|This article is reprinted from the Spring 2003 issue of FIDELIO Magazine.
Leibniz, Halle, and the American Revolution
by Edward Spannaus
This history is almost unknown, outside of a few specialist scholars, in either Germany or in the United States. But to understand how the principle of the General Welfare came to be the bedrock of the Federal Constitution, it is essential to examine the role of the Leibniz networks around the University of Halle and what became known as the Franckesche Stiftungenthe Franckean Foundationsassociated with it.
H. Graham Lowrys ground-breaking work How the Nation was Won1 identified, for the first time in modern history, the trans-Atlantic, republican conspiracy which set into motion the process of creating a continental republic in the New World, which process culminated in the American Revolution and its historically-unique Constitution committed to the principle of the common good, or General Welfare. That conspiracy emerged during the latter years of the reign of Queen Anne of England (1702-1714), and centered around three towering figures of the day: Leibniz (working out of the courts of Hanover and Berlin), Jonathan Swift (in London and Dublin), and Cotton Mather (in Boston) [See Box]. Boston-born and trained Benjamin Franklin, a protege of Mather, assumed the leading role in the mid-Eighteenth century, carrying this tradition forward into the period of the Revolution.
Lowry located the crucial period of this nation-building conspiracy around the year 1710, when, under the sponsorship and protection of the republican faction in Queen Annes court, Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virgina, and Robert Hunter of New York, lay their plans for western expansion of the American colonies. Not accidentallly, 1710 is also the year of the publication of Cotton Mathers Bonifacius, or Essays To Do Goodthe work which Franklin later described as the single most influential book in forming his own outlook, and which was inspired not a little, by Mathers study of the work of August Hermann Francke in Halle.
What follows, are the first fruits of that inspiration.
Francke and Leibniz
August Hermann Francke was born in Lubeck, in 1663; his father was a juridical counsellor in the court of Duke Ernst the Pious of Saxe-Gotha. Gotha, where Francke spent most of his youth, was an early center of the scientific and ecumenical movement in Germany which emerged in the wake of the unimaginable catastrophe of the bloody religious conflicts of the Thirty Years War.2 The center of this movementof which the towering figure is Leibnizlater shifts to Halle, and then still later to Göttingen. Berlin was also built up as a scientific center in the period following the Thirty Years War, and as a bridge between Europe and Russia. The spreading, ecumenical spirit of Halle is the environment which later nurtured Lessing and Moses Mendelssohn, among others.
Francke attended the Universities of Erfurth, Kiel, and then Leipzig, where he took his Masters Degree in 1685. By this time he had come under the influence of Philip Jacob Spener, regarded as the founder of the controversial Pietist current within German Lutheranism, a reaction to the religious warfare which devastated the German states, and also to the rigid formalism of Orthodox Lutheranism. Francke was expelled from Erfurth in 1691, where he had led the Pietist chapter, and soon after received a call to be pastor at Glaucha, a suburb of Halle. In 1694 he became Professor of Oriental Languages at the newlyc founded University of Halle. In that year, the University was established by the Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick III (later King Frederick I of Prussia), when Christian Thomasius and a group of students came from Leipzig.
Along with the Elector of Hanover, the Brandenburgs Frederick and his wife Electress (later Queen) Sophie Charlotte, were principal sponsors of Leibnizs work, including his contacts with Russia. In 1700, Frederick and Sophie Charlotte founded the Berlin Society of Sciences (later the Berlin Academy of Sciences) and invited Leibniz to head it.Sophie Charlotte was the daughter of Leibnizs closest patroness, the Electress Sophie of Brunswick-Luneburg (Hanover), who was in line to succeed Queen Anne as Queen of England. (Sophie died, conveniently, about two months prior to Annes strange death.) Had Sophie taken the throne of England, instead of the detestable George Ludwig (George I), Leibniz would likely have been named Prime Minister, or would have assumed another influential position in Englandand how different history would have been!
Meanwhile, in 1697, Leibniz published his Novissima Sinica, a collection of letters and essays from the Jesuit missions in China, and he sent a copy to Francke in Halle, seeking Franckes comments; this launched a correspondence between the two, focussed on Russia and the Orient, which continued until Leibnizs death in 1716; Leibniz also recommended Francke for membership in the Berlin Society of Sciences.
