Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Alexander Hamilton and Christianity: In HIS Own Words

Alexander Hamilton is not typically thought of as being a Christian, much less as a Christian statesman. He has shared the unfortunate fate of many of the Founding Fathers, who have been denounced by contemporary historians as deists who desired an strong secularist government kept from religion by the principle of "a wall of separation between church and state." However, a look into HIS writings reveals the zeal with he had for Christianity, and how he viewed the relationship between Christianity and government.

Now see Hamilton's own words on:
Christianity and government:

There is so strong a similitude between your political principles and those maintained by Mr. [Thomas] Hobbes, that, in judging from them, a person might very easily mistake you for a disciple of his. His opinion was exactly coincident with yours, relative to man in a state of nature. He held, as you do, that he was then perfectly free from all restraint of law and government. Moral obligation, according to him, is derived from the introduction of civil society; and there is no virtue but what is purely artificial, the mere contrivance of politicians for the maintenance of social intercourse. But the reason he ran into this absurd and impious doctrine was, that he disbelieved the existence of an intelligent, superintending principle, who is the governor, and will be the final judge, of the universe.
As you sometimes swear by Him that made you, I conclude your sentiments do not correspond with his in that which is the basis of the doctrine you both agree in; and this makes it impossible to imagine whence this congruity between you arises. To grant that there is a Supreme Intelligence who rules the world and has established laws to regulate the actions of His creatures, and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears, to a common understanding, altogether irreconcilable.
Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed that the Deity, from the relations we stand in to Himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.
This is what is called the law of nature, "which, being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is, of course, superior in obligations to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times. No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original."—BLACKSTONE.
Upon this law depend the natural rights of mankind: the Supreme Being gave existence to man, together with the means of preserving and beautifying that existence. He endowed him with rational faculties, by the help of which to discern and pursue such things as were consistent with his duty and interest; and invested him with an inviolable right to personal liberty and personal safety.
Hence, in a state of nature, no man had any moral power to deprive another of his life, limbs, property, or liberty; nor the least authority to command or exact obedience from him, except that which arose from the ties of consanguinity.
Hence, also, the origin of all civil government, justly established, must be a voluntary compact between the rulers and the ruled, and must be liable to such limitations as are necessary for the security of the absolute rights of the latter; for what original title can any man, or set of men, have to govern others, except their own consent? To usurp dominion over a people in their own despite, or to grasp at a more extensive power than they are willing to intrust, is to violate that law of nature which gives every man a right to his personal liberty, and can therefore confer no obligation to obedience.
The principal aim of society is to protect individuals in the enjoyment of those absolute rights which were vested in them by the immutable laws of nature, but which could not be preserved in peace without that mutual assistance and intercourse which is gained by the institution of friendly and social communities. Hence it follows, that the first and primary end of human laws is to maintain and regulate these absolute rights of individuals."—BLACKSTONE.
~ From "The Farmer Refuted” (1775)
In order to do this the more satisfactorily I beg leave to adopt the definition given of an established religion by a certain writer who has taken great pains to evince the contrary. "An established religion," says he, "is a religion which the civil authority engages not only to protect but to support. …the characteristic difference between a tolerated and established religion consists in this: With respect to the support of the former, the law is passive and improvident, leaving it to those who profess it to make as much, or as little, provision as they shall judge expedient; and to vary and alter that provision, as their circumstances may require. In this manner the Presbyterians and other sects are tolerated in England. They are allowed to exercise their religion without molestation, and to maintain their clergy as they think proper. These are wholly dependent upon their congregations, and can exact no more than they stipulate and are satisfied to contribute. But with respect to the support of the latter, the law is active and provident.
~ On the Quebec Bill, No. II (1775)
There is yet another class of opponents to the government and its administration, who are of too much consequence not to be mentioned: a sect of political doctors; a kind of POPES in government; standards of political orthodoxy, who brand with heresy all opinions but their own; men of sublimated imaginations and weak judgments; pretenders to profound knowledge, yet ignorant of the most useful of all sciences — the science of human nature; men who dignify themselves with the appellation of philosophers, yet are destitute of the first elements of true philosophy; lovers of paradoxes; men who maintain expressly that religion is not necessary to society, and very nearly that government itself is a nuisance; that priests and clergymen of all descriptions are worse than useless. Such men, the ridicule of any cause that they espouse, and the best witnesses to the goodness of that which they oppose, have no small share in the clamors which are raised, and in the dissatisfactions which are excited.
~ Vindication Of the Funding System #1 (1791?)
Let me add as a truth—which, perhaps, has no exception, however uncongenial with the fashionable patriotic creed—that, in the wise order of Providence, nations, in a temporal sense, may safely trust the maxim, that the observance of justice carries with it its own and a full reward.
~ Camillus # 22 (1795)
Take my ideas and weigh them of a proper course of conduct for our Administration in the present juncture. You have called Congress. 'T is well.
When the Senate meets (which I should be glad to see anticipated), send a Commission Extraordinary to France. Let it consist of Jefferson or Madison, Pinckney, and a third very safe man, say, Cabot (or Jay).
Proclaim a religious solemnity to take place at the meeting of Congress.
~ To Secretary of War James McHenry (1797)

