There is no soldier so undaunted as the pious man, no army so formidable as those who are superior to the fear of death. There is nothing more awful to think of than that those whose trade is war should be despisers of the name of the Lord of hosts and that they should expose themselves to the imminent danger of being immediately sent from cursing and cruelty on earth to the blaspheming rage and despairing horror of the infernal pit. Let therefore everyone who offers himself as a champion in his country’s cause be persuaded to reverence the name and walk in the fear of the Prince of the kings of the earth; and then he may with the most unshaken firmness expect the issue God’s protection either in victory or death.
On June 30, Congress passed the Articles of War to govern the Continental Army. In it, Congress directed that: It is earnestly recommended to all officers and soldiers diligently to attend Divine service; and all officers and soldiers who shall behave indecently or irreverently at any place of Divine worship, shall be brought before a court-martial. While calling both the nation and its army to pray, Congress did not neglect its own spiritual duties.
On July 19, 1775, it voted: Agreed, that the Congress meet here tomorrow morning at half after 9 o’clock in order to attend Divine service at Mr. Duché’s Church; and that in the afternoon they meet here to go from this place and attend Divine service at Doctor Allison’s church. Despite the continuing hostility and armed conflicts, no official separation had occurred between America and Great Britain; the Patriots yet remained British citizens. In July 1775, in another attempt to achieve a peaceful reconciliation, Congress approved “The Olive Branch Petition” which, in a completely conciliatory and submissive tone, pleaded for a full review of the unlawful policies being imposed upon them. By November, word returned that not only had the King and Parliament refused to give any hearing to their request, they had instead imposed a complete embargo against all the Colonies. As word of this rejected reconciliation attempt spread among the people and as the British continued their military operations against the Colonists public emotions and anger heightened, bringing action both at the State and national level.
For example, on the State level, the Massachusetts legislature acted to form its own navy. Even the naval emblems approved by the legislature on April 29, 1776, reflected the religious tone evident throughout the State: Resolved, that the uniform of the officers be green, and that they furnish themselves accordingly, and the colors be a white flag with a green pine tree and an inscription, “Appeal to Heaven.” At the national level, on March 13, 1776, William Livingston prepared a Congressional proclamation for a national day of prayer and fasting. Congress designated May 17, 1776, as the day for its observance. That proclamation declared:
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