THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

The series on Daniel’s Vision of the Ram and Goat is now complete. That means it’s time for a palette cleanser to get you ready for the next end time series in Daniel. This palette cleanser will continue with the series we’ve been doing on America’s Great Awakenings. We’ve finished the five-part series on America’s First Great Awakening when God moved so mightily in the 13 British colonies in America. In between America’s First and Second Great Awakenings, the 13 colonies went through the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also called the American War of Independence—a war fought between Great Britain and its 13 colonies when they declared independence from Great Britain. What is interesting is that the colonies didn’t want to not be British anymore. The colonists themselves were British and were proud of it. They didn’t want to severe their relationship with Britain. They wanted to remain a British nation. But their relationship with the British Parliament became untenable. The oppressive and abusive nature of Parliament was something the colonies could no longer bear. They wanted… no, they needed to get out from under the thumb of Parliament. And one of the men that played a significant role in their fight for independence was George Washington. When reading about his life and leadership role in the revolution, it’s plain to see God’s hand was upon this man right from the start. Keep reading if you want to learn more!

THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
Factors That Drove the 13 British Colonies Toward Revolution

By Karen Thompson

There were many reasons that drove the colonies to declare their independence from Britain. What they taught us in grade school didn’t go into great detail about the reasons why. We were taught the colonies were upset about “taxation without representation.” But it wasn’t that simple. It was about so much more than that. It was a collection of abuses by the British Parliament that made being ruled by a group of men 4,000 miles away untenable for the colonies. Here is the kicker. None of these men in Parliament had ever lived in the colonies nor had they ever visited them. They had no idea what was best for the colonies or what they needed. What’s worse is that the colonies did not have representatives in Parliament to represent their needs, nor were they allowed to have them. This one thing was sure: if God was to ever use America as a tool for His glory, the colonies had to become independent, a nation unto themselves.

No Immigration Control

As I read about some of their concerns, I was taken aback at how similar they are with today’s concerns. Author Edmund S. Morgan wrote about Benjamin Franklin’s role in America’s revolution in his book entitled, Benjamin Franklin. He wrote about how the colonies were unable to rule over themselves; laws they established were very often dismissed or overruled by Parliament. For instance, Morgan wrote about Franklin’s concern about German immigration. In 1749, ships brought some 12 thousand immigrants to Philadelphia, mostly Germans. In a single year, the number of German immigrants that arrived was nearly the same as the population of Philadelphia. If this kept up, the colonists wondered what America would look like in a few years. Will they become the 13 German colonies? Will they all begin to speak German instead of English? Because there were so many, they wondered if the Germans would assimilate to their culture. They took quick steps to regulate the flow of immigrants. To ensure the stability of the colonies, they made a law stating they would only take a certain amount of immigrants per year. Parliament dismissed their law! There was no discussion.

Parliament Began Dumping Their Criminals on the Colonies

In addition to Parliament telling the colonies they had no ability to control the number of immigrants they would take, they also didn’t have any say about the “kind” of people that came into the colonies. An even more egregious abuse committed by Parliament is when they began dumping their criminals on the colonies. At the time, England imposed capital punishment for any number of crimes, even minor crimes. There grew an outcry from the public saying capital punishment was too harsh a punishment that was applied too frequently. To remedy the situation, Parliament passed a law in 1718 which stated England could transport her convicted felons to the colonies.

Do you get that? Banishment to the colonies was their punishment!

The felons would serve out their time as a sort of slave to tobacco planters by working 7 or 14 years. After they finished their time, they would be let go. As a result, the crime rate in the colonies sky rocketed. So, once again, the colonies passed laws forbidding the importation of criminals. Parliament in England, once again, vetoed their laws. Parliament’s excuse for maintaining the practice of sending criminals to the colonies was that it helped with the peopling of the colonies. The colonies, however, wanted a better caliber of people to immigrate to America. They didn’t want criminals.

Ultimately, Franklin and his fellow colonists came to the grave conclusion that Americans had no ability to rule over themselves. They had absolutely no control over what a group of men 4,000 miles away in England chose to do to them.

Parliament Ruled the Colonies Selfishly

Parliament’s dealings with the colonies was selfish. Their decisions weren’t based on what England could do for the colonies, but what the colonies could do for England. For instance, they required the colonists to purchase imports from England and forbid them to import anything not produced in England. Not only that, but as the danger from the Indians escalated, the colonies thought it wise to be prepared for possible attacks. For that purpose, they began to organize militia to protect themselves. Parliament, fearing American autonomy, vetoed their laws for the creation of a militia. This left the colonies vulnerable. These were just a few of the many abuses perpetrated against the colonies by Parliament. And if the colonists resisted, Parliament sent ships filled with British soldiers to force their obedience.

Benjamin Franklin Mediator

Benjamin Franklin traveled to England in order to mediate on behalf of the colonies with Parliament. At this time, Franklin was one of the most famous people in the world. His experiments with electricity had the world entranced. People clamored to be in his presence. He was invited to everything. Wherever he went, he was treated like royalty and respected.

