Although considered by many to be one of America’s most nonreligious founders, Benjamin Franklin exhibited a Biblical literacy that would put many modern pastors and ministers to shame, especially those who downplay repentance and accommodate sin in the name of "grace."

This is obvious in a 1735 letter he wrote to defend the young pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia who had been dismissed for allegedly emphasizing good works over faith in Christ’s atonement. Franklin was a member of this church, and in his letter defending the pastor, he made the following doctrinal statement.

Let us then consider what the Scripture Doctrine of this Affair is, and in a Word it is this: Christ by his Death and Sufferings has purchased for us those easy terms and conditions of our acceptance with God, proposed in the Gospel, to wit, Faith and Repentance: By his Death and Sufferings, he has assured us of God’s being ready and willing to accept of our sincere, though imperfect obedience to his revealed will; By his Death and Sufferings he has atoned for all sins forsaken and amended, but surely not for such as are willfully and obstinately persisted in . . . and that the ultimate End and Design of Christ’s Death, of our Redemption by his Blood, was to lead us to the Practice of all Holiness, Piety and Virtue, and by these Means to deliver us from future Pain and Punishment, and lead us to the Happiness of Heaven. This may (besides what has been already suggested) be proved from innumerable Passages of the holy Scriptures (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 139-40).

Franklin’s view, expressed above, was shaped primarily by his Puritan upbringing, and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechism, which was an important source of teaching and doctrine in Puritan homes. For a time, as a young man, Franklin entertained Deism, but returned to the faith of his parents and grandparents. He joined the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia whose theology was very close to that of the Puritans.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, which profoundly impacted Franklin, was formulated by reformists Puritans from England and Presbyterians from Scotland. They met at Westminster Abbey in London and completed their work in 1646. Next to the Bible, the Westminster Confession became the most widely read piece of literature in colonial America. Assent to it was required for entry into Harvard, Yale, and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton).

Growing up in a Puritan home, Franklin would have been thoroughly grounded in the Westminster Confession of Faith. As an adult, he began printing and distributing the Westminster Confession in 1745. That he assented to the contents of the document is affirmed by the fact that in a letter to a young admirer he exhorted, “Don’t forget your catechism,” a reference to the Westminster Confession and Catechism (Hyatt, The Faith and Vision of Benjamin Franklin, 51).

Franklin’s defense of his pastor reflects the doctrines expressed in the Westminster Confession, which emphasized faith in Christ alone for salvation and forgiveness of sins, but also true repentance in which one turns from a life of sin to a life of obedience toward God. Concerning repentance, it reads,

Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ. By it, a sinner, out of the sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God, so grieves for and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.

This message of real repentance toward God, coupled with faith in Christ alone, was the message of the Great Awakening. Franklin, his good friend George Whitefield, and all the preachers of the Awakening would consider a person persisting in a lifestyle of sin to have never been born again. They agreed with Martin Luther who said, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”

In a day when repentance is too often ignored and God’s grace is used as an excuse for licentious behavior, we could learn a lot from America’s so-called “nonreligious” founder, Benjamin Franklin.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, 1727: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. This book documents how the Great Awakening had a direct bearing on the founding of this nation and ignited an abolition movement that led to the ending of slavery on this continent.



America’s national “Thanksgiving” holiday is rooted in the nation’s overt Christian origins and the custom of its first immigrants to set aside special days for giving thanks to God for His goodness and blessings. This custom was continued by succeeding generations and eventually found its way into the national consciousness and calendar. 

The Pilgrims Maintained an Attitude of Gratitude Even During Great Loss

The Pilgrims who landed on Cape Cod in November of 1620 were devout followers of Christ who had left the comforts of home, family, and friends to pursue their vision of a renewed and reformed Christianity. Although facing insurmountable challenges and much suffering they maintained an attitude of gratitude through every trial.

They were a thankful people. They never wavered in their faith even during their first winter in the New World (1620-21) when sickness ravaged their community and half of them, about fifty in number, were taken away in death.

The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims the following fall of 1621 after they had gathered in their fall harvest. Although their hearts were still heavy from the losses suffered the previous winter, there were at least 3 areas for which they felt particularly grateful to God: (1) With the arrival of spring the sickness that had immobilized the community and taken many of them in death had lifted; (2) their new Native American friends who were such a blessing, serving as guides and interpreters; and (3) the abundant harvests they had experienced during the summer and fall of 1621.

The Pilgrims were not whiners. They were not complainers. They were the ultimate optimists because of their faith in God and their firm belief that He had called them to this New World.

The First Thanksgiving Day

An approximate equal number of English Pilgrims and Native Americans attended the first Thanksgiving. In addition to the natives who lived with them, such as Squanto, Samoset, and Hobomok, Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag, arrived with ninety of his people, and five dressed deer to add to the meals the Pilgrims had prepared.

