Tag Archives: George Washington

Valley Forge was a trial of Faith


Valley Forge was a trial of Faith

Washington-Praying-at-Valley-ForgeAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

After the American victory at Saratoga, British General Howe struck back by driving the patriots out of Philadelphia.

On DECEMBER 19, 1777, over 11,000 American soldiers set up camp at Valley Forge, just 25 miles outside Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, another 11,000 Americans were dying on British starving ships.

Yale President Ezra Stiles recounted May 8, 1783:

“‘O that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears,’ that I might weep the thousands of our brethren that have perished in prison ships–

in one of which, the Jersey, then lying at New York, perished above eleven thousand the last three years–while others have been barbarously exiled to the East Indies for life.”

Soldiers at Valley Forge were from every State in the new union, some as young as 12 and others as old as 60.

Though most were of European descent, some were African American and American Indian.

Among them were Marquis de Lafayette and the future Chief Justice John Marshall.

Lacking food and supplies, soldiers died at the rate of twelve per day.

Over 2,500 froze to death in bitter cold, or perished from hunger, typhoid, jaundice, dysentery, and pneumonia.

In addition, hundreds of horses perished in the freezing weather.

A Committee from Congress reported on the soldiers:

“Feet and legs froze till they became black, and it was often necessary to amputate them.”

Of the wives and children who followed the army, mending clothes, doing laundry and scavenging for food, an estimated 500 died.

Two days before Christmas, George Washington wrote:

“We have this day no less than 2,873 men in camp unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked.”

Washington wrote “…that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place… this Army must inevitably… starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can.”

Hessian Major Carl Leopold Baurmeister noted the only thing that kept the American army from disintegrating was their “spirit of liberty.”

A farmer reportedly observed General Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow.

On December 24, 1983, President Ronald Reagan stated in a Radio Address:

“The image of George Washington kneeling in prayer in the snow is one of the most famous in American history.”

On April 21, 1778, Washington wrote to Lt. Col. John Banister:

“No history…can furnish an instance of an army’s suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude –

To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lay on, without shoes, by which their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet, and almost as often without provisions…

marching through frost and snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter quarters within a day’s march of the enemy, without a house or hut to cover them…

and submitting to it without a murmur, is a mark of patience and obedience which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled.”

Despite these conditions, soldiers prepared to fight.

A Christmas carol that lifted spirits at this time was “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” first published in 1760 on a broadsheet in London as a “New Christmas carol.” It was called “the most common and generally popular of all carol tunes”:

“God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan’s power,
When we were gone astray. (Chorus)

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.”

In February, 1778, there arrived in the camp a Prussian drill master, Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who had been a member of the elite General Staff of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia.

Baron von Steuben, who was sent with the recommendation of Ben Franklin, drilled the soldiers daily, transforming the American volunteers into an army.

Lutheran Pastor Henry Muhlenberg, whose sons Peter and Frederick served in the First U.S. Congress, wrote in The Notebook of a Colonial Clergyman:

“I heard a fine example today, namely, that His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness… and to practice the Christian virtues…

God has… marvelously, preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades, fatigues.”

Washington successfully kept the army intact through the devastating winter, and gave the order at Valley Forge, April 12, 1778:

“The Honorable Congress having thought proper to recommend to the United States of America to set apart Wednesday, the 22nd inst., to be observed as a day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer,

that at one time, and with one voice, the righteous dispensations of Providence may be acknowledged, and His goodness and mercy towards our arms supplicated and implored:

The General directs that the day shall be most religiously observed in the Army; that no work shall be done thereon, and that the several chaplains do prepare discourses.”

On May 2, 1778, Washington ordered:

“The Commander-in-Chief directs that Divine service be performed every Sunday…To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to laud the more distinguished Character of Christian.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s bookshere.

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The Day Congress Approved Religious Missionaries


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On or around this day in 1778, the Oneida Indians offer assistance to George Washington’s troops, then quartered for the winter at Valley Forge. One Oneida woman, in particular, really went above and beyond the call of duty!

The Oneidas were one of the few tribes to openly declare their support for Americans during the Revolution. The tribe was part of the Six Nations Confederacy. Most of those tribes sided with the British, but the Oneidas sided with the Patriots. In large part, their allegiance can be credited to the work of an American missionary, the Reverend Samuel Kirkland. He was good and kind to them, and they respected him. Kirkland’s efforts were important! Indeed, early in the war, Washington wrote to Congress, soliciting assistance for Kirkland’s missionary and peacekeeping efforts.

