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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
George Whitefield (1714-1770), Colonial Evangelist
Never rest until you can say, “The Lord our righteousness.” Who knows but the Lord may have mercy, nay, abundantly pardon you? Beg of God to give you faith; and if the Lord give you that, you will by it receive Christ, with his righteousness and his all. … None, none can tell but those happy souls who have experienced it with what demonstration of the Spirit this conviction comes. … Oh how amiable, as well as all sufficient, does the blessed Jesus now appear! With what new eyes does the soul now see the Lord his righteousness! Brethren, it is unutterable!
George Whitefield was born in Gloucester, England. He attended Pembroke College, Oxford, and there met the Wesley brothers. He was one of the founders of Methodism and of the evangelical movement generally.
In 1740, Whitefield traveled to America where he preached a series of revivals that became known as the “Great Awakening.” He became perhaps the best-known preacher in Britain and America during the 18th century. Because he traveled through all of the American colonies and drew great crowds and media coverage, he was one of the most widely recognized public figures in Colonial America.
Whitefield died in the parsonage of Old South Presbyterian Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and was buried, according to his wishes, in a crypt under the pulpit of that church.
Presidential Quote of the Week
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th President of the United States
Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and you become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.
Abraham Lincoln was born February 1
2, 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.