F. Scott Key Star Spangled Motto Our Cause it is Just War of 1812

On this day in 1776…
On this day in 1865…
On this day in 1968…

A common thread

The mere mention of those years is enough to evoke some of the most profound events and images from our nation’s history.

As it turns out, April 4th has seen several of them.

In 1776, General George Washington begins marching his unpaid soldiers toward New York in anticipation of a British invasion. Ironically, the inability of Congress to pay its soldiers and expenses, even after winning the war, led to the overthrow of the Articles of Confederation and the drafting of the Constitution, providing greater ability to raise and manage funds.

In 1865, President Abraham Lincoln has a dream about his own assassination. Then, it happened just ten days later.

‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers, ‘The President,’ was his answer; ‘he was killed by an assassin.’ Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.

In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 39 years old.

The day prior, he gave his last sermon, saying:
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop… . I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”

A common thread runs through all of these events. Each of these men seemed to understand, despite tremendous national and personal challenges, they were playing a part in something bigger than themselves. Thus, they persevered. First, in forming America, then keeping it together, and finally, unifying its citizens. Their examples all speak to our national motto: “In God We Trust.”

Indeed, we find that same sentiment in the final stanza of Francis Scott Key’s poem “The Star-Spangled Banner:”

“Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d 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.”

F. Scott Key Star Spangled Motto Our Cause it is Just War of 1812

 

Harry Truman Korea

On this day in 1948, President Harry S. Truman signs the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948, more popularly known as the Marshall Plan.

Back in June 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall called for an enormous economic recovery program to aid the ailing economies of the war-ravaged countries in Western Europe.

Secretary Marshall’s statement on the signing described the decision as a “historic step in the foreign policy of this country.”

He went on:
“The leaders in the Congress and the membership generally have faced a great crisis with courage and wisdom, and with legislative skill, richly deserving of the approval and the determined support of the people.”

Renewed Hope

Upon signing the Act, President Truman labeled it “an outstanding example of cooperative endeavor for the common good.”

Then, Truman closed his statement, echoing his predecessor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, by using the commonly accepted paraphrasing of Luke 2:14:

“I believe that the determination of the American people to work for conditions of enduring peace throughout the world, as demonstrated by this act, will encourage free men and women everywhere, and will give renewed hope to all mankind that there will one day be peace on earth, good will among men.”

 

Harry S. Truman signs

 

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

 

Abigail Adams "Remember the Ladies"

Abigail Adams and John Adams are renowned for their prolific correspondence. In fact, they wrote each other thousands of letters.

So, to write something along the lines of “On this day in 1776, Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John Adams…” is almost a given.

However, in this particularly noteworthy letter, Abigail urges Mr. Adams and the Continental Congress to “Remember the Ladies” in the battle for independence:

“I long to hear that you have declared an independancy—and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”

Beings

She goes on writing:

“Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem [sic] Being make use of that power only for our happiness.”

Abigail Adams is one of only two women to have been both wives and mothers of American presidents.

Can you name the other?

Abigail Adams "Remember the Ladies"

Ronald Reagan shot

On this day in 1981, in an assassination attempt, John Hinckley Jr. shoots President Ronald Reagan in the left lung as the President left the Washington Hilton hotel. The bullet narrowly misses his heart. Still, the President walks in to George Washington University Hospital under his own power.

Less than two weeks later on April 11, the resilient Reagan returned to the White House. He concluded his diary entry for that day with this powerful statement:

“Whatever happens now I owe my life to God and will try to serve him in every way I can.”

Equally Beloved

Here’s an earlier, similarly powerful portion of that same diary entry:

“Getting shot hurts. Still my fear was growing because no matter how hard I tried to breathe it seemed I was getting less & less air. I focused on that tiled ceiling and prayed. But I realized I couldn’t ask for God’s help while at the same time I felt hatred for the mixed up young man who had shot me. Isn’t that the meaning of the lost sheep? We are all God’s children & therefore equally beloved by him. I began to pray for his soul and that he would find his way back to the fold.”

President Ronald Reagan shot

 

Patton prayer

On this day in 1945, General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army captures Frankfurt.

In December 1944, prior to the famed Battle of the Bulge, Patton asked his chaplain Colonel James O’Neill to write a prayer asking God for good weather for battle. 250,000 prayer cards were distributed to every soldier in his Third Army.

“Chaplain, I am a strong believer in prayer. There are three ways that men get what they want; by planning, by working, and by praying.”

3,200 training letters went out to officers and chaplains to, for, as Chaplain O’Neill said: “we must urge, instruct, and indoctrinate every fighting man to pray as well as fight. In Gideon’s day, and in our own, spiritually alert minorities carry the burdens and bring the victories.”

Patton was victorious. First, his army broke through the German lines at Christmastime. Then, they crossed the Rhine river in the week leading up to the capture of Frankfurt.

Victory to Victory

Here’s the aforementioned prayer:

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”

General George S. Patton prayer

Ike American flag Dwight D. Eisenhower

On this day in 1969, Dwight D. Eisenhower , a highly regarded general of World War II and the 34th president of the United States dies at the age of 78, in Washington, D.C.

First, here are two excerpts from his remarks for the American Legion “Back-to-God” program:

“The Founding Fathers… produced the timeless documents upon which the Nation is founded and has grown great. They, recognizing God as the author of individual rights, declared that the purpose of Government is to secure those rights.”

“Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first—and most basic—expression of Americanism. Thus, the Founding Fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.”

Eisenhower made “In God We Trust” our nation’s official motto. One can find an early iteration of this phrase in Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner,” which became Our national anthem.

Under God

Eisenhower had the words “under God” inserted in to the pledge of allegiance. On Flag Day, June 14, 1954 when he signed the bill to include the words “under God” in the pledge, he said:

“In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”

Then and now, that’s why we like Ike.

Like Ike Dwight D. Eisenhower

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

Truman Federal Council of Churches

On this day in 1949, President Harry S. Truman signs a U.S. resolution authorizing $16 million in aid for Palestinian refugees who were displaced as a result of Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

This situation was, and still is, an exceedingly volatile and complex. Our Lost Founding has no delusions of any ability to provide an adequate summary of the conflict here. Pro- and anti-Zionist groups, Palestinian refugees, Arab oil, and the state of Israel are the major sources of on-going conflict in the Middle East.

Truman had the unenviable task of reconciling safety for the Jews and good relations with Arab states.

Men and Nations

Truman’s address to the Federal Council of Churches on March 6, 1946 are as pertinent today as they were then. It applies to the current state of affairs in the Middle East and associated terror groups. We can also apply it to the current debate surrounding religious liberties in Our own country:

“Now that we have preserved our freedom of conscience and religion, our right to live by a decent moral and spiritual code of our own choosing, let us make full use of that freedom. Let us make use of it to save a world which is beset by so many threats of new conflicts, new terror, and new destruction.”

“If men and nations would but live by the precepts of the ancient prophets and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, problems which now seem so difficult would soon disappear.”

Harry S. Truman Federal Council of Churches

 

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!"