“[Reverend Kirkland] can need no particular Recommendation from me,” Washington wrote, “But as he now wishes to have the Affairs of his Mission & publick Employ put upon some suitable Footing, I cannot but intimate my Sense of the Importance of his Station, & the great Advantages which have & may result to the United Colonies from his Situation being made respectable. All Accounts agree that much of the favourable Disposition shewn by the Indians may be ascribed to his Labour & Influence.”

Congress was receptive to the idea and approved funds for Kirkland’s efforts to “promote the happiness of the Indians, and attach them to these colonies.”

The Oneidas were also doubtless influenced by other factors. For instance, an earlier boundary negotiation had not gone well for the Oneidas. Perhaps they were wondering if the British would respect their sovereignty. It’s not like the British had a great track record of respecting the American colonists, either!

The Oneidas heard that Washington’s army was having a tough time at Valley Forge. It was cold! They lacked sufficient clothing and food. Diseases wreaked havoc. Washington wrote of this time: “To see Men without Cloathes to cover their nakedness, without Blankets to lay on, without Shoes, by which their Marches might be traced by the Blood from their feet, and almost as often without Provisions as with; Marching through frost and Snow . . . is a mark of patience and obedience which in my opinion can scarce be parallel’d.”

The Oneidas decided to help. A group of tribe members, including a woman named Polly Cooper, set off toward Valley Forge. They brought as many as 600 baskets of corn with them. Once they arrived, Polly showed the Continentals how to cook the corn. The process of cooking white corn, making it edible for human consumption, was pretty different from the yellow corn that Americans normally ate. Polly endured the rest of the winter at Valley Forge with the American army, cooking for them and nursing sick soldiers.

According to oral legend, Polly would not accept payment for her services. However, the soldiers were so grateful that they gave her a black shawl. In some versions of the story, the soldiers themselves bought the shawl. In others, Martha Washington herself gave the shawl to Polly. The Oneidas still keep that shawl as a treasured artifact, to this day.

The Oneidas helped the American effort at other points during the war, too. Naturally, those are stories for another day. wink emoticon

Yes, obviously, the relationship between Americans and Indian tribes has had difficulties. But there were good moments, too. Shouldn’t we remember both the good and the bad, to get a balanced picture of our founding?

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Protected Beyond All Human Probability—George Washington


Protected Beyond All Human Probability—George Washington

General George WashingtonTHEY WERE BELIEVERS, GEORGE WASHINGTON

To John Washington, July 18, 1755

Dear Brother, As I have heard, since my arrival at this place, a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first, and of assuring you, that I have not as yet composed the latter. But, by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!


Source: George Washington, as quoted in Life of George Washington, Part 1,  p. 207, by Washington Irving


They Were Believers is researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional commentary and explanatory notes) by Steve Farrell, Founder and Editor In Chief of The Moral Liberal. Copyright © 2012-2014 Steve Farrell.

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Founders Wanted Christian Soldiers


Founders Wanted Christian Soldiers

revolutionary_war_soldier_125192155American Minute with Bill Federer

After having the Declaration of Independence read to his troops, General George Washington issued the order, July 9, 1776:

“Commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains…persons of good Characters and exemplary lives – To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises.

The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger –

The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country…

The peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms.”

On May 2, 1778, General George Washington issued the order to his troops at Valley Forge:

“The Commander-in-Chief directs that Divine service be performed every Sunday at 11 o’clock, in each Brigade which has a Chaplain.

Those Brigades which have none will attend the places of worship nearest to them. It is expected that officers of all ranks will, by their attendance, set an example for their men.

While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion.

To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to laud the more distinguished Character of Christian.”

On November 15, 1862, President Lincoln ordered:

“The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer nor the cause they defend be imperiled by the profanation of the day or name of the Most High…’At this time of public distress,’ adopting the words of Washington in 1776, ‘men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality…’”

Lincoln added:

“…The first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended:

‘The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.’”

President Benjamin Harrison ordered, June 7, 1889:

“In November, 1862, President Lincoln quoted the words of Washington to sustain his own views, and announced in a general order that –

‘The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service.

