“We fix on our Standards and Drums the Colony arms, with the motto, Qui Transtulit Sustinet, round it in letters of gold, which we construe thus: God, who transplanted us hither, will support us.” – A letter regarding the Lexington Alarm dated Wethersfield, CT., April 23, 1775.
Record of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution 1775-1783, Adj. Gen., Hartford, 1889.
Historical Series, Number Twelve, April 2007
The Educational Outreach of the General Israel Putnam Branch No. 4
of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
THE COMMON GROUND OF MEETINGHOUSE & MILITIA
In a short poem titled “The Divine Source of Liberty”, Samuel Adams reveals what “shall be a nations true test: To acknowledge the divine Source of Liberty”. Self-government in New England had originated and expanded within the context of that acknowledgement, but in 1765, passage of the Stamp Act by the British Parliament would present a serious threat to colonial self-government under the Royal Charters. The Stamp Act motivated the Lawyer John Adams to write “A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law”, exposing the confederacy of the English Canon and Feudal Law that had forced the Puritans to leave England and settle New England. John Adams maintained that “It was this great struggle that peopled America. It was not religion alone, as is commonly supposed; but it was a love of universal liberty, and a hatred, a dread, a horror, of the infernal confederacy before described, that projected, conducted, and accomplished the settlement of America. It was a resolution formed by a sensible people,—I mean the Puritans,—almost in despair”. ”They knew that no such unworthy dependencies took place in the ancient seats of liberty, the republics of Greece and Rome; and they thought all such slavish subordinations were equally inconsistent with the constitution of human nature and that religious liberty with which Jesus had made them free.” Later, after Lexington and Concord, a member of the Danver’s Militia replied to John Adams: “What we meant in going for those red-coats, was this: we had always governed ourselves and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should”. In his “Democracy in America”, Alexis de Tocqueville would later concur: “The general principles which are the groundwork of modern constitutions—principles which, in the seventeenth century, were imperfectly known in Europe, and not completely triumphant even in Great Britain—were all recognized and established by the laws of New England”. They “enacted laws, as if their allegiance was due only to God.” “In the laws of Connecticut and New England we find the germ and gradual development of the township independence, which is the life and mainspring of American liberty at the present day.” He goes on to note “that the social condition and the constitution of the Americans are democratic, but they have not had a democratic revolution. They arrived upon the soil they occupy in nearly the condition in which we see them at the present day; and this is of considerable importance.” Self-government had been planted with the early settlement of New England where the American Revolution could be expected to start around Boston, Massachusetts, named to honor the Reverend John Cotton of St. Botolph’s Church in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. Remember the earlier revolution had also started around Boston on the morning of April 18, 1689 when the militia began to pour in from the surrounding towns to arrest Governor Andros and restore self-government. Concerning the plantation of New England, John Cotton had preached “What he hath planted he will maintain” as Winthrop’s Fleet departed for New England with the Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company. The Historian John Fiske describes the transplanting to Connecticut: In Massachusetts, “When the Board of Assistants undertook to secure for themselves permanency of tenure, together with the power of choosing the governor and making the laws, these three towns (Dorchester, Watertown and the New Town) sent deputies to Boston to inspect the charter and see if it authorized any such stretch of power.” “Cotton declared that democracy was no fit government either for church or for commonwealth, and the majority of the ministers agreed with him. Chief among those who did not was the learned and eloquent Thomas Hooker, pastor of the church at the New Town.” In “June, 1636, the New Town congregation, a hundred or more in number, led by their sturdy pastor, and bringing with them 160 head of cattle, made the pilgrimage to the Connecticut valley. Women and children took part in this pleasant summer journey; Mrs. Hooker, the pastor’s wife, being too ill to walk, was carried on a litter.” “Hooker’s pilgrims were soon followed by the Dorchester and Watertown congregations, and by the next May 800 people were living in Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield. As we read of these movements, not of individuals, but of organic communities, united in allegiance to a church and its pastor, and fervid with the instinct of self-government, we seem to see Greek history renewed, but with centuries of added political training.” In Connecticut, “At the opening sessions of the General Court, May 31, 1638, Mr. Hooker preached a sermon of wonderful power, in which he maintained that “the foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people,” “that the choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance,” and “they that have power to appoint officers and magistrates have the right also to set the bounds and limitations of the power and place unto which they call them.” “On the 14th of January 1639, all the freemen of the three towns assembled at Hartford and adopted a written constitution in which the hand of the great preacher is clearly discernible. It is worthy of note that this document contains none of the conventional references to a “dread sovereign” or a “gracious king,” nor the slightest allusion to the British or any other government outside of Connecticut itself, nor does it prescribe any condition of church-membership for the right of suffrage. It was the first written constitution known to history, that created a government, and it marked the beginnings of American democracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father.“ “This document, known as the “Fundamental Orders of Connecticut” created the government under which the people of Connecticut lived for nearly two centuries before they deemed it necessary to amend it. The charter granted to Connecticut by Charles II in 1662 was simply a royal recognition of the government actually in operation since the adoption of the Fundamental Orders.” Connecticut’s motto “Qui Transtulit Sustinet” – “He who transplanted still sustains”, extends the earlier “planting” theme of John Cotton. The meaning of CT’s motto is best expressed in the letter quoted above under The Scarlet Standard heading. With spiritual ties to the 80th Psalm, this was familiar verse in the colonies and its recurring theme would again appear as a sermon titled “The American Vine” preached at Christ Church in Philadelphia to the adjourned Continental Congress assembling there on the 20th of July 1775. The Planting and Transplanting had become “The American Vine”. Thomas Hooker’s Democratic Revelation of May 31, 1638 is ripe fruit in 1775. Self-government was dependent on the individual and the collective ability to govern the self, based on Right reason, not according to humours or wandering thoughts, for they had witnessed God’s smiles and frowns. The impact of a Biblical Commonwealth such as Connecticut was grudgingly noted by the Episcopal Clergyman Samuel Peters in his “History of Connecticut”, where he attempts to explain “the causes of the American Revolution” from his perspective of both sides of the Atlantic. Samuel Peters was a Tory who had unsuccessfully attempted to implant the Anglican Church, which strongly supported the King, into “Congregational Connecticut”. After a confrontation with the Connecticut Sons of Liberty, he was forced to retreat to the safety of England. While he blames republicanism as the cause leading to the separation, he comprehended not its Providential Direction. He observed that ”the British government, in the last century, did not expect New-England to remain under their authority; nor did the New-Englanders consider themselves as subjects, but allies, of Great Britain…republican charters were granted, and privileges and promises given them far beyond what an Englishman in England is entitled to. The emigrants were empowered to make laws, in church and state, agreeable to their own will and pleasure, without the King’s approbation.” “They never have prayed for any earthly king by name.” “They always called themselves republicans and enemies to Kingly government…They never have admitted one law of England to be in force among them, till passed by their assemblies…They hold Jesus to be their only King, whom if they love and obey, they will not submit, because they have not submitted to the laws of the King of England”.
The New England Towns were noted for their Meetinghouse where town meetings and church services were held and for the Green or Common ground where cows grazed, Liberty poles were raised by the Sons of Liberty, and the local Militia (Trained Bands) would muster and train. Training days usually opened with roll call and prayer followed by the manual of arms, drill, inspection and maneuvers, often ending with refreshments and social activities. In time of danger, the Militiamen would “go to meeting armed on Lord’s day”. The Militia was recognized as “The Body of the People” a term found in John Locke’s “Two Treatises on Government” (II, 241-3). Service in the Militia was NOT voluntary as the Militia Laws in New England required males between 16 and 60 years of age to serve, mustering as often as once a week in early 1775. The local Militiaman was required to provide his own firearm, Powder, ball, a secondary weapon such as a knlfe or tomahawk and the necessities for a limited stay in the field. Local Militia Companies elected their own Officers. When local CT Militia Companies were organized into Thirteen State Regiments in 1739, Regimental Officers would be appointed by the General Assembly, but local companies continued to elect their officers. During the eighteenth century colonial wars, militiamen were recruited to serve as Provincial troops, such as Putnam’s Connecticut Rangers, in support of British operations against France and Spain. During the War of Jenkin’s Ear (1739-42), 3,500 colonials were recruited as Provincials for the disasterous attack on the Fort at Cartagena (coast of Columbia in South America) in 1740, with only 600 Americans surviving to return home. Major General Phineas Lyman, who was allied with the Trumbulls, would command the CT Regiments during the French and Indian War in upper New York (Fort Lyman); Canada; and at the Siege and capture of Havana, Cuba in 1762. Many of those who fought under Lyman at Havana would form the “Company of Military Adventurers” after the war ended in 1763 to persue a share in prize money and land grants for participation in the fall of Havana. Later meetings at Major John Durkee’s Tavern in Norwich would forward a strong comradeship of military experience into the Connecticut Sons of Liberty and the militia companies responding to the “Lexington Alarm in 1775”. Since the early settlement, when Thomas Hooker’s Assistant, Samuel Stone was Chaplain to Captain John Mason’s troops, Army Chaplains had connected the Meetinghouse to Militia Regiments. In like manner in 1755, the Rev. Solomon Williams, Pastor at Lebanon for fifty-three years and an intimate friend of Governor Jonathan Trumbull, preached on “The Duty of Christian Soldiers, when called to War, to Undertake It In The Name Of God”.
The Charter of Connecticut provided “That itt shall and may bee lawfull to and for the chiefe Commanders, Governours and Officers of the said company for the tyme being whoe shall bee resident in the parts of New England hereafter menconed, and others inhabitating there by their leave, admittance, appointment or direccon, from tyme to tyme and att all tymes hereafter, for their speciall defence and safety, to Assemble, Martiall, Array, and putt in Warlike posture the Inhabitants of the said Colony…” Jonathan Trumbull enjoyed the unique status of an elected Governor serving under a form of Charter Government, before, during and following the Revolutionary War (1769-84). As Governor, he commanded the Connecticut Militia as “Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief”. His statue stands in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. attesting to his significance as “Soldier, statesman and minister”. He chose the date the war would start at Lexington and Concord, Proclaimed Connecticut a Republic June 18, 1776 and was a key figure in the Sons of Liberty. Trained for the Ministry at Harvard and licensed to Preach the Gospel, he Preached in several churches, then was offered the Pulpit in Colchester. Though never Ordained or settled in a Church as its Minister, his Proclamations, correspondence and statesmanship attest to his Ministry to the people of Connecticut.. A statue of him also stands on the East facade of Connecticut’s State Capitol Building at Hartford, with Thomas Hooker, Roger Sherman and John Davenport. His Son, John Trumbull, an Aide-De-Camp to Gen. Washington (1776-77) is known as the “Painter of the Revolution” and four of his large paintings of the revolutionary era are found in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building with some displayed at Yale University’s Art Gallery and the Wadsworth Athaneum in Hartford. Two statues were allowed from each State and CT Multi-Signer Roger Sherman also stands in the U.S. Capitol Building. He is remembered as a member of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence and for the “Connecticut Compromise” proposal for U.S. Congress representation. He seconded James Madison’s motion for prayer during the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787 following the tradition of the 1774 Convention in Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin had noted “a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding” quoting Psalm 127:1; “except the Lord Build the House, they labour in vain that build it”. Congressional Prayers were instituted on July 4, 1787. A consequence of this delay was evident June 29th, when concern was expressed that the smaller States would be losing some liberty, to which Alexander Hamilton replied“The truth is it is a contest for power, not for liberty”. In 1774, Roger Sherman was asked by Patrick Henry “why the people of Connecticut were more zealous in the cause of liberty than the people of other States”. Sherman replied “because we have more to lose than any of them.” And that of course was “Our beloved charter”, known to Governor Jonathan Trumbull as “the happy constitution under which we have so long subsisted as a corporation”.
