Our founding Fathers loved God, worshipped Him, recognized the order, organization and need for His presence in government; especially in the hearts of men in general. They also recognized that without God at the center of this great experiment, it would certainly fail. John Adams probably voiced this American founding principle more clearly than any other founder.
Adams was a leader in both sessions of the Continental Congress; the individual to second Richard Henry Lee’s motion for independence; and helped Thomas Jefferson edit the Declaration of Independence, our nation’s foundational (cornerstone) document which he signed. He wrote most of the Massachusetts constitution of 1780. He served as diplomat of France, Holland and Britain. Adams was one of three founders (also Ben Franklin and John Jay) to negotiate and sign the treaty with England that ended the revolution. He was instrumental in developing the Constitution in its present form. He was highly active and influential in the deliberations leading to adoption at the Constitutional Convention. Adams was the first Vice President of the United States, and our second President.
After very serious consideration, he decided on a career in law over the ministry. He graduated from Harvard in 1755. In the 18th century, study took on the purpose of enacting the Scriptures in one’s life. Education was not as much for intellectual but for spiritual purposes (discussion in “Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams,” Adams, Charles Francis, 1876). Hence, we find comments such as, “I am resolved to rise with the sun and to study the Scriptures on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings” (Adams’ personal diary). Adams also recommended studies in Greek and Latin to his son, John Quincy Adams (our 6th President) as being of primary importance (3/16/1780). Adams married Abigail who came from an extensive Christian background.
On April 19,1817, he wrote to Thomas Jefferson, “Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company…” On October 7, 1818 (again to Jefferson) he wrote, “Have you ever found in history one single example of a Nation thoroughly corrupted that was afterwards restored to virtue? …without virtue, there can be no political liberty…” As noted above, virtue developed from education in the scriptures.
We frequently find Adams connecting Christianity with the entire group of founders in his writings. He considered their coincident faith a binding factor from which the “general principles” of their united efforts sprang (Adams to Jefferson 6/28/1813). An excerpt of that letter reads,
“The general Principles, on which the Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite… And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence. …those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God…”
A final quote given by Adams as he addressed the Officers of the First Brigade, Third Division, Militia of Massachusetts, 10/11/1798: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” At the time of this address, Adams was the President of the United States of America. Since, to Adams and all our founders, religion and mastering the Old and New Testaments in educational pursuits was the basis of moral virtue, we easily see Adams’ dependence upon, faith in and complete loyalty to the Christian God and His scriptures. This is Jesus the Son, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Deist? Secularist? Atheist? No. Christian. Most certainly.