American Colonist's Library
Treasury of Primary Documents
Source Documents Pertaining to Early American
An invaluable collection of historical works which
contributed to the formation of American politics,
culture, and ideals
The following is
a massive collection of the literature and
documents which were most relevant to the
colonists' lives in America. If it isn't here, it
probably is not available online anywhere.
library is arranged in chronological sequence.
(500 B.C.-1800 A.D.) Use Your Browser's FIND
Function to Search this Library, or click on the
dates below to be taken to that section:
Colonists With Royal Ancestries A large
number of American Colonists trace their roots
back to the Kings and Queens of Europe. Here is
a list of some of them.
Literature Having Significant Influence Upon the
Philosophers and Poets, Most of the
founding fathers in America were thoroughly
familiar with these Greco-Roman authors: e.g.,
Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, Virgil.
and Medieval Classics, The Great Books of
Western Civilization now available online. These
writings provide the European framework of the
cultural backdrop in which America was
Latin Library, (Cicero, Livy, Horace, etc.)
Ability to read these sources extemporaneously
was an entrance requirement at colonial schools
such as Harvard.
Vulgate, The Holy Bible in Latin.
Bible, The best Bible online, which allows
the user to immediately discover the Hebrew and
Greek words behind the English words.
Bible, This book was, of course, the most
influential piece of literature in Colonial
Augustine, The church father of choice among
Augustine, English translations of his works
on predestination which greatly influenced the
Medieval Sources Having Significant Influence
Upon the American Colonists
of William the Conqueror Sowing the seeds of
separation of Church and State in the English
of William the Conqueror
of Clarendon (1164) Established rights of
laymen and the church in England.
of Clarendon (1166) Defined rights and
duties of courts and people in criminal cases.
Foundation of the principle of "due
of Arms (1181) Defined rights and duties of
people and militias.
Carta (1215) One of the American colonists'
most revered documents, the Magna Carta
established the principle that no one, not even
the king or a lawmaker, is above the law of God.
Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Anglić, Henry de
Bracton (1268) This text was the most important
legal treatise written in England in the
medieval period as it organized, systematized,
and explicated the principles of English Common
Law later embraced by the American colonists.
Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas (1265-1273)
Pinnacle of Scholasticism. Covering a wide range
of topics, by the colonial times, most educated
people in the Western world were thoroughly
familiar with this important text.
Polo's Travels [excerpt] (@1300), the
description of the South Pacific which inspired
Columbus to attempt to go to India by way of the
First Manual of Parliamentary Procedure (@
English Law Library, The sources studied by
many of the lawyers who founded the U.S.
Declaration of Arbroath (1320) Scotland's
declaration of independence from England. An
early model for the U.S. Declaration, this
document ends with a phrase parallel to that of
the U.S. Declaration: "and to Him as the
Supreme King and Judge we commit the maintenance
of our cause, casting our cares upon Him and
firmly trusting that He will inspire us with
courage and bring our enemies to nought."
and Sixteenth Century Sources Profoundly
Impacting the History of America
Maleficarum, Directions for witch hunting
Christopher Columbus, (1492). This document
begins with Columbus' statement that the reason
why Isabella sponsored his voyage was for the
sake of going to India to convert Khan to Roman
De Insulis Nuper Inventis, Christopher
to the King and Queen of Spain, Christopher
Henry VII's Commission to John Cabot (1497)
Cabot was the first Englishman to discover New
Prince, Machiavelli (1513) Practical advice
on governance and statecraft, with thoughts on
the kinds of problems any government must be
able to solve to endure.
of Martin Luther, The father of the
Protestant Reformation, his principles were a
major part of the American colonists' worldview.
Secular Authority, Luther (1523). This
document started the political discussion about
religious liberty which led to the American
Revolution. In this document Luther sets forth
the idea of "two kingdoms," one is
political and the other is spiritual, and the
two ought be separate. President James Madison
commended this "due distinction, to which
the genius and courage of Luther led the way,
between what is due to Caesar and what is due to
to F.L. Schaeffer, December 3, 1821).
Bondage of the Will, Luther (1524). Luther
claimed that this particular document was the
cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation; it
argues the idea of predestination and God's
sovereignty, two principles which were paramount
to many of the American colonists.
Act of Supremacy, Henry VIII (1534). By this
act, the English Reformation began, and the pope
was stripped of his jurisdiction over the
English Church. This allowed Lutheran principles
to make their way into the English church, and
led to the birth of Puritanism.
of the Christian Religion, John Calvin
(1540). Calvin's magnum opus. The most
celebrated American historian, George Bancroft,
called Calvin "the father of America,"
and added: "He who will not honor the
memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows
but little of the origin of American
liberty." To John Calvin and the Genevan
theologians, President John Adams credited a
great deal of the impetus for religious liberty
(Adams, WORKS, VI:313). This document includes a
justification for rebellion to tyrants by
subordinate government officials; this
particular justification was at the root of the
Dutch, English, and American Revolutions.
Journey of Alvar Nuńez Cabeza De Vaca
Account of the Devastation of the Indies,
Bartolome de la Casas (1542)
the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies,
Copernicus (1543). This document touched off the
Scientific Revolution as it repudiated the
Geocentric theory and asserted a Heliocentric
theory of the solar system.
Council of Trent (1545) The Roman Catholic
responses to the Protestant Reformation.
Exercises, Ignatius Loyola (1548). Rules for
the Jesuits written by the founder of the Jesuit
Genevan Book of Order (1556) The Form of
Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, etc.
Used in the English Congregation at Geneva
Short Treatise on Political Power, John
Ponet, D.D. (1556) President John Adams credited
this Calvinist document as being at
the root of the theory of government adopted by
the the Americans. According to Adams, Ponet's
work contained "all the essential
principles of liberty, which were afterward
dilated on by Sidney and Locke" including
the idea of a three-branched government. (Adams,
Works, vol. 6, pg. 4). Published in
Strassbourg in 1556, it is one of the first
works out of the Reformation to advocate active
resistance to tyrannical magistrates, with the
exception of the Magdeburg Bekkentis (the
Superior Powers Ought to Be Obeyed by Their
Subjects, Christopher Goodman (1558).
Justifying a Christian's right to resist a
tyrannical ruler. Goodman indicated that he had
presented the thesis of this book to John
Calvin, and Calvin endorsed it.
First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous
Regiment of Women, John Knox (1558). A
vigorous critique of the tyranny of "Bloody
Mary's" reign in England, and a call to
resist. A large portion of the Americans who
fought in the American Revolution were adherents
to Knox's doctrines as set forth in this
of Supremacy, Elizabeth I (1559). After the
brief and bloody reign of her sister, Mary I,
who executed numerous Protestants for the cause
of Roman Catholicism, this document states
Elizabeth's intention to reaffirm the English
Church's independence from Rome. Her beloved
status among her subjects caused the first
settlers of America to name their colony
"Virginia" in honor of this virgin
Works of Elizabeth I, Including her letters
and her poems.
and Speeches of Elizabeth I
Book of Martyrs (1563). Detailing the bloody
persecutions of Puritans during the reign of
Mary I, this book was second only to the Bible
in its popularity in the American colonies.
Calvinism, Theodore Beza (1570) Laying out
the principle that God willed and predestined
the fall of Adam and the existence of sin and
evil. This assertion became the most
controversial philosophical conflict among
American colonists up through the 19th century.
Scholemaster (1570) Philosophy of Education
among English people, particularly with respect
to the importance of learning Latin.
Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1571) The
official statement of faith of the Church of
England; this document formally adopts the
Calvinistic doctrine of predestination and
repudiates common notion of "free
Act (1571) Forbidding criticism of
St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572)
Right of Magistrates Over Their Subjects,
Theodore Beza (1574). Expanding upon Calvin's
political resistance theory set forth in the
final chapters of his Institutes, this work by
Calvin's successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza, was
published in response to the growing tensions
between Protestant and Catholic in France, which
culminated in the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre
in 1572. This text suggests that it is the right
of a Christian to revolt against a tyrannical
King: a principle central to the American
the Tabaco and of His Greate Vertues,
Nicholas Monardes (1577)
Works of Sir Walter Raleigh, Sponsor of the
First Settlements in Virginia
Jure Regni apud Scotos, George Buchanan
(1579) Considered the most important piece of
political writing in the 16th century as it
articulated the doctrine of "the rule of
Contra Tyrannos, or, A Vindication Against
Tyrants (1579). This Calvinist document is one
of the first to set forth the theory of
"social contract" upon which the
United States was founded. The idea was
disseminated through the English Calvinists to
the pen of John Locke, and eventually into the
Declaration of Independence. John Adams reported
the relevance of this document to the American
Dutch Declaration of Independence (1581);
This Calvinistic document served as a model for
the U.S. Declaration of Independence. In his
Autobiography, Jefferson indicated that the
"Dutch Revolution" gave evidence and
confidence to the Second Continental Congress
that the American Revolution could likewise
commence and succeed. Recent scholarship
has has suggested that Jefferson may have
consciously drawn on this document. John Adams
said that the Dutch charters had "been
particularly studied, admired, and imitated in
every State" in America, and he stated that
"the analogy between the means by which the
two republics [Holland and U.S.A.] arrived at
independency... will infallibly draw them
Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of
Virginia, Thomas Hariot.
of Western Planting, Richard Hakluyt, (1584)
Voyage To Virginia, Arthur Barlowe (1584)
Winthrop's Commonplace Book (1586) Early
diary of a Puritan whose family eventually
settled in America.
Colony of Roanoke, Ralph Lane (1586). The
first English attempt at colonizing the New
To Roanoake, John White (1590) Relating the
surprise of the loss of the Roanoake colony and
the few clues left regarding their fate.
Act Against Papists (1593) Parliament's
tough words against those who would attempt to
depose Elizabeth for her Protestantism.
of Richard Hooker (1593) Anglican political
commentator and major influence upon John Locke.
Trew Law of Free Monarchs, James I Stuart
(1598). Championed the doctrine of "Divine
Right of Kings." This oppressive political
theory contributed to the exodus of the Puritans
to America in 1630, and resistance to it was the
ultimate goal of three revolutions: 1) the
Puritan Revolution of the 1640s, 2) the Glorious
Revolution, and 3) the American Revolution.
Dutie of A King, Sir Walter Raleigh (1599)
Promoting the doctrine of "Divine Right of
Geneva Bible, 1599 update of the translation
made by the Puritans in Geneva 1560. This was
the Bible of choice in New England. These are
the footnotes which provide a Calvinistic
theological interpretation of the Bible
Century Sources Relating to American History
of all the Colonies
Dictionaries of the 16th & 17th Centuries,
six bilingual dictionaries -- John Palsgrave
(1530; English-French), Sir Thomas Elyot (1538;
Latin- English), William Thomas (1550;
Italian-English), Thomas Thomas (1587;
Latin-English), John Florio (1598;
Italian-English), and Randle Cotgrave (1611;
French-English) -- these give pairs of French,
Italian, and Latin dictionaries, each pair
separated by 50-80 years; four English hard-word
dictionaries -- Edmund Coote (1596), Robert
Cawdrey (1604; courtesy of Raymond Siemens),
John Bullokar (1616), and Henry Cockeram (1623)
-- and one English word-list by Richard
Mulcaster (1582); the first full English-only
dictionary -- Thomas Blount (1656).
Elizabeth's Farewell (1601)
Works of King James I
Samuel de Champlain (1604)
Sources Pertaining to the Gunpowder Plot
First Virginia Charter (1606)
for the Virginia Colony (1606)
of Francis Bacon, Identified by Jefferson as
one of his three most profound influences.
Settlement at Jamestown, John Smith (1607)
Including the famous account of Smith being
saved by Pocahontas.
Foundation of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain
Text of Robert Juet's Journal (1609)
Second Virginia Charter (1609)
Smyth's Confession (1609) the religion of a
Church At Jamestown, William Strachey (1610)
Third Virginia Charter (1612)
News From Virginia, Alexander Whitaker
Ordinance and Constitution of the Virginia
Company in England for a Council
John Smith (1616)
Starving Time, John Smith.
of Virginia (1610)
to Carelton from Jamestown (1619)
in Virginia (1619)
Servant's Contract (1619)
of Arminius Arminius was a Dutchman who
dared to challenge Luther and Calvin on the
predestination issue. His writings led to a
major controversy in Holland while the
"Pilgrims" were residing there.
Arminius's views were adopted by Archbishop Laud
of England, which greatly contributed to the
English Calvinists' desire to leave England in
of Dort (1619). The Synod at Dort in the
Netherlands was called to respond to the views
of the Arminians. Participating in this Synod
moderated by Gomarus was the leader of the
Pilgrims, as well as William Ames (the leading
Puritan theologian of the day). As a result of
this synod, the "five points of
Calvinism" were developed. The "five
points," also called TULIP, became a
centerpiece of Puritanism and were ardently
defended by American Calvinists such as Jonathan
Edwards. The conflict between Calvinists and
Arminians was perhaps the most explosive debate
in America in the early 18th century. On the
Calvinist side, Americans such as Benjamin
Franklin and Jonathan Edwards wrote
philosophical defenses; on the Arminian side,
John Wesley was the premiere mouthpiece. While
Madison wrote in defense of Calvinism, Thomas
Jefferson utterly repudiated it.
of New England (1620)
Compact (1620). The first political covenant
of the New England migration.
State and General Assembly, 24 July 1621.
Plymouth Plantation (Written 1630-1654,
first published 1854). This is Governor William
Bradford's history of Plymouth, the most
comprehensive primary source available on early
Plymouth Plantation, William Bradford. An
eyewitness history of the first English settlers
of New England.
Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.
(London, 1622). This journal, written by several
Pilgrims--namely William Bradford and Edward
Winslow--records events at Plymouth from the
Mayflower's arrival in November 1620 through the
First Thanksgiving in October 1621, and
everything in between.
Sin and Danger of Self-Love (1621) There
were no clergymen among the pilgrims at Plymouth
when they first settled. This sermon was written
and given by a layman, Robert Cushman, to the
Plymouth congregation in December 1621. Robert
Cushman was a member of the Pilgrims church in
Leyden, Holland, and came on (and returned in)
the ship Fortune.
of the Plymouth Settlers
of an Indentured Servant (1623)
Wills and Testaments of the Settlers at Plymouth
We can tell a lot about a culture by looking at
Newes from New England (London, 1624). This
book, authored by Edward Winslow, continues the
journal in Mourt's Relation, covering the years
1622 and 1623 at Plymouth.
Appeal for War Against Spain (1624)
the Law of War and Peace, Hugo Grotius
(1625, Latin) One of the first works on
of the Purchase of Manhattan (1626) The
source of the $24 dollar legend.
First Part of the Institutes of the Laws of
England, Sir Edward Coke (1628) Written by a
Puritan leader of Parliament, this document was
almost the only textbook for lawyers (e.g.,
Jefferson) during the American Colonial Period.
Coke's influence over the minds of American
politicians is inestimable. Clear traces between
Coke and the U.S. Constitution are apparent in
Petition of Right, Sir Edward Coke (1628).
This document set forth complaints of the
members of Parliament to King Charles I
regarding rights of due process. Charles did not
receive this complaint warmly. As a result,
Charles I shut down Parliament, which ultimately
culminated in the English Civil War, and
contributed to the exodus of 20,000 Puritans to
of the House of Commons, Documents showing
the growth of Parliament's hatred for King
Charles I, first complaining against his closet
Catholicism, his Arminianism, and his
presumptuousness in levying taxes without the
consent of Parliament.
John Winthrop. A Journal of Religious
Salem Covenant (1629)
of Massachusetts Bay (1629). This document
sets forth the Puritans' commission in New
Library of John Winthrop's Father, A
catalogue of the books available for the Puritan
Laywer who founded Boston.
Memoir of the Wessagussett Plantation,
for the Plantation in New England (circa 1628).
This document states clearly and forcefully that
the motivations of the Puritans who came to New
England @ 1630 were fundamentally religious.
who founded the Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth
Genealogical Dictionary of New England This
comprehensive source lists the entire families
who lived in New England in the early 17the
Short and True Description of New England,
by the Rev. Francis Higginson (1629)
Cambridge Agreement among the leaders of the
of the First Settlements as told by Capt.
John Smith, Admiral of New England (1629)
Constitution of the Governor and Company of
the Massachusetts Bay (1629)
Theologica (The Marrow of Theology), William
Ames (1629). The Medulla was the principal
required textbook in the Ivy League in the
American Colonial Period. One cannot adequately
grasp the intellectual climate of New England
without understanding the concepts in this book.
The following two sections on the Decrees of God
and Predestination highlight the central
peculiarities of Puritan theology. Ames was
unequivocal in stating that God controls the
universe and that humans do not
"change" or "determine"
God's behavior in any way.
Marrow of Theology, William Ames (1629),
Model of Christian Charity by John Winthrop
(1630). A sermon preached aboard one of the
ships carrying the Puritans to New England.
Boston Covenant (1630)
Watertown Covenant (1630)
Humble Request of the Puritan emigrants
Oath of a Freeman, including a list of men
who took this oath (1630-36)
to Planters of New England, by Capt. John
continued, by Capt. John Smith (1631)
to William Pond (1631)
Indictment of Galileo (1633) The height of
the conflict between religion and science.
Glorious Work in Maryland, Andrew White, S.J.
of A Maryland Jesuit (1634)
From Lion Gardiner's Journal (1635)
Constitution of Plymouth Colony (1636)
Salem Covenant (1636)
Dedham Covenant (1636)
Testimony (1636), the Boston Governor's
account of his Christian experience.
Cotton Condemns Democracy (1636)
of The Trial of Anne Hutchinson (1636)
in New Canaan, Thomas Morton (1637)
of Indians, Thomas Morton (1637)
Against the Power of the Church To Sit in
Judgement on the Civil Magistracy, John
Winthrop, Esq. (1637) A treatise indicating an
early desire among the Puritans to keep church
and state separate.
of the Commonwealth from 1630 to 1686.
of the Commonwealth: the complete rolls from
1630 to 1636.
of Thomas Shephard
of Thomas Shephard to his son at Harvard College
of New Towne, (later called Cambridge) from
the original town Court records, 1632-1635,
Memoir of Capt. Roger Clapp (1609 -1691)
Events in Massachusetts Bay Colony to about the
National Covenant (1639) Scotland's
declaration of resistance to Charles I.
Orders of Connecticut (1639) Acknowledged by
scholars to be a prototype of the U.S.
New Hampshire Compact (1639)
Exeter Covenant (1639)
of New England Indians, William Wood (1639)
Winthrop's Journal, John Winthrop
(excerpts), Tremendous and valuable insights
into the mind of the Puritan leader.
Wicked Capitalism of Robert Keayne, John
Winthrop (1639) A merchant named Robert Keayne
was practicing capitalistic economics in Boston
and was squarely rebuked for it by John Cotton
and Governor Winthrop.
Regulating the Price of Tobacco in Virginia
Brief Discourse Concerning the Power of Peers,
John Selden (1640)
First Constitution of Rhode Island (1640) A
document guaranteeing liberty of conscience.
Bay Psalm Book (1640) With an Introduction
written by Richard Mather.
England's First Fruits, The first written
history regarding the founding of Harvard
Records of Springfield, Massachusetts,
Including information about crimes and
Body of Liberties (1641) Early written
expression of the liberties asserted by the
colonists in reaction to the oppressions of
Citizen, Thomas Hobbes (1641-47) Discussion
of the natural law foundations of government.
(1641) An oath taken by British citizens loyal
to the Puritan interests in Parliament.
to Justify Their Proceedings and Resolutions to
Take Up Arms (1642) Thomas Jefferson, in his
Autobiography,said that this Puritan
"precedent" was an inspiration to the
True Constitution of a Particular Visible Church,
by John Cotton (1642)
Bay School Laws (1642) Requiring that every
father teach his children the Catechism; if not,
the children shall be taken from the home.
College Admission and Graduation Requirements
Encounters With the Indians (1642-43)
Establishment of the United Colonies of New
England (1643) The first attempt at a union
of colonies, foreshadowing the United States.
This document combines several colonies together
for the primary purpose of national defense.
This is the first document resembling a federal
constitution in America.
Medici, Thomas Browne (1643) The Religion of
a Physician; showing the link between religion
and Enlightenment science in the 17th century.
Bloody Tenet of Persecution for the Cause of
Conscience, Roger Williams
Plea for Religious Liberty, Roger Williams
(1644) Early expression of the principle of
religious tolerance by the founder of the colony
of Rhode Island.
Solemn League and Covenant (1643-44) The
document which allied the Scotch Presbyterians
and the Puritans in their struggle against
Military Accounts of the English Civil War
Rex, Samuel Rutherford (1644). This treatise
systematized the Calvinistic political theories
which had developed over the previous century.
Rutherford was a colleague of John Locke's
parents. Most of John Locke's Second Treatise
on Government is reflective of Lex Rex.
From Rutherford and other Commonwealthmen such
as George Lawson, through Locke, these theorists
provided the roots of the Declaration of
Independence. This page provides the list of
questions Lex Rexaddresses.
Rex, Samuel Rutherford (1644). This excerpt
shows Rutherford's social contract theory and
includes the Puritan theory of resistance to a
John Milton (1644). A treatise arguing that true
Christianity can win its own arguments, and does
not need to worry about challenges from other
points of view, and therefore, the Government
should not prevent the publication of any ideas.
This idea was later articulated by Locke in his
Letters Concerning Toleration, and picked up by
Madison and Jefferson in their establishment of
religious liberty in the U.S.
Description of New Amsterdam by Isaac Joques
of the Iroquois, Rev. John Megapolensis
Government Vindicated, John Winthrop (1644)
Liberty, John Winthrop (1645) Discusses
liberties demanded by the colonists.
Unmasked (London, 1646). This is a religious
treatise written by Edward Winslow.
