“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” – Proverbs 13:22
After signing the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote to his wife: “I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure, that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration. … Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that days transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not.”
George Washington wrote in his Orders, July 2, 1776: “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. … We have, therefore to resolve to conquer or die.”
Colonel William Prescott, who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, wrote: “Our forefathers passed the vast Atlantic, spent their blood and treasure, that they might enjoy their liberties, both civil and religious, and transmit them to their posterity. … Now if we should give them up, can our children rise up and call us blessed? ”
Dr. Joseph Warren, who died in the Battle of Bunker Hill, wrote in the “Suffolk Resolves,” September of 1774: “That it is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves and posterity … to maintain, defend and preserve those civil and religious rights and liberties, for which many of our fathers fought, bled and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations.”
Disbanding the Newburgh conspiracy, Washington stated May 15, 1783: “By thus determining … you will defeat the insidious designs of our enemies, who are compelled to resort from open force to secret artifice. … You will … afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind, had this day been wanting, the World had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.”
Justice Samuel Chase, who signed the Declaration, warned in a letter he signed “Caution,” (Maryland Journal, Oct. 12, 1787) not rush in ratifying the Constitution: “The decision, for or against the plan … involves no less than the happiness or miser of you and all your posterity forever.”
James Warren, in an article he signed “Helvitius Priscus,” Independent Chronicle, Dec. 27, 1787, warned: “That assembly, who have ambitiously and daringly presumed to annihilate the sovereignties of the thirteen United States; to establish a Draconian Code; and to bind posterity by their secret councils.”
The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, 1787, states: “We the people of the United States, in order to … secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
Daniel Webster stated in 1852: “The world will cry out ‘shame’ upon us, if we show ourselves unworthy, to be the descendants of those great and illustrious … men, who fought for their liberty, and secured it to their posterity, by the Constitution of the United States.”
Henry Clay addressed the U.S. Senate, 1850: “The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity – unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity.”
James Wilson, who signed the Declaration and Constitution, stated at Pennsylvania’s ratifying convention, Nov. 26, 1787: “After a period of 6,000 years has elapsed since the creation, the United States exhibit to the world the first instance … of a nation … assembling voluntarily … and deciding calmly concerning that system of government under which they would wish that they and their posterity should live.”
Benjamin Franklin, who signed the Declaration and Constitution, wrote of the Constitutional Convention to the editor of the Federal Gazette, April 8, 1788: “I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent Beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live & move and have their being.”
Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, warned in his farewell address, 1796: “Avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt … not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.”
Jefferson, who signed the Declaration, noted in his second annual message, 1802: “We are able, without a direct tax … to make large and effectual payments toward the discharge of our public debt and the emancipation of our posterity from that mortal canker (open sore).”
Charles Carroll, the longest-living signer of the Declaration, addressed the city of New York, Aug. 2, 1826: “Grateful to Almighty God for the blessings which, through Jesus Christ Our Lord, He had conferred on my beloved country in her emancipation. … I am now the last surviving signer, I do hereby recommend to the present and future generations the principles of that important document as the best earthly inheritance their ancestors could bequeath to them, and pray that the civil and religious liberties they have secured to my country may be perpetuated to remotest posterity and extended to the whole family of man.”
Daniel Webster addressed the New York Historical Society, Feb. 23, 1852: “If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution, which holds us together, no man can tell, how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us, that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. ”
Chief Justice John Jay address the American Bible Society, May 13, 1824: “We thereby 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.”
Elias Boudinot served as the president of the Continental Congress where he signed the Treaty of Paris. Founding the American Bible Society, Elias Boudinot stated in New Jersey, July 4, 1783: “The deliverance of the Children of Israel from a state of bondage to an unreasonable tyrant was perpetuated by the Paschal Lamb, and enjoining (imposing) it on their posterity as an annual festival forever.”
Elias Boudinot’s brother-in-law was Judge Richard Stockton, who signed the Declaration. Stockton previously traveled to England in 1767, where he met with many leaders, including the Marquis of Rockingham, the Earl of Chatham, and Edmund Burke. Edmund Burke wrote in “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” 1790: “People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.”
Richard Stockton had the honor of meeting with King George III on behalf of the trustees of Princeton College. His address acknowledging the repeal of the Stamp Act was favorably received.
The Stamp Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1765, required a tax on every piece of printed paper, including legal documents, licenses, newspapers, and publications, effectively restricting communication among American citizens.
Richard Stockton traveled to Scotland, where he met with a young Princeton graduate attending medical school – Benjamin Rush. Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence, married Richard Stockton’s daughter, Julia. Stockton and Benjamin Rush persuaded Rev. John Witherspoon to leave Scotland and come to America to be president of Princeton. Rev. Witherspoon signed the Declaration of Independence.
Richard Stockton, Benjamin Rush, John Witherspoon, joined with the other signers of the Declaration in “pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.” When the British invaded New Jersey, Stockton and his family had to flee for their lives. He was betrayed by loyalists, dragged from his bed at night and imprisoned in New York. His farm was pillaged and his library, one of the best in the country, was burned.
Stockton’s health was broken from over a year in the British prison and he died bankrupt at age 51 on Feb. 28, 1781. New Jersey placed a statue of Richard Stockton in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.
Thinking of his posterity, Richard Stockton wrote in his will: “As my children … may be peculiarly impressed with the last words of their father, I think proper here, not only to subscribe to the entire belief of the great leading doctrine of the Christian religion … but also in the heart of a father’s affection, to exhort them to remember ‘that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.'”
Richard Stockton’s posterity included his son, Senator Richard Stockton of New Jersey, and his grandson, Navy Commodore Robert Stockton, who was a hero of the War of 1812. Commodore Robert Stockton helped freed slaves found the country of Liberia, West Africa. In 1846, he defeated the Mexican army and captured California, serving as its first military governor. Stockton, California, was named for Commodore Richard Stockton.
America’s founders were willing to sacrifice their prosperity for their posterity, pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor, to give freedom to generations yet unborn. Today, many are willing to sacrifice their posterity for prosperity, saddling their children and grandchildren with an unpayable debt just as long as they can maintain their standard of living.
Ancient Israel was a republic for 400 years where people ruled themselves under the Law. But when they became debased, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” respect for the law decreased, crime and insecurity increased, and naive citizens cried out for a king to restore order, not realizing till it was too late that it would cost them their freedom.
Likewise, America’s founders set up a republic, where people rule themselves under the law. But as society becomes debased, and students are taught to tolerate everyone doing that which is right in their own eyes, respect for the law is decreasing, crime and insecurity are increasing, and naive citizens are crying out for the government to restore order, not realizing it will cost them their freedom.
Ambassador Alan Keyes exposed America’s disregard for posterity in his address to a Virginia high school assembly, Feb. 28, 2000: “How does it secure the blessings of liberty to our posterity, to those generations yet unborn, to kill them, aborting them in the womb?”
John Adams, who signed the Declaration, wrote on April 26, 1777: “posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”
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