Understanding the Origins of What Made America Great
The Story of Young George Washington
A young man by the name of George Washington was a surveyor, first starting out in the Virginia countryside, and then further north and east in what is now the New York and Pennsylvania area. Washington eventually became a member of the American militia fighting with the British against the French and the Indians, beginning what became an illustrious military and political career. In 1755 approximately 1,300 British and American soldiers were heading into what is now Pittsburgh, when they were ambushed by the French and Indians using the tactic of hiding behind trees, not the British tactic of open field combat that we saw all the way through the U.S. Civil War.
The French and the Indians massacred the British and the American troops killing seven hundred and fourteen men. There were eighty-six British and American officers, and all but one was killed. Casualties on the French and Indian side were minimal. The only officer that was not killed was George Washington, then a twenty-three year old. Washington after the battle wrote his mother saying,
“By all the powerful dispensations of Providence (God), I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation for I had four bullet holes passed through my coat and two horses shot out under me, yet I escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me…”
Fifteen years after that event in 1770, the Indian chief that was in the battle arranged to meet George Washington when he was passing though the area. Over a camp fire the Indian chief said to Washington,
“You don’t know me. Fifteen years ago you and I were in these woods together. I was the chief in charge of the Indians. We saw you riding and knew you were one of the leaders and if we could kill you, we could scatter your men. So I told my braves to single you out and fire at you. I personally shot at you seventeen different times. When we saw the bullets were having no effect on you, I told my braves to stop shooting at you. I came all this way to meet the man God would not let die in battle.”
In George Washington’s first speech after his election as President, he had a call to prayer:
“It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act, my fervent supplication to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect… No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. The propitious (favorable) smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
In Washington’s Farewell Address leaving government service he warned:
“…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.”
From the very earliest days of the formation of the American colonies, Heaven had a plan for what became the United States of America. It was a Divine Plan for a new country with vast resources and a commitment to God. For one to doubt the anointing the United States was given from its earliest formation by Almighty God would render that soul oblivious to early American history.
The Early Education Model in the Colonies
The country’s roots first started with a Christian formation in faith. Here is American excellence—reliance and belief in the providence of Almighty God. In 1606 a charter for the earliest settlers establishing a colony in Virginia read as such, making it clear the motivation for those risking life and limb to make the arduous and risky journey to an unknown land, knowing they would need to endure extreme hardship:
“To make a habitation…and to deduce a colony of sundry of our people into that part of America commonly called Virginia…in propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness.”
In 1609 it read further: “The principal effect which we can desire or expect of this action is the conversion …of the people in those parts unto the true worship of God and Christian religion.”
The Mayflower set sail for Virginia, but was blown far north due to a storm, and arrived on the shores of Plymouth, Massachusetts just before winter in 1620. Those early settlers called Pilgrims, drafted what was known as the Mayflower Compact, and it said in part,
“Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith…we combine ourselves together into a civil body politic for… furtherance of the ends aforesaid.”
William Bradford a leader among the group made it clear why they came to these shores when he said,
“…a great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ, in those remote parts of the world.”
Another leader came along about a decade later by the name of John Winthrop and was a member of the new group called the Puritans. He was more missionary than sea going traveler or farmer when he wrote,
“We are a company professing ourselves fellow-members of Christ…knit together by this bond of love…We are entered into covenant with Him for this work…For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.”
Word had come from the French trappers, Spanish Conquistadors, and possibly Vikings how vast this new world was for settlement. There was a desire for freedom and self-rule, with a new virgin world they knew was there where they could grow and prosper. All this would be away from the oppressive crown of England that crippled initiative due to constriction of class. In addition, the greatest motivator would have been the preaching of the gospel into foreign lands fulfilling the commandment of Jesus in the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Behold I am with you always, to the end of the age…” (Matt. 28: 19-20, among several other places).
The expansion of the gospel was a strong force to risk death due to hardship. Pilgrims, Puritans, Quakers, Catholics, Jews and others came to what became the early colonies. The Carolinas, Virginia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and other territories sought the largesse of the land, and all the new world had to offer—especially freedom to worship as they saw fit. All documents civilly and spiritually indicate Christ the King was to be the rock on which their foundations would lie.
The Bedrock of Education Was the Lordship of Christ
The early framers from all states and faiths understood and implemented laws to protect people from tyrants that they had seen and known in Old Europe. They knew an illiterate population not schooled in Sacred Scripture could be more easily manipulated and abused than an educated population. This thinking immediately moved to the Lordship of Christ in education when they wrote:
“In being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former time….it is therefore ordered…that after the Lord hath increased the settlement to the number of fifty householders, they shall then forthwith appoint one within their town, to teach all such children as shall resort to him, to write and read…And it is further ordered, where any town shall increase to the number of one hundred families or householders, they shall set up a grammar school, to instruct youths, so far as they may be fitted for the university.”
An educated class of people through public schools was thus conceived in the earliest days of the settlements, setting America apart from all previous civilizations wanting to educate its citizens for the general welfare of its people. This thinking on education became the bedrock of an emerging nation evolving under the Lordship of Jesus Christ contrary to previous civilizations looking to suppress education. Tyrants and kings alike knew it was easier to control a populace that is illiterate than one that is educated. Education in Scripture is many steps beyond a good civic education, because a follower of Scripture will need less instruction than one without.
In 1690 Connecticut wrote:
“This legislature observing that… there are many persons unable to read the English tongue and thereby incapable to read the holy Word of God or the good laws of this colony…it is ordered that all parents and masters shall cause their respective children and servants, as they are capable, to be taught to read distinctively the English tongue.”
The rest of this article can be found in our Summer 2019 Newsletter coming out soon! Become a member today to receive this issue!