Sept. 16, 1620, according to the Gregorian Calendar, 102 passengers set sail on the Pilgrims’ ship, Mayflower, with the blessings of their separatist pastor, John Robinson. Their 66-day journey of 2,750 miles encountered storms so rough the beam supporting the main mast cracked and was propped back in place with “a great iron screw.” One youth, John Howland, was swept overboard by a freezing wave and rescued. His descendants include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Humphrey Bogart, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George W. Bush. During the Pilgrims’ voyage, a man died and a mother gave birth.
Intending to land in Virginia, they were blown off-course to Massachusetts. With the weather too dangerous to sail, the captain insisted they disembark. With no “king-appointed” person on board with authority to take charge, the Pilgrims gave themselves authority and created their own government – the Mayflower Compact.
Where did they get this idea? From their separatist Pastor John Robinson, considered one of the founders of the Congregational Church. Pastor Robinson is prominently depicted kneeling in prayer in a painting in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda – “The Embarkation of the Pilgrims.”
Of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts, Governor William Bradford wrote: “Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.”
Though half died that first bitter winter, Governor William Bradford wrote: “Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations … for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt stated Oct. 28, 1936, regarding America’s founding: “Rulers … increase their power over the common men. The seamen they sent to find gold found instead the way of escape for the common man from those rulers. … What they found over the Western horizon was not the silk and jewels of Cathay but mankind’s second chance – a chance to create a new world after he had almost spoiled an old one. … The Almighty seems purposefully to have withheld that second chance until the time when men would most need and appreciate liberty. … Those who came … had courage … to abandon language and relatives … to start … without influence, without money. … Perhaps Providence did prepare this American continent to be a place of the second chance.”
At the Bicentennial Celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, Secretary of State Daniel Webster stated Dec. 22, 1820: “There is a … sort of genius of the place, which … awes us. We feel that we are on the spot where the first scene of our history was laid; where the hearths and altars of New England were first placed; where Christianity, and civilization … made their first lodgement, in a vast extent of country. … ‘If God prosper us,’ might have been the … language of our fathers, when they landed upon this Rock, ‘… we shall here begin a work which shall last for ages. … We shall fill this region of the great continent … with civilization and Christianity. …”
Webster continued: “The morning that beamed … saw the Pilgrims already at home … a government and a country were to commence, with the very first foundations laid under the divine light of the Christian religion. … Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. … Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. Our fathers came here to enjoy their religion free and unmolested; and, at the end of two centuries, there is nothing upon which we can pronounce more confidently … than of the inestimable importance of that religion to man. …”
Webster added a rebuke: “The African slave-trader is a pirate and a felon; and in the sight of Heaven, an offender far beyond the ordinary depth of human guilt. … If there be … any participation in this traffic, let us pledge ourselves here, upon the rock of Plymouth, to extirpate and destroy it. … I invoke the ministers of our religion, that they proclaim its denunciation of these crimes, and add its solemn sanctions to the authority of human laws. If the pulpit be silent whenever or wherever there may be a sinner bloody with this guilt within the hearing of its voice, the pulpit is false to its trust. …”
Daniel Webster reflected further: “Whoever shall hereafter write this part of our history … will be able to record no … lawless and despotic acts, or any successful usurpation. His page will contain no exhibition of … civil authority habitually trampled down by military power, or of a community crushed by the burden of taxation. … He will speak … of that happy condition, in which the restraint and coercion of government are almost invisible and imperceptible. …”
Webster added: “Finally, let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary. Let us cherish these sentiments, and extend this influence still more widely; in the full conviction, that that is the happiest society which partakes in the highest degree of the mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity.”
The Plymouth Rock Foundation was founded in 1970 with the mission: “To make more widely known and understood the Pilgrim principles and characteristics – their devotion to God and the Bible, to freedom and to tolerance, and their embodiment of courage, brotherhood, and individual moral character.”