Halle quickly became the focal point for collaboration between the Leibniz networks in the German states, and Russia. In 1697, Peter the Great of Russia met both Sophie and Sophie Charlotte, who put him in touch with Leibniz. This collaboration continued for the rest of Leibnizs life, with Leibniz being named Privy Counsellor of Justice to the Czar, and later helping to found the Russian Academy of Sciences, along with collaborators from Halle. Peter the Great was favorable toward Halle, and it is reported that his wife Katherine once visited the Stiftungen incognito. Scientists from Halle played important roles in expeditions to Russia and the Far East, including to Kamchatka and the Bering Straits.3
Leibnizs firmly held view was that the unity of the churcheshis life-long projectwas in large part of question of languages, and he of course devoted much effort to their study, and himself developed a system for the Slavic languages. Halle became the center of language studies in this period. Among those associated with Halle were Hiob Ludolf (1624-1704), acknowledged as the founder of Ethiopian studies, and his nephew Heinrich Wilhelm Ludolf (1655-1710), who founded Russian, Slavic, and Polish language studies at Halle around 1697.
Hiob Ludolf was an acquaintance of Leibniz; among their topics of mutual discussion were a project for the creation of an Imperial College of History, and the Jesuit edition of the writings of Confucius published in the mid-1680s. A volume of correspondence on linguistics and the origin of languages between Leibniz and Hiob Ludolf has been published in English.4
H.W. Ludolf published the first Russian grammar in Latin, in 1696, and he was part of Franckes Bible-translation project. As was the case for Leibniz, Francke and Ludolf viewed their work on languages as part of an ecumenical project for the reunion of the churches. Franckes vision of establishing a Universal Seminary at Halle, coincided with Ludolfs plan for an Ecumenical Seminary at Halle, to unite the German Pietists and the Eastern Orthodox Churches in preparing for missionary work. H.W. Ludolf was well-acquainted with leaders of the churches in Greece, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Egypt, and Abyssinia, having mastered the languages of those countries.
By the turn of the century, Halle was the leading European center for the study of languages, with an Oriental Institute and a Judaic Institute, among others, and there also existed a major project for translatingand printingthe Bible into many languages.
In 1698, with a charter from the Elector Frederick III, Francke established the celebrated ecumenical orphanage (Waisenhaus) at Glaucha, just outside the city wall of Halle, which taught children from all over Germany and other countries, and which became a model and inspiration worldwide for its education of poor childrena direct continuation of the project for the education of orphans and poor children of the Brotherhood of the Common Life in the Netherlands and Germany beginning in the 1390s, which played a crucial role in bringing into existence institutions dedicated to the common good (Commonwealth), through the work of both Nicolaus of Cusa, and later, Erasmus of Rotterdam.
And, as this author happily discovered recently, the buildings of the Franckesche Stiftungen, dating from 1701, still exist in Halle, and have been in the process of being restored since the reunification of Germany.
The London Connection
The influence of Halle and Francke on America was mediated through London via Queen Annes court, and more specifically through the court of her husband, the Queens consort Prince George of Denmark (1653-1708). Prince George is one of those figures who has been written out of history, except for his name living on in Prince George County, Virginia, and Prince Georges County, Maryland.As is the case with many of the important figures in the Commonwealth or republican faction, Queen Anne and Prince Geroge are disparaged by the oligarchical history-writers. Queen Anne is the most notable example, usually described as fat, stupid, and drunk. Her husband George is generally characterized as a shallow nobodyQueen Victoria referred to him as the very stupid and insignificant husband of Queen Anne. Yet this very stupid man was known to be well-schooled in the sciences, and was in the middle of a global network of Leibnizian scientists and scholars.5
Prince George was the son of King Frederick III of Denmark and Sophia Amelia of the House of Brunswick-Luneburgthus making him a relation of the Electress Sophie of Hanover, Leibnizs chief patron.
