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u The name of Republic will be exalted, until every neighbor, yield- 
ing to irresistible attraction, seeks new life in becoming part of the 
great whole; and the national example will be more puissant than 
army and navy for the conquest of the world." CHARLES SUMNER'S 
41 Prophetic Voices Concerning America." 

Second Edition Revised 


3be Ikntcftcrbocfcer press 



Second Edition 



TTbe ftnfcfeerboefcer rm, Dew |?orft 




THIS book was first published in 1885, and 
two editions were exhausted shortly there- 
after. The present edition has been corrected 
and revised by the addition of some new ma- 
terial, by reconstructing the concluding pages, 
and by incorporating an introductory historical 
essay, written for the French edition, by the 
late M. Emile de Laveleye, the eminent Belgian 
publicist and professor of the University of 


THE reasons why the people in the thirteen 
American colonies, when they dissolved their 
connection with Great Britain, adopted as their 
form of polity a Democratic Republic, are usu- 
ally taken for granted and accepted as a matter 
of course. I have nowhere been able to find 
more than a passing allusion to this important 
subject. During the winter of 1883-4, I de- 
livered two lectures, one in the city of New 
York and the other before the Long Island 
Historical Society in the city of Brook- 
lyn. The interest awakened by these lec- 
tures induced me to further investigate the 
subject and embody the result in a more per- 
manent form. That this little treatise is ex- 
haustive of the subject is not claimed, but some 
facts are presented which I trust may be deemed 
worthy of consideration. The older and more 
permanent our government becomes, the greater 
will be the interest that attaches to its origin 


viii Preface. 

and development. Historians have traced the 
various stages of this development, but I am 
not aware that it has ever been attempted 
to present the reasons why the Republican 
form of government was selected in preference 
to every other form of polity. I have been led 
to ascribe its origin mainly to ecclesiastical 
causes, which operated from the time the Pil- 
grims set foot upon our continent, and to the 
direct and indirect influence of the Hebrew 
Commonwealth. Through the windows of the 
Puritan churches of New England the new 
West looked back to the old East. 



The influence of religion on political institutions 
Primitive Christian communities democratic Ro- 
manism and monarchy The Reformation was a 
return to primitive Christianity France of to-day 
suffers from the consequences of St. Bartholomew 
The influences of Hebraism. 




Other revolutions Forms of government in the various 
colonies Passing of stamp act Action of colonial 
assemblies First colonial congress Petition to the 
king Declaration of Independence Revolutions of 
1688 and 1776 " Divine right " of kings Important 
questions of political development Course of William 
III. Authorities for doctrine of " divine right." 


Desire for independence of slow growth in the colonies 

Nationality of the various colonists Contributions of 

colonists to England Ambition of England Molasses 



act and its results Birth of independence Greed of 
England Stamp-act congress American sympathies 
in England Franklin before the House of Commons 
Resistance to parliamentary encroachments Boston 
massacre Boston tea party Port bill England's 
treatment of Canada Action on port bill. 


Distinction between Puritans and Pilgrims Colonists 
not adventurers Roger Williams Settlement of 
Rhode Island Its Jewish form of government 
Religious intolerance in Virginia and Massachusetts 
Acts of Virginia Assembly Attempt to erect an 
episcopate in the colonies Parsons' salaries in Vir- 
ginia Attitude of different sects toward revolution 
Sects in the various colonies Protestant majority in 


Disturbances in England not felt by the colonies 
Bible and theocracy in New England Cotton Mather 
Hebrew commonwealth as a model of government 
Election-day sermons English commonwealth and 
its failure Other republics. 


Primitive Christians Catholicism Union of church 
and state Doctrine of " divine right " Execution of 
Charles I. Church of England Episcopalians in 

Contents. xi 


Model for United States History of children of Israel 
Separation of church and state Recognition of civil 
equality Theocratic government not in the hands of 
priests Division of Hebrew government The ' ' con- 
gregation" Sidney on Hebrew government Laws of 



This influence not always recognized Jonathan 
Mayhew Other sermons Americans compared to 
Israelites in many discourses Hebrew commonwealth 
also held up as a model in political writings Offer of 
the soldiers to Washington Monarchical party spirit 
Thomas Paine Device for seal Conclusions. 



[Translated from the French edition.] 

IN studying the science of institutions and 
governments, most writers have failed to recog- 
nize that overwhelming influence exercised by -/ 
the religious ideas of the people in the shaping 
and in the practical working of political con- 
stitutions. Recently, Count de Franqueville, 
in a careful work treating upon the subject of 
government in England, stated that Protestant- 
ism had in no way contributed to the develop- 
ment of English liberty. 

It was Montesquieu, however, who said, 
' The Catholic religion is better adapted to a ^ , 
monarchy, Protestantism the better suited to 
a republic." I do not think this truth has 
been more clearly demonstrated than by Ed- 
gard Quinet in his " Revolution Franchise." 


xiv Introductory Essay. 

Here the author shows that the prodigious 
/ effort made by France to obtain and organize 
liberty simply ended with the Caesarism of 
Napoleon. The reason for this was that 
political reform did not have for its founda- 
tion the principle of religious reform. 

To-day we can demonstrate by evidence 
what intelligent thinkers only began to discern 
in the eighteenth century, because the decisive 
influence which forms of worship had, not only 
on politics but also on political economy, was 
not visible then. To-day this principle shines 
forth, throwing increasing light on contempo- 
raneous events. The influence which religion 
f exercises on man is so profound that its con- 
stant tendency must be to shape State in- 
stitutions in forms borrowed from religious 
organization. * * * A question so often 
asked is this: " Why have there been success- 
ful revolutions in the Low Countries, in Eng- 
land, in America, while the French Revolution 
came to naught ?" M. Guizot has written a 
monograph to elucidate this subject which, 
thoroughly replying to the question, contains 
the secret which rules our destinies. On my 
part I do not hesitate in saying this much : It 

Introductory Essay. xv 

is because in the first of these examples revo- 
lutions were carried out in Protestant countries, 
and on that account were successful. In the 
other case, it failed because the country was 

Voltaire, before this, said as much. He 
asked: " How is it that the governments of 
France and England are as different as those 
of Morocco or Venice ? Is it -not because the 
English, always wrangling with Rome, finally 
shook off a hateful yoke, while a lighter- 
minded people pretended to laugh and dance 
in their chains ? " Voltaire spoke the truth, 
but did he not excite to laughter and lead in 
the dance ? There was a closer touch between 
France and England when the French freed 
themselves from the yoke of the Church. 

Wherever the sovereign lays claim to di- 
vine right, there liberty cannot be established. 
The reasons are evident. The power which 
talks and acts in the name of God is necessa- 
rily absolute. Orders from Heaven are not to 
be discussed. Simple mortals can only bow 
and obey. I know of no exception to this 
rule. * * * Primitive Christianity favored 
most particularly the establishment of liberal 

xvi Introductory Essay. 

and democratic institutions. Doubtless, on 
its ascetic side, it detached man from his 
worldly interests, while it did not lessen his 
claims as a citizen. But in elevating and puri- 
fying morals he became better fitted for self- 
government and a free existence. During the 
early centuries in Christian communities there 
was perfect equality, because all the power 
was derived from the people, whose decision 
and opinion controlled the government. There 
were no purer democratic republics than the 
primitive Christian communities. Accordingly, 
when the Presbyterians of the sixteenth century 
returned to their old Church organization, they 
could not help but found a State with republi- 
can institutions. * * * 

The history of the institution of the Church 
shows a steady progress towards concentration 
of power. Drawing itself away from that de- 
mocracy, that equality of early Christianity, the 
Church has finally in the nineteenth century 
become the exponent of papal infallibility; a 
more complete despotism than this it would 
be difficult to imagine. It was a democratic 
republic at the start, but at the finish an aris- 
tocracy of bishops independent of the Pope. If 

Introductory Essay. xvii 

civil society tends to mould itself within the 
lines of a religious association, the facts show 
that it is invariably under the control of a 
despotic absolutism. It is so understood by 
the partisans of the Church. 

Bossuet, in his " Politique Tire de 1'ficri- 
ture Sainte," traces those conditions which 
must exist in a Catholic country. " God 
established kings as His ministers, and through 
them He reigns over the people." " Royal 
authority is absolute." " The prince need 
render account to no one for his actions." 
!< Princes must be obeyed as you would obey 
the dictates of justice." ' They are the gods 
and participate in some way in divine inde- 
pendence." " As for the subjects, who may 
oppose the violence of a prince, they may 
only remonstrate in a respectful manner, but 
without mutiny or murmur." 

The logical deduction from all this must be, 
that in a Catholic country the government is 
necessarily despotic ; first, because such is the 
manner of the Church ; secondly, because kings 
held, as it was taught, their power direct from 
God or the Pope, which power could be neither 
curtailed nor controlled. 

xviii Introductory Essay. 

Bossuet, in his own singularly pompous and 
vigorous language, gives the definition of a 
monarchy formed in accordance with Roman 
Catholic tradition, just as it shaped itself from 
the Rome of the Caesars and the popes. 

4 You must obey the prince, as you would 
justice itself. Princes are gods and somehow 
participate in divine independence. As in 
God is united all perfection, so in the personal- 
ity of the prince is the concentration of all 
power. If God were to withdraw His hand, 
the world would lapse into chaos. Were 
authority to cease in the kingdom, all would 
fall into confusion. Bethink you of the king 
in his closet. From thence speed the orders 
which govern the magistrates, the officers, the 
provinces, and the armies. It is the semblance 
of God, seated on His throne in the heavenly 
heights, commanding all the forces of nature. 
The wicked may try to hide their heads, but 
the light of God follows them everywhere. 
This is why God gives the prince the power of 
discovering all secret wiles. His eyes and 
hands are everywhere. The birds in the sky 
tell him all that happens. He has received 
from God a certain circumspection which is 


The first design of the Seal of the United States, recom- 
mended by Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson, the Committee 
appointed immediately after the Declaration of Independence 
had been read, July 4, 1 776. 

[From a drawing by Benj. J. Lossing from the description ] 
(See p. 140) 

Introductory Essay. xix 

akin to a divine penetration. If he discovers 
an intrigue, his arms are so long that he can 
seize his enemies. From the most remote 
regions of the world he can drag them from the 
bottom of abysses. There is no refuge from 
such a power.'* 

The Reformation, on the contrary, was a 
return to primitive Christianity, and above all 
towards the democracy of the prophets of the 
Old Testament, which was alive with the / 
breath of liberty and resistance to absolutism. 
It tended towards the birth of republican and 
constitutional institutions. 

The Protestant acknowledges in his religion 
but a single authority, that of the Bible. He 
would not bow before the authority of a man 
as would the Catholic. He examines, he dis- 
cusses all questions for himself. 

Calvinists, Presbyterians, having reestab- 
lished republicanism within the Church, the 
Protestants in logical sequence brought into l^ 
their social polity the same principles and 
habits. The charge brought by Lamennais 
against the Reformers is perfectly true. He 
said : " They denied that power was derivable 
from religious bodies. It followed that they 

xx Introductory Essay. 

also denied that power was derivable from 
political bodies. They substituted in both 
cases such reason and will as man might pos- 
sess, in opposition to the reason and will of 
God. Hence, man was independent, and bent 
on perfect liberty. He was his own master, 
his own king, his own God." 

Luther and Calvin did not advocate resist- 
ance to tyranny ; they rather condemned it and 
extolled obedience. Neither did they admit 
the fullest liberty of conscience. Despite 
them, however, the principle of political and 
religious liberty, that of the sovereignty of the 
people, is the logical outcome of the Reforma- 
tion. The proof of this was discoverable in 
the natural fruitage. The writers of the Ref- 
ormation invariably advocated the rights of 
the people, and wherever Protestantism tri- 
umphed, there free institutions were estab- 
lished. Their enemies were not deceived. 
They declared it an evil thing, this union of 
reform and liberty. 

' The Reformers," said a Venetian envoy 
in France during the sixteenth century, 
" preached that the king has no authority 
over his subjects. This way of thinking must 

Introductory Essay. xxi 

lead them towards a government something 
like that existing in Switzerland and to the de- 
struction of monarchical form of government." ! 

Montluc wrote: " The Ministers preach that 
kings have no other power but that which 
pleases the people. Others preach that the 
nobility are no better than they are. That is 
the spirit of this liberal Calvinism which tends 
towards equality." a 

Tavannes, time and time again, notes the 
democratic tendency of the Huguenots. 
' They are republicans within the royal states, 
having means of their own, with their soldiery, 
their distinct finances, and bent on establishing 
a popular and democratic government." 3 

The great jurist Dumoulin denounced the 
Protestant pastors before the Parliament. He 
said: " They have no other desire than to re- 
duce France into a popular state, and to make 
it a republic like Geneva. They are trying to 
abolish hereditary rights by placing on an 
equal footing the lowest-born with the most 
exalted. They think that all men, as the 

1 M. Laurent, " La Revolution Franchise," t. I., 2, ^[ 3. 

2 Blaise de Montluc, " Collection de Memoires de Petitot." 

3 Tavannes, meme collection, t. XXIII., 72. 

xxii Introductory Essay. 

children of Adam, are equal by divine and 
natural law." 

The thoughts attributed to the Reformers 
have the same fundamental ideas as those of 
the Revolution. If France had adopted them 
in the sixteenth century she would have en- 
joyed liberty, self-government, and would have 
kept to them. 

In 1622 Gregory XV. wrote to the King of 
France, begging him to end the quarrel in 
Geneva, which was then the headquarters of 
Calvinism and republicanism. In France, after 
the death of King Henry IV., the Duke de 
Rohan, who was a Huguenot, wanted to form 
a republic, declaring that the time for kings 
had passed away. 

The reproach has been cast on the Protestant 
nobility for seeking to split up France into 
petty republican states like Switzerland, and 
the chief merit of the Ligue so it was argued 
consisted in having maintained French 
unity. What the Huguenots wanted were, un- 
questionably, local autonomy, decentralization, 
and a federal system which would foster com- 
munal and provincial liberty. That is what 
France is endeavoring in vain to establish to- 

Introductory Essay. xxiii 

day. It was the blind passion for unity and 
uniformity which wrecked the Revolution, and 
which too often caused France to revert to 
despotism. Calvin wished that " the ministers 
of the Sacred Writ should be elected by the 
consent and with the approbation of the 
people, and that pastors should preside over 
the elections." That was the system Calvin- 
ists wanted to introduce into France. 

l< In the year 1620," says Tavannes, " their 
state was certainly a democratic one, with 
mayors and ministers holding all authority. 
They did not belong to the noble class. Had 
they accomplished their purpose, the condition 
of France would have become about the same 
as that of Switzerland, with the abolition of 
princes and of the gentry." 

No sooner had the Reform placed the gos- 
pel in the hands of the peasants, than they 
clamored in the name of Christian liberty for 
the abolition of serfdom and a recognition of 
their ancient privileges. Everywhere claims 
were advanced for natural rights, liberty, toler- 
ance, and the sovereignty of the people. The 
writings of the period show this condition of 
thought. There may be cited, among many 

xxiv Introductory Essay. 

publications of the time, a celebrated pamphlet 
written by Languet, " Junii Bruti Celtae vin- 
diciae contra tyrannos, de principe in populum 
populique in principem legitima potestate." 
In the dialogue he writes about " the author- 
ity of the prince and the liberty of the peo- 
pie." ' 

These ideas, which stand at the base of 
modern liberty, always found their most elo- 
quent defenders in Protestantism. Jurieu, the 
minister, stood as their champion against Bos- 
suet in a celebrated debate. Locke was their 
exponent in a scientific form. Montesquieu, 
Voltaire, and other political writers of the 
eighteenth century all borrowed arguments 
from Locke, and from them was born the 
French Revolution. But long before that, 
these ideas had found their application, and 
with lasting effect, in Protestant States. First 
it came about in Holland, then in England, 
and above all in America. 

The famous Edict of July 16, 1581, in which 
the States-General of the Low Countries pro- 
claimed the forfeiture of the King of Spain, is 

1 " Memoires de 1'Etat de France sous Charles IX.," t. III., 
57-64. See also " Revolution Fran9aise," I., 345. 

Introductory Essay. xxv 

the clearest consecration of the sovereignty of 
the people. To dethrone a king it was neces- 
sary to invoke this principle : " Subjects are 
not created by God for the prince, so that the 
prince must be obeyed in all matters and 
things, according to his pleasure, but rather 
the prince depends on his subjects, and over 
these he may not be the prince save to govern 
them according to right and reason." The 
edict went on further to say that the people, 
in order to escape from the tyranny of a 
despot, were forced to withdraw their obedi- 
ence. " There remains no other method 
whereby we may conserve and defend our 
ancient liberty, our women, children, and our 
descendants, in whose behalf, in accordance 
with the laws of nature, we are ready to risk 
our lives and our means." 

In England the Revolution of 1648 was car- 
ried out on the same principles. Milton and 
other republicans of that epoch defended these 
principles with admirable vigor and spirit. 

It has been our custom to honor the famous 
principles of '89 as born of the French Revo- 
lution. This is a decided historical error. In 
France eloquent discourses have been devoted 

xxvi Introductory Essay. 

to this subject. It is only recently that the 
most sacred of all rights, liberty of conscience, 
has been respected. 1 Puritans and Quakers, 
proclaimed and practised it two hundred years 
before in America, and it is from there and 
England that Europe took the idea, towards 
the close of the eighteenth century. 

As early as 1620 the constitution of Virginia 
established a representative government, trial 
by jury, and the principle that taxes should 
be only voted for by those who had to pay 
them. * * * A man arose (1633) who 
claimed not alone tolerance, but complete 
equality in all worship before the civil law, 
and on this principle he founded a State. The 
man was Roger Williams, and his name, barely 
known in our continent, is worthy of being 
inscribed among the benefactors of humanity. 
He it was who first spoke out for liberty of 
conscience in a world which for four thousand 
years had been steeped in the blood of intoler 
ance. Descartes had declared only in favor of 
free research in philosophy. Roger Williams 
was the champion of religious liberty as a 

1 See a very instructive article by Prevost-Paradol, Revue 
des Deux Mondes, 1858. 

Introductory Essay. xxvii 

political right. " Persecution for cause of con- 
science," he said, " is most evidently and 
lamentably contrary to the doctrine of Jesus 
Christ." ' He who commands the ship of 
state can maintain order on board and conduct 
his vessel into port, even though the entire 
crew does not attend divine service." ' The 
civil magistrate's power extends only to the 
bodies and goods and outward estate of men ; 
it cannot intervene in matters of faith, even 
to stop a church from apostasy and heresy." 
' The removal of the yoke of soul-oppression 
will prove an act of mercy and righteousness 
to the enslaved nations, so it is of binding 
force to engage the whole and every interest 
and conscience to preserve the common liberty 
and peace." 

In Bancroft's admirable history you may 
read how Roger Williams founded the city of 
Providence in the State of Rhode Island, on 
principles then unknown in Europe, save per- 
haps in the Low Countries. In 1641, when the 
constitution was established, all the citizens 
were called on to vote. The founders styled 
themselves a " democracy," and it was one in 
the fullest sense, just as Rousseau afterwards 

xxviii Introductory Essay. 

understood it. The people directly governed 
themselves. All citizens, without distinction 
of belief, were equals before the law, and all 
the laws were confirmed in the popular assem- 
blies. It was the most radical self-government 
ever known among human societies, and it has 
lasted for over two centuries without trouble 
and without revolution. 

The Quakers in Pennsylvania and New Jer- 
sey founded their States on similar principles. 
The power dwells with the people. " We put 
the power in the people." That is the basis 
of the New Jersey constitution. The principal 
clauses are as follows: No man, nor assem- 
blage of men, has power over conscience. No 
one at any time nor under any pretext can be 
persecuted or harmed in any manner whatever 
on account of his religious opinions. The 
General Assembly is to be named by secret 
ballot. Every man may elect and be elected. 
Electors give their deputies obligatory instruc- 
tions. Should a deputy not fulfil his functions 
he can be prosecuted. Ten commissioners, 
elected by the Assembly, exercise executive 
functions. Judges and constables are elected 
by the people for two years. Judges preside 

Introductory Essay. xxix 

over the jury, but the deciding power is exer- 
cised by the twelve citizens composing it. No 
one can suffer imprisonment for debt. Or- 
phans are cared for at the expense of the State. 
Instruction is a public service paid for by the 
State. Almost similar principles were carried 
out in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. 

That man is his own master, that he is free, 
that no one can claim service of him, or make 
a demand on him without his own consent, and 
that government, justice, and all other powers 
are derived from the people, this, as an assem- 
blage of principles which modern society strives 
to enforce, is derived from German tradition. 
The origin of them all is found among most 
races before the development of royal powers. 
These principles, smothered in the Middle Ages 
by feudalism, and after the fifteenth century 
by centralization and absolute monarchism, 
were only kept alive in Switzerland, England, 
Holland, and in the United States. This"! 
breath of democracy was due to the Reforma- 
tion and to Hebraism, and it was only in j 
the Protestant countries that these were 
maintained, and gave to the people order and 
prosperity. If France had not persecuted, 

xxx Introductory Essay. 

slaughtered, exiled, her own offspring who 
were converts to Protestantism, she would have 
developed those germs of liberty and of self- 
government such as have been preserved in 
provincial States. This as a truth was abso- 
lutely established in a book written by M. 
Gustave Garrison a number of years ago. 
Recent investigations and current events bring 
every year additional arguments in support of 

In the assemblies held at Rochelle, Gren- 
oble, the States-General of Orleans, the spirit 
of liberty, the true parliamentary spirit, as- 
serted itself as positively as it did in the Eng- 
lish Parliament. There may be found uttered 
V in the clear-cut, strong voice of Calvin, those 
very words which were so telling in the interest 
of religion and state polity. 

' We will know how to defend against the 
King our cities without a king," said the 
Huguenots. . There can be no question that 
had they triumphed, the Huguenots would 
have founded a constitutional monarchy, such 
as England had, or a federal republic, as ex- 
isted in the Low Countries. Had the French 
nobility kept their spirit of independence, that 

Introductory Essay. xxxi 

opposition within the law which had been 
borrowed from Protestantism would have put 
limits to the royal power, and France would 
have escaped the oriental despotism of Louis 
XV. and his successors. These kings demol- 
ished the best characteristics of the nobles. 

M. Quinet, in his work on the Revolution, 
pronounces a severe but just judgment on the 
French nobility of the epoch. " Having sold 
their religious faith, how could they establish 
political faith ? In the Fronde the nobility lack- 
ing ambition showed their spirit for intrigue. 
Rebelling against Mazarin they prostrated 
themselves at once when the King appeared. 
The fraud of their pretensions was evident. 
They never guided the French towards liberty." 

Francis I., when he gave the signal for the 
prosecution of the Reformers; Henry IV. in 
abjuring Protestantism, betrayed, as did the 
nobility, the true interests of France. That 
saying, " Paris vaut bien une messe," which 
the majority of French historians regard as 
indicative of practical sense, is revolting in its 
cynicism. To sell yourself, to deny your faith 
for material advantages, is certainly an act 
which any honest man must scorn. 

xxxii Introductory Essay. 

France suffers to-day from this spirit 'as from 
the dire consequences of St. Bartholomew and 
the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Never 
were there more terrible attacks made on lib- 
erty of conscience. 

What France is most in need of are men, 
who, though they may not break with the tra- 
ditions of the past, must nevertheless accept 
the new ideas. Republicans are generally 
hostile or indifferent to all ideas of religion, 
just as were our ancestors, or the revolution- 
ists of the last century. They are without that 
foundation on which they can build a solid edi- 
fice. Those, again, who defend religious ideas 
wish to live under the old regime, and throw 
obstacles in the way of all reform. 

