Category Archives: General
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, George Washington trusted himself to the Giver of Life, and that is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read John 11:25-26 and reflect on the words of Jesus and consider the fact that these verse were placed on Washington’s tomb.
Prayer: Lord of Life, we praise you for the gift of life and the promise of life everlasting through Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray, Amen.
*Source Citations: 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), 1:558; See Tobias Lear’s account at http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/project/exhibit/mourning/lear.html.
“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 the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 11 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1907, 1910), 1:279.
Founding Father John Jay was born on December 12, 1745. At the age of fourteen, Jay was admitted to King’s College in New York, having completed the entrance requirements, which included translating the first ten chapters of the Gospel of John from Greek into Latin. He was a member of the First and Second Continental Congresses and served as the President of the Continental Congress. He co-authored the Federalist Papers along with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton to help the cause of ratifying the U.S. Constitution. Jay was appointed by President George Washington as the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In his “Charges to the Grand Juries of the Eastern Circuit,” Chief Justice Jay declared:
“Providence has been pleased to bless the people of this country with more perfect opportunities of choosing, and more effectual means of establishing their own government, than any other nation has hitherto enjoyed; and for the use we may make of these opportunities and of these means we shall be highly responsible to that Providence, as well as to mankind in general, and to our own posterity in particular.”*
Founder John Jay’s charge to the grand juries included both the recognition that God has blessed us with the ability of choosing and establishing our government and the fact that we are accountable to His overruling Providence. That is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Nehemiah 7:2 reflect on Nehemiah’s choice of civil rulers and compare that with John Jay’s advice about choosing leaders.
Prayer: Father we praise you for your wise counsel and for those who receive it and who share it with others. Help us to realize our choices at the ballot booth have consequences, not only for us, but for mankind in general and our own posterity in particular, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Henry P. Johnston, ed., The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay: First Chief Justice of the United States, Member and President of the Continental Congress, Minister to Spain, Member of Commission to Negotiate Treaty Of Independence, Envoy To Great Britain, Governor Of New York, Etc., 4 vols., (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93), 3:388.
On December 11, 1783, Massachusetts celebrated the victorious conclusion of the Revolutionary War with a “Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer.” Governor and Founding Father John Hancock wrote the Proclamation, which included these words:
“I do, by and with the Advice of the Council appoint THURSDAY, the eleventh day of December next (the Day recommended by Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the People may then assemble to celebrate with grateful Hearts and united Voices, the Praises of their Supreme and all bountiful Benefactor, for his numberless Favours and Mercies — That he hath been pleased to conduct us in Safety through all the Perils of Vicissitudes of the War;…and hath so far crowned our united Efforts with Success,…that he hath prospered the Labour of our Husbandmen with plentiful Harvests; and above all, that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the blessed Gospel, and secured to us, in the fullest Extent, the Rights of Conscience in Faith and Worship. And while our Hearts overflow with Gratitude, and our Lips set forth the Praises of our great Creator, that we also offer up fervent Supplications…; that he may be pleased to bless us in our Husbandry, our Commerce and Navigation; to smile upon our Seminaries and Means of Education; to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish; to give Peace to all Nations, and to fill the World with his Glory.”*
Governor John Hancock’s faith-filled proclamation is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 68:19-20 and reflect on the psalmist’s reference to God and compare that to Governor Hancock’s proclamation.
Prayer: God of our Salvation, we praise you for the goodness and bounty that come from depending on you. As this Founder prayed, we pray: Cause pure religion and virtue to flourish, give peace to all nations, and fill the world with your glory, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Edwin Monroe Bacon, ed., Supplement to the Acts and Resolves of Massachusetts, Volume 1, 1780-84, (Boston: George H. Ellis, 1896), 225-26.
“That sacred Union, hitherto inviolate, which, perfected by our happy Constitution, has brought us, by the favor of Heaven, to a state of prosperity at home and high consideration abroad rarely, if ever, equaled in the history of nations….
“We have looked to [the Federal Constitution] with sacred awe as the palladium of our liberties, and with all the solemnities of religion have pledged to each other our lives and fortunes here and our hopes of happiness hereafter in its defense and support….
“May the Great Ruler of Nations grant that the signal blessings with which He has favored ours may not, by the madness of party or personal ambition, be disregarded and lost: and may His wise providence… inspire returning veneration for that Union which, if we may dare to penetrate His designs, He has chosen as the only means of attaining the high destinies to which we may reasonably aspire.”*
President Jackson’s prayer for the preservation of the Union is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read the sad tale in Judges 20 and reflect on the futility of one of the tribes rebelling against the rest and compare it with the less serious situation President Jackson addressed.
Prayer: Great Ruler of Nations, we are a divided nation. Our sacred Union is being torn by opposing parties, ideologies, and values. May we choose your paths and attain the destiny you would have for America, 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), 2:641, 644, 656.