Prince Georges secretary from 1686 to 1691 was the above-cited Heinrich Wilhelm Ludolf, the founder of Slavic and Russian Studies at the University of Halle.The crucial individual linking the German Pietists of Halle to Americas New England Puritansspecifically, Cotton Matherwas Anton Wilhelm Böhm, the chaplain in Prince Georges Court. Böhm was personally recommended to Prince George by Francke, after George had difficulties with his first court chaplain, a strict Orthodox Lutheran. Böhm became the center of an extremely active ecumenical movement in England, and was a leading figure in the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), along with H.W. Ludolf, who had returned to London in 1700 after a trip to the Near East. Böhm translated ecumenical writings from German into English, and visa versa, and translated writings in Latin, such as the Mather-Francke correspondence, into both languages, for broader circulation. By the time of his death in 1725, Böhm had become the clearinghouse for a global correspondence of Francke and the German Pietists, connecting them with the Boston Puritans and connecting Boston with the Halle-sponsored missionaries in India and South Africa.
The Francke-Mather Correspondence6
The first correspondence between Mather and Francke took place in 1709; those letters have not been found. Mathers diary for Dec. 9, 1709, references his circulation of two of his essays on ye true American pietism to Ministers throughout America and to Dr. Franckius, in Saxony. The diary entry references charity schools and Reforming Societies. Charity schools, for educating poor children, are a principal topic of the triangular Mather-Francke-Böhm correspondence (the other principal topic being missions and ecumenicism); interestingly, the first known reference to charity schools in Mathers diaries, is the 1709 entry which also mentions Dr. Franckius.
In 1714 comes Franckes letter to Mather which was first published by Mather as Nuncia bona e terra longingua (Good News from a Distant Land). The full letter was later published in English translation by Böhm in Part III of Pietas Hallensis in 1716. Böhm had published Part I of Pietas Hallensis in 1705, and Part II in 1707-08. Part I was subtitled: An abstract of the marvellous footsteps of divine providence, in the building of a very large hospital, or rather, a spacious college, for charitable and excellent uses. And in the maintaining of many orphans & other poor people therein: at Glaucha near Hall, in the domains of the k. of Prussia. Related by the Reverend Augustus Hermannus Franck.
The letter to Mather provides a thorough account of Franckes endeavors at Halle, in the fields of charity, education, and foreign missions.
Francke opens the letter by noting that he had received Mathers letter, books, and a piece of gold, in April 1713 (referring apparently to the correspondence cited in Mathers diary for Nov. 10, 1711), and he apologizes for the long delay in answering, but promises to make Amends for its Delay by setting forth a pretty large Account of our present State of Affairs here, which, I perceive, you are desirous to know.7
Francke reports that the Orphan-House, which maintained 360 persons in 1709, has increased by 100 more who receive their daily dinner and supper in the House. This includes 100 poor boys and 30 girls, plus 24 apprentices and servants who work in the print shop, the library, and the apothecarys shop. The rest are divinity students and scholars, who are permitted to eat their meals there if they need to do so; in return, they are obliged to teach two hours a day in the schools, or to transcribe sermons that are publicly preached, or also some other matters relating to the good of the Publick. There are twelve students comprising the English table who are maintained by monies allocated by Queen Anne; these students study and teach English, and translate certain books from English to German.
Thus, Francke writes, the Orphan-House is concerned with the Improvement of the Mind, as well as with the eternal Salvation of Souls. In the Charity School, the youth are brought up in a living Knowledge of Christ, as also in useful Arts and Sciences. There are about 600 children in the German School (so named to distinguish it from the schools where foreign languagesLatin, Greek, and Hebreware taught) contains about 600 children, most of whom are taught for free, or for a nominal fee. Those in the Latin School are taught history, geography, mathematics, and Vocal Musick. These students come from many foreign countries.
Francke also describes the Seminary of School Masters, by means of which the influence of the teaching methods of Halle has been spread throughout Germany. About twelve years earlier there had been established an Oriental School of Divinity, where students learned Eastern languages under Professor Johann Henry Michaelis, who was preparing a new Hebrew Bible. Francke also writes with pride about Christian Benedictus Michaelis, who had taught oriental languages at Halle for many years.8
Not everyone was pleased with what Francke was doing; he reports that there are some who openly condemn it, as a bad and pernicious Undertaking, including some as call themselves Ministers of the Gospel (probably a reference to the Orthodox Lutheran opponents of the Pietist movement).9 Some of these, when having made some stricter Enquiry into the Matter and thereby having acquainted themselves with the true End and Design of the whole Undertaking, were delivered from their prejudices, Francke writes. He relates how his enemies hoped that, with the death of King Frederick I, that his successor King Frederick William could cut off support for the Halle institutions.