Dr. Paul Jehle, Executive Director of the Plymouth Rock Foundation, whose ancestors were on the Mayflower, wrote “Mayflower Compact Day” (Plymouth Rock Foundation’s E-News, November, 2011): “We remember when the Mayflower Compact was signed on board the Mayflower, while it lay anchored in what is now Provincetown Harbor, November 11, 1620. … A compact is a covenant. … Since the Pilgrims were children of the Reformation, their view of covenant came from the Bible. It was God that initiated the concept of covenant, first with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15-17 and 2:24). God also made a covenant with Noah in Genesis 9 and of course the process of ‘cutting’ covenant was depicted in visual form for Abraham in Genesis 15. Throughout the Bible covenants were used both vertically (with God directly) and horizontally (with humans) to depict God’s process of bringing people into unity with Him and one another. Unity of purpose and harmony with God set the highest ideals for good behavior. …”
Dr. Jehle continued: “No wonder when Pastor John Robinson sent his farewell letter to the Pilgrims upon their departure in 1620, knowing that they would need to form their own civil government, he gave this sound advice: ‘Whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government; let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good. … not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord.'”
The question the founders wrestled with was:
does POWER flow
from the Creator
to the King
to the People
or does POWER flow
from the Creator
to the People
to the Political Leaders?
At the time of America’s founding, nearly the entire world was ruled by kings who claimed to have a “divine right” to rule over people.
England’s King James I declared: “Kings are … God’s lieutenants upon earth … sit upon God’s throne. … The king is overlord of the whole land … master over every person … having power over the life & death of every one.”
France’s Louis XIV declared: “I am the State”; and “It is legal because I wish it.”
Dr. Marshall Foster of the Mayflower Institute (now World History Institute), co-producer of Kirk Cameron’s 2012 film “Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure,” wrote in “A Shining City on a Hill” (Feb. 27, 2013): “Four hundred years ago the conflict between tyranny and liberty was red hot. … When King James died in 1625, his son Charles I ascended to the throne with the arrogance of a Roman emperor. He was the quintessential ‘divine right’ monarch. He declared martial law and suspended the rights of the individual. … The king’s inquisitors at his ‘Star Chamber’ in the tower of London used torture techniques to ‘discover the taxpayer’s assets.’ … A turning point in public opinion took place on January 30, 1637. Three prisoners were locked down in the pillory in London before a huge crowd. … These men included a Puritan minister, a Christian writer and Dr. John Bastwick, a physician. What was their crime? They had written pamphlets disagreeing with the king’s religious views. The sheriff began by branding the men with red hot irons on the forehead with an SL for seditious libel. …”
Dr. Marshall Foster continued: “The tyranny of the king … finally aroused the Christian sensibilities of the people. They would no longer tolerate burnings or mutilations for matters of conscience on religious views. … The persecutions drove tens of thousands of liberty loving believers to follow the Pilgrims to New England where they laid the foundation for the world’s most biblically based nation.”
An experiment was attempted in New England, where pastors and their churches founded settlements:
- Plymouth, Massachusetts – Pilgrims’ Pastor Rev. John Robinson
- Providence, Rhode Island – Rev. Roger Williams
- Barnstable, Massachusetts – Rev. John Lothropp
- Exeter, New Hampshire – Rev. John Wheelwright
- Boston, Massachusetts – Rev. John Cotton
- Hartford, Connecticut – Rev. Thomas Hooker
Due to a conflict with Puritan Rev. John Cotton, Rev. Thomas Hooker led his church members in 1636 from Massachusetts, through the wilderness, to found the city of Hartford, Connecticut. Settlers inquired of Rev. Hooker how they should set up their government. Nearly a century before Europe’s “Age of Enlightenment,” Rev. Thomas Hooker preached a sermon, May 31, 1638, explaining: “Deuteronomy 1:13 ‘Choose you wise men and understanding and known among your tribes and I will make them heads over you captains over thousands, captains over hundreds, fifties, tens.’ … The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by Gods own allowance. … The privilege of election … belongs to the people … according to the blessed will and law of God. … They who have power to appoint officers and magistrates it is in their power also to set the bounds and limits of the power and places unto which they call them. … The foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of the people.”
The ideas proposed in Hooker’s sermon were revolutionary as for most of the world, the foundation of authority was the will of a divinely-appointed king, emperor, czar, sultan, maharaja, or chieftain. Rev. Hooker’s sermon became the basis for the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639. Nowhere in the Fundamental Orders is acknowledgement made to the King as in other charters, ie.: “our dread Sovereign”; “our gracious Lord the King.”
Instead of the top-down government of a “divinely-appointed” king, government was instead to be bottom-up, like the roots of a tree drawing nourishment from every citizen’s involvement.
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639, stated: “Where a people are gathered together the word of God requires that to maintain the peace and union … there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God. … The people … conjoin ourselves to be as one Public State or Commonwealth … to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess. … According to the truth of the said Gospel … our civil affairs to be guided and governed according to such Laws, Rules, Orders and Decrees as shall be made. … The Governor … shall have the power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof, according to the Rule of the Word of God.”
The Fundamental Orders were used in Connecticut till 1818, serving as a blueprint for other New England colonies and eventually the United States Constitution.
George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, later dictated a “talk” Aug. 29, 1796: “Beloved Cherokees, The wise men of the United States meet together once a year, to consider what will be for the good of all their people. … I have thought that a meeting of your wise men once or twice a year would be alike useful to you.”
The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were described by historian John Fiske (“Beginnings of New England,” Cambridge, 1889) as: “The first written constitution known to history that created a government. It marked the beginnings of American democracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father. The government of the United States today is in lineal descent more nearly related to that of Connecticut than to that of any of the other thirteen colonies.”
Connecticut was designated “The Constitution State” in 1959. A statue of Rev. Thomas Hooker holding a Bible stands prominently at the Connecticut State Capitol, with the inscription on the base: “Leading his people through the wilderness, he founded Hartford in June of 1636. On this site he preached the sermon which inspired The Fundamental Orders. It was the first written Constitution that created a government.”
A plaque erected in Hartford by the Daughters of the American Revolution reads: “In 1636, The Church in Newtown, Massachusetts, Thomas Hooker, Minister, was transplanted to this locality, called Meeting House Yard, Old State House Square, City Hall Square. Near this site on May 31, 1638, Thomas Hooker preached his Famous Sermon: ‘The Foundation of Authority is Laid In the Free Consent of the People.’ Near this site on January 14, 1639, representatives of the three river towns adopted The Fundamental Orders Of Connecticut, ‘The first written constitution known to history that created a government.'”
A historical marker in England reads: “Thomas Hooker 1586-1647, Curate of St. Mary’s Church, Chelmsford and Town Lecturer 1626-1629, Founder of the State of Connecticut 1636, ‘Father of American Democracy.'”
Another marker reads: “Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council, Thomas Hooker, (1586-1647), Puritan Clergyman, Pupil of this School, Reputed Father of ‘American Democracy.'”
A plaque in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reads: “Here Stood The Original Meeting House of the First Church in Cambridge. Built in 1632 and the center of the Civic and Religious Life of the Town. Here Ministered 1633-1636 Thomas Hooker-A Peerless Leader of Thought and Life in both Church and State.”
The Plymouth Rock Foundation’s first executive director was Dr. Charles Hull Wolfe, a dedicated Marxist who changed his views after conducting an independent study of American economics. Dr. Wolfe, with Dr. D. James Kennedy, wrote “Restoring the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving” (1989): “When the brilliant Rev. Thomas Hooker left Boston and settled in Hartford, he promptly called for three Connecticut towns to join together in forming a colony. Hooker followed the Pilgrim pattern and led the people of Connecticut in framing a written compact for civil self-government rooted in Mosaic tradition. He used as his text, ‘Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.’ (Deuteronomy 1:13). Hooker preached a scholarly sermon that guided the men of Connecticut in framing the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut in 1639, commonly called ‘the world’s first complete written constitution,’ though, in fact, Plymouth had framed a complete constitutional charter, the Pilgrim Code of Law, three years before.”
In New England, instead of separation of church and state, it was the pastors and churches that created the state!
President Calvin Coolidge stated at the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia, July 5, 1926: “The principles … which went into the Declaration of Independence … are found in … the sermons … of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image. … Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. … In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, whole congregations with their pastors migrated to the Colonies.”
Where European kings were burning people at the stake for not believing the way they did, New England pastors concluded that since Jesus never forced anyone to follow him, they could not either. They determined that since the Kingdom of God can never be forced top-down, the only way for it to happen was if the majority of PEOPLE held godly values and voted for representatives holding their values, then laws would be passed reflecting those values, and the values of the Kingdom of God could come voluntarily from the bottom-up.
A “king,” as defined in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, is: “The chief or sovereign of a nation; a man invested with supreme authority over a nation, tribe or country; a monarch. Kings are absolute.”
