John Quincy Adams White House portrait

On this day in 1767, John Quincy Adams is born. He was the sixth U.S. president, and the son of the second U.S. president, John Adams.

As a boy, he went with his father on diplomatic missions, then entered the legal profession after his schooling. As a young man, he served as minister to the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, and England. John Quincy Adams became a Republican Senator, and helped negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812. He also served as secretary of state until the tie-breaking vote in the House elected him president over Andrew Jackson.

“Pursue the Practice”

Definitely his father’s son, who believed religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand,” John Quincy wrote this in a letter to his own “dear son”:

“for so great is my veneration for the Bible, and so strong my belief, that when duly read and meditated on, it is of all books in the world, that which contributes most to make men good, wise, and happy — that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more steadily they pursue the practice of reading it throughout their lives, the more lively and confident will be my hopes that they will prove useful citizens to their country, respectable members of society, and a real blessing to their parents.”

John Quincy Adams White House portrait

 

Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg address

On this day in 1863, the largest military conflict in North American history begins when Union and Confederate forces collide at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The epic battle lasted three days and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia retreated to Virginia.

Gettysburg Address

So, below is the full text of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This version is inscribed in the South Chamber of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers bought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work, which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. That 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.”

Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg address

 

Lincoln Bible

That famous address makes clear Abraham Lincoln’s reverence for God and His Word. This is amplified by the quote that inspired Our “Lincoln Bible” t-shirt:

“In regard to this Great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.”

Lincoln Bible t-shirt collage

 

Dwight Eisenhower D-Day

On this day in 1944 (D-Day), future president, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces  in World War II launches a massive invasion of Europe called Operation Overlord.

In his Order of the Day, he encouraged the “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces” that The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you” and that he had  “full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory.”

Then, he concluded his Order with “Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.” (emphasis added)

Dwight Eisenhower D-Day Operation Overlord

 

*****

Thy will be done

Later that night, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the nation to join him in prayer for:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.
Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.
Amen.”

FDR D-Day Prayer

 

 

Ulysses S. Grant

On this day in 1822, the first ever General of the U.S. Army and the 18th President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant is born in Point Pleasant, Ohio.

President Abraham Lincoln promoted Grant to the second Lieutenant General in American history. The first was George Washington.

“The influence of this book”

Later in life, just nine years before he died of cancer in 1885, Grant wrote this in regard to education:

“Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts on your hearts and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future.”

Ulysses S. Grant

Ronald Reagan shot

On this day in 1981, in an assassination attempt, John Hinckley Jr. shoots President Ronald Reagan in the left lung as the President left the Washington Hilton hotel. The bullet narrowly misses his heart. Still, the President walks in to George Washington University Hospital under his own power.

Less than two weeks later on April 11, the resilient Reagan returned to the White House. He concluded his diary entry for that day with this powerful statement:

“Whatever happens now I owe my life to God and will try to serve him in every way I can.”

Equally Beloved

Here’s an earlier, similarly powerful portion of that same diary entry:

“Getting shot hurts. Still my fear was growing because no matter how hard I tried to breathe it seemed I was getting less & less air. I focused on that tiled ceiling and prayed. But I realized I couldn’t ask for God’s help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed up young man who had shot me. Isn’t that the meaning of the lost sheep? We are all God’s children & therefore equally beloved by him. I began to pray for his soul and that he would find his way back to the fold.”

President Ronald Reagan shot

 

Ike American flag Dwight D. Eisenhower

On this day in 1969, Dwight D. Eisenhower , a highly regarded general of World War II and the 34th president of the United States dies at the age of 78, in Washington, D.C.

First, here are two excerpts from his remarks for the American Legion “Back-to-God” program:

“The Founding Fathers… produced the timeless documents upon which the Nation is founded and has grown great. They, recognizing God as the author of individual rights, declared that the purpose of Government is to secure those rights.”

“Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first—and most basic—expression of Americanism. Thus, the Founding Fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.”

Eisenhower made “In God We Trust” our nation’s official motto. One can find an early iteration of this phrase in Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner,” which became Our national anthem.