Francke then reports the occasion when King Frederick William, accompanied by top officers of his Army, visited and inspected the Orphan-House, and how the King was well-satisfied, and in fact confirmed and enlarged the royal privileges granted to the Hospital. At the Stiftungen museum today, the walls are delightfully adorned with key parts of the dialogue between the Konig and Dr. Francke, in which the King asks why Francke is educating poor children, how Francke manages to feed and house so many children, and to keep them warm in winter, and whether the boys will be good soldiers as a result of their training.
Other institutions described by Francke in his letter, are the Royal Pedagogium established under Elector Friedrich III in 1695, for the education of the sons of the higher estates, in subjects such as geometry, natural philosophy, astronomy, botany, and like useful sciences. Also the Gynaceum (a school for Gentlemens daughters), a Cherotrophea (for the support of poor widows), the Apothecary Shop (famous worldwide, and a primary source of pharmaceuticals among the Germans in the American colonies), and the Booksellers shop and the printing presses which have hitherto proved highly serviceable, for promoting Religion and Learning both at Home and Abroad. Francke also tells of a project for the printing of inexpensive Bibles, which are able to be purchased by poor families.
Francke reports himself pleased by the manner in which in the Halle model of Orphanages and teaching of poor children has spread to other parts of Germany, and how a more enlarged Spirit of Charity ... has appeared in Germany, among Protestants of both Denominations, no doubt referring to the Lutherans and the Reformed (Calvinists).
Missions and Ecumenicism
The last part of the Francke letter to Mather is taken up with an account on the mission in Tranquebar in the East Indies, sponsored by Frederick IV of Denmark, in which two missionaries from Halle were sent and later a printer from Leipzig. Francke is pleased that the missionaries were invited to become corresponding members of the SPCK. (At Franckes suggestion, Mather himself later carried on a direct correspondence with these missionaries, relating his own experiences in the West Indies to the missionaries deployed in the East Indies.)
Böhm wrote a preface to the edition of the Francke-Mather letter he published, a plea for the ecumenical, universalizing spirit of foreign missions. He declared that it was not the task of missions to draw the heathen into the religious conflicts of the Occident, but to preach true Christianity and to promote the Church universal. Böhm warned against the spirit of partiality which soures the mind, rendering it unfit for propagating true wisdom, and of those who are more concerned about propagating their peculiar way of worship... than the Truth as it is in Jesus Christ.
In his letter to the Tranquebar missionaries, Mather is critical of the Churches of the Reformation for ignoring missions, terming this a great and heavy scandal in the Protestant churches. As did Leibniz, Mather contrasted the lack of missionary spirit in the Protestant churches to the active missionary activities of the Roman Catholic Church (although Leibniz was rather more sympathetic to the Roman Church than was Mather). This was one of Leibnizs purposes in the design of the Berlin Society of Sciences: to establish a Protestant mission to China, from which would follow a commerce in manufactured goods, and also in scientific knowledge and wisdom. This feature comes across clearly in the exhibits at the Franckesche Stiftungen today: that missions were expected to be accompanied by economic development and trade.
The Outer Darkness
In his 1717 reply to Franke, Mather begins by defending American Christianity against the European anti-American prejudice of the day which identified the outer darkness of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:30) in which there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, with America, which was said by some continental theologians to be outside the knowledge and interests of Christ. Mather treats roughly this interpretation identifying America as the outer darkness, and comparing emigrants to America with the worthless servant.
In his Magnalia Christi Americana of 1702, Mather wrote:
But behold ye European Churches, There are Golden Candlesticks ... in the midst of this Outer Darkness: Unto the upright Children of Abraham, here hath arisen Light in Darkness. And let us humbly speak it, it shall be Profitable for you to consider the Light, which from the midst of this Outer Darkness, is now to be Darted over unto the other side of the Atlantick Ocean.In his reply to Francke, Mather put it this way: But into these outer regions the salutary, blessed light of the Gospel did finally penetrate. The sun of righteousness and blessedness arose. This is the work of God ... . Mather further declares that, in the present depraved and deplorable state of this impure world, there is not to be found a place in which true and genuine Christianity is more cultivated than here in New England.
