beyond the limits of time. By so doing, we render obedience to the commandment by which He who “made of one blood all nations of men,” and… hath made it their duty to love and be kind to one another…
“By conveying the Bible to people thus circumstanced, we…enable them to learn that man was originally created and placed in a state of happiness, but, becoming disobedient, was subjected to the degradation and evils which he and his posterity have since experienced. The Bible will also inform them that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer, in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; that this Redeemer has made atonement ‘for the sins of the whole world,’ and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve. The Bible will also animate them with… repeated invitations to accept the offers of pardon and reconciliation….”*
Founder John Jay’s address to the American Bible Society is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read 1 John 2:2 and reflect on words of the Apostle John and compare them to Jay’s address.
Pray: Holy Father, we praise you for the Redeemer, who has made atonement for the sins of the whole world, reconciling your justice with your mercy, and opened a way for our redemption and salvation. We praise you for the Bible that tells us that good news, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: William Jay, ed., The Life of John Jay with Selections of His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers, 2 vols., (New York: J & J. Harper, 1833), 1:506-07.
On May 12, 1779, General George Washington was visited at his Middle Brook military encampment by the Chiefs of the Delaware Indian tribe. They had brought three youths to be trained in the American schools. Washington assured them:
“Brothers: I am glad you have brought three of the Children of your principal Chiefs to be educated with us. I am sure Congress will open the Arms of love to them, and will look upon them as their own Children, and will have them educated accordingly.
“This is a great mark of your confidence and of your desire to preserve the friendship between the Two Nations to the end of time, and to become One people with your Brethren of the United States….
“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention; and to tie the knot of friendship and union so fast, that nothing shall ever be able to loose it….
“And I pray God He may make your Nation wise and strong.”*
George Washington’s advice to the Delawares to learn the religion of Jesus Christ “above all” and that Congress would assist them to that end is indeed a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Eph. 4:11-15 and reflect on the desire for unity and increase in the knowledge of Christ and compare it with Washington’s expressed desires for the children of the Delaware tribe.
Prayer: Father, we are grateful for Washington’s desire for the Delawares to learn of Jesus and his confidence that Congress would help. Give us leaders that have that kind of wisdom, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: John Clement Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Manuscript Sources 1749-1799, 39 vols. (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1931-1944), 15:55.