All modern people yearn for the establish- 
ment of a representative and constitutional sys- 
tem. This English system, the seeds of which 
were first grown in the soil of the ancient 
Germanic constitution which gave life to Prot- 
estantism, does not seem capable of being 
transplanted so as to thrive in a Catholic 
country. * * * 

Mr. Oscar S. Straus, Minister of the United 
States, gives in a most interesting work 

Introductory Essay. xxxiii 

the proofs of that great influence which the 
remembrance of the Old Testament wrought 
on the liberties of the English colonies in 
North America, and how it shaped the form 
of government adopted by them. 

At the period of the American Revolution 
education was limited. There were not many 
newspapers, and they were rarely issued more 
than once a week. The number of subscribers 
was but few. It was the pulpit which took 
their place. Pastors in their sermons dealt 
with politics not less than with religion. Ser- 
mons were, for the people, the principal sources 
of general instruction. These pastors in the 
way of history knew above all that of the 
Jewish people. It was in the Bible they un- 
ceasingly sought both inspiration and example. 
" If the United States has become republican, 
it is due to the fact," writes Mr. Straus, " that 
the Hebrew Commonwealth presented to these 
pastors the model of a Democratic Republic." 

Sir Henry Maine, in his " Popular Govern- 
ment," states that the republican form of gov- 
ernment was discredited towards the close of 
the eighteenth century. Notwithstanding the 
genius of a Cromwell, the English Republic 
brought about the restoration of the Stuarts. 

xxxiv Introductory Essay. 

The greater part of the small continental 
republics were but oligarchies like Venice. 
The United Provinces of the Low Countries 
were in rapid decline. This is what Franklin 
said: " We have examined the different forms 
of those republics, which, having been origi- 
nally formed with the seed of their own dis- 
solution, now no longer exist, and we have 
viewed modern States all round Europe, but 
find none of their constitutions suitable to our 
circumstances." ' 

Before the colonists was the primitive con- 
stitution of the Hebrews. Algernon Sidney, 
whose discourses on government were familiar 
to the founders of the American federation, 
had eulogized this constitution. " This gov- 
ernment is composed of three organisms, be- 
sides the magistrates of the several tribes and 
cities: they had a chief magistrate who was 
\ called a judge, and a council composed of sev- 
enty chosen men, and the general assembly of 
the people." 

Is this not an illustration of the three organ- 
isms of the American Constitution, the Presi- 
dent, the Senate, and a popular Chamber ? 
The first question to be answered was this: Had 

1 Bigelow's "Franklin," III., 388. 

Introductory Essay. xxxv 

the people a right to rebel against the power of 
the King of England ? The doctrine of divine 
right and absolute submission was upheld by 
the Established Church, and it advanced cer- 
tain passages in St. Paul and the Evangelists 
recommending obedience to the established 
powers. But the Puritans fought against this, 
the teaching of servitude, and invoked the in- 
spired words which resounded with the de- 
mocracy of the prophets and of Samuel: 
" Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." 

Here is an extract from a sermon delivered 
by a famous preacher, Jonathan Mayhew, in 
Boston, May, 1766. It gives an idea of that 
language which, spoken in the pulpit, fired the 
souls of the people in resisting oppression : 

God gave Israel a king in his anger, be- 
cause they had not sense and virtue enough to 
like a free commonwealth and to have Himself 
for their king where the spirit of the Lord is 
there is liberty." 

A theologian who then enjoyed great re- 
nown, Samuel Langdon, President of Harvard 
College, in a famous sermon delivered before 
the Massachusetts Congress, May 31, 1775, 
thus expresses himself: 

xxx vi Introductory Essay. 

' The Jewish government, according to the 
original constitution, which was divinely estab- 
lished, if considered merely in a civil view was 
a perfect republic, and let those who cry up 
the divine right of kings consider that the 
form of government which had a proper claim 
to a divine establishment was so far from in- 
cluding the idea of a king, that it was a high 
crime for Israel to ask to be in this respect like 
other nations, and when they were thus grati- 
fied it was rather as a just punishment for their 

In another sermon delivered before the 
Massachusetts Congress, Simeon Howard, the 
pastor, took for his text the words of Exodus 
xviii., 2: " Thou shalt provide out of all thy 
people able men, such as fear God, men of 
truth, hating covetousness, and place such over 
them to be rulers." ' This shows that the 
Israelites always exercised the right of electing 
the chiefs of their nation." 

The famous Tom Paine, so well known for 
his enthusiasm for the French Revolution, 
which he expressed with such eloquence in 
Paris, wrote in his book on "Common Sense," 
the one which Washington admired: " That 

Introductory Essay. xxxvii 

the Almighty hath here entered his protest 
against monarchical government is true, or the 
Scriptures are false." 

There is a curious fact which shows how 
thoroughly the men of the American Revolu- 
tion were inspired by the remembrance of the 
Old Testament. There was a committee ap- 
pointed on the very day of the Declaration of 
Independence, whose duty it was to choose the 
legend and the design for the seal of the 
United States. The design was to represent 
the Egyptians engulfed in the waters of the 
Red Sea, and Moses guiding the Jews, and 
commanding the waters to close over Pharaoh. 
The motto selected was : ' ' Rebellion to tyrants 
is obedience to God." The committee was 
composed of Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson. 

Such are some of the instructive proofs Mr. 
Straus brings to bear in a thesis, which I think 
may be considered as fully demonstrated by 

At the same time it must not be forgotten 
that in order to establish free societies and 
self-government, Americans had only to de- 
velop those forms of popular government which 
they derived from their Anglo-Saxon ancestors. 

xxxviii Introductory Essay. 

These they revived with their essentially demo- 
cratic characteristics in the new land. The 
General Assembly of the township is nothing 
else than the old tunscip of the Saxons, where 
men free and united administered for them- 
selves their general business, in accordance 
with the formula recorded by Tacitus in his 
" Germania, " " De minoribus principes con- 
sultant, de majoribus omnes." This is a point 
which Professor Edward Freeman has pre- 
sented in its fullest sense in his work, " An 
Introduction to the American Constitutional 
History." The sources of the republican gov- 
ernment of the United States are the Bible 
and the political institutions of the Germans. 

To conclude, I do not think I could do bet- 
ter than by reproducing the few words which 
M. Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu puts in the mouth 
of an Israelite who is supposably present at a 
banquet celebrating the centenary of 1789. 
This article, written by an eminent French- 
man, is purely an imaginative sketch, but it 
puts in the cleverest way and in striking relief 
a great truth. 

" The whole year 1789 contains the germ of 
Hebraism. The idea of right and social justice 

Introductory Essay. xxxix 

is an Israelitish idea. The advent of justice 
on this earth has been the dream of our people. 
To find the first source of man's rights, we 
must go back farther than the Reform or 
the Renaissance, farther back even than an- 
tiquity or the Gospel, as far back as the Bible, 
the Thora, and the prophets. Our rabbis, the 
Isaiahs and Jeremiahs, were the first revolu- 
tionists. They announced that the hills should 
be levelled, the valleys filled up. All modern 
revolutions have been the echo of that voice 
which reverberated in Ephraim. We were still 
herded in the ghetto, on our shoulders was 
still bound a yellow cord of infamy, when 
Christianity sought in our sacred writings the 
startling principles of its revolutions. From 
our Bible came the Reformation. From it 
came the inspirations of the poor wretches of 
the Low Countries. Puritans in England and 
America appropriated the language of our 
judges and prophets. To the Bible belongs 
the success of those revolutions, of those 
Anglo-Saxons who boast of being your mas- 
ters. That superiority they owe to a better 
acquaintance with Israel. The Huguenots 
and the Bible would have triumphed in France 

xl Introductory Essay. 

if only the Revolution had burst forth a cen- 
tury earlier, and in that event it would have 
had a different issue. 

" Liberty, equality, the fraternity of man 
and of the people, find in the Thora their only 
solid base, the unity of the human race. 

" In teaching that all men descended from 
one Adam and one Eve, the Bible proclaimed 
that all were free, equal, and brothers. So in 
the principles of the Revolution our hopes are 
the same. For this unity, this fraternity, our 
prophets show us, have been ours in the past, 
as they must be in the future. They were 
Israel's ideals. The Revolution with its 
hopes is in its issue nothing more than the 
actual testamentary execution of the will of 
Isaiah. Social renovation, equality of rights, 
the uplifting of the lowly, the suppression of 
privileges, of class barriers, the brotherhood of 
races, everything aimed at or dreamed of by 
the Revolution, was proclaimed some twenty- 
five centuries ago by our own true believers. 
The reconstruction of Jerusalem, the reign 
of the son of David described in glorious 
parables, these are what the Revolution aspires 
to. It is under this mystic form that the 

Introductory Essay. xli 

regeneration, the pacification of human society, 
the coming of the age of reason, the develop- 
ment of wealth and comfort, the miracles of 
industry, of science, the changes in the face of 
this earth, are presaged." 

For my part I am convinced that future 
events will show more and more all that hu- 
manity owed in the past and will owe in the 
future to the people of Israel, though there 
be still some misguided persons who are un- 
grateful, and who would drive them into the 




My purpose in these $Sage,s 'its to trace the 
denouement of the last* act; of; tke j gr^a*. dfaftia 
of Empire, the origin ot Republican Form of 
Government in the United States of America. 
Revolutions similar in many respects to the 
American Revolution had, before the latter 
occurred, taken place in the history of nations. 
Prior revolutions, however, either terminated in 
failure, and are designated in history as rebel- 
lions, or when successful, had been so only to 
the extent of overthrowing the then dominant 
ruler and putting another in his place, who in a 
short time relapsed into the abuses of his pre- 
decessors, or else the change resulted in the 
formation of another type of government which 
contained within itself the same or similar ele- 

2 The American Colonies 

ments of tyranny and oppression. In the oft- 
quoted couplet : 

"For forms of government let fools contest, 
What e'er is best administered is best," 

the philosophical poet Pope, who was born in 
the year of the Revolution of 1688, expressed 
in proverbial phrase the experiences of the Eng- 
lish, who during the preceding generation had 
witnessed the establishment of no less than 
four distinct forms of government, which in 
this short space of time rapidly succeeded one 
another First, Absolutism under the guise of 
limited monarchy during the reign of Charles 
I., then Parliamentary government under the 
Long Parliament, then the Commonwealth, then 
Absolutism again under the last of the Stuarts, 
and finally Constitutional Monarchy under Wil- 
liam and Mary. All of these governments were 
administered with such a degree of partiality as 
to amount to persecution. The Anglicans, the 
Presbyterians, the Catholics, and Puritans were 
either persecutors or persecuted, as they hap- 
pened to be the dominant party or the reverse. 
The forms of government that existed in the 
various American colonies were a mixture of 
the monarchical and republican types that is to 

Prior to the Revolution. 3 

say, they were as nearly republican as it was 
possible to be and yet be circumscribed by 
royal charters and under the ultimate control of 
the King and Parliament of Great Britain. On 
the other hand they were as nearly monarchical 
as it was possible to be three thousand miles 
distant from the seat of authority. The com- 
plaints of the people in the colonies were at no 
time because of the form of their government, 
or of that of the mother country, but because of 
the encroachments upon, and utter disregard of, 
those natural rights, privileges, and immunities 
to which they deemed themselves entitled, 
equally with those residing in England. 

A brief outline of the colonial governments 
before the Revolution will give an idea in what 
respect they were republican and in what 
monarchical. In the settlement of the various 
colonies three distinct forms of government 
were established, arising from the diversity of 
circumstances under which the respective col- 
onies were settled, as well as from the various 
objects of the first settlers. These forms were 
known as the Provincial or Royal, the Proprie- 
tary, and the Charter. 

At the Revolution the Royal form existed in 

4 The American Colonies 

seven colonies, Virginia, New Hampshire, North 
Carolina, South Carolina, New York, New 
Jersey, and Georgia. Under it the King ap- 
pointed the Governor and Council for the prov- 
ince, the Assembly was elected by the people. 
The Council formed the upper house, the lower 
house being the Assembly. The Proprietary 
existed in three colonies, Maryland, Pennsyl- 
vania, and Delaware. It was in most respects 
similar to the Royal, with this difference mainly, 
that to the Proprietor, or person to whom the 
colony was granted, were delegated the powers 
of the King. The Charter governments were 
confined to the New England colonies. To 
these had been granted charters by the King, 
which gave them in substance the right of local 
self-government. In them the Governor, Coun- 
cil, and Assembly were originally, as a rule, 
chosen by the people. Whatever oppressions 
and encroachments upon their rights the colo- 
nists were made to suffer, came through those 
agencies of their respective forms of govern- 
ment which owed their existence to the King 
and Parliament. In the Charter forms, where 
those agencies did not exist, the King claimed 
ultimately the right, in opposition to the re- 

Prior to the Revolution. 5 

peated and firm protests of the colonists, to 
change, alter, and even to abrogate their charters 
at his pleasure. The New England, or Charter 
colonies, believing their liberties secure under 
the express provisions of their charters, natu- 
rally felt most aggrieved at the royal encroach- 
ments, and it was not singular that in these 
colonies the earliest and most determined spirit 
of independence should have been developed. 

The colonies were quite contented, so far as 
their government and connection with the 
mother country were concerned, until the pass- 
age of the Stamp Act. They had no desire for 
a government totally independent of England. 
In 1764 Virginia, in its appeal to Parliament 
and the King, declared that if the people could 
enjoy " their undoubted rights, their connec- 
tion with Britain, the seat of liberty, would be 
their great happiness." 

A separation from Great Britain was viewed 
with alarm and trepidation, and was not only 
opposed by the Tory party as a whole, but also 
by many Whigs, who feared it might lead to 
anarchy and its attendant evils. Many, again, 
especially in New York, New Jersey, Pennsyl- 
vania, and in the Southern colonies, were dis- 

6 The American Colonies 

posed to trust to the natural lapse of time to 
bring about redress of grievances. There was 
another class, who, while they favored separa- 
tion from the mother country, were positively 
opposed to Republicanism. 

The Pennsylvania Assembly (Nov. 9, 17/5), 
mainly through the instrumentality of Dickin- 
son, instructed its delegates in Congress to 
endeavor to restore harmony between Great 
Britain and her colonies : " We strictly enjoin 
you," is the language, " that you, in behalf of 
this colony, dissent from and utterly reject any 
propositions, should such be made, that may 
cause or lead to a separation from our mother 
country, or a change of the form of this gov- 
ernment." * 

The Assembly of New Jersey, on the 28th of 
November, directed its delegates " not to give 
their assent to, but utterly to reject, any propo- 
sitions, if such should be made, that may sepa- 
rate this colony from the mother country, or 
change the form of government thereof." 
Governor Franklin, of New Jersey, in his 
speech to the Assembly, November 16, 1775, 

'Reed's " Life of Reed," I., 155. Frothingham's "Rise 
of the Republic," p. 465. 

Prior to the Revolution. 7 

said : " As sentiments of independency are by 
some men of present consequence openly 
avowed, and essays are already appearing in 
the public papers to ridicule the people's fears 
of that horrid measure, and remove their 
aversions to republican government, it is high 
time every man should know what he has to 
expect." The Assembly, in reply, stated that 
it was aware of such sentiments, and that it 
had already expressed its detestation of such 
opinions. 1 The Maryland Assembly (which 
assembled) on the ^th of December, expressed 
similar views. The New York Provincial Con- 
gress, on the I4th of December, declared that, 
in their opinion, " none of the people of this 
colony had withdrawn their allegiance," and 
that their turbulent state did not arise " from 
any desire to become independent of the 
British Crown * * * but solely from the in- 
roads made on both by the oppressive Acts of 
the British Parliament," devised for enslaving 
the American colonies. 2 The Delaware As- 
sembly instructed its delegates to promote 

1 Pennsylvania Evening Post, Nov. 18, 1775. Fro thing- 
ham's " Rise of the Republic," p. 466, etc. 

a New York Constitutional Gazette, Dec. 16, 1775. 

8 The American Colonies 

By these and similar expressions, and by all 
the proceedings of the first Congress of dele- 
gates that met on the 5th of September, 1774, 
at Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia, it distinctly 
appears that the object sought to be attained 
was a redress of grievances and not the estab- 
lishment of a separate and independent govern- 
ment. This Congress in its address to the 
people of Great Britain directly denies any 
such purpose. It said : " You have been told 
that we are impatient of government and de- 
sirous of independence. These are calumnies. 
Permit us to be free as yourselves, and we shall 
ever esteem a union with you to be our greatest 
glory and our greatest happiness." And again, 
in the petition to the King written by Dickin- 
son, containing the ultimate decision of America, 
the Congress says : "Your royal authority over 
us and our connection with Great Britain we 
shall always support and maintain." And they 
besought the King " As the loving father of his 
whole people, his interposition for their relief, 
and a gracious answer to their petition." " We 
ask," they continued, "but for peace, liberty, 
and safety. We wish not a diminution of the 
prerogative, nor the grant of any new right." 

Prior to the Revolution. 9 

By the resolution of the Congress on the loth 
of May, 1776, it was resolved "to recommend to 
the respective assemblies and conventions of 
the United Colonies, where no government 
sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs had 
been established, to adopt such a government 
as should in the opinion of the representatives 
of the people, best conduce to the happiness 
and safety of their constituents in particular, 
and of America in general." ' President Adams, 
than whom no one more clearly understood the 
temper of the American people, nor could better 
read the signs of the times, in his inaugural ad- 
dress delivered 4th of March, 1797, said : " When 
it was first perceived in early times that no middle 
course for America remained between unlimited 
submission to a foreign legislature and to total 
independence of its claims, men of reflection 
were less apprehensive of the danger from the 

1 Elliot's Debates, vol. I., 54. 

" The Declaration we commemorate expressly admitted and 
asserted that ' Governments long established should not be 
changed for light and transient causes.' It dictated no special 
forms of government for other people and hardly for ourselves. 
It had no denunciations or even disparagements for monarchies 
or for empires, but eagerly contemplated, as we do at this hour, 
alliance and friendly relations with both." Hon. Robt. C 
Winthrop, Centennial Oration, Boston, July 4, 1876. 

io The American Colonies 

formidable power of fleets and armies they must 
determine to resist, than from those contests 
and dissensions which would certainly arise con- 
cerning the forms of government to be insti- 
tuted over the whole and over parts of this 
extensive country." 

The Declaration of Independence was no 
formative act. It asserted liberty, but did not 
organize it ; it was what its title implies, a 
solemn statement of the grievances of the op- 
pressed and outraged colonists against the 
tyranny of their rulers, setting forth plainly, 
vigorously, and eloquently the reasons for 
their action, grounded upon " self-evident 
truths," upon those fundamental rights of man 
and principles of civil liberty which were as old 
as the Bible, and had been asserted again and 
again under various forms and not unlike cir- 
cumstances by every uprising of the people 
against the injustice and oppressions of the 
governing power, which had taken place from 
the days of Moses until the Declaration was 
published to the world. As to the objects of 
the Declaration, let the author speak for him- 
self : it was " not to find out new principles or 
new arguments never before thought of, not 

Prior to the Revolution. 1 1 

merely to say things which had never been said 
before, but to place before mankind the 
common-sense of the subject, in terms so plain 
and firm as to command their assent and to 
justify ourselves in the independent stand we 
are compelled to take." ' It was not a disserta- 
tion on government, nor concerning the forms 
of government, nor did it propose any other 
change than the transformation of the colonies 
into " free and independent States." While it 
provided for a new State, it did not contemplate 
a new species of State. It nowhere even so 
much as hinted at a preference for one species 
of government over another that was not in the 
contemplation of the instrument. " We hold 
these truths to be self-evident," is the language : 
" that all men are created equal ; that they are 
endowed by their Creator with certain inalien- 
able rights ; that among these are life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness ; that to secure 
these rights, governments are instituted among 
men, deriving their just powers from the consent 
of the governed ; that, whenever any form of 
government becomes destructive of these ends, 
it is the right of the people to alter or to 

1 Letter by Jefferson to Heniy Lee, May 8, 1825. 

1 2 The American Colonies 

abolish it, and to institute a new government, 
laying its foundation on such principles and 
organizing its powers in such form as to them 
shall seem most likely to effect their safety and 

The closing scene of the great drama of Em- 
pire was being enacted, this solemn protest 
of the American people against every form 
of arbitrary power. The manifestations of the 
same forces that brought about the Revolution 
of 1688 also produced the Revolution of 1776; 
with this difference, that the English revolution 
stopped when constitutional limitations had 
been placed around the prerogatives of the 
crown, while the American revolution was a 
grand step onward, destined to transfer the sov- 
ereign powers of the crown to the people, to 
whom they always belonged, but with whom 
they so rarely abided. 1 The might, the right, 
and the power, of the people having been 
wrested from them in the dawn of history and 
exalted so high over their heads by the arts 
of designing princes, that they prostrated them- 
selves before this trinity of their own creation 
and worshipped it under the form of " Divine 

1 " The Development of Constitutional Liberty in the Eng- 
lish Colonies of America," by E. G. Scott (1882), pp. 15-19. 

Prior to the Revolution. 13 

right of kings." The usurper's title, through 
ages of wrongs and bloody oppressions, by the 
servility of cunning ecclesiastics, went through 
an evolution of fanatical consecration, and there- 
by transformed its bearer into a demi-god under 
the appellation of " King by the Grace of God." 
The natural notions of polity, by violent re- 
straints put upon the promulgating of any 
juster derivation of the rights of mankind, were 
erased out of the minds of men, and they were 
imbued with a confused notion of something 
adorable in monarchs as the personal represen- 
tations of the Divinity. So habituated were 
the people to the pomp and the power of 
monarchy, that they blindly and by force of 
habit associated with it their most exalted ideas 
of natural right and personal liberty. The 
claims of the British monarch to these divine 
attributes had not been abandoned, as we shall 
have occasion to show in another chapter, 
so far as the colonies were concerned, at the 
time even immediately prior to our revolution. 
The Declaration of Independence was so 
radical a protest against this absurd worship- 
ping of kingly person and power, that some 
of the churches of the colonies had to change 

14 The American Colonies 

their litany to conform with its teachings. 1 In 
our day we can with difficulty form a correct 
conception of what mighty battles of reason 
had to be fought in order to educate the popu- 
lar mind up to the standard which made the 
Declaration of Independence possible ; and after 
the Declaration, all through the trying period of 
the revolution, what a moral force and power 
of persuasive argument it required, especially 
during intervals of reverses, to keep alive 
the spirit of liberty ; or even after the revolu- 
tion, until the adoption of the Constitution, 
what a power of lofty patriotism based upon the 
fundamental principles of natural right was 
brought into living action to overcome the 
hereditary awe for royalty and the confused no- 
tions as to " unlimited submission." Such revo- 

1 " This day (2gth July, 1776), the Virginia convention resolved 
that the following sentences in the morning and evening church 
service shall be omitted : ' O Lord, save the King and merci- 
fully hear us when we call upon thee.' That the fifteenth, six- 
teenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth sentences in the Litany for 
the King's majesty and the Royal family, etc. , shall be omitted. 
That the two prayers for the King's majesty and the Royal 
family in the morning and evening service shall be omitted. 
That the prayers in the Communion service which acknowledge 
the authority of the King, and so much of the prayer for the 
church militant as declares the same authority, shall be omitted." 
New York Gazette, July 29, 1776. 

Prior to the Revolution. 1 5 

lutions as that of 1776 had taken place before. 
They had occurred in Greece, in Rome, in 
Carthage, in Switzerland, in Holland, and even 
in England. What distinguishes the Revolu- 
tion of 1776, and marks it with such singu- 
lar pre-eminence, is not its feats of bravery, 
though they were by no means insignificant ; 
not its duration, for it was short compared 
with many wars that history records ; not 
the numbers that were brought face to face 
in hostile array, for the armies were but insig- 
nificant compared with those that had con- 
tended on many blood-dyed battle-fields; but 
the results that followed, the glorious fact that 
the crown was lifted from the royal brow and 
placed upon the head of the people, that 
civil liberty gained all the sword had won. 

