Tag Archives: Virginia

Bill of Rights approved September 25, 1789

Bill of Rights approved September 25, 1789

bill-of-rights_public domain imageAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Thus began the first of the Ten Amendments, or Bill of Rights, which were approved SEPTEMBER 25, 1789.

“The Father of the Bill of Rights” was George Mason of Virginia.

When George Washington was chosen to be the Commander of the Continental Army, George Mason was drafted by citizens of Virginia to fill Washington’s place in the Continental Congress.

George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, from which Jefferson drew from to write the Declaration of Independence.

George Mason was one of 55 founders who wrote the U.S. Constitution, but was one of the few who refused to sign it because it did not end the slave trade and did not put enough limits on the Federal Government’s power.

On August 22, 1787, George Mason stated:

“Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven upon a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this.

By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.”

George Mason stated before the General Court of Virginia:

“The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth.”

This phrase of Mason’s was mirrored in the Declaration of Independence as

“the laws of nature and nature’s God.”

George Mason joined with Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams in an effort to prevent the Constitution from being ratified.

They feared that too much power concentrated into the hands of the Federal Government would result in the same trampling of individual rights that King George III perpetrated.

George Mason’s opposition to the Constitution cost him his friendship with George Washington.

When the Constitution was ratified, George Mason led the charge in insisting that in the first session of Congress there should be ten limitations or “Amendments” put in place which would restrict the power of the new Federal Government.

George Mason suggested the wording of the First Amendment be:

“All men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”

Bill FedererThe 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.

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303 – Oct. 30 – This Day in Baptist History Past

Was met with violent opposition and persecution

October 30, 1753 – David Barrow was born into a plain farm family in Brunswick County, Virginia. After he received Christ at the age of 16, he was baptized by Zachariah Thompson and immediately began to exhort others to seek the Savior.

Though he had received very little education earlier, after he married he studied grammar under Elder Jeremiah Walker and became an excellent grammarian. Barrow was ordained in 1771 and traveled and preached extensively in Virginia and N. C.  He became the pastor of Isle of Wight Church in 1774. His ministry was interrupted when he shouldered a musket in 1776 and entered the army to defend his newly established country.

Barrow’s exceptional deportment rendered him popular with all classes of men except the baser sort of “church men” who opposed the gospel of God’s grace (Anglican). His successful ministry was met with violent opposition and persecution. On one occasion in 1778, Barrow and Edward Mintz were preaching at the home of a man who lived near the mouth of the James River. A gang of well dressed “church men” came up on the stage that had been erected under some trees. As soon as the hymn had been given out the “church men” began singing obscene songs. Then they grabbed Barrow and plunged him under some nearby water, twice burying his head in the mud to the point that he couldn’t breathe. Barrow barely escaped with his life. Within a few weeks, three or four of their persecutors died in a very strange manner. Barrow and the other men disregarded the threats and continued to preach without further problems. Many were saved, baptized, and a church was organized.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 450-51.

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299 – Oct 26 – This Day in Baptist History Past


October 26, 1793 – Lewis Lunsford, at the approximate age of 40 fell asleep in the arms of Jesus. Lunsford’s life was terminated in the prime of his life, leaving a family and a fruitful ministry.

Lewis was born in Stafford County, Virginia around 1753. Early in his life, while attending William Fristoe’s meetings, he was deeply convicted and gloriously saved through the gospel of God’s grace. After being baptized by Fristoe, he began to stand up as an advocate for the gospel. Lunsford’s talents commanded the attention of many and procured for him the appellation of “The Wonderful Boy.”

Wherever he went, there was blessing, but his message also attracted opposition. Once there assembled a congregation at a stage built on the property of a Mr. Stephen Hall near Mundy’s Point. After he had read his text, some who were well armed with staves and pistols drew near to attack him. Some of his followers, not listening to Lunsford’s pleas to the contrary began pulling up fence stakes to defend him. Several with pistols mounted the stage when it collapsed. Lunsford made it to Hall’s house and took refuge in an upper room. One of the armed ruffians asked for the privilege of debating with Lewis which the request was granted. When the man returned his countenance was totally changed, and his response to his friends was, “You had better converse with him yourselves, “Never a man spake like this.”  They answered him, “Are ye also deceived?” This transformed ruffian never saw Lunsford again because of his ill timed death. Apparently pneumonia had set in. He preached his last sermon from Rom. 5:1: “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp.  444-45.

