United States Founding Fathers & Presidents

prepared by Don R. Hender

George Washington ~ Thomas Jefferson ~ Abraham Lincoln

     TO further begin this page, I would like to relate a set of events in LDS History relative to the Founding Fathers of America and the United States Presidents. A foundational tenent of the LDS faith is that certain gospel ordinances are necessary for every accountable soul who has ever lived in order for them to be redeemed and saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ. A related doctrinal ordinance was so practiced by the early Christian Church as recorded in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15:29). It is often missed, passed over and/or dismissed and ignored by most, little alone spoken of such as a vicarious ordinance being practiced in the early Church of Jesus Christ. When arguing the point that there was to be a literal resurrection, the on going vicarious ordinance of the Church was cited as an out right evidence that there indeed was to be a literal resurrection and that the practice of this vicarious baptism ordiance in the Church stood as such evidence that resurrection was asured. That scripture reference follows:

Now it is thus relavent to this concept of gospel ordinances being performed by the living for those who are dead, that thereby the dead may receive of the full gospel proper and as men in the flesh be judge of God worthy of salvation though they never in life had known or even heard of such a thing as Christianity. In the LDS Temples today we of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do perform such vicarious ordinances of salvation for those who have died that they might receive the Blessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How else are all men to receive of the salvation of Jesus Christ as Jesus taught in John 3:5 that 'except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.' And now it is with this doctrinal understanding that I here related a historical event in LDS History that related to God and the Founding Fathers and Presidents of the United States:

Now the LDS Temple at St. George, Utah was the first temple completed by the LDS Church upon their arrival in Utah, for while the Salt Lake temple was under construction, because of its massive size it took longer to build. The first President of the St. George Temple was Wilford Woodruff. Relative to performing the ordinances of salvation for the dead, President Woodruff relates this account in a talk delivered to the church:

“I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. [The 'temple endowment' is a further ordinance of salvation which first requires that a person be baptized.] We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.’ These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon Bro. McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others; I then baptized him for every President of the United States, except three*; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.” (“Discourse,” Deseret News Weekly, Mar. 27, 1878, 114–15).

Another account of this is more summarized and to the point as given on another occasion. A few months before his death, Woodruff reinforced the testimony of that event from the stand at April conference 1898:

"General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. Another thing I am going to say here, because I have a right to say it. Everyone of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence with General Washington called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the house of God for them."

[Note: Before I leave this story, I think to relate that some do 'nitpick' at things without giving room for perspective and understanding. Some note that a number of these men had their vicarious baptism done in Nauvoo and elsewhere before Apostle Woodruff did so. And in this age of such informational records so readily available to everyone and anyone, they presume that Wilford Woodruff would have/should have had immediate access as well should have known exactly who had and who had not had their baptism already completed for them. The fact is, President Woodruff most likely did not have any such full and comprehensive detailed informational record readily at hand to refer to, being down in Saint George in 1877-78. And even if he had some idea that some of the baptisms had already been done, he was likely of the mind that I have become from my own many years of doing genealogy work and having such records readily or not so readily available. 'I've often said to others that I am of the opinion that something such as this important is better to have been twice done as to not have been done at all. We speak of the baptism for the dead, but that is just the first of the saving ordiances performed in the temple. There are the ordinances of the endowment and even of marriage and family sealings and such. Before one is to receive those endowment ordinances one is to be first baptized. In that circumstance the only logical perspective and course to follow and to preceed in, is to have all their baptisms done, even if 'again' to insure that they were done and had not been left undone. Not always told in the story is the fact that those founding fathers' further ordinance work was then also completed fulfilling the 'whole' of the request of those 'brethren', founders of our nation. And that was the true essence of the request made of Apostle Woodruff, to attend to the ordinances of the house of God for them all. And by them referencing the 'endowment house' in the first account given by Wilford Woodruff, their request was not just for their baptisms to be done, but the further saving ordinances as well which included the endowment ordinances. But first the baptism did need to be completed if it had not been previously done before the next ordinance of the endowment was to then to also been done. So President Woodruff's action was very logical. He took it upon himself to insure that all their baptisms had been done by having them done either by himself or as directed by himself. 'Better twice done than undone.' And then without question, all the next ordinances of salvation could then be further attended to in proper order.]

* Of the three former Presidents that were not at that time baptised, Grant was still living and would not die until 1885. The other two were Buchanan and Van Buren. Joseph Smith and others met with Van Buren to present the Case of the Saints - Van Buren said, "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you." He was more concerned with political opinion of himself rather than justice. The other president was Buchanan, who had sent troops against the LDS Church and Saints in Utah causing the 'Utah War' in which my own Great Grandfather participated and was 'grazed-wounded' by an acident of 'friedly fire'.

