The central government should be limited to very few purposes. Connecticut’s Roger Sherman was one of the most important Americans in history in espousing this thinking. Mark David Hall, in his book, “The Creation of the American Republic“, sets the record straight. Read The American Conservative review here:
Hall sets out to correct a serious flaw in the historiography. While prominent accounts of the American Revolution’s intellectual underpinnings devote considerable attention to the influence of Lockean, classical republican, Scottish Enlightenment traditions, the influence of Reformed Protestantism-that is, Calvinism-tends to be overlooked. Although the focus is on Sherman’s political thinking, Hall tell us, his book shows that the Reformed tradition was central to the thought of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Oliver Ellsworth, Jonathan Trumbull, William Paterson, John Witherspoon, and several other prominent Calvinist politicians as well.
Roger Sherman played a unique role in making America. Only he signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution, as well as helping to draft the Bill of Rights. Not only did he sign the Declaration, but he was also on the five-man committee charged with writing it. The typical account of the Declaration has Thomas Jefferson producing a Lockean document notably devoid of traditional Christian language. Hall demonstrates that while the Declaration’s reference to “nature’s God,” its claim that government’s function is to protect citizens’
rights, and its assertion of a right to overthrow usurpatious rulers are consistent with Lockean thinking, they also are perfectly in keeping with John Calvin’s teaching on those subjects, which antedated Locke’s Second Treatise-and likely influenced Locke. That Sherman and his fellow Calvinists in the Second Continental Congress should have signed the Declaration is not the mystery that Louis Hartz and other proponents of the idea that American has always been Lockean have wanted to make it.
Latest posts by Richard C. Young (see all)
- Democracy & Diversity: Not In the Constitution - February 19, 2019
- Immigration, the Unifying Force of Europe’s Right Wing - February 15, 2019
- Minnesota Muslim Rep. Omar Off the Rails Again - February 15, 2019