massachE.gif (9162 bytes)

massachE.gif (9162 bytes)MassachusettsBy the sword we seek peace,

                                                                                             but peace only under liberty


John Adams
Samuel Adams
Elbridge Gerry
John Hancock
Robert Treat Paine


All hail to grand old Bay State, the home of the bean and the cod,
    Where pilgrims found a landing and gave their thanks to God.

        From "All Hail to Massachusetts" Written by Arthur J. Marsh



The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.  

John Adams

Massachusetts, 1780, Preamble
We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the great Legislator of the universe, in affording us, in the course of His providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceably, without fraud, violence, or surprise, of entering into an original, explicit, and solemn compact with each other, and of forming a new constitution of civil government for ourselves and posterity; and devoutly imploring His direction in so interesting a design, do agree upon, ordain, and establish the following declaration of rights and frame of government as the constitution of the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

James 1:25

Institution of Higher Learning

1636  Harvard College founded by Massachusetts General Court and Congregationalist churches.           

Fair Harvard

Fair Harvard! we join in thy Jubilee throng,
And with blessings surrender thee o'er
By these Festival-rites, from the Age that is past,
To the Age that is waiting before.
O Relic and Type of our ancestors' worth,
That hast long kept their memory warm,
First flow'r of their wilderness! Star of their night!
Calm rising thro' change and thro' storm.

Farewell! be thy destinies onward and bright!
To thy children the lesson still give,
With freedom to think, and with patience to bear,
And for Right ever bravely to live.
Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth's current glides by,
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.

Samuel Gilman, Class of 1811
[Revised 1998]

See:    ivy league songs

As piety, religion, and morality have a happy influence on the minds of men, in their public as well as private transactions, you will not think it unseasonable, although I have frequently done it, to bring to your remembrance the great importance of encouraging our University, town schools, and other seminaries of education, that our children and youth while they are engaged in the pursuit of useful science, may have their minds impressed with a strong sense of the duties they owe to God. If we continue to be a happy people, that happiness must be assured by the enacting and executing of the reasonable and wise laws expressed in the plainest language and by establishing such modes of education as tend to inculcate in the minds of youth the feelings and habits of "piety, religion and morality."
Samuel Adams Addressing the Legislature of Massachusetts, Jan.16, 1795.

Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity. . . and, in subordination to these great principles, the love of their country. . . . In short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.
Letter to John Adams, 1790, who wrote back: "You and I agree."  
Four Letters: Being an Interesting Correspondence Between Those Eminently Distinguished Characters, John Adams, Late President of the United States; and Samuel Adams, Late Governor of Massachusetts. On the Important Subject of Government (Boston:Adams and Rhoades,1802) pp. 9-10

It has been observed that "education has a greater influence on manners than human laws can have." [A] virtuous education is calculated to reach and influence the heart and to prevent crimes. . . . Such an education, which leads the youth beyond mere outside show, will impress their minds with a profound reverence of the Deity [and] . . . will excite in them a just regard to Divine revelation.
The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams, Wm.Wells., ed. (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.,1865) Vol.III, p. 327

New England's First Fruits 1640
(From Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1792, Vol 1., 242-248).

The History of the Founding of Harvard College 
(minor changes)

