The U. S. Supreme Court by David Barton

However, recall that in Justice Souter’s concurring opinion, he offered his “history” lesson before declaring that the Founding Fathers had “turned their backs” on the ideals in the First Amendment at least according to his standards. 22 When his “precedents” are added, the final tally for the

Court’s decision becomes: PRE-1947: 84; POST-1947: 182. Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School Dist., 1993

A New York law allowed equal-access rental of school property for afterhours use. When a school board prohibited a church which had rented the facility from showing a film series, the Court overturned the school board’s policy. 23 On what basis? PRE-1947: 0; POST-1947: 18. Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District, 1993

In this case, 24 the Court upheld a law which authorized the hiring of a sign-language interpreter for a deaf student, even though the student attended a religious high school. On what basis did the Court permit this service for the handicapped student? PRE-1947: 0; POST-1947: 63.

Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of University of Virginia, 1995 Student publications at the University of Virginia were reimbursed for printing costs from student activity funds. However, Wide Awake, a Christian publication, was denied reimbursement. The U. S. Supreme Court sided with the paper and ordered the reimbursement. 25 On what basis? PRE-1947: 5; POST-1947: 159. Boerne v. Flores, 1997

A Catholic church in Boerne, Texas sought to enlarge its structure on its own property, but the city of Boerne denied a building permit. The church brought suit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which Congress passed to prevent government agencies from placing a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion unless the government could prove that the burden was in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and was the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. The Court struck down that law and would not allow the church to expand its facilities. What precedents caused the Court to say that Congress could not pass a law to protect the free exercise of religion? PRE-1947: 9; POST-1947: 17. Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 2000

Alabama Legislature by David Barton

There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the Framers intended to build the “wall of separation” that was constitutionalized in Everson. But the greatest injury of the “wall” notion is its mischievous diversion of judges from the actual intentions of the drafters of the Bill of Rights  No amount of repetition of historical errors in judicial opinions can make the errors true. The “wall of separation between church and State” is a metaphor based on bad history. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned. Our perception has been clouded not by the Constitution but by the mists of an unnecessary metaphor. Rehnquist then noted with acerbity:

It would come as much of a shock to those who drafted the Bill of Rights, as it will to a large number of thoughtful Americans today, to learn that the Constitution, as construed by the majority, prohibits the Alabama Legislature from “endorsing” prayer. George Washington himself, at the request of the very Congress which passed the Bill of Rights, proclaimed a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” History must judge whether it was the Father of his Country in 1789, or a majority of the Court today, which has strayed from the meaning of the Establishment Clause. The Jaffree case was a ruling against a voluntary, and even a silent religious activity; further, it codified the “endorsement test” as the new replacement for the First Amendment prohibition against “establishment.” Allegheny County v. Pittsburgh ACLU, 1989

At the seat of government in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, many holiday symbols were displayed during the Christmas season including a Christmas tree, a menorah a multibranched candlestick used during Jewish celebrations, a Santa, a crèche nativity scene, a patriotic sign, floral arrangements, etc. A legal challenge was lodged against the display of the menorah and the crèche. Although this was the first case in which the Supreme Court had considered a menorah, only five years earlier in Lynch v. Donnelly it had upheld the use of a crèche because:

The Word of God by David Barton

Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be. I have examined all religions and the result is that the Bible is the best Book in the world. It contains more of my little philosophy than all the libraries I have seen. John Adams

The Bible itself is the common inheritance, not merely of Christendom, but of the world. Joseph Story, U.S. Supreme Court Justice; Father of American Jurisprudence a man of liberal education, the study of history is not only useful, and important, but altogether indispensable, and with regard to the history contained in the Bible  “it is not so much praiseworthy to be acquainted with as it is shameful to be ignorant of it.” John Quincy Adams

The reflection and experience of many years have led me to consider the holy writings not only as the most authentic and instructive in themselves, but as the clue to all other history. They tell us what man is, and they alone tell us why he is what he is: a contradictory creature that seeing and approving of what is good, pursues and performs what is evil. All of private and of public life is there displayed. From the same pure fountain of wisdom we learn that vice destroys freedom; that arbitrary power is founded on public immorality. Gouverneur Morris, Penman and Signer of the Constitution

The Bible is a book worth more than all the other books that were ever printed. Patrick Henry

To the free and universal reading of the Bible in that age, men were much indebted for right views of civil liberty. The Bible is a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow man. Daniel Webster

Safeguarding Original Intent by David Barton

The Founders understood the multiple benefits of religion. They therefore aggressively promoted religion throughout American society. The departure from that practice was facilitated by the laxness of the citizenry in understanding, and of the Court in upholding the Constitution’s original intent. When the intent undergirding a law is abandoned, then that law can be applied in a manner that is totally contrary to its intended purpose; the result can be devastating. The controversy which resulted in the Holy Trinity case 1892 provided an excellent illustration of the abuse which can occur if a law’s intent is ignored. Recall that a zealous U. S. Attorney had prosecuted a New York church for employing an English clergyman as its pastor under a law that Congress had enacted solely to halt the importation of slave-type foreign labor to construct western railroads. When the Court concluded that to prosecute the church under that law would constitute an abuse and a misuse of the law, it explained:

It is a familiar rule that a thing may be within the letter of the statute and yet not within the statute, because not within its spirit, nor within the intention of its makers. Frequently words of general meaning are used in a statute, words broad enough to include an act in question, and yet a consideration of the whole legislation, or of the circumstances surrounding its enactment, or of the absurd results which follow from giving such broad meaning to the words, makes it unreasonable to believe that the legislator intended to include the particular act. This is only common sense, for legislators are unable to foresee every circumstance that might arise under the enforcement of a law they enact.

Furthermore, they vividly recall the extensive discussions in which their legislation was framed and often believe that the law communicates more clearly than it actually does. Yet those called upon to enforce that law year’s later do not always see the intent which the legislators felt was so obvious. For this reason, it was an elementary principle of law, and thus a fundamental responsibility of the courts, to establish the spirit of a law before ruling on any issue. Signer of the Constitution John Dickinson had explained the importance of this principle:

Nothing is more certain than that the forms of liberty may be retained when the substance is gone. In government, as well as in religion, “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” 2 CORINTHIANS 3:6.

Defender of the Constitution by David Barton

Daniel Webster 1782-1852 was a prominent leader in the second generation of American statesmen. As a young boy, he grew up listening to and reading the speeches of prominent Founders like Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, et al., and subsequently championed the Founders’ ideas throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. He has been titled “The Defender of the Constitution” both for his understanding of that document and his efforts to maintain its principles. Adams’ own words confirm that he rejected any notion that America was less than a Christian nation.

Additionally, the writings of General William Eaton, a major figure in the Barbary Powers conflict, provide even more irrefutable testimony of how the conflict was viewed at that time. Eaton was first appointed by President John Adams as “Consul to Tunis,” and President Thomas Jefferson later advanced him to the position of “U. S. Naval Agent to the Barbary States,” authorizing him to lead a military expedition against Tripoli. Eaton’s official orrespondence during his service confirms that the conflict was a Muslim war against a Christian America.

For example, when writing to Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, Eaton apprised him of why the Muslims would be such dedicated foes in any conflict against America:

Taught by revelation that war with the Christians will guarantee the salvation of their souls, and finding so great secular advantages in the observance of this religious duty the secular advantage of keeping captured cargoes, their the Muslims’ inducements to desperate fighting are very powerful. Because America had taken no military action in response to the terrorist depredations and had instead adopted a policy of appeasement, the Barbary Powers viewed America as weak.

The Constitutional Convention by David Barton

For example, George Washington noted in his diary: Went to hear at the Calvinist Church an oration on the anniversary of independence. After the oration delivered by a young law student, the Rev. William Rogers, minister of the Calvinist Church, concluded with this prayer: We fervently recommend to thy fatherly notice our federal convention. Favor them, from day to day, with thy immediate presence; be thou their wisdom and their strength! Enable them to devise such measures as may prove happily instrumental for healing all divisions and promoting the good of the great whole; that the United States of America may furnish the world with one example of a free and permanent government. May we continue, under the influence of republican virtue, to partake of all the blessings of cultivated and civilized society?

