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Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, jr.
Resolved, That copies of the declaration be sent to the several assemblies, conventions and committecs, or councils of safety, and to the several commanding officers of the continental troops; that it be proclaimed in each of the United States, and at the head of the army.
It will be seen that Congress was, from the beginning, attentive to the commemoration of the declaration of Independence. It appears by the journals, that in the year 1777, an adjournment took place from Thursday, the 3d of July, to Saturday, the 5th. And, on the 24th of June, 1778, Congress having determined to adjourn from York Town, in Pennsylvania, to meet at Philadelphia on the 2d of July following, passed the subjoined resolution; in which it was farther resolved, that congress would, in a body, attend divine worship on Sunday, the 5th day of July, to return thanks for the divine mercy, in supporting the independence of the states, and that the chaplains should be notified to officiate and preach sermons suited to the occasion:
Resolved, That a committee of three be appoint.
ed to take proper measures for a public celebration of the anniversary of independence at Philadelphia, on the 4th day of July next; and that they be authorised and directed to invite the president and council, and speaker of the assembly of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and such other gentlemen and strangers of distinction, as they shall deem proper.
IN CONGRESS, NOVEMBER 1, 1777.
FORASMUCH as it is the indispensible duty of all men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge, with gratitude, their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased Him, in his abundant mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defence and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops, and to crown our arms with most signal success : it is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice, the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favour and their humble and
earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders, both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the Providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people, and the labour of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
And it is further recommended, that servile labour and such recreation as, though at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn an occa
IN CONGRESS, MAY 8, 1778.
Of the Congress, to the Inhabitants of the United States of America.
Friends and Countrymen,
THREE years have now passed away, since the commencement of the present war. A war without parallel in the annals of mankind. It hath dis
played a spectacle, the most solemn that can possibly be exhibited. On one side, we behold fraud and violence labouring in the service of despotism; on the other, virtue and fortitude supporting and establishing the rights of human nature.
You cannot but remember how reluctantly we were dragged into this arduous contest; and how repeatedly, with the earnestness of humble intreaty, we supplicated a redress of our grievances from him who ought to have been the father of his people. In vain did we implore his protection: In vain appeal to the justice, the generosity, of Englishmen; of men, who had been the guardians, the assertors, and vindicators of liberty through a succession of ages: Men, who, with their swords, had established the firm barrier of freedom, and cemented it with the blood of heroes. Every effort was vain. For, even whilst we were prostrated at the foot of the throne, that fatal blow was struck, which hath seperated us forever. Thus spurned, contemned and insulted; thus driven by our enemies into measures, which our souls abhorred; we made a solemn appeal to the tribunal of unerring wisdom and justice. To that Almighty Ruler of Princes, whose kingdom is over all.
We were then quite defenceless. Without arms, without ammunition, without clothing, without ships, without money, without officers skilled in war; with no other reliance but the bravery of our people and the justice of our cause. We had to contend with a nation great in arts and in arms, whose fleets covered the ocean, whose banners had waved in triumph through every quarter of the globe. However unequal this contest, our weakness was still farther increased by the enemies which America had nourished in her bosom, Thus exposed, on the one hand, to external force and internal divisions; on the other to be compelled to drink of the bitter cup of slavery, and to go sor
rowing all our lives long; in this sad alternative, we chose the former. To this alternative we were reduced by men, who, had they been animated by one spark of generosity, would have disdained to take such mean advantage of our situation; or, had they paid the least regard to the rules of justice, would have considered with abhorrence a proposition to injure those, who had faithfully fought their battles, and industriously contributed to rear the edifice of their glory.
But, however great the injustice of our foes in commencing this war, it is by no means equal to that cruelty with which they have conducted it. The course of their armies is marked by rapine and devastation. Thousands, without distinction of age or sex, have been driven from their peaceful abodes, to encounter the rigours of inclement seasons; and the face of heaven hath been insulted by the wanton conflagration of defenceless towns. Their victories have been followed by the cool murder of men, no longer able to resist; and those who escaped from the first act of carnage have been exposed, by cold, hunger and nakedness, to wear out a miserable existence in the tedious hours of confinement, or to become the destroyers of their countrymen, of their friends, perhaps, dreadful idea! of their parents or children. Nor was this the outrageous barbarity of an individual, but a system of deliberate malice, stamped with the concurrence of the British legislature, and sanctioned with all the formalities of law. Nay, determined to dissolve the closest bonds of society, they have stimulated servants to slay their masters in the peaceful hour of domestic security. And, as if all this were insufficient to slake their thirst of blood, the blood of brothers, of unoffending brothers, they have excited the Indians against us; and a general, who calls himself a christian, a follower of the merciful Jesus, hath dared to proclaim to all the