Characterizing Mary-Elaine Swanson (1927-2011)
And her book,
“John Locke – Philosopher of American Liberty”
Nordskog Publishing, 2012
By James Rose, President, American Christian History Institute
My characterization of Mary-Elaine
Quickened by the research and remarkable testimony of Verna M. Hall, American Christian Historian, Mary-Elaine Swanson (nee Adams) devoted her spiritual and intellectual gifts for the last fifty years to documenting the Christian history and character of the men and women God used to advance individual liberty and self-government in America.
Equipped with a background in journalistic writing and research, fluent in French, and enriched with a unique English heritage, Mary-Elaine has lectured and written on the history of freedom and civil government as Vice President of the American Christian History Institute, Resident Scholar for the Mayflower Institute, Chief Biographer for the Foundation for American Christian Education, and Guest Lecturer for the Pilgrim Institute.
She wrote concise biographies of the character and contributions of nearly eighty historians from Simon Adler and Clarence Alvord to John Witherspoon and Rev. John Joachim Zubly. Her life and works are examples of American Christian scholarship and insistence upon accurate, honest representations of man and government.
Mary-Elaine wrote two comprehensive biographies: The Education of James Madison – A Model for Today (1992) and John Locke – Philosopher of the American Revolution (Nordskog Publishing, 2012). These two works alone cited over 160 individual historians, confirming her commitment to thorough research and devotion to primary sources.
Among the cherished personal recollections of this beloved sister in the Lord is my first impression of her, in 1958, over 50 years ago. She was Co-Chairman of a Study Group on the Historic Origins of the Constitution held monthly at the Women’s City Club in downtown San Francisco. A lively, quick witted, articulate discussion leader, she was gifted with a capacity to frame questions that compelled one to reason carefully from first principles and to quickly learn that any error in the premise would lead to an error in the conclusion.
It is with great joy that her friends and associates celebrate Mary-Elaine Swanson’s life of Christian scholarship and her love of learning and teaching America’s Christian history and government and, in the spirit of the Apostle Paul, to REMEMBER “without ceasing (her) work of faith, and labor(s) of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the sight of God our Father; knowing brethren beloved, (her) election of God”. [1 Thessalonians 1:3-4]
Why her book is so important
This book is important to understanding the roots of American liberty because, (1) for 150 years prior to the War of Independence, “the great Mr. Locke” was the most quoted author on political philosophy in Colonial America. (2) In particular, the Clergy paraphrased large sections of his Second Treatise on Civil Government. And, (3) Locke was the primary exponent of the philosophy of the Law of Nature and natural rights in Colonial America.
The reader will also learn to value the influence of John Locke on three revolutions occurring in three different continents (only one revolution was defensive and a true return to base) and his extraordinary influence on three American Declarations of liberty and law.
Furthermore, it is important that conscientious citizens rediscover and understand the historic and Biblically reasoned roots of the vocabulary of liberty which John Locke and the Founding Fathers used to articulate and advance Constitutional liberty – words and phrases such as conscience, self-government, property, law and liberty, natural law, natural right, Law of Nature, revolution, toleration and voluntary union, among other terms.
Contemporary textbooks and news commentators unlearned in the historical standards of reference once used to define and maintain individual liberty, reveal the degree to which we are ignorant of the influence (and blessings) of the Bible on American political thought. This book will help correct that error.
The author was committed to reason and writing from historically documented primary sources on or written by John Locke as well as dedicated to an unashamed conviction in God’s Providence – the “Providential approach” to history.