Robert Charles Winthrop

It is often the case that a prominent man whose great respect for the Word of God is praised for his avenue of prominence but not for his affinity in the Word. In fact, adherence to the Word is seen by the world as a character weakness. Such is the case with some of our early politicians and public servants. Robert Charles Winthrop, a contemporary and close associate of Daniel Webster, was a seventh generation founder in the family line of John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Upon completion of his term as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and speaking to the Massachusetts Bible Society, Winthrop noted the two distinct philosophies he had observed within that political body he served:

“Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of men; either by the Bible or the bayonet.”

The notable success of Winthrop is not his political service, which ended bitterly when forces opposing his positions gathered a political army to end his career, but it is the continued faithfulness to the Word he so strongly lived by. For thirty years serving as a founder in the Bible Society, he taught that the principles of the Bible are the necessary tools for a truly free society, that man cannot govern without them, nor can he ignore them and escape calamity. While his ancestor Governor Winthrop was probably too legalistic in the Puritan stronghold of the Bay Colony, he was still a firm proponent of biblical law to hold his colony together. For over 200 years, the family had consistently held the Word of God as the final authority for all matters, especially governing society. Both Winthrops saw the merit of a nation whose God is the Lord. So when Robert Winthrop was drummed out of the Congress by the opposition, he picked up the mantle and carried on, spreading the Word as a lay preacher until his death in 1894.