    AFTER GOD HAD carried us safe to New England, and we had built our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God's worship, and led the civil government, one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust. And as we were thinking and consulting how to effect this great work, it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr. Harvard (a godly gentleman and a lover of learning, there living among us) to give the one-half of his estate (it being in all about 700) toward the college, and all his library. After him, another gave 300; others after them cast in more; and the public hand of the state added the rest. The college was, by common consent, appointed to be at Cambridge (a place very pleasant and accommodate) and is called (according to the name of the first founder) Harvard College. The edifice is very fair and comely within and without, having in it a spacious hall where they daily meet at commons, lectures, and exercises; and a large library with some books to it, the gifts of diverse of our friends, their chambers and studies also fitted for and possessed by the students, and all other rooms of office necessary and convenient with all needful offices thereto belonging. And by the side of the college, a fair grammar school, for the training up of young scholars and fitting of them for academical learning, that still as they are judged ripe they may be received into the college of this school. Master Corlet is the master who has very well approved himself for his abilities, dexterity, and painfulness in teaching and education of the youths under him. Over the college is Master Dunster placed as president, a learned, a conscionable, and industrious man, who has so trained up his pupils in the tongues and arts, and so seasoned them with the principles of divinity and Christianity, that we have to our great comfort (and in truth) beyond our hopes, beheld their progress in learning and godliness also. The former of these has appeared in their public declamations in Latin and Greek, and disputations logic and philosophy which they have been wonted (besides their ordinary exercises in the college hall) in the audience of the magistrates, ministers, and other scholars for the probation of their growth in learning, upon set days, constantly once every month to make and uphold. The latter has been manifested in sundry of them by the savory things of their spirits in their godly versation; insomuch that we are confident, if these early blossoms may be cherished and warmed with the influence of the friends of learning and lovers of this pious work, they will, by the help of God, come to happy maturity in a short time. Over the college are twelve overseers chosen by the General Court, six of them are of the magistrates, the other six of the ministers, who are to promote the best good of it and (having a power of influence into all persons in it) are to see that every-one be diligent and proficient in his proper place.

Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.

Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788


Laws and Statutes for Students of
Harvard College

Harvard College Laws of 1642   (from New England's First Fruits)    (minor spelling changes)

1. When any Scholar is able to Read Tully or such like classical Latin Author ex tempore, and make and speak true Latin in verse and prose suo (ut aiunt) Marte, and decline perfectly the paradigmes of Nouns and verbs in the Greek tongue, then may he be admitted into the  College, nor shall any claim admission before such qualifications.
2. Every one shall consider the main End of his life and studies, to know God and Jesus Christ which is Eternal life. John 17.3.
3. Seeing the Lord giveth wisdom, every one shall seriously by prayer in secret, seek wisdom of him. Prov. 2.2,3 etc.
4. Every one shall so exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that they be ready to give an account of their proficiency therein, both in theoretical observations of Language and Logic, and in practical and spiritual truths as their tutor shall require according to their several abilities respectively, seeing the Entrance of the word giveth light etc. psal. 119, 130.
5. In the public Church assembly they shall carefully shun all gestures that show any contempt or neglect of God's ordinances and be ready to give an account to their tutors of their profiting and to use the help of Storing themselves with knowledge, as their tutors shall direct them, and all Sophisters and Bachelors (until themselves make common place) shall publicly repeat Sermons in the Hall whenever they are called forth.
6. they shall eschew all profanity of Gods holy name, attributes, word, ordinances, and times of worship, and study with Reverence and love carefully to retain God and his truth in their minds.
7. They shall honour as their parents, Magistrates, Elders, tutors and aged persons, by being silent in their presence (except they be called on to answer) not gainsaying showing all those laudable expressions of honour and Reverence in their presence, that are in uses as bowing before them standing uncovered or the like.
8. they shall be slow to speak, and eschew not only oathes, Lies, and uncertain Rumours, but likewise all idle, foolish, bitter scoffing, frothy wanton words and offensive gestures.


Harvard College Laws of 1700
(Source: Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana,Volume II)


1. Everyone competent to read Cicero or any other classic author of that kind extemporaneously, and also to speak and write Latin prose and verse with tolerable skill and without assistance, and of declining the Greek nouns and verbs, may expect to be admitted to the College: if deficient in any of these qualifications, he cannot under any circumstances be admitted.

2. All persons admitted to the College must board at the Commons, and must each pay three pounds to the steward on their entrance, and must discharge all arrears at the end of every three months; nor shall any under-graduate of the institution be allowed to board out of the College, unless by special permission of the President, or his tutor. If leave to do so shall be granted by either of these officers, the student shall faithfully observe the usual rules of the Common; but if any every shall leave College for private quarters, without permission of the President or Tutor, he shall not enjoy any privilege of the institution.

