The story of Charles Thomson, one of America’s most important founders, is a fascinating one that often goes unexplored. As the Congressional secretary from 1774 to 1789, he was privy to some of the most pivotal moments in American history – from the Revolution to the establishment of the federal government. He was also responsible for making the final decisions for the design of the Great Seal of the United States, which now adorns our dollar bills.
Thomson’s involvement with these important events didn’t stop there however; he also made detailed notes about each of them and compiled a manuscript about what transpired during this historic period. Despite several requests to publish his work, Thomson refused claiming that it would “contradict all the histories of the great events of the Revolution” and that it would be wrong to “undeceive future generations.” He then destroyed his manuscript – effectively taking with him any account that could provide a direct insight into America’s revolutionary period.
In today’s world it isn’t uncommon to see admiration for those who were responsible for laying out a new form of government during America’s founding as well as debate surrounding whether or not America was founded as a Christian nation. Some historians point out that 150 years before America declared its independence, when Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, they had undoubtedly brought with them their Christian beliefs and values. Consequently much of early revolutionary thinking has been seen through this lens – what has become known as “Patriotic Christianity.”
To gain further insights into this period in American history and more insight into Charles Thomson’s story we recommend watching The Forgotten Founder: Charles Thomson and The Creation Of American History which traces and documents its subject’s important role in shaping this nation’s destiny. Through interviews with some of today’s most renowned US historians and unparalleled access to libraries containing original manuscripts – including Charles Thomson’s – this documentary provides an in-depth exploration into an often overlooked (but incredibly significant) aspect of America’s past.