When the Constitutional Convention finally concluded, some delegates opposed the final document. However, perhaps Benjamin Franklin summed up the sense of the thirty-nine who signed it when he declared: I beg I may not be understood to infer that our general Convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal Constitution yet I must own I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing and to exist in the posterity of a great nation should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being.

As the above examples indicate, the men who formed the Constitution neither precluded nor limited public or official religious acknowledgments. In fact, George Washington, President of the Convention, later told the Baptists of Virginia that: If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed in the Convention where I had the honor to preside might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it.

However, not only did religious activities accompany the drafting of the federal Constitution, they also accompanied its ratification. This was evident throughout the various State conventions which gathered to approve that document. For example: On motion of the Hon. Mr. John Adams, Voted, that the Convention will attend morning prayers daily, and that the gentlemen of the clergy, of every denomination, be requested to officiate in turn.

  The Massachusetts Legislature by David Barton

As John Adams had described it to Abigail: Rev. Duché then read the lesson for the seventh day of September, which was the thirty-fifth Psalm. You must remember this was the next morning after we heard the horrible rumor of the cannonade of Boston. I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on the morning. I must beg you to read that Psalm. Read this letter and the 35th Psalm to them your friends.

Read it to your father. As Adams noted, the morning Congress read the 35th Psalm was the very morning that it had been informed that Great Britain had landed armed troops; that is, British citizens in Boston were now under attack by their own army and navy. Since Psalm 35 contained the prayers and pleadings of an innocent and defenseless person who had been attacked by one much stronger, it is easy to understand why that Psalm had such an impact on the delegates.

Silas Deane had called it “accidentally extremely applicable”; and John Adams said that it “was most admirably adapted, though this was accidental, or rather Providential.” The Massachusetts legislature was concerned that the British use of force might spread beyond the Boston area. It therefore urged its inhabitants to band together as minutemen into local militias so that they might protect themselves from the British “so thirsty for the blood of this innocent people.” In its call, the Massachusetts legislature somberly reminded its citizens that: You are placed by Providence in the post of honor because it is the post of danger: and while struggling for the noblest objects, the liberties of your country, the happiness of posterity, and the rights of human nature, the eyes not only of North America and the whole British empire, but of all Europe, are upon you. Let us be therefore altogether solicitous that no disorderly behavior, nothing unbecoming our characters as Americans, as citizens, and Christians, be justly chargeable to us.

Here was a governmental charge to the militias and minutemen to remember their Christian witness during this struggle. This would thus preclude any opportunity to lodge accusations of misbehavior against Christianity in the United States. Such a charge was not incompatible with the nature of the minutemen, however, for they were often the men from a local church; and it was frequently a deacon, or sometimes a pastor, who was responsible for conducting their military drills. In fact, the editor of the Boston Post noted, “On the days of drill the citizen soldiers sometimes went from the parade-ground to the church, where they listened to exhortation and prayer.” And elsewhere: In Danvers, Massachusetts, the deacon of the parish was elected captain of the minutemen and the minister his lieutenant.

The company, it is said, after its field exercise would sometimes repair to the “meetinghouse” to hear a patriotic sermon, or would partake of an entertainment at the town-house where the zealous “sons of liberty” would exhort them to fight bravely for God and their country. At Lunenburg, Massachusetts, the mute company, after drill, marched in procession to the “meeting house” where a sermon was delivered. Nor was the First Church, Boston, at all behind in patriotism.

The Christian Faith by David Barton

America’s First Colonies Other explorers soon followed Columbus to the new continent, with each making proprietary claims for his own king or monarch. Therefore, when subsequent groups of colonists wished to settle in the New World, they were required to beseech their particular sovereign for a land charter. If granted, the resulting charter would present the reasons set forth by that group for its proposed endeavor. Hence, the motivations of the colonists who came to America can be documented from an examination of their approved intentions. For example, the 1606 charter for a colony in Virginia declared the settlers’ desire: To make 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, another charter for Virginia stated:

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. In November of 1620, the Pilgrims arrived in America on the Mayflower. Having originally set out for an established settlement in Virginia, they were blown far north by strong winds and severe storms, finally landing in an uncolonized area. Before disembarking in that new area which had no established civil government, the Pilgrims drafted and signed the “Mayflower Compact” the first government charter drafted solely in America.

