Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bon Voyage Britain!

On this day in 1783, the final remnants of British troops withdrew from New York, a city and harbor they had controlled for over seven years. The withdrawal came three months after the finalization of the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the war between Britain and her former American colonies.

After the final British soldiers left the harbor, General George Washington made his triumphant entry back into the city that he had failed to defend seven years earlier. The loss of New York was arguably the toughest pill to swallow for the General. Washington had always taken the loss of New York personally and had suggested leading an attack on the city numerous times over the next seven years -- a prospect that his aids and associates back in the Continental Congress did not share.

The History Channel website has the following comments on the importance of New York and what the withdrawal of British troops meant to the new infant nation:

Four months after New York was returned to the victorious Patriots, the city was declared to be the capital of the United States. In 1789, it was the site of Washington's inauguration as the first U.S. president and remained the nation's capital until 1790, when Philadelphia became the second capital of the United States under the U.S. Constitution.

New Yorkers shaped the history of two new nations. The British evacuated their New York Loyalists to remaining British territories, mainly in Canada. These families had been dispossessed of their land and belongings by the victorious Patriots because of their continued support of the British king and were able to regain some financial independence through lands granted to them by the British in western Quebec (now Ontario) and Nova Scotia. Their arrival in Canada permanently shifted the demographics of what had been French-speaking New France until 1763 into an English-speaking colony, and later nation, with the exception of a French-speaking and culturally French area in eastern Canada that is now Quebec.

In 1784, one year after their arrival, the new Loyalist population spurred the creation of New Brunswick in the previously unpopulated (by Europeans, at least) lands west of the Bay of Fundy in what had been Nova Scotia. In 1785, the Loyalists yet again made their mark on Canadian history when their combined settlements at Parrtown and Carleton of approximately 14,000 people became British North America’s first incorporated city under the name City of Saint John. The division between the Anglophile and Francophile sections was ultimately recognized by creating the English-dominant province of Ontario, west of Quebec, in 1867.
Yes, New York has always been the "City that never sleeps."

Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Since the blog is on a holiday kick, I thought that this might be an appropriate way to continue the theme. After all, I don't want to be the one that breaks with tradition!

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789 -- October 14, 1789 to be exact -- has been lauded by Christian nation sympathizers for decades as proof positive that America's first Commander-in-Chief was a devout believer in Jesus Christ. And while I am in 100% agreement with their assertion that Washington was a devout man of faith and prayer, I also recognize that the historical record -- as it applies to Washington's religion -- is far from concrete in labeling him a devout Christian.

Let us look at the Thanksgiving document itself for additional evidence on Washington's faith. First off, most anti-Christian nation advocates routinely point out the fact that the actual author of the proclamation was not President Washington, but William Jackson, the President's personal secretary. And while it is true that Washington did not himself pen the proclamation, it is reasonable to assume that he read and gave consent to the document's contents, thus the actual authorship of the piece has little to no relevance. What is relevant, however, is the wordage that was chosen to pay homage to God. Does Washington actually invoke the blessings of the Christian God as so many Christian nation apologists insist? Below is a copy of Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation:

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 favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington
As noted in bold above, Washington's proclamation contains five specific references to deity. Contrary to what many anti-Christian nation advocates claim, the document is clearly religious in its content and purpose. However, does it support the Christian nation crowd's assertion that Washington was a devout Christian? I would argue that it does not. With that said, it is more than clear from this document and others that Washington was a man of faith. What TYPE of faith is the real question we must endeavor to answer.

As I have pointed out in a previous post, the language used by Washington when speaking of deity can be seen as a good barometer of the General's personal religious creed. In his book, Sacred Fire author Peter Lillback successfully illustrates the fact that Washington was indeed a man of prayer and faith. However, his work falls short of conclusively proving that Washington was a devout Christian. In Appendix 3 of his book, Lillback lists all of Washington's public papers that mention God. As Lillback states at the beginning of his appendix:

One of the elements of the Christian faith that was suspect, and eventually abandoned by Deists, was the practice of prayer. This was logical since there was little purpose in speaking to a Deity who on principle had abandoned all contact and communication with his creation.

