Author Topic: Jefferson's Preamble  (Read 25 times)


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Jefferson's Preamble
« on: April 17, 2019, 08:07:00 pm »
Right here, "The Cathedral of the World, a Universalist Theology" by Forrest Church.

page 39, What Would Jefferson Do?

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson together embody the Declaration of Independence, the former as the document's most compelling sponsor, the later its author -- then together through the stirring coincidence of their both dying on July 4, 1826, fifty years to the day it was published.
Theologically, the second and third U.S. presidents were unitarians: Adams, a member of the Quincy, Massachusetts, congregation; Jefferson a sect unto himself.
As the election of 1800 drew near, Adams faced that looming electoral rematch against Jefferson, his vice president and political enemy.  The Federalists derided the politically potent Virginian as an "atheist" (untrue), a "deist" (true), and a "Jacobin" (i.e., "French radical," also true).  The Federalists summed up their two greatest nightmares, atheism and popular democracy, by hurling the epithet "Jacobin" at their opponents.

Adams had no sympathy for the French Revolution.  Years later, he looked back bitterly on the "hot, rash, blind, headlong, furious efforts to ameliorate the condition of society, to establish liberty, equality, fraternity, and the rights of man."  Adams especially scorned Democratic-Republicans like Jefferson who admired the revolutionary French Republic.

(speaking of Independence Day celebrations) The Democratic-Republicans wore French colors (cocked hats with a knot of red, white, and blue ribbons pinned to the side), in saucy contrast to the less frivolous black cockades Federalist stalwarts wore, harking back to the Revolutionary days.  To Federalist eyes, Democratic-Republicans with their tricolor cockades had taken the Fourth of July hostage by drawing undue attention to the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence.  In writing the Declaration, Jefferson had introduced three lofty principles (the right to liberty, God-given equality, and popular sovereignty) and one incendiary one (the people's authority to overthrow their government).  The Federalists' problem, as they themselves soon recognized, lay in the Declaration of Independence itself.

Early in Adam's presidency, proper Philadelphians boycotted Independence Day, which might as well have been Bastille Day as far as the local Federalists were concerned.  Nary a black cockade was to be seen on the anniversary of the nation's birth.  Many church bells remained silent.  And every reveler crowding Independence Square was indecently festooned in heretical red, white, and blue.  In New England, separate tricolor and black cockade Fourth of July celebrations became the rule.  In their orations, Federalist preachers and politicians dedicated their energies on the nation's birthday to critique the un-American, anti-Christian dogma that Jefferson so impudently inserted into the nation's founding document.  In his Boston Independence Day oration in 1799, John Lowell warned his listeners to beware "the seductive doctrines of 'Liberty' and 'Equality.'"

The year before, Alexander Hamilton had no difficulty convincing Adams that for the government to proclaim a national fast day, a federal request honored by all the churches that chose to participate, would galvanize his more conservative Federalist political base.  Indeed it did.  Raising a host of traditional black cockades, hundreds of New England preachers seized this governmentally sanctioned opportunity to pronounce French and Jeffersonian infidelity a demonic double threat to the future of America's Christian republic.

Later in life, Adams looked back ruefully on his decision to promote a religious event for political gain.  He went so far as to claim that it cost him the presidency.  for one thing, it left the plausible impression that he had buckled under pressure from Presbyterian church leaders, who urgently were calling for the president to proclaim a day of national worship.

Declaring a national fast was like poking a stick into a nest of hornets.  In alarm, dissenting Christians (Baptists, Methodists, and the like) howled that Adams was compromising church-state separation.  For sound religious reasons, not only did they boycott the fast, but they also came out in droves to support Jefferson, the more secular candidate.
The Declaration of Independence elevated people's sights by placing human law on a higher moral pediment.  The result was a civil ethic in which the ideals of liberty and equality received unprecedented priority.
In its ringing, redemptive moral urgency, Jefferson's Preamble is rightly remembered as the American Creed.

I tell you, this F. Forrest Church, son of Idaho Senator Frank Church, he really knows his stuff, and he writes well too.  If his kind of thinking and reasoning were typical in America, this country, then it would be an entirely different sort of country, and the entire world would be different too.

Georges Delerue, Music for the film Dien Bien Phu

Monterey Pop Festival 1968 CD1 cut  (really good)

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