T'is now ascertained that Mr. Pinckney has been refused, and with circumstances of indignity. What is to be done? The share I have had in the public administration, added to my interest as a citizen, makes me extremely anxious that at this delicate crisis a course of conduct exactly proper may be adopted. I offer to your consideration, without what appears to me ceremony, such a course.
First.—I would appoint a day of humiliation and prayer. In such a crisis this appears to me proper in itself, and it will be politically useful to impress our nation that there is a serious state of things—to strengthen religious ideas in a contest, which in its progress may require that our people may consider themselves as the defenders of their country against atheism, conquest, and anarchy. It is far from evident to me that the progress of the war may not call on us to defend our firesides and our altars. And any plan which does not look forward to this as possible, will, in my opinion, be a superficial one. … I am also desirous of impressing the public mind strongly by a religious solemnity, to take place about the meeting of Congress. I also think the step intrinsically proper.
~ To Secretary of State Timothy Pickering (1797)

I would, at the same time, have the President to recommend a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. The occasion renders it proper, and religious ideas will be useful. I have this last measure at heart.
~ To Timothy Pickering (1798)

But that the truth cannot be material in any respect, is contrary to the nature of things. No tribunal, no codes, no systems can repeal or impair this law of God, for by his eternal laws it is inherent in the nature of things.
~ Speech in Defense of Harry Croswell
Christianity and the Statesman's Duty:
Another and a very serious evil, chargeable on the system opposite to that proposed, is that it leads to frequent and familiar violations of oaths, which by loosening one of the strongest bands of society, and weakening one of the principal securities to life and property, offends, not less against the maxims of good government and sound policy, than against those of religion and morality.
~ Report on Public Credit
Reason, religion, philosophy, policy, disavow the spurious and odious doctrine, that we ought to cherish and cultivate enmity with any nation whatever. – Horatius (1795)
It is the fervent wish of patriotism that our councils and nation may be united and resolute. The dearest interests call for it. A great public danger commands it. Every good man will rejoice to embrace the adversary of his former opinions, if he will now by candor and energy evince his attachment to his country. Whoever does not do this, consigns himself to irrevocable dishonor. But it is not the triumph over a political rival which the true lover of his country desires—it is the safety and the welfare of that country; and he will gladly share with his bitterest opponent the glory of defending and preserving her. Americans, rouse—be unanimous, be virtuous, be firm, exert your courage, trust in Heaven, and nobly defy the enemies both of God and man! – The Stand # VI

How laudable was the example of Elizabeth, who, when she was transferred from the prison to the throne, fell upon her knees, and thanking Heaven for the deliverance it had granted her from her bloody persecutors, dismissed her resentment. "This act of pious gratitude," says her historian, "seems to have been the last circumstance in which she remembered any past injuries and hardships. With a prudence and magnanimity truly laudable, she buried all offenses in oblivion, and received with affability even those who acted with the greatest virulence against her." She did more, she retained many of the opposite party in her councils. – Phocion # I