Benjamin Franklin was living in Philadelphia in 1747 when he proposed that a Pennsylvania Militia of volunteers, who elected their own officers, be formed. The hostilities of King George’s War with France and the War of Jenkin’s Ear with Spain had made Franklin aware of the threat to Philadelphia from it’s western frontier and also from French and Spanish privateers, who were raiding towns on the Delaware River. His pleas were ignored by the Royal Governor and a pacifist Assembly, which made it necessary for him to rely on his pamphleteering skills. The response to his Freedom of the Press was awesome with about 10,000 men volunteering in Pennsylvania for the new independent “Militia Association”, organizing into over one hundred militia companies with artillery batteries soon set up on the Delaware River. King George’s War ended the following year and the Independent “Militia Association” ended. Franklin understood power, politics and the need for a militia commenting: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote”. After British General Braddock was killed in 1755 and his 1600 man force routed in the Pennsylvania wilderness during the French and Indian War, the Pennsylvania Militia was revived by Benjamin Franklin and he was elected Colonel of the Philadelphia Regiment.
In 1754, Franklin had proposed his Albany Plan of Union “for the common defense of the colonies, with a grand council chosen by the colonies, and a governor general appointed by the Crown. Franklin’s cartoon (at right) was published in his “Pennsylvania Gazette” to promote a union of the American Colonies. Note that New England is pictured as the symbolic head in his “Don’t tread on me” illustration. 117 years earlier in 1637, Connecticut had proposed a union of the New England Colonies, adopted in 1643 as the New England Confederation “to advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to enjoy the liberties of the Gospel, in purity with peace”. At the Convention held at Albany, NY on July 4, 1754, Connecticut’s “delegates alone of all the colonies had refused to enter into a union” because “They feared that it might “be employed to the subversion of their liberties”. Connecticut did not have a Royal Governor appointed by the Crown and “had lived under a charter and form of government that made her substantially a free and independent colony for more than a hundred years”. The Stamp Act Congress was held in New York City October 7-25,1765 in opposition to the Stamp Act and was attended by Delegates from nine colonies including Connecticut. The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia from September 5th to October 26, 1774 to determine the best course “for the recovery and establishment of just rights and liberties, civil and religious, and the restoration of union and harmony between Great Britain and the colonies”. Relations with Great Britain continued to worsen and in January 1776, a letter from England demanded total submission to the King, ending all attempts at reconciliation. The Second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia on May 10, 1775 and in June of 1776 began to draft “Articles of Confederation” for “The United States of America” which were adopted November 15,1777 and presented to the States for ratification. Connecticut would continue in it’s system of Charter Government established by the Fundamental Orders in 1639, but after it’s Declaration Of Independence, the need for colonial union became necessary. Each Connecticut Town continued as a little republic within the State administering its affairs through the Town Meeting: “Att a Meeting of the Inhabitants of the Town of Windham Legally Warned and held In Windham January 6th In The Year of our Lord Christ 1778. Jedediah Elderkim Esqr Moderator, Samuel Gray Town Clerk. This Town having heard and duly Considered The Articles of Confederation agreed upon by the Honorable Continental Congress, do Acceed to the same in every article and clause Thereof…And that the Representatives of this Town be and they are hereby instructed to acceed to the same in the General Assembly of this State – Passed in the affirmative.” Windham would hold many Town Meetings during the Revolutionary War appointing members of their Committees of Safety, Correspondence, Inspection and Relief for Soldier’s families; raising supplies and taxes in support of the troops. The “Articles of Confederation” were ratified by the States and became effective, March 1, 1781. In New England, the American Revolution was certainly about self-government.
The Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773 resulted in the British closing of the Port of Boston on June 1, 1774. In support of Boston, the Virginia Burgesses adopted a resolution, proposed by Henry, Jefferson and Lee, for a day of fasting and prayer for the day the Boston Port Bill went into effect. Accordingly on June 1, 1774, George Washington noted in his diary, “Went to church and fasted all day”. George Washington was well aware of the line from Joseph Addison’s “Cato”: “The Post of honor is a private station”. In Connecticut, The Town of Windham responded by driving a “small flock” of two hundred and fifty-eight sheep for the relief of Boston, as did many other towns. “Putnam himself took down Brooklyn’s gift of one hundred and twenty-five fine sheep.” “Connecticut equipped four new regiments in the Autumn of 1774. Each town was ordered to provide double its usual stock of powder, balls and flint. Trainings twice a month were required of each military company. The militia organization of our colony was then very efficient; military spirit high.” “A brigade training in Plainfield, 1773, is especially memorable for inciting the first spark of military enthusiasm in a young Quaker from Rhode Island, Nathaniel Greene, destined to win a high name among revolutionary commanders.” “A small book widely circulated in Connecticut during this winter of 1774-75, and especially endorsed by Windham County Clergy,…was entitled — “English Liberties, or the Freeborn subjects Inheritance, containing Magna Charta, Habeas Corpus Act, a Declaration of the Liberties of the Subject, the Petition of Right, and other kindred documents,” reprinted from the fifth English edition, and showing, saith the preface, “the laws and rights that from age to age have been delivered down to us from our renowned forefathers, and which they so dearly bought and vindicated to themselves at the expense of so much blood and treasure.”
Patrick Henry gained prominence in Virginia during the early 1760’s after obtaining a license to practice law, and proceeded to develop his talents as a orator in the “Parson’s Cause” and the successful defense of three imprisoned itinerant Baptist Ministers who, Henry would question the Judge, were “charged with —with—with what? Preaching the gospel of the Son of God? Great God!” When the Virginia Assembly passed Patrick Henry’s Resolves in 1765 opposing the Stamp Act, the Royal Governor of Virginia remarked “The Leaven of the North fermented the Minds of the Virginians”. Ten years later, Patrick Henry would be elected Captain of 150 volunteers responding when the Royal Governor removed fifteen barrels of gunpowder from the powder magazine at Williamsburg. In March of 1775, as war with Great Britain approached, Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech to the 2nd Virginia Convention, would in a spectacular manner, bring attention to the need for a Virginia militia. He believed that “a well-regulated militia, composed of gentlemen and yeomen, is the natural strength and only security of a free government; that such a militia in this colony would forever render it unnecessary for the mother country to keep among us for the purpose of our defense any standing army of mercenary forces, always subversive of the quiet and dangerous to the liberties of the people, and would obviate the pretext of taxing us for their support.” His speech would make many valid points “it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of Hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of the siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?”…”I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.”…”Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace.” Interestingly, a Sermon preached many times by George Whitfield during the “Great Awakening” titled “The Method of Grace”, had for its theme, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” (Jer 6:14; Matt 10:34). The connection between Henry and Whitfield was the “Great Awakening” beginning in the 1730’s and leaving a deep and lasting effect on drop-dead spiritual reasoning in the Colonies (i.e. men must be “born again” to “see the Kingdom of heaven”). George Whitfield, was ordained in the Anglican Church in England, but his non-conformity would prevent him from preaching in the Anglican Churches in England and America, forcing him to become an itinerant preacher, addressing large gatherings in open fields. The Presbyterian Scotch-Irish had re-settled from Ireland to the middle colonies in the early 1700’s, and George Whitfied arrived in 1738. Preaching to large crowds on seven trips to the colonies, he contacted Patrick Henry’s uncle in 1745, the Reverend Patrick Henry, for permission to preach at St. Pauls Anglican Church in Hanover County, threatening to preach in the churchyard, if not in the church. Whitfield preached twice to the large crowd that gathered there, first in the church, then in the churchyard. Two years later, preferring to attend a “New Light” church