Mather, seeing Americas Christian churches as the light on the candlesticks illuminating not only the darkness of the American continent, but degenerate European Christianity, freqently polemicized against the notion idea which linked the West with the Devil, contrasting that with his view of the enlightening mission of America:
It was an odd Ceremony and Superstition in some ancient Baptisms, that when they Renounced Satan, they turned their Faces to the West, where the Sun sets in Darkness; But professing their Faith in our SAVIOUR, they turned their Faces to the East, the Region where Light arises. We have have seen the Sun Rising in the West; a Forlorn People in the Western World now said, Thro the Tender-Mercy of our GOD, the Day-Spring from on high has Visited us.Mather found his view of the corruption and decay of the Continental Reformation, to be very close to the attitude of the German Pietists. In an Appendix to his 1716 edition of Pietas Hallensis, Böhm had written a brief summary of developments in continental Pietism, emphasizing the practical side of religion, with examples pertaining to the education of children, and the erecting of hospitals and foundations for the care of the poor, and attacking the vast degeneracy and apostacy of the modern Churches of all Parties.
The superficial and common way of philosophizing, together with Aristotles Heathenish trash, has begun to lose credit in some Schools, and a philosophy more favouring of a Christian temper, and raisd upon more solid Principles, set up again, Böhm wrote. Aristotle begins to retire before the Light of the Gospel.
As one might expect, there was a common, strong ecumenical current in the shared outlook of the Mather and the German Pietists, a shared reaction against the religious conflict and religous warfare in Europe, where men would march off to slaughter each other with a sword in one hand and a Bible in the other. In addition to his interest in the unity of the Western churches, Mather was particularly concerned with the Eastern Orthodox Church. In 1701 he published a book entitled American Teares upon the ruines of the Greek Churches.
Related to this was the shared intense interest in missions. Mather, for his part, rejected the view that native Americans were an inferior, sub-species of human, proclaiming that we are sure, that the Americans are of the Noetic Original. For Mather, the American natives, just as the people of Asia, were created in the image of God.
Charity-Schools and Their Enemies: Mandeville and Adam Smith
The same view of man is reflected in the common enthusiasm of Mather and Francke regarding charity schools and the advisability of educating poor children. This is a significant theme of their correspondence and of Mathers diaries. In January 1713 Mather mentions our over-stockt Charity-Schole. He refers to the Charity-School having expired in March 1716, and in July 1716, Mather says that something must be done about for a second Charity-School.
In October of the same year Mather writes that he wants to see about a Charity-School for Negroes to learn to read, including reading the Catechism. This is probably the first time anyone in American undertook to educate Negroeswhich was of course prohibited in the slave-holding colonies; Franklin did the same thing years later in Philadephia. In January 1718 Mather wrote that I have a Charity-School erected for the Instruction of Negroes and Indians. In December 1721 he wrote that he has maintained, at his own expense, a Charity-School for the instruction of Negroes in reading and religion.
This must be understood as a bold idea at the time. As indicated above, Francke encountered intense opposition from the strict Orthodox churchmen in Germany to his charity projects and education of the poor.
Graham Lowrys book relates how the young Benjamin Franklin was deployed from Boston on an intelligence mission to London in 1724, to gather intelligence on the operations of the satanic Hellfire Club and other enemies of the republican faction in England and America, and how Franklin sought out Mandeville as part of this mission. The previous year, Mandeville had published an expanded version of his infamous The Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices, Publick Benefitsan attack on the Leibnizian view of a grand design for society and on creating institutions to promote the common good. Men must be free to do their own selfish thing in the small, Mandeville insisted, and the combination of individual, selfish, even criminal, actions, will invariably lead to the greatest good in the large:
Attached to Mandevilles expanded Fable of the Bees was a new work, an Essay on Charity and Charity-Schools, which makes the battle lines very clear indeed. Accounts of Franckes work report that he created the Halle Foundations in direct opposition to the English model of the poor houseswhich were work houses, poor houses, and penal institutions, all wrapped up in one.
Mandeville flaunts his oligarchal outlook and his bestial view of man, attacking the charity-schools as not just a waste of time, but counterproductive.
