To The Daily Sun,
An accurate presentation of our history that conforms quotes to their context in history is in indeed essential to understanding history. I do believe that is what Mr. Veverka is alluding to in his quote from his letter of 12/31/14: "Anyone can put together a collection of founder quotes to make their case." He then goes on to quote from the Treaty of Tripoli, "as the Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" as though this were intended to be used as a civics lesson. That liberals continually roll out Treaty of Tripoli demonstrates the historical bankruptcy of their argument. That Mr. Veverka continues to use it; seems to indicate that he is devoid of any love of history that would cause him to inquire in his heart as to what was happening there, rather he is content to rip off quotes that seem to support his preconceived notion that the founders were like him.
"Treaty of Peace and Friendship" sounds warm and fussy doesn't it? It wasn't. It was negotiated at a time when our nation was very young and very weak and of necessity was forced to sign some onerous treaties. We signed the "Jay Treaty" with Great Britain, in 1794, which was very unpopular at the time, but most importantly it averted another war with Great Britain for more than a decade, and indeed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 which was short lived due to the continuing demand for more tribute money by the Bey of Tripoli, for continued protection from the Barbary Pirates, pirates sanctioned by the government of Tripoli. We had already paid a hefty tribute with the treaty.
The Barbary Pirates would attack our merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea. They would sell crew members and passengers as slaves. If the person captured were a Christian they were treated very badly and many of them died. At one point there was a rumor that Benjamin Franklin, who was traveling abroad, might have been taken captive. The purpose of the Treaty of Tripoli was to protect our citizens. Tripoli being a Muslim nation and the United States being predominately Christian, it seems we wanted to insure the Bey of Tripoli, whether freely or by coercion I'm not certain, that we would not wage a Holy War against the Muslims, as we were reputed to be a Christian nation. Seeing that our federal government was secular in nature it apparently seemed expedient to emphasize that. This was not a civics lesson for American patriots, and should not be taken to be so any more than forced confessions from American hostages today should be. It was an effort to protect our citizens abroad when we had little might to do so. For the civics lesson we need to take a look at George Washington's farewell address.
Washington's farewell address was first published in September of 1796 and reprinted by virtually every newspaper in the country. This was something almost every American read or had read to them. I think we have a hard time today understanding how much George Washington was esteemed by the people then. Here's what he said about religion in that address.
"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, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."
Many of these Americans truly took this admonition to heart, as ministers of the Gospel traveled with the westward migration so that the inhabitants of these newly settled territories would be fit for citizenship. This was the civics lesson concerning religion, of that era.
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