Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving, November 1782

In his thanksgiving sermon of November 1782, John Witherspoon said, "To many American soldiers I have said, Seldom boast of what you have done, but never of what you only mean to do."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 28, 1782: Thanksgiving

On Oct. 11, 1782, the Continental Congress appointed Thursday, November 28, 1782 a day of prayer and thanksgiving. Delivering a thanksgiving sermon on that day, Rev. John Witherspoon thanked God for the French.

“It was surely a great favor of Providence to raise up for us so great and illustrious an ally in Europe.”

The three-person Congressional committee recommending the day of thanksgiving was written by one of its members, Rev. Witherspoon himself. The committee report called attention to “the success of the arms of the United States and those of their allies….” Witherspoon was encouraging his fellow-clergymen to also acknowledge the intervention of Providence in obtaining the support of the France.

My thanks to Jeffry H. Morrison for clarifying the date of Witherspoon's sermon. Morrison is Associate Professor of Government at Regent University. Gaillard Hunt, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789: Volume 23: August 12-December 31, 1782 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1914), page 647 and 647 note; John Rodgers, ed., The Works of the Rev. John Witherspoon… 3 vols. (Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1800), 2:458; Jeffry H. Morrison, John Witherspoon and the Founding of the American Republic (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), 134.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Parties For Prisoners

When it comes to getting propaganda to enemy forces, Mao Zedong wrote in 1928, “The two most effective methods are releasing captured soldiers, and giving medical care to wounded enemy soldiers.”

Mao reported, “The Red Army soldiers are extremely enthusiastic in welcoming and comforting the prisoners, and the prisoners reciprocate with warm gratitude in their speeches at every ‘Farewell Meeting for New Brothers.’”

Yes, Chinese Communists apparently had going away parties for enemy prisoners.

When Hessian officers captured at Trenton, New Jersey arrived in Philadelphia, Americans welcomed the prisoners with dinner at the Indian Queen Inn, at the expense of the Continental Congress.

Stuart R. Schram, Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949: Vol. III: From the Jinggangshan to the Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930 (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1995), 101.
Harry M. Ward, Duty, Honor, or Country: General George Weedon and the American Revolution (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1979), 78.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

November 5, 1775: Guy Fawkes or "Pope Day"

Puritan New England cherished its rituals of November 5, Guy Fawkes Day or "Pope Day," the anniversary of foiled alleged plot by English Catholics to bomb Parliament. In November 1775, however, the United Colonies had soldiers in Quebec, a predominantly Catholic province under British administration since 1763.

In his General Orders for Nov. 5, 1775, George Washington condemned the "childish custom" of burning the Pope in effigy. Washington wrote, "At such a juncture, and in such circumstances, to be insulting their religion is so monstrous as not to be suffered or excused; indeed, instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address publick thanks to these our brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy success over the common enemy in Canada."

After the Revolution, George Washington continued to fight anti-Catholic bigotry. In response to salutations from American Catholics in 1790, President Washington wrote, "And I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution, and the establishment of their government; or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed."

View a transcript of President George Washington's Letter to Catholics in the United States at Beliefnet.