Mandevilles theory, simply put, was that every society needs a large body of workers who would patiently submit to drudgery and poverty. In his Essay on Charity and Charity Schools, he wrote:
It is impossible that a Society can long subsist, and suffer many of its members to live in idleness, and enjoy all the ease and pleasure they can invent, without having at the same time great multitudes of people that to make good this defect will condescend to be quite the reverse, and by use and patience inure their bodies to work for others and themselves besides.Throughout the Essay on Charity, he attacks the idea of educating the children of the poor, because it incapacitates them for labor. From another edition of the same work:
No Body will do the Slavish Dirty Work, that can help it. I dont discommend them, but all these things shew that the People of the meanest Rank know too much to be Servicable to us. Servants require more than Masters and Mistresses can afford, and what madness is it to Encourage them in this, by industriously encreasing at our Cost that Knowledge which they will be sure to make us pay for over again!Thus it is, that commentators on Mandeville observe that he viewed religion and trade as contradictory, and that he professed that a nation must choose between moral virtue and economic greatness.
One might expect that such vile rantings would have been consigned to the trash-barrel of Eighteenth century England, never to be heard again, but, alas, Mandeville is lauded still by todays free-market ideologues.
In his 1957 book Theory and History, Ludwig von Mises, one of the key figures of the feudal Austrian School of Economics (which school is now relocated at Milton Friedmans University of Chicago) states that during the Enlightenment, eminent philosophers began to abandon the traditional methods of philosophy and finally stopped brooding about the hidden purpose of Providence in directing the course of events. They began to look at things from the standpoint of acting men, rather than from the standpoint of plans ascribed to God or nature. This is best illustrated by Adam Smith, says von Mises, but he cautions that,
in order to analyze the ideas of Smith we must first refer to Mandeville. ...Friedrich von Hayek, another godfather of todays free marketeers, likewise praises Mandeville as an anticipator of Adam Smiths argument for economic liberty, declaring that the burden of his argument ... is that most of the institutions of society are not the result of design, but how a most beautiful superstructure may be raised upon a rotten and despicable foundation, namely, mens pursuit of their selfish interests ... .
Not for nothing did Alexander Hamilton attack the free-trade dogmas of Adam Smith. The lie that the American Revolution was fought for the ideas of Smith (and, therefore, those of Mandeville as well) is a most pernicious libel against the Founding Fathers and their commitment to the principle of the General Welfarebut unfortunately, it is one which still has some currency in certain quarters today.
Benjamin Franklin and the General Welfare
Back to Benjamin Franklin. Franklin himself, who never questioned the link between moral virtue and economic greatness, avowed that Mathers Essays To Do Good was the book that had the greatest influence on him, and it is beyond question that the Franckean model of charity work and education was a powerful influence on Mathers Essays.
Truly, Franklin was the American Leibnizwho represents the very embodiment of the promotion of the concept of the General Welfare, viz., his creation of the Junto in 1727 (a club for mutual improvement), his 1744 founding of the American Philosophical Society, his promotion of public works, etc., in Philadelphia.
Not surprisingly, Franklin was a promoter of Charity-Schools and had a deep interest in the education of Negro slaves. He opened a school for the education of and teaching of the Catechism to blacks in 1760. Franklin was also a leading member of the SPCK in America (although the institution was very mixed), and he was a member of the governing board of Bray Associatescreated by Thomas Bray, a founder of the SPCK of Francke, Böhm, and Ludolfwhich established a system of libraries in the English colonies, and promoted the Christian education of slaves.
Education and the Christianizing of slaves was violently opposed by most slaveowners and those of the John Locke Life-Liberty-and-Property persuasion. (Lockes constitution for the Carolina colonies in contrast to the 1787 Federal Constitution, ensured the primacy of private property, including slavery.) The terms of the opposition to converting slaves to Christianity, were remarkably similar to Mandevilles argument against educating poor children.
One study of slavery and conversionwhich is sympathetic to these argumentssays: Of great importance was the belief that religious instruction would impair their [slavess] economic value. Many slaves were compelled to work on Sundays as on other days. Another and more serious effect of conversion was the alleged change in the attitude and character of slaves. It was asserted that conversion developed notions of religious equality. ... The notion was widespread that the converted negro became intractable and ungovernable, because of increased knowledge obtained through religious instruction.10
And, as I showed in my earlier article on the history of the General Welfare Clause in the U.S. Consitution,11 it was Franklin, the personification of the continuity from the Massachusetts Bay Colony through to the American Revolution, who provided the first draft for the 1775 Articles of Confederation, explicitly committing the United Colonies to the promotion of their mutual and general Welfare, and also giving the Continental Congress the duty to legislate for the General Welfareprecisely that which Mandeville and Adam Smith railed against.