The ever-important questions of political de- 
velopment are : By what means were these results 
attained ? From what sources of political sci- 
ence did the great founders of our government 
draw their inspiration ? What guiding pre- 
cedents sanctified by authority did they follow ? 
What models applicable by reason of the bless- 
ings of liberty thereunder secured did they 
adopt ? It is an established fact in the history 

1 6 The American Colonies 

of nations, that systems are reformed by revert- 
ing to first principles. The accumulated rub- 
bish of ages is dug away and the pillars of 
state are made to rest on original and firm 
foundations. Says Dr. Price, the philosophical 
author and distinguished contemporaneous ob- 
server of early American political affairs : " The 
colonies were at the beginning of this reign 
(George III.) in the habit of acknowledging our 
authority, and of allowing us as much power 
over them as our interest required ; and more, 
in some instances, than we could reasonably 
claim. By exertions of authority which have 
alarmed them, they have been put upon ex- 
amining into the grounds of all our claims. 
Mankind are naturally disposed to continue in 
subjection to that mode of government, be it 
what it will, under which they have been born 
and educated. Nothing rouses them into re- 
sistance but gross abuses or some particular 
oppressions out of the road to which they have 
been used." ' 

When England began her encroachments upon 
the rights and liberties of the colonies, their first 
step was to petition for relief, the next was re- 

1 " Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty," etc., p. 34. 

Prior to the Revolution. 1 7 

course to reason and argument and appeals to 
the principles of right and justice, and their 
natural ultimatum was the implements and 
munitions of war to defend their lives, protect 
their liberty, and preserve their property. While 
it is true that the Revolution of 1688 had se- 
cured for England definite constitutional rights, 
the effect was not the same in the colonies. If 
the rights the colonies then were permitted to 
enjoy can be termed liberty, it was only that un- 
settled and restricted kind of liberty that the 
English people possessed before the Bill of 
Rights. Even William III., who was born a 
citizen of a republic, a descendant of the found- 
ers of Batavian liberty, who might naturally 
have been expected to be a friend of popular 
institutions, was no herald of liberty to the 
colonies. His course was as absolute towards 
them as that of the Stuarts. He revived against 
them the navigation acts, and also the Board of 
Trade and Plantations. He withheld from them 
the writ of habeas corpus, and he and his successor 
violated, changed, and abrogated their charters. 
What was acknowledged as the constitutional 
rights of the Englishman was denied to the 
Americans. This was forcibly set forth in the 

1 8 The American Colonies 

address of the delegates in Congress to the 
people of Great Britain, bearing the date 5th of 
September, 1774, in the following language : 
" Can the intervention of the sea that divides 
us cause disparity in rights, or can any reason 
be given why English subjects who live three 
thousand miles from the royal palace should 
enjoy less liberty than those who are three 
hundred distant from it?" The consequence 
was that the people in America had to fight 
over again the same battles for constitutional 
liberties which the English had fought before 
them, and in fighting them they were brought 
face to face with natural rights, the basis of all 
sovereignty and government. George III., so 
far as his claims over the colonies were con- 
cerned, relied as much upon the kingly preroga- 
tives, the doctrine of "Divine Right," as ever 
did James I. All of these pretensions, all of 
the questions of right and liberty, had to be re- 
argued. To refute this false theory of kingly 
power it was not only expedient but necessary 
to revert to the earliest times, to the most 
sacred records, the Old Testament, for illustra- 
tions and for argument, chiefly because the doc- 
trine of " Divine Right," " King by the Grace 

Prior to the Revolution. 19 

of God," and its corollaries, " unlimited sub- 
mission and non-resistance," were deduced, or 
rather distorted from the New Testament,* 
having been brought into the field of politics 
with the object of enslaving the masses through 
their religious creed. This incubus had to be 
lifted from the science of politics before the 
simplest principles of personal liberty could 
logically be contended for. It was of first im- 
portance to employ such argument as possessed 
the sacred stamp of the Scriptures. Any other, 
though as conclusive as mathematical axiom, 
would not avail, especially among those to whom 
the Bible was a political as well as a religious 
text-book and of infallible authority. These 
authorities and arguments were found in the 
Old Testament, woven into the history and de- 
velopment of the Hebrew Commonwealth. 5 In 

1 Romans xiii., 1-8. I. Peter ii., 13 and 14. 

2 " It is, at least, an historical fact, that in the great majority 
of instances the early Protestant defenders of civil liberty de- 
rived their political principles chiefly from the Old Testament, 
and the defenders of despotism from the New. The rebellions 
that were so frequent in Jewish history formed the favorite 
topic of the one the unreserved submission inculcated by St. 
Paul, of the other. When, therefore, all the principles of 
right and wrong were derived from theology, and when by the 
rejection of traditions and ecclesiastical authority, Scripture be- 
came the sole arbiter of theological difficulties, it was a matter 

2O The American Colonies. 

what manner and with what force and effect 
they were employed will be seen in the suc- 
ceeding chapters. 

of manifest importance, in ascertaining the political tendencies 
of any sect, to discover which Testament was most congenial to 
the tone and complexion of its theology." Lecky's ' ' Ration- 
alism in Europe." vol. II.. 168. 



THE impelling causes of the revolution were 
of two separate and distinct classes, which 
became united during the decade immediately 
preceding that event. They were religious and 
political, or the long and the short causes re- 
spectively. In this chapter we shall confine 
ourselves to summarizing the political causes, 
even at the risk of repeating that which is 
familiar to the general reader, so that they may 
be more readily contrasted with the religious 
causes, which will be considered in the succeed- 
ing chapters. 

In the American colonies both the desire and 
purpose of establishing a separate, independent 
or republican form of government were of very 
slow growth. 1 Not one of the statesmen who 

1 The New York Gazette of April 8, 1776, contains a paper 

entitled " Plan of the American Compact." The writer asks : 

" For what are we to encounter the horrors of war ? " etc. He 

answers : " It is a form of government which Baron Montes- 


22 The Political Causes 

assisted in the framing of the new government 
had been originally a republican. Even Jeffer- 
son, as late as August, 1775, in a letter to John 
Randolph, expresses himself as belonging to 
that class of Americans who had rather be de- 
pendent upon England, under proper limitations, 
than to be dependent on any other nation or on 
no nation whatsoever. The people who planted 
the colonies were originally subjects of rival 
powers, and this circumstance was an additional 
incentive for their successors to cherish their 
allegiance to England, with the object of claim- 
ing the protection of the mother country 
against the threatening aggressions of other 
European nations, as well as against the en- 
croachments of one colony upon the other. 
The Congress that adopted the Declaration of 
Independence recognized the natural tendency 
of every people to hold fast to the blessings of 
peace rather than resort to the arbitrament of war 

quieu and the best writers on the subject have shown to be 
attended with many mischiefs and imperfections, while they 
pay high encomiums on the excellency of the British Constitu- 
tion. The Continental Congress has never lisped the least de- 
sire for independency or republicanism. All their publications 
breathe another spirit." This plan was reprinted in pamphlet, 
entitled " Observations on the Reconciliation of Great Britain 
and the Colonies." 

Of the Revolution. 23 

so long as " ills are sufferable." Its words are : 
" Prudence indeed will dictate that govern- 
ments long established should not be changed 
for light and transient causes ; and accordingly 
all experience hath shown that mankind are 
more disposed to suffer while ills are sufferable, 
than to right themselves by abolishing the 
forms to which they are accustomed. But 
when a long train of abuses and usurpations, 
pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a 
design to reduce them to absolute despotism, it 
is their right, it is their duty to throw off such 
governments, and to provide new guards for 
their future security. Such has been the pa- 
tient sufferance of these colonies ; and such is 
now the necessity which constrains them to 
alter their former systems of government." 

In the struggle between England and France 
for dominion in America, not one of the colo- 
nies proved false to its allegiance. Their zeal 
surpassed even that of the mother country. 
The war was not undertaken for the relief or 
the advantage of the colonies, but to gratify the 
ambition of England by enlarging its colonial 
dominion, yet as they had derived from its 
successful ending considerable benefit, this fact 

24 The Political Causes 

was made the plausible basis for the claim that 
they ought to bear a portion of the burden of 
expense it had entailed upon the nation. The 
fact that the colonies had of their own ac- 
cord already contributed about twenty-five 
thousand lives and over sixteen millions of 
dollars, was not considered, or if taken into 
account did not serve to restrain the rapacity of 
George III., his ministers and Parliament. 
Whatever serious differences, if any there were, 
between the colonies and the mother country, 
prior to this war, had been removed by its suc- 
cessful termination. " This event," says Pit- 
kin, " produced great joy amongst the colonists, 
and was accompanied with feelings of gratitude 
toward the young prince (George III.), in whose 
reign it was accomplished. Their feelings 
would have continued but for new encroach- 
ments upon their rights." 1 These encroach- 
ments were not slow in coming. 

England no longer requiring the aid of the 
colonies upon the continent of America, 
through whose arms and money she had van- 
quished her most powerful rival, sought to 
make them contribute to lighten the pressure 

1 Pitkin's " History of the U. S.," vol. I., 155. 

Of the Revolution. 25 

of the general expense of the home govern- 
ment. In accordance with this policy, Parlia- 
ment attempted to put into execution an act 
passed many years before under George II., but 
which had become a dead letter upon the 
statute-books, " An act for the better securing 
and encouraging the trade of his Majesty's col- 
onies in America," commonly known as the 
" Molasses Act," whereby a duty of six pence 
was placed on molasses and other articles, being 
in some instances one half of their value. 

A determined attempt to enforce these laws 
to the letter was the forerunner of a system of 
direct taxation, the result of which, if allowed 
to begin, no one could foretell. Cruisers were 
stationed along the coast, custom-house officers 
and informers were stimulated by offers of re- 
ward, and writs of assistance were granted 
which gave the possessor the right to search 
and seize merchandise, on the plea that it was 
smuggled, no name or specific offence being set 
out in the writ ; the officer holding it could 
select any house he saw fit and search it, he 
alone being sole judge if there existed probable 
cause for so extraordinary a proceeding, which 
was a gross violation of that sacred principle of 

26 The Political Causes 

the common law, that every man's house is his 
castle. The legality of these writs was denied. 
When the cause which was to determine this 
question came on for trial in the city of Boston, 
in the council chamber of the Old Town House 
in February, 1761, James Otis, a lawyer of 
marked ability, resigned his lucrative office of 
advocate-general of the Crown, which would 
have obliged him to argue in favor of the writs, 
and together with Oxenbridge Thatcher ap- 
peared as counsel for the petitioner in opposi- 
tion thereto. Here was ignited the torch of 
liberty that kindled the bonfires of the Revolu- 
tion. " Then and there," according to John 
Adams, who was present at the hearing, " was 
the first scene of the first act of opposition to 
the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then 
and there the child Independence was born. In 
fifteen years that is, in 1776, he grew up to 
manhood and declared himself free." Otis is 
described upon this argument as being " a flame 
of fire." He stood up as the bold and brilliant 
advocate of colonial rights and human liberty. 
It was he who on this occasion uttered the 
stirring words, the very keynote of indepen- 
dence, " Taxation without representation is 

Of the Revolution. 27 

tyranny." The plea of Otis, formulated in 
legal terms and in eloquent phrases the rights 
and grievances of the colonies. It asserted 
principles and cited proof to sustain them, the 
truth of which was felt before, but never until 
now so boldly and forcibly expressed. The 
court has not to this day given its decision ; 
that decision was destined to be written in the 
blood of revolution, and is now recognized as 
of binding authority by all constitutional gov- 
ernments of the earth. 

The need and greed of England kept the 
colonies in constant alarm. In February, 1765, 
Mr. Grenville, the King's Prime-Minister, intro- 
duced into Parliament the bill which is known 
as the Stamp Act, and which passed with but 
little opposition. The law was not to go into 
effect until about eight months after its passage. 
'As soon as the news of the passage of this bill 
reached America, newspapers, pamphlets, and 
the pulpits issued their protests against it in 
words so forcible and direct that did not leave 
men to doubt that the colonies knew their 
rights, and that unless England would soon 
retract its policy, they would have the courage 
to maintain them at the hazard of their lives 

28 The Political Causes 

and fortunes. The General Court of Massa. 
chusetts assembled in May, and immedi- 
ately resolved that all the colonies should 
be invited to send delegates to a general con- 
gress, to be held in New York the October 
following, to consult together on the present 
state of affairs, and to determine the course 
to pursue. An agreement not to import any 
goods from England till the obnoxious act 
should be repealed was very generally entered 
into. Delegates from nine colonies assembled in 
New York on the 7th of October, they published 
a Declaration of Rights, and addressed a petition 
to the King and to the two houses of Parlia- 
ment. After a session of little more than a 
fortnight this congress, known as the " Stamp 
Act Congress," dissolved. The cause of the 
colonies was taken up in England by some 
of her ablest statesmen, amongst whom was 
William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, 
energetically seconded by Conway, Colonel 
Barre", and, also, by Lord Camden, afterwards 
the Lord Chancellor, one of the highest legal 
authorities in the realm. This powerful oppo- 
sition brought about a change of ministry in 
July, 1765. Dr. Franklin, who lived during this 

Of the Revolution. 29 

time in London, as the agent of the colony of 
Pennsylvania, was summoned before the House 
of Commons, in a committee of the whole, to 
be examined touching the wishes and feelings of 
the colonies. The examination lasted ten days. 
The Journal of the Commons records: 
" February 13, 1766, Benjamin Franklin, having 
passed through his examination, was excepted 
from further attendance " ; and, February 24th, 
the committee reported " that it was their opin- 
ion that the House be moved that leave be 
given to bring in a bill to repeal the Stamp 
Act " ; and on the i8th of March the repeal 
was signed. Franklin's testimony served to in- 
form the people of England of the precise 
attitude of the colonies, as well as the grounds 
upon which they rested their opposition to such 
legislation. A brief extract from this examina- 
tion will give the best insight into the question 
at issue : 

" Q. If the Stamp Act is not repealed, what 
do you think will be the consequence ? 

" A. A total loss of the respect and affections 
the people of America bear to this country, 
and of all the commerce that depends on that 
respect and affection. 

3O The Political Causes 

" Q. If the Stamp Act should be repealed, 
would it induce the Assemblies of America to 
acknowledge the right of Parliament to tax 

" A. No, never ! * * * No power, how great 
soever, can force men to change their opinions." 

It had been argued that this class of legislation 
was just, as a means of compelling the colonies to 
reimburse England in part for the money spent 
on their account in wars with the French and 
the Indians. How this was met and refuted 
by Franklin this examination will show. 

" Q. Do you think it right that America 
should be protected by this country, and pay 
no part of the expense ? 

" A. That is not the case. The colonies raised, 
clothed, and paid, during the last year, nearly 
twenty-five thousand men, and spent many mil- 
lions." He further testified concerning the 
French and Indian wars: "I know that the 
last war is commonly spoken of here as entered 
into for the defence, or for the sake, of the peo- 
ple of America. I think it is quite misunder- 
stood. It began about the limits between 
Canada and Nova Scotia; about territories to 
which the Crown indeed laid claim, but which 

of the Revolution. 31 

were not claimed by any British colony. None 
of the lands had been granted to any colonist ; 
we had therefore no particular concern, nor 
interest in that dispute." ' 

Another equally high authority, one of the 
greatest philosophers of his time, and no indif- 
ferent observer of Britain's treatment of her 
colonies, Dr. Richard Price, said : " But we 
have, it is said, protected them and run deeply 
in debt on their account. Will any one say 
that all we have done for them has not been 
more on our own account, than on theirs? 
The full answer to this has been already given. 
Have they made no compensation for the pro- 
tection they have received ? Have they not 
helped us pay our taxes, to support our poor, 
and to bear the burden of our debts, by taking 
from us, at our own price, all the commodities 
which we can supply them ? In short, were an 
accurate account stated, it is by no means cer- 
tain which side would appear to be most in- 
debted." 2 

Every new attempt of Parliament to enforce 
under a different guise its unjust claims of taxa- 

1 Hansard, XVI., 205, etc. 

9 " Observation on the Nature of Civil Liberty," etc., by 
Richard Price (1776), p. 22. 

32 The Political Causes 

tion, met with renewed resistance and with 
stronger opposition, thereby alienating more 
and more the affection of the colonies, and to 
that extent tended to unite them in a closer 
union. The rejoicings caused by the repeal of 
the Stamp Act had scarcely ceased when an- 
other act was passed by Parliament with the 
same object in view, imposing duties on all 
teas, paper, glass, paint, and lead, that should 
be imported into the colonies. This act was 
passed under the guise of regulating trade, and 
was intended to escape the objections made 
against the former act, as the tax was external. 
The flame of the opposition was kindled anew, 
non-importation agreements were renewed, ex- 
tending not only to taxed articles, but to all 
British commodities. This struck straight back 
into the pocket of the English people, which, 
to a commercial nation, is always a most sensi- 
tive and vulnerable point of attack. The 
colonists petitioned for the repeal of the act, 
and in compliance with their demand the duty 
was taken off from all the articles mentioned 
save only tea ; this was but a paltry tax, being 
three pence per pound, with a drawback on the 
value, of a shilling on the pound, the amount 

of the Revolution. 33 

originally paid on the importation of the article 
into Great Britain ; which resulted in making 
the price of the tea lower than if there were no 
tax or drawback. The question at stake was 
not the three pence, but the right of Britain to 
levy the tax. This once acquiesced in, other 
taxes would inevitably follow. 

The Massachusetts Assembly met and deter- 
mined on stringent measures. It was resolved 
to send a petition to the King wherein were set 
forth the conditions of their settlement as a 
colony, and maintaining that there could not 
be taxation without representation ; they also 
protested against the presence of a standing 
army. Governor Bernard and the Crown offi- 
cers sent to the King counter-memorials, setting 
forth the rebellious attitude and independent 
spirit of the colonists, and recommending the 
presence of a fleet and troops. In 1768, two 
regiments of British troops, which were subse- 
quently increased to four, were sent to Boston, 
which was then, and had always been, the hot- 
bed of opposition. Conflicts between the citi- 
zens and the revenue officers in Rhode Island 
and elsewhere were reported, and the people in 
Boston became every day more irritated by the 

34 The Political Causes 

presence of soldiers who were there for the pur- 
pose of dragooning the people into submission. 
The General Assembly, foreseeing that a con- 
flict between the citizens and soldiers was 
likely to occur at the slightest provocation, and 
desirous of avoiding any hostile collision, re- 
quested Governor Hutchinson that the troops 
be withdrawn. This request was denied, the 
Governor shielding himself by asserting lack of 
authority. On the 5th of March, 1770, a con- 
flict between the citizens, or rather a mob, and 
the soldiers took place, insults were followed 
by missiles and missiles by fire and shot, then 
by promiscuous firing from a number of sol- 
diers, whereby three of the citizens were killed 
and several wounded. This collision was ex- 
aggerated until it gained the alarming title of 
the Boston Massacre. The anniversary of this 
event, celebrated by public gatherings and by 
the pulpit, served to inflame the passions of the 
multitude and to develop and keep alive resist- 
ance to English authority. The fact was lost 
sight of that the officers and soldiers who had 
fired on the populace, and were indicted and 
tried for murder, were all acquitted except two, 
these being found guilty of manslaughter and 

of the Revolution. 35 

slightly punished, and that they had been de- 
fended by John Adams and Josiah Quincy, two 
young lawyers who were among the most ar- 
dent of the popular leaders. 

The " Molasses Act " was one of the first 
causes of bitterness between England and her 
colonies ; the "Sugar Act " in 1764 did not at 
all sweeten these relations ; and now, in 1773, 
the kettle of discord was destined to boil by 
reason of the duty on tea. In this year the 
contest was brought to a crisis by reason of ar- 
rangements which were entered into on the part 
of the ministry with the East India Company 
for the consignment of several cargoes of tea to 
the principal American ports. The tax on tea 
had been retained for the express purpose of up- 
holding and vindicating the authority of Parlia- 
ment. This tax was substantially nullified, partly 
by smuggling, and partly because America did 
not import much of this commodity. As soon as 
this project with the East India Company be- 
came known in the colonies, steps were taken to 
counteract it. At Philadelphia a public meeting 
was held ; eight resolutions were passed against 
taxation by Parliament, and denounced as an 
enemy to his country " whoever shall aid or abet 

36 The Political Causes 

in unloading, receiving, or vending the tea." In 
Boston a town-meeting was held at which Han- 
cock presided, and adopted the Philadelphia reso- 
lutions. A committee was appointed to wait 
upon the consignees and request them to resign 
the cargoes. This the consignees refused to do. 
On December i6th the crisis was reached by a 
band of about fifty men, dressed as Mohawk 
Indians, boarding the tea vessels and emptying 
three hundred and forty-two chests in the water. 
History doth not record who these fifty men 
were. Circumstances would seem to indicate 
they were not of that class that constitute 
mobs, but men who acted no insignificant part 
in the stirring events that made the next ten 
years memorable for all time to come. When 
the news of this occurrence reached England 
the indignant ministry resolved to mete out 
punishment to the rebellious Bostonians. An 
act was passed to shut up the port of Boston, 
known as the "Boston-Port Bill";, a second, 
" for better regulating the government of Mas- 
sachusetts Bay," amounting practically to an 
abrogation of the charter. A third act, intend- 
ed not only to meet cases like the Boston 
Massacre, but reaching much further, provided 

of the Revolution. 37 

for the trial in England of all persons charged 
in the colonies with murder or other capital 
offences. A fourth provided for the quartering 
of troops, four more regiments being sent to 
Boston, so that the town was now strongly 
guarded. General Gage, who was directed to 
resume command, was also commissioned, as 
Governor of Massachusetts, to succeed Hutchin- 
son. A fifth bill, known as the " Quebec Act," 
passed at the same session, for the purpose of 
preventing Canada from joining with the other 
colonies. It guaranteed to the Catholic Church 
possession of its vast amount of property and 
full freedom of worship. The boundaries of 
the province were also extended to the Missis- 
sippi on the west and the Ohio on the south, so 
as to include, besides the present Canada, the 
territory of the five States that are now north- 
west of the Ohio. This last act, with the ex- 
ception perhaps of the Boston Port Bill, was 
most effectual in alienating the colonies. It 
was construed as an effort on the part of Par- 
liament to create an Established Church, and 
that not alone, but the establishment of that 
church which was most hateful to and dreaded 
by the great majority of the people in the colo- 

38 The Political Causes 

nies. The object Parliament intended to effect 
by the passage of this act was purely one of 
state policy, and so far as Canada herself was 
concerned, it was a wise and diplomatic step. 
But viewed from the side of the other colonies, 
it had quite a different character. It was re- 
garded as an experiment for setting up an 
arbitrary government in one colony which was 
more submissive than the others, in order to 
extend by degrees a like method of government 
over all the other colonies. Had an equally 
conciliatory course been followed by England 
toward her own original colonies, which were 
bound to the mother country by all the ties of 
loyalty, origin, kindred, a common tongue, and 
the Protestant religion, what happened in re- 
spect to Canada would undoubtedly have been 
the result in the other colonies. Canada had 
been won by conquest, having been ceded to 
England only twelve years before this time, by 
the Peace of Paris, in 1762. Force was the only 
bond of union between her and England. A 
breach between England and her other Ameri- 
can colonies now existed, which the first four 
bills above referred to were not likely to mend, 
but, on the contrary, to widen. Such being the 

of the Revolution. 39 

circumstances, Parliament foresaw that Canada 
would probably embrace this opportunity to rid 
herself of the power that held her ; so it threw 
to her the bait that she would be most likely to 
take the two matters that lay closest to the 
hearts of the people of that province the sub- 
stitution of the French civil or Roman law in 
all civil matters, and the establishment of the 
Catholic religion. The ancient hostility be- 
tween Romanism and Protestanism was thus 
utilized and placed as a wedge of separation 
between Canada and the thirteen colonies. 1 

The particulars of the destruction of the tea 
were received in London by the New York 
mail on January 19, 1774. On the 7th of March 
the King in messages to both Houses recom- 
mended the matter to their serious considera- 
tion. The Boston-Port Bill was moved by 

1 This subject was very pointedly referred to by the minority 
in the House of Commons when the Quebec Act came up for 
discussion. It was claimed that this measure could not fail 
to add to the discontent and apprehension of the other 
colonies, in that they could attribute the extension given to 
arbitrary military government, and to a people alien in origin, 
laws, and religion, as the Canadians were, to nothing else but 
the design of utterly extinguishing the liberties of the other 
American colonies, and bringing them, by the arms of those 
very people whom they had helped to conquer, into most abject 
vassalage. See Dodsley's Annual Register for 1774, p. 76. 

