Category Archives: General
The surrender of the British troops under Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown on Friday, October 19, 1781, effectively ended the War for Independence. On Saturday, October 20, General George Washington issued general orders that included a call to attend worship in order to show gratitude to God for the great victory that had been won:
“The General congratulates the army upon the glorious event of yesterday….
“In order to diffuse the general Joy through every Breast the General orders that those men belonging to the Army who may now be in confinement shall be pardoned released and join their respective corps.
“Divine Service is to be performed tomorrow in the several Brigades or Divisions.
“The Commander in Chief earnestly recommends that the troops not on duty should universally attend with that seriousness of Deportment and gratitude of Heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us.”*
The first orders given by the Commander-In-Chief to the Continental Army following this momentous victory over the British was to honor God’s day and give Him thanks. That is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 9:1-8 and reflect on David’s psalm of praise for victory over his enemies and compare that with Washington’s general order for worship after their victory over the British.
Prayer: God of Heavenly Armies, we praise you for your Providential intervention on behalf of our nation again and again throughout our past. Though we do not deserve it, we humbly ask that you look on us with mercy in our present circumstances. Be our help, we pray, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1732-1799, 39 vols., (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1931-44), 23:245-47.
On Sunday, October 19, 1777, General Washington wrote a letter to Major-General Israel Putnam, recalling the recent victory at Saratoga and offering his condolences occasioned by the death of his wife:
“The defeat of General Burgoyne is a most important event, and such as must afford the highest satisfaction to every well-affected American. Should Providence be pleased to crown our arms in the course of the campaign with one more fortunate stroke, I think we shall have no great cause for anxiety respecting the future designs of Britain. I trust all will be well in His good time….
“I am exceedingly sorry for the death of Mrs. Putman, and sympathize with you upon the occasion. Remembering that all must die [Hebrews 9:27], and that she had lived to an honorable age, I hope you will bear the misfortune with that fortitude and complacency of mind that become a man and a Christian.”*
George Washington’s hope in God’s Providence and his encouragement to see death through the eyes of faith are another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Hebrews 9:27 and reflect on the fact that we are all mortal, that we will all die, and we will all face God in the judgment.
Prayer: Sovereign God, we tremble at the thought of standing before you in the judgment but take great comfort in the fact that Jesus is our Advocate and that His blood has appeased your wrath toward our sin. Yet we realize that our works will be judged, good and bad. Help us to so live that we bring honor to Christ, in whose name we pray, 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., (Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1837), 5:104-05. Bracketed item added.
On October 18, 1780, the last item for business for the Continental Congress was to issue a Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer in recognition of the Providential discovery on September 25, 1980 of Gen. Benedict Arnold’s plot to hand over the strategic fort at West Point, New York to the British:
“Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, amidst the vicissitudes and calamities of war, to bestow blessings on the people of these states, which call for their devout and thankful acknowledgments, more especially in the late remarkable interposition of his watchful providence, in rescuing the person of our Commander in Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution; in prospering the labours of the husbandmen, and causing the earth to yield its increase in plentiful harvests; and, above all, in continuing to us the enjoyment of the gospel of peace;
“It is therefore recommended to the several states to set apart Thursday, the seventh day of December next, to be observed as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer; that all the people may assemble on that day to celebrate the praises of our Divine Benefactor; to confess our unworthiness of the least of his favours, and to offer our fervent supplications to the God of all grace; that it may please him to pardon our heinous transgressions and incline our hearts for the future to keep all his laws that it may please him still to afford us the blessing of health; to comfort and relieve our brethren who are any wise afflicted or distressed; to smile upon our husbandry and trade and establish the work of our hands; to direct our publick councils, and lead our forces, by land and sea, to victory; to take our illustrious ally under his special protection, and favor our joint councils and exertions for the establishment of speedy and permanent peace; to cherish all schools and seminaries of education, build up his churches in their most holy faith and to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.
“Done in Congress, the l8th day of October, 1780, and in the fifth year of the Independence of the United States of America.”*
The fact that the Continental Congress would issue a Proclamation that not only encouraged Americans to thank God for the discovery of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal, but also urged them to pray that God would cause the spread of Christianity is yet another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 18 and reflect on David’s recollection of God’s deliverance from his enemies and compare that with what happened with the American cause.
Prayer: Father of all mercies and God of all grace, we praise you for your Providential care for us in a multitude of ways. Cause us to recognize them and be thankful to you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Worthington C. Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789, 34 vols., (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1907-37), 18:950-51.
American newspaper journalist Charles Anderson Dana died on October 17, 1897. In 1839, he had entered Harvard, but poor eyesight forced him to leave college in 1841, and caused him to abandon his intention of entering the ministry. He later served as editor-in-chief of the New York Sun, and under his management it became one of the largest and most influential newspapers in the country. Dana also served as Assistant Secretary of War during the Civil War. Regarding the essential tools for a journalist, Charles Dana declared to the Wisconsin Editorial Association:
“[T]here are some books that are absolutely indispensable to the kind of education that we are contemplating, and to the profession that we are now considering; and of all these, the most indispensable, the most useful, the one whose knowledge is most effective, is the Bible. There is no Book from which more valuable lessons can be learned. I am considering it now as a manual of utility, or professional preparation, and professional use for a journalist.
“There is no Book whose style is more suggestive and more instructive, from which you learn more directly that sublime simplicity which never exaggerates, which recounts the greatest event with solemnity, of course, but without sentimentality or affection, none which you open with such confidence and lay down with such reverence; there is no Book like the Bible.
“When you get into a controversy and want exactly the right answer, when you are looking for an expression, what is there that closes a dispute like a verse from the Bible? What is it that sets up the right principle for you, which pleads for a policy, for a cause, so much as the right passage of the Holy Scripture?”*
The fact that there was actually a major newspaper editor who had such great respect for the Bible and even advocated its use by fellow journalists is yet another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Proverbs 25:11 and reflect on the truth of that Scripture compared with the description of the Bible made by Charles Anderson Dana.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise you for your incomparable Word. May we “open it in confidence and lay it down in reverence,” in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Charles Dana, The Art of Newspaper Making: Three Lectures (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1895), 48-49.
“I dare not express to you at 300 hundred miles distance how ardently I long for your return… [A]nd whether the end will be tragical Heaven alone knows. You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish to see you an inactive Spectator, but if the Sword be drawn I bid adieu to all domestick felicity, and look forward to that Country [Heb. 11:16] where there is neither wars nor rumors of War [Matt. 24:6] in a firm belief that thro the mercy of its King we shall both rejoice there together…
“Your most affectionate, Abigail Adams”*
The Bible-based faith of Abigail Adams, one that transcends this life, is yet another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Hebrews 11:14-16 and reflect on our status as simply pilgrims looking forward to a Heavenly Country where we will find ultimate peace and rest.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we look forward to that day when our faith becomes sight and we are in your presence. With Abigail Adams, we look forward to that “better country” and we thank you for the promise of it, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Lyman Henry Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Mary-Jo Kline, eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams family, 1762-1784 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975), 79-80.