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. Read More…
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!
John Hart of New Jersey was one of the most persecuted of the Signers by the British. Hart had gained his early education at home and apparently took it much farther by his own efforts, judging by the later offices he held. But for the most part, he was a farmer and content to be one.
He and his wife had thirteen children, a large and happy family. Then Hart was selected Read More…
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. Read More…
Of all the men who courageously signed the Declaration of Independence, few paid a higher price for their patriotism than Mr. Francis Lewis, a delegate from New York.
His sufferings began early in the War of Independence. In the fall of 1776, British Colonel Birteh led his troops toward the fine country estate of Francis Lewis on Long Island. He intended to see Lewis hanged as a traitor at his own home. But finding that Lewis was away at the time, Birteh instead took out his hatred on Mrs. Lewis.
The poor lady was forced to watch as her home was destroyed. British soldiers exhibited the most vicious forms of vandalism as they stole her silver, clothing, china, clocks, food and drink. She had to watch as her husband’s library-a rare luxury in those days-was burned. Before her eyes, her lovely estate was ravaged and torn apart.
Then she was taken prisoner and locked up, for no crime but that of being the faithful wife of a patriot. Taken away as a captive on horseback, she soon found herself locked in a tiny cell with no furniture but a toilet bucket. She was given no change of clothing, no bed to lie on and only the most meager scraps of food.
Finally, after many months, George Washington was able to free her in a prisoner exchange. But the poor, aging lady’s health had been so devastated by her captivity that she died soon afterward.
Francis Lewis finally returned to his home in 1783, he saw only rubble remaining of his beautiful house and cultured acres. He survived the war as a bereaved and impoverished man.
Lewis never rebuilt his lovely home. He spent his remaining years in the homes of his sons. He had paid a great price for his patriotism but lived to see his children enjoy the fruits of his sacrifice as they raised their own children in peace and liberty.