The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine Will demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity’…”

President Benjamin Harrison

“…To recall the kindly and considerate spirit of the orders issued by these great men in the most trying times of our history, and to promote contentment and efficiency, the President directs that Sunday morning inspection will be merely of the dress and general appearance.”

President Woodrow Wilson gave the order, January 20, 1918:

“The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, following the reverent example of his predecessors, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service of the United States.

The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine Will demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.

Such an observance of Sunday is dictated by the best traditions of our people and by the convictions of all who look to Divine Providence for guidance and protection,

and, in repeating in this order the language of President Lincoln, the President in confident that he is speaking alike to the hearts and to the consciences of those under his authority.”

In 1947, the U.S. Corp of Cadets required:

“Attendance at chapel is part of a cadet’s training; no cadet will be exempted. Each cadet will receive religious training in one of the three particular faiths: Protestant, Catholic or Jewish.”

In 1949, the U.S. Naval Academy required:

“All Midshipmen, except those on authorized outside church parties, shall attend Sunday services in the chapel.”

On AUGUST 17, 1955, Dwight Eisenhower authorized the code of conduct for U.S. soldiers, which stated:

“I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense…

If captured…I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy…

I will never forget I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.

I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.”

President Dwight Eisenhower stated December 24, 1953, lighting the National Christmas Tree:

“George Washington long ago rejected exclusive dependence upon mere materialistic values.

In the bitter and critical winter at Valley Forge, when the cause of liberty was so near defeat, his recourse was sincere and earnest prayer…

As religious faith is the foundation of free government, so is prayer an indispensable part of that faith.”

Dwight Eisenhower broadcast from the White House for the American Legion’s Back-to-God, February 7, 1954:

“As a former soldier, I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives.

In battle, they learned a great truth – that there are no atheists in the foxholes.

They know that in time of test and trial, we instinctively turn to God for new courage.”

Dwight Eisenhower stated at the opening of the White House Conference of Mayors, December 14, 1953:

“I want to point out something about fighting – about war…

The winning of war – the effectiveness in such things – is in the heart, in the determination, in the faith. It is in our beliefs in our country, in our God, everything that goes to make up America.”

Dwight Eisenhower, February 20, 1955, stated for the American Legion Back-To-God Program:

“The Founding Fathers…recognizing God as the author of individual rights, declared that the purpose of Government is to secure those rights…

But in many lands the State claims to be the author of human rights…

If the State gives rights, it can – and inevitably will – take away those rights.

Without God, there could be no American form of Government, nor an American way of life.

Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first – the most basic – expression of Americanism.

Thus the Founding Fathers saw it, and thus, with God’s help, it will continue to be…

Veterans realize, perhaps more clearly than others, the prior place that Almighty God holds in our national life.”

 


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal Contributing Editor,William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s bookshere.

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George Washington’s gratitude and faith in God


George Washington’s gratitude and faith in God

George Washington 4American Minute with Bill Federer

OCTOBER 3, 1789, from the U.S. Capitol in New York City, President George Washington issued the first Proclamation of a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God.

Why?

Just one week earlier the first session of the U.S. Congress successfully approved the Bill of Rights, which put ten limitations on the power of the new Federal Government.

The States were concerned the Federal Government would get too powerful.

The Preamble to the Bill of Rights explained:

“The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…as amendments to the Constitution of the United States.”

The First of the Ten Amendments restricting the Federal Government’s abuse of its powers began:

“CONGRESS shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,

OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF;

or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,

and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

President George Washington thanked God for the “Constitutions of government…particularly the national one now lately instituted,” stating in his Proclamation, OCTOBER 3, 1789:

“Whereas it is the DUTY of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of ALMIGHTY GOD, to obey His will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and

Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me

‘to recommend to the People of the United States A DAY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of ALMIGHTY GOD,

especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to ESTABLISH A FORM OF GOVERNMENT for their safety and happiness;’

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that GREAT AND GLORIOUS BEING, who is the BENEFICENT AUTHOR of all the good that was, that is, or that will be;

