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
Tennessee, the 16th State, Admitted to the Union June 1, 1796
Two hundred years after being admitted to the Union, in a case involving whether an individual has the right to endanger himself if his conduct threatens no direct harm to others, in a situation that involved a Holiness Church in the mountains of Tennessee over the right of members to handle snakes or drink poison, the Supreme Court, in the case of State ex rel Swann v. Pack, enjoined members of the group from such practices because they constituted a public nuisance.
The Tennessee Supreme Court, in the 1975, said:
The scales are always weighed in favor of free exercise of religion, and the State’s interest must be compelling; it must be substantial, and the danger must be clear and present and so grave as to endanger paramount public interests before the state can interfere with the free exercise of religion.
Presidential Quote of the Week
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th President of the United States
Applications have been made to me by many free Americans of African descent to favor their emigration, with a view to such colonization as was contemplated in recent acts of Congress. Other parties, at home and abroad–some from interested motives, others upon patriotic considerations, and still others influenced by philanthropic sentiments–have suggested similar measures, while, on the other hand, several of the Spanish American Republics have protested against the sending of such colonies to their respective territories. Under these circumstances I have declined to move any such colony to any state without first obtaining the consent of its government, with an agreement on its part to receive and protect such emigrants in all the rights of freemen; and I have at the same time offered to the several States situated within the Tropics, or having colonies there, to negotiate with them, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, to favor the voluntary emigration of persons of that class to their respective territories, upon conditions which shall be equal, just, and humane. Liberia and Hayti [sic] are as yet the only countries to which colonists of African descent from here could go with certainty of being received and adopted as citizens; and I regret to say such persons contemplating colonization do not seem so willing to migrate to those countries as to some others, nor so willing as I think their interest demands. I believe, however, opinion among them in this respect is improving, and that ere long there will be an augmented and considerable migration to both these countries from the United States. – From Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862
Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, to a farming couple, in a one-room log cabin in what is now LaRue County, Kentucky, making him the first president to be born in “the west.” His mother died when he was nine, and his father remarried. He grew close to his stepmother, calling her “Mother,” but grew increasingly distant from his father. The family moved to Illinois in 1830.
Lincoln’s formal education consisted of 18 months of schooling, but he was an avid reader and largely self-taught. He had a reputation for brawn and audacity after a competitive wrestling match when he was challenged by the renowned leader of a group of local ruffians, “the Clary’s Grove boys.” His family and neighbors considered him to be lazy. Lincoln avoided hunting and fishing out of an aversion to killing animals. At 22, he struck out on his own, canoeing down river where he ultimately was hired to work the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers on a flatboat.
Lincoln began his political career in March at age 23, when he announced his candidacy for the Illinois General Assembly. Of the 13 candidates for that office, he finished eighth. Two years later he won an election to the Illinois state legislature. He then decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself, as a result of which he was admitted to the bar in 1837. He gained the reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examinations and closing arguments.
In 1846, Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served one two-year term, after which he returned to practice as a “prairie lawyer.” He continued to journey through politics, nearly becoming a candidate for Vice President in 1856. His campaign debate with Stephen Douglas emphasized the supremacy of democracy, giving him a national political reputation.
At the Republican National Convention in Chicago in May 1860, Lincoln received the nomination to be president of the United States, and was elected that November. As his election became more likely, Southern secessionist states made clear their intent to leave the Union, the Confederate States of America was established, and Jefferson Davis was elected its provisional president just three months following the election of Lincoln.
On April 12, 1861, Union troops at Fort Sumter were fired upon and forced to surrender to a Confederate detachment. The Civil War had begun. The war was a source of constant frustration for President Lincoln and occupied nearly all of his time. After a congressional authorization, Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that on January 1, 1863, “all persons held as slaves” in the Confederate states will “thenceforward and forever be free.” His proclamation fueled the fires of war. In the fall of 1863, Lincoln aimed to garner public support for the war effort, and delivered his famed Gettysburg address at the battlefield cemetery on November 19, 1863. During the course of the war, Lincoln was elected to a second term of office. It was not until the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox in April 9, 1865 that war was effectively over.
Five days later, on April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre. His death was declared in the early morning hours the next day. He is buried in the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, along with his wife Mary, and three of his four sons.
Lincoln was married to Mary Todd, and they had four children. He was raised with Calvinist teachings, but did not participate in “organized religion.” The texts he held most dear were the Bible and the Declaration of Independence.