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1781 Richard Stockton
(Signer of the Declaration of Independence; from his will)

And as my children will have frequent occasion of perusing this instrument and may be particularly impressed with the last words of their father, I think it proper here not only to subscribe to the entire belief of the great and leading doctrines of the Christian religion, such as the being of God, the universal defection and depravity of human nature, the divinity of the person and the completeness of the redemption purchased by the blessed Savior, the necessity of the operations of the divine Spirit; of divine faith accompanied with an habitual virtuous life, and the universality of the divine Providence: but also, in the bowels of a father’s affection, to exhort and charge them that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, that the way of life held up in the Christian system is calculated for the most complete happiness that can be enjoyed in this mortal state.

September 17, 1796 George Washington
(First president of the United States; from his farewell address after his final term of office)

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

December 20, 1808 Noah Webster
(Writer of the famed Webster’s Dictionary; from a letter to Thomas Dawes)

Being educated in a religious family under pious parents, I had in early life some religious impressions, but being too young to understand fully the doctrines of the Christian religion, and falling into vicious company at college, I lost those impressions. … [I] fell into the common mistake of attending to the duties which man owes to man before I had learned the duties which we all owe to our Creator and Redeemer. … I sheltered myself as well as I could from the attacks of conscience for neglect of duty under a species of skepticism, and endeavored to satisfy my mind that a profession of religion is not absolutely necessary to salvation. In this state of mind I placed great reliance on good works or the performance of moral duties as the means of salvation. … About a year ago, an unusual revival of religion took place in New Haven. … and [I] was led by a spontaneous impulse to repentance, prayer, and entire submission and surrender of myself to my Maker and Redeemer. … I now began to understand and relish many parts of the Scriptures which before appeared mysterious and unintelligible, or repugnant to my natural pride. … In short, my view of the Scriptures, of religion, of the whole Christian scheme of salvation, and of God’s moral government are very much changed, and my heart yields with delight and confidence to whatever appears to be the Divine will. … In the month of April last I made a profession of faith.

1851 Sojourner Truth
(Former slave, abolitionist, evangelist; from “Ain’t I a Woman?” at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention)

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm. I have plowed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne 13 children, and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

1854 U.S. House of Representatives
(Statement quoted by B.F. Morris in his 1864 book, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States)

The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

March 4, 1865 Abraham Lincoln
(Sixteenth president of the United States; from his second inaugural address)

The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

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