“Done…the SEVENTEENTH DAY of SEPTEMBER, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.”
This is the last line of the U.S. Constitution.
Professors Donald S. Lutz and Charles S. Hyneman published an article in American Political Science Review, 1984, titled “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late 18th-Century American Political Thought.”
They examined nearly 15,000 writings of the 55 writers of the U.S. Constitution, including newspaper articles, pamphlets, books and monographs, and discovered that the Bible, especially the book of Deuteronomy, contributed 34 percent of all direct quotes made by the Founders.
When indirect Bible citations were included, the percentage rose even higher.
Benjamin Franklin wrote to the Editor of the Federal Gazette, April 8, 1788 (The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Farrand’s Records, Vol. 3, CXCV, pp. 296-297. Documentary History of the Constitution, IV, 567-571):
“I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general Convention was divinely inspired when it form’d the new federal Constitution…
yet I must own 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 influenc’d, guided and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent Beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live & move and have their being.”
Presiding over the Constitutional Convention was George Washington, who wrote ten days after his Presidential Inauguration to the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, May 10, 1789:
“If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it.”
John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, had remarked, September 8, 1777:
“The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon, and choosing the forms of government under which they should live. All other constitutions have derived their existence from violence or accidental circumstances.”
James Wilson, who signed the Declaration and Constitution and was appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington, remarked at Pennsylvania’s ratifying convention, November 26, 1787:
“Governments, in general, have been the result of force, of fraud, and accident.
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.”
In 1802, Daniel Webster stated in a Fourth of July Oration:
“We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people.
Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in 6,000 years cannot be expected to happen often.
Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism.”
Daniel Webster continued:
“The history of the world is before us…Ambitious men must be restrained by the public morality; when they rise up to do evil, they must find themselves standing alone. Morality rests on religion. If you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall…
The civil, the social, the Christian virtues are requisite to render us worthy the continuation of that government which is the freest on earth.”
Ronald Reagan, 1961:
“In this country of ours took place the GREATEST REVOLUTION that has ever taken place IN THE WORLD’S HISTORY… Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another…
Here for the first time in all the THOUSANDS OF YEARS of man’s relation to man…the founding fathers established the idea that you and I had within ourselves the God-given right and ability to determine our own destiny.”
President Calvin Coolidge, 1924:
“The history of government on this earth has been almost entirely…rule of force held in the HANDS OF A FEW. Under our Constitution, America committed itself to power in the HANDS OF THE PEOPLE.”
Chief Justice John Jay wrote in Chisholm v. Georgia:
“THE PEOPLE are the Sovereign of this country.”
President Gerald Ford stated at Southern Methodist University, September 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.”
Harvard President Samuel Langdon was a delegate to New Hampshire’s ratifying convention.
His speech, “The Republic of the Israelites An Example to the American States,” June 5, 1788, helped convince New Hampshire to become the 9th State to ratify the U.S. Constitution, thereby putting the Constitution into effect:
“Instead of the twelve tribes of Israel, we may substitute the thirteen States of the American union, and see this application plainly offering itself, viz. —
That as God in the course of his kind providence hath given you an excellent Constitution of government, founded on the most rational, equitable, and liberal principles, by which all that liberty is secured….
and you are impowered to make righteous laws for promoting public order and good morals;
and as he has moreover given you by his Son Jesus Christ…a complete revelation of his will…it will be your wisdom…to…adhere faithfully to the doctrines and commands of the gospel, and practice every public and private virtue.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.