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United States Founding Ministers

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United States Founding Ministers

"To the Pulpit, the Puritan Pulpit, we owe the moral force which won our independence." -- John Wingate Thornton

  • Chauncy, Charles (1705-1787) - Graduate of Harvard. Pastor First Church of Boston for sixty years.
  • Colman, Benjamin (1673-1747) - First pastor of Boston's Brattle Street Church. B.A. and M.A. degrees from Harvard. Awarded S.T.D. by the University of Glascow. In 1724 declined presidency of Harvard. Served as Harvard trustee from 1717-1728. Overseer at Harvard until his death.
  • Davies, Samuel (1724-1761) - Became the Fourth president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), in 1759.
  • Sewall, Joseph (1688-1769) - Graduated Harvard in 1707. Minister at the Old South Church, where he preached into his eighties. Declined the presidency of Harvard in 1724. Preached the artillery sermon in 1714. Preached the election sermon in 1724. Awarded a D.D. by the University of Glasgow in 1731.
  • Whitefield, George (1714-1770) - Graduated from Oxford in 1736.
  • Williams, Elisha (1694-1755) - Graduated Harvard in 1711.

The religious convictions of the Founding Fathers of the United States continues to be subject of controversy. As with any large group of people, they had a wide range of beliefs.

At one extreme, perhaps in a category by himself, was Thomas Jefferson, who as a young man seems to have deserved the label of "Deist," although he never identified himself as such. (Deists acknowledge the existence of God, but deny that a loving God intervenes in the affairs of humans.) However, later in life Jefferson insisted on describing himself as a Christian as he literally cut and pasted sections of the New Testament that he considered to be authentic, deleting all reference to miracles, for example.

At the other extreme, typified by Benjamin Rush and others, was a relatively large group of orthodox Christians of their day, whether Congregationalist or Baptist or Presbyterian or Anglican.

Some of the founders, while church members, showed little sign of religious conviction. Others, like John Adams (who privately denied the divinity of Jesus Christ), gave deep thought to theological questions throughout his life.

The following quote, written by Benjamin Franklin shortly before the end of his life, reflects a view that was common among the colonial educated elite:

"Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them. As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes..."

As a group, the Founders strongly believed that the Christian religion promoted morality in the people, which was essential for the survival of the republican form of government that they envisioned and constructed.


Information obtained from: Party of 1776 United States Founding Ministers

For evaluation to add historical context http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/24635

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