4O The Political Causes 

Lord North on the I4th of March, and on 
the 3 ist it received the royal assent and be- 
came a law. The act was received in Boston on 
the loth of May ; it was printed soon after 
on paper with mourning lines. The Committee 
of Correspondence invited the committees of 
eight neighboring towns to meet for delibera- 
tion in Faneuil Hall. Samuel Adams pre- 
sided and Joseph Warren drew up its papers. 
The inhabitants addressed a circular-letter to 
all the sister colonies. The effect of the recep- 
tion of these circulars in the various colonies 
was the noble purpose to stand by Massachu- 
setts. Providence resolved that all the colonies 
were concerned in the Port Act, and recom- 
mended a congress. In Virginia the House of 
Burgesses, in resolutions penned by Jefferson, 
declared that an attack made on one colony 
was an attack on all, and recommended that 
the Committee of Correspondence communicate 
with other committees on the expediency of 
holding an annual congress. Expressions in 
favor of a general congress of all the colonies 
came pouring in from all sides. The people 
were aroused. The Tories favored the measure 
as a means most likely to obtain a redress 

of the Revolution. 4 1 

of grievances, and the Whigs as the first move 
toward resisting the encroachments of Parlia- 
ment and for bringing the colonies into a 
firmer union. 1 The Boston Evening Post of 
June 2Oth stated that a congress " was the 
general desire of the continent, in order to 
agree on effectual measures for defeating the 
despotic designs of those who were endeav- 
oring to effect the ruin of the colonies." 

1 For a very minute summary of the action taken in the vari- 
ous colonies relating to a congress the reader is referred to 
Richard Frothingham's excellent work, ' ' The Rise of the Re- 
public of the U. S.," p. 332, etc. 



THE religious element of the revolution was 
imparted to it by the very circumstances which 
caused in September, 1620, a company of Eng- 
lish Protestants, exiles for religion, to encounter 
the dangers of the deep and set sail for a new 
world, and by the causes which impelled Win- 
throp and his band of Puritans ten years after 
to fly from the tyranny of Laud, and settle 
along the northern shores of Massachusetts 
Bay. " It is certain that civil dominion was 
but the secondary motive, religious the primary, 
with our ancestors in coming hither and settling 
in this land." 1 

A distinction is to be noted between the two 
colonies above mentioned, in respect to their 
attitude toward the Established Church. The 
first of these colonies is known as the Pilgrims, 
the second as the Puritans. The Pilgrims were 

1 President Ezra Stiles. 

of the Revolution. 43 

organized as a church before they left Holland ; 
they were independents in religion and were 
separated entirely from the Church of England. 
Their residence in Holland had made them 
acquainted with various forms of religion, and 
had the effect of emancipating them to a degree 
from bigotry and intolerance; wherefore they 
manifested in their subsequent history a much 
more tolerant and liberal spirit than their 
brethren of the Bay. They maintained that 
ecclesiastical censures were wholly spiritual, and 
not to be visited with temporal penalties. The 
Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony were 
not separated from the Church of England, 
" though they scrupled conformity to several 
of its ceremonies." The reign of James I. was 
a period of transition from arbitrary govern- 
ment to an incipient assertion of popular rights, 
and his long and continuous quarrels with Par- 
liament led to an investigation of political 
principles, and to the questioning of the claims 
of arbitrary power. The Puritans were at the 
bottom of this conflict, and during its con- 
tinuance they grew in numbers, in hope, and in 
courage. In 1625 James died, and the acces- 
sion of a new sovereign was an opportune 

44 Religious Causes 

occasion for the friends of popular rights to 
organize. What was at first a question in the 
Church concerning ceremonies was now trans- 
formed into a principle in politics, between the 
King on the one side and the Parliament on the 
other. For four years more under Charles the 
conflict went on in this form, when a temporary 
victory was gained for royalty by the King dis- 
solving the third Parliament in a passion, in 
utter contempt of every claim and principle of 
popular right. When the Parliament of 1629 
was dissolved all hopes of relief through legis- 
lative means had to be abandoned. The powers 
of Church and State were now allied in an ag- 
gressive policy against puritanism and freedom. 
Laud, the most despotic of bishops, was by 
Charles promoted step by step in the episcopal 
office till, in 1633, he was consecrated Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, the primate of the Epis- 
copal Church, the representative man of the 
Hierarchy, and chief of the High Commission. 
" As this dismal state of things approached, 
and especially when it was reached, patriotic 
and religious Englishmen asked themselves, 
and one another what was the course of honor 
and of safety. While some among them still 

of the Revolution. 45 

looked for relief to a renewal and a happy 
issue of the struggle that had been going on in 
Parliament, and resigned themselves to await 
and help on the progress of a political and re- 
ligious reformation in the kingdom ; others, 
less confident, or less patient, pondered on 
exile as the best resource, and turned their view 
to a new home on the Western Continent." 1 
The class of emigrants that were now coming 
to America were of a grade socially and intel- 
lectually superior to the Pilgrims. There were 
among them clergymen and physicians, univer- 
sity graduates, and English country gentlemen 
of no inconsiderable fortunes. The causes and 
motives that impelled them to leave homes of 
ease and comfort in England, and the pleasant 
society of friends, to risk the dangers of the 
deep and the still greater dangers and uncer- 
tainties that awaited them on land, were not 
such as would be likely to leave only a fading 
impression on them or their immediate descend- 
ants. The colonists were not adventurers who 
had all to gain and nothing to lose. They were 
not men who were driven by a restless spirit of 
enterprise, or by thirst for gold, but purely by 

1 Palfrey's " History of New England," vol. I., 93. 

46 Religious Causes 

a desire for the enjoyment of spiritual liberty, 
without which life was to them unendurable, 
and for the love of which they were ready to 
hazard all. The motives which actuated these 
early colonists were in one sense narrow and 
selfish, but of that kind of selfishness which is 
so near akin to public virtue, that it is fre- 
quently confounded with it. Hence arises the 
abuse and reproach which many writers heap 
upon our Puritan forefathers for the bigotry 
and intolerance which characterize their early 
history, forgetting, or losing sight of the fact 
that they came here purely and simply to seek 
freedom of worship for themselves, and that 
they founded their colonies so that they might 
have a dominion of their own to exercise it in. 
The golden rule found no application outside 
their own contracted sphere. The great God 
of nations never intended this vast continent of 
ours for a faction, nor for a sect ; it was to be 
the asylum for the oppressed of every land. 
The problem of liberty was to be solved in this 
new world, and all the old world was destined 
to contribute to its solution. Every new act 
of oppression on the isles and continent of 
Europe drove additional exiles to our shores, 

of the Revolution. 47 

and every new colony represented a different 
shade of religious opinion. 

The earliest champion of religious freedom, 
or " soul liberty," as he designated that most 
precious jewel of all liberties, was Roger Wil- 
liams. He came to America on the 5th of 
February, 1631, to escape the Laudian perse- 
cution. He was on terms of intimacy with 
Oliver Cromwell, and a friend of Milton and 
Henry Vane, the younger. To him rightly 
belongs the immortal fame of having been 
the first person in modern times to assert 
and maintain in its fullest plenitude the ab- 
solute right of every man to " a full liberty in 
religious concernments," and to found a state 
wherein this doctrine was the keystone of its 
organic laws. Before the great Locke advo- 
cated the principles of toleration, before Milton 
wrote his Eiconoclastes, before the patriotic 
hero and martyr Sidney taught the people 
the true origin of their rights in his " Dis- 
courses Concerning Government," Roger Wil- 
liams, the first pure type of an American 
freeman, proclaimed the laws of civil and re- 
ligious liberty, that " the people were the 
origin of all free power in government," that 

48 Religious Causes 

God has given to men no power over con- 
science, nor can men grant this power to each 
other ; that the regulation of the conscience is 
not one of the purposes for which men combine 
in civil society. For uttering such heresies 
this great founder of our liberties was ban- 
ished from the jurisdiction of the Puritans in 
America, and driven into the wilderness to 
endure the severity of our northern winter and 
the bitter pangs of hunger. For means of 
subsistence he depended on the Indians, whose 
trustworthy and trusted friend he became and 
ever remained. He endeavored at a subse- 
quent period to procure a repeal of the sen- 
tence of his banishment, but the rigorous spirit 
of intolerance prevailed, and the founder of 
Rhode Island continued till his death an out- 
law from Massachusetts. 1 

Some time about June, 1636, Williams, with 
his five companions, left their frail canoe and 
came on shore and founded the town, which, 
in grateful remembrance of " God's merciful 
providence to him in his distress," he gave the 

1 Straus's *' Roger Williams, the Pioneer of Religious Lib- 
erty," Century Co., 1894. John Foord's "Religious Liberty 
in the United States," N. Y. Times, May, 1876. 

of the Revolution. 49 

name of Providence. " I desired," said he, " it 
might be for shelter for persons distressed for 
conscience." The infant community at Provi- 
dence at once set about to frame laws for 
government in strict accord with the spirit 
of the settlement. All were required to sub- 
scribe to the following covenant or constitution : 
" We, whose names are hereunder written, 
being desirous of to inhabit in the town of 
Providence, do promise to submit ourselves in 
active and passive obedience to all such orders 
or agreements as shall be made for public good 
of the body, in an orderly way, by the major 
consent of the present inhabitants, masters of 
families incorporated together into a township, 
and such others as they shall admit into the 
same, only in civil things." This simple instru- 
ment is the earliest constitution of government 
whereof we have any record, which not only 
tolerated all religions, but recognized as a right, 
absolute liberty of conscience. The colony at 
Providence was rapidly increased by the arrival 
of persons from other colonies, and from 
Europe, attracted thither by the liberal pro- 
visions of its laws and freedom in matters of 
conscience which were there guaranteed. In 

50 Religious Causes 

1637-8, Portsmouth and Newport were settled, 
practically as one colony. The settlers were, 
like Williams and his companions, exiles or 
emigrants from Massachusetts. " In imitation 
of the form of government which existed for a 
time among the Jews, the inhabitants chose 
Mr. Coddington to be their magistrate, with 
the title of Judge ; and a few months afterward 
they elected three elders to assist him." 1 In 
1663 a charter was obtained from Charles II., 
being the second charter of the colony, which 
continues to the present day to be the funda- 
mental law of the State. It contains this most 
important provision embodying the principles 
upon which the colony was founded. " No per- 
son within the said colony at any time hereafter 
shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, 
or called in question for any differences in 
opinion, in matters of religion, who do not 
actually disturb the civil peace of our said colony ; 
but that all and every person and persons may 
from time to time, and at all times hereafter, 
freely and fully, have and enjoy his own and 

l " Memoir of Roger Williams," by Prof. Knowles, p. 

of the Revolution. 5 1 

their judgments and consciences, in matters of 
religious concernments." Some writers have 
claimed for Lord Baltimore, proprietor of 
Maryland, priority in establishing religious 
liberty on this continent. Undoubted author- 
ity, however, proves that not only in point of 
time did the first laws of Rhode Island in 
respect to religious liberty precede those of 
Maryland, but that they also were more com- 
prehensive in their liberality. The first law 
of Maryland respecting religious liberty was 
enacted in 1649, while in Rhode Island in 1647 
the first General Assembly adopted a code 
of laws, relating exclusively to civil concerns, 
and concluding with these words : " All men 
may walk as their consciences persuade them, 
every one in the name of his God." ' 

Without detracting from the glory of Lord 
Baltimore, for the liberty he established in 

1 For a full discussion of the question see Knowles' " Roger 
Williams," p. 371. In the light of the most recent investiga- 
tions the subject has been exhaustively discussed by Sidney 
S. Rider in his " Rhode Island Historical Tracts," 2d Series, 
No. 5 (1896). Bancroft in the earlier editions of his history 
of the United States gave priority to Maryland, but this 
statement was changed in 1882 and in his last revised 

52 Religious Causes 

Maryland was fully a century in advance of his 
times, it evidently did not rise to the standard 
of Rhode Island, in that it extended only to 

Having briefly traced the dawn of religious 
liberty in the smallest of the original colonies, 
we will now take a view of the religious struggle 
and its intolerant attitude in the two principal 
colonies, Virginia and Massachusetts. The 
colony of Virginia was the first permanent 
settlement of Englishmen in North America, 
dating from the founding of Jamestown in 1607. 
The charter of this colony enjoined the estab- 
lishment of religion according to the doctrine 
and usages of the Church of England. Devotion 
to the Church was a test of loyalty to the King, 
its " head and defender." In each parish all 
the inhabitants were taxed alike for the support 
of the churches of the established order. Dur- 
ing the civil war in England, the colony of 
Virginia, which now had a Legislature of its own, 
espoused the cause of the King against Crom- 
well and the Parliament, and hence adhesion to 
the Established Church was made a test of 
loyalty to the colonial government, and non- 

of the Revolution. 53 

conformity was identified with republicanism 
and disloyalty. The party in power had re- 
course to religious persecutions, which, as often 
happens, had more to do with political policy 
than the question of faith. In the establish- 
ment of the " Society for Propagating the 
Gospel in Foreign Parts," incorporated by act 
of Parliament, these worldly considerations 
were not without influence. The conversion of 
the Indians was its nominal object, but its real 
purpose was to strengthen the Church of Eng- 
land in America, and to render the colonies 
duly subservient to England. 1 

1 Hildreth's " History of the U. S.," vol. II., 215, 230, 232. 

" The most politic of all the schemes that were at this time 
(1749) proposed in the British cabinet," says Grahame in his 
" Colonial History of the U. S." (vol. II., 194), "was a project 
of introducing an ecclesiastical establishment, derived from the 
model of the Church of England, and particularly the order of 
bishops, into North America. The pretext assigned for this 
innovation was, that many non-juring clergymen of the Episco- 
pal persuasion, attached to. the cause of the Pretender, had 
recently emigrated from Britain to America, and that it was 
desirable to create a board of ecclesiastical dignitaries for the 
purpose of controlling their proceedings and counteracting 
their influence ; but doubtless it was intended, in part at 
least, to answer the ends of strengthening royal prerogative in 
America of giving to the State, through the Church of Eng- 
land, an accession of influence over the colonists, and of im- 
parting to their institutions a greater degree of aristocratical 

54 Religious Causes 

Several acts of the Virginia Assembly, of 
1659, 1662, and 1693 had made it penal in 
parents to refuse to have their children bap- 
tized. " If no execution took place here," says 
Mr. Jefferson, " as did in New England, it was 
not owing to the moderation of the Church, or 
the spirit of the Legislature, as may be inferred 
from the law itself ; but to historical circum- 

character and tendency. The views of the statesmen by whom 
this design was entertained were inspired by the suggestions of 
Butler, Bishop of Durham, and were confirmed and seconded 
by Seeker, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the society instituted 
for the propagation of the gospel. This society had received 
very erroneous impressions of the religious character of the 
colonists in general, from some worthless and incapable mis- 
sionaries, which it sent to America ; and Seeker, who partook 
of these impressions, had promulgated them from the pulpit in a 
strain of vehement and presumptuous invective. Such de- 
meanor by no means tended to conciliate the favor of the 
Americans to the proposed ecclesiastical establishment. From 
the intolerance and bitterness of spirit disclosed by the chief 
promoters of the scheme, it was natural to forebode a total ab- 
sence of moderation in the conduct of it." 

President John Adams, in a letter to Dr. Morse in 1815, re- 
ferring to this subject, says : " Where is the man to be found 
at this day, when we see Methodistical bishops, bishops of the 
Church of England, and bishops and archbishops and Jesuits 
of the Church of Rome, with indifference, who will believe that 
the apprehension of Episcopacy contributed, fifty years ago, as 
much as any other cause, to arouse the attention, not only of the 
inquiring mind, but of the common people, to close thinking on 
the constitutional authority of Parliament over the colonies? 
This, nevertheless, was a fact as certain as any in the history of 
North America." 

of the Revolution. 55 

stances which have not been handed down to 
us." ' For a century or more the Anglicans 
retained absolute control, and so long as such 
was the case the colony was bound hand and 
foot in political subjection ; the ideas of liberty 
came creeping in with the Dissenters. It has 
often been observed that when men have 
restricted and arbitrary laws of church govern- 
ment, they naturally incline to political systems 
in which all powers of self-government are cen- 
tralized, and from which the popular element is 
excluded. The one is a schooling and a prece- 
dent for the other. In testimony of this we 
have a high authority in the Virginia Anglican 
divine and historian, Boucher : " The constitu- 
tion of the Church of England is approved, 
confirmed, and adopted by our laws, and inter- 
woven with them. No other form of church 
government than that of the Church of England 
would be compatible with the form of our civil 
government. No other colony has retained so 
large a portion of the monarchical part of the 
British constitution as Virginia ; and between 
that attachment to monarchy and the govern- 
ment of the Church of England, there is a 

1 Notes on Virginia, Works, vol. VIII., p. 398. 

56 Religious Causes 

strong connection." And again : "A levelling 
republican spirit in the Church naturally leads 
to republicanism in the State ; neither of which 
would heretofore have been endured in this 
ancient dominion." 1 This same author also 
bears testimony to the approach of Virginia and 
New England to the same result : " And when 
it is recollected that till now the opposition to 
an American episcopate has been confined 
chiefly to the demagogues and independents of 
the New England provinces, but that it is now 
espoused with much warmth by the people of 
Virginia, it requires no great depth of political 
sagacity to see what the motives and views of 
the former have been, or what will be the con- 
sequences of the defection of the latter." 

The rumor, that the colonies were to be 
erected into an episcopate of the Established 
Church, more than once alarmed the people of 
New England, and, according to John Adams : 
" The objection was not merely to the office of 
a bishop, though even that was dreaded, but to 
the authority of Parliament, on which it must 
be founded. * * * If Parliament can erect 

1 Boucher's view, pp. 103-104, from a sermon "On the 
American Episcopate," preached 1771, in Caroline County, Va. 

of the Revolution. 57 

dioceses and appoint bishops, they may intro- 
duce the whole hierarchy, establish tithes, forbid 
marriages and funerals, establish religions, forbid 

In the winter of 1768, the Assembly of Mas- 
sachusetts appointed a committee to take into 
consideration the condition of public affairs. 
The number and names of this committee will 
show how much importance was attached to 
their action. It consisted of Mr. Gushing (the 
Speaker), Colonel James Otis, Mr. Adams, 
Major Hawley, Mr. Hancock, and four others. 
This Committee, in its letter to Mr. Deberdt, 
the agent of the province in London, after re- 
ferring to the establishment of the Catholic 
religion in Canada, and enumerating the 
impending evils, come to this grievance : 
" The establishment of a Protestant episcopate 
in America is also very zealously contended 
for ; and it is very alarming to a people whose 
fathers, from the hardships which they suffered 
under such an establishment, were obliged to 
fly their native country into a wilderness, in 
order peaceably to enjoy their privileges, civil 
and religious. Their being threatened with 
loss of both at once, must throw them into a 

58 Religious Causes 

disagreeable situation. We hope in God such 
an establishment will never take place in 
America, and we desire you would strenuously 
oppose it. The revenue raised in America, for 
aught we can tell, may be as constitutionally 
applied towards the support of prelacy, as of 
soldiers and pensioners." 1 How the people of 
Boston were alarmed by such a threatened 
contingency, is shown by a caricature in the 
Political Register oi 1769, entitled: " An Attempt 
to Land a Bishop in America." A ship is at 
the wharf, the lord bishop is in full canonicals, 
his carriage, crosier, and mitre on deck, the 
people appear with a banner inscribed with 
" Liberty and Freedom of Conscience," and 
are shouting, " No lords, spiritual or tem- 
poral, in New England." " Shall they be 
obliged to maintain bishops that cannot main- 
tain themselves ? " They pelt the bishop with 
Locke, Sidney on Government, Barclay's Apol- 
ogy, Calvin's Works, and the unhappy prelate 
has mounted the shrouds, ejaculating, " Lord, 
now Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in 
peace." 2 The Society for the Propagation of 

1 Tudor's " Life of Otis," p. 307. . 

a See the picture in Thornton's Pulpit of the American Revol- 

of the Revolution. 59 

the Gospel in Foreign Parts was active in this 
scheme for establishing the Church through an 
American episcopate. In October, 1776, Dr. 
Charles Inglis, Rector of Trinity Church, New 
York, wrote to the society : " The present re- 
bellion is certainly one of the most causeless, 
unprovoked, and unnatural that ever disgraced 
any country. Although civil liberty was the 
ostensible object, yet it is now past all doubt 
that an abolition of the Church of England was 
one of the principal springs of the dissenting 
leaders' conduct." He further asserts that " All 
the society's missionaries in New Jersey, New 
York, Connecticut, have proven themselves 
faithful, loyal subjects," shutting up their 
churches rather than cease praying for the 
King, and he urges the establishment of the 
episcopate as an encouragement to such fidel- 
ity. 1 William Tudor, in his " Life of James 
Otis," wherein he dwells quite fully on the con- 
temporary events from 1760 to 1775, says : "A 
jealousy of the designs of the English hier- 
archy was kept constantly alive by the indica- 
tions given from time to time of anxiety to 
extend its authority over this country, and by 

1 " Doc. Hist, of New York," III., 637. 