Except by Parliament.

Franklin did his best to enlighten Parliament as to the needs of the colonies. He tried to explain their point of view and how Parliament’s treatment of them was pushing them in the wrong direction. Members of Parliament treated Franklin with contempt. Thus, he was frequently disappointed by Parliament. Franklin soon realized their only interest was making laws that were good for England, not good for the colonies. Many of their actions were punitive. Parliament deliberately imposed penalties on the colonies simply to let them know they were in charge.

For years, Franklin spoke to Parliament, trying to persuade their minds about the colonies. Over time he became disgusted with them and came to the conclusion that they didn’t have the faintest idea of what they were doing.His opinion of Parliament as a governing body had reached such a low point that he said, “Their claim of sovereignty over three million of virtuous sensible people in America seem the greatest of absurdities since they appeared to have scarce discretion enough to govern a herd of swine.”

The colonies had reached a point where autonomy was crucial. They needed the ability to govern themselves, to make laws that were for the good of the colonies. The fight for independence was inevitable.

George Washington

It was clear that if the colonies were to succeed in becoming an autonomous nation, they would need anointed people to lead the way. Enter George Washington. A study of his life will reveal that it was evident he was destined for greatness. This destiny could be seen by the fact that he was often divinely protected by God. I so enjoyed reading about George Washington in the book entitled, “The Incredible Power of Prayer: Amazing Stories of How People Changed America Through Prayer” written by authors David W. Balsiger, Joette Whims, and Melody Hunskor. It’s a book about how prayer changed America. The book’s first subject was George Washington.

Most people are not aware that George Washington was a man of prayer. His mother was a devout Christian and taught Washington the importance of prayer. As a result, Washington’s daily habit was to pray in both the morning and the evening. He even kept a journal of the things he prayed about during his times of prayer. Washington’s nephew, Mr. Robert Lewis, was Washington’s private secretary during the first part of his presidency. Lewis accidentally interrupted Washington during a time of prayer and observed him in a kneeling position with his Bible open before him. It was his daily practice.

The Miracle of the Two Coins

On more than one occasion, Washington had been miraculously saved. On one such occurrence, his life was saved in a most unusual way. When he was 23 years old, Washington served as a British officer during the French and Indian War. Washington and a loyal Indian scout were on assignment to escort two young boys through dangerous territory to get them to their grandmother’s home. As they moved through the forest, they were surprised when an Indian stepped out in front of them and shot Washington twice, point blank, in the chest. He staggered back, then fell to the ground. At first, the Indian scout traveling with Washington thought he was dead. But when he examined Washington, he was both startled and relieved when he opened his eyes. The bullets hit him square in the chest, yet he was unwounded. Why? Washington reached inside his coat and pulled out two large coins. Both coins had been dented by a bullet. Providence! Washington and the Indian scout continued on their assignment!

Miraculous Battle at Fort Duquesne

There is another incident in which Washington’s life seemed to be divinely protected. Again, during the French and Indian War, General Braddock selected Washington to assist him in an attack on the French Ft. Duquesne. On July 9, 1755, 1,000 Indians ambushed Braddock and his 1,500 regulars. Unfortunately, Braddock was shot. Without their commander, the British soldiers began to panic. Washington took action and led his soldiers in “an orderly retreat.” During the retreat, Washington displayed great boldness. He retrieved the wounded soldiers in the midst of a hail of bullets. Remarkably, he came through it completely unharmed. However, during the ordeal, he had two horses shot out from under him. Plus, four bullets went through his clothes and three through his hat! In a letter to his brother, he wrote about the incident saying, “Death was leveling my companions on every side of me, but by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected.” After that, Washington gained respect, and his reputation for boldness and leadership spread throughout the colonies.

A New Commander

When the colonies agreed to fight the British for their independence, the second Continental Congress convened on May 10, 1775, to choose a general to lead the inexperienced American army. Five days later, Washington was unanimously chosen as Commander in Chief. Being the man of faith that he was, he agreed to accept the appointment on one condition: that Congress appoint and fund chaplains for his troops. Congress accepted his condition.

First National Day of Prayer

The new young republic had placed at the helm a man of prayer. One of Washington’s first acts as commander was to order his men to attend church services and pray for their safety and defense. Washington believed prayer and fasting was just as important as military training. That’s why he ordered that July 20 be a day of fasting and prayer to be observed by the forces. It was literally the first national day of prayer and fasting.

There were many miracles connected to Washington during the revolution. No doubt, it was because he made prayer and faith in God a priority. An officer that served under Washington said that he always sought God’s blessing for help on every occasion. Also, when a chaplain wasn’t available, Washington would lead the staff officers in prayer together.