Cherish good faith and justice towards, and peace and harmony with all nations. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct, and it cannot be but that true policy equally demands it. It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people invariably governed by those exalted views. Who can doubt that in a long course of time and events the fruits of such a conduct would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to the plan? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices? – Hamilton's Draft of Washington's Farewell Address

In all those dispositions which promote political happiness, religion and morality are essential props. In vain does he claim the praise of patriotism, who labors to subvert or undermine these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest foundations of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public happiness. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of moral and religious obligation deserts the oaths which are administered in courts of justice? Nor ought we to flatter ourselves that morality can be separated from religion. Concede as much as may be asked to the effect of refined education in minds of peculiar structure, can we believe, can we in prudence suppose, that national morality can be maintained in exclusion of religious principles? Does it not require the aid of a generally received and divinely authoritative religion? 'Tis essentially true that virtue or morality is a main and necessary spring of popular or republican governments. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to all free governments. Who that is a prudent and sincere friend to them, can look with indifference on the ravages which are making in the foundation of the fabric—religion? The uncommon means which of late have been directed to this fatal end, seem to make it in a particular manner the duty of a retiring chief of a nation to warn his country against tasting of the poisonous draught.
Cultivate, also, industry and frugality. They are auxiliaries of good morals, and great sources of private and national prosperity.
~ Farewell Address


Hamilton's Christian Beliefs and Slavery:
PRINCIPLES [of the New York Manumission Society]:
The Benevolent Creator and Father of Men having given to them all, an equal Right to Life, Liberty and Property; no Sovereign Power, on Earth, can justly deprive them of either; but in Conformity to impartial Government and Laws to which they have expressly or tacitly [by implication] consented --
OBJECTS OF THE SOCIETY:
It is our duty, therefore, as Free Citizens and Christians, not only to regard, with Compassion, the injustice done to those, among us, who are held as Slaves, but to endeavor, by lawful Ways and Means, to enable them to Share, equally with us, in that civil and religious Liberty, with which an indulgent Providence has blessed these States; and to which these, our Brethren, are by Nature, as much entitled as ourselves ...
~ Minutes of the New York Manumission Society (of which Hamilton was a chief founder) of 1784
Christianity and the French Revolution:
How clearly is it proved by this that the praise of a civilized world is justly due to Christianity;—war, by the influence of the humane principles of that religion, has been stripped of half its horrors. The French renounce Christianity, and they relapse into barbarism;—war resumes the same hideous and savage form which it wore in the ages of Gothic and Roman violence.
~ “The War in Europe” (1799)

I agree with you in the reflections you make on the tendency of public demonstrations of attachment to the cause of France. 'Tis certainly not wise to expose ourselves to the jealousy and resentment of the rest of the world, by a fruitless display of zeal for that cause. It may do us much harm, and it can do France no good (unless indeed we are to embark in the war with her, which nobody is so hardy as to avow, though some secretly machinate it). It cannot be without danger and inconvenience to our interests to impress on the nations of Europe an idea that we are actuated by the same spirit which has for some time past fatally misguided the measures of those who conduct the affairs of France, and sullied a cause once glorious, and that might have been triumphant. The cause of France is compared with that of America during its late revolution. Would to Heaven that the comparison were just. Would to Heaven we could discern in the mirror of French affairs the same humanity, the same decorum, the same gravity, the same order, the same dignity, the same solemnity, which distinguished the cause of the American Revolution. Clouds and darkness would not then rest upon the issue as they now do. I own I do not like the comparison. When I contemplate the horrid and systematic massacres of the 2d and 3d of September; when I observe that a Marat and a Robespierre, the notorious prompters of those bloody scenes, sit triumphantly in the convention and take a conspicuous part in its measures—that an attempt to bring the assassins to justice has been obliged to be abandoned; when I see an unfortunate prince, whose reign was a continued demonstration of the goodness and benevolence of his heart, of his attachment to the people of whom he was the monarch, who, though educated in the lap of despotism, had given repeated proofs that he was not the enemy of liberty, brought precipitately and ignominiously to the block without any substantial proof of guilt, as yet disclosed—without even an authentic exhibition of motives, in decent regard to the opinions of mankind; when I find the doctrines of atheism openly advanced in the convention, and heard with loud applause; when I see the sword of fanaticism extended to force a political creed upon citizens who were invited to submit to the arms of France as the harbingers of liberty; when I behold the hand of rapacity outstretched to prostrate and ravish the monuments of religious worship, erected by those citizens and their ancestors; when I perceive passion, tumult, and violence usurping those seats, where reason and cool deliberation ought to preside, I acknowledge that I am glad to believe there is no real resemblance between what was the cause of America and what is the cause of France—that the difference is no less great than that between liberty and licentiousness. I regret whatever has a tendency to compound them, and I feel anxious, as an American, that the ebullitions of inconsiderate men among us may not tend to involve our reputation in the issue.
~ To an Unknown Recipient (1793)

In reviewing the disgusting spectacle of the French Revolution, it is difficult to avert the eye entirely from those features of it which betray a plan to disorganize the human mind itself, as well as to undermine the venerable pillars that support the edifice of civilized society. The attempt by the rulers of a nation to destroy all religious opinion, and to pervert a whole nation to atheism, is a phenomenon of profligacy reserved to consummate the infamy of the unprincipled reformers of France. The proofs of this terrible design are numerous and convincing.
The animosity to the Christian system is demonstrated by the single fact of the ridiculous and impolitic establishment of the decades, with the evident object of supplanting the Christian Sabbath. The inscriptions by public authority on the tombs of the deceased, affirming death to be an eternal sleep, witness the desire to discredit the belief of the immortality of the soul. The open profession of atheism in the convention, received with acclamations; the honorable mention on its journals of a book professing to prove the nothingness of all religion; the institution of a festival to offer public worship to a courtesan decorated with the pompous title of "Goddess of Reason"; the congratulatory reception of impious children appearing in the hall of the convention to lisp blasphemy against the King of kings, are among the dreadful proofs of a conspiracy to establish atheism on the ruins of Christianity,—to deprive mankind of its best consolations and most animating hopes, and to make a gloomy desert of the universe.
Latterly, the indications of this plan are not so frequent as they were, but from time to time something still escapes which discovers that it is not renounced. The late address of Buonaparte [sic] to the Directory is an example. That unequalled conqueror, from whom it is painful to detract, in whom one would wish to find virtues worthy of his shining talents, profanely unites religion (not superstition) with royalty and the feudal system as the scourges of Europe for centuries past. The decades likewise remain the catapulta which are to batter down Christianity.
Equal pains have been taken to deprave the morals as to extinguish the religion of the country, if indeed morality in a community can be separated from religion. It is among the singular and fantastic vagaries of the French Revolution, that while the Duke of Brunswick was marching to Paris a new law of divorce was passed, which makes it as easy for a husband to get rid of his wife, and a wife of her husband, as to discard a worn-out habit. To complete the dissolution of those ties, which are the chief links of domestic and ultimately of social attachment, the journals of the convention record with guilty applause the accusations preferred by children against their parents.
It is not necessary to heighten the picture by sketching the horrid group of proscriptions and murders which have made France a den of pillage and slaughter; blackening with eternal opprobrium the very name of man.
The pious and moral weep over these scenes as a sepulchre [sic] destined to entomb all they revere and esteem. The politician who loves liberty, sees them with regret as a gulf that may swallow up the liberty to which he is devoted. He knows that morality overthrown (and morality must fall with religion), the terrors of despotism can alone curb the impetuous passions of man, and confine him within the bounds of social duty.
~ The Stand # III (1798; emphasis original)

What is there in that terrific picture [of the French Revolution] which you are to admire or imitate? Is it the subversion of the throne of the Bourbons, to make way for the throne of the Bonapartes [sic]? Is it the undistinguishing massacre in prisons and dungeons, of men, women, and children? Is it the sanguinary justice of revolutionary tribunals, or the awful terrors of a guillotine? Is it the rapid succession of revolution upon revolution, erecting the transient power of one set of men upon the tombs of another? Is it the assassinations which have been perpetrated, or the new ones which are projected? Is it the open profession of impiety in the public assemblies, or the ridiculous worship of a Goddess of Reason, or the still continued substitution of decades to the Christian Sabbath? Is it the destruction of commerce, the ruin of manufactures, the oppression of agriculture? Or, is it the pomp of war, the dazzling glare of splendid victories, the bloodstained fields of Europe, the smoking cinders of desolated cities, the afflicting spectacle of millions precipitated from plenty and comfort to beggary and misery? If it be none of these things, what is it?
~ Address to the Electors of the State of New York (1801)

Facts, numerous and unequivocal, demonstrate that the present ÆRA is among the most extraordinary which have occurred in the history of human affairs. Opinions, for a long time, have been gradually gaining ground, which threaten the foundations of religion, morality, and society. An attack was first made upon the Christian revelation, for which natural religion was offered as the substitute. The Gospel was to be discarded as a gross imposture, but the being and attributes of GOD, the obligations of piety, even the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, were to be retained and cherished.
In proportion as success has appeared to attend the plan, a bolder project has been unfolded. The very existence of a Deity has been questioned and in some instances denied. The duty of piety has been ridiculed, the perishable nature of man asserted, and his hopes bounded to the short span of his earthly state. DEATH has been proclaimed an ETERNAL SLEEP; "the dogma of the immortality of the soul a cheat, invented to torment the living for the benefit of the dead." Irreligion, no longer confined to the closets of conceited sophists, nor to the haunts of wealthy riot, has more or less displayed its hideous front among all classes.
Wise and good men took a lead in delineating the odious character of despotism, in exhibiting the advantages of a moderate and well-balanced government, in inviting nations to contend for the enjoyment of national liberty. Fanatics in political science have since exaggerated and perverted their doctrines. Theories of government unsuited to the nature of man, miscalculating the force of his passions, disregarding the lessons of experimental wisdom, have been projected and recommended. These have everywhere attracted sectaries, and everywhere the fabric of government has been in different degrees undermined.
A league has at length been cemented between the apostles and disciples of irreligion and of anarchy. Religion and government have both been stigmatized as abuses; as unwarrantable restraints upon the freedom of man; as causes of the corruption of his nature, intrinsically good; as sources of an artificial and false morality which tyrannically robs him of the enjoyments for which his passions fit him, and as clogs upon his progress to the perfection for which he was destined.
As a corollary from these premises, it is a favorite tenet of the sect that religious opinion of any sort is unnecessary to society; that the maxims of a genuine morality and the authority of the magistracy and the laws are a sufficient and ought to be the only security for civil rights and private happiness.
Fragment on French Revolution (unknown date of authorship)

If, happily, the possession of the power of our once-detested government shall be a talisman to work the conversion of all its enemies, we shall be ready to rejoice that good has come out of evil. But we dare not too far indulge this pleasing hope. We know that the adverse party has its Dantons, and its Robespierres, as well as its Brissots and its Rolands; and we look forward to the time when the sects of the former will endeavor to confound the latter and their adherents, together with the Federalists, in promiscuous ruin.
In regard to these sects, which compose the pith and essence of the anti-federal party, we believe it to be true that the contest between us is indeed a war of principles—a war between tyranny and liberty, but not between monarchy and republicanism. It is a contest between the tyranny of Jacobinism, which confounds and levels every thing, and the mild reign of rational liberty, which rests on the basis of an efficient and well-balanced government, and through the medium of stable laws shelters and protects the life, the reputation, the civil and religious rights of every member of the community.
~ Address to the Electors of the State of New York (1801)
God's Providence in History:
With these impressions, with a firm reliance on the blessing of Providence upon a government framed under circumstances which afford a new and instructive example of wisdom and moderation to mankind; with an entire conviction that it will be more prudent to rely, for whatever amendments may be desirable in the said Constitution, on the mode therein prescribed, than either to embarrass the Union or hazard dissensions in any part of the community by pursuing a different course, and with a full confidence that the amendments which shall have been proposed will receive an early and mature consideration, and that such of them as may in any degree tend to the real security and permanent advantage of the people, will be adopted: We, the said delegates, in the name and behalf of the PEOPLE of this State, Do, by these presents, assent to and RATIFY the Constitution aforesaid, hereby announcing to all those whom it may concern, that the said Constitution is binding upon the said people according to an authentic copy hereunto annexed.
~ Draft of Proposed Ratification of the US Constitution (1788)

