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We Fight For Freedom

john_jayJohn Jay, First Chief Justice of The U.S. Supreme Court, 1789

We Fight For Freedom (1776)
By:  James Still

Following the American losses in the fall of 1776 and prior to the victory at Trenton, several States issued addresses in an effort to encourage their citizens.  Among the addresses given was one to the citizens of New York written by John Jay.  (John Jay became the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1789.)  After reading a copy of this address, Congress “earnestly recommended” it to all American citizens and ordered it “printed at the expense of the continent.”

“You and all men were created free, and authorized to establish civil government, for the preservation of your rights against oppression, and the security of that freedom which God hath given you…  It is, therefore, not only necessary to the well-being of Society, but the duty of every man, to oppose and repel all those… who prostitute the powers of Government to destroy the happiness and freedom of the people over whom they may be appointed to rule…

But you are told that their armies are numerous, their fleet strong, their soldiers valiant, their resources great; [and] that you will be conquered…  It is true that some [of our] forts have been taken, that our country hath been ravaged, and that our Maker is displeased with us.  But it is also true that the King of Heaven is not like the King of Britain…   If His assistance be sincerely implored, it will surely be obtained.  If we turn from our sins, He will turn from His anger.

… [Therefore] let universal charity, public spirit and private virtue be inculcated [taught], encouraged and practiced; unite in preparing for a vigorous defense of your country, as if all depended on your own exertions; and when you have done these things, then rely upon the good Providence of Almighty God for success, in full confidence, that without His blessing all our efforts will evidently fail.”  John Jay, Address of the Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York to their Constituents, December 23, 1776

James Still (Mar 2017), RetraceOurSteps.com

“… we do not fight for a few acres of land, but for freedom — for the freedom and happiness of millions yet unborn.”  John Jay, Address of the Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York to their Constituents, December 23, 1776

Proclaim Our Independence (1776)

Indendence images
Proclaim Our Independence! (1776)
By:  James Still

During the night of July 4, 1776, John Dunlap, the official printer to the Continental Congress, printed approximately 200 single-sided copies, called broadsides, of the Declaration of Independence.  Congress had ordered, “… copies of the declaration [of Independence] be sent to the several assemblies… that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the army.”  Journals of Congress, July 4, 1776

In compliance with the orders of Congress, George Washington issued the following instructions to the army:  “The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger—  The General hopes and trusts, that every officer, and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.

The Honorable Continental Congress, impelled by the dictates of duty, policy and necessity, having been pleased to dissolve the Connection which subsisted between this Country, and Great Britain, and to declare the United Colonies of North America, free and independent STATES: The several brigades are to be drawn up this evening on their respective Parades, at six O’clock, when the declaration of Congress, showing the grounds & reasons of this measure, is to be read with an audible voice.

The General hopes this important Event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer, and soldier, to act with Fidelity [loyalty] and Courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms: And that he is now in the service of a State, possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit, and advance him to the highest Honors of a free Country.”   George Washington, General Orders, July 9, 1776

James Still (Sep 2016), RetraceOurSteps.com

“Agreeable to this day’s orders, the Declaration of Independence was read at the Head of each Brigade; and was received by three Huzzas from the Troops- everyone seeming highly pleased…   God Grant us success in this our new character.”  Samuel Blachley Webb, Entry in Diary, July 9, 1776

“The Declaration was yesterday published and proclaimed…   Three cheers rent the Welkin [Heavens].  The Battalions paraded on the common, and gave us the Feu de Joie [“fire of joy”, rifle salute], notwithstanding the Scarcity of Powder.  The bells rung all Day, and almost all night.”  John Adams, Letter to Samuel Chase, July 9, 1776

“… should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
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Thomas Paine
Common Sense: Independence (1776)
By: James Still
RetraceOurSteps.com

After reading Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, many citizens shared the pamphlet with friends.  George Washington described the general reaction to Common Sense: My countrymen I know, from their form of government, and steady attachment heretofore to royalty, will come reluctantly into the idea of independence, but time and persecution bring many wonderful things to pass; and by private letters, which I have lately received from Virginia, I find “Common Sense” is working a powerful change there in the minds of many men.”  George Washington, Letter to Joseph Reed, April 1, 1776

“… We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways by which an independency may hereafter be effected, and that one of those three, will, one day or other, be the fate of America…  [1] By the legal voice of the people in Congress; [2] by a military power, or [3] by a mob…  Should an independency be brought about by the first of those means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

… WHEREFORE, instead of gazing at each other with suspicious or doubtful curiosity, let each of us hold out to his neighbor the hearty hand of friendship, and unite in drawing a line, which, like an act of oblivion, shall bury in forgetfulness every former dissension. Let the names of Whig and Tory be extinct; and let none other be heard among us, than those of a good citizen, an open and resolute friend, and a virtuous supporter of the RIGHTS of MANKIND, and of the FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES OF AMERICA.”  Thomas Paine, Common Sense, January 10, 1776

James Still (May 2016), RetraceOurSteps.com

“… until an independence is declared, the Continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity…”  Thomas Paine, Common Sense, January 10, 1776

“Its effects [Common Sense] were sudden and extensive upon the American mind.  It was read by public men, repeated in clubs, spouted in Schools, and in one instance, delivered from the pulpit instead of a sermon by a clergyman in Connecticut.”  Benjamin Rush, A Memorial, (Autobiography), 1905

“… should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

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Common Sense: Tyranny (1776) – BY:  JAMES STILL

Image result for IMAGES FOR TYRANNY

According to some historians, Thomas Paine’s, Common Sense, was the most influential pamphlet in American history. Widely popular, it sold over 120,000 copies in the first three months of publication and 500,000 copies by the end of the Revolution.

“… Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families… Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new World hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from EVERY PART of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still…

No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April 1775 [Lexington], but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE, can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul…

A government of our own is our natural right: And when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance.” Thomas Paine, Common Sense, January 10, 1776

James Still (Apr 2016), RetraceOurSteps.com

“Men, who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent. Selected from the rest of mankind, their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs… from the world at large…” Thomas Paine, Common Sense, January 10, 1776

“But where says some is the King of America?  I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain…”  Thomas Paine, Common Sense, January 10, 1776

“… should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

RetraceOurSteps.com

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SiegeBoston.jpgTHE SIEGE OF BOSTON (1776)
By:  James Still

During the night of March 4, 1776, Washington’s troops quietly moved artillery recovered from Ft. Ticonderoga up Boston’s Dorchester Heights, along with all materials needed to construct fortifications. Upon seeing the “Works” the following morning, British General Howe is said to have remarked, “The rebels did more in one night than my whole army would have done in one month.” Here is Washington’s account:

“I resolved to take possession of Dorchester Point… which I knew would force the Enemy to an Engagement, or subject them to be enfiladed [shot their entire depth] by our Cannon… The ground at this time being froze upwards of two feet deep, & as impenetrable as a Rock… we were obliged therefore to provide an amazing quantity of Chandeliers [portable frames] and Fascines [bundles of sticks] for the Work, and on the Night of the 4th, after a previous severe Cannonade & Bombardment for three Nights together to divert the Enemy’s attention from our real design, removed every material to the spot under Cover of Darkness…

Upon their discovery of the Works next Morning, great preparations were made for attacking them, but not being ready before the Afternoon and the Weather getting very tempestuous, much blood was Saved… this remarkable Interposition of Providence is for some wise purpose I have not a doubt[.] …the Enemy thinking (as we have since learned) that we had got too securely posted before the second morning to be much hurt by them, and apprehending great annoyance from our new Works, resolved upon a retreat, and accordingly Embarked in as much hurry… and confusion as ever Troops did… leaving Kings property in Boston to the amount… of thirty or £40,000 in Provisions, Stores… [and] Cannon… Baggage Wagons, Artillery Carts, etc. which they have been Eighteen Months preparing to take the Field with, were found destroyed—thrown into the Docks—and drifted upon every Shore.” George Washington, Letter to John Augustine Washington, March 31, 1776

James Still (Feb 2016), RetraceOurSteps.com

“[Boston]… is again open & free for Its rightful possessors… May that being who is powerful to save, and in whose hands is the fate of Nations, look down with an eye of tender pity & compassion upon the whole of the United Colonies…” George Washington, Address to the Massachusetts General Court, April 1, 1776

“Would it not be good policy to grant [the Boston Loyalists] a general Amnesty? & conquer these People by a generous forgiveness?”  George Washington, Letter to Joseph Reed, April 1, 1776
“… should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

RetraceOurSteps.com

 

First National Day of Prayer

national day of prayer
First National Day of Prayer (1775)
By:  James Still

The First National Day of Prayer and Fasting occurred on July 20, 1775. Congress attended Divine Service and ordered that a copy of the Resolution be “published in the Newspapers, and in Hand-bills.”

“As the Great Governor of the World, by his supreme and universal Providence, not only conducts the course of Nature with unerring Wisdom and Rectitude, but frequently influences the minds of Men…

This Congress, therefore, considering the present, critical, alarm- and calamitous State of these Colonies, do earnestly recommend that Thursday the 20th Day of July next, be observed by the Inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this Continent, as a Day of public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer; that we may, with united Hearts and Voices… confess and deplore our many Sins; and offer up our joint Supplications to the all-wise, omnipotent, and merciful Disposer of all Events; humbly beseeching him to forgive our Iniquities, to remove our present Calamities, to avert those desolating Judgments, with which we are threatened, and to bless our rightful Sovereign King George the Third, and to inspire him with Wisdom to discern and pursue the true Interests of his Subjects, that a speedy end may be put to the civil discord between Great-Britain and the American Colonies…

[and] that the divine Blessing may descend and rest upon all our civil Rulers, and upon the Representatives of the People in their several Assemblies and Conventions, that they may be directed to wise and effectual Measures for preserving the Union, and securing the just Rights and Privileges of the Colonies…” Journals of Congress, Resolution for a Fast, June 12, 1775

James Still (Dec 2015), RetraceOurSteps.com

“… George Washington… General of the American Army… is to repair [take himself] as soon as possible to the Camp before Boston…   We have appointed a continental Fast. Millions will be upon their Knees at once before their great Creator, imploring his Forgiveness and Blessing, [and] his Smiles on American Councils and Arms.” John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams, June 17, 1775

“… that Virtue and true Religion may revive and flourish throughout our Land; and that all America may soon behold a gracious interposition of Heaven for the redress of her many Grievances…”  Journals of Congress, Resolution for a Fast, June 12, 1775
“Should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

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The Battle of Bunker Hill (1775)

By: James Still
October 2015

Bunker_Hill_by_Pyle

In June 1775, the Colonists discovered a British plan to occupy Bunker Hill as a strategic point to control Boston and Boston Harbor. The Colonists raced to take possession of the hill. With limited ammunition, Colonel Prescott is said to have ordered his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” The British won the battle but suffered many casualties. Here is the Massachusetts Committee of Safety’s account:

“… Orders were issued that a Detachment of one thousand Men [Colonial Troops/ Provincials] should march that Evening… and entrench upon… [Bunker] Hill; just before 9 o’clock [p.m.] they left Cambridge, and proceeded to Breeds Hill… for by some Mistake this Hill was marked out for the Entrenchment instead of the other… it was nearly 12 o’clock [a.m.] before the Works were entered upon. They were then carried on with the utmost Diligence… so that by the Dawn of the Day, they had thrown up a small Redoubt [earthen fort]… [and] at this Time a heavy Fire began from the Enemy… an incessant Shower of Shot and Bombs…

Between 12 and 1 o’clock [p.m.] a Number of Boats and Barges filled with the regular Troops, from Boston, were observed approaching… [and] upon their landing… began a very slow March towards our Lines… The Provincials… reserved their Fire till they came within [150’]… and then began a furious Discharge of small Arms; this Fire arrested the Enemy, which… then retreated in Disorder, and… some of them sought Refuge within their Boats; here their Officers were observed… using the most passionate Gestures, and pushing their Men forward with their Swords; at length they rallied and marched up with apparent Reluctance…

[On the third attempt, the British] attacked the Redoubt on three Sides at once… the Ammunition of the Provincials was expended…” The Comm. of Safety’s Account of The Battle of Bunker Hill, July 25, 1775

James Still (Oct 2015), RetraceOurSteps.com

“The Continental Troops… wish for no further Effusion of Blood if the Freedom and Peace of America can be secured without it; but if it must be otherwise, we are determined to struggle and disdain Life without Liberty.” The Comm. of Safety’s Account of The Battle of Bunker Hill, July 25, 1775

“… such a Slaughter was perhaps never before made on British Troops in the Space of about an Hour…”  The Comm. of Safety’s Account of The Battle of Bunker Hill, July 25, 1775

“Should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

RetraceOurSteps.com

Washington: The Letter Home (1775)

letter
Washington: The Letter Home (1775)
By:  James Still
September, 2015

Before leaving Philadelphia to assume command of the Army, George Washington wrote a letter to his wife, Martha, and enclosed his will:

“MY DEAREST,  I am now set down to write to you on a subject, which fills me with inexpressible concern, and this concern is greatly aggravated and increased, when I reflect upon the uneasiness I know it will give you.  It has been determined in Congress, that the whole army raised for the defense of the American cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it.

You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity, and that I should enjoy more real happiness in one month with you at home, than I have the most distant prospect of finding abroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years…   I shall rely, therefore, confidently on that Providence, which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you in the fall.  I shall feel no pain from the toil or the danger of the campaign; my unhappiness will flow from the uneasiness I know you will feel from being left alone…

I shall add nothing more… but to desire that you will remember me to your friends, and to assure you that I am, with the most unfeigned regard, my dear Patsy, your affectionate, [etc.]”  George Washington, Letter to Martha Washington, June 18, 1775

James Still (Sep 2015), RetraceOurSteps.com

“As life is always uncertain, and common prudence dictates to every man the necessity of settling his temporal concerns, while it is in his power, and while the mind is calm and undisturbed, I have…  got Colonel Pendleton to draft a will for me, by the directions I gave him, which will I now enclose…”  George Washington, Letter to Martha Washington, June 18, 1775

“But as it has been a kind of destiny, that has thrown me upon this service, I shall hope that my undertaking it is designed to answer some good purpose.”  George Washington, Letter to Martha Washington, June 18, 1775

“Should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

RetraceOurSteps.com

“But as it has been a kind of destiny, that has thrown me upon this service, I shall hope that my undertaking it is designed to answer some good purpose.”  George Washington, Letter to Martha Washington, June 18, 1775

“Should we wander from [The Founding Principles]… let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”  Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

RetraceOurSteps.com

Washington: Commander and Friend (1758)

George Washington
Washington: Commander and Friend (1758)
By: James Still
August 2015

Suffering from bad health in 1758, Washington resigned as Commander of the Virginia Regiment. The letter Washington receives from his Officers provides an excellent glimpse into his character:

“SIR, We your most obedient and affectionate Officers, beg leave to express our great Concern, at the disagreeable News we have received of your Determination to resign the Command of that Corps, in which we have under you long served. The happiness we have enjoyed, and the Honor we have acquired, together with the mutual Regard that has always subsisted between you and your Officers, have implanted so sensible an Affection in the Minds of us all, that we cannot be silent on this critical Occasion…

Your steady adherence to impartial Justice, your quick Discernment and invariable Regard to Merit, wisely intended to inculcate those genuine Sentiments, of true Honor and Passion for Glory… heightened our natural Emulation, and our Desire to excel. How much we improved by those Regulations, and your own Example…   Judge then, how sensibly we must be Affected with the loss of such an excellent Commander, such a sincere Friend, and so affable a Companion. How rare is it to find those amiable Qualifications blended together in one Man? How great the Loss of such a Man?

… we beg Leave to assure you, that as you have hitherto been the actuating Soul of the whole Corps, we shall at all times pay the most invariable Regard to your Will and Pleasure, and will always be happy to demonstrate by our Actions, with how much Respect and Esteem we are, Sir.” Officers of the Virginia Regiment, Letter to George Washington, Dec 31, 1758

James Still (Aug 2015), RetraceOurSteps.com

“It gives us an additional Sorrow, when we reflect, to find, our unhappy Country will receive a loss, no less irreparable, than ourselves. Where will it meet a Man so experienced in military Affairs? One so renowned for Patriotism, Courage and Conduct?” Officers of the Virginia Regiment, Letter to George Washington, Dec 31, 1758

“Your Presence only will cause a steady Firmness and Vigor to actuate in every Breast, despising the greatest Dangers, and thinking light of Toils and Hardships, while led on by the Man we know and Love.”  Officers of the Virginia Regiment, Letter to George Washington, Dec 31, 1758

Washington: Commander In Chief (1775)

Geroge Washington
Washington: Commander in Chief (1775)
By: James Still

By the summer of 1775, it was increasingly clear the Colonies needed an army and General.  Was there anyone who could both unite the Colonies and command an army?  John Adams suggested Washington: “… I had no hesitation to declare that I had but one Gentleman in my Mind for that important command… a Gentleman whose Skill and Experience as an Officer, whose independent fortune, great Talents and excellent universal Character, would command the Approbation of all America, and unite the cordial Exertions of all the Colonies better than any other Person in the Union.” John Adams, Autobiography, Part 1, (June 1775)

Congress agreed with Adams and selected Washington as Commander in Chief.  When informed of his appointment, Washington replied:

“Though I am truly sensible of the high Honor done me in this Appointment, yet, I feel great Distress from a Consciousness, that my Abilities and Military Experience may not be equal to the extensive and important Trust: However, as the Congress desire it, I will enter upon the momentous Duty, and exert every Power I possess in their Service, and for Support of the glorious Cause.  I beg they will accept my most cordial Thanks for this distinguished Testimony of their Approbation.

But, lest some unlucky Event should happen unfavorable to my Reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every Gentleman in the Room, that I this Day declare with the utmost Sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.

As to Pay, Sir, I beg Leave to assure the Congress, that as no pecuniary Consideration could have tempted me to accept this arduous Employment, at the Expense of my domestic Ease and Happiness, I do not wish to make any Profit from it.  I will keep an exact Account of my Expenses.  Those I doubt not they will discharge, and that is all I desire.” George Washington, Journals of Congress, June 16, 1775

James Still (June 2015), JamesStill@RetraceOurSteps.com

“Resolved unanimously, Whereas the Delegates of all the Colonies from Nova Scotia to Georgia, in Congress assembled, have unanimously chosen George Washington, Esq. to be General and Commander in Chief…” Journals of Congress, June 17, 1775

“… this Congress doth now declare, that they will maintain and assist him, and adhere to him the said George Washington, with their Lives and Fortunes in the same Cause.”  Journals of Congress, June 17, 1775