The French and Indian War: Account of a British Officer
JULY 9, 1755
The American Indian chief looked scornfully at the soldiers on the field before him. How foolish it was to fight as they did, forming their perfect battle lines out in the open, standing shoulder to shoulder in their bright red uniforms. The British soldiers-trained for European warfare-did not break rank, even when braves fired at them from under the safe cover of the forest. The slaughter at the Monongahela River continued for two hours. By then 1,000 of 1,459 British soldiers were killed or wounded, while only 30 of the French and Indian warriors firing at them were injured.
Not only were the soldiers foolish, but their officers were just as bad. Riding on horseback, fully exposed above the men on the ground, they made perfect targets. One by one, the chief's marksmen shot the mounted British officers until only one remained.
"Quick, let your aim be certain and he dies," the chief commanded. The warriors-a mix of Ottawa, Huron, and Chippewa tribesmen-leveled their rifles at the last officer on horseback. Round after round was aimed at this one man. Twice the officer's horse was shot out from under him. Twice he grabbed a horse left idle when a fellow officer had been shot down. Ten, twelve, thirteen rounds were fired by the sharpshooters. Still, the officer remained unhurt.
The native warriors stared at him in disbelief. Their rifles seldom missed their mark. The chief suddenly realized that a mighty power must be shielding this man. "Stop firing!" he commanded. "This one is under the special protection of the Great Spirit." A brave standing nearby added, "I had seventeen clear shots at him ... and after all could not bring him to the ground. This man was not born to be killed by a bullet."
As the firing slowed, the lieutenant colonel gathered the remaining troops and led the retreat to safety. That evening, as the last of the wounded were being cared for, the officer noticed an odd teal in his coat. It was a bullet hole! He rolled up his sleeve and looked at his arm directly under the hole. There was no mark on his skin. Amazed, he took off his coat and found three more holes where bullets had passed through his coat but stopped before they reached his body.
Nine days after the battle, having heard a rumor of his own death, the young lieutenant colonel wrote his brother to confirm that tie was still very much alive.
As I have heard since my arrival at this place, a circumstantial account of my death and dying speech, I take this early opportunity of contradicting the first and of assuring you that I have not as yet composed the latter. But by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!
The battle on the Monongahela, part of the French and Indian War, was fought on July 9, 1755, near Fort Duquesne, now the city of Pittsburgh. The twenty-three-year-old officer went on to become the commander in chief of the Continental Army and the first president of the United States. In all the years that followed in his long career, this man, George Washington, was never once wounded in battle.
Fifteen years later, in 1770, George Washington returned to the same Pennsylvania woods. A respected Indian chief, having heard that Washington was in the area, traveled a long way to meet with him.
He sat down with Washington, and face-to-face over a council fire, the chief told Washington the following:
I am a chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forests that I first beheld this chief [Washington]. I called to my young men and said, "Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe-he hath an Indian's wisdom and his warriors fight as we do-himself alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies." Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss-'twas all in vain, a flower mightier far than we shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and shall soon be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of the shades, hut ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy: Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington], and guides his destinies-he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty entire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.
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This story of God's divine protection and of Washington's open gratitude could be found in many school textbooks until the 1930s. Now few Americans have read it. Washington often recalled this dramatic event that helped shape his character and confirm God's call on his life.
Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Psalm 91:7 NLT
Worship in the Capitol
Thanks to the constitutional mandate of Article I, Section 5, Paragraph 3, every debate and every vote that has taken place in Congress from 1774 to the present is recorded in the public records. As a result of this mandate, the American people are able to read exactly what happened when Congress first moved into the Capitol.
On December 4, 1800, just a few weeks after moving into the building, Congress decided that the Capitol would also serve as a church building. This fact is not only recorded in the Annals of Congress but also confirmed in the journals of various representatives and senators serving at that time.
For example, Senator John Quincy Adams recorded on October 30, 1803:
Attended public service at the Capitol where Mr. Ratoon, an Episcopalian clergyman from Baltimore, preached a sermon.
Just a week earlier he'd written:
Religious service is usually performed on Sundays at the Treasury office and at the Capitol. I went both forenoon and afternoon to the Treasury.
Thus began the longstanding-and congressionally sanctioned-practice of using government buildings as houses of worship.
Chapter TwoA Declaration of Dependence ... Upon God
The Signing of the Declaration of Independence / SUMMER 1776
Thomas Jefferson stretched and yawned loudly. He was completely drained of thought and empty of rhetoric, but he was finished writing the Declaration of Independence. He smiled proudly; he was very pleased with the final draft. In fact, the whole process had been amazing. It was as if he were a container that had been filled over the years with bits and pieces-a phrase here, a concept there. And all of it had been waiting, waiting for this moment. When he sat down to write, the words began to flow out. Majestic, powerful, poetic words-words that would change all history. He had such a sense of purpose, of destiny, as he wrote. He lost track of time. Someone had brought him food-and he had eaten-but all he could remember were the beautiful words coming out of the depths of his being.
