Dear Loved One,

Do you know how much the Lord loves us? Do you know what a blessed country we live in? He sent us to the freest of all nations. We were built up by a virtuous people. We became great because our forebears were willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole; not only to sacrifice their lives but also their bad habits, their petty and not so petty contentions, their jealousies, their lands, their homes, their laziness. It is so hard for me to write what is in my heart so much easier to verbalize but let me try.Image

The Pilgrims who came to Plymouth Rock came because they wanted religious freedom. Not only did they want religious freedom but they wanted a unified society. They set up a charter, a compact saying in essence that they were willing to give up their shortcomings, pettiness, jealousies, laziness for the good of the whole. They wanted to succeed more than they wanted to be right. And because of this they eventually did succeed though it was a long, hard process. Was it worth it? Absolutely! They didn’t give up. They tried and tried again until they got it right for them.

Move on to the Revolutionary time period. Four of our first five presidents came from this very stock that landed at Plymouth Rock. Do you think that they had been taught to sacrifice for the good of others? Do you think they had been taught to improve themselves? I would postulate that they had indeed.

Before the Revolutionary War started the people of the 13 Colonies wanted to let King George and others know what was going on in the Americas. They were not okay with taxation without representation. They were not okay with being treated subpar though they too were citizens of the Crown.

At this time separating from the great nation of Britain had been spoken of a bit but many of the Founding Fathers did not think that the people were ready for such a monumental act. They thought the people were not virtuous enough. They were concerned about the pettiness, the arguments, the selfishness of the people. They were concerned about the indolence, the mannerisms the separation of classes that was beginning in the Colonies having been brought over from Britain. You see, since the time of the Pilgrims we as a people had worked very hard, were self sufficient and were simple . We were a frugal, loving group of people Our manners were simple. Our customs were simple. We were not extravagant or flamboyant. We were a simple people who loved God.Image

A number of our Founding Fathers did not think we were ready as a people to be free. The newspapers picked up these concerns and printed examples of our great shortcomings. As the people read the newspapers in their homes they thought to themselves, “Hey, I can give this up. I can let go of x whether it was not buying from British vendors or letting go of grievances or being more honest or whatever.” The people as a whole chose this, individually. They were not forced to it and as they chose to sacrifice they became more virtuous. This love of all that is good, this virtue, changed the Founding Fathers views and caused them to realize that we could indeed separate ourselves from Britain. We as a people were willing to sacrifice for freedom, to change to become more virtuous just as the people from the Mayflower were willing to sacrifice for freedom, to become more virtuous.

How critical virtue is. It made the difference in the course of our history. Virtue itself is not free. It has to be learned, earned and proven. Are we a virtuous people today? Are we willing to sacrifice as our forebears did? It’s interesting that the same theme is found throughout time. Pettiness, jealousies. It goes back to the beginning of man with Cain and Abel. No wonder one of the ten commandments says “Thou shalt not covet.” Exodus 20:17.

And how about today and we as a people? Are we willing to let go of our own lackadaisical nature? Instead of wanting what everyone else seems to have are we willing to be grateful for what we do have? Are we willing to work off what we have now if we owe on it? Are we willing to love and forgive and give our neighbor the benefit of the doubt? Are we willing to stand up for truth, to be a virtuous people-a lover of all that is good? As Samuel Adams wrote, “I thank God that I have lived to see my country independent and free. She may long enjoy her independence and freedom if she will. It depends on her virtue.” And as John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Concluding with Benjamin Franklin’s words, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” May we be virtuous that we may remain free is the overwhelming desire of my heart and soul.

Truly Yours,

Charity

Advertisements
Standard

Fort Ticonderoga

Our simple actions can affect thousands. Our service can literally save lives. When we are bold we can change the destinies of mankind. Such was the case of a man named Henry Knox and the contingent of men he brought with him to pick up cannon and mortar from the newly captured Fort Ticonderoga.

Henry Knox

Henry Knox

It was the middle of winter 1775, Henry Knox led his men 300 miles through blustering snowstorms and freezing weather to arrive at Fort Ticonderoga only to find much of the cannon in disrepair. Through great searching, Knox found 60 good cannon weighing over 2,000 pounds each, 120,000 pounds total, and loaded them onto scows to cross the Hudson River. It was cold and miserable and when one of the scow struck a rock  several of the largest cannon fell into the river. Undaunted Knox had the cannon pulled up through the icy water and placed again on the repaired scow. With frozen hands, the men obeyed. Why? Because they too believed in the cause of freedom. These were no ordinary men. They were brave and obedient. That’s what makes them extraordinary.

Bringing Ticonderoga cannon

Bringing Ticonderoga cannon

After crossing the Hudson River four times the men then built sleds for the cannon to ride on for the next part of the journey. Through freezing weather these good men worked. They sacrificed and because of that we are blessed. After 40 days of grueling, freezing weather they arrived at Cambridge, Massachusetts. George Washington was ecstatic and quickly set up a plan to attack British occupied Boston, Massachusetts.  Washington wrote, “We are preparing to take possession of a post…which will, it is generally thought, bring on a rumpus between us and the enemy.[i]

guarding cannon

Resting in the cold winter’s night

This rumpus was to begin March 2, 1776. In the black of night, 3000 Americans set up a fortification on the icy top of Dorchester Heights. They hauled up bundles of sticks and wood frames to make stout ramparts and they brought up the largest of Knox’s cannon.  In the early dawn the British awoke to an astounding sight of cannon staring straight down at them. One British officer even credited the Americans night work to “the genie belonging to Aladdin’s wonderful lamp.[ii]

The British quickly prepared to attack Dorchester Heights while Washington planned a surprise attack on the city itself. However, before either side could give orders to their troops to attack a terrible storm blew in. Both sides held their places and the storm blew harmlessly away. The moment of surprise and anticipation was gone now and looking again at the realities of the situation neither side chose to attack. The British troops went back into Boston and over the next few days the menacing cannon caused the British such anxiety that they loaded up their ships and sailed away, dumping many of their own cannon into the bay. Not a single drop of blood was shed in this the first major victory of the Revolutionary War.

evacuation-day

Washington entering Boston

Do you think that those men who went with Henry Knox had any idea that their sacrifice and obedience would be the catalyst that would save thousands of lives? Between the storm that blew in that ruined the surprise attack and staring up at the cannon on Dorchester Heights for the next few days the British decided to evacuate. The cannon brought by Henry Knox and his men scared the greatest military power on the earth at that time. Forty grueling days of bringing cannon through snowstorms and ice turned into 40 blessed days because lives were spared.

Interesting enough when the Americans went into Boston after the British fled, Washington noted that the city was “almost impregnable, every avenue fortified.[iii]” It would have been a devastating battle for the Americans if it had occurred. What a blessing for us that it did not. And what about you? What actions in your day-to-day life could affect those around you, even thousands, even nations yet unborn?


[i]George Washington to Burwell Bassett (28 Feb. 1776), Fitzpatrick 4:243.

[ii]Quoted in Peter Force, ed., American Archives…A Documentary History of the Origin and Progress of the North American Colonies, 9 vols. (Washington: M. St. Clair Clarke and Peter Force, 1837-53), 5:425.

[iii]George Washington to Joseph Reed (19 Mar. 1776), Fitzpatrick 4:406

Standard