It declared: 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, one of their leaders, confirmed this purpose when he explained that the Pilgrims had come to the New World because 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.

The Puritans, who began arriving in America nearly a decade after the Pilgrims, had come for a similar purpose. Their leader, John Winthrop, warned them of the consequences of forgetting their goal: 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. Other charters documented the same goal for their respective groups.

 The Propagation of Judaism by David Barton

As the city’s attorneys explained to the Court, religion must be taught at the school:  The purest principles of morality are to be taught. Where are they found? Whoever searches for them must go to the source from which a Christian man derives his faith the Bible. There is an obligation to teach what the Bible alone can teach, viz. a pure system of morality. Emphasis added after all the arguments were finished, the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court was delivered by Justice Joseph Story. The Court first ruled that Girard’s estate could be delivered to the city of Philadelphia, but that the teaching of Christianity could not be excluded from the school: Christianity is not to be maliciously and openly reviled and blasphemed against to the annoyance of believers or the injury of the public.

It is unnecessary for us, however, to consider the establishment of a school or college for the propagation of Judaism or Deism or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country. The Court then pointed out to both sides that even though the will had prohibited clergy, it had not prohibited Christian instruction and was therefore constitutionally acceptable as the Court explained: Why may not laymen instruct in the general principles of Christianity as well as ecclesiastics the clergy. And we cannot overlook the blessings which such laymen by their conduct, as well as their instructions, may, nay must impart to their youthful pupils.

Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the college its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? Where can the purest principles of morality are learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Emphasis added while many legal controversies had marked this case, on the issue of Christian teachings in this governmentrun school, all parties had agreed: the plaintiff’s lawyers said education without Christianity was “repugnant”; the city’s lawyers declared it “obnoxious”; and the Supreme Court said that it couldn’t be permitted moral principles in schools must be taught from the Bible. Commonwealth v. Abner Kneeland, 1838 Supreme Court of Massachusetts.

This case, like both the Updegraph and the Ruggles cases, also involved an attack against God and Christianity. However, unlike those two cases, these attacks had been published rather than spoken. The indictment recorded Kneeland’s published statements: “The Universalists believe in a god which I do not; but believe that their god, with all his moral attributes is nothing more than a chimera of their own imagination”; “Universalists believe in Christ, which I do not; but believe that the whole story concerning him is a fable and a fiction.”

  Signers of the Constitution by David Barton

As signer of the Declaration John Witherspoon clearly explained, the two were inseparable: An oath is an appeal to God, the Searcher of hearts, for the truth of what we say and always expresses or supposes an imprecation a calling down of His judgment upon us if we prevaricate lie. An oath, therefore, implies a belief in God and His Providence and indeed is an act of worship. Persons entering on public offices are also often obliged to make oath that they will faithfully execute their trust. In vows, there is no party but God and the person himself who makes the vow.

Recall also that since Article VI pertained only to the federal government, it was within the legitimate jurisdiction of the States to establish whatever provisions the people wished. Significantly, many of the State requirements were often drafted by the same individuals who had signed the federal Constitution and who had approved Article VI. For example, signers of the Constitution George Read and Richard Bassett 69 also directed the drafting of the Delaware constitution. That constitution required:

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 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.”

Constitution signer Nathaniel Gorham helped author the Massachusetts constitution which required: Any person chosen governor, or lieutenant-governor, counsellor, senator, or representative, and accepting the trust, shall before he proceed to execute the duties of his place or office, take, make and subscribe the following declaration, viz. “I, do declare, that I believe the Christian religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth.”

