Our Father & Founding Fathers

Righteousness exalts a nation.
— Proverbs 14:34

It was a bitterly cold day in March, 1777. Washington's troops, having surprised General Howe's holding forces at Trenton, were now miserably settled in for the winter. To the north, Abigail Adams "looked out on a world of white desolation" as she penned a litter to her husband. These were trying times for a fledgling nation. As she contemplated the hardships and challenges she wrote:

Posterity who are to reap the blessings will scarcely be able to conceive the hardships and sufferings of their ancestors.

I fear that we do forget the hardships of those who secured our liberty. Too often we enjoy our freedoms, but we fail to steward well what God has given us. With that in mind here are a few quotes and anecdotes to help capture the spirit and sacrifice of our founding fathers:

  • “We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence, I know not.” John Adams to Abigail Adams, 1774
  • "I hope I and all my townsmen shall have virtue enough to stay all winter as volunteers, before we leave the line without men. For our all is at stake, and if we do not exert ourselves in this Glorious Cause, our all is gone.” Lieutenant Hodgkins to his wife, November 25, 1775
  • "Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages." George Washington, Letter to General Philip Schuyler, August 20, 1775
  • "We want great men who, when fortune frowns, will not be discouraged." Colonel Henry Knox, in a letter to his wife, September 5, 1776
  • “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Captain Nathan Hale, prior to his execution by the British on September 22, 1776. Hale was 21 and a graduate of Yale, a schoolmaster and wholehearted patriot who was apprehended by the British after volunteering for an intelligence-gathering mission.
  • "These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of men and women. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem to lightly." Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, December 23, 1776.  
  • “Victory or Death” the password chosen by General George Washington and used by the Continental Army on the eve of the Battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776
  • “His Excellency, George Washington, never appeared to so much advantage as in the hour of distress.” General Nathanael Greene to Christopher Greene, January 20, 1777.
  • "I am afraid the cry of too many [is] Get Money, Money still. And then let Virtue follow it if she will! The inordinate Love of Gain, will make a shameful alteration in the character of those who have heretofore sacrificed every Enjoyment to the Love of their Country. He is the best Patriot who stems the Torrent of Vice, because that is the most destructive enemy of his Country.” Samuel Adams to Samuel Phillips Savage, July 3, 1778.
  • "Luxury & Extravagance are in my opinion totally destructive of those Virtues which are necessary for the Preservation of the Liberty and Happiness of the People.” Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams
  • The delegates resolved, “That Congress will, in a body, attend divine worship on Sunday, the 5th day of July next, to return thanks for the divine mercy in supporting the independence of these states, and that the chaplains be requested to officiate and to preach sermons suited to the occasion." June 24, 1778, Journals of the Continental Congress
  • "I hope I shall never forget the goodness of God in preserving us through all the dangers we have been exposed to.” John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, April, 1778

On this Independence Day take a cue from John Quincy Adams. Remember the goodness of God on our behalf. Thank Him for our freedom and then ask Him to help you individually (and our nation collectively) to steward well this precious freedom. Take time to pray for our country.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
— 1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV

Happy Independence Day!


The quotes today were drawn from the following sources:

John Adams by David McCullough, 2001. New York: Simon & Schuster

1776 by David McCullough, 2005. New York: Simon & Schuster

Samuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll. 2008. New York: Free Press