Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The settlement of America as a nation was "as Israel of old"

I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their counsels, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.
- Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father and third president of the United States, Second Inaugural Address, Mar. 4, 1805.


Jonathan Rowe said...
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Jonathan Rowe said...

Yes the theistic rationalist Jefferson -- like all theistic rationalists -- was comfortable with a benevolent, unitary, political liberty granting Jehovah: the God all good men of all world religions worshipped.

Tom Van Dyke said...

More to the point, that hardly a man alive didn't see the American Founding as a self-evident miracle, even Jefferson.

People in the 21st laugh at the idea of miracles, even religious people

but it's a shame they can't put themselves in the Founders' shoes. The Founding era's "theistic rationalists" were more religious than some of today's evangelicals, and that's the lesson of this one.

Great quotes lately, Mark. I've been spreading them here and there over the internet as the occasion arises. People--even historians--don't get it.

Mark D. said...

Tom, that's right -- even for the Founders who were the least conventionally religious, like Jefferson and Franklin, they were far more religious in their worldview than many moderns, even moderns who by current standards are quite devout. Jefferson's revision of the Gospels, for example, still is filled with supernaturalism.

Glad that the quotes are appreciated. They are given not to try to say "aha, the Founders really were evangelicals!" because that would be silly. They are given to try to open up a little of the worldview that many of the Founders shared about the basis of American independence -- that it was a gift that came from a benevolent deity who was active in human affairs, a deity who was recognizable as the God familiar to those who came out of the broadly Protestant religious traditions of the American colonies and early Republic.