Chuck C. shared the following wonderful writings of Alexander Hamilton with us yesterday as a follow-up to the article Our New State Religion. Because of revisionist history, we often do not hear the true story of what our founding fathers believed and how sound their grasp was of the principles of freedom. Going to the primary sources is always the best way to learn the truth so thanks to Chuck for sharing this with us.
Guest Blog by Charles A. Castleberry
Regarding the subject of Secular-Humanism, I believe some writings of Alexander Hamilton are worth reading.
Alexander Hamilton and Religion
“I have examined carefully the evidence of the Christian religion; and, if I was sitting as juror upon its authenticity, I should unhestitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I have studied it, and I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man.”
…the rights of mankind were granted to them BY GOD HIMSELF, and that because these rights were God-given, man had not authority to take them away.
“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”
Hamilton quite frankly rejected the humanistic idea of Thomas Hobbes’ “state of nature” theory. Hamilton wrote to a tory opponent:
“There is so strong a similitude between your political principles and those maintained by Mr. Hobbes, that, in judging from them, a person might very easily mistake you for a disciple of his. His opinion was exactly coincident with yours, relative to man in a state of nature. He held, as you do, that he was then perfectly free from all restraint of law and government. Moral obligation, according to him, is derived from the introduction of civil society; and there is no virtue but what is purely artificial, the mere contrivance of politicians for the maintenance of social intercourse. But the reason he ran into this absurd and impious doctrine was, that he disbelieved the existence of an intelligent, superintending principle, who is the governor, and will be the final judge, of the universe. As you sometimes swear by Him that made you, I conclude your sentiments do not correspond with his in that which is the basis of the doctrine you both agree in; and this makes it impossible to imagine whence this congruity between you arises. To grant that there is a Supreme Intelligence who rules the world and has established laws to regulate the actions of His creatures, and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears, to a common understanding, altogether irreconcilable.”
It is extremely unlikely that Hamilton became a theistic rationalist during his college years. Remember the testimony of his roommate Robert Troup, which was quoted in “Alexander Hamilton’s Religion: Part Two”:
“‘At this time,’ Troup relates, ‘the “General” was attentive to public worship, and in the habit of praying on his knees night and morning. I lived in the same room with him for some time, and I have often been powerfully affected by the fervor and eloquence of his PRAYERS. He had read many of the polemical writers on religious subjects, and he was a ZEALOUS BELIEVER in the FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY. I confess that the ARGUMENTS with which he was ACCUSTOMED to JUSTIFY HIS BELIEF, have tended in no small degree to confirm my own FAITH IN REVEALED RELIGION.’ ” (capitals and italics added)
In examining Hamilton’s pamphlets in defense of the American liberty and independence, one notices the emphasis he places upon religious liberty, and its connection to true liberty in society:
“But being ruined by taxes is not the worst you have to fear. What security would you have for your lives? How can any of you be sure you would have the free enjoyment of your religion long? Would you put your religion in the power of any set of men living? Remember civil and religious liberty always go together: if the foundation of the one be sapped, the other will fall of course.” A Full Vindication” (1774) (4)
“Is it not better, I ask, to suffer a few present inconveniences, than to put yourselves in the way of losing every thing that is precious? Your lives, your property, your religion, are all at stake. I do my duty. I warn you of your danger. If you should still be so mad as to bring destruction upon yourselves; if you still neglect what you owe to God and man, you cannot plead ignorance in your excuse. Your consciences will reproach you for your folly; and your children’s children will curse you.” (4)
“May God give you wisdom to see what is your true interest, and inspire you with becoming zeal for the cause of virtue and mankind!” (4)
“Good and wise men, in all ages, … have supposed that the Deity, from the relations we stand in to Himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever.” The Farmer Refuted (1775) (4)
“No Protestant Englishman would consent to let the free exercise of his religion depend upon the mere pleasure of any man, however great or exalted. The privilege of worshiping the Deity in the manner his conscience dictates, which is one of the dearest he enjoys, must in that case be rendered insecure and precarious.” Remarks on the Quebec, Part Two (1775) (5)
“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. they are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” The Farmer Refuted (1775) “The fundamental source of all your [tory’s] errors, sophisms, and false reasonings, is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges. You would be convinced that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator to the whole human race, and that civil liberty is founded in that, and cannot be wrested from any people without the most manifest violation of justice.” The Farmer Refuted (1775)
To avoid the notice of the college President, Hamilton and his fellow patriots would rise early, put on their green jackets with the words “Freedom or Death,” no doubt taken from the speech which made Patrick Henry immortal, pinned to their lapels a tin heart on which was engraved “God And Our Right,” pulled their muskets out from beneath their beds, and gathered to the green of St. George’s Chapel, were they drilled. It was this company, named the “Hearts of Oak,” which provided the experience and skills he needed as Captain of the New York Artillery Company.