by Gordon Franz
H. Clay Trumbull, the editor of the Sunday School Times, wrote the president of the United States and requested him to write a message to the children and young people of America. The president graciously responded:
“WASHINGTON, June 6, 1876.
To the Editor of the Sunday School Times, Philadelphia.
Your favor of yesterday, asking a message from me to the children and youth of the United States, to accompany your Centennial Number, is this moment received.
My advice to Sunday Schools, no matter what their denomination, is: Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your heart, and PRACTICE THEM IN YOUR LIVES.
To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future.
‘Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.’
Yours respectfully, U. S. Grant”
(Grant 1967:27:124, capital letters were doubly underscored in the original letter; Biblical citation, Prov. 14:34).
This letter was printed in the June 17, 1876 issue of the Sunday School Times published by John Wanamaker. It also appeared on page 4 of the June 15, 1876 edition of the New York Times. Nine years later, the letter was reprinted on the first page of the New York Times (August 1, 1885). This challenge, written by the 18th president of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877), is still valid today for both young and old.
1876 The President to the Sunday-School Children. New York Times. June 15, 1876, page 4.
1885 Grant’s Message to the Children. New York Times. August 1, 1885, page 1.
Grant, Ulysses S.
1967 The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: January 1 – October 31, 1876. Edited by J. Simon. Vol. 27. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University.