rather than her brother’s, Sarah Henry would take her young son Patrick to hear the newly licensed Presbyterian, the Reverend Samuel Davies. On the trips home, Sarah would quiz Patrick on his grasp of the sermon; he also grasped the delivery, and became “the Trumpet of the American Revolution”. In Philadelphia, both Whitfield and Benjamin Franklin would greatly benefit from their relationship. The spiritual fields of New England were well awakened by Jonathan Edwards when Whitfield preached to large gatherings reported at 15,000 on Boston Common. Among his friends, Col. William Pepperell was chosen to command the 1745 expedition against Fortress Louisburgh on Cape Breton, and Mr. Sherburne, at whose house Whitfield often stayed, was to be Commissary. When asked to favor the expedition with a motto for their flag, Whitfield offered “”Fear nothing, while Christ is leader” and preached to the colonial force which included 500 men and the naval sloop “Defence” from Connecticut. The New Englanders unaided victory at Louisbourg stunned Europe and gave the colonials a great boost of confidence, for which George Whitfield would preach the Thanksgiving Sermon. Whitfield remained active until his death on September 30,1770 at Newburyport, Massachusetts in the house of his friend, the Reverend Jonathan Parsons, and lies buried in front of his pulpit. The patriot preacher Stephen Johnson, who amplified Patrick Henry’s opposition to the Stamp Act, had replaced the Reverend Jonathan Parsons at Lyme, CT, who had moved to the Presbyterian Church at Newburyport. Samuel Holden Parsons, the son of Reverend Jonathan Parsons, remained in Connecticut and became Colonel of the Sixth Connecticut Regiment, posted at Roxbury in June 1775 with the Rev. Stephen Johnson as his Chaplain. Parsons later became Major-General.
In ancient Israel, The males were numbered, with some exemptions, “From twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel”. In Athens, from about 500 B.C., a form of Militia or citizen army was linked to their early form of democratic government. From age 18 to 20, military training was required and afterwards the citizen was responsible for maintaining his own armaments (helmet, shield, sword and spear) ready to respond to a call to arms until age 60. In the fifth century B.C., Cincinnatus would twice leave his farm to defend Rome, but in 9 A.D., three Roman Legions of 60,000 men were annihilated in the forests of Northern Germany by a less formal ancient Germanic militia. The wars in the Lowlands of Europe split the Netherlands into Holland and Belgium and would provide the military training ground for many future leaders of Puritan Militia (for example, Myles Standish and John Underhill in Massachusetts and John Mason and Lyon Gardiner in Connecticut). Among those who remained in England, Sir Arthur Haselrig, raised a troop of horse under his famous “Anchored in Heaven” Banner in the Parliamentary Army and also served as commercial agent for Connecticut and Massachusetts in London. In 1775, The Eleventh Regiment of CT Militia was comprised of the Town Militia Companies of Woodstock, Pomfret and Killingly. Lt. Col. Israel Putnam, from Pomfret, was with the Eleventh Regiment prior to promotion to Colonel of the Third Regiment at the time of the “Lexington Alarm”. Men from the Eleventh Regiment responded to the “Lexington Alarm” and some participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill. In 1776, they participated in the Battle of Long Island, after more than 30,000 British troops had landed. They were the only Connecticut Militia Regiment to cross the Hudson River with George Washington’s Army into New Jersey. An interesting account of the action there with a reference to Col. Williams, who was in command of the Eleventh, is found in the Diary of the Chaplain to Col. John Durkee’s 20th Continental Regiment, the Rev, Benjamin Boardman of Middle Haddam, CT. The extract can be found in “The Chaplains and Clergy of the American Revolution” by Joel T. Headlley. In 1775, Yale College had more students enrolled than any American college and a student militia was trained with a stand of 100 muskets. The Lexington Alarm “reached New Haven on Friday Night-and on Lordsday Morning the Company of Cadets marched from New Haven via Hartford for Boston”. On April 19, 1776, Jonas Clark, the Pastor at Lexington, preached a Sermon reviewing the events and describing the situation where the shedding of innocent blood occurred the previous year at Lexington. Two days after the Battle of Bunker Hill, Gen. Thomas Gage, now the British Military Governor, issues a Proclamation demanding the inhabitants to turn in their Fire-Arms. The traditional American viewpoint was that of George Washington who would bequeath swords to each of his five nephews, directing them “not to un-sheath them…except it be for self defence, or in defence of their Country and its rights…and in the latter case, to…prefer falling with them in their hands, to the relinquishment thereof”.
