In the year 1681, Quaker minister William Penn was given the land between New York and Maryland. His desire for this land was clear, “my God that has given it to me … will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation.” In 1682, the Great Law of Pennsylvania revealed the desire of Penn and the inhabitants of the colony to establish “laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in opposition to all unchristian, licentious, and unjust practices.” Listen to William Penn’s Biblical philosophy in the Frame of Government writing: “When the great and wise God had made the world, of all His creatures, it pleased Him to choose man his Deputy to rule it; and to fit Him for so great a charge and trust, He did not only qualify him with skill and power, but with integrity to use them justly.” And God did use the land, for from the loins of this colony came the birth of freedom unparalleled in world history.
Fast forward to the early spring of 1776, in a brief essay entitled Thoughts on Government, John Adams wrote, “You and I, my dear friend, have been sent into life at a time when the greatest lawgivers of antiquity would have wished to live. How few of the human race have ever enjoyed an opportunity of making an election of government, more than of air, soil, or climate, for themselves or their children! When, before the present epochal, had three millions of people full power and a fair opportunity to form and establish the wisest and happiest government that human wisdom can contrive?” There has never been a moment in time just like this Adams observed. In a colony, long since dedicated to God, this soil would transform the world.
In the year 1787, the founders who wrote and ratified the Constitution sensed a particular influence among them and went out of their way to acknowledge God in the documents creation: James Madison noted, “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution.” Alexander Hamilton also reflected, “for my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.” Again, from this soil came the longest living form of Government the world would ever know.
Let’s consider a young Maine schoolteacher, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who in Gettysburg Pennsylvania on the hot, humid day of July 2, 1863 was in the fight of his life. Earlier, a Colonel Vincent had placed Chamberlain and his men of the 20th at the end of that line, saying, “Whatever you do, you can’t let them come through here.” If the Confederate Army overran them, the rebels would gain the high ground, and the Union Army would be quickly defeated. In essence, eighty thousand men would be caught from behind with no protection. After many attacks and late in the day with no reinforcements and very little ammunition, Chamberlain stepped to the top of the wall in full view of the advancing enemy. “Fix bayonets now!” As the cry Charge echoed from the hilltop, they advanced over the rock ledge. Within five more minutes, the ragged group of eighty men under Chamberlain’s command-with very ammunition-captured over four hundred soldiers of the enemy.
Historians have determined that had Chamberlain not charged that day, the rebels would have won at Gettysburg. Further, historians tell us, had the rebels won at Gettysburg, the South would have won the war … and the war itself would have been over by the end of the summer. Historians insist that if the South had won the war, we would now live on a territorially fragmented continent much like Europe-North America would be divided into nine to thirteen countries. Which means: When Hitler swept across Europe in the 1940s, had Chamberlain not charged on that afternoon so long ago, there would not have existed a United States of America to stand in the breach. When Hirohito systematically invaded the islands of the South Pacific, there would not have been a country big enough, strong enough, wealthy enough, and populous enough to fight and win two wars on two fronts at the same time.
The United States of America some say exists as it does today because of a single man’s bravery on a hill in that very ground of which William Penn declared, “I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation.” As President Abraham Lincoln’s words spoken over a year later in that same Pennsylvania town reflected, “This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” This freedom is now in our hands. I truly sense that Americans today desire to preserve the grand republic! I do know this for certain, that whatever the outcome of today’s election, the God of William Penn is still alive and well!
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council writes a weekly column published in The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.