Setting Brush Fires of Freedom in the Minds of Men

Massive cultural divisions threaten to unravel America’s constitutional republic and freedoms. The burning question is, can “One Nation Under God,” be restored? Can we ever share a common cultural unity again? The American colonists in the 1760s were deeply divided on many issues. Each of the colonies had separate colonial governments, different commercial interests and represented different denominations. Most of all there was deep division between the Tories, those loyal to the mother country, England, no matter how repressive they became, and the Patriots, who recognized that the king and parliament of England had become intoxicated with the power and wealth of the English Empire.

England had abandoned her own constitution of which Magna Carta was the central pillar, leaving the colonies with no choice but to stand and resist her tyranny. Much like the overreach of the national government in America today, the freedoms of all the American colonists were now on the chopping block and in the hands of an out-of-control government thousands of miles away. Without unity, how could these fledgling colonies defeat the most powerful army and empire since the Roman Empire?

At that time, when the disjointed colonies seemed destined to shrink back into the tyranny of European despotism, a leader rose up who brought them peacefully together. His name was Samuel Adams. Samuel had become a devout Christian as a student at Harvard in the 1730s during the Great Awakening. His love for God and for political liberty led him on a quest for a plan to unite the deeply divided colonies.

He discovered and applied a peaceful ancient strategy that had brought liberty and unity to nations through the centuries. This bottom-up strategy appealed to all people who desired freedom regardless of their class, financial status, political party or denomination. Adams explains the essence of this strategy: “It does not take a majority to prevail.... But rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.” For the next thirty years he set these “brush fires of freedom in the minds of men” teaching the “art of self-government” and the “exalted virtues of the Christian religion” to all who would listen.

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