James McHenry

June 1, 2009

3 May 1816

James McHenry, 1753-1816 died this day May 3, 1816.

A physician in the Revolutionary War (having studied under the renowned Dr. Benjamin Rush, also a signer of the declaration of Independence)

A member of the Continental Congress.

He Signed the Constitution.

He was Secretary of War under both President George Washington and President John Adams.

Supervised the establishment of the U.S Military Academy at West Point

1813. President of the first Bible Society in Baltimore.  Here’s the article he wrote to solicit funding for the society:

“Neither, in considering this subject, let it be overlooked, that public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures.

The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness.

In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw intrenchments around out institutions.  Bibles are strong intrenchments.  Where they abound, men cannot pursuer wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.

Consider also, the rich do not possess aught more precious than their Bible, and that the poor cannot be presented by the rich with anything of greater value.  Withhold it not from the poor.  It is a book of councils and directions, fitted to every situation in which man can be placed.  It is an oracle which reveals to mortals the secrets of heavens and the hidden will of the Almighty…

It is an estate, whose title is guaranteed by Christ, whose delicious fruits ripen every season, survive the worm, and keep through eternity.  It is for the purpose of distributing the divine book more effectually and extensively among the multitudes, whose circumstances render such a donation necessary, that your cooperation is most earnestly requested.”

Federer, william J. America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations. 2000. 443

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