Friday, April 1, 2011

President's Three Through Eleven and God

Many of you will be happy to know this is the last post on the presidents and their beliefs in God.  It seems after number three, Thomas Jefferson, our presidents became more and more voluminous in their speeches...in other words they were windbags.  And, frankly their speeches have depleted me of all my reserves.

But, before, you get to see what three through eleven had to say, here's a little trivia.  James Madison had one sentence that was 357 words long.  I've never seen so many semi-colons in all my life. 

William Henry Harrison has the honor of giving the longest inaugural speech in history, over an-hour-and-a-half.  He also has the dubious honor of being the oldest president elected (until Reagan) and the first to die in office.  It seems his eternal speech propelled him to eternity when he contracted pneumonia and died a month after taking office.

John Tyler didn't give an unaugural address because he took office after Harrison died and then wasn't re-elected.  So really, my title should be Three Through Eleven Minus One.

It's interesting to note almost all the speeches ended with some reference to God, which must be how the presidents of our day got the idea to conclude their speeches with, "God bless America." 

Here's just a sampling of what you might find if you read the speeches.  I would suggest you do this on a night when sleep is eluding you and you need something to bore you into a superfluous stupor then coma.


Thomas Jefferson, also known as the author of the Declaration of Indepence, which started this whole study in the first place:

"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?...And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity."


James Madison, Mr. semicolon:

"In these my confidence will under every difficulty be best placed, next to that which we have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future."


James Monroe:

"Who restrained from offering his vows in the mode which he prefers to the Divine Author of his being?... If we persevere in the career in which we have advanced so far and in the path already traced, we can not fail, under the favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which seems to await us...Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of the Government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow-citizens with my fervent prayers to the Almighty that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which He has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor."


John Quincy Adams:

"I shall look for whatever success may attend my public service; and knowing that "except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain," with fervent supplications for His favor, to His overruling providence I commit with humble but fearless confidence my own fate and the future destinies of my country."


Andrew Jackson:

"And a firm reliance on the goodness of that Power whose providence mercifully protected our national infancy, and has since upheld our liberties in various vicissitudes, encourages me to offer up my ardent supplications that He will continue to make our beloved country the object of His divine care and gracious benediction."


Martin Van Buren:

"Beyond that I only look to the gracious protection of the Divine Being whose strengthening support I humbly solicit, and whom I fervently pra y to look down upon us all. May it be among the dispensations of His providence to bless our beloved country with honors and with length of days. May her ways be ways of pleasantness and all her paths be peace!"


William Henry Harrison (I should have stopped an hour earlier):

"These precious privileges, and those scarcely less important of giving expression to his thoughts and opinions, either by writing or speaking, unrestrained but by the liability for injury to others, and that of a full participation in all the advantages which flow from the Government, the acknowledged property of all, the American citizen derives from no charter granted by his fellow-man. He claims them because he is himself a man, fashioned by the same Almighty hand as the rest of his species and entitled to a full share of the blessings with which He has endowed them...The tendencies of all such governments in their decline is to monarchy, and the antagonist principle to liberty there is the spirit of faction—a spirit which assumes the character and in times of great excitement imposes itself upon the people as the genuine spirit of freedom, and, like the false Christs whose coming was foretold by the Savior, seeks to, and were it possible would, impose upon the true and most faithful disciples of liberty...I can conceive of no more sublime spectacle, none more likely to propitiate an impartial and common Creator, than a rigid adherence to the principles of justice on the part of a powerful nation in its transactions with a weaker and uncivilized people whom circumstances have placed at its disposal.  {This is talking about the American Indians...that's a whole 'nother future topic.}..I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness; and to that good Being who has blessed us by the gifts of civil and religious freedom, who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers and has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other people, let us unite in fervently commending every interest of our beloved country in all future time."


James Polk:

"In assuming responsibilities so vast I fervently invoke the aid of that Almighty Ruler of the Universe in whose hands are the destinies of nations and of men to guard this Heaven-favored land against the mischiefs which without His guidance might arise from an unwise public policy. With a firm reliance upon the wisdom of Omnipotence to sustain and direct me in the path of duty which I am appointed to pursue, I stand in the presence of this assembled multitude of my countrymen to take upon myself the solemn obligation "to the best of my ability to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States...Confidently relying upon the aid and assistance of the coordinate departments of the Government in conducting our public affairs, I enter upon the discharge of the high duties which have been assigned me by the people, again humbly supplicating that Divine Being who has watched over and protected our beloved country from its infancy to the present hour to continue His gracious benedictions upon us, that we may continue to be a prosperous and happy people."


Times have changed because it seems so many people don't think God has had anything to do with the greatness of our country.  But our forefathers seemed to get it.  We can't prosper and grow unless God is involved.  And, so I will conclude by saying, I hope God will still bless America.

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