In a post on Law and Liberty, JMC faculty partner Mark David Hall discusses John Dickinson, an oft-overlooked member of the founding generation, and brings to light his important contributions to our tradition of religious liberty.
John Dickinson is the namesake of Mark David Hall’s new JMC partner program, the John Dickinson Forum for the Study of America’s Founding Principles. This program is a part of JMC’s Pacific Northwest Initiative and was made possible through a generous grant from M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
Mark David Hall is on sabbatical this coming year and is available to speak on a variety of subjects. Consider inviting him to your institution to give a lecture. Visit his faculty page or see below to see his lecture topics.
John Dickinson: Friend of Conscience
John Dickinson (1732-1808) of Delaware and Pennsylvania has been called the “Penman of the Revolution.” An attorney who studied in the Middle Temple at London’s Inns of Court, Dickinson had one of the finest legal educations in America. His Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania (1767-68) argued convincingly that Parliament had no power to tax American colonists to raise revenue and unified Americans to resist Britain peacefully. Forrest McDonald has written that their “impact and their circulation were unapproached by any publication of the revolutionary period except Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.”
Dickinson was an active member of the Stamp Act Congress and the First and Second Continental Congresses. Among other accomplishments, he played a leading role in drafting documents such as The Declaration and Resolves (1765) and the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms (1775).Influenced by his roots in the Society of Friends (Quakers), he advocated firm but peaceful resistance. He believed the Declaration of Independence to be precipitous and so spoke against it, but rather than cause division by casting a dissenting vote he chose to abstain. Yet Dickinson was not a pacifist, so once his home states decided to go to war he served in each of their militias.
Mark David Hall is Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics and Faculty Fellow at the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University. His primary research and writing interests are American political theory and the relationship between religion and politics.
He has written and edited a number of books, including Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2014), Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2013), and America’s Forgotten Founders (2011). Among the “forgotten founders” that Hall seeks to bring back to America’s attention is the Pennsylvania revolutionary and statesman John Dickinson, after whom Hall’s new center is named.
Hall has also written more than 50 journal articles, book chapters, reviews and sundry pieces. Among these is as a study for the Heritage Foundation titled “Did America Have a Christian Founding?” that has gained national attention for its comprehensive and rigorous analysis of this controversial question. In addition to teaching at George Fox University, Mark is Associated Faculty at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and an Affiliate Scholar at the John Jay Institute. He contributes regularly to the blogs Law and Liberty and Learn Liberty.
Consider inviting Professor Hall to speak at your institution. He is available for public speaking on the following topics:
“Did America Have a Christian Founding?”
“Jeffersonian Walls and Madisonian Lines: The Supreme Court’s Use of History and the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses”
“Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic”
“Distorted Realities: Faith and the Founders of the American Republic”
“Religious Liberty and Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies: Historic Precedents, Future Possibilities”
“Why Tolerate Religion? The Rise and Fall of Religious Liberty in America”
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