Sunday, August 21, 2011

John Dickinson 1732 - 1808

John Dickinson was a signer of the Constitution of the United States of America. Furthermore, he was a member of the Continental Congress and wrote the first draft of the Articles of Confederation. He was President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania and a lawyer, planter, and state legislator.

In 1773, John Dickinson became the founder of Dickinson College in the city of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He was well known among the Philadelphia Society of Friends also known as the Quakers as one who gave generously gave his finances to improve their educational pursuits.

He defended the authority of the Holy Scriptures and wrote persuasive letters concerning sound evidences of Christianity. Dickinson wrote a series of letters under the pen-name of "Fabius" campaigning for the passage of the Constitution. His correspondence in this matter we a major factor that contributed to Delaware and Pennsylvania becoming the first two states to ratify the United States Constitution.

John Dickinson is best noted as "The Penman of the Revolution." His pamphlets were circulated widely and became a motivating factor in the cause of liberty.

He was the author of the following pamphlets:

Petition to the King, 1771
The Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, 1774
The Declaration of the Cause of Taking up Arms, 1775
Letter from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 

Letter from a Farmer in Pennsylvania was his most stirring pamphlet.

"But while Divine Providence, that gave me existence in a land of freedom, permits my head to think, my lips to speak, and my hand to move, I shall so highly and gratefully value the blessing received as to take care that my silence and inactivity shall not give my implied assent to my act, degrading my brethren and myself from the birthright, wherever heaven itself "hath made us free."...

I pray God that he may be pleased to inspire you and your posterity, to the latest ages, with a spirit of which I have an idea, that I find a difficulty to express.
I express it in the best manner I can, I mean a spirit that shall so guide you that it will be impossible to determine whether an American's character is most distinguishable for his loyalty to his Sovereign, his duty to his mother country, his love of freedom, or his affection for his native soil...

But, above all, let us implore the protection of that infinitely good and gracious Being [Proverbs 8:15] "by whom kings reign, and princes decree justice."
A communication of her rights in general, and particularly of that great one, the foundation of all the rest - or to use the beautiful and emphatic language of the sacred scriptures [Micah 4:4] "that they should sit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree, and NONE SHOULD MAKE THEM AFRAID..."

But whatever kind of minister he is, that attempts to innovate a single iota in the privileges of these colonies, him I hope you will undauntedly oppose; and that you will never suffer yourselves to be cheated or frightened into any unworthy obsequiousness.
On such emergencies you may surely, without presumption, believe that ALMIGHTY GOD himself will look upon your righteous contest with gracious approbation."
John Dickinson bid farewell to the government of England while in the Continental Congress in 1776.

"The happiness of these Colonies has been, during the whole course of this fatal controversy, our first wish, their reconciliation with Great Britain our next: ardently have we prayed for the accomplishment of both.
But if we must renounce the one or the other, we humbly trust in the mercies of the Supreme Governor of the universe that we shall not stand condemned before His throne if our choice is determined by that law of self-preservation which his Divine wisdom has seen fit to implant in the hearts of His creatures."

Dickinson met with the delegates of Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress less than two months before they signed the Declaration of Independence. He suggested requirements which  the delegates should subscribe to before being seated in the Continental Congress. The following statement is a stipulation that he recommended:

"I do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his eternal Son the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore, and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by Divine inspiration."

The following quote is from The Liberty Song which John Dickinson wrote in 1768.

"Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all!
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall"

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