He extinguished the lamp and went to sleep.
The next day Thomas approached the other four committee members chosen by the Continental Congress to work on the Declaration of Independence. He could hardly wait to show them the genius of his workmanship. At first, they were amazed that he had finished the draft so quickly. Then they were amazed at what he had written. It was magnificent!
When in the course of human events ...
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal....
"This is good!"
Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed....
"I wouldn't change a word."
Thomas Jefferson closed his eyes, basking in the praises of the older statesmen. It was the highlight of his life.
Then the congressman from Massachusetts broke his reverie. "I would like to add the words, 'They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,'" said John Adams.
"Where?" Thomas asked.
"Right after 'all men are created equal.'"
Benjamin Franklin nodded in agreement. "Oh, that's good. Yes! And what about toward the end-let's insert 'with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.'"
Thomas was offended. Government by committee was an exciting concept, but writing by committee left a lot to be desired. The committee of five continued to work together, making small changes until they agreed the Declaration of Independence was ready to present to the Continental Congress-if Congress was finally ready, to declare independence!
They would soon know. Their draft would be presented when the delegates reconvened on July 1, 1776. Then they would vote on whether to break with Great Britain.
The choice was not a decision that our Founding Fathers made lightly-in fact, they had tried everything else first. A year earlier, on July 5, 1775, Congress had sent the "Olive Branch Petition" directly to King George III, asking for his help in making peace. But the king refused to even look at it.
Famous British parliamentarians argued for America's cause, but none of their arguments moved King George. In his eyes there was only one way to deal with rebellion: crush the rebels by military force. He declared war.
But never in Britain's history was recruiting volunteers so difficult. The recruiting officers were tarred and feathered in Wales and stoned in Ireland; in the previous war three hundred thousand men had volunteered, now not even fifty thousand had come forward. King George was forced to hire mercenaries from Germany who were willing to fight the Americans.
Despite the fact that England had declared war, many congressional delegates were still hoping for a way to reconcile. Only eight of the thirteen colonies had voted to declare independence.
Then, on June 7, 1776, news came that King George's hired mercenaries were coming to America to fight. In response, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia formally proposed to Congress that the colonies declare their independence. Congress postponed its decision until July, so those delegates who were uncertain could check with the people they represented.
When they reconvened, the Resolution for Independence was adopted by twelve of the thirteen colonies, with New York abstaining. Congress then began to discuss the wording of the Declaration. The changes demonstrated Congress's strong reliance upon God-as delegates added the words "appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions."
In the center section are the complaints against King George that made independence necessary. Surprisingly, the reason given by modern history books-"taxation without representation"-is not at the top of the list. In fact, it was seventeenth in a list of twenty-seven grievances, including eleven points on abuse of representative powers, seven on abuse of military powers, and four on abuse of judicial powers.
The revisions continued into the late afternoon of July 4, when, at last, church bells rang out over Philadelphia; the Declaration had been officially adopted.
One of the most widely held misconceptions about the Declaration is that it was signed on July 4, 1776, by all the delegates in attendance. In fact, it wasn't officially signed until August 2.
On that day, John Hancock, the president of Congress, was the first to sign. He signed with a flourish, using a big, bold signature centered below the text.
Then, one by one, the other delegates were called upon, beginning with the northern-most states. Each man knew what he risked: To the British this was treason, and the penalty for treason was death by hanging. Benjamin Franklin said, "Indeed we must all hang together. Otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."
William Ellery, a delegate from Rhode Island, inched his way to stand near the desk where the delegates were signing their names. He was curious to see their faces as each committed this supreme act of courage. Ellery later reported that he was not able to discern real fear on anyone's face. One man's hand shook badly: Stephen Hopkins, also from Rhode Island, was in his sixties and was quick to explain, "My hand trembles, but my heart does not."
A pensive and awful silence filled the room, as one delegate after another signed what many at that time believed to be their own death warrants. The only sound was the calling of the names and the scratch of the pen.
Then the silence and heaviness of the morning were interrupted by the tall, sturdily built Colonel Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, who told the slender Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, "I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing. With me, it will all be over in a minute, but you, you'll be dancing on air an hour after I'm gone."
In the end, no signer was hung for treason, though many suffered greatly for their stand. For these men, who mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor, this was more than a declaration. It was more than a document. It was a covenant, the most solemn, the most sacred of human agreements. They under stood that God himself was a witness of their actions that day.
In declaring their independence from earthly power and authority, our Founding Fathers declared their dependence upon Almighty God: "with firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence." Like the Pilgrims before them, they fully expected God to keep His side of the covenant as they obeyed His Word and followed His Spirit.
They were not disappointed.
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I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means. -John Adams
We have this day restored the Sovereign, to Whom alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and ... from the rising to the setting sun, may His Kingdom come. -Samuel Adams