Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington's surprise attack from Valley Forge was a critical victory for American freedom.

Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

DSCStbKDSDLC:GW; copy, sold by Christie, Manson, & Woods, International, 21 Oct. 1977. The proclamation was also printed as a broadside. Copies of the broadside are at Harvard University, Yale University, and the Pierpont Morgan Library. Other copies are owned (1992) by Marshall B. Coyne, Washington, D.C., and Ralph Geoffrey Newman, Inc., Chicago.

For background to this document, see Circular Letter to the Governors of the States, 3 Oct. 1789, n.1.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Happy 50th Anniversary, Steve and Liz Morgan Kilgard

"Just a note to thank Liz's sisters and husbands for hosting a 50th Anniversary dinner for us in the Great Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. Also to thank our son, daughter-in-law, daughter, son-in-law and all the grand kids for hosting a great weekend in IA celebrating our anniversary. It was great fun and really appreciated." September 15, 2020

Salem Lutheran Church, Moline.
Find Steve.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

I Remember the Washington Portraits in Mrs. McMillan's Fourth Grade Room, Garfield Commons, nee Garfield Grade School, Moline


This painting and the story behind Washington's fame, should inspire everyone with awe. As someone said, we are patriots, people who love their country. Washington's extraordinary skill and courage won the battle for freedom. I remember this from Mrs. McMillan's fourth grade classroom. All the teachers brought out their presidential material to honor them at various times in the day.

I definitely saw this at Garfield, and it struck me as so wrong, a boy with an axe, silly pants, and a president's head. The cherry tree story was a lie from Parson Weems.

This was a fixture in Mrs. McMillan's room, crossing in a Durham boat.

By Ernest Bower:

The Revolution is saved at Trenton...1776
Ernest Bower 

In the gloom of this holy Christmas night, a cold sleet fell. It was not a night for man nor beast but yet here they were. Huddled upon the banks of this frigid river, 2000 men contemplated their bleak fate.

The past few months had gone very, very badly. Their hopes had been crushed time and again. The noble experiment in Liberty which had begun with such promise, had by this time deteriorated to the point where every day was a battle just to survive. Defeat after defeat, at places like Long Island, Harlem Heights, Fort Washington and White Plains had destroyed confidence in themselves and their leaders. Driven from New York City, they had been forced to conduct a painful retreat across New Jersey, leaving their bloody footprints in the mud and snow. A few miles behind them followed the finest army on earth, awaiting it's chance to put these men out of their misery, once and for all.

Tonight they suffered, they were tired, cold and wet. Many were barefoot. On the New Jersey and Pennsylvania shorelines the men tried to keep as warm as they could, their ragged clothing didn't provide much protection from the wind or sleet. Officers moved to and fro, trying to organize their men and fretting over the slow progress of the boat crossing. They were behind schedule, far behind schedule and with the coming of the dawn, they would have no place to hide, the enemy would find them, out in the open, exposed, vulnerable, darkness their only natural ally would be denied them. The officers knew that the only slim hope of success relied on them attacking the enemy at daybreak. Those slim hopes were quickly draining away. Many times the question was asked "Should we cancel the crossing ?"...the same answer always came back .."No".

On the river, muscle sore Marblehead fishermen rowed the heavy Durham oreboats back and forth, battling the strong current and blocks of floating ice. The boats were laden with men, horses and cannon to be landed on the Jersey shore. The men cursed and prayed...their best and worst emotions all being expressed at once. They were rich, poor, black, white, slave, free. They were from the south, from the north and everywhere in between. Two years ago they had been strangers but tonight they were a brotherhood, joined together in suffering, on their appointment with destiny.

This was a broken army of broken didn't seem like much of a threat to anyone anymore. As they returned to New Jersey, they entered enemy territory. Since early December the British had captured almost the entire state and their powerful garrisons now extended from New York City to the banks of this river....the Delaware River. The British and their Hessian allies were resting, waiting for the Delaware to freeze, when they could push triumphantly forward to the Rebel capitol at Philadelphia and put this Revolution to an end. Victory for the King was certain, everyone knew that now. It was just a matter of time. As news of Crown successes spread across the courts of Europe, the last flickers of sympathy for the Colonist's cause, were being snuffed out. Everyone knew the American Revolution was over......everyone except these shivering men, here tonight.

During the painful retreat across New Jersey, the rebel army had withered away like a dying beast. The sunshine soldiers were all gone now, only the idealists and desperate remained. Tonight, they didn't know where they were going but they knew they were on an important mission. They also knew that wherever they ended up, they were likely to be outnumbered and outgunned. But not a man deserted his post.

There was no turning back now. The die had been cast, the Rubicon crossed. Every man knew that what happened in the next 24 hours would decide if freedom lived or died. Their actions tonight and on the next day would earn the blessings or curses of future generations. They would march into the dark unknown, they would fight and maybe they would die. An American officer wrote "It is fearfully cold and raw and a snow-storm setting in. The wind is northeast and beats in the faces of the men. It will be a terrible night for the soldiers who have no shoes. Some of them have tied old rags around their feet; others are barefoot, but I have not heard a man complain. They are ready to suffer any hardship and die rather than give up their liberty." As they left the boats and struggled up the muddy river banks onto the Jersey shore, the men shouted out the watchwords for this mission......"VICTORY OR DEATH".

Nine miles south in Trenton, New Jersey, a force of over 1500 Hessian and British soldiers rested while the nor'easter blew in. Despite legends to the contrary, they were not celebrating nor drunk. These were professional soldiers, with iron discipline, they were ready and willing to fight. They were however tired. Constant patrolling and attacks by American militia had fatigued these men. The blowing storm gave them a welcome chance to rest and regain their strength. In this very bad weather, it was doubtful that the Americans would cause any problems. Their commander Colonel Johann Rall attended a small Christmas party that night, arriving after midnight. Rall had been delayed by a meeting with his officers to discuss a deadly attack that had taken place upon his pickets that day. Rall was a kind commander to his men and friendly to local civilians. Because of the bad weather he had allowed his officers to cut short their patrol routes that night, so their men would not suffer in the cold and sleet. Shortly after midnight there was a knock on the door and a servant from a local Tory family presented the Colonel with a scribbled note. Not realizing it's importance and wanting to return to his kind hosts, Rall put the note in his pocket without reading it. Too late, the next day when the note was finally found and read, it warned that a force of 2500 rebels were crossing the Delaware a few miles north at McKonkey's Ferry.

At 4 am., the rebel army began it's nine mile march southward. All hope of a surprise attack at dawn now were dashed. They were too far behind schedule. Still they slogged forward along the Pennington and River Roads, there could be no turning back now. The mission's watchwords said it all, the situation now, literally was victory or death, there could be no other result. As they trudged through the rain and sleet, the bad situation became even worse. It was discovered that many of the men's gunpowder had gotten wet and they could not fire their weapons. Word was sent to the rebel commander to ask what should be done....should the attack be cancelled and the army turned around ? The tall Virginia planter turned General listened to this bad news. Everything had gone wrong this night and it seemed that fate had conspired against him and his cause. George Washington in a rare fit of rage, no doubt occassioned by the terrible stress of this night, barked out, the officers have their orders..."use the bayonet and penetrate into the town...the town must be taken and I am resolved to take it". The last chance to retreat, to try to regroup for another effort, was gone forever.

At 8 am, well after daylight, the head of Washington's column reached the outskirts of Trenton, fully expecting to see the Hessians formed up to fight them. Instead the first person they met was a very surprised but sympathetic New Jersey farmer who pointed out a Hessian picket post and volunteered the valuable intelligence that the soldiers were still asleep. Immediately, two American officers, William Washington and future president James Monroe, spurred their horses forward and attacked the enemy pickets themselves. These two men crashed into the sleeping pickets, cutting down several and scattering their weapons across the ground. In a few moments, most of the picket was captured but several got away, running towards Trenton screaming "The Enemy !, The Enemy !, Out !, Out !". Washington turned in his saddle and shouted to his men "Attack..damn you, attack !!". The Battle of Trenton had begun.

All the soldier's fatigue, chill and pain disappeared in a few seconds. Now they saw what they were to do. They were attacking the dreaded Hessians and they had completely surprised their enemy. Wildly cheering American infantry soldiers swarmed forward into town. Now was their chance for just retribution, to pay back the lives of their comrades who had been bayonetted to death on the plains of Long Island or shot to pieces at Fort Washington. Their force was irrestistable. American artillery firing solid shot down King and Queen Streets added to the carnage and confusion.

Disoriented and panicking Hessians ran out into the streets, trying to dress and fight at the same time. Many were cut down before they even knew what was happening. Hastily formed groups of the enemy desperately tried to stem the American tide. Near Third and King Streets about a hundred Hessians formed up and delivered a volley of musket fire into the advancing Americans but soon were pummelled by artillery fire and surrounded by the second American column, which upon hearing the opening shots, ran into the town from along the River Road and commenced their own attack. A group of the 16th British Light Dragoons, looked at what was happening around them, blinked, jumped on their horses and fled away from town without firing a shot.

Colonel Rall heard the commotion at his headquarters and got dressed. He mounted his horse and quickly took command of about 600 men who had assembled in the street. The presence of Rall, calmed his men. Here was their leader, he would save them. Rall marched his men to a meadow near town and formed them in a defensive square, all the while shouting the question "How many (Americans) are there ?". Nobody could accurately answer..except to say...thousands.

The Hessian commander quickly attempted to stem the tide of defeat. Within a few minutes he had his 600 men prepared for a breakout counterattack. He sat upright and resolute in his saddle as he led them forward toward the American guns. The Rebels could see that the tide of battle was shifting and that they were now being attacked themselves but they could not respond. Wet gunpowder prevented many of them from firing and if the Hessians closed to within bayonet distance, all was lost. But not everyone's powder had been ruined and a Pennsylvania Rifleman fired a shot that struck Colonel Rall. In a moment the Hessian soldiers realized that their commander was seriously wounded and they lost their will to fight. As Rall's mortal wound seeped his life out, so did the Hessian resolve to continue the battle.

Through the smoke and rain, General Washington could not see what was going on. He knew there was a large enemy force at his front preparing to counterattack. He turned to a nearby artillery officer and ordered his guns to fired on the enemy. The officer with a clearer line of sight, responded "Sir, they have struck, their colors are down".

Less than a half hour after it had started, the Battle of Trenton was over. A ragtag band of American soldiers had achieved the impossible, in the process capturing over 860 enemy soldiers, killing or wounding 106 and taking over 1000 stands of badly needed arms and cannon. American casualties had been about 4 wounded and 3 frozen to death. It was one of the most stunning and lopsided military victories in history.

While the war lasted for another seven years, never again was the American Army in as desperate a situation as it was on December 25, 1776. For the rest of the conflict, British high command constantly overestimated the strength of the Rebels and drastically altered their military strategy to avoid situations which might lead to another similar defeat. In Europe, news of Trenton devastated England and Germany, destroying public resolve for the war. In France, American agents were able to again muster support for the American cause and secret shipments of French arms commenced in the spring of 1777. Washington and his men had truly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and had saved the American Revolution.

Hessian officer Johann von Ewald, stationed in New York at the time, recorded his impressions of the defeat at Trenton in his journal which he amended and edited after the war.

"Thus the times had changed ! The Americans had constantly run before us. Four weeks ago we expected to end the war with the capture of Philadelphia, and now we have to render Washington the honor of thinking about our defense. Due to this affair at Trenton, such a fright came over the army that if Washington had used the opportunity we would have flown to our ships and let him have all of America. Since we had thus far underestimated our enemy, from this unhappy day onward we saw everything through a magnifying glass.

This great misfortune, which surely caused the utter loss of the thirteen splendid provinces of the Crown of England..."

Written by Ernest R. Bower 2003


In a post about this painting:

"Soundly beaten in New York, Washington was pursued through New Jersey into Pennsylvania by British General William Howe, who fully expected to take Philadelphia, the seat of the Continental Congress. However, in his retreat across the Delaware River, Washington shrewdly seized all the available boats to ferry his men from the New Jersey banks to the Pennsylvania side. 

A confident General Howe, certain the war was all but won, had already returned to New York in mid-December, leaving his British and Hessian mercenary troops in the Trenton area. The commanders left in charge plotted a river crossing as soon as the Delaware iced over. Washington acted immediately when his spies uncovered the plan. With the same boats used to flee the British, he and his men recrossed the river at Trenton, found the enemy, killed several officers, and captured more than nine hundred prisoners. The surprise attack not only checked the British advance but helped restore morale to the rebels. The victory confirmed Washington’s leadership and the brilliance of his military strategy, both vital to reinvigorating the American cause."


GJ - Washington commanded this essay to be read aloud to his troops -

The Crisis by Thomas Paine

December 23, 1776

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

Whether the independence of the continent was declared too soon, or delayed too long, I will not now enter into as an argument; my own simple opinion is, that had it been eight months earlier, it would have been much better. We did not make a proper use of last winter, neither could we, while we were in a dependent state. However, the fault, if it were one, was all our own [NOTE]; we have none to blame but ourselves. But no great deal is lost yet. All that Howe has been doing for this month past, is rather a ravage than a conquest, which the spirit of the Jerseys, a year ago, would have quickly repulsed, and which time and a little resolution will soon recover.

I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.

'Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.

As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted with many circumstances, which those who live at a distance know but little or nothing of. Our situation there was exceedingly cramped, the place being a narrow neck of land between the North River and the Hackensack. Our force was inconsiderable, being not one-fourth so great as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up and stood on our defence. Our ammunition, light artillery, and the best part of our stores, had been removed, on the apprehension that Howe would endeavor to penetrate the Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could be of no use to us; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in the army or not, that these kind of field forts are only for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the enemy directs his force against the particular object which such forts are raised to defend. Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry = six miles. Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however, they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack, and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that their agents are under some providential control.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes centred in one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see, that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind that can even flourish upon care.

I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a Tory? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may be cruel, never can be brave.

But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us, let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.

I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can never expire.

America did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy, and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice.

Quitting this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but "show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. I conceive likewise a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being, who at the last day shall be shrieking to the rocks and mountains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan, the widow, and the slain of America.

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language, and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the full extent of the evil which threatens them; they solace themselves with hopes that the enemy, if he succeed, will be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf, and we ought to guard equally against both. Howe's first object is, partly by threats and partly by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to deliver up their arms and receive mercy. The ministry recommended the same plan to Gage, and this is what the tories call making their peace, "a peace which passeth all understanding" indeed! A peace which would be the immediate forerunner of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the back counties to give up their arms, they would fall an easy prey to the Indians, who are all armed: this perhaps is what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to the resentment of the back counties who would then have it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be garrisoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians to preserve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is the principal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction, and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

I thank God, that I fear not. I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a battle; and it is no credit to him that he decamped from the White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the defenceless Jerseys; but it is great credit to us, that, with a handful of men, we sustained an orderly retreat for near an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to pass. None can say that our retreat was precipitate, for we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of fear was not seen in our camp, and had not some of the cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms through the country, the Jerseys had never been ravaged. Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope — our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.
December 23, 1776