John Adams (1735–1826) was the 2nd President of the United States, 1797–1801, being the first president to live in the White House; established the Library of Congress and the Department of the Navy; Vice-President under George Washington, 1789–97; a member of the First and Second Continental Congress, 1774, 1775; a signer of the Declaration of Independence, 1776:
On Wednesday, March 6, 1799, President John Adams issued a Proclamation of a National a Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer:
As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the growing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributer of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals and to the well-being of communities
On June 28, 1813, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams wrote:
The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite.… And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence. Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was the 3rd President of the United States, 1801–09; approved the Louisiana Purchase and commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1803; Vice-President under John Adams, 1797–1801; Rector of the University of Virginia, 1819; Secretary of State under George Washington, 1789–93.
Shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a committee was appointed to draft a seal for the newly united states which would express the spirit of this new nation. Thomas Jefferson proposed:
The children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.
During the period between 1779–81, Thomas Jefferson served as the Governor of Virginia. On November 11, 1779, Governor Thomas Jefferson issued a Proclamation Appointing a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer.
Public and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.… That He would in mercy look down upon us, pardon all our sins, and receive us into His favour; and finally, that He would establish the independence of these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue, and support and protect them in the enjoyment of peace, liberty and safety.
In 1781, Thomas Jefferson made this statement in Query XVIII of his Notes on the State of Virginia. Excerpts of these statements are engraved on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.:
God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever
On January 16, 1786, Thomas Jefferson and the Committee on Religion drafted a bill for the Virginia Assembly guaranteeing religious freedom:
An Act for establishing Religious Freedom. I. Well aware … that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested His Supreme Will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraints; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to begat habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone.
Patrick Henry (1736–1799) was an American Revolutionary leader and orator, who spoke the phrase, “Give me Liberty or give me death!” He was Commander in Chief of the Virginia Militia, a member of the Virginia General Assembly and House of Burgesses, 1765; and a member of the Continental Congress, 1774–75. He was the five-time Governor of the State of Virginia, 1776–79, 1784–86, and was instrumental in writing the Constitution of Virginia.
It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
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).