Pre-Revolutionary War Era Documents and Speeches

“The falsification of history has done more to impede human development than any one thing known to mankind.”

— Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) French Political Philosopher and Educationalist

Post and Revolutionary War Era Documents and Speeches ⇨

Pre Revolutionary War Era Documents

Magna Carta - 1215

John, by the grace of God, king of England, lord of Ireland, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, to the archbishop, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justiciaries, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his bailiffs and liege subjects, greetings. Know that, having regard to God and for the salvation of our soul, and those of all our ancestors and heirs . … Download – PDF

  1. That this western discoverie will be greatly for the enlargement of the gospel of Christ whereunto the Princes of the reformed religion are chiefly bound amongst whom her Majestie is principally.
  2. That all other English trades are grown beggerly or dangerous, especially in all the king of Spain his Dominions, where our men are driven to fling their Bibles and prayer Books into the sea, and to forswear and renounce their religion and conscience and consequently their obedience to her Majestie.
  3. That this western voyage will yield unto us all the commodities of Europe, Africa, and Asia, as far as we were wont to travel, and supply the wants of all our decayed trades.
  4. That this enterprise will be for the manifold employment of numbers of idle men, and for breeding of many sufficient, and for utterance of the great quantity of the commodities of our Realm.
  5. That this voyage will be a great bridle to the Indies of the king of Spaine and a means that we may arrest at our pleasure for the space of time weeks or three months every year, one or two hundred sail of his subjects shipped at the fishing in Newfoundland.
  6. That the mischiefs that the Indian Treasure wrought in time of Charles the late Emperor father to the Spanish king, is to be had in consideracion of the Queens most excellent Majesty, least the continually coming of the like treasure from thence to his son, work the unrecoverable annoyance of this Realm, whereof already we have had very dangerous experience.
  7. What special means may bring kinge Phillippe from his high Throne, and make him equal to the Princes his neighbours, wherewithal is showed his weakness in the west Indies.
  8. That the limits of the king of Spain’s dominions in the West Indies be nothing so large as is generally imagined and surmised, neither those parts which he holdeth be of any such forces as is falsely given out by the popish Clergy and others his suitors, to terrify the Princes of the Religion and to abuse and blind them. …

The First Charter of Virginia, Jamestown - 1606

The First Charter of Virginia – To the Glory of God – “JAMES, by the Grace of God, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, … loving Subjects, have been humble Suitors unto us, that We would vouchsafe unto them our Licence, to make Habitation, Plantation, and to deduce a colony of sundry of our People into that part of America commonly called VIRGINIA, and other parts and Territories in America, either appertaining unto us, or which are not now actually possessed by any Christian Prince or People, …We, greatly commending, and graciously accepting of, their Desires for the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of his Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God, and may in time bring the Infidels and Savages, living in those parts, to human Civility, and to a settled and quiet Government: DO, by these our Letters Patents, graciously accept of, and agree to, their humble and well-intended Desires.”.

Robert Hunt -Cape Henry, Virginia - 1607

Land consecrated the continent to the glory of God.

“We do hereby dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains, and may this Land, along with England, be Evangelist to the World. May all who see this Cross, remember what we have done here, and may those who come here to inhabit join us in this Covenant and in this most noble work that the Holy Scriptures may be fulfilled.”

Mayflower Compact - 1620

Mayflower Compact – For the Glory of God – IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. – Download – PDF

The Petition of Rights - 1628

The Petition exhibited to his Majesty by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, concerning divers Rights and Liberties of the Subjects, with the King’s Majesty’s royal answer thereunto in full Parliament.

To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty,

III. And whereas also by the statute called ‘The Great Charter of the Liberties of England,’ it is declared and enacted, that no freeman may be taken or imprisoned or be disseized of his freehold or liberties, or his free customs, or be outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, but by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. Link to Website

The Massachusetts Body of Liberities - 1641

The free fruition of such liberties Immunities and priveledges as humanitie, Civilitie, and Christianitie call for as due to every man in his place and proportion without impeachment and Infringement hath ever bene and ever will be the tranquillitie and Stabilitie of Churches and Commonwealths. And the deniall or deprivall thereof, the disturbance if not the ruine of both.

