God's Hand Manifest
As you recall from last month's letter, we are recalling from pages of forgotten history the testimony of the colonists of the power of God extended to them for guidance and protection so that this nation could be formed according to His will and for His purposes. These are priceless stories from American history that should be told and retold in every American home today.
Lost Testimony Number Four:
Miraculous Preparations for the Pilgrims and Puritans
Religious persecution sent the first successful colonizers on freedoms freeway to America during the fall of 1620. On November 9th the Pilgrims first sighted land. They had originally intended to land on the coast of Virginia, where they had a land patent from England. But because of violent storms, which proved to be Providential, they were driven off course and forced to enter Cape Cod Bay (Massachusetts). Two days later, prior to debarking the Mayflower, they drafted the Mayflower Compact. "The Mayflower Compact was our first American document of self-government with unity. It was the mustard seed transplanted to the shores of America....It was the seed of American Federalism, of voluntary principles of government derived from the Word of God, and with the consent of the governed." (The Bible and the Constitution of the United States of' American, Verna M. Hall and Rosalie J. Slater, San Franciso, Ca., 1983, p 15)
Immediately upon setting foot on land, the Pilgrims fell to their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had safely brought them there. To their amazement, as they explored their new home, they discovered land cleared, leveled, and ready for planting, several sweet water wells and a large kettle filled with corn. It wasn't until March of the next year that they finally discovered the answer to this riddle. Samoset, an Indian brave, walked into camp and welcomed them in English (another miracle). And told them that four years before their arrival, a large tribe of hostile Indians, the Patuxets, had lived there. At that time a mysterious plague had killed every one of them. Since then, no other Indian tribe had dared to visit this location, making it the safest possible-place for the Pilgrims to build their new homes.
Samoset soon brought to the new settlement another Indian named Squanto, who seemed to the devout Pilgrims to have been prepared by God for their arrival. Previously captured and taken to England by British seamen, Squanto had learned the language and customs of the white man. After several years overseas, he had returned to his native land just six months before the coming of the pilgrims. He taught them how to fish and hunt, how to plant corn and pumpkins, and many other skills that were essential to their survival in the unfamiliar American wilderness. He also introduced them to chief Massasoit of the Wampanoags - perhaps the only chief on the northeast coast who would have welcomed the white man as a friend. Among Squanto's most important contribution to the Pilgrims was his service as an interpreter in negotiating a treaty between them and the Wampanoags, a treaty that allowed the two groups to live in peace for the next forty years and thus enable these English colonists to establish a strong foothold in the New World.
As a result of more persecution in Europe, the Puritans arrived from England ten years later, in 1630. Among those early colonists was the Reverend Thomas Hooker, a Puritan Minister. His role in colonization included the writing of the first constitution, called The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut and the creation of the first union in America. He had been a student of Tyndale's bible and had become a separatist.
Although the early Pilgrims and Puritans came to this county between 1620 - 1640, it is not just a coincidence that they were allowed to expand and prosper for nearly fifty years without a major Indian War. On 15 June 1675, the King Phillips war started in which over 4,000 Pilgrims and Puritans were killed. Had that war started earlier or had the Indians won, our history may have read very differently.
Lost Testimony Number Five:
John Lilburne: Expounder of America's Freedom Ideas
While many Pilgrims and Puritans came to America, others remained in England where they attempted to bring about a change in government. One such man was John Lilburne. He lived from 1615 - 1659. He spent more than seventeen years in prison and was beaten and placed in the pillory for expressing the freedoms we now take for granted. He was one of the prime organizers of the Leveller movement that advocated three principal tenets: 1) the existence of certain unalterable rights of man beyond the jurisdiction of any government; 2) the idea that governmental authority derived from the people; and 3) the doctrine of separation of powers, directed especially against the contention "that the law makers should be the law executors." The Levellers advocated a representative assembly to meet biannually, based on a redistribution of seats according to density of population, and with the franchise extending to all Englishmen 21 years of age or over and wealthy enough to be housekeepers. They also urged abolition of capital punishment for all crimes except murder. For these beliefs many were put to death, others had their ears cut off or branded on their cheeks with the letters S & L for making slanderous or libelous statements about the government or church. Most were put in prison or the locks and beaten. Like our Founding Fathers they were pamphleteers. They made a great contribution to the freedoms we now enjoy and are seldom if ever acknowledged for their efforts. They used as one of their sources the writings of Edward Coke, whom our Founding Father's also read, and who had written extensively on the Magna Carta. They made the first major attempt to implement a government like ours, but society was not yet ready. (Free-Bom John, A Biography of John Lilburne, by Pauline Gregg, 1961, George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., London, England.)