The two armies, now equally willing to try the fortune of a battle, met and engaged near Guilford Court-House. All that could be expected from able disposition towards insuring success, promised a favorable issue to the American arms. But superior discipline carried it against superior numbers and superior skill. Victory decreed the glory of the combat to the Britons; but Heaven, confirming the hopes of Greene, decreed the advantage of it to the Americans. Greene retired; Cornwallis kept the field. But Greene retired only three miles; and Cornwallis, in three days, abandoning the place where the laurels he had gained were a slender compensation for the loss he had suffered, withdrew to Wilmington on the sea-coast.
~ Eulogium for Major-General Nathanial Greene (1789)

Fellow-citizens, we beseech you to consult your experience and not listen to tales of evil, which exist only in the language, not even in the imaginations, of those who deal them out. This experience will tell you, that our opposers have been uniformly mistaken in their views of our Constitution, of its administration, in all the judgments which they have pronounced of our public affairs; and, consequently, that they are unfaithful or incapable advisers. It will teach you that you have eminently prospered under the system of public measures pursued and supported by the Federalists. In vain are you told that you owe your prosperity to your own industry, and to the blessings of Providence. To the latter, doubtless, you are primarily indebted. You owe to it, among other benefits, the Constitution you enjoy, and the wise administration of it by virtuous men as its instruments. You are likewise indebted to your own industry. But has not your industry found aliment and incitement in the salutary operation of your government—in the preservation of order at home—in the cultivation of peace abroad—in the invigoration of confidence in pecuniary dealings—in the increased energies of credit and commerce—in the extension of enterprise, ever incident to a good government well administered? Remember what your situation was immediately before the establishment of the present Constitution? Were you then deficient in industry more than now? If not, why were you not equally prosperous? Plainly, because your industry had not at that time the vivifying influences of an efficient and well-conducted government.
~ Address to the Electors of the State of New York (1801)

And whereas, notwithstanding we have, by the blessing of Providence, so far happily escaped the complicated dangers of such a situation [total bankruptcy and complete national dissolution], and now see the object of our wishes secured by an honorable peace, it would be unwise to hazard a repetition of the same dangers and embarrassments in any future war in which these States may be engaged, or to continue this extensive empire under a government unequal to its protection and prosperity.
~ Resolutions for a General Convention (1783)

"The state and progress of the Jews," Hamilton remarked elsewhere, "from their earliest history to the present time, has been so entirely out of the ordinary course of human affairs, is it not then a fair conclusion, that the cause is an EXTRAORDINARY ONE -- in other words, that it is the effect of some great providential plan? The man who will draw this conclusion, will look for the solution in the Bible. He who will not draw it ought to give us another fair solution."
~ History of the Republic of the United States, as Traced in the Writings of Alexander Hamilton and His Contemporaries, John Church Hamilton, volume 7, page 711
Hamilton's Christian Faith:
I have examined carefully the evidence of the Christian religion;and, if I was sitting as juror upon its authenticity, I should unhestitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I have studied it, and I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man.
~ History of the Republic of the United States, as Traced in the Writings of Alexander Hamilton and His Contemporaries, by J. C. Hamilton, volume 7, page 790

The triumphs of vice are no new thing under the sun, and I fear, till the millennium comes, in spite of all our boasted light and purification, hypocrisy and treachery will continue to be the most successful commodities in the political market.
~ To Richard Harrison (1793)