Since private and public Vices, are in Reality, though not always apparently, so nearly connected, of how much Importance, how necessary is it, that the utmost pains be taken by the Public, to have the Principles of Virtue early inculcated on the Minds even of children, and the moral sense kept alive, and that the wise institutions of our ancestors for these great purposes be encouraged by the Government. For no people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when people are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.
Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, November 4, 1775

3. While the youth is here, he will be required to be diligent, and to observe study-hours with the same strictness as he does those of public recitation.

4. Every student must regard it as his duty to attend all College exercises, secular and religious, public and private. While in the Freshman class, he must speak in public on the stage eight times a year. Sophisters [sophomores] must be present at a public debate twice a week. Both bachelors and sophisters must write out an analysis in some branch of sacred literature: bachelors will discuss in public philosophical questions once a fortnight, under the superintendence of the President: in the President's absence, the two senior tutors will act as a moderator by turns.

5. No one must, under any pretext, be found in the society of any depraved or dissolute person.

6. No one in the lower class shall leave town without express permission from the President or tutors: nor shall any student, to whatever class he may belong, visit any shop or tavern, to eat and drink, unless invited by a parent, guardian, step-parent, or some such relative.

7. No student shall buy, sell or exchange any thing without the approval of his parents, guardians or tutors. Whoever shall violate this rule, shall be fined by the President or tutor, according to the magnitude of the offense.

8. All students must refrain from wearing rich and showy clothing, nor must anyone go out of the college yard, unless in his gown, coat, or cloak.

9. Every under-graduate shall be called by his surname only, unless he is a commoner, or the oldest son of a gentleman, or the child of a noble house.

10. Every commoner shall pay five pounds for the perpetual use of the college, before admission.

11. Every scholar in the lower class shall pay his tutor two pounds a year; unless he be a commoner, when he shall pay three pounds a year.

12. No person in a higher class, Tutors and Fellows of the college excepted, shall be allowed to force a freshman or junior to go on errands or do other services, by blows, threats or language of any kind. And any undergraduate who violates this rule, shall be punished by bodily chastisement, expulsion, or such other mode as shall seem advisable to the President and Fellows.

13. Students of all grades are to abstain from dice, cards and every species of gaming for money, under penalty, in the case of a graduate, of twenty shillings for each offense; and, if the offender is an undergraduate, he shall be liable to punishment, at the discretion of the President or tutor shall assign.

14. If any student is absent from prayers, or recitation, unless necessarily detained, or by permission of the President or tutor, he shall be liable to an admonition; and if he commit the offence more than once in a week, to such other punishment as the President or tutor shall assign.

15. No student shall be absent from his studies or stated exercises for any reason, (unless it is first made known to the President or tutor, and by them approved) with the exception of the half-hour allowed for lunch, and half-hour for dinner and also for supper, until nine o'clock.

16. If any student shall, either through willfulness or negligence, violate any law of God or of this college, after being twice admonished, he shall suffer severe punishment, at the discretion of the President or his tutor. But in high-handed offences, no such modified forms of punishment need be expected.

17. Every student who, on trial, shall be able to translate from the original Latin text, and logically to explain the Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, and shall also be thoroughly acquainted with the principles of natural and moral philosophy, and shall be blameless in life and character, and approved at public examination by the President and the Fellows of the College, may receive the first degree. Otherwise, no one shall be admitted to the first degree in Arts, unless at the end of three years and ten months from the time of his admission.

18. Every scholar who has maintained a good standing, and exhibited a written synopsis of logic, natural and moral philosophy, arithmetic and astronomy, and shall be prepared to defend a proposition or thesis; shall also be versed in the original languages, as aforesaid: and who carries with him a reputation for upright character and diligence in study, and shall pass successfully a public examination, shall be admitted to the second, or Master's degree.  

  "Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honor of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first colony in the northern Parts of  Virginia;" 

from the Mayflower Compact, 1620

General Society of Mayflower Descendants, PO Box 3297, Plymouth, Massachusetts 02361-3297

    Members are individuals who have documented their descent from one or more of the 102 passengers who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.  The organization educates people about the role of the Pilgrims in the early development of the U.S.