We hould it therefore our dutie and safetie whilst we are about the further establishing of this Government to collect and expresse all such freedomes as for present we foresee may concerne us, and our posteritie after us, And to ratify them with our sollemne consent.

We doe therefore this day religiously and unanimously decree and confirme these following Rites, liberties and priveledges concerneing our Churches, and Civill State to be respectively impartiallie and inviolably enjoyed and observed throughout our Jurisdiction for ever.

1. No mans life shall be taken away, no mans honour or good name shall be stayned, no mans person shall be arested, restrayned, banished, dismembred, nor any wayes punished, no man shall be deprived of his wife or children, no mans goods or estaite shall be taken away from him, nor any way indammaged under colour of law or Countenance of Authoritie, unlesse it be by vertue or equitie of some expresse law of the Country waranting the same, established by a generall Court and sufficiently published, or in case of the defect of a law in any parteculer case by the word of God. Link to Website

The New England Confederation - 1643

“We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when he shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, ‘The Lord make it likely that of New England.’ For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are agoing.”

— John Winthrop (1588-1649) Puritan & First Governor of Massachusetts, aboard the Arbella, 1630 Download – PDF

Little Speech on Liberty - John Winthrop - 1645

“We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when he shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, ‘The Lord make it likely that of New England.’ For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are agoing.”

— John Winthrop (1588-1649) Puritan & First Governor of Massachusetts, aboard the Arbella, 1630 Download – PDF

The Old Deluder Satan Act - 1649

 It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times by keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these latter times by persuading from the use of tongues, that so that at least the true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded and corrupted with false glosses of saint-seeming deceivers; and to the end that learning may not be buried in the grave of our forefathers, in church and commonwealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors.

It is therefore ordered that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to fifty households shall forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read, whose wages shall be paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general, by way of supply, as the major part of those that order the prudentials of the town shall appoint; provided those that send their children be not oppressed by paying much more than they can have them taught for in other towns.  – Download – PDF

Discourses Concerning Government - Algernon Aidney ~1680

That the greatest Liberty in the World is for a People to live under a Monarch, when his whole Book is to prove, That this Monarch hath his right from God and Nature, is endowed with an unlimited Power of doing what he pleaseth, and can be restrained by no Law. If it be Liberty to live under such a Government, I desire to know what is Slavery. … man cannot continue in the perpetual and entire fruition of the liberty that God hath given him. The liberty of one is thwarted by that of another; and whilst they are all equal, none will yield to any, otherwise than by a general consent. This is the ground of all just governments; for violence or fraud can create no right; and the same consent gives the form to them all, how much soever they differ from each other. – Link to Website

Samuel von Pufendorf - The Duty of Man and Citizen According to the Natural Law - 1682

“God is the author of the natural law, is proved by the natural reason … Of the duties incumbent upon man in accordance with natural law the most convenient division seems to be according to the objects in regard to which they are to be practiced. From this standpoint they are classified under three main heads: the first of which instructs us how, according to the dictate of sound reason alone a man should conduct himself toward God, the second, how toward himself, the third, how toward other men.”

“The duty of man toward God, so far as it can be investigated by the natural reason, reduces itself to two heads: that we have right views of God, and secondly that we order our acts in conformity with His will. …The second truth is that God is founder of this universe. … The third maxim is that God rules over the whole world, and over the human race. This is perfectly clear from the wonderful and constant order seen in this universe. But so far as the moral effect is concerned, it is immaterial whether one denies that God exists, or that he governs the affairs of men, since either view completely destroys all religion. For it is vain to fear or venerate him who, though in himself preeminent, is not touched by any care for us, and will not, or cannot, bring us any good or ill.

English Bill of Rights - 1689

An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown …

By violating the freedom of election of members to serve in Parliament;

And excessive fines have been imposed …

And illegal and cruel punishments inflicted;

And several grants and promises made of fines and forfeitures before any conviction or judgment against the persons upon whom the same were to be levied;

All which are utterly and directly contrary to the known laws and statutes and freedom of this realm … And whereas the said late King James the Second having abdicated the government and the throne being thereby vacant, his Highness the prince of Orange (whom it hath pleased Almighty God to make the glorious instrument of delivering this kingdom from popery and arbitrary power)  – English Bill of Rights – 1689

John Locke - Letter Concerning Toleration - 1689

Civil interests I call life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like.