In June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia when John Adams proposed George Washington to lead the Colonial Militias that had assembled to besiege Boston. George Washington was unanimously appointed “to command all the continental forces” and took command of the American Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts, issuing General Orders on July 4, 1775: “The Hon: Artemus Ward, Charles Lee, Philip Schuyler, and Israel Putnam Esquires are appointed Major Generals of the American Army, and due obedience is to be paid them as such…It is required and expected that exact discipline be observed, and due subordination prevail thro’ the whole Army, as a Failure in these most essential points must necessarily produce extreme Hazard, Disorder and Confusion; and end in shameful disappointment and disgrace. The General most earnestly requires, and expects, a due observance of those articles of war, established for the Government of the army, which forbid profane cursing, swearing and drunkeness; And in like manner requires and expects, of all Officers, and Soldiers, not engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance on divine Service, to implore the blessings of heaven upon the means used for our safety and defence.” The Army was formed into three Grand Divisions, subdivided into two Brigades each. General Orders issued from Head Quarters at Cambridge on July 23, 1775: “As the Continental Army have unfortunately no Uniforms, and consequently many inconveniences must arise, from not being able always to ditinguish the Commissioned Officers, from the non Commissioned, and the non Commissioned from the private; it is desired that some Badges of Distinction may be immediately provided, for instance, the Field Officers may have red or pink colour’d Cockades in their Hatts: the Captains yellow or buff: and the Subalterns green. They are to furnish themselves accordingly. The Serjeants may be distinguished by an Epaulette, or stripe of red Cloth, sewed upon the right shoulder; the Corporals by one of green.” On July 18, 1775 George Washington wrote to Governor Jonathan Trumbull: Sir: Allow me to return you my sincere thanks for the kind wishes and favorable Sentiments express’d in yours of the 13th Instant. As the Cause of our common Country, calls us both to an active and dangerous Duty, I trust that Divine Providence, which wisely orders the affairs of Men, will enable us to discharge it with Fidelty and Success. The uncorrupted Choice of a brave and free People, has raised you to deserved Eminence; that the Blessings of Health and the still greater Blessing of long continuing to Govern such a People may be yours, is the Sincere Wish, of Sir etc.” Again Writing to Trumbull August 4, 1775: “My last Letter from the Honble. Continental Congress, recommends my procuring from the Colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut, a quantity of Tow Cloth, for the purpose of making of Indian or Hunting Shirts for the Men, many of whom are destitute of cloathing. A Pattern is herewith sent you;…It is design’d as a Species of Uniform, both cheap and convenient…I am now, Sir, in strict Confidence, to acquaint you that our Necessities, in the Article of Powder and Lead, are so great, as to require an Immediate supply.”
John Adams made it clear that “American democracy” was founded on a long tradition of reason and revelation. Any “Founding Father” who quoted scripture, as an overwhelming majority did, obviously acknowledged revelation. George Washington attended Church with Gov, Jonathan Trumbull through the whole day of Sunday May 20, 1781 at Wethersfield. Self-government had been successful in New England, because as Alexis DeTocqueville had written: “Despotism may govern without faith, but Liberty cannot”, and concerning faith, Augustine had written “Faith is to believe, on the word of God, what we do not see, and its reward is to see and enjoy what we believe”. On April 19, 1783, “Eight years to the day from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington”, George Washington the Commander in Chief ordered “the cessation of Hostilities between the United States and the King of Great Britain to be publickly proclaimed”. George Washington and Samuel Adams recognized the importance of acknowledging The divine Source of Liberty, as did Francis Scott Key, in the final stanza of our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner”,written in 1814:
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand, Between their lov’d home, and the war’s desolation, Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land, Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto – “In God is our Trust”; And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”