The Pilgrims did not seek to force their faith on the Indians but neither did they hide their faith. After all, in the Mayflower Compact they had stated that they had come to the New World “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.” Their approach was what some modern missiologists would call “friendship evangelism.”

One can only imagine the emotions that filled their hearts as, in the presence of their new Native American friends, they joined their spiritual leader, Elder William Brewster, in lifting their hearts in praise and thanksgiving to God.

The day turned out to be more than they could have imagined. Not only did they enjoy meals together with thankful hearts, but they engaged in shooting matches and other friendly forms of competition. It was such an enjoyable time that the one Day of Thanksgiving was extended for three full days.

And yes, it is almost certain that there was turkey at the first Thanksgiving. According to the account of an unknown Pilgrim, Governor Bradford sent out four men to hunt for “fowl” who returned with enough “fowl” to last them an entire week.

“Fowl” probably refers to ducks, which were plentiful at that time of the year. Bradford’s account, however, specifically mentions turkeys in addition to the fowl. He wrote,

And besides waterfowl there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. (Hyatt, The Pilgrims, 47).

A Day of Thanksgiving During the Revolutionary War

Special days of Thanksgiving continued to be observed by the Pilgrims and new immigrants, especially those who settled in New England. As the colonies began to form themselves into a nation, these days of Thanksgiving began to be nationalized and made part of the national consciousness and calendar.

For example, during the fall of 1776, when the morale of the Revolutionary Army and the American populace had sunk to an all-time low because of poor harvests and hardship on the battlefield, Congress proclaimed December 11, 1776, as a Day of Prayer, Fasting and Repentance.

After this National Day of Prayer, there was an amazing turnaround, that in 1779 Congress issued a proclamation setting aside a Day of Thanksgiving because “it hath pleased Almighty God, the father of mercies, remarkably to assist and support the United States of America in their important struggle for liberty” (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 124).

This Day of Thanksgiving was observed throughout the newly formed nation with people gathering in churches and other public venues to give thanks to God for His mercy and help in their time of need.

George Washington Continues the Tradition

Shortly after being sworn in as president, George Washington issued a proclamation designating November 26, 1789, as a Day of Thanksgiving, which was the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the new national government of the United States. The proclamation reads in part,

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Abraham Lincoln Proclaims a Day of Thanksgiving

A Day of Thanksgiving to be observed on the last Thursday in November 1863, was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War. As in the Revolutionary War, this Day of Thanksgiving came on the heels of a remarkable turnaround in favor of the Union after a designated Day of Prayer and Repentance on April 30, 1863.

Although still at war, Lincoln enumerated the many reasons the inhabitants of America had for being thankful to God and then said,

It has seemed to me fit and proper that these blessings should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

The final Thursday in November, set by President Lincoln, continued to be the observed “Thanksgiving” until December 26, 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.

Concluding Thoughts

This national holiday that we know as Thanksgiving was brought forth by people of faith who knew the importance of nurturing a thankful heart in every situation. It was their faith in God that enabled them to be thankful even during the greatest of trials. They maintained an attitude of gratitude through it all.

This Thanksgiving let us remember our heritage and determine that we too will be a thankful people, as were the spiritual foremothers and forefathers who brought this nation into existence. Let’s follow them and the words of the old hymn that says,

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

This article is derived from the books, 1726: The Year that Defined America and The Pilgrims by Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt. They are available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.



The unhinged rage in the media and in the streets against Kyle Rittenhouse indicates that their concern is not with justice but with revenge. Indeed, in a day when "justice" is too often used as a smokescreen to push a politicized social agenda or to seek vengenace on one's enemies, modern America could learn a lot from the Pilgrims. Their commitment to justice, based on moral principle, was on stark display when they executed 3 Englishmen for murdering a Native American.

From the beginning, the Pilgrims sought cordial and mutually beneficial relationships with the native people. Shortly after their arrival in the New World they met the English-speaking native, Squanto, who then introduced them to Massasoit, who was Chief of the Wampanoag. The Wampanoag tribe was the most powerful in the region. 

William Bradford, governor of Plymouth, tells how he and Massasoit had a very cordial visit and agreed on a peace treaty, promising mutual friendship and security. They also agreed to defend each other if either was attacked by outside forces.

Massasoit and at least ninety of his people participated with the Pilgrims in the Thanksgiving festivities that Governor Bradford called for in the fall of 1621. They provided provided deer for food and participated in the games of competition during the three days of festivities.

Much interaction, both commercial and personal, opened between the Pilgrims and the natives in that region. One Pilgrim wrote back to family and friends in England,

We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us, very loving and ready to pleasure us. We often go to them, and they come to us. And we, for our parts, walk as peaceably and safely in the wood as in the highways of England (Hyatt, The Pilgrims, 37).