Character of A Puritan, John Geree (1646)
Westminster Confession of Faith (1646) In
addition to being the decree of Parliament as
the standard for Christian doctrine in the
British Kingdom, it was adopted as the official
statement of belief for the colonies of
Massachusetts and Connecticut. Although slightly
altered and called by different names, it was
the creed of Congregationalist, Baptist, and
Presbyterian Churches throughout the English
speaking world. Assent to the Westminster
Confession was officially required at Harvard,
Yale, and Princeton. Princeton scholar, Benjamin
Warfield wrote: "It was impossible for any
body of Christians in the [English] Kingdoms to
avoid attending to it."
Westminster Catechism (1646) Second only to
the Bible, the "Shorter Catechism" of
the Westminster Confession was the most widely
published piece of literature in the
pre-revolutionary era in America. It is
estimated that some five million copies were
available in the colonies. With a total
population of only four million people in
America at the time of the Revolution, the
number is staggering. The Westminster Catechism
was not only a central part of the colonial
educational curriculum, learning it was required
by law. Each town employed an officer whose duty
was to visit homes to hear the children recite
the Catechism. The primary schoolbook for
children, the New England Primer, included the
Catechism. Daily recitations of it were required
at these schools. Their curriculum included
memorization of the Westminster Confession and
the Westminster Larger Catechism. There was not
a person at Independence Hall in 1776 who had
not been exposed to it, and most of them had it
spoon fed to them before they could walk.
Petition to Establish the Laws of England in
England's Salamander Discovered (London,
1647). This is another religious treatise
written by Edward Winslow.
Old Deluder Act (1647)
Simple Cobbler of Aggawamm in America,
Nathaniel Ward (1647).
Agreement of the People (1647) A proposal
for a republican government in England.
Laws of Massachusetts (1648)
Treaty of Westphalia (1648) An attempt at
religious peace in Europe.
Laws, New Haven
Original Indian Deed for East-Hampton (1648)
Cambridge Platform (1649)
Maryland Toleration Act (1649)
Charles I's Speech at His Trial (1649);
Including Judge Bradshaw's response appealing to
social contract theory.
Execution of Charles I Stuart (1649)
Charles I's Speech Just Before His Execution
the Non-Compelling of Heathens, Samuel
Rutherford (1649) Exploring the extent to which
a government can coerce religious conformity.
Agreement of the Free People of England
(1649) The manifesto of the Levellers, the
leaders of the 1649 English Civil War that
deposed Charles I and brought a period of
parliamentary rule. It expresses many of the
ideals that later inspired the American
Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1650) by
John Milton in defense of the execution of
Charles I by the British Parliament a few days
after its occurence. It includes an excellent
evaluation and summation of the political
literature produced on the Continent in the 16th
Century. Charles I was the first monarch
executed in Europe by his subjects, setting the
stage for a religious struggle which would grip
Britain for several decades to come. The
language and spelling of this edition has been
done directly from the 1650 edition.
Thomas Hobbes (1651) Laid basis for social
contract theory, providing branching point for
the theories of constitutionalism and fascism.
to the year 1651
Gospel Covenant, Rev. Peter Bulkely (1651)
Laws in New England (1651) Laws regarding
what one may and may not wear.
Deed Assignment to the Inhabitants of
Instrument of Government, 1653; The
Constitution of the English Commonwealth under
Oliver Cromwell. Many of the founders, such as
Samuel Adams, considered Oliver Cromwell their
hero, and considered the Commonwealth as the
glory years of England.
Question, Sir Henry Vane, 1656, published
the following tract, expounding the principles
of civil and religious liberty, and proposed
that method of forming a constitution, through a
convention called for the purpose, which was
actually followed in America after the
Commonwealth of Oceana, James Harrington
(1656) Outline of a plan for republican
Flushing Remonstrance (1657) Proclamation
granting liberty to "Jews, Muslims, and
Quakers" on Long Island, New York, on the
grounds of New Testament graciousness. Extremely
progressive for the American colonies.
Garlick Testimony in Witchcraft Trial (1657)
to the Revision of the New Plymouth Laws
Treatise of Civil Power in Ecclesiastical
Causes; Showing That it Is Not Lawful For Any
Power on Earth to Compel in Matters of Religion,
John Milton (1659). A formative influence upon
the ideals of religious toleration adopted by
John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.
Declaration of Breda, King Charles II Stuart
(1660), As the Stuart King was to be restored to
the throne after the end of the reign of the
Puritan Protectorates, one of his first
decisions was to attempt to avoid another
religious war, by granting religious liberty to
"tender consciences," so long as they
did not disturb the peace.
Restoration of Charles II to the Throne of
England (1660); A Declaration of Both Houses
from the Navigation Acts, 1660-1696, The
first Parliamentary legislation toward the
colonies which would lead to the colonial
rebellion of the eighteenth century.
of Elenctic Theology, [excerpt on
predestination] Francis Turretin (1660) The
principle textbook used by students in American
colleges in the 18th century (used at Princeton
into the late 19th century).
of Elenctic Theology, Francis Turretin
of the Pequot War, Lion Gardiner (1660)
of the Pequot War, John Mason
Status of Religion in Virginia (1661)
Records Dealing with Runaway Slaves in Virginia
Book of Common Prayer (1662) As the
Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell came to an end
and Charles II was restored to the throne of
England, the Church of England once again
introduced a new Book of Common Prayer. This was
the guiding document for many throughout the
American colonies, particularly in Virginia
Anglican Catechism (1662) The document which
provided the religious training for many of the
founding fathers of the U.S. (e.g., Washington,
Madison, Henry, Wythe, Mason).
Colony Charter (1662)
of Phineas Pratt (1662) Recounting the
settlement at Plymouth
Day of Doom and other Poems, Michael
Penalties in Maryland (1664)
and Punishments in Massachusetts (1664-1682)
Trials in New York (1665)
From The Duke of York's Laws (1665-75)
Description of Carolina, Robert Horne (1666)
Nicolls Patent (1666)
Lost, John Milton (1667)
Constitutions of Carolina, John Locke (1669)
Treatise, Baruch de Spinoza (1670) Discussed
the ultimate source of legitimate political
in Witchcraft Times, Samuel Green, ed.
Jure Naturae, Samuel Puffendorf (1672, tr.
Basil Kennett 1703)
Officio Hominis Et Civis Juxta Legem Naturalem
Libri Duo, Samuel Pufendorf (1673). The
political theorist of choice among American
Puritans in the early 18th century.
of John Bunyan, According to Ben Franklin's
Autobiography, Bunyan was his "favorite
Apology, Robert Barclay (1675). A Quaker
treatise later used in favor of American
Thanksgiving Proclamation (1676)
Compleat Body of Divinity, Samuel Willard.
The primary textbook used at Harvard College.
New England Primer, The best-selling
textbook used by children in the colonial
period. Millions of copies were in print. Filled
with Calvinist principles, the influence of this
little document is inestimable.
Dangers That Threaten Canada and the Means to
Remedy Them, January 1687
Declaration in the Name of the People, 30
Bacon's Rebellion, Governor William Berkely,
19 May 1676
Captivity of Mary Rowlandson (1676)
Treatise, Baruch de Spinoza (1677)
Constitutional considerations of various forms
of government, including ideas that later
influenced the Founders.
Bradstreet's Poetry (1678)
for Her Husband, Anne Bradstreet (1678)
Corpus Act (1679) English Parliament
established key right which was embraced in
of the New England Synod (1679), a
Robert Filmer. A treatise defending the
"divine right of Kings." This was the
document which Locke and Sydney both had in mind
as they wrote their political tracts which
formed the American founders' political theory.
Although this was written around 1640 in defense
of Charles I's divine right, it was not
published until 1680.
to Exclude the Duke of York (1680), Attempts
by the Whig Party to keep James II off the
for the Carrying on the Negro's Christianity,
Morgan Goodwyn (1681).
Redivivus, Henry Neville (1681)
of Government of Pennsylvania, William Penn
(1682) Early model for written constitutions.
Fruits of Solitude In Reflections And Maxims,
William Penn (1682)
Penn to His Family (1682)
for a Democratic Government (1682)
of the Massachussetts Bay Company, Edward
Randolph, 12 June 1683
Original Constitution of New York (1683)
of King Phillip's War, Edward Randolph
to Sir Edmund Andros (1686)
of East Hampton (1686)
Orders to Governor Andros (1686-1687)
Isaac Newton (1687) One of the three most
significant influences upon Jefferson.
the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural
Law, Samuel Pufendorf (1688) Based law and
right on natural law.
II Creates the Dominion of New England,
April 7, 1688
Invites William of Orange to England (1688)
of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal (1688)
Parliament pledges its loyalty to William and
Full Text of Huntington's Declaration of Rights
For Sending Sir Edmund Andros To England
King's Oath (1689) Established the
requirement that the monarch uphold "the
Protestant reformed religion"
Bill of Rights (1689) Early model for
recognizing natural rights in writing. Much of
its language appeared later in the Declaration
of Independence and U.S. Constitution.
Treatise on Government John Locke (1689)
Principal proponent of the social contract
theory which forms the basis for modern
constitutional republican government.
Letter Concerning Toleration, John Locke
(1689) Classic statement of the case for
toleration of those holding different views.
Reasonableness of Christianity, John Locke.
Act of William and Mary (1689)
Boston Uprising, Samuel Prince (1689)
London Confession of Faith (1689) Drawn from
the Westminster Confession, this document set
for the beliefs of English Baptists during this
Re-Establishment of the Presbyterian Church in
Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and
Possessions, Cotton Mather (1698)
Concerning Government, Table of Contents.
Algernon Sidney (1698) Built principles of
popular government from foundation of natural
law and the social contract. This book has been
considered by scholars the "textbook of the
Concerning Government, Algernon Sidney,
of George Fox, Founder of the Quakers.
of the Salem Witch Trials (1692) This is one
of the web's best and most complete primary
source documents, containing all of the court
records of the Salem Witch trials. An invaluable
Witch Trials: Other Primary Sources
Confession of Anne Foster at Salem (1692)
of the Invisible World (excerpts), Cotton
of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits,
Increase Mather (1693)
Character of a Good Ruler, Samuel Willard
Plan for a Union (1697)
Samuel Sewall Repents His Participation in the
Salem Witch Trials (1697)
Story of Squanto, Cotton Mather (1698)
Execution of Hugh Stone, Cotton Mather
Account of West Jersey and Pennsylvania,
Gabriel Thomas (1698)
Century Sources Which Profoundly Impacted
Hundred Documents Pertaining to Africans and
Slavery in America Massive collection of
primary sources regarding slavery in America.
Selling of Joseph, Samuel Sewall (1700) An
argument against the slave trade.
Memorial Representing the Present State of
Religion on the Continent of North America,
Thomas Bray, D.D. (1700) Documenting the
Anglican view of the colonists and appended with
a proposition to found the SPG (Society for
Progating the Gospel).
William Addresses Parliament on the French
Question, 31 December 1701
Christian At His Calling, Cotton Mather
Christi Americana, Cotton Mather (1702)
Beverley on Bacon's Rebellion (1704)
and Trade Considered With a Proposal for
Supplying the Nation with Money, by John Law
Laws in Virginia (1642-1705)
Repentance of a Salem Witchcraft Accuser,
Ann Putnam (1706)
of Union (1707) The document creating
Commentary, Pierre Bayle (1708) A writer
recommended by Thomas Jefferson, Bayle
criticised French Catholic persecution of
Protestants; and argued for toleration as a
matter of Biblical principle.
Byrd's Diary [excerpt] (1709)
Byrd's Diary [excerpts regarding slave
Americana ("God's City: America"),
Cotton Mather (1709) This excerpt from Mather's
sermon shows how Mather, with other Puritans,
believed that America was truly the
"Promised Land." This thinking led
ultimately to the doctrine of Manifest Destiny,
whereby Anglo-Americans believed that it was
their divine commission to spread their culture
from Atlantic to Pacific.
Truths Tending to Conversion, Increase
Mather (1710). A sermon wrestling with the
paradox between predestination and man's effort
toward salvation. Mather appears nearly
the Duties of Husbands and Wives, Benjamin
of the Boston Latin Grammar School (1712)
History of the Common Law of England,
Matthew Hale (1713)
Concerning the Jacobite Rebellion
North Carolina Biennal Act (1715)
of the Government of New England Churches,
John Wise (1717) A Puritan political sermon
which included most of the principles of
government embraced by the founders of the U.S.
Angel of Bethesda, Cotton Mather. Here, as a
watershed in the history of medical science in
America, Mather takes a position in favor of
from Cato's Letters, John Trenchard and
Thomas Gordon (1720-23) English newspaper
articles advocating Whig principles, which much
influenced the American colonists.
of the Iroquois Confederacy A model for a
federal system of government for several Native
American nations, Franklin lauded the Iroquois
for their ability to confederate.
of the College of William and Mary (1727)
The rules governing the college where Thomas
Jefferson received his training.
House of Representatives on the Governor's
Salary, 11 September 1728
Burnet of Massachusetts on the Governor's Salary,
17 September 1728
Story of Venture Smith (1729-1809)
Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting, Andrew
Clarkson (1731); arguing against unconditional
submission to the National Church and
Upon Parties, Henry St. John Bolingbroke
(1733). A heavy influence upon Jefferson.
Vision for Georgia, General James Oglethorpe
Regarding the Settlement of the Georgia Colony,
Count Zinzendorf (1733)
of the Trial of Peter Zenger (1735)
of Peter Zenger, Andrew Hamilton (1735)
on the Study and Use of History, Henry St.
John Bolingbroke (1735)
Patriotism, Bolingbroke (1736)
Gabriel Johnston's request to repeal the Biennal
act, 18 October 1736
of the North Carolina Biennal Act (1737)
Idea of a Patriot King, Bolingbroke (1738)
on the Five Points [Of Calvinism], Daniel
Whitby. The text which incited Jonathan Edwards
to write his most important book, The Freedom
of the Will.
Efficacious Grace, John Gill (1738) Defense
of Calvinism by a celebrated English Calvinist.
of the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel) (1740) The desire of this group to
land an Anglican Bishop in the American colonies
ignited the American Revolution.
True Scripture-Doctrine Concerning Some
Important Points of the Christian Faith,
Jonathan Dickinson (1741) Jonathan Dickinson was
the first President of the College at Princeton,
New Jersey. In this excerpt, Dickinson states
that atheism is pure "stupidity" and
"madness." Dickinson's opinion in this
regard represented the consensus in America.
Subsequently all of the founders of the United
States were certain of the existence of a Deity.
On the other hand, Dickinson here emphasizes the
doctrine of Predestination, which was the
central controversy of the eighteenth century in
the Colonies. Colonists' opinions were divided
in this regard. Earlier in the century
predestination was the majority view, but by the
end of the century a belief in
"free-will" had become prevalent among
many such as Methodists.
Works Of Jonathan Edwards, Enlightenment
Philosopher, Theologian, Orator, Scientist;
Edwards was the most important American-born
Great Awakening preacher and defender of
of George Whitefield, Known for his supreme
oratory skills, Whitefield was the most famous
inter-colonial celebrity during the Great
Awakening. The inter-colonial nature of
Whitefield's ministry was an important step in
the development of the intercolonial union which
commenced in the 1760's and 70's. A strong
advocate of predestination, Whitefield entered
into a bitter dispute with his Methodist
colleague, John Wesley over the issue, and the
movement was split.
Works of John Wesley, An English preacher,
Wesley developed the practice of itinerant
preaching: out of doors, traveling long
distances on horseback. Wesley was a strong
opponent of the Calvinism which was prevalent in
of John Wesley
Essential Rights and Liberties of Protestants,
Elisha Williams (1744) An excerpt explaining
what makes something a person's property, from a
Boston minister who vigorously promoted liberty
at Yale College (1745) Showing the
centrality of Calvinism and the Westminster
Confession in colonial higher education.
Presence of Great God in the Assembly of
Political Rulers, John Barnard (1746) A
early warning against tyranny from one of
of the Deliverance of Briton Hammond, An
account of an African-American taken captive by
Native Americans (1747)
Principles of Natural Law, J. Burlamaqui,
tr. Thomas Nugent (1748, tr. Thomas Nugent 1752)
This was the textbook on political theory used
at Harvard. It was this book that gave James
Otis, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren,
and John Adams their understanding of political
Principles of Politic Law, J. Burlamaqui,
tr. Thomas Nugent (1748, tr. Thomas Nugent 1752)
Sequel to The Principles of Natural Law
carrying natural law into constitutional law.
Commentary on the ideas of Grotius, Hobbes,
Puffendorf, Barbeyrac, Locke, Clarke, and
Spirit of Laws, Charles de Montesquieu,
(1748, tr. Thomas Nugent 1752) Laid the
foundations for the theory of republican
government, particularly the concepts of the
separation of powers into legislative,
executive, and judicial, a federal republic,
representatives elected from political
subdivisions, a bicameral legislature, and a
system of checks and balances. Montesquieu was
the most frequently cited political theorist
during the founding of the U.S.
Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy,
James Steuart. Recommended by Jefferson as one
of the best books on political science.
of Massachusetts Bay, Thomas Hutchinson,
excerpt regarding coinage.
on the Fable of the Bees, Frances Hutcheson
Captivity Narrative, Mary Jemison (1750)
Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and
Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers,
Jonathan Mayhew (1750) About this document, John
Adams wrote, "It was read by everybody;
celebrated by friends, and abused by enemies...
It spread an universal alarm against the
authority of Parliament. It excited a general
and just apprehension, that bishops, and
dioceses, and churches, and priests, and tithes,
were to be imposed on us by Parliament."
This sermon has been called the spark which
ignited the American Revolution. This
illustrates that the Revolution was not only
about stamps and taxes but also about religious
to Parliament: Reasons for Making Bar, as well
as Pig or Sow-iron (ca. 1750)
to Parliament: Reason Against a General
Prohibition of the Iron Manufacture in
on the English Aggression, October 1750
on the French Colonies in North America,
Franklin, and Madison: Accounts of Their
Original Plans to be Christian Clergymen
Party Divisions, William Livingston (1753)
Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Jean
Jacques Rousseau (1754) Discussion on political
inequality, its origins and implications.
Discourse on Political Economy, Jean Jacques
Rousseau (1755) Discussion on the economic
principles affecting the politics of a society.
Samuel Johnson (1755) This was the standard
dictionary of the late 18th century.
Value and Purpose of Princeton College,
Samuel Davies and Gilbert Tennent (1754); an
appeal to British citizens to support the
seminary which became Princeton University.
and Patriotism the Constituents of a Good
Soldier, Samuel Davies (1755). Davies, a
Presbyterian preacher and president of the
College at Princeton, here interprets the French
and Indian war as a religious war. In this
excerpt from a sermon preached in Virginia,
Davies rouses the anti-Catholic sentiment of his
hearers to rally them to arms against the French
in the Ohio country.
Documents of the French and Indian War
Sources Pertaining to the French and Indian War
Complete Poem by Jupiter Hammon (1760)
Social Contract, Jean Jacques Rousseau
(1762) Discussed legitimate government as the
expression of the general will.
Curse of Cowardice, Samuel Davies (1758)
the Writs of Assistance, James Otis (1761)
Role of the Indians in the Rivalry Between
France, Spain, and England, Governor Glen
of Criticism, Lord Kaims [Henry Homes]
(1762), Highly recommended by Jefferson, in this
excerpt Kaims discusses the problems with
of Paris (1763) Ended the French and Indian
War and gave the English control of all the land
east of the Mississippi River.
Parliament concerning the American Colonies
Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and
Proved, James Otis (1764)
Royal Proclamation of 1763 Forbid
colonists from crossing the Appalachians.
Currency Act, 1764
Sugar Act, 1764
Quartering Act, 1765
Stamp Act, 1765 Precipitated the
"Stamp Act Crisis" which fomented
rebellion throughout the colonies
Declaratory Act, 1766 The English
Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, but
couldn't leave well enough alone, and
adopted this statement of parliamentary
supremacy over the British colonies.
Townshend Act, 1767
Tea Act, 1773
Administration of Justice Act, 1774
Boston Port Act, 1774
Massachusetts Government Act, 1774
Quebec Act, 1774
Quartering Act, 1774
Commentaries (1765) Considered the book that
"lost the colonies" for England. This
text delineates the legal principles of common
law which ensure the fundamental rights of
Englishmen. Blackstone was quoted by the
colonists twice as often as they quoted Locke.
Against God and Religion," William
Blackstone (1765). Showing the common
understanding that the integrity of the judicial
system depends upon the participants' belief in
Against the Public Peace" William
Husband And Wife", William Blackstone
Daniel Dulany, October 1765
Objections to the Taxation Consider'd, Soame
Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress,
October 19, 1765
Declaration of Rights of the Stamp Act Congress
(1765) Developed the concept that people could
not legitimately be taxed except by their
Pitt's Speech on the Stamp Act, January 14,
of Benjamin Franklin in the House of Commons
Crimes and Punishments, Cesare Beccaria
(1766) Set out rights of the accused in criminal
proceedings. Argues for crime prevention over
punishment, and against the death penalty and
the History of Civil Society, Adam Ferguson
Dickinson's Letter 2, from Letters from a Farmer,
Dickinson's Letter 4, from Letters from a Farmer,
the Misfortune of Indentured Servants,
Election Sermon, Daniel Shute; Delivered in
Boston, Massachusetts-Bay, 26 May 1768.
of Dartmouth College (1769)
Nonimportation Resolutions (1769)
From Mary Cooper's Diary (1769)
Bergen Rapelje's Full Manuscript (1770-1797)
Boston Massacre, The Boston Gazette, 12
Account of the Boston Massacre, 5 March,
Thomas Preston's account of the Boston Massacre,
13 March 1770
Hymnbook of Isaac Watts, After the Bible and
the Catechism, this was the third most commonly
used book in colonial New England.
Rights of the Colonists, Samuel Adams (1772)
John Adams indicated that all the concepts which
Jefferson later set forth in the Declaration of
Independence were first introduced here.
Oration on the Beauties of Liberty, Reverend
John Allen (1772)
Deliverd at Boston, Joseph Warren (1772)
Oration Delivered at Boston, Joseph Warren
Election Sermon, Simeon Howard (1773)
Demonstrating that an armed war against a tyrant
was a Christian's duty.
