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"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
. . .  Acts 4:12  . . .

Fisher Ames: One of Our Forgotten Founding Fathers

Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.

Can you name five of our nations Founding Fathers? Likely most of our readers would include in their list George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison. However, I doubt if any would have included in their list the name of Fisher Ames. He is one of the so called, "forgotten founding fathers." Ames was born in Dedham Massachusetts on April 9th, 1758 and at 50 years of age he died on July 4th 1808. He graduated from Harvard College in 1774 and taught school for five years before turning to law, and in 1781 he was admitted to the bar. Ames was elected president of Harvard in 1804 at age 46, but had to decline because of declining health.

Historically, Fisher Ames is best known for his opposition to Jeffersonian democracy. He favored a constitutional republic. Ames said, "A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way. The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty." Further, he stated that, "Liberty has never lasted long in a democracy, nor has it ever ended in anything better than despotism." In fact he believed that it was "democracy that pollutes the morals of the people before it swallows up their freedoms." For a pure democracy, he argued, would lend itself to the new nation's coming under the influence of the basest of human motivations: greed and a lack of public virtue. Ames believed that "the United States must lash itself to a constitution of laws, not the whim of democratic preference."

Why did Ames believe that? He believed that all men were sinners! He believed that law and morality should not be decided by majority vote but upon the higher principles of the Bible because as a dedicated Christian he believed that the Bible was the true source of wisdom. He believed that our nation would be much more stable if it were a constitutional republic with a constitution rooted in the principles of the Bible.

Fisher Ames was an outspoken supporter of the Bible's central role in all of education. He believed the Bible, being the Word of God, should be at the very center of school curriculum. As a first-session congressman he said, "Should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a schoolbook? Its morals are pure, its examples are captivating and noble." He went on to say, "The reverence for the sacred book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and, probably, if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind."

Our founding fathers followed the lead of Fisher Ames and organized a government based on constitutional republican from of government and not a pure democracy. In fact, was Fisher Ames who suggested the wording of the First Amendment, which was adopted by the House: "Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience." In its final form the first amendment to the United States Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
 


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"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Matthew 24:3

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Acts 4:12

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

1 Corinthians 2:9

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