This week, a history lesson or two. But not just any history, American History. Not only do I love the Lord, but I love my country as well. So today let us look back with pride and thankfulness being reminded of where we came from and where God can take us if we will only allow Him permission.
The year was 1774 and King George of England decided to punish the colonists for the Boston Tea Party. He passed the Boston Port Act, March 7, 1774, effectively closing the harbor to all commerce, intentionally ruining their economy. Surrounding towns rallied by sending food. William Prescott, who later commanded at Bunker Hill, wrote: “Providence has placed you where you must stand the first shock… If we submit to these regulations, all is gone…” he continued: “Our forefathers passed the vast Atlantic, spent their blood and treasure, that they might enjoy their liberties, both civil and religious, and transmit them to their posterity… Now if we should give them up, can our children rise up and call us blessed?”
Upon hearing of the Boston Port Act, Thomas Jefferson drafted a Day of Fasting & Prayer resolution, which was introduced in the Virginia House of Burgesses by Robert Carter Nicholas, May 24, 1774, being supported by Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Mason. It passed unanimously: It said, “This House, being deeply impressed with apprehension…from the hostile invasion of the city of Boston in our Sister Colony of Massachusetts Bay, whose commerce and harbor are, on the first day of June next, to be stopped by an armed force, deem it highly necessary that the said first day of June be set apart, by the members of this House, as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, devoutly to implore the Divine interposition, for averting the heavy calamity which threatens destruction to our civil rights.”
On the day of the appointed fast, June 1, 1774, George Washington wrote in his diary: “Went to church, fasted all day.” The King’s appointed Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, was so upset by this Day of Fasting & Prayer resolution that two days later he dissolved Virginia’s House of Burgesses.
Virginia’s colonial leaders immediately went down the street and gathered in Raleigh Tavern, where they decided to form a Continental Congress, which two years later would vote for independence from the King. This was the first recommendation of a General Congress by any public assembly, though it had been previously proposed in town meetings at New York and Boston. A resolution to the same effect was passed in the Assembly of Massachusetts before it was aware of the proceedings of the Virginia Legislature. The measure recommended met with prompt and general concurrence throughout the colonies, and the fifth day of September next ensuing was fixed upon for the meeting of the first Congress, which was to be held at Philadelphia. The afore mentioned events setting the stage for Godly men who loved their country more than life forging for us and for our children the longest living republic on the face of the earth.
Fast forward now to September 13th 1814 and the British had bombarded Fort McHenry throughout the night. A young lawyer, Francis Scott Key was dispatched to the British fleet to negotiate the release of an American Doctor. Finally the British agreed to release Dr. Beane but would not let them leave until after the battle began, fearing they had heard too much of the battle plans regarding their impending attack on Fort McHenry.
The British fired 1500 bombshells that weighed 220 lbs with lighted fuses that were supposed to explode on impact, but many malfunctioned and exploded in midair. From specially fitted small boats the British also fired new concreive rockets that would trace a small wobbly arch of red flame throughout the sky. Americans had taken 22 of their own vessels in the harbor so that the ships could get no closer.
As long as they were shelling they knew the fort stood. Then an eerie silence welcomed the morning. What the young lawyer Key didn’t know was that there was an attack by land of Baltimore and when the British saw the resilience of these Americans they ordered a retreat. As Key began to catch a glimpse of the flag over fort McHenry he was inspired to pen the words that we today herald as our National Anthem.
We all know the first verse but may never forget what the fourth verse reminds us, “O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand, Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation; Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! May God continue to Bless America!
Throckmorton is the senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville.