On the Coat of John Adams | Finding the Moral and Religious Character of America

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull, New York, 1848, pp 265-6.)

To seek to achieve political reforms before we have effected a reform in human nature, is like putting new wine into old bottles. Make men feel and recognize in their innermost hearts what is their real, true duty to all men, and every old abuse of power, every iniquitous law in the national policy, based on human, social or political selfishness, will disappear of itself. Foolish is the gardener who seeks to weed his flower-bed of poisonous plants by cutting them off from the surface of the soil, instead of tearing them out by the roots. No lasting political reform can be ever achieved with the same selfish men at the head of affairs as of old.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, pg. 229)

Tadeusz Kuntze-Konicz. “Fortune,” 1754. Minerva (Wisdom) is ashamed of Fortune.

American republicanism is influenced religiously and morally in the present-day under either the reactionary “Christian-right” or the progressive Christian-left in political garb.

American Theosophists and Western Theosophists in general has a mission, and in some way, we find certain earlier theoreticians of American republicanism to resemble in outlook our own values and ancient principles. People today, when they often use the term religion, they just mean Christianity. John Adams did not say the constitution is for only Christian people, but “a moral and religious people” (see Gottfried de Purucker’s defines Religion). That being said, the general principles of Christianity are identical to other philosophical schools. American Republicanism is infused with ancient theosophical principles.

The U.S. was not founded to be a theocracy, an atheistic utopia, nor a Direct Democracy. If we can have a new intellectual and spiritual renaissance, we can rebuild, and mend dangerous divisions, but that takes a combined effort.

“…Whether the physical man be under the rule of an empire or a republic, concerns only the man of matter. His body may be enslaved; as to his Soul, he has the right to give to his rulers the proud answer of Socrates to his Judges. They have no sway over the inner man.” (Helena Blavatsky, What Are The Theosophists, October, 1879)

She is right, as a republic is still capable of being subverted, as John Adams describes in a Letter (1810) to Joseph Ward, that “Negro Slavery” was a “foul contagion”; and otherwise, calling it “an evil of colossal magnitude.” We want to say however to that, the conception of the American constitutional republic is nobly sufficient to preserve and rearticulate for the next generations of Americans, despite globalisation.

James Madison in The Federalist (no. 55) actually defines American republicanism as admitting higher qualities in us to which we aspire. This signifies, that the representational government is built on spiritual Ideal:

As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government (that of a Republic) presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.” (James Madison, The Federalist, no. 55, Emphasis added.)

Blend the first quote with this quote and you will see our philosophical resolve, and the potential of rearticulation of republicanism:

While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.” (Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull, New York, 1848, pp 265-6.)

John Adams and his colleagues held a conception of the general principles of republicanism†:

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence, were (…) the general principles of Christianity, in which all those sects were united, and the general principles of English and American liberty, in which all those young men united, and which had united all parties in America, in majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her independence. Now I will avow, that I then believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature and our terrestrial, mundane system.” (Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 28 June 1813. Often misquoted as “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity.”)

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