Saturday, April 17, 2010

U.S. Constitution Series: Samuel Langdon

Samuel Langdon was born on January 12, 1723 in Boston, Massachusetts. He died in Hampton, Falls, New Hampshire on November 29, 1797. Langdon was a delegate to the New Hampshire convention that adopted the Constitution of the United States.

U.S. Constitution

Langdon served 36 years as the president of Harvard University. Below his speech in the Massachusetts Legislature, read how this patriot was received by the Harvard students in the 1700's.

Regarding the responsibility of The People under the American System to be "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
Samuel Langdon from the floor of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1788:

On the people, therefore, of these United States, it depends whether wise men, or fools, good or bad men, shall govern....

Therefore, I will now lift up my voice and cry aloud to the people....

From year to year be careful in the choice of your representatives and the higher powers [offices] of government. Fix your eyes upon men of good understanding and known honesty; men of knowledge, improved by experience; men who fear God and hate covetousness; who love truth and righteousness, and sincerely wish for the public welfare....

Let not men openly irreligious and immoral become your legislators....If the legislative body are corrupt, you will soon have bad men for counselors, corrupt judges, unqualified justices, and officers in every department who will dishonor their stations....

Never give countenance to turbulent men, who wish to distinguish themselves and rise to power by forming combinations and exciting insurrections against government....

I call upon you also to support schools in your towns....It is a debt you owe to to your children.
Langdon was considered a distinguished scholar and theologian, receiving a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Aberdeen in 1762. Langdon was one of the first members of the American Academy of Arts and Scientists.

Langdon graduated Harvard in 1740, along with classmate Samuel Adams, and was ordained as pastor in 1747 of the North Church of Portsmouth. He left the clergy in 1744 to become the president of Harvard University, resigning the Harvard presidency after 36 years, in 1780. Within the year, Samuel Langdon became the pastor of the Congregational church in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.

A biographical note from Frank Moore:
"Langdon called for limited government and the removal of corrupt government officials. Most importantly, Langdon called for the nation to return to the true principles of Christianity and the morality of the Ten Commandments. It was the abandonment of true Christianity, Langdon said, that caused the British government to be the way it was in 1775. "
Mr. Moore describes Langdon as "a very zealous Whig," and says that during Langdon's tenure as the president of Harvard:
"He did not receive that respect and kindness from the students and others connected with the college, that were due his character as a scholar and a Christian. Under these circumstances he resigned the presidency...."
Along with Langdon, Abraham Lincoln was a member of the Whig party in Illinois.

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton