“We must remember that humanity allows all who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community to be equally entitled to the protections of civilian government.” – George Washington
The greatest Christmas present the world has ever received was the night our Savior was born. And his greatest gift to the freedom of the world came on Christmas Eve 1776, on the banks of the Delaware River – America.
The birth of America was not easy. Only a third of the settlers supported a Revolution. He pitted neighbors against neighbors. These patriots were not only revolting against the British. They fought other settlers loyal to British King George, the Parliament and the English Church.
Often overlooked are the “fence guards” who were content to live in the shelter of monarchical domination. They enjoyed colonial religious and economic freedoms and tolerated the British as a necessary evil. The patriots needed to gain the support of these neutralists in order to win the Revolution.
The Patriots humiliated the loyalists in public and subjected them to violence, intimidation, ridicule and harassment. They vandalized their property and set their businesses on fire. Even families were divided. Ben Franklin’s son William, Governor of New Jersey, was loyal to the King.
“Whoever wants to live in peace and at ease should not say everything he knows or judge everything he sees.” – Ben Franklin
The settlers who did not join the Patriots united with the British as obedient subjects. Others believed they could profit from the sale of weapons and war supplies to the British with no real allegiance to anyone.
The Patriots had built support for the Revolution since the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. Severely in debt, the British enacted the abusive Stamp of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767. After the Patriots’ Tea Party of 1773 in the Boston Harbor, they passed the coercive laws in 1774. And that was the final insult the Patriots needed to win the propaganda war against the British!
Gifted orators like Patrick Henry and Enlightenment thinkers John Locke and Thomas Paine kept the momentum for the revolution growing with colonial statesmen, politicians and patriots anxious.
“If there is to be trouble, let it be in my time, so that my children may have peace. – Thomas Paine
No man in the colonies was more persuasive with commoners and peasants in promoting the War of Independence than the gifted Enlightenment thinker and English writer Thomas Paine. He had led reform movements in Europe and Paine inspired farmers, laborers and commoners to revolt.
Paine went to towns, hamlets and villages distributing copies of his 90-page booklet, “Common Sense”. Paine preached the rewards and the substance of independence to patriots who never dreamed it was an option.
“The spirit once enlightened cannot turn dark again.” – Thomas Paine
On April 18, 1775, the British marched from Boston to Concord, Massachusetts, to seize the stored colonial weapons. Paul Revere walked the streets of Boston rallying the Patriots: “The British are coming, the British are coming! The next day, when the Patriots and Redcoats clashed at Lexington and Concord, it was “the gunshot heard around the world.” It marked the beginning of the Revolution and, more importantly, it marked the birth of America as the guardian of world freedom.
When the minutemen fired the first shots of the Revolution, the Redcoats were well prepared. They had top quality weapons, ammunition, uniforms, and plentiful food and medical supplies. They were ready to defend their territory. They were ready to wage a marathon battle to stop the colonial insurgency.
On the other hand, the colonies had an army of volunteers without a central government and with little money. They sent troops to the Continental Army, but kept many for protection. Many colonies were more concerned with survival, while the British were determined to win the war.
At the end of 1776, the War of Independence seemed to be a lost cause. Patriots lacked uniforms, food, ammunition and weapons, and some were even without shoes. There was enormous suffering from cold and starvation. A series of losses had drained morale and many had already deserted.
In the freezing cold of Christmas Eve 1776, plagued by sleet and snow, George Washington knelt in prayer at McKonkey’s Ferry, asking the Lord for the right words to inspire his troops to continue. They were to cross the Delaware River to Philadelphia for a surprise attack on the British.
Historian James Cheetham wrote: “As Washington rode his horse that night, he drew from his satchel an outline of Thomas Paine’s ‘American Crisis’. When he started to read it, he knew it was the answer to his prayers. When he returned to camp, he ordered it to be read to his troops immediately. ”
“The summer soldier and the patriot of the sun will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but whoever sustains him now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily overcome; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we get too cheaply we value too lightly: it is only high cost that gives a thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a fair price on its goods; and it would be really strange if an article as heavenly as freedom was not much appreciated. – Thomas Paine
The next morning, Christmas Day 1776, Washington’s army crossed the frozen Delaware and won two crucial battles. He defeated the British at Trenton and a week later executed a daring night raid to capture Princeton on January 3. It gave control of New Jersey to America, changed morale, and unified the Colonial Army. Washington’s insightful reading of “The American Crisis” on Christmas Eve 1776 turned a humiliating defeat into a glorious victory for American patriots!
Shortly after the war, John Adams said: “Without Paine’s quill, Washington’s sword would have been wielded in vain. Washington’s men took advantage of his victory at Trenton because they had defeated a much more powerful enemy. Moreover, they realized that Washington was a true leader and that he could unite the colonies into a strong nation. Washington’s faith in the Lord and his respect for the scholarly works of our Enlightenment thinkers like Thomas Paine, John Locke, and others would help him articulate the Philadelphia Convention and write the most enduring constitution in the world.
The Lord guided Washington to victory on Christmas 1776 at a time when America needed a miracle to become a nation. He showed our founders how to form a more perfect union of states in 1787. He has continued to bless this nation in so many ways since 1776. Pray that he will help us unite this divided nation so that we can always defend our own. freedom. Merry Christmas.
“It is written in the Bible that the Great Author of the Universe gave man the authority to govern himself. It is His providence that we will respect to guide this nation. – George Washington