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273 – Sept. 30 – This Day in Baptist History Past



Elder John Leland married Miss Sallie Devine on Sept. 30, 1776, and God blessed them with eight children. As the Apostles, along with Patrick Henry, Carrington, and Washington, he would have been considered an “unlearned and ignorant” man, in that he had received no formal education. But his proficiency in the gospel, law and politics was as profound as any of his contemporaries. Born in Grafton, Mass. on May 14, 1754, he was saved after a lengthy period of conviction over his sins. In June of 1774 he moved to Virginia, was ordained, and assumed the pastorate of the Mount Poney Baptist Church in Culpepper County. For the next fifteen years he served in a very successful evangelistic ministry that covered 75,000 miles, and the preaching of over 3,000 sermons. Altogether he baptized 1,352 converts. One woman’s husband came to shoot him but he got her under while the members detained him. His shrewd and witty mind aided him in championing soul liberty and religious freedom. It was primarily through his able leadership that we have the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He also opposed slavery when it was unpopular to do so, and was successful in disenfranchising the Protestant Episcopal Church which was supported by taxation in Virginia. He ended his life still preaching the gospel in his native Massachusetts and died at age 67 on Jan. 14, 1841. [Robert Boyle C. Howell, The Early Baptists of Virginia (Philadelphia: Bible and Publication Society. 1857), p. 242

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson,   pp.  535 – 36        

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260 – Sept. 17 – This Day in Baptist History Past



It’s not the length but the depth that counts

Henrietta Hall Shuck, raised in a godly home, sailed on Sept. 17, 1835, with her husband Lewis for missionary service in China, along with twenty-two other missionaries. She was but a teen bride, the daughter of Col. Addison Hall of Merry Point, Virginia. Henrietta was saved in a Baptist camp meeting and baptized at thirteen years of age. At sixteen she moved to Richmond Virginia where she met Lewis Shuck who was studying theology and later married. After leaving Boston their ship stopped at Calcutta, India and then on to Amherst in Burma where the Shuck’s were able to visit the grave of Ann Judson, whose life had provided great inspiration for Henrietta. Finally they reached Singapore where they would study the Malay language, and then it was on to Canton, China, and to Hong Kong to minister, after it was ceded to the British in 1841. Within four months, two chapels had been built and dedicated and before long there was a third.  By Sept. of 1844 there were thirty-two boarding students. On Nov. 26, Henrietta became very ill. The doctors could not save her, and in the early hours of the following morning, she fell asleep in Jesus.  Only ten years after she had begun her work for her Lord whom she loved, her work on earth was over. It’s not the length, but the depth of our work that really counts for Christ. “Her life was like a glorious meteor, and her light still shineth.”[Majorie Dawes, Great Baptist Women (London: Carey Kingsgate Press Limited, 1955), p, 75.  Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 509-11.

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240 – August 28 – This Day in Baptist History Past


He served over seventy years in the ministry

Anderson Moffett was born in Fauquier County, Virginia on August 28, 1746. David Thomas who had come to Virginia originally from the old Philadelphia Baptist Association had planted the Broad Run Church in that County when Moffett was but a youth. Many of the Regular Baptists of Northern Virginia had caught their fire from Thomas who they often referred to as Old Father Thomas.” He fired their souls while establishing them in sound doctrine without quenching their evangelistic zeal. Moffett was converted at an early age and began to preach when he was 17. His age is not known when he was imprisoned in Culpeper. There is only verbal evidence that this happened because all of Anderson’s records were destroyed by fire when he was an aged man, and too weak to rewrite them. His nephew Judge W.W. Moffett gave testimony that his father told him personally of the account of his uncle Anderson Moffett’s jailing for not taking a license to preach, and gave the date as the latter half of 1885 or the first part of 1886. He gave this testimony on Dec. 21, 1923. His father showed him where the Culpeper jail stood. The Culpeper Baptist Church moved to a new location and still stood as of 1993. Moffett was imprisoned along with many other young preachers in that jail. He was there when someone attempted to suffocate them by burning an Indian pepper plant under the jail floor. This incident evidently did not affect his health. God gave Moffett over seventy years of ministry, ending in his 89th year after he had served Smith’s Creek Regular Baptist Church for over fifty years.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 355-56.

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227 – August 15 – This Day in Baptist History Past



One of the Leaders in the Fight for Liberty”        

William Webber was born on August 15, 1747, to parents of moderate means and received only three years of formal education, and yet he was considered one of the spiritual fathers and pioneers of the gospel in Virginia. He became a carpenter and worked at that trade until he was converted to Jesus Christ under the preaching of John Waller and quickly became an exhorter.

Few men in Virginia suffered more persecutions than Webber. He was among those who preached through the grates of the Chesterfield County jail, spending three months there. In the same year of 1771 he was taken from the platform where he was preaching to the Middlesex County jail for forty-five days, where he, along with several others, preached twice a week, through the bars to those that would hear.

He was also roughly treated on many occasions. In spite of these things, the gospel prospered, and Baptist principles were embraced by many. Many strong and fruitful churches were planted such as the Powhatah church, out of which no less than fourteen preachers were called early in its history.

