This July 4th, we celebrate 239 years of our independence. I’ve always had a fondness for the history of our revolution and in studying it, one learns that it was a miracle it even succeeded.
We like to complain about an inept Congress today but the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, which gave us our first form of government, was without even the power to levy taxes for support of the war effort. As a result, the Patriot armies were underpaid and undersupplied while taking on the British Empire.
After Washington’s disastrous planning and execution of the Battle of Long Island, his army was routed. Hemmed in, he decided to evacuate his forces overnight before the British could advance on his position, destroy his army, and capture or kill Washington, himself. The evacuation went slowly, and only by a lingering morning fog did Washington escape across the East River as the British began to march on his position.
In a latter battle, Washington was so distraught over his men’s performance, that he rode along their ranks trying desperately to rally them, to no effect. Some of his men thought he intended to die that day, rather than suffer another defeat at the hands of the British. Paces from the enemy, he was under constant fire until his officers calmed the wild-eyed General and convinced him to quite the battlefield.
In the battle of Brandywine, a Scottish rifleman fixed his sights on an unassuming rebel commander. Ultimately, the Scott made the gentlemanly decision not to fire because the commander was only walking with fellow officers and not an imminent threat. The unassuming rebel commander, the rifleman later learned, was General George Washington.
At the time when each event occurred, these probably seemed like minor miracles which only revealed their magnificent importance in subsequent years. We might very well not have a country of our own were it not for a fortuitous fog, an enemy column that suddenly couldn’t aim, and a rifleman who decides, for whatever reason, to not shoot a high-ranking officer. How can one look at these events and not see the guiding hand of Providence? As we celebrate this month, let us remember our country’s blessings and how fortunate we are to call ourselves Americans.