Romans 13:1 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”
God allowed for America’s founders to establish a government where, instead of a single man being the supreme authority, the people are the supreme authority. Signer of the Constitution Gouverneur Morris wrote: “This magistrate is not the king. The people are the king.”
John Jay, the First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, wrote in Chisholm v. Georgia, 1793: “The people are the sovereign of this country.”
Signer of Constitution James Wilson stated at the Pennsylvania Convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution: “Sovereignty resides in the people; they have not parted with it.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Johnson, 1823: “But the Chief Justice says, ‘There must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere.’ True, there must. … The ultimate arbiter is the people.”
James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 46, 1788: “The ultimate authority … resides in the people alone.”
Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in the case of Cohens v. Virginia, 1821: “The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their own will, and lives only by their will.”
Abraham Lincoln said in a debate with Stephen Douglas: “The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both Congresses and Courts.”
President Andrew Jackson wrote to William B. Lewis, Aug. 19, 1841: “The people are the government, administering it by their agents; they are the government, the sovereign power.”
President James K. Polk stated Dec. 7, 1847: “The people are the only sovereigns recognized by our Constitution. … The success of our admirable system is a conclusive refutation of the theories of those in other countries who maintain that a ‘favored few’ are born to rule and that the mass of mankind must be governed by force.”
President Grover Cleveland stated, July 13, 1887: “The sovereignty of 60 millions of free people, is … the working out … of the divine right of man to govern himself and a manifestation of God’s plan concerning the human race.”
President Gerald Ford stated at Southern Methodist University, Sept. 13, 1975: “Never forget that in America our sovereign is the citizen. … The state is a servant of the individual. It must never become an anonymous monstrosity that masters everyone.”
President Ronald Reagan opened the John Ashbrook Center in 1983, stating of America’s founders: “The Founding Fathers understood that only by making government the servant, not the master, only by positing sovereignty in the people and not the state can we hope to protect freedom.”
General Omar Bradley stated in his Armistice Day Address, Nov. 10, 1948: “In the United States it is the people who are sovereign … The Government is theirs – to speak their voice and to voice their will.”
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defined “Republic”: “exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives elected by the people.”
The Pledge of Allegiance is to the Flag “and to the republic for which it stands.”
In a republic, the people are king, ruling through individuals they chose to represent them. When individuals dishonor the flag, what they are saying is, they no longer want to be the king – they want someone else to rule their lives.
James Wilson wrote in his Lectures on Law, 1790-91: “In a free country, every citizen forms a part of the sovereign power: he possesses a vote.”
Voting is not just a right, but a responsibility for which every citizen will be held accountable to God. Not to vote is to abdicate the throne.
Sam Adams stated in 1781: “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his VOTE … that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God.”
Where did America’s founders get these ideas? They did draw some ideas from English Common Law and the Magna Carta, which limited the arbitrary power of a king. They did draw some ideas from the Roman Republic and the Athenian Democracy. Ultimately, though, they looked back to ancient Israel.
It took nine states to ratify the United States Constitution, eight had, and New Hampshire was in line to be the ninth, but its ratifying convention stalled. Harvard President Samuel Langdon then gave an address, June 5, 1788, titled “The Republic of the Israelites an Example to the American States,” stating: “Instead of the twelve tribes of Israel, we may substitute the thirteen States of the American union…”
After this address, New Hampshire ratified the U.S. Constitution, thus putting it into effect.
Dr. Pat Robertson wrote in “America’s Dates with Destiny,” 1986: “What was happening in America had no real precedent, even as far back as the city-states of Greece. The only real precedent was established thousands of years before by the tribes of Israel in the covenant with God and with each other.”
What was the Republic of the Israelites? Around 1,400 B.C., the children of Israel left Egypt and entered the Promised Land. As explained in “Rise of the Tyrant: Volume Two of Change to Chains – The 6,000 Year Quest for Global Control”:
- Ancient Israel was the first well-recorded instance of an entire nation ruled without a king. Everyone was equal under the law. This was the beginning of the concept of equality on planet earth. There was no royal family to butter-up to.
- Ancient Israel had a system of honesty, as God hates unjust weights and measures. This provided a basis for commerce.
- In Ancient Israel the land was titled to the families. This prevented a dictator from gathering up the land and putting the people back into slavery. If someone owned land, they could accumulate possessions: the Bible called this being blessed; Karl Marx called it being a capitalist.