60 Religious Causes 

the indiscreet conduct of some of its mission- 
aries. Fear, hatred, and a long course of 
hereditary prejudice against this church, com- 
bined almost all the dissenting clergy of New 
England against it, and naturally led them to 
sympathize with those who opposed the con- 
stitutional acts of political power." 
V To return to Virginia. In 1755 a short crop 
of tobacco having suddenly enhanced the price, 
the Assembly passed a temporary act authoriz- 
ing the payment of debts, instead of in tobacco, 
as heretofore, in money at twopence for the 
pound of tobacco. Three years after, this 
tender act was renewed. The salaries of the 
parish ministers, some sixty-five in number, 
were payable in tobacco. As they were con- 
siderable losers by this act, they sent an agent 
to England, and by the aid of Sherlock, Bishop 
of London, procured an order in council pro- 
nouncing the law void. Suits were immedi- 
ately brought to recover the difference between 
twopence per pound and the value of the 
tobacco. Patrick Henry was one of those 
engaged to plead against " the parsons." The 
contract was that Maury, " the parson," should 
be paid sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco. 

of the Revolution. 61 

The act of 1758 fixed the value at twopence 
per pound ; it was worth thrice that sum in 
1759. The question of law at issue was simply 
this: the act of 1758 having been duly and 
regularly enacted, could it be annulled by the 
King in Council ? As interpreted by Henry, it 
was a question between the prerogative and 
the people of Virginia. He defined the uses of 
the Established Church and to what extent 
obedience is due the King. " Except you are 
disposed," are his words, " yourselves to rivet 
the chains of bondage on your own necks, do 
not let slip the opportunity now offered of 
making such an example of the reverend 
plaintiff, as shall hereafter be a warning to 
himself and his brothers not to have the 
temerity to dispute the validity of laws authen- 
ticated by the only sanction which can give 
force to laws for the government of this colony, 
the authority of its own legal representatives, 
with its council and governor." The jury 
promptly rendered a verdict of a penny dam- 
ages, and it had the effect, as prophesied by 
the Bishop of London, who said : " The rights 
of the clergy and the authority of the King 
must stand or fall together." Thus, singularly 

62 Religious Causes 

enough, it united ecclesiastical and constitu- 
tional questions as causes of the revolution in 
Virginia, as they had been united in Massachu- 
setts from the beginning of her settlement. 1 
And the same sparks of liberty that were kin- 
dled by Otis in Boston in 1761, in his argument 
against writs of assistance, were ignited anew 
in Virginia by Patrick Henry in the " parson's 

When the revolution came, we find the Bap- 
tists and Presbyterians were almost to a man 
in its favor, influenced by dual considerations, 
civil and ecclesiastical, by the hope of seeing in 
the success of the revolution the overthrow of 
an establishment which they regarded with fear 
and repugnance. Under such conditions, it 
was naturally to be expected that assaults on 
the Established Church would be made, and 
they were made, not without success. At its 
first meeting after the Declaration, the Presby- 
tery of Hanover, in Virginia, addressed the 
Virginia House of Assembly a memorial recom- 
mending, in a spirit of fairness and equal justice 
to all, a separation of Church and State, leaving 

1 See Hon. Mellen Chamberlain's address on John Adams, 
before the Webster Historical Society, January 18, 1884. 
(Published by the Society, Boston.) Brooks Adams's " Eman- 
cipation of Massachusetts" (1887), pp. 319, 341. 

of the Revolution. 63 

the support of the gospel to the voluntary 
efforts of its votaries. " In this enlightened 
age," runs the memorial, " and in a land where 
all of every denomination are united in the 
most strenuous efforts to be free, we hope and 
expect that our representatives will cheerfully 
concur in removing every species of religious as 
well as civil bondage. Certain it is, that every 
argument for civil liberty gains additional 
strength when applied to liberty in the con- 
cerns of religion." From this memorial it 
would appear, that in the opinion of these 
memorialists, a majority of the population of 
Virginia were Episcopalians. Mr. Jefferson, 
on the other hand, states that two thirds of 
the people had become dissenters at the com- 
mencement of the revolution. " I am inclined 
to think," says Robert Baird, 1 "that the greater 
part professed or favored Episcopacy, but that 
a decided majority were opposed to its civil 
establishment." Mr. Jefferson was the great 
champion of religious liberty, and he advocated 
the cause with a devotion and fervor of purpose 
that carried before it every opposition ; but it 
was not until the winter of 1785-6, ten years 

1 Baird's " Religion in America," p. 220. 

64 Religious Causes 

after the beginning of the revolution, that 
an act for establishing religious freedom was 
adopted in Virginia, and the last vestige of a 
united Church and State was obliterated. 1 

The plan of an Established Church, according 
to Rev. Robert Baird, was at one time adopted 
in all the American States except Pennsylvania 
and Rhode Island. The nature of the estab- 
lishment, however, varied in the different States. 
In Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vir- 
ginia, and South Carolina it was almost as strict 
as in England. The early efforts to promote 
religious liberty in Virginia doubtless had its 
direct influence in the other colonies. In No- 
vember, 1776, measures to the same effect were 
adopted by the legislature of Maryland, and the 
union of Church and State was in a like manner 
dissolved by the Legislatures in New York, South 
Carolina, and all the other colonies in which the 
Protestant Episcopal Church was predominant. 
Of all these States, Connecticut and Massachu- 
setts were the last to yield to the advancing 
spirit of religious liberty. It was not till 1816 
that the connection was dissolved in the former, 

1 See Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, Jefferson's 
Works, vol. VIII., 454. 

of the Revolution. 65 

not till 1833 that the finishing blow was 
given to it in the latter State. The religious 
complexion of no two of the American colonies 
was precisely alike. The various sects at the 
time of the revolution were grouped as follows: 
The Puritans in Massachusetts, the Baptists in 
Rhode Island, the Congregationalists in Con- 
necticut, the Dutch and Swedish Protestants in 
New Jersey, the Church of England in New 
York, the Quakers in Pennsylvania, the Bap- 
tists, Methodists, and Presbyterians in North 
Carolina, the Catholics in Maryland, the Cava- 
liers in Virginia, the Huguenots and Episco- 
palians in South Carolina, and the Methodists 
in Georgia. Owing to these fortunate diversi- 
ties, to the consciousness of dangers from ecclesi- 
astical ambition, the intolerance of sects as 
exemplified among themselves as well as in 
foreign lands, it was wisely foreseen that the 
only basis upon which it was possible to form a 
Federal union was to exclude from the National 
Government all power over religion. " It was 
impossible that there should not arise perpetual 
strife and perpetual jealousy," says Judge Story, 
" if the National Government were left free to 
create a religious establishment. But this alone 

66 Religious Causes 

would have been an imperfect security, if it had 
not been followed up by a declaration of the 
right of the free exercise of religion, and a pro- 
hibition of all religious tests." ' 
- It is fair to presume that no one sect a hun- 
dred years ago, if it had possessed the exclusive 
power, would have established by law, absolute 
religious liberty for all sects. When, therefore, 
we trace the origen of religious liberty as 
guaranteed by the Constitution, it is erroneous 
to ascribe it to the acts or liberal tendencies of 
any one or more particular sects. On the con- 
trary, the credit belongs as much to the in- 
tolerant as to the tolerant sects. The constitu- 
tional provisions on this subject clearly bear 

1 Story on the Constitution, 1879. Mr. Jefferson, when 
President, wrote the following letter, in 1802, to the Danbury 
Baptist Association : " Believing with you, that religion is a 
matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he 
owes account to none for his faith or his worship, that the 
legislative powers of government reach action only, and not 
opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of 
the whole American people which declared that their Legis- 
lature should ' make no law respecting an establishment of 
religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, ' thus building 
a wall of separation between Church and State. Adhering to 
this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of 
the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the 
progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all 
his natural rights, convinced that he has no natural right in 
opposition to his social duties." 

of the Revolution. 67 

the marks not of mutual concessions, but of 
reciprocal distrust. That there was good 
ground for such distrust, the provisions of the 
early constitutions of several of the States on 
the subject of religion bear ample testimony. 
And even to this day the Constitution or laws 
of several of the States require a belief in the 
being of a God, and in a future state of rewards 
and punishments as a qualification for holding 
civil office and for testifying in a court of jus- 
tice. But these laws are fast falling into disuse. 
The laws of the States of North Carolina and 
Maryland have within recent years been modi- 
fied in this respect. At rare intervals even at 
the present day we see cropping up the old 
spirit of intolerance in efforts to desecularize 
the public schools, or in a bill offered in the 
Legislature to convert a sectarian holiday into 
a secular dies non. These attempts are general- 
ly predicated upon the false basis that Christian- 
ity is in some way a part of our laws, or on the 
Protestant majority claim. As to the first 
claim, Jefferson clearly disproved that, by a 
careful examination of the ancient authorities 
upon which the claim was supposed to rest. 
" We may safely affirm," says he, " that Chris- 

68 Religious Causes 

tianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the 
common law." The treaty adopted between 
the United States and Tripoli on Nov. 4, 1796, 
and signed by Washington, recites in the 
eleventh article, as a reason why harmony with 
that Mohammedan country could be preserved, 
that " the government of the United States is 
not in any sense founded on the Christian 
religion." 3 

A word only as to the second claim, that of 
the Protestant majority, which says the majority 
religion in this country being the Protestant, 
and the majority of Protestants being in favor 
of reading the Protestant Bible in the public 
schools and the like, therefore the minority 
ought to submit. The answer to this argument 
is, that while in political matters the majority 
rules, in matters of religion and of conscience, 
our Federal and State constitutions delegate no 
such authority, and the majority possesses no 

1 Letter to Thomas Cooper (1814), Works, vol. VI., 311. 

9 For other authorities see Vidal vs. Girard Executors, 2 
How., 198 ; Andrew vs. Bible Society, 4 Sandford, 182 ; 
Cooley on Constitutional Limitations, p. 472 ; Bloom vs. 
Richards' Ohio State Rep., 387, also Minor vs. Board of Edu- 
cation in Cincinnati (1870). See Arguments in same case by 
J. B. Stallo, George Hoadley, and Stanley Matthews, counsel 
for defendants (published by Rob't Clarke & Co., Cincin- 
nati, O.). 

of the Revolution. 69 

such power as to discriminate against a minority 
however small. To such as would ask why 
religion was left out of the Constitution ? we 
answer in the words of Washington, " Because 
it belonged to the churches, and not to the 
State." ' 

1 Letter in Massachusetts Sentinel, Dec. 5, 1789, to the 
Presbyterians of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, who 
complained of " the omission of God " in the Constitution. 



THE social, religious, and political upheavals 
that kept the governments of England and 
the Continent in constant change and commo- 
tion, had as yet little effect in the colonies. 
The people here were busy with their own 
affairs, and England having not as yet laid her 
rapacious hands upon them, they prospered all 
the more by reason of this neglect. Beliefs 
that had lost much of their vigor in Europe re- 
tained all their ancient force in the colonies. 
The inestimable privilege of worshipping God 
in accordance with their own conscience was 
denied to the first settlers of New England in 
the mother country, and they came to the wilds 
of America to enjoy that boon. The Bible was 
to them not only their guide in religion, but 
their text-book in politics. They studied the 
Old Testament and applied its teaching with a 
thoroughness and literal devotion that no 

The Genesis of the Republic. 71 

people, excepting only the Jews, and perhaps 
the Scotch, had ever exemplified, for they 
seemed to recognize a striking similarity be- 
tween their own hardships, history, and condi- 
tion and those of the children of Israel under 
Moses and Joshua. They quoted its texts with 
a literal application. Their condition they 
characterized as " Egyptian Bondage," James 
I. they styled " Pharaoh," the ocean whose 
dangers and hardships their ancestors were 
driven to encounter they spoke of as the " Red 
Sea." They likened their own numbers to 
that of the children of Israel, " three million 
souls," America in whose wilds they had come 
was their " Wilderness," and in after days 
Washington and Adams were frequently re- 
ferred to as their Moses and Joshua. Their 
first conception of the form of an American 
union was a Theocracy, the same form of gov- 
ernment in all its essential characteristics, and 
expressly modelled thereafter, as the children of 
Israel set up over the twelve tribes under their 
great lawgiver Moses. They continued this 
Theocracy for a period of forty-one years, from 
1643 to 1684, and under it they organized the 
New England Confederacy. " This confederacy 

72 The Genesis of the Republic. 

of the four New England Colonies," says Pit- 
kin, "served as the basis of the great con- 
federacy afterwards between the thirteen States 
of America." An examination of the two 
systems discloses a similarity not only in name, 
but in principles. The Puritans, especially the 
New England Puritans, evinced a greater pref- 
erence for the Old Testament than perhaps 
they themselves were aware of. The persecu- 
tions they had suffered in the mother country 
instead of subduing or disbanding them, had 
transformed them from what at first was a sect 
into a faction, united together by the strongest 
ties of union with spirits rendered more 
determined by the severity of the hardships 
they had endured. The wilderness they had 
conquered by their patient toil was now blos- 
soming as a garden interspersed within grow- 
ing villages and populous towns. Their first 
and only concern was to preserve this new 
Canaan for themselves, and to establish such 
laws and regulations for their government as 
might secure this end beyond peradventure. 
The Mosaic laws were framed under divine 
sanction to accomplish a similar end. To these 

1 Pitkin's " History of the U. S." vol. I., p. 52. 

The Genesis of the Republic. 73 

laws they turned as a guide, not taking into 
account that more than thirty centuries had 
rolled by, and that the social regulations of 
those times were no better fitted for the then 
times than the vestments of that clime would 
suffice as a proper protection against the New 
England winter. They did not seem to under- 
stand that however severe the Mosaic code 
was, it was mild in comparison with the laws 
that preceded it, and that the social relations of 
mankind had undergone a change during the 
many centuries that had rolled by. They even 
baptized their children no longer by the names 
of Christian saints but by those of the Hebrew 
prophets and patriarchs. In a word, they 
adopted not the spirit but the letter of the 
Old Testament, and here was the radical error 
of their social regulations. 1 

The question suggests itself : Why could 
not the social laws and religious regulations 
of the Hebrews be adopted by the people of 
New England with the same propriety, justice, 
and applicability as their form of government ? 
The answer is plain. The former were framed 
upon the central idea of exclusiveness. The 
children of Israel were, as they believed, God's 

1 See notes, page 145. 

74 The Genesis of the Republic. 

chosen people. Social and religious regulations 
were made with this chief end in view, that 
they might not by contact with surrounding 
nations lapse into idolatry. On the other hand, 
their form of government was constructed 
upon laws of universal humanity, upon the 
broad principles that all men are equal, that 
God alone is King; which were as true when 
the Declaration of Independence was adopted 
as in the times of Moses and Joshua, and as 
true in New England as they were in Canaan. 

Early in the history of the American people, 
Cotton Mather, who was an extreme Old Tes- 
tamentarian, said : " New England being a 
country whose interests are remarkably en- 
wrapped in ecclesiastical circumstances, minis- 
ters ought to concern themselves in politics." 
Verily they followed his advice. They mus- 
tered not only in the ranks of the Continental 
army, with their firelocks in hand, fighting the 
battles of the revolution, but on Sunday their 
eloquent voices were heard from the pulpit and 
in camp denouncing not only as false in prin- 
ciple, but as against the true spirit and meaning 
of the Scriptures, the slavish doctrines of " un- 
limited submission and non-resistance," which, 

The Genesis of the Republic. 75 

they explained, had been invented by crown 
sycophants and court chaplains to flatter the 
ears of tyrannical rulers. They pictured in 
glowing words the rise and fall of the Hebrew 
Commonwealth, and read to their hearers again 
and again the warnings and admonitions of 
Samuel, and the references made by the 
prophets to the wrongs and injustice of kings, 
and the consequential sufferings of the people 
because of their rejecting God's established 
rule, the government of the people as it ex- 
isted under Moses, Joshua, and the Judges. 
" And the Lord said unto Samuel, hearken 
unto the voice of the people in all that they 
say unto thee ; for they have not rejected thee, 
but they have rejected me, that I should not rule 
over them " (Samuel viii., 7). " Now there- 
fore hearken unto their voice : howbeit yet pro- 
test solemnly unto them, and show them the 
manner of the king that shall reign over 
them " (Id., 9.) These and similar passages 
were taken as texts for the politico-theologi- 
cal sermons that were heard Sunday after 
Sunday throughout New England. Jonathan 
Mayhew, in the preface to his famous discourse 
" Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non- 

76 The Genesis of the Republic. 

Resistance to Higher Powers," etc., published 
at the request of the hearers, delivered on the 
3Oth of January, 1750, the anniversary of the 
death of King Charles I., says by way of intro- 
duction : " It is to be hoped that but few will 
think the subject * * * an improper one to 
be discoursed on in the pulpit, under a notion 
that this is preaching politics, instead of Christ. 
* # * Why then should not these parts of the 
Scripture which relate to civil government be 
examined and explained from the desk as well 
as others ? " 

By a remarkable and potent coincidence the 
very texts and arguments drawn from the 
Scriptures, that were adduced by the divines 
to resist the unjust exactions and illegal 
encroachments of the king, and which stripped 
the royal sceptre of its divine character, held up 
before the American people the Hebrew Com- 
monwealth as a model of government ; so 
closely are the rights of the people and their 
form of government identified in the books of 
the Old Testament. The same Scriptural rec- 
ords which weaned the Americans from their 
monarchical affiliations, which placed the divine 
mark upon popular government, and which 

The Genesis of the Republic. 77 

designated that form as best calculated to 
secure the inestimable privileges of civil lib- 
erty, also supplied the model for its creation. 

We must not forget that in our colonial 
period the great majority of people had neither 
the leisure nor the facilities for acquiring 
knowledge which they have in our day. The 
ability to read was a much rarer accomplish- 
ment than now; newspapers were few, and 
those few were weekly publications, while 
books were relatively expensive. The pulpit 
occupied a more general sphere, and exerted 
much greater influence. Ministers preached 
politics as well as religion. The pulpit was the 
most direct way of reaching the people. 

As early as 1633 the governor and assistants 
in the New England colonies began to appoint 
the most eloquent and distinguished ministers 
to preach on the day of the general election. 
The sermon was styled the election sermon. 
On these occasions political subjects were not 
only permissible, but specially appropriate. 
The sermon was printed, every representative 
receiving several copies, and it was distributed 
throughout the colonies. By the charter of 
William and Mary, in 1691, the last Wednesday 

78 The Genesis of the Republic 

in May was set apart as " Election Day," and 
it remained so until the revolution. The ser- 
mons preached on this day are remarkable for 
their learning and political wisdom. One can- 
not fail on reading them to recognize the fact 
that they contributed much of the moral force 
that brought about our independence. "The 
publication of these sermons in pamphlet form 
was a part of the regular proceedings of the 
Assembly. Scattered over the land, clothed 
with the double sanction of their distinguished 
authorship and the endorsement of the Legis- 
lature, they became the text-books of human 
rights, and in every parish they were regarded 
as the political pamphlets of the day." ' In 
1774, when our whole country was in misery, 
in the travail which preceded the birth of the 
nation, the first provincial Congress of Massa- 
chusetts acknowledged with profound gratitude 
the public obligations to the ministers as friends 
of civil and religious liberty,and invoked their aid 
to assist " in avoiding the dreadful slavery with 
which we are now threatened, and for the estab- 
lishment of the rights and liberties of America." 

1 " Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution," J. T. Headley. 
See J. Wingate Thornton's excellent compilation, " The Pulpit 
of the American Revolution," Boston, 1876. 

The Genesis of the Republic. 79 

The framers of the Republic of the United 
States did not construct this government after 
the model of any of the then existing republics, 
or after that of the great republics of classical 
or mediaeval history. They brought to their 
aid the experiences of all the past ; the entire 
science of government was their guide. In the 
words of Franklin, who, as an authority on 
this subject, is second to none : " We have gone 
back to ancient history for models of govern- 
ment, and examined the different forms of those 
republics which, having been originally formed 
with the seeds of their own dissolution, now 
no longer exist ; and we have viewed modern 
states all round Europe, but find none of their 
constitutions suitable to our own circumstan- 
ces." On the other hand, the departments 
constituting the framework of our government 
the executive, legislative, and judicial, owe 
their origin directly to similar departments in 
the government of England, and to the general 
form of construction of the then existing 
colonial governments. In the spirit and es- 
sence of our Constitution the influence of the 
Hebrew Commonwealth was paramount, in 

1 Bigelow's " Franklin," vol. III., p. 388. 

80 The Genesis of the Republic. 

that it was not only the highest authority for 
the principle : " Rebellion to Tyrants is obe- 
dience to God," but also because it was in 
itself a divine precedent for a pure democracy 
as distinguished from monarchy, aristocracy, 
or any other form of government. By that 
means and to that extent it had a decisive in- 
fluence in guiding the American people in the 
selection of their form of government. 

After the termination of the war between 
France and England for dominion in America^ 
when the question of separation from England 
was first forced upon the minds of the colonists, 
republics were not looked upon with favor. It 
was not a democratic age. The inscription 
upon the little desk upon which the Declara- 
tion of Independence was penned, tells the 
whole story in these characteristic words: 
" Politics as well as religion has its supersti- 
tions." And those superstitions were not on 
the side of popular government. Superstition 
always lurks about the dark and mysterious, it 
is founded in ignorance, fostered by habit and 
promoted by regal authority. The main bul- 
warks of the kingly power were these very su- 
perstitions which surrounded the kingly person 

The Genesis of the Republic. 8 1 

and prerogatives, and no means were more 
effective in freeing the minds of the masses 
from them than the history of the libera- 
tion of the children of Israel and the develop- 
ment of their democratic government. Prudent 
and conservative men are naturally more 
inclined to adopt institutions with which they 
are familiar and under which they have lived, 
than to work experiments in untried projects or 
Utopian theories. The colonists were accus- 
tomed to a monarchical form of government. 
This form was much preferred by the people at 
large to that of a democracy. All the so-called 
democracies of history had been subverted or 
perverted, so that the privileged few had arro- 
gated to themselves even greater powers than 
a king ever dared practically to assume. Such 
had been the result under the Grecian, Roman 
and Venetian republics, and in the republics of 
Holland and England in a modified form. In 
all of these so-called republics, the government 
theoretically was founded on the supremacy of 
the people, but the power was exercised in a 
manner to defeat its purpose. They were, in 
the language of Gibbon, in his description of 
the Roman Commonwealth, "Absolute monar- 

82 The Genesis of the Republic. 

chies disguised in the form of a Common- 
wealth." It was argued with great historical 
force, that the people of England had been in 
a state of turmoil and unrest during the entire 
period of the Commonwealth, and that their 
liberties were more secure under the Restoration 
than they had been under the Commonwealth. 

Montesquieu derided "this impotent effort 
of the English to establish a democracy," and 
pointed out the true causes of its failure. " The 
government was incessantly changed, and the 
astonished people sought for democracy, and 
found it nowhere. After much violence and 
many shocks and blows they were fain to fall 
back on the same government they had over- 

The English Commonwealth was most fa- 
miliar to the people of the colonies, its rise and 
subversion were chapters in their own history, 
and every American, as well as every English- 
man, recognized the fact that this common- 
wealth as an experiment in popular govern- 
ment, was a complete failure, for otherwise the 
Restoration would never have taken place. 
Aside from that, the people in England during 
the Commonwealth feared the sovereignty of 

The Genesis of the Republic. 83 

Parliament more than they ever did that of the 
King. " The Commons were a sort of collective, 
self-constituted, perpetual dictatorship like 
Rome under the Decemviri. England was en- 
slaved by its legislators ; they were irresponsi- 
ble, absolute, and apparently not to be dis- 
solved but at their own pleasure." 1 While it 
is true that the colonies during the period of 
the Commonwealth were comparatively happy 
in the enjoyment of the privilege of being let 
alone, yet the circumstances that brought 
about its overthrow had the natural effect of 
discouraging a like attempt, or any attempt to 
establish a republic. Its failure was cited and 
referred to as a practical argument and illustra- 
tion in favor of the kingly rule. The troubled 
condition of the then existing republics was 
not such as to invite imitation of their form of 
government. The Republic of Holland was in 
a very precarious state, so much so that Mr. 
Adams says of it in his " Defence of the Consti- 
tutions of Government " : " Considering the crit- 
ical situation of it, prudence dictates to pass it 
over." 2 The same observations apply even 

1 Bancroft's " History of the U. S.," vol. I., p. 391. 

3 Works of John Adams, vol. -IV., p. 356. " The govern- 

84 The Genesis of the Republic. 

with greater force to the Republic of Venice, 
which at that time showed signs of dissolution, 
and soon thereafter, in 1797, after having en- 
dured longer than the republics of Rome or 
Sparta, or any other in history, ceased to exist. 
In the following year, 1799, Genoa met with a 
similar fate, its government having been finally 
overthrown by the allied armies of France. 
The Swiss Confederation, although it had ex- 
isted for centuries, did not invite imitation, in 
that it was aristocratic in its tendencies, and 
more especially because the different cantons 
were continually at variance one with another 
to such an extent that political authors have 
justly ascribed its long preservation not to any 
inherent cohesion or stability of its own, but to 
the menacing attitude of surrounding nations, 
which presented to the various cantons a com- 
mon danger, and thereby had the effect to con- 
tinue and cement a Confederation which other- 

ment of Holland grew out of the immediate necessities of the 
heroic struggle with the power of Spain. It never could be 
presented as a model for imitation by any people ; it was a 
singular combination of corporation and aristocratical influence 
with a federal principle. The author had good reason for 
avoiding at the moment of publication any analysis of a system 
which was then crumbling, and which has since been swept 
completely away." p. 357. Note, by Charles Francis Adams. 