Given this understanding, Washington's lifetime practice of prayer, illustrated by these more than one hundred written prayers, is an undeniable refutation of his alleged Deism...The sheer magnitude of the umber of prayers, coupled with the expansive topics included in his prayers, give substantial credence to the universal testimony of Washington's contemporaries of his practice of corporate and private prayer.

This underscores how misplaced contemporary scholars have been in claiming that Washington was a man of lukewarm religious faith.
With this in mind, I decided that it would be worthwhile to dissect the various "written prayers" that Peter Lillback sites in his book. After all, the language that Washington used in these prayers should be a valuable tool in determining Washington's actual beliefs.

Here are the actual phrases that Washington used in his "written prayers" to describe divinity, along with the number of times they were used:

"Providence" - 26 times
"Heaven" -25 times
"God" - 16 times
"Almighty God" - 8 times
"Lord" - 5 times
"Almighty" - 5 times
"Author of all Blessings" - 3 times
"Author of the Universe" - 3 times
"God of Armies" - 3 times
"Giver of Victory" - 3 times
"Great Ruler of the Universe" - 2 times
"Divine Protector" - 2 times
"Ruler of Nations" - 2 times
"Particular Favor of Heaven" - 2 times
"Divine Author of Life and Felicity" - 2 times
"Author of Nations" - 1 time
"Divine Being" - 1 time
"Allwise Dispenser of Human Blessings" - 1 time
"Supreme giver of all good Gifts" - 1 time
"Sovereign Dispenser of Life and Health" - 1 time
"Source and Benevolent Bestower of all good" - 1 time
"Power which has Sustained American arms" - 1 time
"Allwise Providence" - 1 time
"Infinite Wisdom" - 1 time
"Eye of Omnipotence" - 1 time
"Divine Author of our Blessed Religion" - 1 time
"Omnipotent being" - 1 time
"Great Spirit" - 1 time
"Glorious being" - 1 time
"Supreme being" - 1 time
"Almighty being" - 1 time
"Creator" - 1 time
"Jesus Christ" - 0
"Salvation" - 0
"Messiah" - 0
"Savior" - 0
"Redeemer" - 0
"Jehovah" - 0

And the same can be said of Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation. Instead of using words like "Messiah," "Savior," "Jesus Christ," etc., Washington chooses neutral phrases like, "Great Lord and Ruler of Nations," "Almighty God," and "great and glorious Being." As is evidenced from Lillback's work, Washington made it a habit to avoid using the language of a typical devout Christian of his day, which would logically seem to suggest that Washington was not the orthodox Christian so many wish him to be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Common Sense of Common Sense

Thomas Paine and the Birth of
Natural Religion, Natural Law
and Enlightenment Philosophy

by Brad Hart

In the October, 2008 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly, historian Sophia Rosenfeld of the University of Virginia takes an in-depth look at a document, which despite its large popularity, often goes overlooked. As most history geeks already know, Thomas Paine's epic pamphlet, Common Sense was a literal best seller in 1776, catapulting the discussion of independence from Britain into the forefront of the American conversation. As a result, Paine became an overnight celebrity of sorts, a colonial J.K Rowling who followed up the success of Common Sense with a number of other influential works. Yet despite the massive attention that Common Sense has received over the centuries, there is still much about the text itself that deserves the undivided attention of historians today.

Hence the insightful article of historian Sophia Rosenfeld, who, despite all the superficial notions suggesting that Common Sense has been dissected thoroughly enough, provides us with a new and astute interpretation of this timeless American classic.