According to Dr. Samuel Eliot Morrison, late professor of history at Harvard University, the Pilgrims treated the native people of New England with “a combination of justice, wisdom, and mercy.”

In 1630, ten years after the Pilgrims had arrived, a mass exodus of Puritans from England to New England began because of a new wave of persecution. Most were devout people of faith but mixed in with them were some bad apples who came to escape trouble in England or were just looking for adventure.

In 1638, three such characters were involved in the murder of a Native American from Rhode Island whom they encountered in their travels. One of their number stabbed him several times with a knife and they took the furs and beads he had obtained in trading. They left him for dead, but he revived and was able to make it back home to Rhode Island where he died shortly thereafter.

The wounded man’s people, the Narragansett, complained to the Massachusetts Bay Colony that had been founded in 1630 by John Winthrop. The officials of the Bay Colony decided that the crime had occurred within the jurisdiction of the Plymouth Colony, and they turned the case over to Bradford and the Pilgrims.

Bradford sent several Pilgrims to Rhode Island to interview the man before he died, and he told them who had attacked him. The three men were arrested and tried before a jury in Plymouth. As evidence was produced before the jury, the three Englishmen all confessed to the crime.

The Pilgrims believed that all human beings possess a unique dignity and value, not possessed by other creatures, because of being created in the image and likeness of their Creator (Genesis 1:26-27). Because of the unique value of human life, the Pilgrims believed that anyone who would take another’s life without just cause, such as self-defense, should forfeit his own life (Genesis 9:6).

The jury found the three men guilty of murder and, therefore, condemned them to be executed by hanging for their crime. Many of the murdered man’s people came to observe the execution at the invitation of the Pilgrims. Bradford said the proceedings gave to them, and all the country, much satisfaction believing that justice had been done.

This incident shows that the Pilgrims viewed the native people as human beings created in the image and likeness of God and worthy of the same respect and just treatment as Englishmen. It shows the Pilgrims’ unwavering commitment to justice and demonstrates that they did not show respect of persons in applying the moral principles to which they adhered.

We live in a day when "justice" is touted, but is too often tainted and thwarted by political and ideological hatred. We could learn a lot from the Pilgrims about justice that is rooted in transcendent moral principles and therefore not subject to personal prejudices and political vendettas.

This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt’s book, The Pilgrims, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. Eddie is also the author of 1726: The Year that Defined America, which documents how the 18th century "Great Awakening" in colonial America had a direct bearing on the founding of this nation and the abolition of slavery on this continent.



Before the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Venezuela, socialism was tried here on American soil by the Pilgrims and it miserably failed.

The Pilgrims were funded in their journey by a group of English businessmen who required them to live communally for seven years until their debt was repaid with interest. This meant that there was no private ownership and there were no individual rewards for their labor.

Instead, everyone worked fields owned by the plantation. The harvest went into a common fund from which each family received an equal portion for their sustenance. The remainder was used to pay their debt. The same was true of goods and money obtained by fishing and trapping furs. The wealth went into a common fund and everyone received an equal portion for their labor. 

In this socialist system, everyone was equal but also miserable.

The Pain of Socialism

William Bradford, who served as Governor of Plymouth for over thirty years, told of the challenges of this socialist system. Young men, he said, resented getting paid the same as older men when they did so much more of the work. As a result, they tended to slouch and give only a half-hearted effort since they knew they would receive the same, no matter how hard they worked.

The older men felt they deserved more honor and recompense because of their age and experience. They resented getting paid the same as the youngsters in their midst. Bradford said that the women often refused to go to the fields to work, complaining of headaches, and to have compelled them to go would have been considered tyranny and oppression.

This socialist system discouraged work and innovation. It also produced strife and dissension, which further robbed the inhabitants of energy and output. The system almost destroyed the colony.

When it became obvious that lack and, perhaps, starvation would be their lot, Bradford and the leaders of the colony decided to make a change. After much prayer and discussion, they decided to dispense with that part of the agreement that required them to live communally and to replace it with a free enterprise system.

The Gain of Free Enterprise

According to Bradford, they then divided the land around them, allotting to each family a certain portion that would be theirs to work and use for their own needs. Bradford said there was an immediate change. The young men began to work much harder because they knew they would enjoy the fruit of their own labors. There were no more complaints from the older men for the same reason. And now the women were seen going into the fields to work, taking the children with them, because they knew that they and their families would benefit personally.

Instead of lacking food, each family now grew more food and corn than they needed, and they began to trade with one another for furnishings, clothes, and other goods.

