Mayflower II Featured
January 5, 1776
New Hampshire is the first to adopt a constitution in America's bid for freedom

There is a very simple reason America’s four organic documents,[1] which were composed at the national or federal level, speak so rarely of Christianity. That reason is the colonial charters and subsequent state constitutions—which all preceded the Constitution of the United States—did speak much about religion and the Christian Faith. In fact, most of the American colonies at one point or another did have state churches,[2] and for this reason—as well as others—strong differences existed between the colonies that threatened the likelihood of their ability to work together.Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Differences from the BeginningChristian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Being so far removed from the colonial era of America’s first thirteen colonies, it is difficult for the casual observer to understand how difficult it was for the colonies to work together for independence. Of the various issues that divided the American colonies was colonial boundaries. Strong differences over territorial rights were sometimes resolved only after bloodshed.

John Adams

Most of the colonies at one time or another had established state churches, and this fact commonly resulted in tense colonial relationships. The First Continental Congress of 1774 is a vivid example. When Samuel Adams, the Father of the American Revolution, requested that congressional sessions began with prayer, other members objected, not because of irreligion, but because of denominational differences. In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams recounted the reason for hesitation:

When the Congress first met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay, of New York, and Mr. Rutledge, of South Carolina, because we were so divided in religious sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists, that we could not join in the same act of worship. Mr. Samuel Adams arose and said he was no bigot and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country.[3]

Shift from Public to Private

Christopher Columbus Langdell

In the nineteenth century American legal studies took a decided step away from their constitutional and historical foundations. In 1870, Christopher Columbus Langdell was appointed Dean of Harvard Law School. Along with other prominent officials at law schools across America, Langdell pointed the study of law toward a Darwinian worldview. To justify radical changes in legal studies, succeeding generations of liberal law students appealed to illegitimate interpretations or unconventional thoughts of individual Founding Fathers who were less orthodox themselves. Rather than appeal to the wealth of precedent decisions made in cases of previous generations, judges—such as Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black—justified their decisions by appealing to misinterpretations of individual Founding Fathers. A shift from rendering judicial decisions upon the broad ethos of American history to narrow, unjustified decisions based upon less orthodox Founding Fathers had been made.

Constitutions of the First Thirteen States

On May 15, 1776, the Second Continental Congress passed a “Resolve” asking the individual colonies to compose constitutions. English control of the colonies was quickly receding and to avoid chaos, Congress encouraged colonial patriotic leaders to initiate government in the vacuums being created by rising tensions with King George. Connecticut and Rhode Island decided to retain the forms of government given with their original charters. Seeing vacuums of leadership in their own colonies, New Hampshire and South Carolina composed their first constitutions prior to the recommendation of Congress to do so. The remaining nine colonies or states convened conventions to compose constitutions between June 1776 and June 1780. A brief study of each of the original thirteen colonies (and subsequent states) will reveal the Christian origin of each:

1639, June 4 – 1818, January 14—Connecticut (Congregationalism-1818)

1663, July 15 – 1842, July 15—Rhode Island

1776, January 5—New Hampshire* (Congregationalism-1817)

1776, March 26—South Carolina (Anglicanism)

1776, May 15 — Congressional state government “Resolve”

1776, June 29—Virginia*

1776, July 2—New Jersey

1776, August 27—Delaware*

1776, September 28—Pennsylvania*

1776, November 11—Maryland* (Anglicanism)

1776, December 18—North Carolina*

1777, February 5—Georgia*

1777, April 20—New York (Anglicanism)

1780, June 15—Massachusetts* (Congregationalism-1833)

* Constitutions containing bills of rights


[1] They are the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Articles of Confederation (1777), the Northwest Ordinance (1787), and Constitution of the United States (1789).

[2] House United States Congress, Chaplains in Congress and in the Army and Navy (House Report 124, 33rd Congress, 1st session, March 27, 1854), 6. The entire report is contained in pages 1-10.

[3] Charles Francis Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1875), 37-38.

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

Christian Origin of the First Thirteen States

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