It is the duty of the civil magistrate, by the impartial execution of equal laws, to secure unto all the people in general and to every one of his subjects in particular the just possession of these things belonging to this life. If anyone presume to violate the laws of public justice and equity, established for the preservation of those things, his presumption is to be checked by the fear of punishment, consisting of the deprivation or diminution of those civil interests, or goods, which otherwise he might and ought to enjoy. But seeing no man does willingly suffer himself to be punished by the deprivation of any part of his goods, and much less of his liberty or life, therefore, is the magistrate armed with the force and strength of all his subjects, in order to the punishment of those that violate any other man’s rights.

“The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property. ….[Therefore,] whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence. Whensoever, therefore, the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society, and either by ambition, fear, folly, or corruption, endeavor to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people, by this breach of trust they [the government officals] forfeit the power the people had put into their hands…  and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and ….provide for their own safety and security.”

John Locke - A Treatises of Government - 1689, Second Treatis of Government - 1690

 

“The power of the legislative being derived from the people by a positive voluntary grant and institution, can be no other than what that positive grant conveyed, which being only to make laws, and not to make legislators, the legislative can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws, and place it in other hands.”

“The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property. ….[Therefore,] whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence. Whensoever, therefore, the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society, and either by ambition, fear, folly, or corruption, endeavor to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people, by this breach of trust they [the government officals] forfeit the power the people had put into their hands…  and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and ….provide for their own safety and security.”

William Penn - Charter of Privileges - 1701

“BECAUSE no People can be truly happy, though under the greatest Enjoyment of Civil Liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Consciences, as to their Religious Profession and Worship: And Almighty God being the only Lord of Conscience, Father of Lights and Spirits; and the Author as well as Object of all divine Knowledge, Faith and Worship, who only doth enlighten the Minds, and persuade and convince the Understandings of People.”    

     Charter of Privileges Granted by William Penn, esq.

     To the Inhabitants of Pennsylvania and Territories, October 28, 1701 (1)

WILLIAM PENN, Proprietary and Governor of the Province of Pensilvania and Territories thereunto belonging, To all to whom these Presents shall come, sendeth Greeting. WHEREAS King CHARLES the Second, by His Letters Patents, under the Great Seal of England, bearing Date the Fourth Day of March in the Year One Thousand Six Hundred and Eighty-one, was graciously pleased to give and grant unto me, and my Heirs and Assigns for ever, this Province of Pennsilvania, with divers great Powers and Jurisdictions for the well Government thereof.” – Download – PDF

John Wise - A Vindication of the Government of New-England Churches - 1717

“For that all law, properly considered, supposes a capable subject and a superior power, and the law of God which is binding, is published by the dictates of right reason as other ways. … God has established the law of nature, as the general rule of government, is further illustrable from the many sanctions in providence, and from the peace and guilt of conscience in them that either obey or’violate the law of nature. But, moreover, the foundation of the law of nature with relation to government …

The native liberty of man’s nature implies, a faculty of doing or omitting things according to the direction of his judgment. But in a more special meaning, this liberty does not consist in a loose and ungovernable freedom, or in an unbounded license of acting. Such license is disagreeing with the condition and dignity of man, and would make man of a lower and meaner constitution than brute creatures, who in all their liberties are kept under a better and more rational government by their instincts.” – Link to Book

Isaac Newton - The Cronology of Ancient Kinddoms - 1728

“Here YOUR MAJESTY will see astronomy, and a just observation on the course of nature, assisting other parts of learning to illustrate antiquity; and a penetration and sagacity peculiar to the great author, dispelling that mist, with which fable and error had darkened it; and will with pleasure contemplate the first dawnings of your favourite arts and sciences, the noblest and most beneficial of which He alone carried farther in a few years, than all the most Learned who went before him, had been able to do in many ages. Here too, MADAM, You will observe, that an abhorrence of Idolatry and persecution (the very essence and foundation of that religion, which makes so bright a part of YOUR MAJESTY’s character) was one of the earliest laws of the divine legislator, the morality of the first ages, and the primitive religion of both Jews and Christians; and, as the author adds, ought to be the standing religion of all nations; it being for the honour of God, and good of mankind.” Link to Web Page

Jonathan Edwards - Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God - 1741

“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear you in his sight; you are ten thousand times as abominable in his eyes as the most hateful, venomous serpent is in ours.