The Genesis of the Republic. 85 

wise would have broken asunder. Even the 
Republic of Carthage which resembled the 
Hebrew Commonwealth more than any other 
of the republics of history, and which, accord- 
ing to John Adams, also resembled those of 
the States of America more closely than any of 
the ancient, and perhaps more than any of the 
modern republics, was not a pure democracy, 
in that birth and wealth were necessary qualifi- 
cations for the offices of Senator, Pentarch, and 
Suffete. These two qualifications, however, 
were not all-sufficient ; merit was indispensable, 
and for that reason it rises above most of the 
other ancient republics, so that even Aristotle 
bestowed the highest praise upon its form of 
government. " It is a general opinion that the 
Carthaginians live under a polity which is ex- 
cellent and in many respects superior to all 
others." 1 

The Hebrew Commonwealth, unlike the 
other republics, both ancient and modern, 
was an original government. It was not con- 
structed from the remnants of a shattered 
monarchy, nor did it belong to that class of 
governments which were " originally formed 

1 Politics of Aristotle, book II., ch. 2. 

86 The Genesis of the Republic. 

from the seeds of their own dissolution." The 
governing power was exercised by the people, 
and not arrogated by the few, or retained by 
aristocratic families who might thereby have 
the means of constituting themselves an heredi- 
tary senate. The children of Israel, when they 
escaped from the thraldom of Pharaoh, like the 
people of America when they severed their 
allegiance from the king, were peculiarly fortu- 
nate in having no titled classes with exclusive 
privileges to contend against, no institutions 
among them which had outlived their useful- 
ness, no old ruins to rebuild. They were 
peculiarly fortunate in having the power of 
organizing for themselves such form of govern- 
ment as they in their most deliberate judgment, 
guided by the experiences of all nations, might 
elect. It may be an accidental coincidence 
that in the history of these two people there 
should exist so many circumstances that bear 
a striking similarity to one another, that in re- 
spect to government they should have arrived 
at the same result, the establishment of a 
federal democratic republic. Yet it is doubt- 
less more in accord with the logic of history, 
which is " philosophy teaching by example," 

The Genesis cf the Republic. 87 

to conclude that the former was a material ele- 
ment in the genesis of the latter, and a positive 
influence in its national formation aside from 
any direct connection we may succeed in tra- 
cing in these pages. 



THE primitive Christians derived the institu- 
tion of civil government, not from the consent of 
the people, but from the decrees of God. The 
king or emperor was the Deity's vicegerent. 
The public establishment of Christianity by 
Constantine in the beginning of the fourth 
century had the effect of placing the altar on 
the throne, and the ultimate result was the 
desecration of the one and the degradation of 
the other. It carried with it as a state doc- 
trine the unconditional submission on the part 
of the governed to the powers that be, as 
preached by the apostle in the reign of Nero. 
While the establishment in its inception may 
have had the effect of fostering and spreading 
the light of the new faith in the pagan world, 
it proved on the other hand a hindrance to the 
development of civil liberty for twelve centuries 
and more, distinct traces of which are yet to be 

Monarchy and the Church. 89 

found in the despotic governments of the Old 
World. Its immediate consequences were the 
augmentation of the power of the Pope and 
the subjection of every Christian country, in 
matters temporal as well as ecclesiastical, to the 
throne of Peter. What countless miseries might 
have been spared mankind had Constantine been 
permitted to live and die a pagan, and what effect 
the continued separation of Church and State 
would have had on the destinies of the nations 
of the earth, are subjects suggesting a drift of 
historical speculation that would doubtless be 
replete with most interesting deductions. This, 
however, we must leave to the consideration of 
others. 1 

Aside from the countless benefits that flow 
from Protestantism in all countries, we must 

1 " Whoever governs you his religion shall be yours ! Cujus 
regio, ejus religio. Were ever more blasphemous and insulting 
words hurled in the face of mankind ? Yet this was accepted 
as the net result of the Reformation, so far as priests and 
princes could settle the account. This was the ingenious com- 
promise by which it was thought possible to remove the 
troublesome question of religion forever from the sphere of 
politics. . . . Not freedom of religion, but freedom of 
princes to prescribe religion to their slaves for this so many 
tens of thousands had died on the battle-field, or been burned 
and buried alive ! " John Lothrop Motley, in a lecture en- 
titled "Historic Progress," delivered before the N. Y. His- 
torical Society, in 1868. 

go Monarchy and the Church. 

not lose sight of the fact that Protestantism 
in England had its origin under Henry VIII., 
so far as the King himself was concerned, in mo- 
tives that are not to be commended. He em- 
braced the cause not from any noble purposes, 
not to secure thereby greater liberty for his 
loyal subjects, but to procure greater license 
for himself. The power of the Pope, against' 
which he rebelled, he arrogated to himself, and 
thereby united in his prerogatives Church and 
State. " Popedom was, after the rupture had 
been consummated through the folly of Pope 
Pius the V., virtually effaced from the national 
Christianity. So serious a void there was a 
temptation, perhaps a necessity, to fill, and 
through the force of events more than any 
formal declaration, it was filled in the main by 
the sovereign. This was a result extremely ad- 
verse to civil freedom. It further heightened 
the excess of regal power which had already 
marked the Tudor period. The doctrines of 
Divine Right and of passive obedience took 
deep root in England, and they were peculiarly 
the growth of the English Reformation." * 

1 Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone, Contemporary Review, 
October, 1878. 

Monarchy and the Church. 9 1 

This unfortunate union of Church and State, 
of the crosier and the sword, has been the prime 
source of more bloodshed in Europe than all 
other causes combined. In England, besides 
contributing to the circumstances that gave rise 
to the independent party which brought Charles 
I. to the scaffold, it created the schism between 
the Crown and the Puritans. This schism drove 
many of the latter to America, in order that 
they might there enjoy liberty of conscience, 
which was denied them under the Established 
Church ; and this in turn, by the alarm occa- 
sioned by the frequent attempts to create an 
established church throughout America, con- 
tributed in no slight degreee to political liberty 
and the severing of the connection between the 
colonies and the mother country. 1 

When we consider that the prime motives of 
the first settlers in New England were not for 

1 ' ' Independence of English Church and State was the 
fundamental principle of the first colonists, has been its general 
principle for two hundred years, and now we hope is past dis- 
pute. Who then was the author, inventor, discoverer of Inde- 
pendence ? The only true answer must be, the first emigrants ; 
and the proof of it is, the charter of James the I. When we 
say that Otis, Adams, Mayhew, Henry. Lee, Jefferson, etc., were 
authors of independence, we ought to say they were only 
awakeners and revivers of the original fundamental principle of 
colonization." Works of John Adams, vol. X., p. 359. 

92 Monarchy and the Church. 

commerce, nor for wordly gain, nor for civil do- 
minion, but to secure for themselves liberty of 
worship, we can understand why it was, and 
should be, that these people were constantly on 
their guard against every act and move of the 
mother country which in the remotest degree 
might ultimately lead to an abridgment of 
this sacred right. Lord Chatham, in his cele- 
brated letter to the king, wrote : " They left 
their native land in search of freedom, and 
found it in a desert. Divided as they are into 
a thousand forms of politics and religion, there 
is one point in which they all agree, they equal- 
ly detest the pageantry of a king and the super- 
cilious hypocrisy of a bishop." 

The doctrine of " Divine Right " had a deep- 
rooted significance, and held great sway among 
those who were communicants of the Estab- 
lished Church. It signified that the king could 
do no wrong ; that whatever sufferings the peo- 
ple might be subjected to by reason of the 
king's tyranny and cruelty, it was but proper 
that the people should bear them with meek- 
ness, for did not the Apostle say : " Let every 
soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there 
is no power but of God. The powers that be are 

Monarchy and the Church. 93 

ordained of God," which signified that in no 
case should the people resist their lawful sover- 
eign, no matter what inroads he might make 
upon their most sacred rights and unalienable 
privileges. The duty of a subject is under 
every and all circumstances " unlimited submis- 
sion " and " non-resistance "; for did not the 
Apostle say : " Whosoever, therefore, resisteth 
the power resisteth the ordinance of God, and 
they that resist shall receive to themselves dam- 
nation." It was further maintained that the 
king's cruelty, tyranny, and oppression was for 
the good of the people. It was a means God 
employed to punish them for transgressions : 
" For he is the minister of God, a revenger to 
execute wrath upon him that doeth evil ; there- 
fore, ye must needs be subject not only for 
wrath, but also for conscience' sake." l "What, 
then," it was asked, " can there no case happen 
wherein the people may of right, and by their 
own authority, help themselves ; take up arms 
and set upon their king imperiously domineer- 
ing over them ? None at all whilst he remains 
a king. ' Honor the king/ and * He that re- 

a The words in quotation are from Romans, chap, xiii., 

94 Monarchy and the Church. 

sisteth resists the ordinance of God,' are divine 
oracles that will never permit it." 

Such were the theories of government and of 
civil and religious liberty that were prevalent 
among the ecclesiastics of the Established 
Church under James I., and the king was not 
slow in availing himself of this great badge of 
absolutism, sanctified by the title of " Divine 
Right." Sir Robert Filmer, who was to James 
I. what Bossuet was to Louis XIV., the stand- 
ard bearer of the rankest kind of absolutism, 
possessing a great mind cramped by a supersti- 
tious age, formulated these theories into a sys- 
tem which, according to Macaulay, became the 
badge of the vilest class of Tories and High 
Churchmen. It soon found many advocates 
among those who aspired to the king's favor, 
and made rapid progress among the clergy of the 
Established Church. 3 The execution of Charles 
I. naturally gave a great check to the doctrine 
of " Divine Right," as well as to the whole sys- 
tem of ecclesiastical authority, and to every 
form of absolutism, but the change was too sud- 
den to be durable ; a reaction was destined to 

'Cited by Locke on Civil Government (Lib. II., 237) from 
Barclay's Contra Monarchomachos. 
* History of England, vol. I., chap. i. 

Monarchy and the Church. 95 

come, and soon after the Restoration many be- 
gan to regard the late king as a martyr, and the 
day of his death was made one of the sacred 
days, solemnized as a day of fasting and humilia- 
tion by way of court and compliment to King 
Charles II. 

Thus the people sought to ingratiate them- 
selves with the Crown at the expense of their 
liberties, and yielded freely to Charles II. the 
very liberties they beheaded Charles I. for 
usurping. The ecclesiastics made a strenuous 
effort to recover their former power, to revive 
and reinforce the doctrine of " Divine Right." 
On the day of the execution of Lord William 
Russell, in 1683, the University of Oxford de- 
clared : " Submission and obedience clear, ab- 
solute and without exception, to be the badge 
and character of the Church of England." An 
act was passed by Parliament which acknowl- 
edged not only that the military power was ex- 
clusively in the king, but declared that in no 
extremity whatever could Parliament be justi- 
fied in withstanding him by force. Another 
act had passed which required every officer of 
a corporation to receive the Eucharist accord- 
ing to the rites of the Church of England, and 

96 Monarchy and the Church. 

to swear that he held resistance to the king's 
authority to be in all cases unlawful. About 
the same time the bishops were restored to 
their seats in the House of Lords. The Church 
of England, in return for the protection it 
received from the crown, was not ungrateful 
She had from her birth been attached to 
Monarchy, but during the quarter of a century 
that followed the Restoration, her zeal for 
royal authority and hereditary right passed all 
bounds. She accordingly magnified every ele- 
ment of prerogative. Her favorite theme was the 
doctrine of Non-Resistance. That doctrine she 
taught without exception or qualification, and 
followed out to all its extreme consequences. 

These considerations would not be of interest 
in this connection, were it not that the effect of 
all such movements was strongly felt in the 
American colonies, and had great weight among 
a large and influential class of Episcopalians, 
" in such a manner as to undermine all the 
principles of liberty, whether civil or religious." 1 
And from the further fact that the adherence to 
or dissent from the doctrine of " passive obedi- 

1 Jonathan Mayhew's discourse concerning Unlimited Sub- 
mission and Non-Resistance to Higher Power, etc., delivered 
in West Meeting House, Boston, January 30, 1750. 

Monarchy and the Church. 97 

ence and non-resistance " in America distinctly 
divided the Loyalists from the Whigs. Our 
authority for this statement is the distinguished 
Anglican divine and historian of the revolution, 
Jonathan Boucher, who, in a discourse delivered 
in the latter end of 1775, in the parish of Queen 
Anne, in Maryland, " On Civil Liberty, Passive 
Obedience, and Non-Resistance," after referring 
to the meaning of that doctrine as applied to 
the present duty of the colonies as towards the 
mother country, says : " It really is a striking 
feature in our national history, that ever since 
the Revolution, hardly any person of any note 
has preached or published a sermon into which 
it was possible to drag this topic without de- 
claring against this doctrine. It seems to have 
been made a kind of criterion or test of principle 
and the watchword of a party. What is not 
less remarkable is, that whilst the right of 
resistance has thus incessantly been delivered 
from the pulpit, insisted on by orators, and 
inculcated by statesmen, the contrary position 
is still (I believe) the dictate of religion and 
certainly the doctrine of the Established 
Church, and still also the law of the land." 1 

1 From a discourse by Jonathan Boucher in answer to a ser- 

98 Monarchy and the Church. 

The Episcopalians, as a class, in New England 
and in the other colonies, warmly espoused the 
cause of the Crown ; as they derived their ec- 
clesiastical authority from the Church of Eng- 
land, loyalty to the king was a part of their 
worship, and this fact was seized upon and 
was utilized by the Crown, through its colonial 
governors, from political as well as religious 
motives. George III., before the time when 
the crisis arrived in America, had revived in all 
its force the monstrous doctrine of " Divine 
Right," which the revolution was supposed to 
have destroyed. He had the most exalted 
notions of his own prerogatives, and to his 
despotic temper was added an overweening 
sense of the homage due him as head of 
the Church. This phase of George's character 
little concerned the people of Great Britain, as 
British liberty was secure, carefully guarded by 
constitutional limitations and by their repre- 
sentatives in the House of Commons. The 
position of America was entirely different in 
this respect. The royal theory as to colonies 
was, that they were Crown dependencies. The 

mon on the same text and subject by the Rev. Mr. Duche, 
preached and printed in Philadelphia in July, 1775. "Ameri- 
can Revolution," by Boucher, pp. 495 and 545. 

Monarchy and the Church. 99 

people had no representative in Parliament or 
at the court to look after their interests, and no 
one to guard them from injustice, excepting a 
Pitt or a Barre, and a few others like them, 
whose sense of right and equity impelled 
them to disregard party affiliations, and to 
plead the cause of the outraged colonists. 

In Great Britain any attempted encroach- 
ment of the king or his ministers upon the 
rights of the people could be checked by the 
Commons, but as toward the colonists the king 
and Parliament were on the same side, and 
absolutism had full reign, limited only by the 
power of resistance in self-defence, which the 
people in the colonies, goaded by the wrongs 
and injustice they had suffered, might be able 
to command. The result was, as has already 
been stated ; under different conditions the 
Revolution of 1688 was reenacted in America. 
The arguments of Filmer and Hobbes were 
again opposed by those of Sidney and Locke. 
The doctrine of " Divine right and Unlimited 
Submission," as distorted from the New Testa- 
ment, was battered down by the laws of Moses 
and the admonitions of Samuel as contained 
in the Old. Puritan theology was arrayed 

i oo Monarchy and the Church. 

against the politico-theologial tenets of the 
Established Church. The divine supremacy of 
the Law, as embodied in and illustrated by the 
Hebrew Commonwealth, was brought in con- 
flict with the " Divine Right " of kings, as 
exhibited in the absolutism of George III., 
and out of this struggle came to life American 



THE historians arid' ^nte^s. on ' 'political 
science, in tracing; the origin ; of ; 'dW6ci'atic 
government, refer invariably to the republics 
of Greece, assuming that civil liberty was first 
cradled there under their Solons and Ly- 
curguses. We must look farther back than 
either Athens or Sparta for the origin of the 
blessings which we enjoy, and which are guar- 
anteed to us under the forms of popular gov- 
ernment. The form of government outlined 
by Moses and practically developed under 
Joshua and his successors, first embodied the 
principles upon which the rights and liberties 
of a people should rest and be sustained. The 
Hebrew Commonwealth originated and organ- 
ized a civil polity which the matured experience 
of after-ages selected as the most perfect form 
of government. The best features of the Greek 

1 See notes, page 145. 

IO2 The Hebrew Commonwealth, 

and Roman republics, and as I shall attempt to 
show of our American republic, were exhibited, 
not in dim outline, but in many respects in 
quite an advanced stage of development, in this 
the first of democratic republics. 

The Hebrew Commonwealth embraces that 
period of- the history., of the children of Israel, 
from the Exodus to the selection of Saul as 
king ; tha-: is, during the administration of 
Moses, Joshua, and the Judges, about 550 
years, according to the generally approved 
chronology from about 1650 B.C. to 1099 B.C. 
That the Israelites while in Egypt were under 
some definite discipline and regulations of their 
own, is to be inferred not only from the fact 
that when they left Egypt they did not go 
forth like a tumultuous rabble, but marched as 
an organized army under regular leaders, but 
also from the circumstance that when Moses 
was first sent to deliver God's message to the 
children of Israel, he was directed to " gather 
the elders of Israel together," and he literally 
followed this express direction. Similar allu- 
sions to the " elders " occur while the children 
of Israel were yet in Egypt ; but whether 
these regulations were derived from patriarchal 

The First Federal Republic. 103 

times we have no direct proof. Moses, the 
founder of the Hebrew Commonwealth, was 
reared and educated in the palace of Pharaoh, 
and thereby doubtless possessed the most 
favorable opportunities for developing his 
talents. He might, it is proper to assume, 
have enjoyed the highest honors under the 
king, had he desired them, as the princess re- 
garded him as her son. But the sight of his 
suffering brethren filled him with grief and 
turned his thoughts to devising methods for 
their relief. He abandoned the splendor and 
luxury of the palace to lead the life of a simple 
shepherd in Midian, where he remained for 
forty years, in the meantime doubtless perfect- 
ing plans to secure the release of his enslaved 
brethren. He married the daughter of Jethro, 
a priest of the Midianites, and a man of much 
wisdom, as appears from every allusion to him, 
and from the excellent advice he gave to 
Moses. Forty years having elapsed, Moses re- 
appears in Egypt as the deliverer of his people, 
with his plans and methods all carefully arranged 
for the accomplishment of his noble purpose. 
In the narration of the manner of the release, 
doubtless the real and the figurative are inter- 

IO4 The Hebrew Commonwealth, 

twined in accordance with the style of the 
writers of the ancient East. The release is 
effected, and the children of Israel, numbering 
six hundred thousand men capable of bearing 
arms, which represented, according to the gene- 
rally accepted estimate, a total population of 
three millions, march forth from under the 
thraldom of Pharaoh, and establish their na- 
tional independence and civil freedom. 

Having crossed the Red Sea, the first signifi- 
cant step taken by Moses is the separation of 
Church and State, by causing the priestly duties 
to devolve upon Aaron, and the military com- 
mand upon Joshua, while Moses retains the 
entire charge of the civil administration, until 
about the third month of the wanderings, when 
they arrive at the foot of Mount Sinai. Then 
" It came to pass on the morrow that Moses 
sat to judge the people." When Jethro, who had 
joined Moses, saw how he was occupied in judg- 
ing between one and the other, he very wisely 
counselled Moses how to delegate his authority 
for the greater advantage of his people and 
with benefit to himself. "The thing that thou 
doest is not good this is too heavy for thee ; 
thou art not able to perform it thyself. More- 

The First Federal Republic. 105 

over, thou shalt provide out of all the people 
able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating 
covetousness, and place such over them to be 
rulers of thousands and rulers of hundreds, 
rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. So Moses 
hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and 
did all that he had said." Exodus xviii., 13-24. 
That he did so hearken and follow this wise 
counsel of his father-in-law appears by Moses' 
own statement some forty years afterward, as 
contained in Deuteronomy i., 9, 13, and 15: 
" And I spake unto you at that time saying, * I 
am not able to bear you myself alone. Take 
you wise men, and understanding, and known 
among your tribes, and I will make them rulers 
over you.' And ye answered me and said, 
' The thing which thou hast spoken is good for 
us to do.' " These and other similar passages 
distinctly prove the practical establishment and 
adoption of the essential principles of demo- 
cratic government. First, that of representa- 
tion the text is (hdbu), take you or select for 
yourself, not that I will make rulers over you 
of my own selection ; but the words of Moses 
are: "Take you or select for yourselves," and 
such as you select I will make them rulers. 

io6 The Hebrew Commonwealth, 

Secondly, we discover here the recognition and 
adoption of the principle of civil equality in its 
fullest application, in that we find that the 
rulers and officers were not to be taken from 
any special favored or privileged class, but " out 
of all the people." And who were these rulers 
to be? Were they to be men of wealth from 
any particular tribe or family ? No, they must 
be men of recognized fitness and capacity, 
of high moral worth, pure and righteous 
men who would not betray their sacred trust 
for selfish ends. " Able men, such as fear God, 
men of truth, hating covetousness wise men, 
and understanding, and known among your 
tribes." These were the qualities that the rep- 
resentative must possess, that are as all-suffi- 
cient now as they were then, and of which the 
American people were continually reminded 
during the period of their organization of gov- 
ernment by the public orators and preachers 
of election sermons. 

The children of Israel having arrived in sight 
of the Promised Land, their great lawgiver 
summons them all before him ; he recounts 
to them their whole eventful history, their 
hardships, their toils, their sufferings and their 

The First Federal Republic. 107 

triumphs ; he recapitulates and codifies their 
laws and causes them to be written in one brief 
book, the Book of Deuteronomy, which are 
thereupon adopted by the whole people under 
the most solemn and awe-inspiring circum- 
stances. He admonishes them to keep these 
laws fresh in their memory, and directs that 
they shall be read before all Israel at the end 
of every seven years, in solemnity of the 
year of release, on the Feast of Tabernacles. 
The people bind their part of the cove- 
nant by answering : " All that Jehovah hath 
spoken we will do." Moses then commits the 
book of the laws into the custody of the Le- 
vites, the tribe especially set apart for the 
service of religion and as instructors and teach- 
ers of the nation, who, as Moses expressly de- 
clares : " Shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and 
Israel thy law." Moses is succeeded by Joshua, 
who leads his conquering armies over the 
Jordan. Before settling in the Promised 
Land the law is again promulgated, and Jos- 
hua is confirmed as chief executive by the 
voice of the people. Joshua is succeeded by 
the Shophetim or Judges, of whom the Scrip- 
tures enumerate fourteen in all, from Othniel 
to Samuel. 

io8 The Hebrew Commonwealth, 

The Judges were elected by the people, and 
summoned to power as the necessities of the 
times demanded ; they were statesmen-heroes, 
and after the occasion for which they were 
called to assume the head of the confeder- 
ate nation had passed away, they usually re- 
tired to their humble occupations, as was no- 
tably the case with Gideon. The government 
under the Judges was very much like our own 
Federal Government : each tribe had its own tri- 
bal or state government, which had jurisdiction 
over all local affairs, and it sent its duly elected 
representatives to the national congress. This 
government, from the fact that God, the source 
of all power, the embodiment of the law, and 
not a king, was ruler of the nation, is termed 
by various writers a Theocracy, or Nomocracy 
(from nomos, meaning law), or a Common- 

Many writers fall into the error of defining 
this theocratic government as a government by 
priests, or a purely religious commonwealth. 
The very fact that the Levites, the tribe of 
priests, were separated from the other tribes, 
and that, with the single exception of Eli, 
no priest was ever elected to the chief magis- 

The First Federal Republic. 1 09 

tracy during the entire period of the Common- 
wealth, decidedly negatives any such interpreta- 
tion. The central or national government was 
divided into three departments ; they were : 

First. The Chief Executive, who was styled 
Judge or Shophete. 1 He was vested with chief 
command in war, and was at the same time the 
first magistrate in peace. He summoned the 
senatorial and popular assemblies, proposed 
subjects for their deliberation, presided in their 
councils, and executed their resolutions. In 
the words of the learned Calmet : " He was 
protector of the law, defender of religion. He 
was without pomp, without followers, without 
equipage. The revenue of his office was mere- 
ly gratuitious. He had no settled stipend, nor 
did he raise any thing from the people." 3 That 
the Chief Executive might not wield arbitrary 
power, and at the same time to divide the 
responsibility of government and thereby to aid 

1 The Carthaginians had rulers, whom they styled Suffites, 
whose name seems to be derived from the same stem, and 
whose authority resembled in some particulars that of Shophe- 
tim, or successors of Joshua. Livii: Hist. Lib., xxviii., 37, 
Lib. xxx., 7. 

