George Read (1733–1798) was a signer of the Declaration of Independence; a signer of the U.S. Constitution; a delegate from Delaware to the Constitutional Convention; a U.S. Senator, 1789–93; and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware.
Known as “the Father of Delaware,” George Read wrote “the first edition of her laws,” and the Constitution of the State. The requirements, stated in the Delaware Constitution, necessary for holding office include:
DELAWARE 1776. Article XXII. Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust … shall … make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: “I, ________, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”
Robert Aitken (1734–1802) was the publisher of The Pennsylvania Magazine. On January 21, 1781, he petitioned Congress for permission to print Bibles, since there was a shortage in America due to the Revolutionary War interrupting trade with England. The Continental Congress, September 10, 1782, in response to this shortage of Bibles, approved and recommended to the people that The Holy Bible be printed by Robert Aitken of Philadelphia. This first American Bible was to be “a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools”:
Whereupon, Resolved, That the United States in Congress assembled … recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States, and hereby authorize [Robert Aitken] to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.
Nathaniel Freeman (1741–1827) was a jurist, soldier and politician. He served as Brigadier General of the Militia, 1781–93, a member of the Massachusetts state legislature, and served Massachusetts as a representative to Congress, 1795–99. He served as a judge of Probate for 47 years and as a judge of Common Pleas for 30 years. In 1802, Judge Nathaniel Freeman gave a charge to the Massachusetts Grand Jury:
The laws of the Christian system, as embraced by the Bible, must be respected as of high authority in all our courts and it cannot be thought improper for the officers of such government to acknowledge their obligation to govern by its rule.… [Our government] originating in the voluntary compact of a people who in that very instrument profess the Christian religion, it may be considered, not a republic like Rome was a Pagan, but a Christian republic.
Samuel Chase (1741–1811) was an attorney, jurist and politician. The son of an Anglican clergyman, he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, served as the Chief Justice of the State of Maryland, 1791, and was appointed by George Washington as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1796–1811. In the case of Runkel v. Winemiller, 1799, Justice Chase gave the court’s opinion:
Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people. By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.
William J. Federer, Great Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced According to Their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions (St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch, 2001).