Sovereign Decrees of God, Isaac Backus
Account of the Boston Tea Party, George
of the Virginia House of Burgesses for
Establishing an Intercolonial Committee of
Virginia Religious Petitions (1774-1802)
Thomas Jefferson, a member of the Virginia
Committee on Religion, was greatly impacted by
these petitions in developing his thoughts about
Massacre Oration, John Hancock (1774)
Plea Before the Massachusetts Legislature,
Isaac Backus (1774)
on the Nature and Extent of the Legislative
Authority of the British Parliament, James
the Inhabitants of the Several
Anglo-American Colonies, William
of Colonial Rights of the Continental
Congress (1774) John Adams said that the
Declaration of Independence was not much
more than a recapitulation of this document.
Prayer Given in the Continental Congress,
Rev. Jacob Duche (1774)
of the Continental Congress, 34 Volumes.
This invaluable collection of documents
tells what took place in Philadelphia as the
United States was being birthed.
of the House of Burgesses in Virginia
(1774) This resolution was inspired by
similar resolutions made in the Puritan
Revolution of 1641; the Burgesses resolved
to commit their crisis to prayer and
on Civil Liberty, Nathaniel Niles (1774)
An example of how clergymen stoked the
Olive Branch Petition (1774). This
document is a last-ditch attempt to mend the
tears between Britain and America. But
George III never read this petition.
Plan for the Union of Great Britain and the
Colonies, Joseph Galloway (1774)
Suffolk Resolves, Joseph Warren (1774)
Wheatley to Samson Occam (1774)
of Henry Laurens, President of the
Most Frequently Cited by the Founders
Adams Discusses the Historic Sources Which
Provided the Intellectual Foundations of
American Political Theory
Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity
(1725), A little known theological work in
which Franklin made a metaphysical
argument for predestination and against
free-will. Franklin concluded that all
things are ultimately good, because God is
in total control and God is good.
Advice Concerning His Friend's Sexual
Affairs (1745), Illustrating a side of
Franklin's character which is seldom
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1733)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1734)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1735)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1736)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1737)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1738)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1739)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1740)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1741)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1742)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1743)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1744)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1745)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1746)
Benjamin: Poor Richard (1747)
Benjamin: Poor Richard Improved (1748)
Benjamin: Poor Richard Improved (1752)
and Suppositions Towards Forming a New
Hypothesis for Explaining the Several
Phenomena of Thunder Gusts, (1749) The
insights which led to Franklin's famous
Kite experimentation, which, in turn, gave
Franklin his international reputation
which mattered greatly as the U.S. was
on the Increase of Mankind (1751)
of Benjamin Franklin
Plan for a Union (1754) Ben Franklin's
first attempt to Unite the States.
Defense of a Plan for Colonial Union,
Benjamin Franklin (1754) Arguments in
favor of the Albany Plan of Union, which
was rejected as too democratic.
Franklin, How I Became a Printer in
Motion for Prayer at the Constitutional
Advice to Thomas Paine Regarding the Age
of Reason, In this letter, Franklin
advises Paine to burn his manuscript of
the Age of Reason, because it
undermines religious ideals.
Tentative Approval of the Constitution
last Letter to Ezra Stiles, Detailing
Franklin's religious opinions
of Samuel Adams One of the most
thorough internet sites of its kind
including numerous letters and newspaper
for Civility (1744)
to State Governments
Orders, July 2, 1776
to John Hancock, September 24, 1776
Battle of Trenton (1776)
to the Members of the Volunteer
Association and Other Inhabitants...,
December 2, 1783
to George Chapman, December 15, 1784
(On importance of education)
to Robert Morris, April 12, 1786 (On
the abolition of slavery)
to the President of the Continental
Congress, September 17, 1787
Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia,
May 10, 1789
from Drafts of the First Inaugural Address
Annual Message, January 8, 1790 (Order
of business for a young Union)
of Washington's Diaries (1790)
to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport,
August, 1790 (On what is a just and good
of Neutrality, 1793
Diary of George Washington 30
September-19 October 1794
to the Vice President, November 15,
to the Commissioners of the District of
Columbia, January 28, 1795 (On
education and establishment of a
Address, September 19, 1796 (Public
opinion should be enlightened)
of George Washington (Yale Library)
of George Washington (Library of
Will And Testament of George Washington
excerpt about slaves (1799)
Obituaries of George Washington
Washington's Adopted Daughter Discusses
Washington's Religious Character Nelly
Custis lived with the Washingtons at Mt.
Vernon for twenty years (1779 until 1799).
As a daily observer of his life, she was
qualified perhaps more than any other to
assess George Washington's religion (even
perhaps more than George himself, who was
reluctant to speak about his own religious
of John Adams, excerpts illustrating
Adams' sentiments regarding religion.
of Conscience Traced to Back Calvin's
to James Sullivan, May 26, 1776 (On
women and voting rights)
to Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776 (On
reason, honor, and love of liberty)
between John and Abigail Adams,
March-April 1776 (On nature and liberty)
on Davila--XV," 1776 (Contrast of
natural equality and inequalities)
on Government", 1776 (On
Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law
of the American Constitutions, An
important excerpt in which Adams
recommends various writings of Protestant
to the Defence of the Constitutions,
1787 (On the good effects of local
Adams Inaugural Address (1797)
to the Senate on the Death of George
Washington, December 23, 1799
to Benjamin Rush and Samuel Miller,
illustrating Adams' hatred for Thomas
Paine and his admiration for Calvinists.
Independence Achieved Upon the Principles
of Christianity (1813)
to Evans, June 8, 1819 (The founding's
opposition to slavery)
to H. Niles, February 13, 1818 (On the
Revolution as a religious revolution of
ideas and principles)
to Timothy Pickering, August 6, 1822.
Detailing Adams' recollection of the
production of the Declaration of
Independence. Adams states here that there
is not an idea in the Declaration which
had not been hackneyed in Congress for two
years before. According to Adams, the
substance of the Declaration is contained
in the in the Declaration
of Colonial Rights of the Continental
Congress, and the essence of it is
contained in The
Rights of the Colonists, written
before the first Congress met, by Samuel
Special messages to Congress
in the Federal Convention of 1787,
James Madison. These are the proceedings
of the Constitutional Convention held in
Philadelphia, an essential guide to
interpreting the intent of the Framers.
Madison, First Inaugural (1809)
Madison, Second Inaugural (1813)
Federalist Papers, James Madison,
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay (1787-88)
Arguments for ratification of the proposed
and Remonstrance (Virginia, 1785)
Madison, speech proposing the Bill of
Rights, June 8, 1789
Memoranda (>1817), detailing
Madison's views of the importance of no
to F.L. Schaeffer (1821) in which
Madison credits Luther with leading the
way for the appropriate distinction
between church and state.
of Thomas Paine
Revolution Military Documents
Account of the Midnight Ride, Paul
Royal Proclamation of Rebellion (1775)
Accounts of Revolutionary War Battles
Records of the American Revolution
Records of the American Revolution from
upstate New York
Documents of the American Revolution
Battle of Bunker Hill, Major-General
Sir John Burgoyne to Lord Stanley, June
Battle of Bunker Hill, Lieutenant J.
