Friday, June 15, 2007

Who Did the Founders Quote the Most?

Here I am going to put some links to other blogs that may help the Poli-Sci student better grasp the post below:

Seperation of Church and State?

Does the Left = Communism and the Right = Fascism?

Is the Constitution a Secular Document

The Founders Sources

George Washington pointed out that the two foundations for political prosperity in America were religion and morality, and that no one could be called an American patriot who attempted to separate politics from its two foundations: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion [the Christian faith, denomination] and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars.”

In 1811 a court made a ruling, which was subsequently cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. That court declared: “Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government.”

Our Founding Fathers delivered to us a system of government, which has enjoyed unprecedented success: we are now the world’s longest on-going constitutional republic. Two hundred years[+] under the same document – and under one form of government – is an accomplishment unknown among contemporary nations. For example, Russia, Italy, France, and other nations underwent revolutions about the same time as the American Revolution, but with very different results. Consider France: in the past 200 years it has gone through seven completely different forms of government; Italy is now in its 51st; yet we are still in our first.

Where, then, did our Founding Fathers acquire the ideas that produced such longevity? Other nations certainly had access to what our Founders utilized yet evidently chose not to. From what sources did our Founders choose their ideas? An important question!

Political science professors at the University of Houston asked this very same question. They rightfully felt that they could determine the source of the Founders’ ideas if they could collect writings from the Founding Era and see whom the Founders were quoting.

The researchers assembled 15,000 writings from the Founding Era – no small sample – and searched those writings. That project spanned ten years; but at the end of that time, the researchers had isolated 3,154 direct quotes made by the Founders and had identified the source of those quotes.

The researchers discovered that Baron Charles Montesquieu was the man quoted most often by the Founding Fathers, with 8.3 percent of the Founders’ quotes being taken from his writings. Sir William Blackstone was the second most-quoted individual with 7.9 percent of the Founders’ quotes, and John Locke was third with 2.9 percent. Not surprisingly, the researchers discovered that the Founders quoted directly out of the Bible 4 times more often than they quoted Montesquieu, 4 times more often than they quoted Blackstone, and 12 times more often than they quoted John Locke. Thirty-four percent of the Founders’ quotes came directly out of the Bible.

The study was even more impressive when the source of the ideas used by Montesquieu, Blackstone, and Locke were identified. Consider, for example, the source of Blackstone’s ideas. Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws was first introduced in 1768, and for the next 100 years America’s courts quoted Blackstone’s to settle disputes, to define words, and to examine procedure; Blackstone’s Commentaries were the final word in the Supreme Court. So what was a significant source of Blackstone’s ideas? Perhaps the best answer to that question can be given through the life of Charles Finney.

Charles Finney is known as a famous revivalist, minister, and preacher from one of America's greatest revivals; the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800’s. Finney, in his autobiography, spoke of how he received his call to ministry. He explained that – having determined to become a lawyer (then a noble position) – he, like all other law students at the time, commenced the study of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws.

Finney observed that Blackstone’s Commentaries not only provided the laws, it also provided the Biblical concepts on which those laws were based. Finney explained that in the process of studying Blackstone’s, he read so much of the Bible that he became a Christian and received his call to ministry.

Therefore, while 34 percent of the Founders’ quotes came directly out of the Bible, many of their quotes were taken from men – like Blackstone – who had used the Bible to arrive at their conclusions. So the percentage is much higher.

Numerous components of our current government can be shown – through those early writings – to have their source in Biblical concepts. For example: the concept for the three branches of government can be found in Isaiah 33:32; the logic for the separation of powers was based on Jeremiah 19:9; the basis for tax exemptions for churches was found in Ezra 7:24; and on and on!

Whether you like it or not, this is a nation founded on and defined with the Judeo-Christian moral philosophy realized. The further you reject this philosophy as a whole, the closer you get to the guillotine of the French revolution.


Donald S. Lutz, The Origins of American Constitutionalism (Louisiana State Univ. Press; 1988);

David Barton, Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion (WallBuilders Press; 1997).