He [Gouverneur Morris] asks, "Why distrust the evidence of the Jews? Discredit them, and you destroy the Christian religion." Has he forgotten what this race once were, when, under the immediate government of God himself, they were selected as the witnesses of his miracles, and charged with the spirit of prophecy? or how they changed when, the remnants of the scattered tribes, they were the degraded, persecuted, reviled subjects of Rome, in all her resistless power, and pride, and pagan pomp, an isolated, tributary, and friendless people? Has the gentleman recurred to the past with his wonted accuracy? Is it so, that if we then degraded the Jews, we destroy the evidence of Christianity? Were not the witnesses of that pure and holy, happy and Heaven-approved faith, converts to that faith?
~ Speech before the New York Supreme Court in the case Le Guen v. Gouverneur and Kemble (1800)
SOURCE: History of the Republic of the United States, as Traced in the Writings of Alexander Hamilton and His Contemporaries, John Church Hamilton, volume 7, page 711

Arraign not the dispensations of Providence, they must be founded in wisdom and goodness; and when they do not suit us, it must be because there is some fault in ourselves which deserves chastisement; or because there is a kind intent, to correct in us some vice or failing, of which, perhaps, we may not be conscious; or because the general plan requires that we should suffer partial ill. In this situation it is our duty to cultivate resignation, and even humility, bearing in mind, in the language of the poet, 'that it was pride which lost the blest abodes.' To an unknown recipient, April 12, 1804

I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.
~ Confession of faith before Reverend John M. Mason, who recorded it in a letter (July 18, 1804) to the New York Evening Post
SOURCE: The Complete Works of John M. Mason, D. D., volume 4, p. 525

Alexander Hamilton said, upon being asked by the Reverend Benjamin Moore "Do you sincerely repent of your sins past? Have you a lively faith in God's mercy through Christ, with a thankful remembrance of the death of Christ? And are you disposed to live in love and charity with all men," answered: "With the utmost sincerity of heart I can answer those questions in the affirmative – I have no ill will against Col. Burr. I met him with a fixed resolution to do him no harm – I forgive all that happened."
~ SOURCE: Letter by Reverend Benjamin Moore to William Coleman of the New York Evening Post (July 12, 1804)

5 Comments:

Rob Scot said...

Great blog! Thanks for all the good, primary documention; I plan on visiting often.

I think Washington's (and, appropriately, Hamilton's) Farewell Address is one of the most reasonable and powerful arguments supporting the claim that many (if not most) of the Founders did not an envision a government devoid of all things religious, such as the ACLU would have us believe.

Hercules Mulligan said...

Thanks for your comment, Rob.

I agree with you whole-heartedly that the Founding Fathers did not at all envision a country (for all practical purposes) under the dictatorship of the ACLU and their ilk. I think that this was the point upon which all the Founders agreed, even the non-Christian Founders.

Ironically, that is a major point upon which our countrymen can never seem to agree on!

Enlightened Despot said...

The Constitution is very much indebted to the ideas of John Locke, who, although personally devout, believed in secular government. You can easily substantiate this by reading his work. Locke had good reason for his views; his father had fought in the English Civil War, and Locke knew firsthand about conflicts between Catholics & Protestants, and between Presbyterians & other denominations. Henry VIII had executed Catholics like Sir Thomas More; his daughter Mary burned Protestants at the stake. The separation of church & state was intended to prevent such practices & make the public sphere safe for everybody, even those not currently in power. As for Hamilton, he had two periods of religious piety, one when he was young and one after his eldest son was killed. The dates of your quotations will substantiate this. He did not, however, attend church, even though his family had a pew in Trinity, where he is buried. One theory about his not having attended Princeton (then the College of New Jersey) is that its president held his illegitimacy against him for religious (Presbyterian) reasons. Because Hamilton had not attended church, he had great difficulty persuading a minister to attend him upon his deathbed. Finally, you misunderstand the ACLU. The purpose of a secular public sphere is to prevent any particular religion, sect, or denomination imposing its views--via the President, Congress, or courts--upon all citizens. It's simply not the case that all denominations agree on all the tenets of Christianity. Calvin and Luther, for example, had strikingly different views. (Note: I was confirmed in the Presbyterian church.) The warring religions of Europe had fueled wars between monarchs and countries. The Founders did not want that to happen here, where Quakers, Unitarians, Presbyterians, Jews, & Episcopalians were already peacefully co-existing.

