Adams Love Letters, Censuring, Secession, Robert E. Lee, And More – On Foundations Of Freedom: What did our Founders mean when they used the word “men” in our founding documents? What does it mean for RINOs to be censured? Did the South have a right to secede? What is the true story about Robert E. Lee? Today we share some enlightening, surprising love letters from the Adams family. So, tune in to hear the answers to these questions and more on today’s Foundations of Freedom program!

Air Date: 04/07/2022

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Faith and the Culture

Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then let no more be heard of confidence in man that bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”


Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. Thanks for joining us today on WallBuilders Live. Good to have you with us. 

We’re taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. And we want to encourage you to be a force multiplier in sharing the truth about those hot topics of the day in that perspective that we take here at WallBuilders Live. You can do that at our website,, grab the programming there. You can just grab a link and you can share it with your friends and family by reposting it in your social media or emailing it out. It’s a great way to spread the truth, especially on some of these hot topics that folks are looking for answers.  

And we believe all the answers are found in God’s Word. We also believe we can learn from history. And we certainly know that we need to know how this works within our constitution since we live in a constitutional republic. So, all of that available here on our program, and lots of it available at our website,

That’s also the place you can make a one-time or monthly contribution. We’re so thankful for all of you out there that do that on a regular basis. Every time you donate, those dollars are like a force multiplier. It’s making it possible for us to reach more people with this truth, add stations, more downloads, reach more people so that they can then turn around and be the catalyst for a restoration of biblical values and constitutional principles in their communities.

Alright, David and Tim, let’s dive into those questions. First one’s coming from Leslie and it’s about the Declaration and the word ‘men’ in the Declaration. She said “Did the Founders really only mean’ men’ in the Declaration of Independence? 

“Remember the Ladies”

“Did John Adams really laugh at Abigail when she wrote him to “remember the ladies”’? Okay guys, I do remember Abigail writing about remember the ladies, I’ve never heard that he laughed at her. So that’s a story I don’t know.


And well, let me backup. First of all, this is when people talk about the statement from the declaration that all men are created equal, we’ve talked about before, we’ve done many presentations on the fact that if you go back and look at the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, that Jefferson actually clarified part of what that word ‘men’ meant. And that word ‘men’ today were some people think the Declaration is a racist document.

And some people made the claim ridiculously so. They made the claim that the Declaration was a racist document. Because when Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal, he only was referring to white men.

And so we say, wait a second, go back and read the actual draft and the original draft. He actually has this really long grievance, the longest grievance in the entire Declaration that’s against the slave trade that’s against slavery, that identifies the humanity of the individuals who are being taken into the slave trade and into slavery. And he says that these Africans who were brought to America are men, and he fully capitalized as the word ‘MEN’.

The reason I bring that up is that word men is a lot more encompassing than most people give it credit for. We’ve reduced it to say, well, they were only talking about this or only talking about that. If you go back to their era, when they talk about men or man, man was a shortened mankind, they’re talking about all people, all individuals created in God’s image, all of them were equal. 


And it was inclusive of men and women because now we’re talking about the innate value of the individual, not about someone’s necessarily position in life, if they’re wealthy, if they’re poor, if they own a business, or they work for someone who owns a business, that’s a different story.

But this is where in the midst of deconstruction, people look back and because they use a different terminology because we don’t know enough history to recognize even English or grammar or vocabulary, we’ve reduced part of what they’ve said, and applied it to only a very small segment, when really that was not what the argument was in the Declaration of Independence.

Now that’s not getting into the nuance of maybe John Adams laughing at a question Abigail asked him or a position she stated or said. But certainly, if you look at the notion that all men are created equal, he was talking about mankind, that every single man, every single individual and not man, by the anatomy and biology, not the X and Y chromosome man, it was all mankind is created equal because in creation, we were all male and female made in God’s image. That’s really the argument the Declaration is espousing at that point.


Now what happens is, a lot of times people take part of Abigail’s letter and use that for the feminist movement, that men are naturally tyrannical. And by the way, here’s three quotes out of her letter that they loved the quote. 

She says, “Remember, all men would be tyrants that they could be.” She also says “The male sex is naturally tyrannical.” And then she says, “We’ve always been treated only as the vassals of the male sex.” So those are lines they love to lift out and say, look, she’s really advocating for women’s rights and here’s the sexism that was so apparent in their day. And it really looks like there’s a war going on between John and Abigail.

A Humorous Exchange

So now I want to read part of both letters because it really is really a humorous exchange that goes back and forth. You know, Tim has often said around here that sarcasm is our love language. And that’s pretty much the way these two letters are written back and forth, is they were really having fun with each other kind of making fun and playing on stereotypes. 