That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks,

for His kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation;

for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of HIS PROVIDENCE, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war;

for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed,

for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to ESTABLISH CONSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT for our safety and happiness, and PARTICULARLY THE NATIONAL ONE NOW LATELY INSTITUTED,

for the CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;

and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to THE GREAT LORD AND RULER OF NATIONS, and beseech Him

to pardon our national and other transgressions,

to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually;

to render OUR NATIONAL GOVERNMENT a blessing to all the People, by constantly being A GOVERNMENT OF WISE, JUST AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed;

to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord;

TO PROMOTE THE KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE OF TRUE RELIGION AND VIRTUE, and the increase of science among them and us;

and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd of October, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine. -George Washington.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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Nathan Hale was hanged without a trial September 22, 1776


Nathan Hale was hanged without a trial September 22, 1776

Nathan Hale statueAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” were the last words of 21-year-old American patriot Nathan Hale, who was hanged by the British without a trial on SEPTEMBER 22, 1776.

A Yale graduate, 1773, he almost became a Christian minister, as his brother Enoch did, but instead became a teacher at Union Grammar School.

When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Nathan Hale joined a Connecticut militia and served in the siege of Boston.

On July 4, 1775, Hale received a letter from his Yale classmate, Benjamin Tallmadge, who was now General Washington’s chief intelligence officer:

“Was I in your condition…I think the more extensive service would be my choice. Our holy Religion, the honour of our God, a glorious country, & a happy constitution is what we have to defend.”

Hale accepted a commission as first lieutenant in the 7th Connecticut Regiment under Colonel Charles Webb of Stamford.

The following Spring, they joined the Continental Army’s effort to prevent the British from taking New York City.

The tradition is that Nathan Hale was part of daring band of patriots who captured an English sloop filled with provisions from right under the guns of British man-of-war.

General Washington was desperate to know where the British planned to invade Manhattan Island, writing on September 6, 1776:

“We have not been able to obtain the least information on the enemy’s plans.”

Washington sought a spy to penetrate the British lines at Long Island to get information, and Nathan Hale was the only volunteer.

Fellow officer Captain William Hull attempted to talk him out it, but Hale responded:

“I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary to the public good becomes honorable by being necessary. If the exigencies of my country demand a peculiar service, its claim to perform that service are imperious.”

On September 21, 1776, Hale was captured by the “Queen’s Rangers” commanded by an American loyalist, Lieut. Col. Robert Rogers.

General William Howe ordered him to be hanged the next morning.

Hale wrote a letter to his mother and brother, but the British destroyed them, not wanting it known a man could die with such firmness.

He asked for a Bible, but was refused.

Nathan Hale was marched out and hanged from an apple-tree in Rutgers’s orchard, near the present streets of East Broadway and Market in New York City.

The Essex Journal stated of Nathan Hale, February 13, 1777:

“At the gallows, he made a sensible and spirited speech; among other things, told them they were shedding the blood of the innocent, and that if he had ten thousand lives, he would lay them all down, if called to it, in defense of his injured, bleeding Country.”

Nathan Hale may have drawn inspiration for his last words “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” from the well-known English play “Cato,” written by Joseph Addison in 1712, as Hale had been involved in theater while a student at Yale:

“How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country.”

Cato (95-46 BC), was a leader during the last days of the Roman Republic who championed individual liberty against government tyranny; representative republican government against a despotic dictatorship; and logic over emotion.

Attempting to prevent Julius Caesar from becoming a dictator, Cato was know for his immunity to bribes, his moral integrity, and his distaste for corruption.

George Washington had the play “Cato” performed for the Continental Army while they were encamped at Valley Forge.

American Heritage Magazine’s article, “The Last Days and Valiant Death of Nathan Hale” (April 1964), gave fellow soldier Lieutenant Elisha Bostwick’s description of Nathan Hale:

“He was undoubtedly pious; for it was remark’d that when any of the soldiers of his company were sick he always visited them & usually prayed for & with them in their sickness.”

Nathan Hale’s nephew was Massachusetts Governor Edward Everett, who spoke at the dedication of the Battlefield right before Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.

Nathan Hale’s grand nephew was well-known author Edward Everett Hale, who wrote:

“We are God’s children, you and I, and we have our duties…Thank God I come from men who are not afraid in battle.”

Capturing this patriotic spirit, American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his poem, “Voluntaries” (1863):

“So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, ‘Thou must’
The youth replies, ‘I can’”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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John Langdon died September 18, 1819.


John Langdon died September 18, 1819.

John LangdonAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

At age 22 he became a sea captain, like his older brother Woodbury Langdon, sailing to the West Indies.

Then the British imposed trade restrictions with the Revenue Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765.

When John Langdon sailed his ship into Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the British seized his cargo of sugar and rum.

The British then imposed the Tea Act, provoking the Boston Tea Party, December 16, 1773.

The same day Portsmouth resolved to refuse all British ships from landing with tea.

King George III issued a royal order, October 19, 1774, banning the export of gunpowder and arms to America.

When word reached Portsmouth, John Langdon led 400 men to capture British Fort William and Mary in New Castle, seizing arms and 100 barrels of gunpowder.

In 1775, John Langdon was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress, as was later his brother, Woodbury Langdon.

In 1776, John Langdon oversaw the building of American warships, including the “Ranger,” which he recommended be captained by John Paul Jones.

Langdon was elected Speaker of the New Hampshire House, 1776-1782, where he championed fiscal responsibility of using silver and gold instead of paper currency.

When the British recaptured Fort Ticonderoga, Speaker John Langdon reportedly told the Legislature:

“I have 3,000 dollars in hard money. I will pledge the plate in my house for 3,000 more, and I have 70 hogsheads of Tobago rum which shall be disposed of for what it will bring. These and the avails of these are at the service of the state. If we defend our homes and our firesides, I may get my pay; if we do not defend them, the property will be of no value to me.”

Langdon built seven ships with which he raided British ships.

As a colonel, he led a voluntary company of soldiers to Saratoga, where he witnessed the surrender of British General Burgoyne.

He commanded soldiers in 1778 with John Sullivan’s army in Rhode Island.

In 1784, John Langdon was a State Senator and in 1785 he was elected President (Governor) of New Hampshire.

As President (Governor) of the State of New Hampshire, John Langdon issued A Proclamation for a Day of Public Fasting and Prayer. February 21, 1786:

“…that the citizens of this State may with one heart and voice, penitently confess their manifold sins and transgressions, and fervently implore the divine benediction, that a true spirit of repentance and humiliation may be poured out upon all orders and degrees of men, and a compleat and universal reformation take place…

that he would be pleased to bless the great Council of the United States of America, and direct their deliberations to the wise and best determinations…

and above all, that he would rain down righteousness upon the earth, revive religion, and spread abroad the knowledge of the true GOD, the Saviour of man, throughout the world.”

In 1786, John Langdon was chosen as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify, making the U.S. Constitution law, June 21, 1788.

Governor John Langdon wrote to George Washington:

“I have the great pleasure of informing your Excellency that this State has this day adopted the Federal Constitution…thereby placing the Key Stone in the great arch.”

In 1788, John Langdon was elected New Hampshire’s first U.S. Senator, traveling to the U.S. Capital in New York City.

The Senate elected him President of the Senate, where he counted the votes of the electoral college in the first national election.

Langdon informed George Washington that was elected President, and on April 30, 1789, he administered the oath of office to the nation’s first chief executive.

Returning to New Hampshire as Governor, John Langdon issued a Proclamation, October 10, 1805, acknowledging the nation’s victory over the Muslim Barbary Pirates of North Africa:

“It has been customary…to set apart a certain day…for…publicly recognizing their dependence upon Almighty God for protection, and that they might express their gratitude to Him for all blessings and mercies received and implore a continuance of them;-

I therefore…appoint Thursday, the 28th day of November…as a day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer…in praising and adoring Almighty God, and in offering up our thanks to Him as the great author of every good and perfect gift…

For the termination of our contest with one of the African powers; the liberation of our fellow-citizens from bondage…

But above all, for the inestimable blessings of the gospel of peace and salvation, the means of grace and hopes of future glory, through the merits of a crucified Savior. ..

That he would bless the means used for the promulgation of his word, and make pure religion and morality more and more abound.”

After retiring, John Langdon founded the New Hampshire Bible Society in 1812, four years before the American Bible Society was founded.

Serving as its first President, its goal was to put a Bible in every New Hampshire home.

John Langdon had been visited in 1817 by President James Monroe, as the newspaper reported:

“While at Portsmouth, the President spent that part of the Sabbath which was not devoted to public divine service, with that eminent patriot and Christian, John Langdon.

His tarry…was probably longer than the time devoted to any individual in New England.”

John Langdon died SEPTEMBER 18, 1819.

As Governor, John Langdon had issued a Proclamation, October 21, 1785:

“It therefore becomes our indispensable Duty, not only to acknowledge, in general with the rest of Mankind, our dependence on the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, but as a People peculiarly favoured, to testify our Gratitude to the Author of all our Mercies, in the most solemn and public manner…

To celebrate the Praises of our divine Benefactor; to acknowledge our own Unworthiness, confess our manifold Transgressions, implore his Forgiveness, and intreat the continuance of those Favours which he had been graciously pleaded to bestow upon us;

That he would…bless our Seminaries of Learning, and spread the Gospel of his Grace over all the Earth. And all servile Labour is forbidden on said Day.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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The Constitution was completed September 17, 1787


The Constitution was completed September 17, 1787

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“Done…the SEVENTEENTH DAY of SEPTEMBER, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven.”

This is the last line of the U.S. Constitution.

Professors Donald S. Lutz and Charles S. Hyneman published an article in American Political Science Review, 1984, titled “The Relative Influence of European Writers on Late 18th-Century American Political Thought.”

They examined nearly 15,000 writings of the 55 writers of the U.S. Constitution, including newspaper articles, pamphlets, books and monographs, and discovered that the Bible, especially the book of Deuteronomy, contributed 34 percent of all direct quotes made by the Founders.

When indirect Bible citations were included, the percentage rose even higher.

Benjamin Franklin wrote to the Editor of the Federal Gazette, April 8, 1788 (The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Farrand’s Records, Vol. 3, CXCV, pp. 296-297. Documentary History of the Constitution, IV, 567-571):

“I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general Convention was divinely inspired when it form’d the new federal Constitution…

yet I must own I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenc’d, guided and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent Beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live & move and have their being.”

Presiding over the Constitutional Convention was George Washington, who wrote ten days after his Presidential Inauguration to the United Baptist Churches of Virginia, May 10, 1789:

“If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it.”

John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, had remarked, September 8, 1777:

“The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of deliberating upon, and choosing the forms of government under which they should live. All other constitutions have derived their existence from violence or accidental circumstances.”

James Wilson, who signed the Declaration and Constitution and was appointed to the Supreme Court by George Washington, remarked at Pennsylvania’s ratifying convention, November 26, 1787:

“Governments, in general, have been the result of force, of fraud, and accident.

After a period of 6,000 years has elapsed since the creation, the United States exhibit to the world the first instance…of a nation…assembling voluntarily…and deciding calmly concerning that system of government under which they would wish that they and their posterity should live.”

In 1802, Daniel Webster stated in a Fourth of July Oration:

“We live under the only government that ever existed which was framed by the unrestrained and deliberate consultations of the people.

Miracles do not cluster. That which has happened but once in 6,000 years cannot be expected to happen often.

Such a government, once gone, might leave a void, to be filled, for ages, with revolution and tumult, riot and despotism.”

Daniel Webster continued:

“The history of the world is before us…Ambitious men must be restrained by the public morality; when they rise up to do evil, they must find themselves standing alone. Morality rests on religion. If you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall…

The civil, the social, the Christian virtues are requisite to render us worthy the continuation of that government which is the freest on earth.”

Ronald Reagan, 1961:

“In this country of ours took place the GREATEST REVOLUTION that has ever taken place IN THE WORLD’S HISTORY… Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another…

Here for the first time in all the THOUSANDS OF YEARS of man’s relation to man…the founding fathers established the idea that you and I had within ourselves the God-given right and ability to determine our own destiny.”

President Calvin Coolidge, 1924:

“The history of government on this earth has been almost entirely…rule of force held in the HANDS OF A FEW. Under our Constitution, America committed itself to power in the HANDS OF THE PEOPLE.”

Chief Justice John Jay wrote in Chisholm v. Georgia:

“THE PEOPLE are the Sovereign of this country.”

President Gerald Ford stated at Southern Methodist University, September 13, 1975:

“Never forget that in America our Sovereign is THE CITIZEN…

The State is a servant of the individual. It must never become an anonymous monstrosity that masters everyone.”

Harvard President Samuel Langdon was a delegate to New Hampshire’s ratifying convention.

His speech, “The Republic of the Israelites An Example to the American States,” June 5, 1788, helped convince New Hampshire to become the 9th State to ratify the U.S. Constitution, thereby putting the Constitution into effect:

“Instead of the twelve tribes of Israel, we may substitute the thirteen States of the American union, and see this application plainly offering itself, viz. —

That as God in the course of his kind providence hath given you an excellent Constitution of government, founded on the most rational, equitable, and liberal principles, by which all that liberty is secured….

and you are impowered to make righteous laws for promoting public order and good morals;

and as he has moreover given you by his Son Jesus Christ…a complete revelation of his will…it will be your wisdom…to…adhere faithfully to the doctrines and commands of the gospel, and practice every public and private virtue.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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Bill of Rights approved September 25, 1789


Bill of Rights approved September 25, 1789

bill-of-rights_public domain imageAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Thus began the first of the Ten Amendments, or Bill of Rights, which were approved SEPTEMBER 25, 1789.

“The Father of the Bill of Rights” was George Mason of Virginia.

When George Washington was chosen to be the Commander of the Continental Army, George Mason was drafted by citizens of Virginia to fill Washington’s place in the Continental Congress.

George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, from which Jefferson drew from to write the Declaration of Independence.

George Mason was one of 55 founders who wrote the U.S. Constitution, but was one of the few who refused to sign it because it did not end the slave trade and did not put enough limits on the Federal Government’s power.

On August 22, 1787, George Mason stated:

“Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven upon a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this.

By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.”

George Mason stated before the General Court of Virginia:

“The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth.”

This phrase of Mason’s was mirrored in the Declaration of Independence as

“the laws of nature and nature’s God.”

George Mason joined with Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams in an effort to prevent the Constitution from being ratified.

They feared that too much power concentrated into the hands of the Federal Government would result in the same trampling of individual rights that King George III perpetrated.

George Mason’s opposition to the Constitution cost him his friendship with George Washington.

When the Constitution was ratified, George Mason led the charge in insisting that in the first session of Congress there should be ten limitations or “Amendments” put in place which would restrict the power of the new Federal Government.

George Mason suggested the wording of the First Amendment be:

“All men have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that no particular sect or society of Christians ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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America – the Great Experiment in Self Governance


America – the Great Experiment in Self Governance

Fisher_AmesAmerican Minute with Bill Federer

He sat next to George Washington in the pew at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York during the religious service following Washington’s Presidential Inauguration.

He helped ratify the U.S. Constitution.

His name was Fisher Ames.

Fisher Ames was a Congressman from Massachusetts where, on August 20, 1789, he proposed as the wording of the First Amendment (Annals of Congress, 1:766):

“Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.”

Fisher Ames compared monarchy to a republic, as recorded by Ralph Waldo Emerson in Essays, Second Series, (chapter 7, “Politics,” p. 97, 1844; Library of America, 1983):

“Monarchy is a merchantman, which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock, and go to the bottom; whilst a republic is a raft, which would never sink, but then your feet are always in water.”

Of America’s Republic, Fisher Ames wrote in an article titled “Monitor,” published in The New England Palladium of Boston, 1804, (Works of Fisher Ames, compiled by a number of his friends, Boston: T.B. Wait & Co., 1809, p. 272):

“We now set out with our experimental project, exactly where Rome failed with hers. We now begin, where she ended.”

Warning against the temptation to increase government, Fisher Ames stated in “Speeches on Mr. Madison’s Resolutions” (Works of Fisher Ames, compiled by a number of his friends, Boston: T.B. Wait & Co., 1809, p. 48):

“To control trade by law, instead of leaving it to the better management of the merchants…(is) to play the tyrant in the counting house, and in directing the private expenses of our citizens, are employments equally unworthy of discussion.”

At the Massachusetts Convention, January 15, 1788, Fisher Ames warned that democracy without morals would eventually reduce the nation to the basest of human passions, swallowing freedom:

“A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction.”

Fisher Ames commented in “The Dangers of American Liberty,” 1805 (published in Works of Fisher Ames: with a selection from his speeches and correspondence, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1854, pp. 349):

“The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness, which the ambitious call, and the ignorant believe to be, liberty.”

