01) RIGHTEOUS FOUNDERS: Were the founding fathers of the United States Government righteous men who lived moral and honest lives?

Prophetic Statements

Wilford Woodruff

I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord.

Another thing I am going to say here, because I have a right to say it. Every one of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence, with General Washington, called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them…. Would those spirits have called upon me, as an elder in Israel, to perform that work if they had not been noble spirits before God? [1]

Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, “You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.” These were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others; I then baptized him for every President of the United States, except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them. [2]

Ezra Taft Benson

Our Founding Fathers, with solemn and reverent expression, voiced their allegiance to the sovereignty of God, knowing that they were accountable to Him in the day of judgment. Are we less accountable today? I think not. I urge you to keep the commandments and to pray for our nation and its leaders. 1

The Founding Fathers understood the principle that “righteousness exalteth a nation” (Prov 14:34), and helped to bring about one of the greatest systems ever used to govern men. But unless we continue to seek righteousness and preserve the liberties entrusted to us, we shall lose the blessings of heaven. Thomas Jefferson said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” The price of freedom is also to live in accordance with the commandments of God. The early Founding Fathers thanked the Lord for His intervention in their behalf. They saw His hand in their victories in battle and believed strongly that He watched over them.

The battles are not over yet, and there will yet be times when this great nation will need the overshadowing help of Deity. Will we as a nation be worthy to call upon Him for help? 2

The Founding Fathers had no problems seeing the hand of the Lord in the birth of the nation. George Washington gave direct credit to God for the victory over the British in the Revolutionary War. But that did not end the need for inspiration and divine help.

A constitution was drafted. And thirty-nine of fifty delegates signed it. I would ask: Why is it that the references to God’s influence in the noble efforts of the founders of our republic are not mentioned by modern historians?

The fact that our Founding Fathers looked to God for help and inspiration should not surprise us, for they were men of great faith. These men had been raised up specifically by the Lord so they could participate in the great political drama unfolding in America. 3

Other Supporting Statements

(John Adams and John Hancock)

We Recognize No Sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus! 4

Patrick Henry

“This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.” 5

George Q. Cannon

Not only have these religious reformers been inspired to do a work in preparing for the advent of the kingdom of God upon the earth; but others have been raised for the same purpose. Columbus was inspired to penetrate the ocean and discover this Western continent, for the set time for its discovery had come; and the consequences which God desired to follow its discovery have taken place—a free government has been established on it. The men who established that Government were inspired of God—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and all the fathers of the Republic were inspired to do the work which they did. We believe it was a preparatory work for the establishment of the kingdom of God. This Church and kingdom could not have been established on the earth if their work had not been performed, or a work of a similar character. . . . It was necessary that George Washington should be raised up, that the battles of the Republic should be fought, that the Colonies should be emancipated from the fetters of the mother country, and declared free and independent States. Why? Because God had in view the restoration of the everlasting Gospel to the earth again, and in addition to this the set time had come for him to build up his kingdom and to accomplish the fulfilment of his long deferred purposes. . . .

The prophets tell us that in the last days the people of God shall be gathered together from the different parts of the earth and be united together in one people. It was necessary, therefore, that a land should be prepared and a form of government be established within its borders without conflicting with it. Therefore, religious liberty and toleration have been proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of this land. Men fought, bled and died in vindication of these principles, and they were incorporated into the Constitution, and we, to-day, are reaping the blessed results of their labors. Shall they not have glory in the sight of God for those labors? Yes, glory and honor and blessings and immortality will rest upon men who have been instruments in the hands of God in bringing to pass his great and marvellous purposes. We have the greatest charity for them; we know that God will save and bless them. [3]

  1. Wilford Woodruff, April 1898, General Conference
  2. Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886], 19: 229 – 230.
  3. George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886], 14: 55
  1. Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg.602; from an address given at the Provo Freedom Festival, Provo, UT, 29 Jun 1986
  2. Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg. 601; from an address given at the Provo Freedom Festival, Provo, UT, 29 Jun 1986
  3. Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson pg. 599; from an address given at the Provo Freedom Festival, Provo, UT, 29 Jun 1986
  4. April 18, 1775, on the eve of the Revolutionary War after a British major ordered John Adams, John Hancock, and those with them to disperse in “the name of George the Sovereign King of England.”
  5. The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry
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