- Ancient Israel had a bureaucracy-free welfare system. When someone harvested their field, they left the gleanings for the poor.
- Ancient Israel was the first nation where everyone was taught to read.
- Ancient Israel had no police, as the people were not only taught the Law, they were accountable to enforce it.
- Ancient Israel had no prisons, as the Law required swift justice at the city gates and a “city of refuge” where fugitives could flee to await a trial.
- Ancient Israel had no standing army, as every man was in the militia, armed, and ready at a moment’s notice to defend his community.
- In Ancient Israel, the people elected their own leaders, as Moses instructed in Deuteronomy 1:3-13: “How can I myself alone bear … your burden? … Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.”
There is a spectrum of power, with total government on one side and no government on the other.
On the total government side, power is concentrated into the hands of a king who rules through fear.
On the no government side, there is anarchy, unless the people have internal morals. But why would a person obey internal morals?
Ancient Israel had the key ingredient, namely, a God who:
- is watching everyone
- wants you to be fair
- will hold you accountable in the future
If you had the opportunity to steal and not get caught, you might considered it. But if you remember God is watching, that He wants you to be fair, and that He will hold you accountable in the future, you would hesitate. This is called having a “conscience.” If everybody in the nation believes this, there would be complete order with no police following everyone around.
Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan stated in 1908: “There is a powerful restraining influence in the belief that an All-seeing eye scrutinizes every thought and word and act of the individual.”
This only works, though, with the God of the Bible. An Islamic Allah permits lying, stealing, and raping infidel kafir non-Muslims. Only the God of the Bible declares that all men and women are equal, made in the image of the Creator, and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Claude Fleury wrote in “The Manners of the Ancient Israelites,” 1681: “The Israelites were perfectly free. They enjoyed the liberty cherished by Greece and Rome. Such was the purpose of God.”
E.C. Wines wrote in “Commentaries on the Laws of the Ancient Hebrews, with an Introductory Essay on Civil Society & Government” (NY: Geo. P. Putnam & Co., 1853): “Another of those great ideas, which constituted the basis of the Hebrew state, was liberty. … The Hebrew people enjoyed as great a degree of personal liberty, as can ever be combined with an efficient and stable government.”
Ancient Israel’s unique system was dependent upon the Levites and priests teaching the Law. When the Levites and priests neglected teaching the Law, “every man did what was right in their own eyes,” immorality and domestic chaos resulted, and the people begged for a king to restore order. The prophet Samuel cried, and the Lord told him, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” Israel got King Saul, who shortly thereafter killed most of the priests.
Harvard President Samuel Langdon, in his address “Government Corrupted by Vice,” May 31, 1775, referred to ancient Israel: “The only form of government which had a proper claim to a divine establishment, was so far from including the idea of a king, that it was a high crime for Israel to ask to be in this respect like other nations; and when they were thus gratified, it was rather as a just punishment.”
This is a warning to any republic, that if the consciousness of God is removed and people yield to their unrestrained selfish passions and lusts, there will be domestic chaos, random violence, mobs smashing windows and looting in the streets. In this crisis, people will beg for a strong leader to restore order. This leader will send militarized police down the street, who will go house to house collecting all the guns. Order will indeed be restored, but when the dust settles, the people will have given up ruling themselves and will have returned to being ruled by a king.
Could America be just one national domestic crisis away from fundamentally being transformed from a republic into a dictatorship? For the American Republic to last, citizens must learn from the early New England pastors, from ancient Israel, and return to the God of the Bible.
Noah Webster wrote in the preface of his 1828 Webster’s Dictionary: “The Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed. … No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
Daniel Webster concluded his Plymouth Rock address, Dec. 22, 1820: “Ye future generations! We would hail you, as you rise in your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill. … We welcome you to the blessings of good government and religious liberty. … We welcome you to the immeasurable blessings of rational existence, the immortal hope of Christianity, and the light of everlasting truth! … We are bound … to convince the world that order and law, religion and morality, the rights of conscience, the rights of persons, and the rights of property, may all be preserved and secured, in the most perfect manner, by a government entirely and purely elective. If we fail in this, our disaster will be signal (monumental), and will furnish an argument … in support of those opinions which maintain that government can rest safely on nothing but power and coercion.”
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