Early on , Webber became pastor of the Dover Church in Goochland County, VA, and in spite of his poor circumstances, he gave a great deal of time in his youth to preaching. But as his family grew, he found it necessary to limit his labors to his own area. Semple says, “He was very successful in turning many to righteousness; and in confirming the souls of his disciples. He was a man of sound and correct judgment…well versed in the scripture, and ingenious in defending them against error. He was one of the leaders to represent the Baptists in the fight for liberty.”

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 335-36.

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224 – August 12 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Twelve Baptists in Prison at One Time

John Waller wrote the following letter from the Urbana Prison, Middlesex County, Virginia, on August 12, 1771, at the height of the persecution of Baptists in America. There were twelve Baptists in prison at one time, and it gives insight as to their treatment as well as the success of their ministries while incarcerated. “Dear Brother in the Lord, at a meeting…at Bro. McCain’s, last Sat. while Wm. Webber was preaching from James 2:18, Capt. James Montague, a magistrate came running toward him…followed by the parson of the parish and several others. The magistrate and another took hold of Bro. Webber, dragging him from the stage, delivered him with Brethren Wafford, Robert Ware, Richard Falkner, James Greenwood, and myself, into custody, and commanded that we should be brought before him for trial.

Bro. Wafford was severely scourged, and Bro. Henry Street received one lash from one of the persecutors…we were examined for firearms. We were charged with mutiny against the authority of the land. Finding none, we were asked if we had a license to preach in this county; and learning we had not, it was required of us to give bond and security not to preach anymore in the county, which we modestly refused to do, whereupon after dismissing Brother Wafford with the charge to make his escape out of the county by 12 o’clock the next day on pain of imprisonment, and dismissing Bro. Faulkner, the rest of us were delivered to the sheriff and sent to close jail, with a charge not to allow us to walk in the air until court day. Yesterday we had a large number of people hear us preach, some great ones heard us preach on the new birth.

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Prayer for Persecutors and Freedom


The Separate Baptists in Virginia had divided into two associations for the convenience of the messengers, and on May 14, 1774, the Southern District met in the Banister Baptist Church of Halifax County. There they transacted one of the most important aspects of an associational ministry, a phase that is all but dead among us in these days. For three or four years there had been severe persecutions against the Baptists in many parts of Virginia. Letters were received at their association from preachers confined in prison, particularly from David Tinsley, then in the Chesterfield jail. The hearts of their brethren were affected at their sufferings, in consequence of which they: “Agreed to set apart the second and third Saturdays in June as public fast days, in behalf of our poor blind persecutors, and for the releasement of our brethren.”


Those two days of prayer were Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, June 18, 1774, and the saints prayed for the enlightenment of the spiritually blind persecutors and the freedom of their ministers. We ought not to be surprised to observe that during that decade, the Separate Baptists “achieved their greatest growth . . . with 221 churches and unconstituted local bodies with 9,842 members.” Some of the persecutors were converted and became Baptist preachers, and freedom of religion was gained for the whole state of Virginia.


Dr. Dale R. Hart: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 240.

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115 — April 25 – This Day in Baptist History Past

Beaten with rods
1832 – On this day the mortal remains of the colonial Baptist preacher, John Koontz, was laid to rest in the little family grave yard, not far from the Shenandoah River, in what later became,  Page  County, Virginia.  He was the first preacher to arouse perishing souls from their slumber in that area of the country.  He also aroused the enemy of the gospel too as they used every method to discourage him from proclaiming the gospel.  At Smith’s Creek he was threatened with beatings if he returned, but return he did, only to be beaten by a “son of Belial” with the butt end of a large cane, until he almost disabled the preacher.  But the preacher refused to promise that he would not return.  Later he was in a home with a companion named Martin Kaufman, waiting for the service to start, when Koontz heard a man inquiring about him, he stepped into another room, the man mistaking Kaufman for him, began beating him until they could convince him that he wasn’t the preacher.  On another occasion Koontz was imprisoned, a man trying to rescue him was beaten.   Koontz warned them to take heed what they did because if he was a man of God, they would be fighting against God. Immediately one of the men was alarmed and relented, soon the others followed and it wasn’t long until that man and two or three of the others became Baptists themselves.  According to Dr. E. Wayne Thompson, who has been there, West of Luray, Virginia, on U.S. Route 211 is the “White House Bridge.”  It is named for a white house which can be seen a few hundred yards downriver.  John Koontz and the early Baptists met in this house and ultimately planted the Mill Creek Baptist Church in 1772.  In a nearby gravesite beside the highway lies the body of John Koontz’s companion, Martin Kaufman.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, p. 167.
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