Scottish Common Sense

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As explained in David Barton’s Book Jefferson Lies, most early American educators subscribed to the Scottish Common Sense Law.

It’s interesting that many of the best instructors in early America were Scottish Presbyterians. As historian George Marsden affirmed, “ It is not much of an exaggeration to say that outside of New England, the Scots were the educators of eighteenth-century America.”  These Scottish instructors regularly tutored students in what was known as the Scottish Common Sense educational philosophy – an approach under which not only Jefferson but also other notable Virginia Founding Fathers were trained, including George Washington, James Madison, George Mason, Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, and Thomas Nelson. In fact, Gaillard Hunt, head of the manuscript division of the Library of Congress, observed: “One reason why the ruling class in Virginia acted with such unanimity [during the Revolution] … was that a large proportion of them had received the same kind of education. This usually came first from clergymen.”


Scottish Common Sense was originated to counter the skepticism of stridently secular European writers and philosophers. This approach asserted that common sense should shape philosophy rather than vice versa, and that normal, everyday language could express philosophical principles in a way that could be understood by ordinary individuals and not just academic elites. Key tenets of Scottish Common Sense included:

 1. There is a God.

2. God placed into every individual a conscience – a moral sense written on his or her heart (cf. Jeremiah 31: 33, Romans 2: 14– 15, Hebrews 8: 10, 10: 16, and others).

3. God established “first principles” in areas such as law, government, education, politics, and economics; and these first, or transcendent guiding principles could be discovered by the use of common sense, logic, and reason.

4. There was no conflict between reason and revelation. The two were not inherent enemies; both came directly from God, and revelation fortified and clarified reason. This is the philosophy under which Jefferson was largely educated. Interestingly, Jefferson’s own personal education, including at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels, all occurred at religious schools and consistently incorporated religious instruction. Yet many of today’s writers insist that it was not the Scottish Common Sense philosophy under which he had been trained that influenced his thinking but rather it was the secular European Enlightenment. For example: Perhaps no one among the Founding Fathers was a fuller-fledged subscriber to the Enlightenment tradition than Thomas Jefferson. 10 Jefferson…. was an Enlightenment thinker who emphasized natural law above all else. 

The blogger has been a writer/photographer for over thirty years. Specializing in nature and landscape photography, as well as studying native cultures.

His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.

He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.

He has published several books about his adventures.

For more information, please consult his website,

Your comments are welcome

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We cannot keep teaching beliefs that are not based on solid time worn principles that have endured the test of time. The laws of Nature and/ or Nature’s God cannot be denied without serious consequences. They are unbending and unbreakable.

It is in this light I have decided to publish some of my random thoughts based on the views of our ancestors. The following chapters follow no particular order of importance. Changing our thinking could change our perspective and thus change the direction we are headed. If no one listens, then the future of our planet and humanity are destined for disaster.

Available in both paperback and Ebook formats.



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