Lost Testimony Number Six:
The Power of God Saves Colonists From French Destruction
From 1755 - 1762 the Americans and the British were engaged in the French and Indian War. Had the French won this war, Our country's geography would have been entirely different. It would have consisted mostly of what was then the thirteen colonies or the present eastern seaboard. The invisible fingerprints of Providence are to be found on several occasions. Early in the war the French sent a large fleet consisting of many ships and thousands of troops down the east coast to destroy any and all seaport cities. The following is what happened in Boston when it was discovered that this force was on its way to destroy it. At that time Boston was without the resources to defend itself.
"Mr. Adams was as faithful a Congregationalist as anyone. But he could not quite be sure of his Uncle Peter's ferocity where the old faith was concerned. If the French were coming, they were coming because, like all the nations of Europe, they coveted more than they had. Meanwhile it was good the Governor had proclaimed a Fast Day to pray for deliverance from this present peril. Everywhere men observed it, thronging to the churches.
"In Boston the Reverend Thomas Prince, from the high pulpit of the Old South Meeting house, prayed before hundreds. The morning was clear and calm, people had walked to church through sunshine. 'Deliver us from the enemy!' the minister implored. 'Send thy tempest, Lord, upon the waters to the eastward! Raise Thy right hand. Scatter the ships of our tormentors and drive them hence. Sink their proud frigates beneath the power of Thy winds.'
"He had scarcely pronounced the words when the sun was gone and morning darkened. All the church was in shadow. A wind shrieked round the walls, sudden, violent, hammering at the windows with a giant hand. No man was in the steeple, afterward the sexton swore it - yet the great bell struck twice, a wild uneven sound. Thomas Prince paused in his prayer, both arms raised. 'We hear Thy voice, 0 Lord!' he thundered triumphantly. 'We hear it! Thy breath is upon the waters to the eastward, even upon the deep. Thy bell tolls for the death of our enemies!' He bowed his head; when he looked up, tears streamed down his face. 'Thine be the glory, Lord. Amen and amen!'
"'Amen and amen!' said Massachusetts, her hope renewed. All the Province heard of this prayer and this answering tempest.. Governor Shirley sent a sloop, the Rising Sun, northward for news. The Rising Sun found the French fleet south of Chebucto (now Halifax Harbor) and got chased for her pains. But she brought news so good it was n-draculous - if one could believe it. The Rangers, a body of men commanded by Captain Gorman of the Boston, had gone, the end of September, to reconnoiter The Rangers were mostly Indians, the French took them for Canadians and talked freely. Two of the largest French frigates had sunk in a storm, they said, on the Isle of Sable. The whole fleet was nearly lost, the men very sick with scurvy or some pestilential fever. Their great admiral, the Duc'd Anville, was dead.
"A week later the news was confirmed by other vessels entering Boston from the northeastward. D'Anville was indeed dead; it said he had poisoned himself in grief and despair when he saw his men dying round him. Two thousand were already buried, four thousands were sick, and not above a thousand of the land forces remained on their feet. Vice Admiral d'Estorunelle had run himself through the heart with his sword. The few remaining ships, halfmanned, were limping off to the southwestward, headed it was thought for the West Indies.
