During the age of colonizing the New World a number of Old World countries established colonies in the New World. It is the British colonist, now know as Americans, who have surpassed all others and have become a unique and exceptional people. The British colonist were indeed a special breed of people. Just to establish a foothold in a savage land required both bravery and faith. These people left the Old World for a variety of reasons, freedom not being the least of them. There was little they were able to bring with them in addition to some implements for clearing the land and agriculture. Many died on the three month voyage from the Old World, and others soon after arriving. Just staying alive during the early years was a major task in and of itself.
From this beginning they have risen to become the greatest nation in the history of the world. What was it that made them different from all the rest? The first British colony was Jamestown followed by Plymouth Rock a few years later. These first colonist brought with them two items which they considered to be indispensable; guns and Bibles. The guns were necessary for providing protection and physical food, while the Bibles provided them with food for their souls. These two items are still necessary for every true patriot. When Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was asked why Japan did not follow up the attack on Pearl Harbor with an attack on America itself, his answer was, “Because we knew the American citizens were all armed.”
One of the first ships to arrive in the new world was a ship named Mayflower which carried 120 pilgrims. Upon arrival they realized there would be no governmental authority to provide the protection they enjoyed in England. They found it necessary to establish a governing document to which the colonist would voluntarily submit. The document they agreed to is known as the Mayflower compact.
“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written…Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith… a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”
This idea of the citizens forming a government by and of themselves was a unique concept in the world of their day, and one they would not easily give up. It was a few years later when another ship arrived named the Arbella. A sermon preached onboard ship by a man named John Winthrop outlined their vision of the land they intended to establish. The part that has lasted and been quoted for over three hundred years says,
“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken…we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God…We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us til we be consumed out of the good land whether we are a-going.”
These concepts, unique to their time, but commonplace in their Bibles, provided the foundation upon which they would build this “land of freedom.”
The passages upon which they particularly relied had to do with Gods promises regarding nations which they found in the Bible. Passages such as,
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalms 33:12)
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34)
“Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of your
countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, and in your righteousness they are exalted.”
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
Upon these and other passages found in the Bible they built a nation. When, in 1772, King George III attempted to restrict, and in many cases take away their freedoms, they refused to remain silent. In 1774 God brought the men we call our Founding Fathers together for the First Continental Congress. They have been described as “enlightened geniuses touched by divine inspiration.” I cannot imagine a more succinct definition. Only God could have brought together such men, at such a time, in such a place, and with such a purpose. The purpose was God’s, and the men were His instruments for accomplishing it. The purpose was to establish the United States of America. The idea of a union of all the colonies was first presented by Patrick Henry who said in an opening speech,
“British oppression has effaced the boundaries of the several colonies; the distinction between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, and New-Englanders is no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.”
To this day that name, American, has been worn by every true patriot who has chosen to become a citizen of this nation, no matter what their nation of origin. Among the founding fathers of America we find names such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, James Madison, and John and Samuel Adams, among many others. The youngest delegate was 26 years old. The oldest, Benjamin Franklin, was 70.
Regarding one of these men, Thomas Jefferson, John Kennedy made the comment at a White House assembly of some of the best minds in the United States.
“I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
Thomas Jefferson is considered the father of our Declaration of Independence and James Madison the father of our Constitution. These two documents stand unique among all documents ever devised for the governing of mankind. The opening three words of our Constitution, We the People, lifts it above all others. Abraham Lincoln described the government designed by our founders as a government “of the People, by the people, and for the people.”
Americans are a unique breed because the basis of our government is in itself unique. America is perhaps the only Constitutional Republic built upon the concepts found in the Bible. A Frenchman named Alex DeTocqueville is credited with saying in 1821, “America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.” Many years later Ronald Reagan, the last of our great Presidents, echoed these same words when he said, “If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
We are the descendents of these first colonist. We are the beneficiaries of their labors and the inheritors of their dreams for this great land of freedom. America is not the name of a nation or a nationality, but an exceptional breed of patriots, white, black, red, and brown, who choose to wear the name American, and American alone. It was George Washington who said, “Americans will die on their feet, before they live on their knees.”
Today America is facing the greatest crises since the Founding Fathers established this “Land of Freedom.” Are we the nation of our founder’s dreams? Do we walk in their footsteps? Is God still the foundation of our nation? Is America’s exceptionalism a thing of the past? I think most of us know the answers to these questions. Is America to recover and prosper in the ways our founders desired? That is the current question we must answer, and our answer will determine the lives led by our children and grandchildren. The answer to the crises today is the same as it was in the days of our Founding Fathers. Our land must turn to the God of our founders, the God who guided them in the founding of this land, and who has blessed and protected it for two hundred and thirty-four years. For He has promised,
“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14