The Founders by David Barton

The Founders intended only to prevent the establishment of a single national denomination, not to restrain public religious expressions. Recall from the previous chapter that the First Amendment was designed to restrain only the federal government in the area of religion; it was well established that the States were free to do as they pleased. For example, in his Commentaries on the Constitution, Justice Joseph Story explained that because of the First Amendment the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the State governments to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice and the State constitutions.

Thomas Jefferson had previously confirmed this same scope of power: I consider the government of the United States the federal government as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion the First Amendment, but from that also which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to the United States the Tenth Amendment.

Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in any religious discipline has been delegated to the General federal Government. It must then rest with the States. Although it was completely permissible for the States to have their own State established denominations, most simply made provision for the encouragement of religion, or for the public teaching of religion in general as, for example, in the constitutions of New Hampshire and Massachusetts: As morality and piety rightly grounded on evangelical principles will give the best and greatest security to government and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to due subjection; and as the knowledge of these is most likely to be propagated through a society by the institution of the public worship of the Deity and of public instruction in morality and religion; therefore, to promote these important purposes, the people of this State have a right to empower, and do hereby fully empower, the legislature to authorize, from time to time, the several towns, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies within this State to make adequate provision at their own expense for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality.

New Hampshire as the happiness of a people and the good order and preservation of civil government essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community but by the institution of the public worship of God and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the People of this Commonwealth have a right to invest their Legislature with power to authorize and require the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic or religious societies, to make suitable provision at their own expense for the institution of the public worship of God and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality.

Civil Rights  Acts by David Barton

Perhaps the most recognizable civil rights leader of that era was the Rev. Dr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Like Frederick Douglass, the great civil rights leader of the previous century, Dr. King was also a Christian minister of the Gospel. He was with President Johnson when the famous civil rights bill was signed into law.

Though both of these important civil rights acts were signed into law under a

Democratic President, it was the Republicans in Congress who made possible the passage of both acts, for Johnson had been unable to garner sufficient Democratic support to pass either bill. At that time, Democrats had 315 members in Congress, holding almost two-thirds of the House and two thirds of the Senate. President Johnson needed only a majority only 269 votes to get those bills passed; but out of the 315 Democrats, only President Johnson sought republican help to achieve the passage of the civil rights bills the rev. dr. martin Luther king and president Johnson 198 voted for the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. Democrats had it completely within their power to pass those bills but did not. Republicans overwhelmingly came to the aid of Democratic President Johnson: in fact, 83 percent of Republicans voted for those bills, a percentage of support almost twenty points higher than that of the Democrats. If had not been for the strong support of Republicans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would never have become law not to overlook the fact that the heart of both bills came from the work of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Other significant progress in civil rights also occurred in 1964, for in addition to the Civil Rights Act, the 24th Amendment to the Constitution was added that year, abolishing the poll tax. Significantly, a repeal of the poll tax had been proposed on at least fourteen previous occasions, and on five of those occasions the House had actually passed a ban; each time the Senate Democrats had kept the poll tax alive. In fact, in 1949 when Democratic Senator Spessard Holland of Florida introduced his bill to end poll taxes as part of Truman’s proposed civil rights package, it too failed. It was another thirteen years after that attempt and nearly eighty-five years after the first modern poll tax was instituted by Democrats before the ban on the poll tax was finally approved by the Senate. Significantly, 91 percent of the Republicans in Congress voted to end the poll tax a level of support once again much higher than that of Democrats; and of the 16 Senators who wanted to keep the poll tax alive, 15 were Democrats. While the 24th Amendment banned poll taxes, it was originally applied only to federal elections; two years later, however, in 1966; the U. S. Supreme Court finally struck down poll taxes for all elections, including State and local.

The Civil Rights Amendments to the Constitution by David Barton

By 1900, Democrats actually began actively to seek a repeal of the 14th and 15th Amendments. As Democratic Senator Ben Tillman from South Carolina explained: 

We made up our minds that the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were themselves null and void; that the civil rights acts of Congress . . . were null and void; that oaths required by such laws were null and void. 

