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News Link • American History

Jonathan Mayhew: America's First Revolutionary Preacher-Patriot

• by Gary M. Galles

Ministers, "watchmen on…the wall of liberty," according to Franklin Cole, editor of They Preached Liberty, were among America's greatest revolutionary influences. The most influential was Boston Congregationalist minister Jonathan Mayhew (1720-1766).

Declaration of Independence signer Robert Treat Paine called Mayhew America's "Father of Civil and Religious Liberty." Especially important was his January 30, 1750, address, which was widely printed and read. Given for the centennial of Charles I's execution, Mayhew argued that obedience is not the due of oppressive governments because such tyranny violates the divinely-instituted purpose of government to benefit the people. And if rebellion against Charles for eviscerating British liberty was justifiable, the same arguments applied to Americans' loss of liberty under George III.

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