Category Archives: Lost Episodes
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.
“While the House of Representatives contemplate the flattering prospects of abundance from the labors of the people by land and by sea, the prosperity of our extended commerce notwithstanding the interruptions occasioned by the belligerent state of a great part of the world, the return of health, industry, and trade to those cities which have lately been afflicted with disease, and the various and inestimable advantages, civil and religious, which, secured under our happy frame of Government, are continued to us unimpaired, we can not fail to offer up to a benevolent Deity our sincere thanks for these the merciful dispensations of His protecting Providence….
“We offer up our fervent prayers to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for the success of their embassy, and that it may be productive of peace and happiness to our common country…”*
The grateful prayer of the House of Representatives in response to President Adams’ address is another lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Deuteronomy 8:6-20 and reflect on the ways God providentially provided for and protected Israel and the warning against forgetting God and then compare it with the acknowledgement of God by the House or Representatives.
Prayer: God we praise you that you are not only great but you are also good. Your merciful providence in our nation’s affairs is evident to those of us with the eyes of faith to see and we are grateful. Make it obvious to all Americans, we pray 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), 1:293-295.
“Another year of health and of sufficiently abundant harvests has passed. For these, and especially for the improved condition of our national affairs, our renewed and profoundest gratitude to God is due…
“Sundry treaties have been negotiated, which will in due time be submitted for the constitutional action of the Senate… It is hoped that the effect of these treaties will result in the establishment of permanent friendly relations with such of these tribes as have been brought into frequent and bloody collision with our outlying settlements and emigrants. Sound policy and our imperative duty to these wards of the Government demand our anxious and constant attention to their material well-being, to their progress in the arts of civilization, and, above all, to that moral training which under the blessing of Divine Providence will confer upon them the elevated and sanctifying influences, the hopes and consolations, of the Christian faith.”
President Lincoln’s third annual address is noted by historians for the Proclamation, but his desire to see hostile Indians come under the sway and enjoy the benefits of the moral teachings of the Christian faith is a lost episode in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Zechariah 2:10-11 and reflect on the prophecy that many peoples will come to the Lord and compare that with Lincoln’s desire for the Indian tribes.
Prayer: Lord of all nations, we look forward to the day when people from every people, tribe, and nation will be gathered into your Kingdom by your grace and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose Name we pray, 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), 6:179, 87.
Today marks the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought America into World War II. Five American battleships and three destroyers were sunk, some 400 planes were damaged or destroyed, and nearly 3,000 were killed. In the midst of the attack, Chaplain Howell M. Forgy encouraged the men as they were handling the ammunition on Sunday, December 7, 1941:
“Well, I was stationed aboard the USS New Orleans, and we were tied up at 1010 dock in Pearl Harbor when we attacked again. We were having a turbine lifted, and all of our electrical power wasn’t on, and so when we went to lift the ammunition by the hoist, we had to form lines of men — form a bucket brigade — and we began to carry the ammunition up through the quarterdeck into the gurneys, and I stood there and directed some of the boys down the port side and some down the starboard side, and as they were getting a little tired, I just happened to say, ‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.’”*
“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” became the basis for and title of a song by Frank Loesser in 1942.
The day following the attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the American people:
“December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan….
Our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.”*
Chaplain Forgy’s popular phrase and President Roosevelt’s speech appealing to God in the face of attack are a couple of lost episodes in American history.
Read and Reflect: Read Psalm 124 and reflect on the psalmist’s confidence in God’s deliverance and compare it with the attitude expressed by the Chaplain and the President.
Prayer: Lord of Heavenly Armies, we trust in you to protect us and defend us against our enemies. May our leaders realize that our hope is in you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: John Bartlett, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1855, 1980), 871; John Graham, ed., Great American Speeches 1898-1963 (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1970), 221.