Russell Kirk described Fisher Ames in The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot (Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2001, chapter 3, p. 81-85):

“As time runs on, Ames grows more intense. Democracy cannot last…When property is snatched from hand to hand…then society submits cravenly to the immorality of rule by the sword…

Of all the terrors of democracy, the worst is its destruction of moral habits. ‘A democratic society will soon find its morals…the surly companion of its licentious joys’…

Is there no check upon these excesses?…The press supplies an endless stimulus to popular imagination and passion; the press lives upon heat and coarse drama and incessant restlessness. ‘It has inspired ignorance with presumption’…

‘Constitutions,’ says Ames, ‘are but paper; society is the substratum of government’…

Like Samuel Johnson, (Ames) finds the key to political decency in private morality.”

Aaron McLeod wrote in “Great Conservative Minds: A Condensation of Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind” (October 2005, Alabama Policy Institute, Birmingham, AL, chp. 3, p. 9-10}:

“Ames was pessimistic about the American experiment because he doubted there were sufficient numbers of men with the moral courage and charisma to preserve the country from the passions of the multitudes and the demagogues who master them.

He was convinced that the people as a body cannot reason and are easily swayed by clever speakers and political agents. In his words, ‘few can reason, all can feel’…

Democracy could not last, Ames thundered, ‘for despotism lies at the door; when the tyranny of the majority leads to chaos, society will submit to rule by the sword.’”

Aaron McLeod continued:

“To Ames, what doomed the American experiment was the democratic destruction of morals…

Ames believed that justice and morality in America would fail, and popular rule cannot support justice, without which moral habits fall away.

Neither the free press nor paper constitutions could safe-guard order from these excesses, for the first is merely a stimulus to popular passion and imagination, while the other is a thin bulwark against corruption.

When old prescription and tradition are dismissed, only naked force matters.”

George Washington died December 14, 1799.

Fisher Ames delivered a eulogy “An Oration on the Sublime Virtues of General George Washington,” February 8, 1800, at Boston’s Old South Meeting-House, before the Lieutenant Governor, the Council, and both branches of the Massachusetts Legislature (Boston: Young & Minns, 1800, p. 23):

“Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits…

It is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers.”

Fisher Ames wrote in The Mercury and New-England Palladium of Boston (Vol. XVII, No. 2,8, Tuesday, January 27, 1801, p. 1; John Thornton Kirkland, Works of Fisher Ames, 1809, p. 134-35; The Works of Fisher Ames, compiled by a number of his friends, T.B. Wait & Co., Boston, 1809, p. 134-135; Seth Ames, ed., Works of Fisher Ames, Vol. II, New York: Birt Franklin, 1971, pp. 405-406; Frederick C. Kubicek, Evolution-Guilty As Charged, Shippensburg, PA; Treasure House, 1993, p. 125):

“It has been the custom of late years to put a number of little books into the hands of children, containing fables and moral lessons…

Many books for children are…injudiciously compiled…the moral is drawn from the fable they know not why…

Some of the most admired works of this kind abound with a frothy sort of sentiment…the chief merit of which consists in shedding tears and giving away money…

Why then, if these books for children must be retained…should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble.

The reverence for the Sacred Book, that is thus early impressed, lasts long – and probably, if not impressed in infancy never takes firm hold of the mind.

One consideration more is important: In no book is there so good English, so pure and so elegant – and by teaching all the same book they will speak alike, and the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith.”

D. James Kennedy summarized Fisher Ames words in “The Great Deception” (Fort Lauderdale, FL: Coral Ridge Ministries, 1989; 1993, p. 3; The Great Deception-a speech delivered December 1, 1992, Ottawa, IL):

“We have a dangerous trend beginning to take place in our education. We’re starting to put more and more textbooks into our schools. We’ve become accustomed of late of putting little books into the hands of children, containing fables and moral lessons.

We’re spending less time in the classroom on the Bible, which should be the principal text in our schools. The Bible states these great moral lessons better than any other man-made book.”

At age 46, Fisher Ames was elected Harvard’s president, but he declined due to an illness which eventually led to his death.

On July 4, 1808, exactly 32 years to the day after America declared its Independence, Fisher Ames died at the age of 50.

One of the most famous orators in Congress, Fisher Ames was quoted in the Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Bela Bates Edward, editor of Quarterly Observer, Brattleboro, VT: Joseph Steen & Co.; Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co.; New York: Lewis Colby, 1851, p. 78):

“No man ever did or ever will become truly eloquent without being a constant reader of the Bible, and an admirer of the purity and sublimity of its language.”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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