Sunday, April 1, 2012

March 30: Religion in Philadelphia

On March 30, 1776, Congressman Samuel Huntington of Connecticut described Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a letter to James Cogswell:

"On Sunday morning the 17th Inst [the 17th Instant, i.e., the 17th of this Month] my attention from my Chamber window was Suddenly called to behold a mighty Cavalcade of Plebeians marching thro' the Street with drums beating and at every Small distance they halted & gave three Huzzas.  I was apprehensive Some outrage was about to be Committed, but Soon perceived my mistaken apprehentions & that it was a Religious exercise of the Sons of Saint Patrick, it being the anniversary of that Saint the morning Exercise was ushered in with the ceremony above described."

Apparently finding this somewhat undignified and lacking solemnity, Huntington added, "However Sir Should I leave you to Judge of the Religious of this City from the above Story only; it would not be Just, there are devout pious people in this City, a number of pious & Excellent preachers, & he who does not lead a virtuous & religious life here must accuse himself.  Every man has Liberty to persue the dictates of his own Conscience."

Paul H. Smith, et al., editors, Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 3: January 1, 1776-May 15, 1776 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1978), pages 464-465.
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