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Lost Episode for November 20

Patrick Henry CroppedOn November 20, 1798, in his Last Will and Testament, Patrick Henry wrote:

“In the name of God, Amen, I, Patrick Henry of Charlotte County at my leisure and in health do make this my last Will and Testament in manner following and do write it throughout with my own hand…

“This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed.”*

Near his will, Henry left a sealed envelop containing a copy of his resolutions against the Stamp Act, on which he had written on the reverse:

‘The within resolutions passed the house of burgesses in May, 1765. They formed the first opposition to the stamp act, and the scheme of taxing America by the British parliament… This brought on the war, which finally separated the two countries, and gave independence to ours. Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable.—Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation. [Prov. 13:34]

“Reader! whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere, practise virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.—P. Henry.”

Patrick Henry’s concluding desire that his family receive Christ as their greatest inheritance and his hope that our country would follow Proverbs 13:34 is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Proverbs 13:34 and reflect on that verse compared with what Patrick Henry wrote on the back of his resolves against the Stamp Act.

Prayer: Father we praise you for this Founder who left behind documents that encouraged his family to faith in Christ and his nation to righteousness, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citations: William Wirt Henry, ed., Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence and Speeches (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), 2:631. An online version can be found here: http://www.redhill.org/last_will.htm. William Wirt, ed., Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry (Philadelphia: James Webster, 1817), 58.

 

Lost Episode for November 19

Abraham Lincoln CroppedOn November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address as a part of the ceremony dedicating the Soldier’s National Cemetery. The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest of the war, resulting in over 50,000 combined casualties. Engraved in stone in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Lincoln’s 267 word speech is perhaps the greatest by an American president and one of the greatest in American history:

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

“We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

“The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”*

Lincoln’s careful word choice, phrasing and cadence echoes that of the King James Bible. For example, his opening: “Four score and seven years ago” recalls Psalm 90:10. Interestingly, while the words “under God” did not appear in the written draft of the speech, Lincoln added them extemporaneously during his delivery from the platform. Consequently, those words were reported as a part of the speech by stenographers and reporters, they are found in Lincoln’s “official” signed version of the speech, and eventually became a part of our Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Lincoln’s Bible-like language and spontaneous addition of “under God” to his Gettysburg Address is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 33:12 and reflect on that theme which Abraham Lincoln added to his speech.

Prayer: Father, we are grateful for a leader who was moved by the moment to acknowledge you in what has become one of the greatest speeches in the history of our nation, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: Roy P. Basler, Jr., ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 9 vols., (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 7:17-23; See also William E. Barton, Lincoln at Gettysburg: What He Intended to Say; What He Said; What he was Reported to have Said; What he Wished he had Said (New York: Peter Smith, 1950), 81.

 

Lost Episode for November 18

Portrait_of_George_WashingtonOn November 18, 1786, George Washington wrote from Mount Vernon to fellow Founder James Madison:

“It gives me the most sensible pleasure to hear that the acts of the present session are marked with wisdom, justice and liberality. They are the palladium of good policy and the only paths that lead to national happiness. Would to God every State would let these be the leading features of their constituent characters. Those threatening clouds which seem ready to burst on the confederacy would soon be dispelled.”*

With the government under the Articles of Confederation deteriorating, George Washington was still hopeful that the young nation could endure and was encouraged by James Madison’s report. The three Biblical virtues of wisdom, justice, and liberality (or equity) flow one to the other downstream. Wisdom helps us to judge rightly and justly, and thus to treat people with equity. Washington’s prayer that these virtues would prevail in government and lead to national happiness is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Proverbs 1:3 and reflect on the virtues mentioned and compare them with the ones Washington mentions to Madison.

Prayer: Father, we pray that our own legislature would have sessions marked by wisdom, justice and liberality, 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, 12 vols. (New York: F. Andrew’s, 1834-1847), 9:211-12.

 

Lost Episode for November 17

Woodrow Wilson CroppedOn November 17, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation for a day of National Thanksgiving and Prayer:

“It has long been the custom of our people to turn in the fruitful autumn of the year in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many blessings and mercies to us as a nation. The year that has elapsed since we last observed our day of thanksgiving has been rich in blessings to us as a people, but the whole face of the world has been darkened by war…

“Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, do appoint Thursday, the thirtieth of November, as a day of National Thanksgiving and Prayer, and urge and advise the people to resort to their several places of worship on that day to render thanks to Almighty God for the blessings of peace and unbroken prosperity which He has bestowed upon our beloved country in such unstinted measure….Our people could in no better way show their real attitude towards the present struggle of the nations than by contributing out of their abundance to the relief of the suffering which war has brought in its train.”*

President Wilson’s Thanksgiving proclamation during World War I is another lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 and reflect on the generosity of the Macedonian churches and compare that with President Wilson’s admonition.

Prayer: Father, you have blessed us with incomparable wealth in America. Help us to be a blessing to those in need and thus show our gratitude to you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

*Source Citation: James D. Richardson, et al, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 20 vols. (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., 1923), 17:8182.

 

Lost Episode for November 16

james-madison-pictureOn November 16, 1814, President James Madison issued a proclamation for a national “Day of Public Humiliation and Fasting and of Prayer” during the War of 1812:

“The two Houses of the National Legislature having by a joint resolution expressed their desire that in the present time of public calamity and war a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States as a day of public humiliation and fasting and of prayer to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessing on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace, I have deemed it proper by this proclamation to recommend that Thursday, the 12th of January next, be set apart as a day on which all may have an opportunity of voluntarily offering at the same time in their respective religious assemblies their humble adoration to the Great Sovereign of the Universe, of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance and amendment.

“They will be invited by the same solemn occasion to call to mind the distinguished favors conferred on the American people in the general health which has been enjoyed, in the abundant fruits of the season, in the progress of the arts instrumental to their comfort, their prosperity, and their security, and in the victories which have so powerfully contributed to the defense and protection of our country, a devout thankfulness for all which ought to be mingled with their supplications to the Beneficent Parent of the Human Race that He would be graciously pleased to pardon all their offenses against Him…”

Despite being a favorite of liberals who claim him as an advocate for strict separation of church and state, James Madison’s proclamation for national fasting and prayer is evidence to the contrary. It is also a lost episode in American history.

Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 103:1-5 and reflect on the goodness of our God to pardon our sins and who blesses us with countless benefits and compare that with Madison’s proclamation.

Prayer: Father, we praise you for your giving nature for we are the recipients of so many blessings, which the psalmist enumerates: forgiveness, healing, rescue, mercy, food, strength, and limitless other benefits. Your grace is truly amazing and for that we praise you, 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 1907-1910), 1:558.

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