According to Rosenfeld, Common Sense can and should be seen in conjunction with the emergence of 18th century Enlightenment philosophy and the budding seeds of common sense beliefs. As Rosenfeld points out:

The history of common sense -- as a cognitive faculty, and a set of basic ideas, even as a rhetorical form -- has been interwoven with politics at every turn. Its rise as an important epistematic authority began in context not only of the decline of Aristotelian understandings of sense perception but also of the crisis in traditional forms of legitimation characteristic of late-seventeenth-century European religious and political life. From this moment onward, common sense, with its foundations in the basic mental abilities of common people, functioned alternately to bolster or to supersede more conventional sources of legitimation or evidence, including the Bible, law, history, custom, reason, and scholastic knowledge (635).
Keeping in mind the numerous blog conversations we have enjoyed on the role of natural religion, laws of nature, etc., Dr. Rosenfeld's interpretation of common sense as a palpable intellectual alternative to traditional forms of legitimation is striking. As she suggests, the common sense found within Common Sense is in complete agreement with the emerging unitarian/natural religion ideologies of the late 18th century. In fact, the British colonies in America were the perfect breeding ground for the development of such beliefs. As Dr. Rosenfeld states:

As anthropologists and historians of mentalities have frequently pointed out, most assumptions deemed self-evident by their propogators turn out, on inspection, to be highly culturally specific. This includes the very idea of common sense itself (635).
In other words, what one people uphold to be self-evident truths supported by the very laws of nature itself are sometimes seen by others in a very different way. Perhaps this explains why so many nations reject the American form of "self-evident" and "divinely-sanctioned" democratic government.

The success of Common Sense in the American colonies, though certainly the result of the intense political strife between the colonies and the mother country, has a much deeper root that is worthy of consideration. As Dr. Rosenfeld points out, the 18th century was an era of incredible advancement in rational thought, all of which inspired a return to the "glory days" of the Western world's ancient philosophers. Rosenfeld writes:

The 1700s, and particularly the 1770s, were one of the great ages of thinking about common sense and its meaning and function. By the last quarter of the eighteenth century, this concept became a staple ingredient of polemical writing of all sorts...By the middle of the eighteenth century, the English phrase "common sense" could be used to mean, at once, a basic ability to form clear perceptions and make elementary judgements about everyday matters; the conventional wisdom born of those common judgements and shared by all sensible people (641).
When seen in this light, Benjamin Franklin's "public religion" and Jefferson's "natural religion" are essentially nothing more than an appeal to the Enlightenment doctrines of common sense. As a result, natural religion, deism, theistic rationalism, etc. are all deeply rooted in a shared "common sense."

Paine's Common Sense, provides ample examples of how Enlightenment common sense was applied to the American call for independence. On numerous occasions, Paine cites the "simple voice of nature and of reason," all of which suggest that the course of independence was right. On another occasion, this same "simple voice of nature" was employed to condemn the motherland for her actions:

The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, 'TIS TIME TO PART.' Even the distance which the Almighty has placed England and America is a strong and natural proof that the authority of the one, over the other, was never the design of Heaven [my emphasis].
And perhaps the best example of the common sense of Common Sense can be found in Paine's personal ideology of government:

I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be distorted; and the easier repaired when distorted [my emphasis.]
This doctrine of common sense was not exclusively unique to Paine alone. Religious leaders, who were themselves enmeshed in the changes brought on by Enlightenment philosophy, were beginning to turn to a more "common sense" -- i.e. theistic rationalism, deism, unitarianism -- creed. Rosenfeld writes:

Even the Presbyterian thinkers of mid-eighteenth-century Aberdeen used the idea of common sense to partisan advantage, hoping to sway public opinion in one particular direction, especially when it came to religious questions, and away from other. The radical continental Enlightenment forged it into a public weapon. That it sounded objective and indisputable yet popular was the source of its success as an organ of subjective, partisan and always potentially demagogic political action.
The 18th century "common sense" religion of the Enlightenment not only broke the bands of traditional orthodoxy, but also ushered in a commitment to embracing the "natural order" of "nature's God." By looking to a common sense understanding of the world the devotion to religious orthodoxy began to waver at an alarming rate. In conclusion, Dr. Rosenfeld best sums up the doctrine of 18th century common sense when she writes:

With Paine's polemic, then, we see common sense function not only as a foundation for certain knowledge but also a way to undermine what passes for unassailable fact in the present. We see common sense as the corollary of ordinary, commonplace language and simultaneously as a means to cut through the filter of words, especially those that serve to obfuscate or disguise reality. We see common sense as the voice of the peopleas a whole and as the voice of the clear-sighted, prophetic individual who intuits what the people should be able to grasp but cannot alone. And we see common sense mean not only what is common in the here and now but also what is authentical to the common until some later moment in time(653).
Or in other words, the emergence of natural religion, laws of nature, etc.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"From the Halls of Montezuma, To the Shores of Tripoli"

Happy 233rd Birthday to the
United States Marines!!!

On this day in 1775, the United States Marines was born. The Continental Congress, perceiving that war with Britain was on the horizon, drafted a resolution calling for the establishment of "two battalions of Marines to be raised." The Continental Congress, gathered at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, ratified the resolution, which officially commissioned the Continental Marines, "for the protection of the American colonies and to fight for independence at sea and shore." It was John Adams, the chief supporter of the bill, who pushed for the ratification of this resolution. As a result, it is Adams who should be given special recognition as being the "father" of the Marine Corps.

Here are some interesting tidbits of history on the Marines and their role in the Revolution from the History Channel's website:

Serving on land and at sea, the original U.S. Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations during the Revolutionary War. The first Marine landing on a hostile shore occurred when a force of Marines under Captain Samuel Nicholas captured New Province Island in the Bahamas from the British in March 1776. Nicholas was the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines and is celebrated as the first Marine commandant. After American independence was achieved in 1783, the Continental Navy was demobilized and its Marines disbanded.

In the next decade, however, increasing conflict at sea with Revolutionary France led the U.S. Congress to establish formally the U.S. Navy in May 1798. Two months later, on July 11, President John Adams signed the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy. U.S. Marines saw action in the so-called Quasi-War with France and then fought against the Barbary pirates of North Africa during the first years of the 19th century. Since then, Marines have participated in all the wars of the United States and in most cases were the first soldiers to fight. In all, Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.
For more information on the birthday of the U.S. Marines click here.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The "Sexual" American Revolution

The American Revolution can, at times, be characterized as a collection of smaller revolutions, all of which contributed and eventually led to the larger revolution -- i.e. the literal split from Great Britain. For example, the Great Awakening is often considered a revolution in and of itself, since it completely changed the way American colonists understood religion. The Market Revolution, which followed the actual American Revolution, can also be seen as another "mini-revolution," in which capitalism made its debut on the American stage.

In addition to these and numerous other "mini-revolutions" a sexual revolution of sorts also took place in early America. Richard Godbeer, a historian with the University of Miami and author of the book, Sexual Revolution in Early America has put together an excellent piece of work on how sex and gender relations underwent a tremendous transition in colonial America.

Here is a brief introduction and review of the book by John Hopkins University Press:

In 1695, John Miller, a clergyman traveling through New York, found it appalling that so many couples lived together without ever being married and that no one viewed "ante-nuptial fornication" as anything scandalous or sinful. Charles Woodmason, an Anglican minister in South Carolina in 1766, described the region as a "stage of debauchery" in which polygamy was "very common," "concubinage general," and "bastardy no disrepute." These depictions of colonial North America's sexual culture sharply contradict the stereotype of Puritanical abstinence that persists in the popular imagination. In Sexual Revolution in Early America, Richard Godbeer boldly overturns conventional wisdom about the sexual values and customs of colonial Americans. His eye-opening historical account spans two centuries and most of British North America, from New England to the Caribbean, exploring the social, political, and legal dynamics that shaped a diverse sexual culture. Drawing on exhaustive research into diaries, letters, and other private papers, as well as legal records and official documents, Godbeer's absorbing narrative uncovers a persistent struggle between the moral authorities and the widespread expression of popular customs and individual urges. Godbeer begins with a discussion of the complex attitude that the Puritans had toward sexuality. For example, although believing that sex could be morally corrupting, they also considered it to be such an essential element of a healthy marriage that they excommunicated those who denied "conjugal fellowship" to their spouses. He next examines the ways in which race and class affected the debate about sexual mores, from anxieties about Anglo-Indian sexual relations to the sense of sexual entitlement that planters held over their African slaves. He concludes by detailing the fundamental shift in sexual culture during the eighteenth century towards the acceptance of a more individualistic concept of sexual desire and fulfillment. Today's moral critics, in their attempts to convince Americans of the social and spiritual consequences of unregulated sexual behavior, often hearken back to a more innocent age; as this groundbreaking work makes clear, America's sexual culture has always been rich, vibrant, and contentious.
In addition, colonial historian Alan Taylor gives the following critique of Godbeer's book:

Previous scholars also balked at examining colonial sex as its own subject, largely from a fear that the historical sources were insufficient. Godbeer forged ahead, "astonished by the richness of the material that survives on the subject." The problem is not that Godbeer lacks sources, but that they are trickier than he recognizes. Few diaries and letters survive from the colonial era, and fewer still offer frank admission to sexual thoughts and acts. Generalizing from those scatological few to the larger colonial population is problematic, to say the least. More often Godbeer must rely on hearsay accounts recorded by travelers who were keen to gather scandal at the expense of locales they disliked; and most often he depends on the recorded testimony in court cases brought by authorities or by aggrieved spouses seeking divorces. The travelers' accounts and court cases provide plenty of seamy and steamy quotations, but taking them at face value skews our picture of colonial sexuality toward the sensational. Finding what he seeks, Godbeer proves reluctant to doubt any of his sources. That he discovers more conflict than consensus, more deviance than conformity, seems inevitable given the nature of his sources -- and his disinterest in challenging them. Reading today's police log or tabloid newspaper certainly conveys a gritty reality denied in other genres, but it is a reality that needs to be kept in proportion when characterizing an entire society....

...A specialist in the cultural history of seventeenth-century New England, Godbeer appears most comfortable and persuasive when analyzing particular episodes and texts drawn from that region and that century. In an especially impressive passage, Godbeer examines the case of Nicholas Sension of Windsor, Connecticut in 1677. Sension's prosecution for sodomy seems to confirm Puritan rigidity and intolerance, but Godbeer shows that for more than twenty preceding years Sension's neighbors had recognized and reproved his behavior without involving the court. Since Sension was otherwise a good neighbor and a prosperous farmer who acted only upon young men of lower status, his townsmen balked at prosecuting him for a crime that carried the death penalty. Despite abundant evidence for multiple acts, the jury convicted Sension only of the lesser charge of attempted sodomy, which brought a public whipping and shaming instead of hanging. His Puritan neighbors persistently saw Sension as a wayward but redeemable sinner no different from any other soul, rather than as a distinctive sodomite. Throughout the century, only two men suffered execution for sodomy in New England.

In addition to softening our image of Puritan moral enforcement, Godbeer ameliorates the Puritans' cold image by recovering their sexual passion within both marriage and spirituality. In this emphasis, he follows the lead of Edmund S. Morgan, who made a similar case in 1942. Puritan sermons, poetry, and love letters celebrated marital and procreative sex in part to discourage all sexuality before or outside marriage. Never people to do things by halves, the Puritans extolled foreplay and orgasm by husband and wife. In a guide to marriage, Reverend William Gouge preached that sex "must be performed with good will and delight, willingly, readily, and cheerfully." Believing that conception depended upon a female orgasm, ministers urged every husband to attend to his wife's needs. Another marital guide instructed that "when the husband cometh into the wife's chamber, he must entertain her with all kind of dalliance, wanton behavior, and allurements to venery."