And is significant that you also need to understand that if any couple in history, it’s quite possible that John and Abigail Adams have the most tenderest and the most respectful relationship of any couple out there. I mean, you can pick any famous couple you want and these two, we know that because of the hundreds of letters they wrote back and forth, and they were close confidants to each other.


And just to clarify that point, dad, as you’re saying this, I mean, this is something that for anybody who cares the time to go look this up, their letters back and forth are like a standard, a typical Hallmark movie, where for every guy, if you read these letters, you’re like, alright, bro, let’s settle down, like you’re getting a little much right now when he says, Abigail, you are the air that I breathe, you’re my sunrise in the morning, you’re my sunset in the evening. And he goes on and, like, obviously great. That’s romantic. It’s awesome. It’s super cool. They definitely love each other. But again, it’s like a Hallmark movie.

So this is the dynamic of their relationship. They’re very open. They have a great relationship. They’re very expressive of their feelings and their love for each other. They’re very committed. And that does give context in for where there could be, certainly, they had disagreements, but also they could have playful banter back and forth. 

And sometimes, if you don’t know their dynamic, don’t know their story, or if you don’t read even the full letter in context, it’s easy to take something out of context, and presume they were taking a different attitude or posture or position than perhaps they actually were.



So the letter I’m going to read that she wrote was on March 31st of 1776. And then he fairly promptly replies back to that. So she starts out and by the way, academic education for women was not really a thing back then. But she taught herself all sorts of sciences. She taught herself French. She taught herself other languages. And so she starts out her letter to John at a time when America has gone through a lot of ups and downs. 

We’ve had the Boston Massacre. We’ve had all sorts of blockades. We’ve had the calamities that happened in Boston and she’s been part of that. And now it’s starting to look like things are a little brighter. They’ve had some good news from the king. And so this is an optimistic letter.

And she starts out with the French statement, and I can’t pronounce France, but she says [French 07:37]. And I looked that up in French and it means a light hearted playfulness. So she says I feel a light hearted playfulness to which I before was a stranger.


Let me clarify. Are you suggesting that maybe Abigail Adams is more educated than you are? I’m curious if that’s where that falls?


No, her vocabulary, now I might be a better speller than she was because spelling was a standardized then…


Because she didn’t even know the right way to spell word…

The Adams Love Letters


That’s right. That’s it, yeah. And nobody did until here came Noel Webster. So she starts out with this thing that says, “I feel a light hearted playfulness to which before I was a stranger. I think the sun looks brighter, the birds sing more melodiously and nature puts on a more cheerful countenance.” So she’s just talking about the whole atmosphere is so good and I just really feel light-hearted and playful.

And then this is what she says in the letter to him. She says, “I longed to hear that you’ve declared an independancy. And by the way, in the new code of laws, which I suppose it would be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than we’re your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the husbands. 

Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to create a rebellion and we will not hold ourselves bound by any law in which we have no voice or representation, that your sex, the male sex is naturally tyrannical is a truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute.

But such of you as wished to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of master for the more tender and enduring one a friend. Why then not put it out of the power the vicious and the lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity? Men of sense in all ages appall those customs which treat us only as the vassals of the male sex; regardless then as beings placed by Providence under your protection and an imitation of the Supreme Being make use of that power only for our happiness.”

Now, that’s her comments. You really get the tone of this when John responds back laughing at this and say that’s some of the funniest stuff I’ve heard. And he just says it’s really cute and here’s the response back. And so you’ve heard her tone, but again, she said this is light-hearted playfulness. 


So this is a sarcasm kind of stuff here. So here’s his response. He says, “Your own description of your lighthearted playfulness charms me.” So there’s the tone right there: I read your letter and this is one of the most charming letters I’ve seen. He says “Thanks be to God, you have just cause to rejoice, and made the bright prospect be obscured by no cloud.”

He says, “As to the Declaration of Independence, be patient. As to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot laugh. We’ve been told that our struggle has loosened the bands of government everywhere. We’ve been told that what we’re doing has children and apprentices being disobedient, the schools and colleges have grown turbulent that the Indians have slighted their guardians and the negros now grow insolent to their masters.” In other words, our call for independence has got everybody doing stuff.

He said, “But your letter was the first hint that another tribe more numerous and powerful than all the rest has now grown discontented. This is rather to course to compliment. But you’re so saucy, I won’t forget it.” He says “Depend on it, we know better than to repeal our masculine systems. Although they are in full force, you know they are little more than theory. We dare not exert our power and full latitude.

We’re obliged to go fair and softly. And in practice, you know that we are the subjects. We only have the name of masters, and rather than give this up, which would completely subject us to the despotism of the petticoat, I hope General Washington and all our brave heroes will stand and fight.”

So you get the humor going back and forth. He said that this is enough to make Washington stand up and fight the ladies. You’re trying to demand too much. And by the way, we all know that what you’ve said is not the way it really works. We’re the ones who are subject to you guys, you guys have full control. So it’s this banter that goes back and forth. 

And people that try to be way too serious will go on and pick out a clause here or there. And he did say I laugh at what you said. But it’s not the idea. It’s just the whole tone of what you did. So that’s the context and that’s why it’s really fun to go back and see the context which is why it’s also important to go back and read the content.

Context Matters


And it’s why also matters that we don’t just, and dad, as you’re saying, go back and read the context, you mean, read the full letter, right? It’s why we don’t just read one sentence from somebody saying, well, they said this because there are a lot of true things that were said. But if you don’t read the full letter, you don’t gain the context. Dad, as you were commenting, we need to make sure we read the context.

If you even look at, for example, like Frederick Douglass on 1852 and I don’t remember exactly when the date was, but it was what does 4th of July mean to the black man, what does it mean to the Negro? And this is where you have people like Colin Kaepernick and some of these Black Lives Matter individuals or the CRT individuals that will say, if you look at this letter, Frederick Douglass came out and talked about how America wasn’t really that great and these negative things.

And even though he did say some of those things in the letter, or is actually a speech he gave it, it was recorded and so that’s why people read it as a letter, but nonetheless, in the speech he gave, if you read the full speech, he goes on to say that the Constitution is not racist, instead is one of the glorious liberty documents. 

That because of the Constitution, the abolition movement can progress and we will see slavery ended because of the Constitution. He goes on. And where he concludes, his speech is very different from where he acknowledges there were problems in America, where he acknowledged that in the Declaration, they made certain statements but those promises had not yet been fulfilled and so there was work to be done.

But that’s why you read the whole speech or the whole letter, as the case might be, to gain context. And sometimes you have to even read the surrounding letters and other things to gain an even broader context. First of all, it’s a great question, and we love getting questions. We can go back and look at the original documents and even take time to read some of those letters on air, which…



And by the way, I’ve got to tell you that was hard to read her letter because her syntax and vocabulary level, I mean, that makes King James look like kid’s stuff. I mean, that was a tough letter read, the way she put it together.


Well, and lots of jokes off mic that we have. And we’ll talk about when you look at early America, people that were considered uneducated or under-educated, and where their vocabulary, where their education was compared to ours today, people that are considered highly educated are not even close. It’s fun stuff to study history. But again, all that to say, we really enjoy being able to do this. 

So it’s a great question. Certainly though, it does indicate why it matters that we go back and study original documents. That’s why we really appreciate you guys asking questions on Foundations of Freedom so we can dive into some of these topics and help unfold what’s true historically, what’s true biblically, what’s true constitutionally, to make sure that we’re not allowing one side or one group of people, some individuals to misdirect, redirect or even lie about some of the history or reality of the nation.


Yeah, I was just thinking, thank you, Leslie, for sending in such a good question. But I have two quick thoughts. Number one, David, you might say yes, she was better educated, but not as good as speller. I will say that even pre-Webster, she was still a better speller than me. So I was blown away by the letter actually. 

And then the second thought was I could see this exact conversation happening between Kara and me. Like, we would have seen banter and joke, you know, and kind of little digs here and there. I mean, to me, that’s what it felt like. And same for you guys and your wives.


I mean, I just think, yeah, you got to have the right context. And I thought it was humorous. And it actually made me respect their marriage a lot more. And I didn’t realize that.

I hadn’t studied that much what you were saying earlier about them, all the marriages and all the people that you study in that founding era time, this was such a good one and such a good example. Really cool stuff. So Leslie, great question. Folks out there, you may have similar questions, send them in [email protected], we would love to get them. We’re going to take a quick break and get to some more of your questions when we return right here on WallBuilders Live.


Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have at WallBuilders called The American Story. For so many years, people have asked us to do a history book to help tell more of the story that’s just not known or not told today.

And we would say very providentially in the midst of all of the new attacks coming out against America, whether it be from things like the 1619 project that say America is evil, and everything in America was built off slavery, which is certainly not true or things, like even the Black Lives Matter movement, the organization itself, not out the statement Black Lives Matter, but the organization that says we’re against everything that America was built on, and this is part of the Marxist ideology. There’s so many things attacking America.

Well, is America worth defending? What is the true story of America? We actually have written and told that story starting with Christopher Columbus, going roughly through Abraham Lincoln, we tell the story of America not as the story of a perfect nation of a perfect people. But the story of how God used these imperfect people and did great things through this nation. It’s a story you want to check out,, The American Story.

President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”


We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Thanks for staying with us today.


Next question comes from Christie in Missouri. She says “I heard today on the news that Republican rhinos, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger were censured. What exactly does that mean to be censured? Is it just a formal slap on the hand and nothing will come from it? Thanks for your radio program and sharing your knowledge. We listen all the time. God bless.” Christie, thank you very much for sending that question in.

So, guys censure, and I’m guessing this was not censured by the whole house. This was just the Republican caucus or maybe their state GOP, I’m not sure.


Yeah, it was state GOP. And also, I think the national GOP took a hand in part of it. But this is a procedural move. It has no impact at all except it says you guys claim to be Republicans, and you voted for the impeachment of Trump with all the Democrats, you’re really not Republicans and so we’re censoring you. 

What that means is we as Republicans as the Republican Party, we’re not going to give you any money that we raised for your campaign. We’re not going to give you any of our lists. Anything that’s Republican that belongs to the Republican Party, we’re not going to let you have it. Now, that doesn’t mean we take your office away, it doesn’t mean that we take any power away from you, it just means you’re on your own with the campaign, you get no Republican help, at least from the official party.

So that’s all the censure is. Now for censure from the House of Representatives, that’s a different thing. That’s a big formal hand slap from the House. And that goes on your record. And that means you’ve really crossed the line, done something either unethical or immoral or way out of bounds for what they should be doing in Congress. And I don’t know what that would be anymore. 


Now, with Pelosi and the stuff that’s been happening, if you can do a small what than others do, I have no clue what censure would mean now. But in this case, it’s a very simple thing, it means no Republican funds, no Republican assets that belong to the party are going to be used in your reelection.


Interesting. So it is more than slap on the hand. I mean, it cost you some campaign funds, and probably not get invited to certain events to speak and that sort of thing as well.


Well, essentially, what it means is you’re not going to have to run as an independent, is as if you’d have no party. You can still claim the Republican name. But we’re not going to give you any help.


And fairness, in some actually, maybe many places in the US, having a Republican on the name is very helpful in your state. So even if they’re not donating funds to you, the fact that you can still be in the Republican primary or in the general as a Republican, that still can be very beneficial based on where you are running.

But it does indicate that they’re out of step with the official party, maybe the part of their state or the national party. And so the party says, look, if you keep going that direction, then we’re not supporting you.

And it’s probably fair to say that for like Liz Cheney, if she came out and said, hey, you know what, I was totally wrong. I took the wrong person. I shouldn’t have done it, that they probably would say, okay, well, if you’re coming back to this side, then we will continue our support of you. 

The Truth About Robert E. Lee

But it’s really a move for them saying as long as you’re holding that position, as long as you’re good that direction, that’s not the same direction that our party is going. And so if we’re going in diametrically opposed directions, then we’re not going to support you as you pursue a different direction than we’re going. And that’s kind of the indication of what happened.

Dad, as you mentioned, it doesn’t mean they get kicked out the Republican Party, it means that the party is not going to help support and fund them as they’re going in a different direction.


Alright, let’s move over to Keith, he asked a question about succession. And Robert E. Lee, he said, “I have been fascinated to learn much from your series on “Setting the Record Straight”. It’s a wonderful series for listeners that may not be familiar with that. It’s both a book and a video series and you can check it out at 

It’s actually called Setting the Record Straight: America’s History in Black and White. And I’m telling you truth bombs all through that thing. Go check it out. 

Anyway, Keith goes on to say “I am still puzzled about whether the South had a right to secede. Did and do states have a right to leave the union? Also, please enlighten us about Robert E. Lee. I grew up believing he was a hero that chose his state over his country but did not agree with slavery. What is the true story about him?

So guys, we don’t have a lot of time left today. Those are two huge questions. Let’s see how quick you can answer them.

The Slavery Issue


Well, let’s first unfold the Robert E. Lee thing because there’s something that if we look back historically, I mean, Robert E. Lee, certainly we will look and go he was on the wrong side of the slavery issue as far as the position that the South took. Now it’s also worth noting historically, that Abraham Lincoln actually approached Robert E. Lee and asked Robert E Lee to lead the Union forces. 