Now with this special testimony in place from the perspective of 'heaven' if you will, that is an Apostle of the Lord has witnessed and given an account that the 'founding fathers', all who did sign the Declaration of Independence' and many others, all of whom did have their religious minds founded upon Jesus Christ's intentions concerning this great nation, did request him to do for them their saving ordinances. And now with that 'special testament' aside, I will further proceed to other such historical quotes to the matter of God and the Presidents and the Founding Fathers and such evidences that 'In God DID We Trust' and certainly we must still do.

GOD and the Presidents and Founding Fathers

George Washington: "The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations." - George Washington's letter of August 20, 1778 to Brig. General Thomas Nelson "Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great Creator of heaven and earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven in pity and compassion upon me Thy servant, who humbly prostrate myself before Thee." - George Washington's prayer at Valley Forge "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.... 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. 'Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government." - Farewell Address, 1796

John Adams: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

James Madison, the chief architect of the Constitution: "We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

James Monroe: "The liberty, prosperity, and the happiness of our country will always be the object of my most fervent prayers to the Supreme Author of All Good." - March 5, 1821 in his Second Inaugural Address

John Quincy Adams: "It is no slight testimonial, both to the merit and worth of Christianity, that in all ages since its promulgation the great mass of those who have risen to eminence by their profound wisdom and integrity have recognized and reverenced Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God."

Abraham Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, led our nation through the Civil War. On March 30, 1863 President Lincoln, in his Proclamation for a Day of Prayer and Fasting, called the nation to find spiritual strength through prayer:

Woodrow Wilson: “America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of the Holy Scripture.”

Teddy Roosevelt, 1917: "... in this actual world, a churchless community where men have abandoned or scoffed at or ignored their religious needs is a community on the rapid downgrade."

Calvin Coolidge: Unless we cling to the "things of the spirit," Coolidge warns, "all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren scepter in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage that has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped."

Dwight Eisenhower: "Without God, there can be no American form of government, nor an American way of life."

Harry Truman: "The fundamental basis of this nation's law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teaching we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in the right for anybody except the state."

Ronald Reagan: "If America ever ceases to be a nation under God, we will simply become a nation gone under."
"Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom. What brought America back? The American people brought us back -- with quiet courage and common sense; with undying faith that in this nation under God the future will be ours, for the future belongs to the free." - State of the Union Address, February 4, 1986

George W. Bush: "Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them."
"I believe all these things because freedom is not America's gift to the world, it is the Almighty God's gift to every man and woman in this world."
"America stands for liberty, for the pursuit of happiness and for the unalienable right for life. This right to life cannot be granted or denied by government because it does not come from government, it comes from the Creator of life."
"Faith gives the assurance that our lives and our history have a moral design."

U.S. Presidents and the Bible

Author unknown

(Advocating freedom of religion, not freedom from religion)

The reverence for God of many of our presidents, coupled with the principles of liberty established in the Holy Bible, has provided the basis upon which the United States has been founded.

It is as true today as it was centuries ago when the psalmist wrote, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 32:12). The nation that honors and reverences God will experience His blessings of protection, provision and peace.

I find it very interesting that while today they talk about separation of church and state, these men who led our country knew none of it. "Whereas today we have a separation of church and state, then there was a union.... Religion, virtue, statehood and citizenship were very much united." --Herb London

The American people are on the whole an industrious lot. Lyman Abbot, a preacher in the 1805, said: "A nation is made great not by its fruitful acres but the men who cultivate them; not by its great forests but by the men who use them; not by its mines but by the men who build and run them. America was a great land when Columbus discovered it. Americans have made it a great nation."

Now hear what American presidents have said about God and the Bible.

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible" --George Washington

"So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society..." --John Quincy Adams

"That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests" --Andrew Jackson

"I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong" --Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln was also noted as saying: "It is the duty of nations as well as men to recognize the truth announced in Holy Scripture and proven by all of history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."

"Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties. Write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a 2 reproach to any people" --Ulysses S. Grant

"If you take out of your statutes, your constitution, your family life all that is taken from the Sacred Book, what would there be left to bind society together?" --Benjamin Harrison

"Almost every man who has by his life-work added to the sum of human achievement of which the race is proud, of which our people are proud, almost every such man has based his life-work largely upon the teachings of the Bible" --Theodore Roosevelt

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government ... not in the Constitution... (but) upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments" --James Madison

"The government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country. There is no way by which we can substitute the authority of the law for the virtues of men" --Calvin Coolidge

Dare any of us say that the words of these former presidents were wrong?

