Lost Episode for August 26

George Washington Head ShotOn August 26, 1783, General George Washington addressed Congress in session at Princeton, New Jersey, graciously accepting their accolades but humbly reminding them that the credit for the victory over Great Britain should go to many others, especially to God:

“Notwithstanding Congress seems to estimate the value of my life beyond any services I have been able to render the United States, yet I must be permitted to consider the wisdom and unanimity of our national councils, the firmness of our citizens, and the patience and bravery of our troops, who have produced so happy a termination of the war, as the most conspicuous effect of the Divine interposition, and the surest presage of our future happiness….

“Perhaps, sir, no occasion may offer more suitable than the present to express my humble thanks to God, and my grateful acknowledgements to my country, for the great and uniform support I have received in every vicissitude and fortune, and for the many distinguished honors which Congress has been pleased to confer upon me in the course of the war.”*

George Washington’s humility and his acknowledgement of God’s vital role in it America’s victory over the world’s greatest military power is yet another lost episode in American history.

Read and reflect: Read Isaiah 12:4-6 and reflect on the call to praise God for his deliverance and compare it with the sentiments expressed by Washington.

Prayer: Praise to the Holy One of Israel who has done mighty things in our midst. May we continue to remember and declare your deeds among the peoples with humility and thanksgiving, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: George Washington’s address to Congress in session at Princeton, New Jersey as found in 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, 12 vols., (New York: F. Andrew’s, 1834-47), 8:475.


Lost Episode for August 25

Mary & George CroppedOn August 25, 1789, George Washington’s mother Mary died at 82 years of age. Prior to that, he had paid a visit to his mother, who was struggling with cancer, soon after he had received the notification of his unanimous election as President of the United States. Washington’s final farewell to his mother was recorded by his adopted son, George Washington Parke Custis:

“An affected scene ensued. The son feelingly remarked the ravages which a torturing disease had made upon the aged frame of the mother, and addressed her with these words: ‘The people, madam, have been pleased, with the most flattering unanimity, to elect me to the Chief magistracy of these United States, but before I can assume the functions of my office, I have come to bid you an affectionate farewell. So soon as the weight of public business, which must necessarily attend the outset of a new government, can be disposed of, I shall hasten to Virginia, and,’(here the matron interrupted him with)…

‘And you will see me no more; my great age, and the disease which is fast approaching my vitals, warn me that I shall not be long in this world; I trust in God that I may be somewhat prepared for the better. But go, George, fulfill the high destinies which Heaven appears to have intended for you; go, my son, and may that Heaven’s and a mother’s blessing be with you always.’”*

Less than 4 months later, Mary Washington died. On September 13, 1789, President George Washington wrote a letter to his only sister, Mrs. Betty Lewis, in Fredericksburg, Virginia:

“Awful and affecting as the death of a parent is, there is consolation in knowing that Heaven has spared ours to an age beyond which few attain, and favored her with the full enjoyment of her mental faculties, and as much bodily strength as usually fall to the lot of fourscore.

“Under these considerations, and the hope that she is translated to a happier place, it is the duty of her relatives to yield due submission to the decrees of the Creator. When I was last at Fredericksburg I took a final leave of my mother, never expecting to see her more.”*

George Washington was thankful for his godly mother being blessed with a long life and had a hope that went beyond the grave. That is another lost episode in American history.

Read and reflect: Read Psalm 116:15 and reflect on the death of a loved one who knew and loved the Lord.

Prayer: Father thank you that Jesus is preparing a place for those who follow Him, a place called heaven. Thank you for the promise of spending eternity with you and for this assurance that has comforted saints across the ages, in Jesus Name, Amen.

*Source Citations: Narrative of George Washington Parke Custis, an eyewitness to this exchange, as recorded by Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution, 2 vols., (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851-52), 2:220. September 13 letter to Elizabeth Washington Lewis as found in John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, 39 vols., (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1931-44), 30:399.


Lost Episode for August 24

Theodore_Parker_BPL_c1855-cropTheodore Parker was born on August 24, 1810. His grandfather was John Parker, the leader of the militia at the Battle of Lexington, first in the War for American Independence. Parker was a graduate of Harvard, a Unitarian clergyman, and an ardent abolitionist. On July 4, 1858, Parker preached a sermon entitled “The Effect of Slavery on the American People,” in which he stated:

“Democracy is self-government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people.”*

A copy of this sermon was read and marked by Abraham Lincoln and it apparently inspired some lofty phrases in the Gettysburg Address. In his 1853 book entitled Ten Sermons of Religion, Parker predicted the success of the abolitionist cause:

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. Things refuse to be mismanaged long. Jefferson trembled when he thought of slavery and remembered that God is just.”*

Martin Luther King, Jr. made famous some of these phrases a century later in his “Where Do We Go From Here?” speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in August 1967.

While Bible-believing Christians would not agree with Theodore Parker’s doctrinal positions, the fact that Parker’s sermons would later inspire important speeches by Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. is another lost episode in American history.

Read and reflect: Read Luke 12:3 and reflect on what Jesus said concerning the amplification of our voice and compare that with how this relatively unknown preacher was quoted by others who were heard by the multitudes.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we be found worthy to be echoed by others whose voices will be greater than our own. So teach us to invest in others, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citations: See Francis Power Cobbe, ed., Collected works of Theodore Parker Containing His Theological, Polemical, and Critical Writings, Sermons, Speeches, and Addresses, and Literary Miscellanies, 14 vols., (London: Trubner & Company, 1863-1872), 3:138. See also, Theodore Parker, Ten Sermons of Religion (Boston: Crosby Nichols and Company, 1853), 84-85.


Lost Episode for August 23

Ben Franklin CroppedOn August 23, 1750, Benjamin Franklin wrote to Dr. Samuel Johnson, who was the first President of King’s College (later Columbia University), regarding education:

“I think with you, that nothing is of more importance for the public weal [good], than to form and train up youth [Prov. 22:6] in wisdom and virtue. Wise and good men are, in my opinion, the strength of a state: much more so than riches or arms, which, under the management of Ignorance and Wickedness, often draw on destruction, instead of providing for the safety of a people. And though the culture bestowed on many should be successful only with a few, yet the influence of those few and the service in their power, may be very great. Even a single woman that was wise, by her wisdom saved a city [2 Sam. 20:22].

I think also, that general virtue is more probably to be expected and obtained from the education of youth, than from the exhortation of adult persons; bad habits and vices of the mind, being, like diseases of the body, more easily prevented than cured.

I think moreover, that talents for the education of youth are the gift of God; and that he on whom they are bestowed, whenever a way is opened for the use of them, is as strongly called as if he heard a voice from heaven: nothing more surely pointing out duty in a public service, than ability and opportunity of performing it.”*

Benjamin Franklin viewed effective educators as having a divine calling and a gift from God. That is another lost episode in American history.

Read and reflect: Read Proverbs 22:6 and reflect on the vital role that teachers have in the shaping of our youth.

Prayer: Master Teacher, we praise you for instructing us in your ways that lead to life. Thank you for teachers who are called by you to mold the lives of our children, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Leonard W. Labaree, ed. et al, The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, 40 vols. to date, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1959-2011), 4:40. Bracketed items added.


Lost Episode for August 22

George mason HeadshotOne of the wealthiest men in Virginia, George Mason was the primary author of the Virginia Constitution and the Virginia Bill of Rights and is often called the “Father of the Bill of Rights” because of his insistence that such rights be enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.

Although he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he refused to sign the Constitution because he believed that it did not sufficiently limit the Federal Government’s power from infringing on the rights of States, it did not include a Bill of Rights, and it did not abolish slavery.

During the debates of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason declared on August 22, 1787:

“Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgement 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’s belief that nations are accountable to God and experience His earthly blessings or His temporal punishments in the present is yet another lost episode in American History.

Read and reflect: Read Amos 4:4-12 and reflect on the “national calamities” in Israel that resulted from national sins then consider some of our own calamities in light of our choices as a nation.

Prayer: Holy Father, remind us that choices have consequences not only for individuals but for nations as well. Forgive us of our unrighteous and unjust decisions as a nation and in your judgment remember mercy, we pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Robert A. Rutland, ed., The Papers of George Mason, 3 vols. (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970), 3:1787.

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