American history is full of stories of how, in times of tribulation and tremendous trials, true heroes emerge. Of course, that doesnâ€™t show up in the various Marxist-based, or N.Y. Times promoted, anti-American history courses. The real history is not propaganda from either sideâ€”it is based on objective observation, and the simple fact that a rag-tag band of colonial volunteers was molded into a legitimate fighting force speaks volumes of truth about heroism arising in times of adversity. In my previous article that touched on General George Washingtonâ€™s bold turn in mid-winter, I could only summarize how difficult the circumstances were for the six-month-old baby of American Independence. Americans today assume a lot about the history they truly do not know.
The birth of the United States came with great pains, great personal sacrifice, and much mutual suffering. The real history of the â€œarmyâ€ that the Continental Congress formally adopted in June of 1775, did not resemble a genuine army because they were simply a volunteer force: farmers and farmhands, clerks, merchants and shop-keepers, sailors, dockworkers, doctors, and teachers. John Adams addressed the delegates of the Second Continental Congress to convey the appeal of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress to avoid a disaster should the British troops manage to break out of Boston and â€œspread desolation as far as they could goâ€ against anyone who got in their way.
The reality is that General Washington continued the siege of Boston that the volunteers had initiated after the skirmishes in Lexington and Concord. However, a year later, Royal British troops and Hessian mercenaries did â€œspread desolation as far as they could goâ€ after they crushed the Continental Army at Fort Lee and Fort Washington in New York. The colonists suffered devastating losses. The better trained, more disciplined, totally equipped, superior British forces then proceeded to chase General Washington out of New York, across New Jersey, and to Pennsylvania before they decided to hunker down for the winter just miles from Philadelphia. It had the appearance of a very dark winter for the cause of Independence at the end of 1776.
Most definitely, in the winter of 1776, the cause of freedom appeared lost. It is likely that the British Empire as a whole, did not see the rebellious band of Americans as a serious threat, but the colonists seriously doubted the wisdom of angering the mightiest empire on Earth. Perhaps a much more sensible people would not have senselessly stirred up a hornetâ€™s nest of royal retribution against those British citizens who had dared to shoot at the kingâ€™s troops, an act equivalent to shooting at the king himself. The action was an outright act of rebellion; King George III recognized it and was resolved to crush the rebellion before it became any more of a problem.
Yet, the United States was bornâ€” eight long, struggling years after the â€œskirmishesâ€ in Massachusetts. And from this simple fact, there is a deeper significance that is surely missed in the historical record. It is quite revealing of Americaâ€™s nature: The birth of the Continental Army came before the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted, certainly well before the official birth of the nation. The first government of the â€œUnited Colonies of North Americaâ€ under the Articles of Confederation, which were not formally ratified by the states until 1781, the year that Washington accepted Cornwallisâ€™ surrender at Yorktown.
So, what nation were the volunteers fighting for? They had no nationâ€”only a notion of what it would be like to be free.
While the historical chronology may seem inconsequential, it represents a deeper significance to some patriots today. The peace treaty with Great Britain did not officially acknowledge the new United States of America. It was not until the peace treaty was signed by Britain, France, and the U.S.A. that the nation officially was born. This means that in those long years of battle, the colonial soldiers had no nation of substance for which they were fighting. Their fight was rooted in faith and in hope that their cause was worth the fight.
In a previous article regarding the winter of â€˜76 and General Washingtonâ€™s bold attack of the Hessians, the reading of Thomas Paineâ€™s The American Crisis to the troops prior to the attack was mentioned. Paineâ€™s words ignited the desire to fight and not retreat from destiny to create the Land of the Free. The words Paine used in such a critical time are easily re-applied to the formidable circumstances in the Republic in 2020. America now faces an existential threat. The times, indeed, try the souls of citizens who love America.
The fire from Paineâ€™s American Crisis inspired those bold and brave men in his day; would it again ignite citizensâ€™ passions to defend freedom. Consider again Paineâ€™s passion in light of the fight brave today:
â€¦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 itâ€¦ throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but â€œshow your faith by your works,â€ 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. â€˜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 â€œbind me in all cases whatsoeverâ€ 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 # of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.
Was not our election stolen? â€œWhen so great an object is at stakeâ€¦â€ is the cause of freedom courageous patriots were willing to die for, even before the nation existed. It is the same cause President Lincoln honored in his Gettysburg Address. Now, it is the cause for those who are called to defend freedom from the handmaidens of tyranny: fear and ignorance. Such handmaidens usually precede tyranny. Will future generations respect or resent us, who have received our turn to honor and preserve freedom? The future of Americaâ€™s freedom will be determined by courage or cowardice in such a time as this.