According to prominent Democratic leader A. W. Terrell of Texas, the 15th Amendment guaranteeing black voting rights was “the political blunder of the century.” Democrats from both the North and the South agreed with Terrell and were among the Democrats seeking a repeal of the 15th Amendment. In fact, Democratic U. S. Senator Samuel McEnery of Louisiana even declared: “I believe . . . that not a single southern Senator would object to such a move.” Fortunately, these Democrats were unsuccessful in their efforts to repeal the 14th and 15th Amendments.

In 1901, at the same time that Democrat were seeking to roll back the civil rights amendments to the Constitution, Republican President Teddy Roosevelt raised the ire of many Democrats by inviting Booker T. Washington to the White House. Washington became the first African American to dine with a President at the White House. While Booker T. Washington’s wise counsel was snubbed by Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, it was gladly sought by three Republican Presidents for whom he served as advisor, including William Taft, William McKinley, and Teddy Roosevelt. 

In 1915, the pro-Klan movie Birth of a Nation was released. It became a recruiting tool to help the Klan reach its peak membership of almost two million. That film by D. W. Griffith – the – was based on a book called The Clansman that had been written by open racist Thomas Dixon, Jr. Both Griffith and Dixon had incorporated material from Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s History of the American People, including Wilson’s latent support for the Klan and its abominable practice of Southern Redemption. In fact, President Woodrow president Teddy Roosevelt democrat president Woodrow Wilson showed this pro-Klan movie at the white house Wilson even showed this racist Klan-recruiting film at the White House – the first film ever shown at the White House. Wilson also enacted pro-segregation policies within his administration; and under his tenure as President, the Democrat-controlled U. S. House passed a bill making it a felony for any black to marry a white in Washington, D. C.

African American by David Barton

While the Rev. Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first black American to serve in the U. S. Senate, there have been others as well. The second was Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi – the first to serve a full term in the Senate. Bruce also received an appointment to a federal post by Republican President James

A. Garfield; 198 a portrait of Senator Bruce today hangs on the Senate side of the U. S. Capitol. The third black Senator was Edward Brooke of Massachusetts who was the first to be elected in a statewide vote. Significantly, the first three black U. S. Senators – Revels, Bruce, and Brooke – were all Republicans. Carol Moseley-Braun was the fourth black American to serve in the U. S. Senate, but only the first Democrat; and Barack Obama was only the second black Democratic U. S. Senator. 
The first African American elected to the U. S. House was Joseph Hayne Rainey of South Carolina. Rainey was the first of twenty-republican Senator Blanche k. Bruce, America’s second black U. S. senator three black Americans elected to the U. S. Congress  – all as Republicans. Remarkably, of those early black Congressmen, thirteen had been slaves, and all of them were home or self-educated. Additionally, three of those groups were ministers, seven were attorneys, five were schoolteachers, four were university presidents, and thirteen were state legislators – a distinguished group with momentous achievements.

Democrats did not elect their first black American to the U. S. House until 1935, and that black Member was from Illinois – a northern State in which blacks had always been free. It was not until 1973 that the first black Americans from the South were elected to Congress as Democrats: Barbara Jordan of Texas and Andrew Young of Georgia – and they were elected only after the U. S. Supreme Court struck down the gerrymandered district lines that southern Democratic State legislatures had drawn that kept blacks from being elected. 

While black Americans immediately following the Civil War had indeed begun a distinguished chapter in their history, the opposition to their rapid success grew just as rapidly. Many southern Democrats not only despised blacks and Republicans but they utilized every means possible to keep them from voting – including not only the use of devious and cunning means but also the direct use of violence. In fact, after examining the abundant evidence concerning this violence, U. S. Senator Roscoe Conkling concluded that the Democratic Party was determined to exterminate blacks in those States where Democratic supremacy was threatened. As a response to Democratic violence in the South, and in order to further secure the civil rights of black American democrats lynched a black and a white republican together, Congress passed the 15th Amendment, explicitly guaranteeing voting rights for blacks.