The American Republic was the first nation-state consciously created to promote the common good for all its citizensin contrast to a Lockean oligarchical system, in which the government exists to perpetuate the power and wealth of a small strata ruling over the majority of the population. The United States was the first sovereign nation-state dedicated to the principle that all men and women are created equal, in the image of God.
Whatever imperfections and compromises existed at the time of our republics creation and thereafter, the very fact that the best minds of Europe, gathered in a trans-Atlantic commonwealth faction based on a Leibnizian conception of Life, Libery and Happinessand not Propertywere able to wield their ecumenical commitment to do good, to create a commonwealth in the New World dedicated to that principle, is what continues to provide hope and inspiration for the world today.
2. In Gotha, during the latter part of the Seventeenth century, were the philologist Hiob Ludolf, (see infra), A.H. Francke, and Laurentius Blumentrost, the founder and first director of the Russian Academy of Science, who was later in contact with Halle.
3. Clearly, Halle was far different from the likes of its well-known inhabitant, the Leibniz-popularizer Christian Wolff, who was actually thrown out of the city by the Pietists in the 1740s, on account of his Enlightenment proclivities.
Among the scientists from Halle who participated in the scientific expeditions to the Far East, were Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt, educated at Halle, who made important discoveries in Siberia, and Georg Wilhelm Steller, who studied theology at Wittenberg and then Halle, and was certified in botany by the Berlin Academy of Science. Steller went to St. Petersburg, where he met Archbishop Feoton Prokovich, who was also in contact with Francke. Besides for Vitus Bering, Steller was the most important scientist on the second Kamchatka expedition (1741-42), which went on to Alaska. Another American connection! (I am indebted to Karl-Michael Vitt of Dusseldorf for his insights on the Halle-Russia connection. Vitt is preparing on article on this subject for Ibykus, the magazine of the Schiller Institute in Germany.)
4. John T. Waterman, Leibniz and Ludolf on Things Linguistic: Excerpts from Their Correspondence, 1688-1703 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978).
5. One could also note the case of another of Leibnizs sponsors, Frederick III, the Elector of Brandenburg. Comparing him to his father, Frederick William (the Great Elector), one historian writes that Frederick III had none of his fathers great qualities, and continues: Obstentatious and extravagant, he ... devoted himself to the beautification of Berlin... He founded the Berlin Academy of Sciences, the University of Halle, and also attracted a number of learned men to his court. Quite obviously the actions of a ruler with no great qualities!
6. Sources for this section include: Cotton Mather, Diary of Cotton Mather (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1911-12); Pietas Hallensis (London), Part I (1705), Part II (1707-08), Part III (1716); Kuno Francke, Cotton Mather and August Hermann Francke, Harvard Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature, Vol. V, 1896; Kuno Francke, The Beginning of Cotton Mathers Correspondence with August Hermann Francke, Philological Quarterly, July 1926; Ernst Benz, Pietist and Puritan Sources of Early Protestant World Missions (Cotton Mather and A.H. Francke), Church History, Vol. XXII, 1951; Ernst Benz, Ecumenical Relations between Boston Puritanism and German Pietism: Cotton Mather and August Hermann Francke, Harvard Theological Review, July 1961.
7. Quotations are taken from Böhms 1716 translation, a microfilm of which is accessible at the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington.
8. When Benjamin Franklin visted Göttingen University in 1766, he met with John (Johann) D. Michaelis, a theologian and orientalistundoubtably related to those at Halle.
9. These same divisions later spilled over among German immigrants to the U.S. Midwest in the Nineteenth century. The more Orthodox Lutheran synods had little or no involvement in social welfare work, whereas it was church groups influenced by Franckean Pietism that first established orphanages and related institutions. This insight was provided by the authors father, who has written a history of Lutheran social welfare. Ruben Spannaus, Love Never Fails (unpublished, 1962).
10. Slavery and Conversion in the American Colonies, American Historical Review, April 1916, available at http://www.dinsdoc.com/jernegan-1.htm.
11. Edward Spannaus, What is the General Welfare? New Federalist, May 15, 2000 (Vol. XIV, No. 17); available at http://members.tripod.com/~american_almanac/welfare.htm.
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