Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sandefur: "John Adams insists the American constitutions were not divinely inspired"

We've seen this quotation before; but it's always worth a revisit. A taste:
It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the inspiration of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.... Neither the people, nor their conventions, committees, or sub-committees, considered legislation in any other light than as ordinary arts and sciences, only more important.
John Adams, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, reprinted in 4 Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams 292 (1851).

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Not quite the whole story. Both Washington and Madison said it seemed that accomplishing the Constitution was a result of divine assistance, although nobody to my knowledge claimed the content was.

For one thing, it still permitted slavery. I would think those religious men who were revolted at that fact believed the Constitution's content was far less than divine.


“It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the delegates from so many different states (which states you know are also different from each other in their manners, circumstances, and prejudices) should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well-founded objections.”---GWash, to Lafayette

"The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world.
---James Madison"

"No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. "---GWash, 1st Inaugural

"Adding to these considerations the natural diversity of human opinions on all new and complicated subjects, it is impossible to consider the degree of concord which ultimately prevailed as less than a miracle."---Madison, to Jefferson

Here's a Mormon take: