How The Founding Fathers Dealt With Those Who Engaged in Sodomy
I have made no bones about the fact that the ultimate authority on the issue of sodomy is the Bible and it is crystal clear in condemning it. If others want to cite polls and commentaries and “experts” to attempt to bolster their claim in favor of sodomy, they are welcome to do so. However, what I find a bit disingenuous are those that will talk about rights within the context of the Constitution, which was written by men, not God as though the men who wrote it and backed it would have sided with practicing sodomites today on the issue of marriage. I can tell you that the issue of marriage would have never been addressed as it is today, simply because the view of homosexuality was addressed first, thus making the point of same-sex “marriage” a ridiculous notion.
First, note that our founding fathers would have been outraged that sodomites would be out in the open. They knew that such perversion would both undermine and erode the moral foundations of civilization. Under the British common law, the term sodomy was used to identify same-sex relations and was a capital crime. Understand that the founders referenced Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England extensively. He was a British attorney, jurist, law professor, author, and political philosopher.
Blackstone’s commentaries were the premiere legal source used by the Founding Fathers in America. So this should carry some weight with those who claim they know what the Founding Fathers knew and wanted concerning the issue of sodomy, but I’m guessing they will dismiss it. In Blackstone’s Book the Fourth of Public Wrongs: Of Offences against the Persons of Individuals, Chapter Fifteen, he writes the following on pages 215-216 (emphasis added):
IV. WHAT has been here observed…, which ought to be the more clear in proportion as the crime is the more detestable, may be applied to another offence, of a still deeper malignity; the infamous crime against nature, committed either with man or beast…. But it is an offence of so dark a nature…that the accusation should be clearly made out….
I WILL not act so disagreeable part, to my readers as well as myself, as to dwell any longer upon a subject, the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature. It will be more eligible to imitate in this respect the delicacy of our English law, which treats it, in it’s very indictments, as a crime not fit to be named; peccatum illud horribile, inter chriftianos non nominandum [“that horrible sin not to be named among Christians”—DM]. A taciturnity observed likewise by the edict of Constantius and Constans: ubi fcelus eft id, quod non proficit fcire, jubemus infurgere leges, armari jura gladio ultore, ut exquifitis poenis fubdantur infames, qui funt, vel qui futuri funt, rei [“When that crime is found, which is not profitable to know, we order the law to bring forth, to provide justice by force of arms with an avenging sword, that the infamous men be subjected to the due punishment, those who are found, or those who future will be found, in the deed”—DM]. Which leads me to add a word concerning its punishment.
THIS the voice of nature and of reason, and the express law of God, determine to be capital. Of which we have a signal instance, long before the Jewish dispensation, by the destruction of two cities by fire from heaven: so that this is an universal, not merely a provincial, precept. And our ancient law in some degree imitated this punishment, by commanding such miscreants to be burnt to death; though Fleta
says they should be buried alive: either of which punishments was indifferently used for this crime among the ancient Goths. But now the general punishment of all felonies is the fame, namely, by hanging: and this offence (being in the times of popery only subject to ecclesiastical censures) was made single felony by the statute 25 Hen. VIII. c. 6. and felony without benefit of clergy by statute 5 Eliz. c. 17. And the rule of law herein is, that, if both are arrived at years of discretion, agentes et confentientes pari poena plectantur.
Most Americans are completely unaware that the “Father of our country,” George Washington, who would also be considered this country’s first “Commander-in-Chief” approved the dismissal from the service at Valley Forge in 1778 of Lt. Frederick Gotthold Enslin. Why did he do this? According to the orders, which are held at the Library of Congress, Enslin was “attempting to commit sodomy” with another soldier. Under the title of “Head Quarters, V. Forge, Saturday, March 14, 1778” there is the following entry:
At a General Court Martial whereof Colo. Tupper was President (10th March 1778) Lieutt. Enslin of Colo. Malcom’s Regiment tried for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier; Secondly, For Perjury in swearing to false Accounts, found guilty of the charges exhibited against him, being breaches of 5th. Article 18th. Section of the Articles of War and do sentence him to be dismiss’d the service with Infamy. His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return; The Drummers and Fifers to attend on the Grand Parade at Guard mounting for that Purpose.
What’s even more interesting is that Enslin’s dismissal came less than two weeks after another soldier, Ensign Anthony Maxwell, was acquitted of the charge of “propagating a scandalous report prejudicial to the character of Lieutt. Enslin” on Feb. 27, 1778. Penny Star cites the transcription of the court martial dated March 3, 1778: “At a Brigade Court Martial whereof Colo. Burr was President (Feby. 27th. 1778,) Ensign Maxwell of Colo. Malcom’s Regiment tried for propagating a scandalous report prejudicial to the character of Lieutt. Enslin. The Court after maturely deliberating upon the Evidence produced could not find that Ensign Maxwell had published any report prejudicial to the Character of Lieutt. Enslin further than the strict line of his duty required and do therefore acquit him of the Charge.”
