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The Business Forum Journal



John Quincy Adams: Independence Day, 1837

By Henry H. Goldman
Adjunct Professor of History, Longview Community College, Lee's Summit, MO.


Recently, there has been a plethora of works dealing with God's involvement in the creation of the United States of America.  While the authors have been quite convincing that there was and continues to be, we hope, a close relationship between He and His nation, they, in many cases, have used secondary and third level sources, instead of the many primary materials available.  Most of the papers and nearly all of the letters of the Founding Fathers have been published and most of these can be read on the Internet.  One such advocate of the Father in the founding of this nation was John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), son of the country's second president and, himself, the nation's sixth president.  He remains the only president who, after leaving office (he served only one term, as had his father) stood for and was elected to the House of Representatives from Massachusetts where he served for twenty-seven years.

The former president and son of a president was invited to address his constituents at an large outside gathering within the town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in order to celebrate the sixty-first anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1837.  The following remarks are Adams', except where noted.  All of the Scriptures cited by the former president are herein taken from the Inspired Version, although Adams used the King James Version.  [These scriptures are enclosed in brackets and are in italics.

The former president begins his oration by quoting the prophet Isaiah: "Say ye not, A Confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid." [Isaiah 8:12] and asks his audience, "Why is it Friends and Fellow Citizens, that you are here assembled?. . .  And

why is it that, next to the birthday of the Saviour of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival [Independence Day] returns on this day? And why is it that, . . . tens of thousands among us, . . . under the dictate of religious  principle, from the commemoration of that birthday of Him, who brought life and immortality to light, yet unite with all their brethren of this community, year after year, in celebrating this, the birthday of the nation?"

Adams continues:

"Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Saviour?  That if forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation?  Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth?  That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophesies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?"

Clearly, then, Adams has linked the birth of the Christ to the birth of the United States.  Using the Declaration of Independence, he stresses, time and again, the relationship between the signers of that document and the Lord.  "And by this paper [the Declaration] this One People did notify the world of mankind that they thereby did assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station, to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitled them. . . .Who hath heard such a thing?  Who hath seen such things?  Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day?  Or shall a nation be born at once? [Isaiah 66:8].  In the two thousand five hundred years, that had elapsed since the days of that prophesy, no such event had [ever] occurred.  It had never been seen before.  In the annals of the human race, then, for the first time, did one People announce themselves as a member of that great community of the powers of the earth, acknowledging the obligations and claiming the rights of the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God.  The earth was made to bring forth in one day [Genesis 1:4-33]!  A nation was born at once."  

Adams was convinced that the Lord was instrumental in the formation of the United States of America.  He argued that the writing of the Prophet Isaiah foretold the founding of this nation:  "And is this the language of enthusiasm?  The dream of a distempered fancy?  Is it not rather the voice of inspiration?  The language of holy writ?  Why is it that the Scriptures, both of the old and new Covenants, teach you upon every page to look forward to the time, when the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid?  Why is it that six hundred years before the birth of the Redeemer, the sublimest of prophets, with lips touched by the hallowed fire from the hand of God, spake and said, -- 'The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound?'  [Isaiah 61:1] And why is it, that, at the first dawn of the fulfillment of this prophesy, -- at the birth-day of the Savior in the lowest condition of human existence, -- the angel of the Lord came in a flood of supernatural light upon the shepherds, witnesses of the scene and said, 'Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people?'  Why is it, that there was suddenly with that angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, -- 'good will toward men?' [Luke 2:10, 13-14]

Adams' argument was well accepted by the crowd on that July 4th, so long ago.  But the former President's words are even more important today, when we hear that the United States is no longer respected by the world.  When we find that American History is being dropped from curricula in schools, colleges and universities, across the nation.  Historian David McCullough, in an interview on the CBS program, Sixty Minutes, recently bemoaned the fact that young people were no longer being reminded of the struggles that this nation faced, just to become a free country.  When school children are no longer permitted to pray on campus, when conservative God loving scholars are no  longer allowed to speak at graduation ceremonies, when high ranking officials of our government claim that the country is no different than any other, and our institutions, including the Constitution, are being shredded,  Adams' words become even more forceful today than they were in 1837.

Once more, Adams turned to Scripture to reinforce his thesis.  "This was the deliberate declaration of the earthy object of his [Jesus'] mission."  He cites Luke [Luke 4: 17-21] " . . . And he closed the book, and gave it again to the minister, and sat down."  He continued, "This was the deliberate declaration of the earthly object of his [Jesus'] mission.  He merely read from the book of Isaiah.  He returned the book . . .and, without application of what he had read, sat down.  But that passage had been written six hundred years before.  It was universally understood to refer to the expected Messiah. . . [and announced]  this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."

He continues, "But of all the events tending to the blessed accomplishment of the prophesy so often repeated in the book of Isaiah, and re-proclaimed by the multitude of the heavenly host at the birth of the Savior, there is not one that can claim, since the propagation of the Christian faith, a tenth, nay a hundredth part of the influence of the resolution, adopted on the second day of July, 1776, and promulgated to the world, in the Declaration of Independence, on the fourth of that month, of which this is the sixty-first anniversary.  And to prove this has been the theme of my discourse."

Finally, Adams ends his lengthy speech with the following admonition to his listeners:  "Turn then your faces and raise your hands to God, and pray that, in  the merciful dispensations of his providence, he would hasten that happy time.  [Isaiah 2-4]  Turn to yourselves, and in the Declaration of Independence of your fathers, read the command to you, by the unremitting exercise of your highest energies, to hasten, yourselves, its consummation!"  

 [Author's note: the full thirty-eight page, single spaced document can be downloaded at:]

Henry H. Goldman is a Fellow of The Business Forum Institute and is the Managing Director of the Goldman Nelson Group.  Henry got his Masters Degree at the University of Iowa and did his Doctoral Studies at the University of Southern California.  He is a Certified Professional Consultant to Management (CPCM); and has published numerous articles in trade journals and was Associate Editor of Taking Stock: A Survey on the Practice and Future of Change Management (Berlin, Germany).  He is a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD); Association of Professional Consultants (APC) and the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). Henry has consulted and/or offered training in South Africa, Tanzania, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Barbados, Georgia, Kosovo, Tajikistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and of course North America. He has also taught at Baker University: Lee�s Summit, MO, 2008, Adjunct Professor of International Business; National Graduate School: Falmouth, MA, 2004-2008, Adjunct Professor of Quality Management; California State University: Fullerton, 2005-2006, Lecturer on Taxation; University of California: Berkeley, 2002, Adjunct Professor of Management; University of Macau (China), Adjunct Professor of Management, 2001-2003.

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