As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.
Our Nation’s Godly Heritage
John Dickinson (1732-1808), President of Pennsylvania Colony
The happiness of these Colonies has been, during the whole course of this fatal controversy, our first wish; their reconciliation with Great Britain our next; ardently have we prayed for the accomplishment of both. But if we must renounce the one or the other, we humbly trust in the mercies of the Supreme Governor of the universe that we shall not stand condemned before His throne if our choice is determined by that law of self-preservation which His Divine wisdom has seen fit to implant in the hearts of His creatures.
John Dickinson was born on the family’s tobacco plantation in Talbot County, Maryland, in November 1732. He was educated at home by his parents and by recent immigrants employed for that purpose. At age 18, he began studying law in Philadelphia, and was admitted to the Bar, beginning his career as barrier and solicitor.
He served as the President of Pennsylvania as well as President of Delaware, and he became a Continental Congressman from both of those states. Following the Declaration of Independence, he was given the rank of brigadier general in the Pennsylvania militia, and he led 10,000 soldiers to Elizabeth, New Jersey, to protect that area against British attack from Staten Island. However, because of his unpopular opinion on independence, desiring unity with Great Britain, two junior officers were promoted above him.
Dickinson prepared the first draft of the Articles of Confederation in 1776.
He was married to Mary Norris, known as Polly, in a civil ceremony, although he was loosely affiliated with the Quakers. He died in Wilmington, Delaware, and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground.
Presidential Quote of the Week
Warren G. Harding (1865-1923), 29th President of the United States
For approximately ten years we have dwelt amid menaces of war or as participants in war’s actualities, and the inevitable aftermath, with its disordered conditions, bits added to the difficulties of government which adequately can not be appraised except by, those who are in immediate contact and know the responsibilities. Our tasks would be less difficult if we had only ourselves to consider, but so much of the world was involved, the disordered conditions are so well-nigh universal, even among nations not engaged in actual warfare, that no permanent readjustments can be effected without consideration of our inescapable relationship to world affairs in finance and trade. Indeed, we should be unworthy of our best traditions if we were unmindful of social, moral, and political conditions which are not of direct concern to us, but which do appeal to the human sympathies and the very becoming interest of a people blest with our national good fortune. It is not my purpose to bring to you a program of world restoration. In the main such a program must be worked out by the nations more directly concerned. They must themselves turn to the heroic remedies for the menacing conditions under which they are struggling, then we can help, and we mean to help. We shall do so unselfishly because there is compensation in the consciousness of assisting, selfishly because the commerce and international exchanges in trade, which marked our high tide of fortunate advancement, are possible only when the nations of all continents are restored to stable order and normal relationship. – State of the Union Address, December 6, 1921
Warren Gamaliel Harding was born in November 1865 in Corsica (now Blooming Grove), Ohio. He was the eldest of eight children. His father owned a farm and taught at a rural school. One of Harding’s great-grandmothers may have been African American. He graduated from Ohio Central College in Iberia, Ohio. During his youth, he worked for the local newspaper, which had been acquired by his father.
After graduating, Harding moved to Marion, Ohio, where with two friends he purchased the Marion Daily Star. The newspaper became quite popular but it took its toll on Harding’s health, and at age 24 he suffered from exhaustion and nervous fatigue.
As an influential newspaper publisher with a flair for public speaking, Harding was elected to the Ohio State Senate where he served four years before being elected Lieutenant Governor of Ohio, a post he held for two years. In 1914, Harding was elected to the United States Senate. He ran for the office of President as a “dark horse”, winning his party’s nomination and the election with the campaign promise of “A Return to Normalcy.” He was the first U.S. Senator to be elected President.
When Harding assumed office in 1921, the United States was in the midst of a post-war economic depression. Unemployment was at 12 percent. His efforts to reduce the national debt involved cutting government spending by 50% over a two-year period.
In 1923, Harding set out on a cross-country “Voyage of Understanding,” in which he planned to meet ordinary people and explain his policies. During this trip, he became the first president to visit Alaska. Harding’s health was poor, even prior to the Alaskan venture, and he was dogged by rumors of corruption in his administration. While traveling south from Alaska through British Columbia, he developed what was believed to be a severe case of food poisoning. He still managed to give a speech to a large crowd in Seattle, but a scheduled speech in Portland was cancelled. As the President’s train rolled into San Francisco, he developed a respiratory illness, probably pneumonia, which caused him to suffer a cardiogenic pulmonary edema. He died suddenly in the middle of a conversation with his wife in the presidential suite at the Palace Hotel.
Harding was married to Florence King and had a step-son as a result of her prior marriage. He is alleged to have had a daughter as a result of an extra-marital affair. Harding’s faith is listed as Baptist.