9 See also Lowmanon "Civil Government of the Hebrews," 
ch. 10; and Dupin, "Complete History of the Canon," Book 
I., ch. 3, sec. 3. 

no The Hebrew Commonwealth, 

him in conducting the affairs of state, a Senate 
was elected of seventy elders. 

Second. The Senate, Sanhedrim or Syned- 
rium. Whether it had its origin in Jethro's 
advice to Moses, above referred to, or came 
into being a year later (Numbers xi., 16, 24), is 
a matter concerning which biblical expositors 
are divided. That a permanent national senate 
was created at this latter period is maintained 
very generally by Jewish writers, as well as by 
such scholars as Sidney, Grotius, and Selden. 
The former claim that this senate continued 
with but short interruptions from that time 
until the Babylonish captivity, and was revived 
and reorganized on more definite principles 
after the return of the Jews to Jerusalem. 
Some writers even go so far as to deny that this 
council of seventy was a legislative body, and 
claim that it was purely judicial. I am inclined 
to the opinion that although its chief functions 
were legislative, and occupied the same position 
in the frame of government as our senate, yet 
it was at the same time a high court of justice, 
the legislative and judicial departments being 
united as in the English House of Lords. The 
learned commentators Michaelis and Jahn 

The First Federal Republic. 1 1 1 

agree in their views as to the nature and func- 
tions of this senate. I quote the former, who 
says : " Moses established in the wilderness 
another institution which has been commonly 
held to be of a judicial nature, and under the 
name of Sanhedrim or Synedrium, much 
spoken of both by Jews and Christians, 
although it probably was not of long continu- 
ance. 1 

" A rebellion that arose among the Israelites 
distressed Moses exceedingly. In order to 
lessen the weight of the burden and the 
responsibilities that oppressed him, he chose 
from the twelve tribes collectively a council 
of seventy persons to assist him. It seems 
much more likely that this selection was 
intended for a Supreme Senate." 

Third. The Assembly. This was the popu- 
lar branch of government, and that such 
existed is very evident from numerous pas- 
sages which directly refer thereto, and from 

1 J. M. Mathews, D.D., in his book of lectures entitled 
4< The Bible and Civil Government," proves quite conclusively 
that the senate was a permanent national body. ' ' It seems, 
in some respects, to have been like an Upper House, as the 
senate in our own government, or in other respects like a High 
Court of Appeal, whose decisions and ordinances would give 
weight to their proceedings and their acts." P. 227. 

112 The Hebrew Commonwealth, 

distinctions made between " all Israel " and 
this third department or assembly. Its charac- 
teristics and constitution are not so definitely 
laid down as those of the senate, nor does the 
Scriptures inform us of how many individuals it 
was composed. This assembly is styled generally 
the " Congregation," the " whole Congregation," 
" all the Congregation," and that these terms 
did not mean all the children of Israel numeri- 
cally, but only in their representative capacity, 
is clear from the context itself, especially when, 
from the nature of the occasion, the whole 
population could not have possibly acted. For 
instance, when it was commanded respecting 
an offender, " Let all the congregation stone 
him," it surely could not have meant that the 
three million should do it ? " From various 
passages of the Pentateuch," says the learned 
commentator, Michaelis, "we find that Moses, 
at making known the laws, had to convene the 
whole congregation of Israel ; and in like man- 
ner, in the Book of Joshua, we see that when 
Diets were held the whole congregation were as- 
sembled. If, on such occasions, every individual 
had to give his vote, every thing would certainly 
have been democratic in the highest degree ; 

The First Federal Republic. 113 

but it is scarcely conceivable how, # * * for 
this circumstance alone must convince any one 
that Moses could only have addressed himself 
to a certain number of persons deputed to rep- 
resent the rest of the Israelites. Accordingly, 
in Numbers i., 16, mention is made of such 
persons, and in contradistinction to the com- 
mon Israelites they are there denominated 
Keriie Haeda that is, those wont to be called 
to the convention." Algernon Sidney, whose 
"Discourses concerning Government " was the 
chief text-book of the founders of our govern- 
ment, and whose works were to be found in the 
libraries of Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, and 
many others of our scholars, statesmen, and 
divines, sums up his estimate of the Hebrew 
Commonwealth in these words : " Having seen 
what government God did not ordain, it may be 
reasonable to examine the nature of govern- 
ment he did ordain, and we shall find it consisted 
of those parts, besides the magistrates of the 
several tribes and cities : They had a chief 
Magistrate, who was called Judge or Captain, 
as Joshua, Gideon, and others ; a Council of 
seventy chosen men, and the General Assem- 
bly of the people. The first was merely occa- 

114 The Hebrew Commonwealth, 

sional, like to the Dictators of Rome. * * * 
The second is known by the name of the Great 
Sanhedrim, which, being instituted by Moses, 
according to the command of God, continued 
till they were all, save one, slain by Herod. 
And the third, which is the Assembly of the 
people, was so common that none can be igno- 
rant of it, but such as never looked into the 
Scripture." 1 The author then cites Josephus, 
Philo, Maimonides, and Abarbanel in confirma- 
tion of his text. 

Aside from this popular and progressive 
system of government that was organized by 
Moses and his immediate successors, a number 
of statutes were passed, doubtless with a view 
of raising the people up to such a standard of 
moral worth that they might be a law unto 
themselves and long cherish the blessings of 
civil freedom under their God-given govern- 
ment ; statutes that lie at the root of our most 
advanced civilization, that embody the highest 
justice and the broadest humanity. They had 
their statutes of limitations, which provided 
that at the end of every cycle of seven times 
seven years, in the year of jubilee, all debts 

1 "Discourses Concerning Government," Chap. II., Sec. 9. 

The First Federal Republic. 1 1 5 

should be cancelled and all unfulfilled obliga- 
tions annulled. In that year, likewise, all agri- 
cultural property and all realty other than real 
estate located in walled cities was to revert to 
the original owner or to his heirs at law, dis- 
charged from all liens, debts, and encumbrances. 
In this wise the permanent accumulation of 
large tracts of lands in single hands or families 
was rendered impossible, and thereby would 
have been prevented that species of slavery 
known as the feudal system. 

No better law than that of Moses could have 
been devised to maintain political equality. 
The effect was the same as if the state retained 
the fee and every fifty years made leases to 
every head of a family at a nominal rental. In 
fact, we find a positive provision that the land 
should not be permanently alienated : " The 
land shall not be sold forever ; for the land 
is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners 
with me " (Levit. xxv., 23). The home- 
stead and exemption laws find their origin 
in the following humane provision of the 
Mosaic code : " No man shall take the upper 
or nether millstone to pledge ; for he taketh a 
man's life to pledge." The principle embodied 

'i 1 6 The Hebrew Commonwealth, 

in this law is being gradually recognized in the 
civil laws of all nations, that a man cannot by 
distraint for debt be deprived of the necessary 
means of sustaining life. Provisions were also 
made prohibiting the land proprietor from 
gleaning the fields and reaping the corners, so 
that the poor and the stranger might gather 
the leavings, and thus be relieved without being 

Akin to this humane and tender considera- 
tion for the poor are the statutes requiring the 
master to pay the hire of his servant promptly 
on the day when due : " Neither shall the sun go 
down upon it, for he is poor and setteth his 
heart upon it." There is a sense of mingled 
kindness and justice expressed in this injunc- 
tion, and the reasons assigned for its strict 
obedience appeal touchingly to the master's 
obligation. Numerous other laws of universal 
application are contained in this code, which 
provides not only for justice tempered with 
mercy, as between man and man, but prohibits 
cruelty towards the lower animals. 

The lessons of the decline of this republic 
are as valuable and instructive as that of its 
development. It was not subverted by force 

The First Federal Republic. 1 1 7 

nor by the tricks or cunning devices of unscrup- 
ulous leaders, as was the case with the 
Grecian, Roman, and Venetian republics, but 
by the people exercising their democratic pre- 
rogative, the right of choice to set up over 
themselves such form of government as they 
might elect. Their original constitution pro- 
vided for such a contingency, and while giving 
warnings against it, contained instructions for 
establishing a form of monarchy which would 
be farthest removed from tyranny. Thus we 
see at this early period of mankind 1,500 years 
and more before the Christian era, before Rome 
had obtained a foothold in history, 500 years 
before Homer sang, and 1,000 years before 
Plato had dreamed of his ideal republic, when 
all Western Europe was an untrodden wilder- 
ness the children of Israel on the banks of the 
Jordan, who had just emerged from centuries 
of bondage, not only recognized the guiding 
principles of civil and religious liberty that 
" all men are created equal," that God and the 
law are the only kings, but also established a 
free commonwealth, a pure democratic-republic 
under a written constitution, " a government of 
the people, by the people, and for the people." 



IT is remarkable, that of the many historians 
who have written so ably and minutely of the 
history of the United States, none should have 
observed in his writings the relationship be- 
tween our republic and the commonwealth of 
the Hebrews, especially in the light of the 
earliest constitutions of several of the New 
England colonies expressly framed upon the 
model of the Mosaic code as a guide, and of 
the frequent references thereto made by the 
ministers in their political sermons, who con- 
stantly drew their civil creed from the history 
of those times, and held up this ancient form 
of government as a model inspired under the 
guidance of the Most High. 

The distinguished Jonathan Mayhew, the 
divine whom Robert Treat Paine styled " the 

The Government of the United States. 119 

father of civil and religious liberty in Massa- 
chusetts and in America," who suggested to 
James Otis the idea of a committee of corre- 
spondence, 1 a measure of great efficiency in pro- 
ducing concert of action between the colonies, 
and who as early as 1750 delivered a discourse 
against unlimited submission and non-resist- 
ance, a sermon which was characterized as 
"The morning gun of the Revolution," in a 
later discourse delivered in Boston on May 
23, 1766, on the " Repeal of the Stamp Act," 
says : " God gave Israel a king (or absolute 
monarchy) in his anger, because they had not 
sense and virtue enough to like a free common- 
wealth, and to have himself for their king, 

1 The General Court of Massachusetts originated the meas- 
ures that resulted in the union of the colonies by instituting 
the "Committee of Correspondence," who should keep each 
colony advised of what was passing in all the others, and 
should concert plans of action. This idea came from Dr. May- 
hew, who wrote to James Otis in 1766 as follows : "Lord's 
Day, June 8th. To a good man all time is holy enough, and 
none is too holy to do good, or to think upon it. Cultivating 
a good understanding and hearty friendship between these colo- 
nies appears to me so necessary a part of prudence and good 
policy that no favorable opportunity for that purpose should be 
omitted. " He then adds : ' ' You have heard of the Com- 
munion of Churches : while I was thinking of this in my bed, 
the great use and importance of a Communion of Colonies 
appeared to me in a strong light, which led me immediately to 
set down these hints and transmit to you." 


1 20 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, 
and if any miserable people on the continent 
or isles of Europe be driven in their extremity to 
seek a safe retreat from slavery in some far dis- 
tant 'clime O let them find one in America." 

Samuel Langdon, D.D., the President of 
Harvard College, who, through the influence of 
John Hancock, was installed in that office as 
the successor of Samuel Locke, and who, after- 
wards, in 1788, was a member of the New 
Hampshire convention when the constitution 
came before that body for adoption, in his 
election sermon delivered before the " Honora- 
ble Congress of Massachusetts Bay " on the 
3 1st of May, 1775, taking as his text the pas- 
sage in Isaiah, i., 26, " And I will restore thy 
judges as at the first," etc., delivered a most 
eloquent discourse, wherein he traces the his- 
tory of government from the first recorded 
beginning, and defines its functions and prerog- 
atives with a logic that proves him to have 
been well versed in the doctrines of civil liberty 
as handed down through the writings of Sid- 
ney, Milton, Hoadley, and his eminent prede- 
cessor, Locke. These are his words : " The 
Jewish government, according to the original 

The Government of the United States. 121 

constitution which was divinely established, 
if considered merely in a civil view, was a 
perfect republic. And let them who cry up the 
divine right of kings consider, that the form of 
government which had a proper claim to a 
divine establishment was so far from including 
the idea of a king, that it was a high crime for 
Israel to ask to be in this respect like other 
nations, and when they were thus gratified, it 
was rather as a just punishment for their folly. 
Every nation, when able and agreed, has a right 
to, set up over itself any form of government 
which to it may appear most conducive to its 
common welfare. The civil polity of Israel is 
doubtless an excellent general model, allowing 
for some peculiarities ; at least, some principal 
laws and orders of it may be copied in more 
modern establishments." 

By a special vote Dr. Langdon's sermon was 
ordered to be printed and sent to each minister 
in the colony and to each member of the Con- 
gress. What effect such words as these had 
upon the minds of the people in general in 
preparing them for independence, as well as 
upon the founders of our republic, each and all 
of whom doubtless read this sermon, is scarcely 

122 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

a matter of conjecture when we take into con- 
sideration that he was not only a ripe scholar 
occupying the most important literary position 
in America, as President of Harvard College, 
but one of the foremost ministers and pulpit 
orators, as well as an acknowledged authority 
in the science of government. 1 

On the 1 7th of May, 1776, which was kept as 
a national fast, George Duffield, the minister of 
the Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, 
with John Adams as a listener, drew a parallel 
between George III. and Pharaoh, and inferred 
that the same providence of God which had 
rescued the Israelites from Egyptian bondage 
intended to free the colonies. The election ser- 
mon of the following year was preached on the 
29th of May, 1776, some forty days before the 
Declaration of Independence, before "the Hon- 
orable Council and the Honorable House of 
Representatives of the Colony of Massachusetts 
Bay," by the Rev. Samuel West. He was not 
behind his professional brethren in zeal for the 
welfare and liberty of his country. He was a 
member of the convention for forming the con- 
stitution of Massachusetts, and of that of 1788, 

1 See notes, page 145. 

The Government of the United States. 1 23 

which ratified the Constitution of the United 
States. He took his text from Isaiah i., 26, 
the same as was taken by Dr. Langdon above 
quoted. He discusses the entire political 
situation of the times. " We are to remember 
that all men being by nature equal, they have 
a right to make such regulation as they deem 
necessary for the good of all ; that magis- 
trates have no authority but what they derive 
from the people." He then passes in review 
those two famous passages from the New 
Testament, which I have already referred to, 
under whose authority monarchs, tyrants, and 
usurpers have claimed as sanctioned by Holy 
Scriptures the right of obedience under all 
circumstances, and from which were deduced 
the doctrines of " Divine Right," and " Un- 
limited Submission." From this he passes in 
review the history of civil government, and 
sums up by saying : " There was great deal 
of propriety in the advice Jethro gave to 
Moses to provide able men men of truth, 
and to appoint them for rulers over the people ; 
(then quoting the words of David): ' He that 
ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear 
of God/ " 

124 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

The election sermon in 1780 was delivered 
before the same body, the Council and House 
of Representatives of the State of Massachu- 
setts, by Rev. Mr. Simeon Howard, .who suc- 
ceeded Dr. Mayhew as pastor of the West 
Church of Boston. Among his hearers were 
Robert Treat Paine and Samuel Adams. The 
latter submitted to Rev. Mr. Howard the resolu- 
tion of both Houses of the General Assembly, 
containing an expression of thanks, and request- 
ing a copy for the press. Taking as his text 
Exodus xviii., 21 "Thou shalt provide out 
of all thy people able men, such as fear God, 
men of truth, hating coveteousness ; and place 
such over them to be rulers," he divides his 
sermon under four heads: 1st. Necessity of 
civil government ; 2d. The right of the people 
to choose their own rulers ; 3d. The business of 
rulers ; and 4th. The qualifications as pointed 
out in the text as necessary for civil rulers. His 
sermon is almost entirely devoted to the ex- 
position of the Hebrew Commonwealth under 
Moses ; that it was a government by the peo- 
ple under the guidance of God Almighty ; and 
the rulers were not appointed, but elected. 
His words are : "This is asserted by Josephus 

The Government of the United States. 1 2 5 

and plainly intimated by Moses in his recapitu- 
latory discourses, and indeed the Jews always 
exercised the right of choosing their own rulers ; 
even Saul and David and all their successors on 
the throne were made kings by the voice of the 

On May 8, 1783, at Hartford, before "His 
Excellency Governor Trumbull and the Honor- 
able General Assembly of the State of Connec- 
ticut," the election sermon was preached by the 
eminent President of Yale College, Rev. Dr. 
Ezra Stiles, who as early as 1760 predicted that 
" the imperial dominion will subvert as it ought 
in election." He was the lifelong friend of 
Franklin, and to whom Franklin, who was re- 
garded by some as an atheist, because his pure 
and simple deism conformed with no estab- 
lished sect, wrote in his eighty-fourth year as 
follows : " You desire to know something of 
my religion ; it is the first time I have been 
questioned upon it. Here is my creed : I be- 
lieve in one God, creator of the universe ; that 
he ought to be worshipped ; that the most 
acceptable service we render to him, is doing 
good to his other children. As to Jesus of Na- 
zareth, I think his system of morals, as he left 

126 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is 
like to see ; but I apprehend it has received vari- 
ous corrupting changes, and I have some doubts 
as to his divinity." 1 Dr. Stiles, taking for his 
text Deut. xxvi., 19 "And to make thee high 
above all nations which he has made, in praise, 
and in name, and in honor," etc., delivered a 
discourse subject, " The United States Ele- 
vated to Glory and Honor." This sermon takes 
up one hundred and twenty closely printed 
pages, and assumes the proportions of a trea- 
tise on government from the Hebrew The- 
ocracy down to the then present, showing by 
illustration and history that the culmination 
of popular government had been reached in 
America, transplanted by divine hands in ful- 
filment of biblical prophecy from the days of 
Moses to the land of Washington ; and discuss- 
ing from an historical point of view " the reasons 
rendering it probable that the United States 
will, by the ordering of Heaven, eventually be- 
come this people." 

His words are : " Here (at the foot of Mount 
Nebo) the man of God, Moses, assembled three 

1 See Bigelow's " Life of Franklin, Written by Himself," vol. 
III., p. 459- 

The Government of the United States. 127 

millions of people the number of the United 
States, recapitulated and gave them a second 
publication of the sacred Jural Institute, de- 
livered thirty-eight years before under the most 
awful solemnity at Mt. Sinai. He foresaw indeed 
their rejection of God, whence Moses and the 
prophets, by divine direction, interspersed their 
writings with promises that when the ends of 
God's moral government should be answered, 
he would recover and gather them (quoting 
Deut. xxx., 3) ' from all the nations whither 
God had scattered them/ * * * Then the 
words of Moses hitherto accomplished but in 
part, will be literally fulfilled. I shall," he con- 
tinues, " enlarge no further upon the primary 
sense and literal accomplishment of this and 
numerous other prophecies respecting both 
Jews and Gentiles in the latter-day glory of the 
church ; for I have assumed the text only as 
introductory to a discourse upon the political 
welfare of God's American Israel, and as 
allusively prophetic of the future prosperity and 
splendor of the United States." Referring to 
the success of our armies under Washington, 
whereby the independence and sovereignty of 
the United States was established and recog- 

128 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

nized by Great Britain herself in less than 
eight years, he says : " Whereupon Congress 
put at the head of the spirited army the only 
man on whom the eyes of all Israel were placed. 
Posterity, incredulous as they may be, will yet 
acknowledge that this American Joshua was 
raised up by God for the great work of leading 
the armies of this American Joseph (now sep- 
arated from his brethren), and conducting these 
people to liberty and independence." Such is 
the reasoning of Dr. Stiles, a man who was held 
in the highest esteem and most profound re- 
spect by every American for his learning, 
patriotism, and wisdom. Chancellor Kent said 
of him, in an address delivered at the Yale 
Commencement in 1831 : "A more constant 
and devoted friend to the revolution and inde- 
pendence of his country never existed. Take 
him for all in all, this very man was un- 
doubtedly one of the purest and best-gifted 
men of his age." 

On December n, 1783, appointed as a day of 
thanksgiving by Congress, upon the restoration 
of peace, Rev. Dr. Duffield, of the Third Presby- 
terian Church in Philadelphia, and one of the 
chaplains of Congress, preached the sermon of 

The Government of the United States. 129 

the day before a most distinguished audience 
of citizens and legislators. Dr. Duffield was 
also one of the most eminent divines in Amer- 
ica, recognized not only for his great learning 
and eloquence, but prominent by reason of his 
zeal in the cause of independence, and for his 
devotion to the public welfare, and for his com- 
manding influence among his fellow men. This 
sermon, together with others to which reference 
has been made, illustrate how thoroughly the 
pulpit was imbued with the Mosaic ideas and 
polity. The affairs of the colonies in their 
every condition were constantly compared with 
those of the children of Israel. Dr. Stiles, in 
his celebrated sermon above quoted, went so 
far in that direction as to advance reasons why 
the aboriginal Americans were none others but 
the lost tribes of Israel, and that therefore the 
same Providence guided their destiny. Dr. 
Duffield, referring to the causes which led to 
the American revolution, that it was brought 
about by reason of the British monarch's deter- 
mination to reduce the colonies into absolute 
vassalage, carries forward the analogy in these 
words : " Some have ascribed this extravagant 
conduct to the same spirit of jealousy which 

130 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

once influenced the councils of Egypt against 
the house of Joseph, lest waxing too powerful 
they might break off their connection, and 
pursue a separate interest of their own." He 
calls attention to the providential success that 
crowned the American cause, that in eight 
short but eventful years the thirteen depend- 
ent colonies had become thirteen independent 
States. He explains how these wonderful 
results were brought about in a summing up 
that consists of a climax of Mosaic analogies: 
" 'T is He, the Sovereign Disposer of all events, 
hath wrought for us, and brought the whole to 
pass. It was He who led his Israel of old, by 
the pillar of fire and the cloud, through their 
wilderness journey, wherein they also had their 
wanderings. 'T was He who raised a Joshua to 
lead the tribes of Israel in the field of battle ; 
raised and formed a Washington to lead on the 
troops of his chosen States. 'T was He who 
in Barak's day spread the spirit of war in 
every breast to shake off the Canaanitish yoke, 
and inspired thy inhabitants, O America! It 
was He who raised up Cyrus to break the 
Assyrian force, and say: 'Let Israel be free*; 
endued the monarch of France with an angel's 

The Government of the United States. 1 3 1 

mind, to assert and secure the freedom of his 
United American States. And He alone who 
saith to the proud waves of the sea : ' Hitherto 
shall ye come, but no farther.' ' 

These constant references, parallels, and anal- 
ogies to the children of Israel in their struggle 
for political liberty would not have been made 
again and again if they did not meet with a 
responsive echo in the minds and sentiments 
of the large audiences to whom they were 
addressed throughout the thirteen colonies. 
A volume would not contain all the politico- 
theological discourses delivered during the 
decade prior to the restoration of peace, wherein 
the Hebrew Commonwealth was held up as a 
model, and its history as a guide for the Amer- 
ican people in their mighty struggle for the 
blessings of civil and religious liberty. I have 
purposely only quoted such of these discourses 
as were delivered by ministers who were eminent 
not only in the pulpit, but were equally dis- 
tinguished as scholars, as patriots, and as legis- 

Thus far the Hebrew Commonwealth has 
been referred to as the model and guide adopted 
in the sermons and discourses of our patriotic 

132 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

divines ; we shall now trace it in the halls of 
legislation, and in the writings and political 
pamphlets published during the period prior to 
the adoption of the Constitution. We must 
not lose sight of the fact that neither the Dec- 
laration of Independence nor the success of our 
armies in the struggle decided for us our form 
of government, or secured for posterity the 
blessings of civil and religious liberty, the 
former only served to make the latter possible. 
These were the victories of the statesmen, the 
heroes, and of the patriots of the pen. The ma- 
chinery of government under the articles of 
confederation was so defective, weak, and in- 
effectual that men, wise men, true and loyal 
Americans, aye, many in the army, by reason of 
the inability of the government to pay the 
half-starved soldiers, demanded a government 
that would revive from prostration the public 
credit and faith of the nation, that would pro- 
vide for the payment of interest on the public 
debt ; they felt the need of a government with 
a strong arm, an elective monarchy. " Now, 
just as day was dawning and independence 
about to be secured, every thing seems to tum- 
ble in chaos about them, threatening a state of 

The Government of the United States. 1 33 

things worse than their former condition as 
colonists." ' 

A paper embodying the views of the army 
of Washington while stationed about Newburg 
was drawn up and presented to their comman- 
der-in-chief by Colonel Nicola, an old army 
officer, held in high esteem by Washington. 
This, after describing the perilous state of feel- 
ing in the army and the dangerous aspect of 
affairs, and showing the necessity, now that 
peace was assured, of settling at once on a form 
of government which should be a strong one, 
took up the several forms of government in the 
world, and summed up by declaring that a re- 
publican government was the most unstable and 
insecure, and a constitutional monarchy like 
that of England, the strongest and safest, and, 
in short, offered to make Washington dictator. 
It concluded by saying : " Owing to the preju- 
dices of the people it might not at first be 
prudent to assume the title of Royalty, but if 
all other things were adjusted, we believe strong 
arguments might be produced for admitting the 
title of King." Like Gideon, the righteous 

*Se article in Harpers Magazine, Oct., 1883, by J. T. 

