The Bullfinch Independence Monument and America’s Dependence On God

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NewBostonPost is publishing a regular weekly column by local religious leaders each Friday. This week’s article is below.


Did you know that the first monument to American Independence was erected on Beacon Hill in Boston in 1790? Designed by renowned sculptor Charles Bulfinch, it replaced the long-standing beacon erected by Governor John Winthrop in 1635, which was taken down by the British during the American Revolution.

The original beacon was erected to warn the colonists of impending emergency or war, as well as guide ships safely into Boston Harbor.  It came to symbolize the heart of Winthrop’s written (and possibly spoken) treatise Model of Christian Charity.  His address to those who arrived on 17 ships in 1630 had the same two themes, a warning and a promise.  Winthrop said:

“We shall find that the God of Israel is among us … that men shall say of succeeding plantations, ‘may the Lord make it like that of New England.’  … if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.”

 The Puritans understood Biblical covenants.  They contained blessings (promises) and curses (warnings) for obedience and disobedience (see Deuteronomy 28). Today, we have disobeyed or ignored these promises and are beginning to experience His judgment for disobedience.

But what does this have to do with Bulfinch’s independence monument? Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, picked the American bald eagle as our national symbol.  He stated that it was to depict the “incarnation of the Deity” in answer to prayer.  Bulfinch put his three-dimensional gilded eagle on top of his independence pole.  In addition to the chronicles of the battles of the Revolution and our independence was a dedicatory plaque on the back that reads as an act of thanksgiving:

AMERICANS!  While from this EMINENCE, scenes of luxuriant fertility, of flourishing COMMERCE, & the abodes of social happiness, meet your view, forget not those who by their exertions have secured to you these BLESSINGS.”

When the land of the original Beacon Hill Monument was sold and cut down for fill in 1811, the Bulfinch gilded eagle was put in the highest part of the Dome of the Massachusetts State House, now the Senate Chamber.  As a reminder that our nation began with prayer and to continue with God’s blessing, a ribbon was put in the beak of the Eagle with the words – God Save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

 In the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, Article III of Part the First states that “the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion, and morality” and authorized the state legislature to require local communities to provide “public protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality.” Those who formed our state constitution understood that the preaching of the gospel is what increases obedience to God’s covenant, preserves liberty, and brings the blessings of God.

St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy 1:1-5 undergirds such a sentiment, and it behooves all of us as believers to take heed:

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

 Let us not simply wait for revival and awakening to come in the culture, let’s take the initiative to repent of our own sins, and pray for those who are in authority, regardless of whether we agree with them or not; for, as Peter says in his first letter (4:17), judgment begins at the house of God.


Dr. Paul Jehle is the Senior Pastor of The New Testament Church and the founding Principal of The New Testament Christian School, both in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Sermons and articles by him can be found at his church’s web site ( ) and at his ministry web site (


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