Author Archives: Kenyn Cureton
In his General Orders to the Continental Army, freshly encamped at Valley Forge, General George Washington directed on December 17, 1777: “Tomorrow being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise: and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us. The General directs that the army remain in its present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform divine service with their several Corps and brigades; and earnestly exhorts, all officers and soldiers, whose absence is not indispensably necessary, to attend with reverence the solemnities of the day.”* General Washington’s general orders to the troops in Valley Forge to observe the Day of Thanksgiving and Praise is another lost episode in American history. Read and Reflect: Read Nehemiah 8:9-18 and reflect on the leadership’s call for the people to observe the feast of tabernacles with rejoicing and compare that with General Washington’s call for his troops to observe the thanksgiving proclaimed by Congress. Prayer: Father, we thank you for General Washington’s faithfulness to call his soldiers to worship you and to give you thanks and praise, even in a time of great difficulty, in Jesus’ Name, Amen. *Source Citation: Jared Sparks, ed., The Writings of George Washington: Being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts, with a Life of the Author, 12 vols., (Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1837), 5:524.
Upon giving his final annual address to Congress, President George Washington received a gracious response from the House of Representatives, to which he replied on December 16, 1796: “The virtue and wisdom of my successors, joined with the patriotism and intelligence of the citizens who compose the other branches of Government, I firmly trust will lead them to the adoption of measures which, by the beneficence of Providence, will give stability to our system of government, add to its success, and secure to ourselves and to posterity that liberty which is to all of us so dear.”* President Washington believed that wise and virtuous successors to the office of President supported by patriotic and informed members of Congress who are together blessed by God’s Providence will lead a government marked by stability and success, resulting in a lasting legacy of liberty. Washington’s response is another lost episode in American history. Read and reflect: Read Psalm 72:1-4 and reflect on King Solomon’s prayer for his successor and compare it with Washington’s hopes for his. Prayer: Father, we pray for wise and virtuous leaders of our nation, and especially in the office of President, in Jesus’ Name, Amen. *Source Citation: James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 11 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1907, 1910), 1:209.
On Wednesday, December 15, 1802, President Thomas Jefferson stated in his Second Annual Message to Congress: “When we assemble together, fellow-citizens, to consider the state of our beloved country, our just attentions are first drawn to those pleasing circumstances which mark the goodness of that Being from whose favor they flow and the large measure of thankfulness we owe for His bounty. Another year has come around, and finds us still blessed with peace and friendship abroad; law, order, and religion at home; good affection and harmony with our Indian neighbors; our burdens lightened, yet our income sufficient for the public wants, and the produce of the year great beyond example. These, fellow-citizens, are the circumstances under which we meet, and we remark with special satisfaction those which under the smiles of Providence result from the skill, industry, and order of our citizens….” Thomas Jefferson’s celebration of the Providential goodness of God before Congress is another lost episode in American history. Prayer: Father, we thank you for the blessings of liberty. We pray for peace and friendship with other nations as far as peace can be obtained, for law and order and true faith here at home in Jesus’ Name, Amen. Source Citation: James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 11 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1907, 1910), 1:342-345.
Suffering from a severe sore throat resulting from exposure during a cold, wet ride, George Washington lay on his death bed at Mount Vernon on Saturday, December 14, 1799. When he had been informed of the death of his brother Charles just 11 weeks earlier, Washington stated in a letter to Colonel Burgess Ball: “The death of relations always produces awful and affecting emotions under whatever circumstances it may happen…I was the first, and am, now, the last of my father’s children, by the second marriage, who remain…When I shall be called upon to follow them is known only to the Giver of Life. When the summons comes I shall endeavor to obey it with a good grace.”* At about five o’clock on Saturday afternoon, George Washington spoke to Dr. James Craik from his bed: “Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.”* At about ten o’clock, he told his private secretary Tobias Lear with great difficulty in speaking: “I am just going. Have me decently buried; and do not let my body be put into the Vault in less than three days after I am dead. Do you understand me?” Lear replied: “Yes.” His last words were: “Tis well.”* Inscribed on Washington’s tomb are the words of Jesus from John 11:25-26: “”I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” In the moment of death, […]
On December 13, 1798, the U.S. House of Representatives led by Speaker Theodore Sedgwick responded to the annual address by President John Adams: “While with you we recognize our abundant cause of gratitude to the Supreme Disposer of Events for the ordinary blessings of Providence, we regard as of high national importance the manifestations in our country of a magnanimous spirit of resistance to foreign domination…. Disdaining a reliance on foreign protection, wanting no foreign guaranty of our liberties, resolving to maintain our national independence against every attempt to despoil us of this inestimable treasure, we confide under Providence in the patriotism and energies of the people of these United States for defeating the hostile enterprises of any foreign power.”* Congress acknowledged that Americans have good reason to give gratitude to God for the “blessings of Providence” and confidence that “under Providence” they would be able to defeat any hostile foreign foe. Their reply to President Adams is a lost episode in American history. Read and Reflect: Read Isaiah 30:1-3 and contrast the reliance on foreign protection sought by Israel and the attitude of the Speaker of the House in America. Prayer: Father, we thank you that while some trust in horses, and others trust in chariots, our trust has historically been in the name of the Lord our God. Forgive us for drifting away from you and your Providential protection. May we speedily and wholeheartedly return, in Jesus’ Name, Amen. *Source Citation: James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of […]