Waller, First Royal Marine Battalion, to
His Brother, Camp of Charlestown Heights,
22 June 1775
Battle of Trenton, George Washington
Recruiting Service, Captain Alexander
Life, Captain Georg Pausch, 8
Vail's Journal (1775-1782)
Hale's Capture (1776)
Battle of Saratoga, Hessian Account
Major-General Burgoyne to his nieces,
Albany, 20 October 1777
at Brandywine, Captain Ferguson, 70th
Foot, September 1777
the Diary of a Surgeon at Valley Forge,
Albigence Waldo (1777)
from Valley Forge (1778)
with France (1778)
of General Nathaniel Greene
Treaty of Amity and Commerce February 6,
on Hessian Troops, Lieutenant W. Hale,
Philadelphia, 23 March 1778
Court House, Lieutenant Hale,
Neversunk, 4 July 1778
with the Delawares (1778)
Arnold's Treason and other Spy Documents
Headquarters, Francois Jean, Marquis
de Chastellux, 1780
Norfolk Chronicle, Saturday, February
Surrender of Cornwalis (1781)
the Diary of Ebenezer Denny (1781)
describing the surrender of Cornwallis at
Between the King and the Thirteen United
States of North America, signed at
Versailles July 16, 1782
Articles of Peace, U.S. and Great Britain,
30 November 1782
for Suspension of Arms and Cessation of
Hostilities, Signed at Versailles January
John Paul Jones; Naval Hero
of Paris (1783)
III Laments the Loss of the Colonies
of Ethan Allen, Revolutionary War hero and
Farmer Refuted, Alexander Hamilton (1775).
In this defense of the American cause in
response to an Anglican minister's criticism
of the revolution, Hamilton states that laws,
rights, and political principles are all based
in the existence and law of God.
Newton Criticizing Arminians (1775) A
letter from the author of "Amazing
Grace" claiming that repentance is the
not key to atonement.
Leonard's Letter of January 9, 1775
War in a Just Cause Sinless, David Jones
(1775). Sermon justifying the revolution.
on Conciliation with America, Edmund
Burke, March 22, 1775; Burke describes the
character of the American colonists and links
their commitment to liberty to their
Corrupted by Vice, and Recovered by
Righteousness, Samuel Langdon, May 31,
1775; This sermon preached a year before
Jefferson wrote his declaration, included this
phrase: "By the law of nature, any body
of people, destitute of order and government,
may form themselves into a civil society,
according to their best prudence, and so
provide for their common safety and
Civil Liberty, Passive Obedience, and
Nonresistance, Jonathan Boucher (1775)
Calm Address To Our American Colonies,
John Wesley (1775)
American Vine, Jacob Duche (1775)
Charlotte Town Resolves (1775) Resolutions
of Presbyterians of Mecklenberg, North
Me Liberty or Give Me Death, Patrick Henry
(1775). Famous oration which motivated
Southerners to join in the battle already
taking place in New England.
of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms,
Jefferson and Dickinson, July 6, 1775. This
document was inspired by the Puritan
Declaration of August, 1642, "Declaration
of the Lords and Commons to Justify Their
Taking Up Arms," available in John
Rushworth, ed., Historical Collections of
Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in
Law, Remarkable Proceedings in Five
Parliaments (1680-1722),vol. 4, pp.
Doodle The anthem of the Continental
Church's Flight into the Wilderness,
Samuel Sherwood, January 17, 1776; A sermon
which labels British tyranny Satanic.
Virginia Declaration of Rights, George
Mason (1776) Unquestionably a document which
Jefferson had in mind when writing the
Declaration of Independence.
of the Declaration of Independence (1776)
Documents which prove that Jefferson modeled
the Declaration largely upon the 1689
Declaration of Rights.
Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of
Men, John Witherspoon, May 1776. This
sermon was preached by a member of the Second
Continental Congress during the period in
which the members were deciding upon American
Declaration of Independence (1776)
According to recent scholarship,
this document was modeled after the Dutch
Calvinist Declaration of Independence. In
other words, this statement of basic
principles was simply a restatement of what
Protestant Political theorists and preachers
had been saying for centuries.
on the Mood at the time of the Signing,
Constitutions A collection of the
constitutions of each colony.
Clauses of State Constitutions
Demonstrating that most states had
establishments of religion.
the Right to Rebel against Governors,
Samuel West (1776)
True Interest of America Impartially Stated,
Charles Inglis (1776). A statement of an
American loyal to the King.
of Nations, Adam Smith (1776). The manual
for capitalism, the economic backbone of the
United States. Jefferson said this was the
best book of its kind.
of the Continental Congress
Judgements Upon Tyrants, Jacob Cushing,
April 20, 1778; a sermon on the three year
anniversary of the war.
Sermon, Phillips Payson (1778)
Arms Vindicated (1779) A sermon
vindicating the activity of General George
Sermon on the Day of the Commencement of the
Constitution, Samuel Cooper (1780)
Articles of Confederation The first
Constitution of the United States.
Origins and Progress of the American
Revolution Peter Oliver (1781). Oliver, a
tory, names the persons he feels are most
responsible for the rebellion. James Otis and
the Calvinist clergy ("black
regiment") were the chief culprits.
States Articles of Confederation (1781)
From an American Farmer, Crevecour (1782)
on Money, John Witherspoon, Presbyterian
theologian and president of Princeton
Lord's Supper, Joseph Priestly (1783)
Another author who Jefferson and Franklin
of American Policy, Noah Webster (1785)
and Remonstrance, James Madison (1785).
Championing the principal of religious
Ordinance of 1785 (Jefferson). Detailing
the manner in which the Northwest Territory
shall be partitioned and sold.
With the Cherokee (1785)
Annapolis Convention (1786), prelude to
the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.
Federalist Papers 1-85, Madison, Jay, and
Hamilton's defense of Federalism
in the Federal Convention of 1787, James
Madison. These are the proceedings of the
Constitutional Convention held in
Philadelphia, an essential guide to
interpreting the intent of the Framers.
Affiliations of the Framers of the
Constitution, contrary to the myth, this
chart shows that only 3 out of 55 of the
framers classified themselves as Deists.
of the Constitutional Convention (Farrand's
States Constitution (1787)
Debates in the Several State Conventions on
the Adoption of the Federal Constitution
Ordinance (1787) Detailing the manner in
which new states may be added to the United
of Transmittal of U.S. Constitution
in the First Federal Congress Regarding A
Religious Amendment to the Constitution
(1789), edited by Jim Allison. An important
source for understanding the intention of the
framers concerning religious liberty. Mr.
Allison has collected together the debates in
the House and the Senate on this most
of Rights and the Amendments to The
Constitution (1791) The concession to the
Anti-Federalists to win their acceptance of
Laws and Judicial Precedents in Early America
of the First Sixteen Federal Congresses
Trade and the Middle Passage, Alexander
Life of Olaudah Equiano, A Slave's
Virginia Chronicle, John Leland (1790).
Champion of religious disestablishment. Friend
and influence upon James Madison.
Dissenting from the Episcopal Church, John
the Natural Rights of Individuals, James
the Equality of the Sexes, Judith Sargent
Funeral of Arminianism, William Huntington
Rise and Progress of the Young Ladies' Academy
of Philadelphia, Molly Wallace (1794)
Slave Law of 1793
Treaty with a number of Indian Tribes
Concerning Political Justice, William
Godwin (1793) Part of Jefferson's library of
of Tripoli (1795)
Sedition Act (1798)
the Mode of Education Proper in a Republic
(1798), Benjamin Rush, signer of the
Declaration of Independence, emphasizing the
religious foundation and goal of all
Discourses On The General First Principles of
Deism (1798), Samuel E. McCorkle, D. D.
The biggest intellectual controversy of the
1790's was called the "deist
controversy." On the one side were the
followers of Thomas Paine, on the other side
were the orthodox Christians as represented
here by the Rev. McCorkle.
Kentucky Resolutions (1799)
of George Washington
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