Our religious heritage is extraordinary. Think of the early pilgrims and Puritans, the influence of the Great Awakening, the urban revival of the late 1800s, and the missionary movement of the 20th century. All contributed to a strong biblical underpinning of American values. Yes, America was built on Christian creed and principles based on the Bible.

It was Daniel Webster who said, "If we abide by the principles taught by the Bible, our country will go on prospering."

God is Lord of a nation when its laws and lawmakers acknowledge the truths and principles of the Bible as the supreme standard. This was certainly true in the formative year of our great nation. What a spiritual deterioration in our present day Supreme Court from the Supreme Court in 1811, when it said, "Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends to destroy civil government." And in 1892, it said: "Our laws and institutions must necessarily be based on and must include the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind."

I don't wonder why over the years there has been a steady spiritual deterioration. Our culture has slowly disengaged itself from its spiritual roots.

Let's commit ourselves to pray for those in authority on the local, state and national levels. Let's put ourselves on God's side. Lincoln was right when he said: "My concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."
God is always right. And His Word is truth. Ultimately, God wants salvation for all people everywhere. That is why He gave this lost world His Son, Jesus Christ.

"I do believe in Almighty God! And I believe also in the Bible...Let us look forward to the time when we can take the flag of our country and nail it below the Cross, and there let it wave as it waved in the olden times, and let us gather around it and inscribed for our motto: "Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever," and exclaim, Christ first, our country next!" – Andrew Johnson

"Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it temporal punishments or burdens...are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion. No men shall...suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the Book of Life than that these people are to be free. The precepts of philosophy and of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. Jesus pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man, erected his tribunal in the regions of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head." – Thomas Jefferson

"Whereas, the Senate of the United States devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation: And whereas, it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord..." --Abraham Lincoln

"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." --Thomas Jefferson

"A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.....The Bible is the one supreme source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God, and spiritual nature and needs of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation. America was born a Christian nation. America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture." --Woodrow Wilson

"The strength of our country is the strength of its religious convictions. The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country." --Calvin Coolidge

"Menaced by collectivist trends, we must seek revival of our strength in the spiritual foundations which are the bedrock of our republic. Democracy is the outgrowth of the religious conviction of the sacredness of every human life. On the religious side, its highest embodiment is the Bible; on the political side, the Constitution." --Herbert Hoover

"We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity." --Franklin Roosevelt

"The fundamental basis of this nation's laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!" --Harry Truman

"The spirit of man is more important than mere physical strength, and the spiritual fiber of a nation than its wealth. The Bible is endorsed by the ages. Our civilization is built upon its words. In no other book is there such a collection of inspired wisdom, reality, and hope." --Dwight Eisenhower

"The first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible. I speak as a man of the world . . . and I say to you, 'Search the Scriptures.'" -- John Quincy Adams

Upon hearing a man defaming God's Word, Jackson rebuked him with the following well-chosen words: "Sir, that Book is the Rock on which our Republic rests!"

"I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this book upon reason that you can and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better man." -- Abraham Lincoln

"Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts on your hearts and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book we are indebted for the progress made, and to this we must look as our guide in the future." -- Ulysses S. Grant

“It can not 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.” - Patrick Henry

“In the name of God. Amen. Having undertaken for the glory of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith, do solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God covenant and combine ourselves together” – Mayflower Compact of 1620

“Whereas we all came into these parts with one and the same end and aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the gospel of purity and peace.” – New England Confederation 1643

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” -- Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies 1776

At the first Constitutional Convention, the delegates were frustrated due to the burdens of the hour. They were burdened and harassed by tremendous crisis. They were so fragmented and divided that they were just about to throw out the whole concept of a constitution completely. Then Benjamin Franklin rose to his feet and said: "Gentlemen, if it is true that not one single petal from any flower falls to the ground without escaping God's attention, will the distress of this nation go unheeded? Let us therefore determine to seek His face."

"From the time of the Declaration of Independence, the American People were bound by the laws of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which they all acknowledge as the root of their conduct. We all came together to obey the word of God." - John Quincy Adams

"Do not let anyone claim tribute of American patriotism if they even attempt to remove religion from politics." - George Washington

"The 1st amendment has created a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall, it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government." - Thomas Jefferson