Hancock Thanksgiving Proclamation

On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress gives privateers permission to attack any and all British ships.

A privateer was a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign vessels during wartime and take them as prizes. Even so, the distinction between pirates and privateers was non-existent to those who encountered them on the high seas.

Here is the opening line of the bill:

INSTRUCTIONS to the COMMANDERS of Private Ships or Vessels of War, which shall
have Commissions or Letters of Marque and Reprisal, authorising them to make Captures
of British Vessels and Cargoes.

John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, signed that bill in response to these ‘hostilities by sea.’

Proclaiming Praise

In a Proclamation of Thanksgiving written for December 11th, 1783 he wrote, in part:

“Whereas it hath pleased the Supreme Ruler of all human events, to dispose the hearts of the late belligerent powers to put a period to the effusion of human blood, by proclaiming a cessation of all hostilities by sea and land… .”

“And whereas in the progress of a contest on which the most essential rights of human nature depended, the interposition of Divine Providence in our favor hath been most abundantly and most graciously manifested, and the citizens of these United States have every possible reason for praise and gratitude to the God of their salvation.”

Impressed, therefore, with an exalted sense of the blessings by which we are surrounded, and of our entire dependence on that Almighty Being, from whose goodness and bounty they are derived…” 

You may read the entire proclamation of John Hancock below.

At Our Lost Founding, we steadfastly believe in demonstrating gratitude and praise for our Creator while offering fervent supplications. Indeed, those prayers, and imploring that “God Save the United States of America” are timeless traditions that bless our nation.

John Hancock Thanksgiving Proclamation

 

Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg

On this day in 1789, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg is elected as the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, from 1789-1791.

Two years later, he was also the third Speaker of the House (1793-1795). In total, he served in the House from 1789 to 1797.

Then, he was a member of the Continental Congress in 1779 and 1780. He followed that by serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1780 to 1783.

Later, he presided over the Pennsylvania ratifying convention of 1787 for the U.S. Constitution.

Finally, he was the first signer of the Bill of Rights. The second was John Adams.

Before all of that, Frederick Muhlenberg was a Lutheran pastor.

Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg First Speaker of the House

 

Thomas Jefferson Summary View

On this day in 1775, Thomas Jefferson is elected to the second Continental Congress.

Jefferson originally established himself in the first Continental Congress with tract entitled “Summary View of the Rights of British America.”

Inkling of Independence

Here are two excerpts from his “Summary”:

“[P]ropose to the said congress that an humble and dutiful address be presented to his majesty, begging leave to lay before him, as chief magistrate of the British empire, the united complaints of his majesty’s subjects in America; complaints which are excited by many unwarrantable encroachments and usurpations, attempted to be made by the legislature of one part of the empire, upon those rights which God and the laws have given equally and independently to all.”

“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. This, sire, is our last, our determined resolution; and that you will be pleased to interpose with that efficacy which your earnest endeavours may ensure to procure redress of these our great grievances, to quiet the minds of your subjects in British America, against any apprehensions of future encroachment, to establish fraternal love and harmony through the whole empire, and that these may continue to the latest ages of time, is the fervent prayer of all British America!”

Rights Reverberate

Of course, in early June 1776, Congress appointed a committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson to draft what would become the Declaration of Independence. This esteemed committee chose Jefferson to compose the most important document in the history self-government. He drafted it in just a few days, at the age of 33.

As we (should) know, this is the basis of Our Declaration:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Jefferson seemed to suggest as much in his “Summary” two years prior. As seen above, he acknowledged “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.”

 

Thomas Jefferson Summary View

Patrick Henry Give me Liberty

On this day in 1775, in a speech to the second Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry, one of the Sons of Liberty, states emphatically:

“GIVE ME LIBERTY, OR GIVE ME DEATH!”

“All that is left us…”

Some selected excerpts of that same speech:

“Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings… .”

“If we wish to be free…we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!”

“Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations.”

“Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Which course would you choose? In what modern day “fields” do we stand idle?

Patrick Henry "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

 

Thomas McKean and son

On this day in 1734, Patriot and politician Thomas McKean is born in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

McKean was a delegate of Delaware to the Continental Congress. Thus, he signed the United States Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was also President of the Continental Congress in 1781. McKean also served President (Governor) of Delaware, Governor of Pennsylvania, and Chief Justice of Pennsylvania.

Be received

For all that, perhaps his greatest accomplishment was sharing this redemptive advice as Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, which he did with a condemned man:

“You will probably have but a short time to live. Before you launch into eternity, it behooves you to improve the time that may be allowed you in this world. It behooves you most seriously to reflect upon your conduct, to repent of your evil deeds, to be incessant in prayers to the great and merciful God to forgive your manifold transgressions and sins, to teach you to rely upon the merit and passion of a dear Redeemer and thereby to avoid those regions of sorrow, those doleful shades where peace and rest can never dwell, where even hope cannot enter. It behooves you to seek the fellowship, advice and prayers of pious and good men, to be persistent at the throne of grace and to learn the way that leadeth to happiness. May you reflecting upon these things and pursuing the will of the great Father of Light and Life, be received into the company and society of angels and archangels and the spirits of just men made perfect and may you be qualified to enter into the joys of heaven, joys unspeakable and full of glory.”

Thomas McKean died in Philadelphia at the age of 83 in the year 1817. That seems fitting, given that the root words of Philadelphia are phileo meaning “to love” and adelphos meaning “brother.”

 

Thomas McKean and son

 

 

President James Madison

On this day in 1751, James Madison is born in Conway, Virginia.

He was a key drafter of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well the recorder of the Constitutional Convention. Accordingly, Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”
Furthermore, he was a key author of the Federalist Papers. Finally, Madison served two terms as the fourth President of the United States, from 1809 to 1817.

For all these towering achievements, James Madison stood at just 5′4″. I like him even more.

Divine Destiny

Here are portions of his Proclamation 20 – Recommending a Day of Public Thanksgiving for Peace from March 4, 1815:

“No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States.”

“And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.”

James Madison

On this day in 1801, Vice President Thomas Jefferson is elected the third president of the United States. His running mate was also his opponent, as was typical for the time. That man, was the infamous Aaron Burr. A tie vote in the Electoral College and 35 indecisive ballot votes in the House of Representatives preceded Jefferson’s election.

“With all these blessings”

Thus, Thomas Jefferson shared this at his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801

“Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter — with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens — a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”

 

Thomas Jefferson first Inaugural AddressThomas Jefferson inaugural address 2

John Adams USS Boston

On this day in 1778, two future presidents of the United States, John Adams and his 10-year-old son John Quincy Adams, sit on board the frigate, Boston, off the coast of Massachusetts.
The warship will take them to France, where Adams will join Benjamin Franklin in securing France as an ally in the war against Great Britain.
Mr. Adams had to be smuggled because of British spies in Boston and British warships just off the coast.

On July 1, 1776, John Adams declared this before the Continental Congress:
“Before God, I believe the hour has come. My judgement approves this measure, and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it. And I leave off as I began, that live or die, survive or perish, I am for the Declaration. It is my living sentiment, and by the blessing of God it shall be my dying sentiment. Independence now, and Independence for ever!”

John Adams USS Boston

John Jay Supreme Court

On this day in 1790, the Supreme Court of the United States meets for the first time. John Jay, appointed by George Washington, was the first Chief Justice. Jay was a Patriot, a Founding Father, a statesman, and a diplomat. As such, he was one of the signers of the Treaty of Paris.

He wrote this, in part to his eldest son, Peter, in 1784:
The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.

Additionally, Jay also served as President of the Continental Congress and the Governor of New York. In fact, he was the only Founding Father that was also a native New Yorker.

Finally, on June 29, 1826, about three years before his death, he wrote this to the Committee of the Corporation of the City of New York:

“I recommend a general and public return of praise and thanksgiving to Him from whose goodness these blessings descend. The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to remember with reverence and gratitude the source from which they flow.”

John Jay Supreme Court

Benjamin Franklin Epitaph

On this day in 1706, Benjamin Franklin, the renowned Founding Father and prolific printer, patriot, scientist, statesman, etc. is born in Boston. He was the fifteenth of seventeen children.

Franklin lived until the ripe old age of 84, and died in his adopted home of Philadelphia, where he is buried.

Even in his early twenties, his wit and wisdom was on full display. Of note, in 1728 he wrote his own epitaph, revising and sharing it with friends throughout his life. Here is one such version, with a copy below:

The Body
of
Ben Franklin Printer,

Like the Cover of an old Book
Its contents torn out
And stript of its Lettering & Gilding,
Lies here Food for the Worms,
yet the Work shall not be lost:
For it will, as he believed, appear once more
In a new & most beautiful Edition,
Corrected and Amended
By
the Author.

Benjamin Franklin Epitaph

“I have lived a long time…”

At age 81, as the elder statesman at the Constitution Convention in his adopted home, Franklin urged the Assembly toward morning “prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on [their] deliberations.” In so doing, he made this famous quote, which inspired Our Benjamin Franklin shirt:

John Hancock signature

On January 12 (or maybe January 23), 1737, John Hancock is born in what is now Quincy, Massachusetts.

The British government viewed the prominent patriot as an agitator, much like his friend Samuel Adams.

Hancock was president of the Second Continental Congress, so he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Of course, he is well-known for his prominent and stylish signature on the Declaration. In fact, the name ‘John Hancock’ is synonymous with the term ‘signature.’

In addition, he was first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and he died in office in 1793.

Grateful hearts, Gracious Benefactor

Finally, here are excerpts from one of his many Proclamations for a Day of Public Thanksgiving, from November 22, 1781:

Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of Mercies, remarkably to assist and support the United States of America, in their important Struggle for Liberty against the long continued Efforts of a powerful Nation; it is the Duty of all Ranks of People to observe and thankfully acknowledge the Interpositions of his Providence in their behalf.

Through the whole of the Contest, from its first Rise to this Time, the Influence of Divine Providence may be clearly perceived in many signal Instances… .”

I do therefore, by and with the Advice of the Council, appoint, and do hereby appoint the Thirteenth Day of December next (the Day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer; that all the People may assemble on that Day, with grateful Hearts to celebrate the Praises of our gracious Benefactor; to confess our manifold Sins; to offer up our most fervent Supplications to the God of all Grace, that it may please Him to pardon our Offenses and incline our Hearts for the future to keep all his Laws…, and favor our united Exertions for the speedy Establishment of a safe, honorable, and lasting Peace; to bless all Seminaries of Learning, and cause the Knowledge of God to cover the Earth, as the Waters cover the Sea.

JOHN HANCOCK

GOD save the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.

John Hancock signature