    "The Pilgrim leaders were passionate, Bible-reading, praying Christians who were unafraid to voice their great faith in God. These Separatists set the stage for religious freedom on the North American continent. Their goal was to worship God as they thought right, following God's Word and not the dictates of the established Church of England." ....

    "Before landing, the Mayflower passengers developed the first written declaration of self-government.  That document, the Mayflower Compact, was a precursor of the Constitution of the United States."

    The inhabitants, in order to express their mind respecting the forming a Constitution of Government for the State, would humbly show, that it is their opinion that it will be of little avail for this people to shed their blood and spend their treasure in opposing foreign tyranny, if, after all, we should fix a basis of Government partial, unsafe, and not fit for the enjoyment of free and virtuous men.  We think that God, in his providence, has now opened a door, possibly the only one that this State will ever have, for the laying a foundation for its prosperity, peace, and glory.  A Constitution of Government, one levied on the laws of the people, cannot easily be altered (especially for the better), as the craftiness of designing men, if any errours are suffered to be fixed in its foundation in their favour, it will be next to impossible to remove them; therefore, in so momentous and important a matter, we would be willing to set out fair, and on the most likely ground to obtain the prize."    from Vote of Petersham Town Meeting, on forming a Constitution, September 1776


8.  Voted that we Do Not Want any Laws Made to Govern in Eclasastics Afairs fairmly Believeng the Divine Law to be sufficiant and that by which we an all Our Religion affairs out to Governed by   (Excerpt)   Aaron Lyon Clark PT Massachusetts Archives, CLXI, 131


From early governing documents:


     Puritans of Massachusetts Bay envisioned to establish a 'new Israel.'   All their laws were to be grounded in God's law.  Below is from the constitution of 1780 which evolved from that society.

  "We, therefore, the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe, in affording us, in the course of His providence, an opportunity, deliberately and peaceably, without fraud, violence or surprise, of entering into an original, explicit, and solemn compact with each other; and of forming a new Constitution of Civil Government, for ourselves and posterity; and devoutly imploring His direction in so interesting a design, DO agree upon, ordain and establish, the following Declaration of Rights, and Frame of Government, as the CONSTITUTION of the COMMONWEALTH of MASSACHUSETTS.".......

  "Article II.   It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping God in the manner and season most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for his religious profession or sentiments. provided he doth not disturb the public peace or obstruct others in their religious worship.

  "Article III.   As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through a community, but by the institution of the public worship of GOD, and of public instructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this Commonwealth have a right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of GOD, and for the support and maintenance of public protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

  And the people of this Commonwealth have also a right to, and do, invest their legislature with authority to enjoin upon all the subjects an attendance upon the instructions of the public teachers aforesaid, at stated times and seasons, if there be any on whose instructions they can conscientiously and conveniently attend.

  Provided notwithstanding, that the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies-politic, or religious societies, shall, at all times, have the exclusive right of electing their public teachers, and of contracting with them for their support and maintenance.

  And all monies paid by the subject to the support of public worship, and of the public teachers aforesaid, shall, if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious sect or denomination, provided there be any on whose instructions he attends: otherwise it may be paid towards the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said monies are raised.

  And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the Commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law: And no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law."  

  "Chapter VI. Article I. Any person chosen governor, lieutenant-governor, councillor, senator, or representative, and accepting the trust, shall, before he proceed to execute the duties of his place or office, make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: 

'I _______, do declare that I believe the Christian religion...'"

Massachusetts Constitution, 1780

        The early settlers developed colonial charters that were decidedly evangelical in their purpose, often expressing a goal for their colony to advance the Christian religion.  As the country progressed up to the revolutionary war period, state constitutions evolved from the charters.  Those state constitutions served to maintain the order already established by the original charters, the charters based on Christianity.

Hubbard, John, Houghton Library, Harvard College Letters and Documents by Signers of Declaration.  Hubbard, graduate of Harvard 1892.