The 15th Amendment – the final of the three post-War civil rights Amendments – was the first-ever constitutional expansion of voting rights; and like the two previous civil rights Amendments, it was passed along partisan lines. Not a single one of the 56 Democrats in Congress at that time voted for the 15th Amendment – not one Democrat either from the North or the South supported granting explicit voting rights to black Americans. Yet, despite the opposition from Democrats, the 15th Amendment did pass – passed entirely by Republicans– and its passage was greeted by black Americans with great rejoicing. 208 With the passage of this Amendment, leading abolitionist Wendell Phillips joyfully exclaimed, “We have washed color out of the Constitution!”

The Capitol Building by David Barton

David Barton shows us that the Capitol building is filled with stories and accounts like those described here. And although we have covered much, we have only touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Yet, even this small engraved sculpture at the back of the old supreme court chamber amount affirms that there truly is a deep and rich spiritual heritage in the Capitol building – as there is in so many of the monuments and structures throughout this great city. I encourage you to visit Washington, D. C., and especially to come see for yourself the wonderful Heritage to be found in the Capitol of the United States! “Righteousness exalteth a nation.” PROVERBS 14:34a“ Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” PSALMS 33:12a congressional motto located in the chambers of congress as well as in the congressional office buildings first prayer in congress, 1774



Capitol Building by David Barton

Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament . . . be read and taught as a divine revelation in the [school] – its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained, and its glorious principles of morality inculcated? . . . Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament? Where are benevolence, the love of truth, sobriety and industry, so powerfully and irresistibly inculcated as in the Sacred Volume? This unanimous decision on religion in schools, delivered by the Supreme Court in the Old Chamber, is a far cry from the position held by the Supreme Court today.Perhaps the sculpture engraved in the wall at the back of the Old Supreme Court Chamber most accurately indicates how the earlier Justices viewed their task. That engraved sculpture – directly fronting webster’s court arguments the Justices as they sat at bench – is of Lady Justice looking to an angel of God who is holding the Constitution of the United States. Indeed, our Founding Fathers and early Justices truly considered upholding the Constitution as a sacred trust, delivered to them from God.

David Barton shows us that the more one learns of the Capitol building – of how religion was openly embraced and practiced here – of how strongly and how openly religious our Founding Fathers and early leaders were – of how many artifacts, paintings, statues, and rooms in the Capitol openly honor religious faith – the more illogical it is to assert that America’s history requires her to maintain a secular, religion-free government and public society. Such simply is not the case.


Religion to Students by David Barton

Another significant case was decided three years later in 1844, a case called Vidal v. Girard’s Executors. 95 That case involved Stephen Girard’s personal will in which he left seven million dollars to the city john quincy adams of Philadelphia. Two issues were raised in the case. The first related to the heirs: could an individual leave his estate to the government rather than to his heirs? The second related to the establishment of a school. The will required that part of the money should fund a public school for the benefit of orphans and needy children, but that ministers be prohibited from serving on the faculty of the school. This was perceived to be an attempt to prohibit religious instruction for the students, and it was questioned whether any school supported in whole or in part by the government could adopt such a policy. Daniel Webster was called in to argue the case before the Court, and he argued it in the Old Supreme Court Chamber. 

David Barton tells us that Today, when an argument is heard before the Supreme Court, the attorney from each side is given thirty minutes. Daniel Webster, however, spent three days arguing his side of the case! 

Webster first argued that an individual could not leave his estate to a city government, and he then argued that no government-supported school could ban the teaching of religion to students by banning minis the old supreme court chamber Case of Stephen Girard’s Will. ters from the faculty. This second part of his argument was promptly printed and publicly distributed in a booklet: Mr. Webster’s Speech in Defence of the Christian Ministry, and in Favor of the Religious Instruction of the Young. Delivered in the Supreme Court of the United States, February 10, 1844, in the 

When the Court delivered its decision, it was unanimous; and not surprisingly, the decision was written by Justice Joseph Story. The Court first ruled that an individual could leave an estate to a city, and the Court then ruled that while a school might possibly exclude the presence of ministers, such a decision did not mean that it was prohibiting Christianity. Indeed, the Court felt it important that religious teachings be provided to students in any government-supported school. The court explained: