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Roman Catholic Church, and generally in America became the Episcopal

Church. It was the established church of the Virginia colony where

Jefferson lived. (Later Jefferson would be influential in disestablishing

this church. In other words, he was raised as a boy in the traditions and

beliefs of the Christian cosmos with its ancient elements. But this would

soon be profoundly challenged. When he, beginning at the age of 16,

attended the College of William and Mary, he began a rapid transition from

a mild, uncritical world of theological beliefs the Anglican Church is not

one of emotional fervor in religion) into the modem critical ideas of the

so-called Enlightenment, into the "Age of Reason". And in fact it is

necessary to understand not only what Jefferson believed when he wrote

Declaration of Independence at the age of 33, but what he did not believe,

in order to clearly recognize the meaning of the "American Creed".

From his personal notebooks - where he wrote ideas which were of real

importance to him (they also constitute one of the few sources of insight

we have as to the young Jefferson's mind) - we are able to see into his new

ideas of the world. Jefferson, while young, was deeply affected by his

educational experiences at the College of William and Mary, both by his

personal contacts (for example, he came to dine and converse regularly with

the Governor of Virginia, whose father had worked for Sir Isaac Newton), as

well as by his readings. While only one of the seven faculty members at the

College was not an Anglican clergyman: Dr. William Small of Scotland; it

was he who the young Jefferson was most influenced by. Of him Jefferson

later wrote that he was "a man profound in most of the useful branches of

science...from his conversations I got my first views of the expansion of

science and of the system of things in which we are placed." (This is a

clear, if later-written, indication of Jefferson's transition from a

theological-religious to a natural scientific world-view.)

We know from his notebooks that be was deeply impacted by the writings

concerning religious and philosophical themes and history of Lord Boling

broke (1678-1751), whose works are a rather tedious, rationalist,

empiricist critique of all of the religious and philosophical systems then

known of in the world. Jefferson seems, from his note-taking, to have read

all of the several volumes at this early period as a student. (Jefferson

would eventually come to assemble one of the greatest personal libraries of

his time in America; it became the core of the current Library of Congress,

for, after the British burnt the first one in 1814, Jefferson sold his

personal library of about 6,500 books to the US Congress to rebuild its

library. Even with this comparatively small reading in Boling broke,

Jefferson received a broader and more solid intellectual education than

today most Americans do after many years of schooling.)

If Jefferson lived uncritically in the Christian cosmos as a child,

Boling broke's critical works (and not only this author) would have deeply

affected the Jefferson's young understanding - and this effect in his ideas

and philosophy lasted for the rest of his life. So that when we look to see

what Jefferson did mean of man and cosmos when he wrote the words still

famous around the world today, we find that he did not hold a religious or

spiritual view of man and cosmos, as had the early settlers (and still many

of Jefferson's contemporaries) of the "age of faith" in American history.

Indeed, Jefferson had rejected most of their ideas and beliefs, believing

rather in a material, physical, natural scientific view of man and world.

(He held a Deist view of God, as the original creator, who had ordered

nature and life through the "laws of nature", but otherwise was detached

from earthly life. And in general he tended to reduce all religion to

morality.) Closer to Darwin in spirit and time (of whose later writings he

could know nothing of course), Jefferson would later symptomatically place

busts of Bacon, Locke and Newton in his self- designed home of Monticello -

which is now become a place of American pilgrimage. This is an indication

of his lifelong adherence - beginning as a student - to a natural-

scientific view of man and world. Jefferson rejected most religions and

metaphysical philosophies and their ideas as myths. (He especially disliked

for example Plato, St. Paul, Athanasius and Calvin.) Sometimes he viewed

them as the deliberate fabrications of priests and kings to manipulate and

control their people. Jefferson thought that man's "reason" should rule


The “American Creed" and Mankind's Spiritual History

Jefferson's words came to be repeated on e. g. "Fourth of July

Celebrations" throughout America over the years and came to be a sort of

creedal statement as to what it means to be "American" - as we saw also in

the President's address in November of 1995 But in fact very few Americans

are clear about either the original context or meaning of the "American

Creed" - the "cosmos" of these words - or of Jefferson’s rejection of most

of the spiritual beliefs which many of these Americans personally hold,

commonly blended together with Jefferson's contrasting, antithetically-

conceived grand expressions! In other words, these ideas from 1776, still

alive today, are in fact only truly to be understood within a scientific-

natural view of man, nature, society. God and world. And this is so even

though the religious, spiritual and philosophical beliefs of the vast

majority of the US people - who often use them in close association with

Jefferson's phrases, when they explain and understand America and life -

were in fact rejected by Jefferson before (and after) he wrote them. His

human and social ideals were conceived within a natural cosmos of man; they

are ideals of man in this world. He had rejected a spiritual cosmos and

anthropology to man.

Jefferson would, symptomatically, at the end of his great life (devoted

largely to serving America) attempt (unsuccessfully) to exclude the

teaching of religion from the University of Virginia which he had brought

into being. Contrariwise, most Americans - in their (generally) extremely

limited knowledge of even their own nation's history-place together views

which Jefferson himself considered to be fundamentally antithetical. The

beliefs of a greater spiritual cosmos, e.g. Dante's world's, the spiritual-

metaphysical beliefs of man and world, cannot properly be fit inside of

Jefferson's world and his ideals - at least not realistically

intellectually. The cosmos of the "American Creed" has its own reality and

dignity - but it is not such that all of the ideas which Americans have

come to place inside of its famous phrases, can, truthfully and

unproblematically, be placed.

In my view - and no one who reads this great man's biography can doubt

his devotion and service to America, Jefferson was true to the history,

reality and life of mankind in his time. One of his biographers called him

"one of the most devoted disciples of the Age of Reason". (Nostalgia and

longing for the "age of faith" - like the time before the "Fall of Man" -

is understandable; but the "age of reason" was, if not an inevitability or

necessity of history, still nevertheless a new more realistic relationship

of man to nature. So that no mere easy return to the past is true or

realistic.) He was a realistic man of science; he could not and would not

rest in the "age of faith". And, as was characteristic of this and later

time, once the Bible and religion were subjected to the "age of reason",

the beliefs of the "age of faith" could never be immediately accepted

unquestioned again.

While he was close to Darwin in his scientific attitude, he would have

deeply lamented Darwin's eventual rejection both of a creator God (chance

and natural selection rather than divine design) and the view of man's

reason and conscience as special "gifts" (Jefferson) of God to man.

In fact, Darwin and Jefferson (as well as many of their contemporaries of

course), were offended by many of the same "unbelievable" aspects of

Christianity and in relationship to Jefferson's phrases as well!

Here is an aspect - perhaps even more fundamental and definitive in some

ways than the problem of the popular and noble "American Dream" - of how

Americans are unaware and unconscious of the lineage of their own spiritual

and intellectual origin and history. Very, very few even college-graduate

Americans could even begin to give a serious account of the relation-ship

between their own personal spiritual beliefs, the cosmos of their "American

Creed" and the intellectual and spiritual history of mankind (e.g. Indo-

European sources, Dionysus the Areopagite's cosmography, Dante's Comedy,

even Newton, Laplace, et al). They are simply unaware and uninformed of how

America's "ideas" acutally stand inside of not only European, but

Occidental and world intellectual and spiritual history. Indeed, I am

certain that even the current President of the USA himself- himself an

active Christian Southern Baptist believer - would find it difficult to

give such an account of the relationship of his Baptist religious beliefs,

to the natural ideas of man and cosmos in the "American Creed" which he had

cited in his November 1995 speech, in which he defined America to the

world. But American ideals - the cosmos of the American Creed-do stand

within the entire spiritual and intellectual history of Mankind - however

little this may be clearly conceived and worried by Americans themselves.

The cosmos of the "American Creed" is a natural, not a spiritual one. The

failure to recognize and understand this clearly cannot be of spiritual and

intellectual hope, health and help to Mankind. If America is now in many

ways leading the world, it should, presumably, know and understand more

deeply and clearly what America and her ideals are actually about.

Jacksonian Democracy

Andrew Jackson became the U. S. President in 1828. For weeks thousands of

people had been coming to Washington, D. C. to see his inauguration.

Jackson was the hero of common people. He was truly a President of the


Jackson was a fighter. He took part in the Revolutionary War. His

soldiers called him "Old Hickory" because hickory wood was the toughest

thing they knew. When he had moved to Tennessee he served its people as a

lawyer, judge, Congressman and senator. But he won his greatest fame as a

soldier. Because of his activities in Florida, the U. S. was able to take

control of that area from Spain.

Jackson believed in people who loved him. He felt that common people

could run the government. This idea has come to be called Jacksonian

democracy. These people elected him as their President. He gave them their

first chance to really have a part in government.

Not everyone benefited while Jackson was President- Women, black and

Native Americans were not able to take part in gov_ernment. In fact, in

some cases, the government worked against them.

The Cherokee nation serves as an example of what happened to many Native

American tribes and people in Jackson's times. The Cherokees had a great

deal of land in Georgia and Alabama. They were farmers. They had roads and

lived in houses. They had a written language and a weekly newspaper. Their

government was democratic. But white settlers wanted their land.