Mrs Mecomber said...

To the despot who said: "The purpose of a secular public sphere is to prevent any particular religion, sect, or denomination imposing its views--via the President, Congress, or courts--upon all citizens."

This statement is completely false and I would love to see the reason why that causes you to render such an erroneous opinion.

The Founders had no intention of creating a "secular" pubic sphere, and the ACLU's rabid pursuit of such a "sphere" has nothing to do with Constitutional liberty.

Plus, if Quakers, Jews, etc were already peacefully coexisting, why ever would the Founders feel the need to suddenly legislate such a preventive measure that was unnecessary?

Also, Hamilton's "piety" in his later years were the result of his repentance from adultery and blackmail, before Philip's death. But he was certainly pious before then-- that or a terrific hypocrite, as his writings show. But, so what? He is somehow a "lesser" Christian because he (in your opinion) was not "pious" until such-and-such a time?

I'm sorry, despot, your views seem misguided. Perhaps you are relying too much on the tales of revisionists and not enough on the very words of the men you claim to know.

Hercules Mulligan said...

Enlightened Despot:

You say that Hamilton had two periods of religious piety. Well, he certainly was sincerely fervent in his Christian faith early on in life, and later in life, but I think you are mistaken in saying that the later "period" was the result of his son's unfortunate death. I think you should look again at the dates of the quotes I presented in the above post. Philip Hamilton died in 1801. Hamilton was defending the Christian faith from the attacks of French atheists as early as 1794 (see quotes above)! After researching the subject of Hamilton's faith for nearly 3 and a half years, I agree with Mrs. Mecomber in saying that Hamilton's regenerated piety and devotion was a result of his repentance from adultery (at a time when Hamilton was already entrenched in his own self-righteousness), and not when his son died. Hamilton learned (the hard way, unfortunately) the Gospel truth that a man's own morality or "good behavior" does not make any man inherently righteous before God (when one substitutes his own moral standard's for God's, or thinks that he can be purely righteous without God, then he finds all kinds of ways to excuse plainly evil things); one must lay aside his own evaluation of righteousness, and be born again, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to give the individual a new nature. Hamilton expressed his belief in this when he made his open profession of faith at his deathbed:

"I perceive it to be so [those who sincerely repent of their sins and ask for forgiveness of them will find forgiveness in Jesus Christ]. I am a sinner: I look to his mercy. ... I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hamilton believed and had strong conviction that the Christian religion was true, and he did not use it as a crutch when his son died. If Hamilton had REALLY been skeptical about the Christian faith, or if his faith was not really genuine, then he most likely would have done what most other people do when disasters like these befall them: "Why did God let this happen?" Usually, only true seekers of God will actually turn to God in the face of such catastrophes, but skeptics just use these catastrophes to justify their unbelief or to turn away from God. Hamilton, apparently, did just the opposite.

His lack of attendance to church in his later years does not in any way mean that he doubted Christ's divinity. If he indeed doubted Christ's divinity, I would like to see the document that proves he did; otherwise, I am not convinced. The above quote is enough for me to believe that he KNEW Christ to be the Son of God.

And as to church, his son records that Hamilton and his family held their own "church" at home on Sunday, and that Hamilton wanted to build a chapel on his property, but his death prevented the project. You may see the quotes of this in my "Contemporary Testimony" post on this blog.

If you have any quotes of HAMILTON that prove me erroneous, or that indicate I am stretching the evidence, please show me, and I will retract. But speculative "maybe's" and "it probably's" and "it is rational to assume's" from the latest pseudo-historian just won't cut it. It is junk research and junk history.

Thanks for Reading!