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
William Phips (1601-1694), Shipwright, Military Leader, Governor of the province of Massachusetts Bay
I have divers times been in danger in my life, and I have been brought to see that I owe my life to Him who has given His precious life for me. I thank God. He has led me to see myself altogether unhappy without an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to close heartily with Him, desiring Him to execute all His offices in my behalf. I have now, for some time, been under serious resolution that I should avoid whatever I know to be displeasing to God, that I should serve Him all the days of my life. … I knew that if God had a people anywhere, it was here, and I resolved to rise or fall with them, neglecting very great privileges for my worldly interest, that I might come and enjoy the ordinances of the Lord Jesus here.
Of humble origin and poorly educated, William Phips was a shipbuilder in Boston before embarking on several treasure hunting expeditions to the West Indies. He became famous in London when he recovered a large treasure from a sunken Spanish galleon, a feat that earned him instant wealth and a knighthood. In 1690, during King William’s War, he led a successful military expedition. He later made a disastrous attempt to capture Quebec that same year.
He was the first royally-appointed Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and is perhaps best remembered for establishing, and later over-ruling and disbanding, the court associated with the famous Salem Witch Trials.
William and Mary Phips had no children, although they adopted the son of Mary’s sister. Phippsburg, Maine is named in his honor.
Presidential Quote of the Week
John Tyler, Jr. (1790-1862), 10th President of the United States
We have continued reason to express our profound gratitude to the Great Creator of All Things for numberless benefits conferred upon us as a people. Blessed with genial seasons, the husbandman has his garners filled with abundance, and the necessaries of life, not to speak of its luxuries, abound in every direction. While in some other nations steady and industrious labor can hardly find the means of subsistence, the greatest evil which we have to encounter is a surplus of production beyond the home demand, which seeks, and with difficulty finds, a partial market in other regions. The health of the country, with partial exceptions, has for the past year been well preserved, and under their free and wise institutions the United States are rapidly advancing toward the consummation of the high destiny which an overruling Providence seems to have marked out for them. Exempt from domestic convulsion and at peace with all the world, we are left free to consult as to the best means of securing and advancing the happiness of the people. Such are the circumstances under which you now assemble in your respective chambers and which should lead us to unite in praise and thanksgiving to that great Being who made us and who preserves us as a nation. – State of the Union Address, December 6, 1842
John Tyler, Jr. was born in March 1790 in Charles City County, Virginia. He and his seven siblings were raised to be a part of the region’s elite gentry, receiving an excellent education. When he was seven years old, his mother died from a stroke. At the age of twelve, he enrolled in the preparatory branch of the College of William and Mary, entering the collegiate program three years later. He graduated from the college at the age of seventeen.
Tyler went on to study law with his father who became the Governor of Virginia. He was admitted to the bar and practiced in Charles City County. During the War of 1812, he took command of a small militia company, although they saw no action. He became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and was named a member of the council of state. He served three years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Declining to return to Congress, he became a member of the Virginia House of Delegates for two years and was then elected Governor of Virginia. After two years in that position, he returned to Washington as a United States Senator, and served there for nine years, when he was elected Vice President of the United States, on the ticket with William Henry Harrison.
President Harrison’s unprecedented death in office a mere month from the inaugural thrust Tyler into the office of President. There were debated questions regarding the process of succession based on the word “devolution” in the Constitution. Ultimately the situation was settled with Tyler becoming President both in name and in fact. He served out the single term of office, from 1841 to 1845.
Tyler was a slaveholder for his entire life. At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, Tyler was elected to the House of Representatives of the Confederate Congress, but died of a stroke in Richmond, Virginia, before he could assume office.
Tyler was married twice and had fifteen children. His first wife was Letitia Christian Tyler with whom he had eight children. She died in the White House. His second wife was Julia Gardiner Tyler, and together they had seven children. In addition, he may have had at least one child with one of his female slaves. Tyler is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. He was an Episcopalian.