The land was promised to the Cherokee nation by treaty. Missionaries,

Congressman Henry Clay, and the Supreme Court all said that the Cherokees

had rights to their claims. Even so, the Cherokees were thrown off their

land. They were told to go to Oklahoma. With soldiers watching them, they

had little choice but to obey.

This journey lasted several months. Disease, hunger and cold brought

death to many. Over 4,000 Cherokees Were buried along the Trial of Tears

which stretched from Georgia to Oklahoma.

Jackson said that their removal was necessary. Without it, he said, the

Cherokees all would have been killed by white settlers looking for more

land. Jackson did agreat deal to make people feel a part of government. But

he was not ready to give equality to Native Americans. A slave holder, all

his life Jackson did not believe in equality for blacks either.

Yet in Jackson's time, some people were starting to oppose slavery. These

people were called abolitionists.

Jonh F. Kennedy

For many Americans the election of John Fitzgerald Kennedy as the 35th

President of the United States in 1960 marked the beginning of a new era in

this country's political history. Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic and

the youngest man ever chosen Chief Executive. He was also the first person

bom in the 20th century to hold the nation's highest office.

Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29. 1917, Kennedy was

descended from two politically conscious, Irish-American families that had

emigrated from Ireland to Boston shortly after potato blight and economic

upheavals had struck their homeland in the 1840s. Kennedy's grandfathers,

Patrick J. Kennedy and John F. ("Honey Fitz") Fitzgerald, became closely

associated with the local Democratic Party; Kennedy served in the

Massachusetts legislature, and Fitzgerald won election as mayor of Boston.

In 1914 the marriage of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald united the

two families. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the second eldest of Joseph and

Rose Kennedy's four sons and five daughters.

Joseph P. Kennedy was an extraordinarily successful businessman.

Despite the relatively modest means of his family, Kennedy attended Harvard

College, and upon graduation in 1912 began a career in banking. During the

1920s he amassed a substantial fortune from his investments in motion

pictures, real estate, and other enterprises, and unlike many magnates of

his era he escaped unscathed from the stock market crash of 1929. Joseph

Kennedy himself was never a candidate for elective office, but he was

deeply interested in the Democratic Party. He made large contributions to

the presidential campaign of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932; in return,

Roosevelt appointed him chairman of the recently established Securities and

Exchange Commission, where his business expertise proved especially helpful

in drafting legislation designed to regulate the stock market. In 1937

Roosevelt named Kennedy US ambassador to Great Britain.

Despite his wealth and political influence, the Democratic Irish-

Catholic Joseph Kennedy never won the acceptance of Boston's Protestant

elite. He deeply resented this, and determined that his sons' achievements

would equal, if not excel, those of their Brahmin counter-parts. Toward

this end he modeled their lives and education after those enjoyed by the

Yankee upper class.

John Kennedy, like his brothers and sisters, grew up in comfortable

homes and attended some of the nation's most prestigious preparatory

schools and colleges. He was enrolled at the age of 13 at Canterbury, a

Catholic preparatory school staffed by laymen, but transferred after a year

to the nonsectarian Choate School, where he completed his secondary

education before entering Princeton University. Illness forced him to leave

the college before the end of Ins freshman year. but the following'. autumn

he resumed his studies, at Hanard.

Kennedy's college years coincided with a time of world crisis 'The

future President had unusual opportunities to combine know ledge gained in

the classroom with his own firsthand observations. As a government major at

Harvard he benefited from the teachings of some of the nation's most

prominent political scientists and historians. men who in the late 1930s

were acutely aware of the growing menace of Nazism. Moreover, in 1938

Kennedy spent six months in London assisting his father. who was then

serving as US ambassador. "This slay in England gave the young student an

excellent opportunity to witness for himself the British response to the

Nazi aggression of the 1930s, and he used the insight gained from the

experience in writing his senior thesis. This thesis, in which Kennedy

attempted to explain England's hesitant reaction to German rearmament, was

extremely perceptive. and in 1940 it was published in expanded form in the

United States and 6reat Britain under the title Why England Slept.

After receiving his B.S. degree cum laude from Harvard in 1940, Kennedy

briefly attended ihe Stanford University Graduate School ot Business, and

then spent several months traveling through South America. Late in 1941,

when the United States' entry into World War II seemed imminent. Kennedy

joined the US Navy. As an officer he served in the South Pacific Theater,

where he commanded one of the small PT or torpedo boats that patrolled off

the Solomon Islands.

On April 25. 1943, Kennedy assumed command of P 1 -109, the vessel on

which, only a little more than four months later, his courage and strength

were put to their first serious test. On the night of August 2, 1943, the

Japanese destroyer Amagiri rammed PT-109. The force of the destroyer sliced

the American craft in half and plunged its 11 -man crew into the waters of

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