And as Lee sees this kind of chaos beginning to descend, he says, hey, if there’s about to be a war, and the Union army is going south, and is going to come through Virginia, that’s where my family and friends are, there’s going to be a war, I can’t lead the army that’s going to kill my family and friends. I have to be on the side of my family and friends.

And so Lee does not go to the south, because of maybe some of these secession reasons that were identified by the various states, but he really does it to be loyal to his family, friends, to be loyal to his state. Now that’s one thing to note.

The issue of him being slavery, well, Lee was not necessarily antislavery, but he was in favor of treating people as human beings, where in Virginia, it was illegal at the time to educate black people. 

And Robert E. Lee decided that on Sunday, he was going to do Sunday school classes where he was teaching Africans or black Americans, he was teaching them how to read. And so he actually taught Sunday school classes. At a time when it was illegal to educate black people in America, he was doing that educating black people in America.

So he definitely doesn’t fall in the super racist category. And I know, it’s weird to say that he wasn’t really antislavery. But he wasn’t super racist.

Again, I know that’s super weird to say. And it’s kind of a nuance and I’m sure there’s going to be leftist outlets out there who were like, oh, my gosh, Tim Barton just said this. This is crazy. If you study history and context, slavery was embrace condition around the world at the time.

The Civil War

At the time of the Civil War, there were really only like three major nations in the world that had ended slavery. It was England. It was France. It was Denmark. Some people want to point to other nations, but most other nations like Brazil that actually had a law that said, hey, slavery is illegal, they still had slaves in 1880. 

So it wasn’t like they eliminated slavery in the nation, even though they had passed some antislavery laws. But you did have the New England states in America that were passing antislavery laws before anywhere else in the world. So there is this dichotomy of the North and the South and the slavery position.

With that being said, Robert E. Lee definitely was on the pro slavery side in the Civil War. And this is something that a lot of people today, they learn the idea of states’ rights. Well, the South seceded for states’ rights. 

Although if you go back and read, when they announced their secession, many of these states actually had declarations of secession, where they explained, here’s why we’re actually leaving. Go back and read their explanation. 

Because again, this was the political leaders of the states that were seceding, saying, here’s why we are leaving and what they wrote in their declaration secession documents was they were leaving to protect the institution of slavery, or as some states call that the divine blessing of African slavery, they were leaving to protect that. In the Confederate Constitution, it even said that you could not join if you were not a pro-slavery state, that you could not pass any laws to end slavery.

So even this idea that they were in favor of states’ rights, well, apparently not as much as we think because they didn’t give you the right to end slavery if you’re part of the Confederate States of America. All that to say, do states still really have a right to secede today or did they then? We probably need to fill this question or another day, because we’re almost out of time.

But the short answer would be not really because they made a marriage contract, so to speak. And in the marriage contract, like kind of this Bible idea, they removed the idea of no fault divorce, where you can’t just bail out for no reason whatsoever. And the idea that there was a Republican president who was going to say that, hey, we’re not going to do slavery anymore, and therefore justified they could get out because that’s a violation of their state’s rights. 

There’s a much longer conversation that could be had. But I think the short answer and dad, you might clarify in the next like five seconds maybe, the short answer would be no and still no today by and large, there’s probably more context to really answer that question…

Love Letters, Censuring, Secession, Robert E. Lee, And More – On Foundations Of Freedom


Yeah, real quickly. It was a no fault divorce. And back then it took an act of the legislator for a couple to get a divorce. We actually have some of those Bills of Divorcement, which is what they’re called. It takes a bill in the legislature to get divorced. So when you made that covenant, when they formed the United States, this was a permanent covenant. 

And so at the time of the Civil War, you’ll find that those who oppose secession quoted from Washington, Jefferson, and Adams and Madison, all the Founding Fathers, that you can’t succeed. So there were even attempts to secede, Connecticut thought about in 1810. This was not a new thing. 

And always the founder said, no, you joined in, this is a covenant. You don’t break that covenant. And so the answer is no; from an original intent standpoint, you did not have a right to secede based on the writings of the Founding Fathers themselves who dealt with that issue back in their day.


And just like Tim said, if the contract is breach, that’s different. But getting rid of slavery was something everybody anticipated from the beginning that that was eventually going to happen. So it wasn’t a breach of contract to get rid of slavery. You know, people could certainly argue today, there’s a lot of breaches of contract at this point with the federal government doing things the Constitution doesn’t allow to do. 

So it’s probably some interesting conversations as we continue forward with where the country is headed. But yeah, I completely agree. I think the idea that you could secede back then based on that was faulty logic on the part of the South. So, bring on the heat mail, folks, I know it’s coming after I said that. Thanks for being with us today. Send those questions in [email protected] You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.