More striking still, the Puritans expressed their spirituality in erotic terms that transcended gender. Ministers exhorted Puritans, male and female, to submit to "an eternal love affair with Jesus Christ." One young man asked in his diary, "Will the Lord now again return and embrace me in the arms of his dearest love? Will he fall upon my neck and kiss me?" Since souls were equal and either without gender or vaguely female, Puritan men comfortably spoke of submitting as brides to ravishment by Christ as their spiritual bridegroom. Godbeer concludes that "Puritan sensibility offered a way to spiritualize sex and sexualize the spirit in a glorious and torrid symbiosis."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Joseph Galloway on the Supremacy of British Authority

Of the many justifications for going to war, perhaps nothing proved more influential to the American colonies than religion. A countless number of sermons point to the fact that religion played a powerful role in convincing the colonies that war with their "Mother Land" was justifiable and sanctioned by God.

This religious "fever" for war, though thoroughly convincing to the majority, did not convince everyone. Case in point: Joseph Galloway.

Galloway, who was a representative of Pennsylvania to the First Continental Congress, was a passionate voice in favor of American reconciliation with Britain, so much so that his loyalist leanings eventually led him to abandon his home in America and flee to Britain. Before his "treason," however, Galloway campaigned hard for a resolution to the crisis. To add credence to his argument, Galloway, like his pro-independence opponents, used religion to justify his proposals. In his popular pamphlet, A Candid Examination of the Mutual Claims of Great Britain and The Colonies, Galloway offers a gloom-and-doom prophesy on the possible dangers of American independence, which include his fear of a Franco/Catholic incursion into the Americas. He writes:

Do you wish to exchange the mild and equal rule of English customs and manners and your inestimable religion, for the tyranny of a foreign yoke, and the bloody supersticions of popery? Or if you design to give up your present enjoyment of all the blessings of life, for the horrors and distresses of a civil war, and the fatal consequesnces which must ifallibly attend yourselves, and your posterity? Are you still resolved to surrender up your reason to the miserable sophistry and gargon of designing men, and to hazard all these direful misfortunes, rather than be united with your brethren and fellow subjects in Briatian? (62).
In a September, 1774 speech given to the Continental Congress, Galloway continued his pro-British argument by pointing to the "supreme authority" of the British government over their American colonies:

These advocates also assert, what we cannot deny--That the discovery of the Colonies was made under a commission granted by the supreme authority of the British State, that they have been settled under that authority. and therefore are truly the property of that State. Parliamentary jurisdiction has been constantly exercised over them from their first settlement; its executive authority has ever run through all their inferior political systems: the Colonists have ever sworn allegiance to the British State, and have been considered, both by the State and by themselves, as subjects of the British Government. Protection and allegiance are reciprocal duties; the one cannot exist without the other. The Colonies cannot claim the protection of Britain upon any principle of reason or law, while they deny its supreme authority. Upon this ground the authority of Parliament stands too firm to be shaken by any arguments whatever; and therefore to deny that authority, and at the same time to declare their incapacity to be represented, amounts to a full and explicit declaration of independence.
Galloway's insistence on British authority and law is interesting to consider when juxtaposed with the opening verses of Romans Chapter 13 of the Bible:

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
And to those that questioned Galloway's loyalist reasoning by appealing to the "laws of nature" and "nature's God" to justify their treason, Galloway writes:

We have seen all the American writers on the subject, adopting untenable principles and thence rearing the most wild and chimerical superstructures. Some of them have fixed on, as a source from whence to draw American Right, “the laws of God and nature,” the common rights of mankind and “American charters.” Others finding that the claims of the colonies could not be supported upon these pillars, have racked their inventions to find distinctions which never existed, nor can exist…And after all of them have been fully considered, even the authors themselves, finding that they have conveyed no satisfactory idea to the intelligent of mind, either of the extent of parliamentary authority, or of the rights of America, have exploded them, and taken new ground, which will be found equally indefensible.
For Joseph Galloway and many others, the rampant talk of revolution and independence was not only a frightening upheaval of the status quo, but also a direct violation to God's laws. Great Britain had sovereign and divine authority over its American colonies, and any argument to the contrary was both treason and blasphemy.