They also had enough excess to trade with the Indians for furs and other items. In short, the colony began to prosper when it got rid of its socialist form of government and implemented a free, entrepreneurial system. Of their experience with socialism, Bradford wrote,

This [socialist] community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . . and showed the vanity of that conceit of Plato's, and applauded by some of later times, that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.

We Must Learn from History

Bradford believed that socialism does not work because it runs counter to human nature as created by God. In Scripture, God rewards individuals for their labor and good works. Capitalism works because it is compatible with the reality of human nature and the world in which we live.

Since the Pilgrims, there have been many stark examples of the failures of socialism. In fact, there is not a single example of socialism/Marxism having produced a happy and prosperous people. We should, therefore, remember the words of Winston Churchill, “Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”

This article was derived from The Pilgrims  and 1726: The Year that Defined America by Dr. Eddie Hyatt and are available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com.




You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Psalm 23:5

During a morning prayer walk this week, the Holy Spirit brought the above Psalm vividly to my mind and admonished me that I must not become so distracted by all the evil attacks on goodness and godliness going on in our nation and world that I forget to rejoice in the blessings He is pouring out "in the presence of my enemies."

To "prepare a table" was to prepare a feast or banquet for a time of rejoicing and celebration. So, no matter what kind of enemies surround you today, God is preparing a table for you and there is nothing they can do about it.

This is also the reason we should be expecting great revival in the churches of America. Despite the “woke” culture that seems to be making such inroads into the American culture, God is preparing a table for His people “in the presence of our enemies.”

Despite the loud, godless voices in the media, government, and academia, we should expect great revivals to break forth across the land. After all, He has promised to prepare a table for us “in the presence of our enemies.”

So, while the world is in an uproar, let’s begin to acknowledge, and act on the fact, that God is powerfully at work on our behalf. He is preparing a table for us, "in the presence of our enemies."

Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an author, ordained minister and revivalist. His books, 1726: The Year that Defined America and Pilgrims and Patriots, document how the Great Awakening in colonial America had a direct bearing on both the founding of this nation and the ending of slavery on this continent.



Driven by a political agenda and apparently clueless of historical context, the New York City Council members recently voted to remove a 7-foot statue of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) from their chambers, claiming it to be a symbol of slavery and racism. However, when seen in historical context, it is obvious that cancelling Jefferson is absolutely wrong.

The fact is that at a time when slavery was accepted and practiced in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and most of the world, Jefferson and virtually all of America’s founders took a public stand against it. This is clear from both their public statements and their private correspondence. Dr. Thomas Sowell, who happens to be black, has written of this saying,

Among those who turned against slavery in the 18th century were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and other American leaders. You could research all of 18th century Africa or Asia or the Middle East without finding any comparable rejection of slavery there (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 90).

The occasion for this surprising turn against slavery was the 18th century religious movement in colonial America known as the Great Awakening. This Awakening morally transformed the populace and ignited a powerful anti-slavery movment. By the time of the writing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, virtually every founder had come to agree with John Adams who said,

Every measure of prudence ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States . . . I have throughout my whole life held the practice of slavery in abhorrence (Hyatt, Abolitionist Founding Fathers, 36).

Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and the nation’s third president. Although born in a slave-holding state and into a slave-holding family, he came to see the evils of slavery and began calling for its elimination, even while holding slaves. For example, in a document for Virginia delegates to the Continental Congress, Jefferson called for an end to the slave trade, writing, "The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in these colonies where it was unhappily introduced in our infant state."

In an early draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson attacked the King of England and accused him of introducing slavery into the colonies, saying,

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating them and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere (Hyatt, Abolitionist Founding Fathers, 44).

Although the above statement did not make it to the final draft, the one that did was generally understood as a direct attack on the institution of slavery. Jefferson wrote,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

America’s founding generation understood this statement to be a declaration against slavery, and abolitionists used it in their attacks on the institution. Referring to America’s founding documents, Frederic Douglas declared, "Anyone of these provisions in the hands of abolition statesmen, and backed by a right moral sentiment, would put an end to slavery in America" (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 159).

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also understood this phrase to be an attack on slavery. When someone suggested to him that he was an “extremist,” King replied"Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’"

Indeed, in the 18th century, when slavery and serfdom were accepted throughout the world, the words of Jefferson were considered “extreme.”  When viewed in the context of the times, Jefferson and America’s founders were clearly on the cutting edge of human society in advocating for the abolition of slavery and liberty for all mankind. That is why contemporary efforts to cancel them are absolutely wrong. 

This article is derived from the books, Abolitionist Founding Fathers and 1726: TheYear that Defined America, by Dr. Eddie L. Hyatt, who is an ordained minister and holds the Doctor of Ministry degree from the School of Divinity at Regent University. These and other books by him are available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com