Note that our first President viewed “sodomy” or homosexual relations with “Abhorrence and Detestation.” He was not a spineless, wishy washy, panty waisted man like the current occupant of the White House, who claims his views have “evolved.” He was a man that recognized perverse behavior for what it was, perversion. He was not alone either. In all thirteen colonies, sodomy was treated as a criminal offense and eventually that grew to encompass each and every one of the fifty states. By the way, that fell under “equal treatment under the law.”
The law was based upon Leviticus 20:13:
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.”
This verse was “adopted into legislation and enforced by the colonies of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.” Oh the irony that 2012’s GOP Mormon nominee for President Mitt Romney was the one to “legalize” homosexual “marriage” in Massachusetts. Here are just a few of the states and the punishments they executed for sodomy.
That the detestable and abominable vice of buggery [sodomy]. . . shall be from henceforth adjudged felony . . . and that every person being thereof convicted by verdict, confession, or outlawry [unlawful flight to avoid prosecution], shall be hanged by the neck until he or she shall be dead. NEW YORK
That if any man shall lie with mankind as he lieth with womankind, both of them have committed abomination; they both shall be put to death. CONNECTICUT
Sodomy . . . shall be punished by imprisonment at hard labour in the penitentiary during the natural life or lives of the person or persons convicted of th[is]detestable crime. GEORGIA
That if any man shall commit the crime against nature with a man or male child . . . every such offender, being duly convicted thereof in the Supreme Judicial Court, shall be punished by solitary imprisonment for such term not exceeding one year and by confinement afterwards to hard labor for such term not exceeding ten years. MAINE
That if any person or persons shall commit sodomy . . . he or they so offending or committing any of the said crimes within this province, their counsellors, aiders, comforters, and abettors, being convicted thereof as above said, shall suffer as felons. 13 [And] shall forfeit to the Commonwealth all and singular the lands and tenements, goods and chattels, whereof he or she was seized or possessed at the time . . . at the discretion of the court passing the sentence, not exceeding ten years, in the public gaol or house of correction of the county or city in which the offence shall have been committed and be kept at such labor. PENNSYLVANIA
[T]he detestable and abominable vice of buggery [sodomy]. . . be from henceforth adjudged felony . . . and that the offenders being hereof convicted by verdict, confession, or outlawry [unlawful flight to avoid prosecution], shall suffer such pains of death and losses and penalties of their goods. SOUTH CAROLINA
That if any man lieth with mankind as he lieth with a woman, they both shall suffer death. VERMONT
Ah, but some will say, “Thomas Jefferson would have never stood for this. He wanted liberty and equal rights for homosexuals to get married.” Not according to the record he didn’t. In Notes on the State of Virginia by Matthew Carey (1794) Jefferson indicated that in his home state of Virginia, “dismemberment” of the offensive organ was the penalty for sodomy. I’m guessing there weren’t too many sodomites wanting that to take place. You might say that is Jefferson’s home state, but not Jefferson’s thoughts on the issue. Not so fast. Jefferson actually authored a bill penalizing sodomy by castration (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew A. Lipscomb, editor (Washington, D. C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. I, pp. 226-227, from Jefferson’s “For Proportioning Crimes and Punishments)). The below capture of Jefferson’s legislation is courtesy of The Library of Congress and Apologeticspress.org.
I’ll conclude by stating that the founders understood the role that morality plays in a culture. Washington in his famous “Farewell Address,” which used to be memorized by high school students in America said:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity [happiness]. Let it simply be asked, “Where is the security for property, for reputation for life, if the sense of religious obligations desert … ?”
And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ‘Tis substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it [free government]can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
Now understand this. I don’t believe that all the founders were Christian. Obviously there were Unitarians, at least one Jew, Christians, atheists and deists, and many that belonged to the Masonic Lodge. While morality apart from Jesus Christ results in moralism, there is no doubt that the morals that were taught in the Bible were taken to heart in regards to sodomy. In other words, if we take Washington’s words seriously, then he not only has referenced disordered sodomite behavior as ‘abhorrent and detestable,’ but he has also said that proponents of this particular sin cannot rightly call themselves patriots.
It is unpatriotic, to say the least, to propagate as a ‘constitutional right,’ that which our founders called an ‘infamous crime against nature,’ punishable by death or dismemberment.
How far we’ve fallen.