Miracle at Long Island

My favorite story about Washington is when the Lord divinely protected the American troops using the weather. During the summer of 1776, Washington and his men, a measly eight thousand, were on Long Island. The British officer General Howe had 32 thousand men. The numbers became even more uneven when an additional 15 thousand British troops landed on the shore of Long Island on August 22. To make matters worse, five thousand more joined them three days later. General Howe’s plan was to put an end to the revolution by capturing the rebel army. They had Washington surrounded on three sides. Behind them was a mile-wide river. They were impossibly outnumbered, so fighting was not an option. It looked hopeless for the American troops. That’s when God intervened. To this day, no one knows why, but General Howe stopped his advance and remained in position for two days. It’s at that point, Washington and his troops experienced divine intervention. Wind and rain suddenly blew in from the northeast, making the river unnavigable for the British ships. This prevented the British from surrounding Washington and his troops on all sides.

Being they were outnumbered, retreat was the only option. Washington’s plan was to evacuate all eight thousand of his troops by small boats to join 12 thousand troops on Manhattan Island. God intervened. The wind that had been blowing for three days stopped; that meant the boats could be loaded with extra weight. The evacuation began in the middle of the night. The full moon came out to help guide them. As morning began to break, there were still many troops that needed to be evacuated. God intervened once again! A very dense fog rolled in and settled over both encampments. The fog was so thick that it was impossible to see someone just six yards away. The fog gave Washington time to evacuate the rest of his troops across the river. Not only were the eight thousand men evacuated, but they took all their supplies, guns, carts, cattle, and horses as well!

The miraculous thing about the operation is that the British did not hear or see the Americans’ activity. It had to have been the Lord’s intervention! When the British finally learned of their evacuation, they rushed to the river. There was only one boat that was close enough for them to capture. It contained only vagabonds who had stayed behind to pillage what was left of the empty camp.

A Miraculous Provision

One of the most difficult times for American troops was at Valley Forge in 1777–1778. During this time, they were short of supplies, especially food. Many died from starvation. The constant shortage of food was a frequent subject of Washington’s prayers. There are astounding examples of miraculous provisions. This is my favorite example. Early one morning, the soldiers noticed that Schuykill River looked like it was boiling. They went over to inspect it. Upon inspection, they realized that the boiling activity was due to the very premature migration of thousands and thousands of shad. The soldiers jumped into the river with shovels and began scooping the shad onto the banks as fast as possible. Some of the men rode their horses into the river to prevent the shad from swimming away. For once, the soldiers ate to their fill.

A Man of Prayer

Washington touted the importance of prayer, and when it came to prayer, we walked the walk. During the revolution, Washington didn’t have a “prayer closet” he could enter into for prayer. For privacy, he had to go into the woods to find a secluded place in order to seek God. There were a couple of times when his prayer times were discovered by area farmers. Here are their experiences.

On February 18, 1860, the Evening Post published an article about Washington’s faith in the midst of battle. A man named Mr. Printer sent a letter to the editors telling them of a story told to him by a farmer. In 1796, the farmer shared with Mr. Printer an experience he had during the war. One morning, the farmer went out to bring in the cows. While on his way, he heard a moaning sound coming out of the bushes. He approached and saw a man in prayer. The man got up to leave, so the farmer quickly hid behind a tree. The farmer was shocked to see that it was George Washington! The farmer confided to Mr. Printer that he and his wife were opposed to war on principle; so therefore, they had not been in agreement with the revolution. But after hearing Washington pray, the farmer went home and told his wife they mustn’t be opposed to the war any longer. He said after hearing General Washington sending up a prayer to heaven for the country, “I know it will be heard.”

There is another story about a different farmer overhearing Washington in prayer. A farmer named Isaac Potts had a similar experience of stumbling upon Washington praying in the woods. He heard the distinct sound of praying. He followed the sounds which brought him into the presence of none other than George Washington himself! For a while, he eavesdropped on Washington as he prayed. He recalled feeling awed by the power of the prayer. After listening for a while, he slipped away silently. He too rushed home and told his wife about overhearing General Washington in prayer. He told her that if there was anyone on earth that God would hear, it would be George Washington. He came away from the experience convinced that under such a commander as Washington, he had no doubt America would gain her independence and that it would be God’s will.

Washington’s Inauguration

George Washington was elected as the first President of the United States of America; he was inaugurated on April 30, 1789. With his hand placed on the Bible, he took the oath of office. After which, he added the phrase, “I swear, so help me God.” He then leaned over and kissed the Bible. Presidents after him have followed his example, speaking the same words. In his inaugural address, he talked about how the role of God’s intervention had played in his life. After the speech was over, the President, the speaker, and members of the House of Representatives went to St. Paul’s chapel to hear the chaplain preach.

Together with the founding fathers, Washington went on to build a solid foundation for the new and budding nation. Many of their first official acts gave glory to God. For example, the first act of Congress was to elect chaplains to open each legislative session with prayer. The custom is still observed today.

America was founded upon faith, prayer, and a reliance upon God. Faith in God and prayer changed the course of the 13 colonies. Prayer changed the course of history. It was the will of God that the colonies gained their independence. How else do you explain why the untrained soldiers of the 13 small colonies were successful in breaking free from the most powerful nation in the earth? It was, indeed, Providence.

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