EARLY AMERICAN HEATHENS – Part 1
submitted by Randy Jones
It seems like every month brings a new attack on early Americans, the Founding Fathers and our Nation’s beginnings. Let’s delve into another facet of truth behind these false attacks on our American fore fathers by looking into the background of several different early American Bible Societies.
Shortly after the United States became the United States many early Americans began in earnest in printing American Bibles. Often people point to the Thompson Bible as the first true American Bible as it was, printed on American made paper, printed in America and was translated into English by an American, Jane Aitken. Several different societies sprang up to assist in the distribution of the Word; the Philadelphia Bible Society in 1808 followed by the New York Bible Society in 1809 (now known as the International Bible Society). James McHenry, a signer of the Constitution and Secretary of War under both Presidents Washington and Jefferson, founded the Baltimore Bible Society in 1810 (now the Maryland Bible Society).
Perhaps one of the better known Bible Societies is the American Bible Society. Elias Boudinot, a former president of the Continental Congress, was the first president of the ABS when it was established in 1816. I won’t bore you with all the details of this early American but to say he played several key roles in the development of this nation. With all his accomplishments behind him Elias when speaking of the time he spent as president of the ABS he said it was, “the greatest honor that could have been conferred on me this side of the grave.” The goal of the ABS was/is to get a Bible into every home in America.
When it comes to the Founders of the American Bible Society you get a nice list of early Americans including; Matthew Clarkson (A Major General during the American Revolution and a leader in early American Education), John Langdon (A signer of the Constitution), John Jay (co-author of the Federalist Papers and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), Bushrod Washington (another Supreme Court Justice), Smith Thompson (yet another Supreme Court Justice), William Wirt (Attorney General of the United States), Charles Coatsworth Pinckney (another signer of the Constitution).
A few of the men who served as the President of the ABS are; John Jay, John Quincy Adams (6th President of the United States), Francis Scott Key, and a bit later were Rutherford B. Hayes (19th President of the United States) and Benjamin Harrison (23rd President of the United States).
Honesty demands that it be stated that none of the Founding Fathers were perfect, but it does seem that many were more than how they are often painted today as Godless heathens. As you look back through time to determine for yourself the reality from what is reported in historical documentaries, it may be wise whenever possible to consider reading some of the writings and correspondence from those early Americans to gain a truer perspective.