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Youngest Appointed Supreme Court Justice: “The Real Object of the First Amendment was…”

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Published on: October 11, 2014

His father was a Boston Tea Party “Indian.” He graduated second in his class from Harvard, was a U.S. Representative, then was elected Massachusetts Speaker of the House. At age 32, he was appointed as the youngest Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. His name was Joseph Story, and he died SEPTEMBER 10, 1845.

Joseph Story served on the Supreme Court for 34 years. He helped establish the illegality of the slave trade in the Amistad case, 1841.

Joseph Story helped found the Law School at Harvard, stating in a speech there in 1829:

“There never has been a period of history, in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundation.”

In 1833, Joseph Story commented on the pamphlet ‘The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States’ written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina:

“Government cannot long exist without an alliance with religion; and that Christianity is indispensable to the true interests and sold foundations of free government.”

Get the book THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and their influence on American law

In Vidal v. Girard’s Executors, 1844, Justice Joseph Story wrote:

“Christianity…is not to be maliciously and openly reviled and blasphemed against, to the annoyance of believers or the injury of the public…It is unnecessary for us, however, to consider the establishment of a school or college, for the propagation of…Deism, or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country…”

Story continued:

“Why may not laymen instruct in the general principles of Christianity as well as ecclesiastics… We cannot overlook the blessings, which such laymen by their conduct, as well as their instructions, may, nay must, impart to their youthful pupils. Why may not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, without note or comment, be read and taught as a Divine Revelation…its general precepts expounded, its evidences explained and its glorious principles of morality inculcated?”

Story added:

“What is there to prevent a work, not sectarian, upon the general evidences of Christianity, from being read and taught in the college by lay teachers? It may well be asked, what is there in all this, which is positively enjoined, inconsistent with the spirit or truths of the religion of Christ? Are not these truths all taught by Christianity, although it teaches much more? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”

Joseph Story’s view on religion is all the more significant as he was appointed to the Supreme Court by President James Madison.

James Madison was known as the ‘Chief Architect of the Constitution’ and had introduced the First Amendment in the first session of Congress.

Joseph Story wrote in Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, 1840:

“At the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship.

An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.

But the duty of supporting religion, and especially the Christian religion, is very different from the right to force the consciences of other men or to punish them for worshiping God in the manner which they believe their accountability to Him requires…

The rights of conscience are, indeed, beyond the just reach of any human power. They are given by God, and cannot be encroached upon by human authority without a criminal disobedience of the precepts of natural as well as of revealed religion…”

Justice Story continued:

The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.”

The Ten Commandments and their Influence on American Law

In Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833, Justice Joseph Story explained that the reason the Federal Government had no jurisdiction over religion was because religion was under each individual State’s jurisdiction:

“In some of the States, Episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in other, Presbyterians; in others, Congregationalists; in others, Quakers; and in others again, there was a close numerical rivalry among contending sects.

It was impossible that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment.

The only security was in the abolishing the power. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion…

Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the State governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice and the State constitutions.”

Get the book The Ten Commandments and their influence on American Law

Regarding the Second Amendment, Justice Joseph Story wrote in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833 (3:§§ 1890–91):

“The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted… The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers.

It is against sound policy for a free people to keep…standing armies in time of peace…from…the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people.

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will…enable the people to resist and triumph over them…”

Story warned further:

“And yet…it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline…that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.”

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  • Ted R. Weiland

    Regardless what Joseph Story and others might have SAID about the influence of God’s law upon early America, there is only one standard which everything (including the Constitution) must be ethically evaluated: Yahweh’s immutable morality as codified in His commandments, statutes, and judgments. When the Constitution is actually EXAMINED by this standard, it is found to be anything but Biblically compatible.

    For evidence, see online book “Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: the Christian Perspective,” in which every Article and Amendment is examined by the Bible, at

    Then find out how much you REALLY know about the Constitution as compared to the Bible. Take our Constitution Survey in the right-hand sidebar and receive a complimentary copy of the 85-page “Primer” of the 565-page “BL vs. USC.”

  • no more mr. nice guy

    Exactly! The founders knew what the irrefutable God given truths were and they understood the overarching power of the timeless principles linked to such truths. Principle means doing the exact same things under different circumstances. Certitude is the aim but certitude has been murdered.
    There is no law in the USA that can be trusted. The ground is always moving underfoot.
    All of the chaos we are experiencing has been premeditated and orchestrated.
    The founders ignored God [he isn’t even mentioned in the Constitution] and instead gave us a manmade counterfeit laden with sterile statements most of which might be considered footnotes to a Covenant beautifully linked to God’s immutable truth.
    Today, the USA government is the most deadly and dangerous country on the face of the earth because it merely pretends to be almost everything that it never really was or no longer is.
    It is useless trying to fix what was never intended to last. Too much premeditated damage has been done. If every citizen understood and wanted to behave according to the independent yet interdependent principles of the 10 Commandments; and if every citizen knew that they had the irrefutable right and the immutable responsibility to become economically self-sufficient and independent [so as not to become a drag or a drain on society]; and if we replaced suffocating government with strong families government as we know would be superfluous.

  • Ted R. Weiland

    “There is no law in the USA that can be trusted. The ground is always moving underfoot.”

    As an example:

    “Two people could have walked down any U.S. street in 1930 – one with a
    bottle of whiskey under his arm and one with a bar of gold in his
    pocket, and the one with the whiskey would have been a criminal whereas
    the one with the bar of gold would have been considered a good law
    abiding citizen. If the same thing happened in any U. S. city in 1970,
    the one with the whiskey would be the law abiding citizen and the one
    with the gold bar would be the criminal.” (W.W. Turner, The Amazing Story of the British Sovereign (Nashville, TN: 1970) p. 4, quoted in Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973) p. 644.)

  • no more mr. nice guy


  • ReconVeteran

    There are 4 references to God in our Declaration of Independence
    1. “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…”
    2. “…Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
    3. “…Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions….”
    4. “…with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence…”
    Sadly but none-the-less God is only mentioned once in our Constitution, wish there was more.
    1. “…in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven….”
    Have you read THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION OF OUR CONSTITUTION by Publius-Huldah. How about her paper on THE LIE OF “SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE” AND THE US SUPREME COURT’S USURPATIONS OF POWER. Or her paper on GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS, MAN-MADE ANTI-RIGHTS, AND WHY “SAFETY NETS” ARE IMMORAL. Another good paper she wrote DO OUR RIGHTS COME FROM GOD, THE CONSTITUTION, THE SUPREME COURT, OR CONGRESS. These are some of the papers I have read by PH, plus I suggest the reading of The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of The United States by Benjamin F. Morris, quite interesting, indeed.
    I believe this is why The United States has stood out beyond all other Nations of the world for so long. Yes we are in great danger as a Nation. We have lost our way. America has lost her Honesty, Reverence, Hope, Thrift, Humility, Charity, Sincerity, Moderation, her will for Hard Work, Courage, Personal Responsibility, and Gratitude.
    SEMPER FI !!

  • shnazzyone

    You should educate yourself too on the history of what you are a part of and just how recent a movement it actually is.

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