You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince, and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else that you did not got to hell the last night; that you were suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell since you have sat here in the house of God provoking his pure eye by your sinful, wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell. ” – Link to Web Page 

George Whitefield - Father Abraham - Market Street, Philadelphia

“Father Abraham, whom have you in heaven? Any Episcopalians? No. Any Presbyterians? No. Have you any Independents or Seceders? No. Have you any Methodists? No, No, No! Whom have you there? We don’t know those names here. All who are here are Christians—believers in Christ—men who were overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of his testimony.

    Oh, is this the case? Then God help us, God help us all, to forget party names, and to become Christians in deed and in truth!”

Jonathan Mayhew - A Discourse concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to Higher Powers - 1750

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers; for there is no power but of God: the powers that be, are ordained of God. Here he urges the duty of obedience from this topic of argument, that civil rulers, as they are supposed to fulfil the pleasure of God, are the ordinance of God. But how is this an argument for obedience to such rulers as do not perform the pleasure of God, by doing good; but the pleasure of the devil, by doing evil; and such as are not, therefore, God’s ministers, but the devil’s! Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist, shall receive to themselves damnation. … But how is this an argument, that we must honor, and submit to, such magistrates as are not enemies to the evil actions of men, but to the good; and such as are not a common blessing, but a common curse, to society! But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid: For he is the minister of God, a revenger, to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.” – Link to Web Page

Barron Charles de Montesquieu - Spirit of the Laws - 1751

“Laws, in their most general signification, are the necessary relations arising from the nature of things. In this sense all beings have their laws: the Deity His laws, the material world its laws, the intelligences superior to man their laws, the beasts their laws, man his laws. They who assert that a blind fatality produced the various effects we behold in this world talk very absurdly; for can anything be more unreasonable than to pretend that a blind fatality could be productive of intelligent beings?

There is, then, a prime reason; and laws are the relations subsisting between it and different beings, and the relations of these to one another. God is related to the universe, as Creator and Preserver; the laws by which He created all things are those by which He preserves them. He acts according to these rules, because He knows them; He knows them, because He made them; and He made them, because they are in relation to His wisdom and power.

Since we observe that the world, though formed by the motion of matter, and void of understanding, subsists through so long a succession of ages, its motions must certainly be directed by invariable laws; and could we imagine another world, it must also have constant rules, or it would inevitably perish.”

“I have always respected religion; the morality of the Gospel is the noblest gift ever bestowed by God on man.

We shall see that we owe to Christianity, in government, a certain political law, and in war a certain law of nations-benefits which human nature can never sufficiently acknowledge.

The principles of Christianity, deeply engraved on the heart, would be infinitely more powerful than the false honor of monarchies, than the humane virtues of republics, or the servile fear of despotic states.”

“That a moderate Government is most agreeable to the Christian Religion, and a despotic Government to the Mahometan.

The Christian religion is a stranger to mere despotic power. The mildness so frequently recommended in the Gospel, is incompatible with the despotic rage with which a prince punishes his subjects, and exercises himself in cruelty.” 

“Republic” is a “popular government” where the people rule themselves, being conscious that each citizen will be held accountable to a God who wants them to be fair.

“Monarch” is a king with strings attached, having a conscience and being limited by laws, traditions, religion and the noblemen class.

“Despot” is a king with no strings attached, who rules without a conscience, according to his whims caprices, exercising absolute and arbitrary power: –absolute, meaning the moment he says something it is the law; and –arbitrary, meaning no one can predict what he will say next. 

Post and Revolutionary War Era Documents and Speeches ⇨