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  • Writer's pictureSara Ault

Our Germanic World-View in America’s Founding

Everyone has heard America referred to as a “Christian Nation”. Setting the etymology of the word ‘nation’ aside, most of our founding fathers considered themselves Deists. While the majority of settlers certainly considered themselves Christians our Germanic world-view and folk traditions were still firmly in place in the 1700s. Focusing on Benjamin Franklin in particular we see our ancestral wisdom echoed in his writings and his life.

Until a split with his parent’s Puritan faith it was planned that he would attend Harvard to become a pastor.

In 1727 at 21 Franklin formed the Junto club, a form of männerbund. The founding members were craftsmen, printers, surveyors, cabinet makers, clerk, and a bartender… not top bankers and merchants in the colonies. Membership was based on a “spirit of inquiry when it came to politics, philosophy and a desire to better themselves and the community.”

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy, and wise.” is Franklin’s most famous quote. It’s similarity to verse 58 of the Havamal is striking.

He must early go forth | who fain the blood

Or the goods of another would get,

The wolf that lies idle | shall win little meat,

Or the sleeping man success.

But this is not the only instance. In his Moral Improvement Project we see a sort of Nine Noble Virtues.

Temperance – “Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation” combines both verses 19 and 20.

The greedy man | if his mind be vague,

Will eat till sick he is…

Shun not the mead | but drink in measure;

Speak to the point or be still.

Silence – “Speak not but what might benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation” is touched on in verse 19 as well, but is even better expressed in verse 27.

A witless man | when he meets with men,

Had best in silence abide;

For no one shall find | that nothing he knows,

If his mouth is not open too much.

Industry – “Lose no time, but always be employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions” is literally one of our Noble Virtues, Industriousness we get from verse 59.

He must early go forth | whose workers are few,

Himself his work to seek;

Much remains undone | for the morning-sleeper,

For the swift is wealth half won.

This is not to say Benjamin Franklin was even aware of the lore, but that the ancestral memory still held these ideals. That as recently as the founding of America our gods were shining through the men who built this country.

Thomas Jefferson likewise recognized our ancestral world-view when he spoke of what guided our founding documents “…the common law existed while Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or knew that such a character existed.”

Moreover, he wanted the seal of these United States of America to be Hengist and Horsa, the Germanic brothers who is said to have led the Angels, Saxons, and Jutes in their invasion of Britain in the 5th century. According to the historian Bede, Hengist and Horsa were the sons of Wictgils, son of Witta, son of Wecta, son of Woden.

That’s right, Jefferson wanted to make the seal of this nation the descendants of Woden!

So, on Independence Day; remember our ancestors, the founders of this nation, did not declare independence from our folk-ways or our faith.

Raise a horn to Woden!

Hail All-Father!

Hail the Founding Fathers!

Gothi Lane Ashby


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