"Pestilence, storm and sudden death - how directly and with what extraordinary vigor the Lord had answered New England prayers. 'The country fell on its knees. Pharaoh's host overwhelmed in the Red Sea was no greater miracle. A paper with d'Anville's orders had been found, instructing him to take Cape Breton Island, then proceed to Boston - 'Lay that Town in Ashes and destroy all he could upon the coast of North America; then proceed to the West Indies and distress the Islands.'
"Storm and pestilence - why, it was like the destruction of the Spanish Armada! Governor Shirley said so, to the Massachusetts Legislatures assembled. Never had there been so direct an interference of Providence. 'Affavit Deus,' said Shirley, et dissipantur - The Lord caused the wind to blow and they were scattered. A day of Thanksgiving and prayer was proclaimed. From every pulpit the good news rang. Hip and thigh the Lord had smitten the Philistines. There was no end to the joyful quotation: If God be for us who can be against us'?' ( John Adams and the American Revolution, pp. 10- 12)
Lost Testimony Number Seven:
"He Cannot Die In Battle"
Another incident that happened in July of 1755 is equally inspiring. The French & Indian War started in 1754 over claims of ownership and control of the land west of the Ohio Valley. The French had been using the Indians to raise havoc on the British settlers in that area as well as placing lead markers claiming that land as their own. The British King had become very concerned and had, in July of 1755, sent a seasoned British General, General Braddock and 2400 troops to drive the French and Indians Out of their territory. George Washington, a Colonel in the Virginia military, was assigned as an advisor to General Braddock because of his experience in that area. Unfortunately General Braddock refused to take any of his counsel, which caused the following event.
In June they started their march towards the Ohio Valley. The purpose of this march was to secure Fort Pitt, located in modern day Pittsburgh, and then use it as a facility from which to drive the French and Indians out of their territory. On July 9th, 1755, General Braddock's troops marched into a small valley surrounded by tall grass, brush and trees about seven miles from modern day Pittsburgh. As soon as a majority of the troops were within the valley, the French and Indians who had lain in ambush opened fire, killing 456 and wounding 422 British and American troops. During this engagement, General Braddock had five horses shot out from under him and received several bullet wounds that resulted in his death three days later. George Washington had two horses shot out from under him and received four bullet holes in his jacket. Both showed extraordinary courage during this fierce battle, George Washington's friend, Dr. James Craik, who was a witness of the battle said: "I expected every movement to see him fall. His duty and situation exposed him to every danger. "Nothing but the superintending care of Providence could have saved him from the fate of all around him." (Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, by George Washington Parke Custis, Edited by Benson J. Lossing, Vol. 1, page 248)
Fifteen years after this battle, while exploring lands near the old battle site, he was visited by an old sachem chief and his party. It was he who had led the Indians in the ambush. He heard that Colonel Washington was in the area and had come to pay him homage. During that evening while sitting around the campfire the chief stood and addressed Washington through an interpreter:
"I am a chief, and the ruler over many tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes, and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red coat tribe--he hath an Indian's wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do--himself is alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which but for him knew not how to miss-'twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we shielded him from harm. He cannot die in battle. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades; but ere I go there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies - he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire." (Lossing, 1860, p. 303. This narrative was told to Mr. Custis by Dr. Craik, who witnessed this remarkable scene. It was first published in 1828.)
This story demonstrates Providence's hand in repeatedly saving George Washington's life and the prophecy of the Indian Chief being literally fulfilled, as George Washington did become the Father of this Nation.
The English and her colonies won the French and Indian War and Britain gained control of the Ohio Valley West and most of Canada. Thirteen years later the Americans would be in a life or death struggle with Britain. The War for American Independence started on April 18, 1775 at Lexington, Massachusetts and continued until September 3, 178 1, when the Paris Peace Treaty was signed. During the eight years of war many inspiring events took place, which clearly reveal the hand of Providence. Having collected several dozen of these accounts, our next newsletter will illustrate some of these fantastic, nearly lost, Revolutionary War stories.
Earl Taylor, Jr.