Under God

Eisenhower had the words “under God” inserted in to the pledge of allegiance. On Flag Day, June 14, 1954 when he signed the bill to include the words “under God” in the pledge, he said:

“In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

Then and now, that’s why we like Ike.

Like Ike Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thomas Jefferson Summary View

On this day in 1775, Thomas Jefferson is elected to the second Continental Congress.

Jefferson originally established himself in the first Continental Congress with a tract entitled “Summary View of the Rights of British America.”

Inkling of Independence

Here are two excerpts from his “Summary”:

“[P]ropose to the said congress that an humble and dutiful address be presented to his majesty, begging leave to lay before him, as chief magistrate of the British empire, the united complaints of his majesty’s subjects in America; complaints which are excited by many unwarrantable encroachments and usurpations, attempted to be made by the legislature of one part of the empire, upon those rights which God and the laws have given equally and independently to all.”

“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. This, sire, is our last, our determined resolution; and that you will be pleased to interpose with that efficacy which your earnest endeavours may ensure to procure redress of these our great grievances, to quiet the minds of your subjects in British America, against any apprehensions of future encroachment, to establish fraternal love and harmony through the whole empire, and that these may continue to the latest ages of time, is the fervent prayer of all British America!”

Rights Reverberate

Of course, in early June 1776, Congress appointed a committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson to draft what would become the Declaration of Independence. This esteemed committee chose Jefferson to compose the most important document in the history self-government. He drafted it in just a few days, at the age of 33.

As we (should) know, this is the basis of Our Declaration:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Jefferson seemed to suggest as much in his “Summary” two years prior. As seen above, he acknowledged “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.”

 

Thomas Jefferson Summary View

Truman Federal Council of Churches

On this day in 1949, President Harry S. Truman signs a U.S. resolution authorizing $16 million in aid for Palestinian refugees who were displaced as a result of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

This situation was, and still is, an exceedingly volatile and complex. Our Lost Founding has no delusions of any ability to provide an adequate summary of the conflict here. Pro- and anti-Zionist groups, Palestinian refugees, Arab oil, and the state of Israel are the major sources of on-going conflict in the Middle East.

Truman had the unenviable task of reconciling safety for the Jews and good relations with Arab states.

Men and Nations

Truman’s address to the Federal Council of Churches on March 6, 1946 are as pertinent today as they were then. It applies to the current state of affairs in the Middle East and associated terror groups. We can also apply it to the current debate surrounding religious liberties in Our own country:

“Now that we have preserved our freedom of conscience and religion, our right to live by a decent moral and spiritual code of our own choosing, let us make full use of that freedom. Let us make use of it to save a world which is beset by so many threats of new conflicts, new terror, and new destruction.”

“If men and nations would but live by the precepts of the ancient prophets and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, problems which now seem so difficult would soon disappear.”

Harry S. Truman Federal Council of Churches

 

President James Madison

On this day in 1751, James Madison is born in Conway, Virginia.

He was a key drafter of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well the recorder of the Constitutional Convention. Accordingly, Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”
Furthermore, he was a key author of the Federalist Papers. Finally, Madison served two terms as the fourth President of the United States, from 1809 to 1817.

For all these towering achievements, James Madison stood at just 5′4″. I like him even more.

Divine Destiny

Here are portions of his Proclamation 20 – Recommending a Day of Public Thanksgiving for Peace from March 4, 1815:

“No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States.”

“And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.”

James Madison

On this day in 1801, Vice President Thomas Jefferson is elected the third president of the United States. His running mate and eventual opponent was the infamous Aaron Burr. A tie vote in the Electoral College and 35 indecisive ballot votes in the House of Representatives preceded Jefferson’s election.

“With all these blessings”

Thus, Thomas Jefferson shared this at his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801

“Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter — with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens — a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”

 

Thomas Jefferson first Inaugural AddressThomas Jefferson inaugural address 2

Abraham Lincoln

On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln is born in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Despite growing up a member of a poor family in Kentucky and Indiana, Lincoln became one of America’s most admired presidents.

“A new birth”

Regarding another form of birth, you have likely heard this quote from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

“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.”

Abraham Lincoln