The confrontation came about because a gang of colonists were harassing a small group of British soldiers on guard duty. The Redcoats were hated in Boston as in many parts of the colonies because they represented the tyrannical grip that King George held on them. Some British soldiers had committed serious offenses, so the red uniform was looked upon with malice. Continue reading Lawyer for the Defense – Saturday Stories
We often hear about “separation of church and state.” This term has been twisted to mean just about the opposite of what Jefferson meant when he used it in a letter to the Danbury Baptists. By the way, it’s not in the Constitution.
Such a concept would have been very strange indeed to the Founding Fathers. Their devotion to the Christian faith is the reason that most federal buildings in Washington DC have Scripture passages etched into their stone walls.
America started out as a Christian nation and her Founders intended that it should remain so. The very first Continental Congress, opening on September 7, 1774 set a most interesting and encouraging precedent.
The delegates had just received the news that Boston Harbor had been closed by the British navy, bringing to a sudden stop its bustling trade. Further, Britain was rushing more and more soldiers to keep a lid on the increasing American resentment of King George’s rude treatment of the American colonies. These were not the actions of a benevolent king.
So it was that representatives from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia on September 6 to form a Congress and to discuss what measures to take in the face of such grave threats of tyranny. Someone suggested that the meeting must be opened with prayer. Others said such a move was inappropriate because several denominations of Christians were represented, and none must feel slighted if the minister chosen to pray was of another sect.
Then Sam Adams stood. “I am no bigot,” he pronounced. “I can hear a prayer from any man who is also a patriot.” He suggested the Reverend Jacob Duche, of whom he had heard a good report. Reverend Duche was summoned.
Next morning, the minister faced the assembled delegates and read from Psalm 35: “Contend O LORD with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.” He finished the Psalm and then launched into extemporaneous prayer. His words were so eloquent that some members remarked that it would have been worth a hundred-mile ride to hear him. When he finished the entire company, many on their knees, joined in prayer. The whole exercise continued for over 3 hours.
That spirit of dependence on God continued throughout the War of Independence and the founding of America as a free nation. Only in recent years has there been any serious question that America was intended to be born and continue as a Christian nation. To this day, Congress opens each session with prayer.
The little group of American soldiers had been successful. The bridge Rommel used to conduct operations in North Africa had been blown sky high, along with nearby buildings and a considerable amount of stored war material. But now the Germans all around were swarming like bees and the Americans had ninety miles to go to return to their launching point behind friendly lines.
They split up into small groups to make their escape. Their leader, Lieutenant Dan DeLeo took five men and started out toward the American lines. They hid out by day and traveled by night. Talking over possibilities, they decided to commandeer a vehicle on a nearby road and try to drive as far as possible toward safety.
Holding a pistol behind his back, DeLeo flagged down a covered truck. When the driver stopped to ask what was the matter, the soldier stuck a pistol in his face and took charge. The rest of the Americans piled into the back of the truck while DeLeo sat beside the driver and assured him that he was a dead man if he gave away his passengers’ presence. He found a white cloth on the seat which he wrapped around his head in the manner of the neighboring Arabs.
The ride was a harrowing one. More than once the GI’s rolled right through groups of hostile German or Italian soldiers. Finally, the old truck broke down on a muddy road, still fifty miles from friendly forces. There was nothing to do but walk.
Three weeks after destroying the bridge, the exhausted commandos reached a friendly French encampment. As they gratefully approached the sentries, the noticed that the Frenchmen were yelling at them frantically in French. Seeing no sign of an enemy soldier, the GI’s were mystified at what had so upset the Frenchmen. They were soon to find out.
Upon reaching the French defenses, they found an officer who spoke some English. After talking to his sentries, he informed the Americans that they had just walked through a minefield!
It’s a little known fact that the War of Independence was one of the most atrocity-free wars in history. That is, on the part of the Americans.
The British on the other hand, commonly looted or burned homes, assaulted defenseless women, stole or killed livestock belonging to civilians and treated clergymen with contempt because of their role in fomenting the revolution.
One preacher in Trenton, New Jersey was stabbed with a bayonet. A dead American soldier was hacked to pieces by British cavalrymen. But one of the greatest atrocities committed by the British and their Hessian allies was their treatment of American prisoners. Continue reading Eating Through A Keyhole – SATURDAY STORIES
Lexington and Concord had been disasters for the British. Attacking the American militia at Lexington at dawn on April 19, they had killed a handful of patriots and moved on to capture military supplies stored at Concord. But Paul Revere, William Dawes and others had spread the alarm throughout the county and the Minutemen converged by the hundreds. Most of the weapons and ammunitions at Concord had been removed or hidden. The British soldiers destroyed some gun carriages and some barrels of flour, but little else was found.
Then things turned decidedly against them. The Concord Minutemen had fled the town at the approach of the superior British numbers, but had reformed beyond the river. Their numbers were being augmented by men arriving from neighboring communities. When the redcoats fired on them, the farmers returned fire and the War of Independence had begun. The British commander turned his men around and began an orderly withdrawal toward their base in Boston. But their retreat soon turned to a rout as American muskets began to harass their ranks from behind trees and stone walls. The proud British column was thrown into confusion as Minutemen swarmed along the path of their march. Finally, they met reinforcements and the remainder of their retreat to Boston was conducted in safety.
But then began the siege of Boston. The city was in British hands, though some of the residents remained. Now the question for the Americans was how to drive the redcoats out of the city?
The answer came from Fort Ticonderoga. Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys had seized the fort from the British without firing a shot. Its 55 cannons had been brought by the ingenious American officer Henry Knox on ox-drawn sleds across the winter snow. Now, under cover of night, they were installed on the hills surrounding Boston. A perfect threat to convince the British commander to give up!
But there were obstacles, and one of them was John Hancock. Hancock was President of the Continental Congress. He was quite wealthy, and both his mansion home and most of his business property was located in Boston. They couldn’t bombard the city without making a pauper of one of the greatest of the Patriot leaders. Hancock must be consulted.
When asked what he thought of the plan, Hancock never hesitated. His personal interests must not interfere with the survival of the colonies in freedom. Bombard Boston if necessary, he said. He would take his chances with the rest of his American brethren who had property in the city.
As it turned out, it was not necessary. The guns were placed overnight and when the British woke up the next morning and saw their frowning muzzles pointing at them from heights which gave unimpeded access to their deadly missiles, they gave up the city. Arrangements were made to evacuate the city. General Washington agreed to let them go in peace and the British agreed not to burn the city.
John Hancock, great patriot and first signer of the Declaration of Independence, had been willing to kiss his wealth goodbye if necessary for the good of his country.
This story and many more are included in Profiles of Valor by Marilyn Boyer
Consider planning an Independence Day play.
Kids not only learn about Independence Day, but help others to learn too.
We had the kids learn some of the actual words of the signers for the play. They had a blast!