134 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

judge of the Hebrew Commonwealth, whom 
the people of Israel offered to make king in 
their unbounded gratitude, and in admiration 
of his signal service in delivering them from the 
hands of their most powerful enemies, Wash- 
ington declined the crown. 

This monarchical-party spirit was so strong, 
that it survived even after the adoption of the 
Constitution until the election of Jefferson as 
President, who refers to it in his inaugural ad- 
dress. 1 No one arraigned the monarchical ten- 
dencies with a more vigorous and fearless pen ; 
no one contributed more in keeping alive the 
fires of liberty during those times that tried 
men's souls, than Thomas Paine, that much 
maligned and abused man, who has been accused 
of every crime that malice could invent. Paine 

1 Jefferson writes as follows in the introduction to his 
"Anas": "The contests of that day were contests of prin- 
ciple between the advocates of republican and those of kingly 
government." See also letter of James Monroe (Dec., 1816) 
to Andrew Jackson, giving his recollections of the monarchical 
tendencies which were shown by certain leaders of the Federal 
party, both before and after the adoption of the Constitution. 
He says : " Many of the circumstances on which my opinion 
is founded, took place in debate and in society, and therefore 
find no place in any public document. I am satisfied, how- 
ever, that sufficient proof exists, founded on facts and opinions 
of distinguished individuals, which became public, to justify 
that which I had formed. ." 

The Government of the United States. 135 

was the friend of Franklin, through whose pat- 
ronage he came to America ; he was the editor 
of the Pennsylvania Magazine, the Secretary 
of the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the 
Continental Congress; he was beloved and 
esteemed by Washington, by whom he was 
invited, when in distressed circumstances, to 
share the hospitalities of his home, to whom 
James Monroe, in 1794, then Minister to 
Great Britain, wrote, while Paine was con- 
fined in the Luxemburg as prisoner, by the 
order of Robespierre, for espousing the cause 
of liberty in France, as follows : " You 
are considered by them (the people of the 
United States) as not only having rendered 
important services in our own revolution, but 
as being on a more extensive scale the friend 
of human rights, and a distinguished and able 
advocate in favor of public liberty. To the 
welfare of Thomas Paine the Americans are 
not, nor can they be, indifferent." Washington 
says of the author of " Common Sense," in a 
letter to Joseph Reed, dated January 31, 1776: 
"A few more of such flaming arguments as 
were exhibited at Falmouth and Norfolk, added 
to the sound doctrine and unanswerable reason 

136 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

contained in the pamphlet 'Common Sense,' 
will not leave numbers at a loss to decide on 
the propriety of separation." " This book " 
(" Common Sense "), says Dr. Rush, " burst 
forth from the press with an effect that has 
been rarely produced by types and paper in any 
age or country." The former part of this re- 
markable production is devoted to the subject 
of " Monarchy and Hereditary Succession." 
The argument is drawn entirely from the He- 
brew Commonwealth. " Monarchy is ranked in 
Scripture," says he, " as one of the sins of the 
Jews, for which a curse in reserve is denounced 
against them." "All anti-monarchical parts of 
Scripture, have been very smoothly glossed over 
in monarchical governments, but they undoubt- 
edly merit the attention of countries which have 
their governments yet to form." And then he 
recites the history of the entire " transaction," 
to the introduction of Saul as King. " But where, 
say some," are his words, " is the king of Amer- 
ica ? I '11 tell you, friend : he reigns above, and 
doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal 
brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear 
to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day 
be set apart for proclaiming the charter ; let it 

The Government of the United States. 1 3 7 

be brought forth placed on the divine law, the 
word of God ; let a crown be placed thereon, by 
which the world may know that, so far as we 
approve of monarchy, in America the law is 

He narrates the conduct of that truly great 
judge of Israel, who was summoned by the 
voice of the people from the wheat field to 
assume the chief magistracy of the nation, and 
to deliver his people from their strongest and 
most powerful foes, the Midianites. These are 
his words, in the second chapter of " Common 
Sense" : " The Jews, elated with success, and 
attributing it to the generalship of Gideon, 
proposed making him king, saying: * Rule 
thou over us, thou and thy son and thy son's 
son/ Here was temptation in its fullest ex- 
tent ; but Gideon, in the piety of his soul, re- 
plied : ' I will not rule over you, neither 
shall my son rule over you ; the Lord 
shall rule over you.' Gideon doth not decline 
the honor, but denieth the right to give it." 
Paine then continues the scriptural narrative 
concerning the people demanding the king, 
about one hundred years after this period, 
under Samuel, and quoting in full Samuel's 

138 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

admonitions, concludes in these words: " These 
portions of the Scripture are direct and posi- 
tive ; they admit of no equivocal construction. 
That the Almighty hath here entered his pro- 
test against monarchical government is true, 
or the Scriptures are false." 

Unfortunately, we have in most instances 
only skeleton reports of proceedings and de- 
bates of the Federal and State conventions on 
the adoption of the Constitution. Doubtless 
the model of the ancient commonwealth, its 
history and lessons, were frequently employed 
by the distinguished representatives ; the mea- 
greness of the records leaves this to conjecture 
only. In the Legislatures of the various States 
before whom the Constitution came for adop- 
tion, the delegates again and again referred to 
this original model of popular government. In 
New York, for instance, Robert R. Livingston, 
the Chancellor of the State, refers to it 1 ; so 
also John Lansing, 2 who, in his speech urging 
its adoption, says : " Sir, the instances from the 
history of the Jewish Theocracy evince that 
there are certain situations in communities 

1 Elliot's Debates, Vol. II., page 210. 
3 Elliot's Debates, Vol. II., page 218. 

The Government of the United States. 1 39 

which will unavoidably lead to results similar 
to those we experience. The Israelites were 
unsuccessful in war ; they were sometimes de- 
feated by their enemies. Instead of reflecting 
that these calamities were occasioned by their 
sins, they sought relief in the appointment of a 
king, in imitation of their neighbors." So also 
the Hon. Mr. John Smith, 1 who quotes in full 
the admonition of Samuel to the children of 
Israel, describing the manner in which a king 
would rule over them. In short, again and 
again, in and out of our halls of legislation, was 
the history of the Hebrew Commonwealth re- 
ferred to, narrated, rehearsed, and analogies 
drawn therefrom by the advocates of a repub- 
lican form of government in answer to those 
who favored monarchy, so that the admonitions 
of Samuel were as familiar to the people of 
America as the words of the Lord's Prayer. 

In the light of these facts it is not at all 
surprising that the committee, which was ap- 
pointed on the same day the Declaration of 
Independence was adopted, consisting of Dr. 
Franklin, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Jefferson, to 
prepare a device for a seal for the United 

1 Elliot's Debates, Vol. II., pages 225 and 226. 

140 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

States, should, as they did, have proposed as 
such device, Pharaoh sitting in an open chariot, 
a crown on his head and a sword in his hand, 
passing through the dividing waters of the Red 
Sea in pursuit of the Israelites ; with rays from 
a pillar of fire beaming on Moses, who is repre- 
sented as standing on the shore extending his 
hand over the sea, causes it to overwhelm 
Pharaoh ; and underneath, the motto : " Rebel- 
lion to tyrants is obedience to God." 

Dr. David Tappan, who, after the declaration 
of peace, was chosen professor at Harvard Col- 
lege, in the course of his lectures on the " Jew- 
ish Antiquities," says that the demand of the 
children of Israel to Samuel, to set a king over 
them, was exceedingly displeasing to Samuel, 
and when he referred the matter to God, the 
Most High declared that by this act they had 
rejected him ; that he should not reign over 
them. " From hence some writers have in- 
ferred that monarchy is in its very nature 
criminal; that it impiously invades the pre- 
rogative of the Supreme Ruler, as well as the 
equal rights of man." " This inference," says 

1 A copy of the report recommending the above device is 
preserved among the papers of the Continental Congress in the 
State Department in Washington. For Lossing's design of 
the seal, see frontispiece. 

The Government of the United States. 141 

the learned professor, " was plausibly enforced 
on the American people, in the beginning of 
the year 1776, by a very popular but desultory 
writer (doubtless meaning Thomas Paine), and 
this sentiment, with others equally well timed, 
operated, with the swiftness and force of the 
electric fluid, in preparing the country for a 
formal separation from the British monarch." 

Many more authorities can be adduced 
upon the same subject, but they would only 
be cumulative. Through more than a cen- 
tury and a half the Puritan ministers never 
tired of dwelling upon the trials, sufferings, 
and fortitude of the children of Israel during 
their long and weary wanderings from the land 
of their oppressors until the organization of 
popular government on the banks of the Jor- 
dan. To what extent these teachings and 
preachings served as an inspiring incentive to 
the American people in their heroic struggle 
for civil and religious liberty, and to what de- 
gree the oft-quoted warnings of the last Judge 
of Israel, followed by the corroborating revela- 
tions of scriptural history, supplied the argu- 
ment that battered down the enslaving doctrine 
of " Divine Right of Kings," and its corol- 

142 The Hebrew Commonwealth and 

laries, " Unlimited Submission," and " Non- 
Resistance," we leave for the reader to draw 
his own conclusion. 

We neither claim nor wish to be understood 
as inferring that the structural parts of our 
form of government were derived from what 
was believed to be the components of the He- 
brew Commonwealth, but only that this 
scriptural model of government, which was 
democratic, as distinguished from kingly rule, 
had a deep influence upon the founders of our 
government and prepared the minds of the 
people, especially in the New England colo- 
nies, so that they not only longed for, but 
would not content themselves with any other 
form of government than that form which had 
the divine sanction, the government of the 
Hebrews under the Judges. 

Looking backward over a period of nearly 
three hundred years it may be difficult for us 
in this age to understand why the early Puri- 
tans should have gone back nearly three thou- 
sand years for their form of government, but 
we must not forget the intense religious spirit 
of Puritanism, which was a Protestant renais- 
sance of the Old Testament and a reversion to 

The Government of the United States. 143 

biblical precedents for the regulation of the 
minutest details of daily life. They were not 
content even to administer justice by the civil 
or the common law, but regulated the punish- 
ment of crimes by the Pentateuch, and in 
framing their criminal code every section cited 
the biblical chapter and verse. 

In the study of the history of the develop- 
ment of our form of government, to leave out 
of account the ecclesiastical side, freedom from 
Lords-bishop as well as from Lords-temporal, 
is to overlook not only important but essential 
elements. In the resolution which led to the 
first meeting of the Continental Congress, 
passed by the House of Representatives of 
Massachusetts Bay on June 17, 1774, appoint- 
ing Samuel and John Adams, Thomas Cush- 
ing, Robert Treat Paine, and James Bowdoin 
a committee to meet delegates and representa- 
tives from the other colonies at a congress to 
be held in Philadelphia the following Septem- 
ber, the reasons recited for such action were 
" to deliberate and determine upon wise and 
proper measures, to be by them recommended 
to all the Colonies for the Recovery and Estab- 
lishment of their Just Rights and Liberties 

144 Hebrew Commonwealth and the U. S. 

Civil and Religious." 1 In devising the plan 
of our government, the founders not only drew 
their inspiration from first sources but reverted 
to first principles, the " unalienable rights" 
of man. They builded well on a broad and 
lasting foundation, and to their wisdom and 
foresight we owe the blessings of liberty we 
enjoy. Freedom of person, freedom of con- 
science, and a republican form of government, 
constitute the creed of our political faith, and 
they alone can insure for us and our posterity 
liberty, happiness, and stability. 

1 MSS. resolution signed by Samuel Adams, clerk, in pos- 
session of the author. 


Page 73. For ten years after the settlement of 
the Bay Colony, the clergy and their followers 
stubbornly refused to recognize the common law 
or to enact a code, and when at length, in 1641 
further resistance to the demands of the freemen 
was impossible, the Rev. Nathaniel Ward drew up 
"/The Body of Liberties," which contained a crim- 
inal code copied almost verbatim from the Penta- 
teuch. The Pentateuch was also enacted as a 
whole when the express laws did not cover the 
case." Mass. Hist. Collection," 3d Series, VIII., 

Page 101. In this outline of the Hebrew Com- 
monwealth we are chiefly guided by the belief and 
views of the early founders of our government, 
who were little troubled by critical doubts ; it is 
their interpretations which concern us here. 

Page 121. See Election Sermon by Dr. Lang- 
don delivered at Concord before the General 
Court, June 5, 1788, entitled, "The Republic of 
the Israelites an Example to the American States." 
To which the eminent divine attached a note, that 
soon after this sermon was delivered the Conven- 
tion of the State of New Hampshire met (June 
2ist) and adopted the United States Constitution, 
thus making the requisite two-thirds, the number of 
States necessary for its adoption. P. 33. 


ADAMS, C. F., note by, 84 

Adams, John, inaugural ad- 
dress of, 9 ; account of Otis, 
26 ; defence of rioters, 35 ; 
quoted, 54, 83, 91 ; member 
of committee, 57 

Adams, Samuel, president of 
committee, 40 

American colonies prior to 
Revolution, I ; monarchical 
character of, 3 ; outline of 
governments of, 3 ; Congress 
of, 8 ; address to king in 
1774, 1 8 ; desire for republic 
of slow growth, 27 

American colonists, class of, 45 

American compact, paper on, 

Aristotle, quoted, 85 

BAIRD, ROBERT, quoted, 63 
Baltimore, Lord, proprietor of 

Md., 51 
Barre espouses American cause, 

Bernard, Governor of Mass., 

33 ; memorial to the king, 33 
Bishops, dread of, in America, 

56 ; restored 
Lords, 96 

to House of 

Bossuet and Louis XIV., 94 

Boston, British troops sent to, 
33 ; massacre in, 34 ; Port 
Bill passed, 40, reception of, 
in Boston, 40 ; tea party, 36 ; 
Port Bill, 36, 40; Evening 
Post, quoted, 41 ; alarmed 
concerning episcopacy, 38 

Boucher, Jonathan, on Angli- 
can Church, 55 : on Non- 
Resistance, 97 

British troops sent to Boston, 33 

CALVERT, quoted, 109 

Camden, Lord, espouses Ameri- 
can cause, 28 

Canadian bounderies, 30, 37 

Carthage not a pure democ- 
racy, 85 

Catholic Church, property of, 


Chamberlain's address on 
Adams, 62 

Charles I., execution of, 94 

Charles II., 95 

Chatham, Lord, quoted, 92 

Christianity, establishment, 88 ; 
hindrance to civil liberty, 88 

Church of England in Vir- 
ginia, 52 




Church and State, under Charles 
I., 44 ; in Virginia and New 
England, 61, 91 ; union dis- 
solved, 64 

Civil liberty did not originate 
in Greece, 101 

Coddington, Gov. of Rhode 
Island, 50 

Colonies all true to respective 
founders, 23 

" Committee of Correspond- 
ence," 119 

Congress of colonial delegates, 
8 ; resolution of, in '76, 9 

Connecticut and Mass., last 
colonies to grant religious 
liberty, 64 

Connecticut Congregationalists 
in, 65 

Constitution of U. S. and re- 
ligion, 69 

Conway espouses American 
cause, 28 

Cromwell, Oliver, 47 

Gushing, 57 

DEBERDT, agent for Mass., 57 
Declaration of Independence, 

10-13, 22 

Delaware Assembly in 1775, 7 
Dickinson, 6, 8 
Divine right of kings, 92, 98 ; 

sanctioned by Bible, 92 ; 

sanctioned by Church, 94 ; 

and unlimited submission, 99 
Duffield, Geo., sermons of, 

122, 128 


Election sermons in New Eng- 
land, 77, 118 

Encroachments of king, re- 
sisted, 99 

England, Protestantism in, 90 

English and American revolu- 
tions, 12 

English afraid of Parlia- 
ment, 83 ; commonwealth a 
failure, 82 ; a commercial 
nation, 32 

Episcopalians in America, 96, 

Established Church, assaults on, 
62 ; plan of, in colonies, 64 

Europe, disturbances in, 70 

FANEUIL HALL, meeting in, 40 
Filmer, Sir Robert, 94, 99 
Foord, John, quoted, 48 
Franklin, Ben., agent for 

Penna., 29 
Franklin, Gov. of New Jersey, 6 

GAGE, General, Gov. of Mass., 

General Assembly, 34 

General Congress, proposition 
for, 40 

Genesis of the Republic, 70 

George III., 18, 24, 32, 98 

Georgia, Methodists in, 65 

Gladstone, quoted, 91 

Governments of colonies pro- 
vincial, proprietary, and 
charter, 3 



Grahame, Hist, of U.S., quoted, 

Greek and Roman republics, 

Grenville introduces Stamp 

Act, 27 
Grotius, no 

HANCOCK, JOHN, 57, 120 

Hawley, Major, 57 

Hebrews and Puritans, resem- 
blance between, 71 

Hebrew Commonwealth and 
United States, 101, 118, not 
purely religious, 108, 109 ; 
council of, 70, no ; congre- 
gation, 112; republic, decline 
of, 1 1 6, liberty of, 117 

Henry VIII., motives of, 90 

Henry, Patrick, against the 
parsons, 60 ; speech of, 61 

Hobbes, 99 

Holland, pilgrims in, 43 ; pre- 
carious state of, 83 

Howard, Simeon, sermon of, 124 

Hutchinson, Gov. of R. I., 34 ; 
refuses to dismiss troops, 34 

INGLIS, Charles, 59 
Israelites, organization of, 102 ; 
departure from Egypt, 104 

JAHN, no 

James I . , reign of transition, 43 ; 

absolutism of, 94 
Jamestown, 52 
Jefferson, Thomas, 22, 40, 54, 

63, 66, 134 

Jethro, advice to Moses, 104 
Jewish antiquities, 140 
Judges of Israel, 107 

KINGS, right of, in the various 
colonies, 4 ; divine right of, 
n, 17 ; prayers for, to be 
omitted, 14 

Knowledge, lack of diffusion 
of, in colonies, 77 

LANGDON, SAMUEL, sermon of, 


Lansing, John, quoted, 138 
Laud, 42, 44 
Lecky, quoted, 19 
Liberty in Virginia and Mass., 

Livingston, Robt. R., quoted 


Locke, John, 47, 99 
Locke, Samuel, 120 


7 ; Catholics in, 65 
Massachusetts Assembly, 33, 
57 ; religious intolerance in, 
52 ; Congress thanks minis- 
ters, 78 

Mather, Cotton, sermon of, 74 
Mnthews, J. M., quoted, in 
Maury, payment to, test case, 60 
Mayhew, Jonathan, sermon of, 

75 ; quoted, 96, 118 
Michaelis, quoted, no, 112 
Milton, John, 47 
" Molasses Act," 25, 35 
Monarchy and the Church, 88 


Montesquieu, opinion of repub- 
lics, 22, 82 

Mosaic Laws, adopted in New 
England, 72 ; unfitness for, 
New England, 72 

Moses, education of, 103 ; gov- 
ernment of, 105-106 

Motley, J. L., quoted, 89 

Munroe, James, quoted. 134 

NEW ENGLAND, ministers of, 
interest in politics, 74 ; Bible 
in, 70; Confederation, 71 

New Jersey, Assembly of, 6 ; 
Protestants in, 65 

Newport, 50 

New Testament, influence of, 19 

New York, Church of England 
in, 65 ; Gazette, 21 ; Provin- 
cial Congress in 1775, 7 

Nicola, Col., paper by, 133 

Non-Resistance, doctrine of, 96 

North Carolina, religious sects 
in, 65 

North, Lord, moves Boston 
Port Bill, 40 

Nova Scotia, boundaries of, 30 

OLD TESTAMENT, influence of, 

Otis, James, 26, 37, 119 


Paine, Thomas, 134 

Palfrey, Hist, of New Eng., 

quoted, 45. 
Parliament, encroachments of, 

31 ; acts by, 36 ; reasons for 
favoring Catholics, 38 ; atti- 
tude towards Canada, 39 ; 
consideration of tea riots, 

Pennsylvania, Assembly in 
J 775. 6 I Quakers in, 65 

Philadelphia, meeting in, 35 

Pitkin, History of U.S., quoted, 
24, 72 

Pitt espouses American cause, 

Political development, 15 

Political Register, cartoon in, 

Pope, power of the, 89 

Portsmouth, 50 

Presbyterians favored revolu- 
tion, 62 

Price, Dr., 16, 31 

Protestant majority in America, 

Protestantism in England, 90 

Providence, 49 

Puritans and Pilgrims, differ- 
ence between, 42 

Puritans, preference for Old 
Testament, 72 

Quincey, Josiah, 35 


Religious causes of the Revolu- 
tion, 42 

Religious liberty in Md. and 
R. L, 51 


Republic not favored by colo- 
nies, 80 ; of U. S., heir to 
Hebrew Commonwealth, 141 

Republics, defects of ancient 
and modern, 81 

Revolutions in different lauds, 
15 ; political causes of, 21 

Rhode Island, troubles in, 33 ; 
government imitation of the 
Jews, 50 ; Baptists in, 65 

Rush, Dr., quoted, 136 

Russell, Lord William, 95 


Sects in different colonies, 65 

Selden, no 

Sherlock, Bishop of London, 

60, 61 
Sidney, Algernon, Discourses 

on Government, 47, 99, no, 


Smith, John, quoted, 139 
Society for Propagating the 

Gospel, 59 

South Carolina, sects in, 65 
Stamp Act, 5, 27, 28, 32, 119 
Stiles, Ezra, quoted, 42, 125 
Story, Judge, 65 
Sugar Act, 35 
Superstition in politics, 80 

TAPPAN, DAVID, quoted, 140 
" Taxation without Representa- 
tion," first uttered, 26 

Taxation, resolutions against, 35 
Tax on tea, 32, 35 
Thatcher, Oxenbridge, 26 
Theocracy in New England, 72 
Tories, 5, 40, 94 
Tudor, William, quoted, 59 

U. S. TREATY with Tripoli, 68 
U. S. Republic planned on He- 
brew model, 79 
U. S. seal, device for, 139 


Virginia, appeal to Parliament in 
1764, 5 ; convention, resolu- 
tions of, in '76, 14, resolutions 
of, in 1774, 40 ; religious in- 
tolerance in, 52 ; Anglicans 
absolute in, 55 ; loyalty of, 
52 ; compulsory baptism in, 
60 ; affairs in, 61 ; Dissenters 
in, 63 ; Cavaliers in, 65 

Washington, quoted, 135 
West, Samuel, sermon of, 122 
Winthrop, leader of Puritans, 42 
Winthrop, Robt. C., centennial 

oration of, 9 
Whigs, 5, 40 
William III., absolutism of , 17 ; 

retrogression of, 17 
Williams, Roger, 47 


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