In today’s very troubled world, as threats & turmoil seem to increase almost daily, concerned citizens of the United States would want to be able to choose hope. But faced with such constant danger & unrest around the globe, when ‘around the globe’ can be as close as your television screen, or iPad, it is often hard to maintain optimism, isn’t it?
Fortifying me in this regard are periodic visits back to our Revolutionary beginnings. A wealth of understanding and vision abides in the words of our Founders. Renewed faith, hope and joy are so often the treasures I bring back with me, after time spent in a meeting of the minds with such as George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson. These men, and their compatriots, lived in a time of boundless possibilities. We’ve ‘been there, done that’ and may be sadly jaded, or deadened, but not so those stellar patriots that gave us, and in fact ARE our heritage. Like the blood of Abel, these men “still speak”.
To renew your hope for America, it might be helpful to catch a glimpse of how our Founders saw her…and us. We are not separate from them. Though over two centuries have passed, and technology, industry and corporations have transformed our lifestyles – there yet remain those voices from the times when quill & ink on parchment, and horse & carriage were the order of the day. There yet remains in many of us the blood & spirit of the patriot. Some may not realize it – but they will, with God’s help.
Today, we know that America prevailed in her war for independence. Now, it seems obvious that it should have been our victory, and those who deliberated, decided & fought that Revolutionary War knew they would triumph. We sit assured that we were meant to win. But back then, they were not assured. The Founders did not know. No militia fighter, nor soldier in the Continental Army, knew. A victorious outcome was not a foregone conclusion in their minds.
Afterwards, Washington speaks of “…the magnitude of the prize we contended for….“ (We today, who by inheritance daily partake of this glorious prize, possibly do not view it that way. We need to be reminded.) Washington had seen the coming battle as being not only for the liberation of the thirteen colonies from English tyranny, but for the rights of all mankind. He believed that ‘the destiny of unborn millions’ would be impacted by whether America stood, or fell, during and after her Revolution. Before 56 other valiant patriots counted this struggle to the death as being worthy of their lives & fortunes, and so declared it in writing, George Washington did the same: “It is my full intention, to devote my life and fortune, in the cause we are engaged in, if needful.”
He knew the outcome was doubtful, and spent “many anxious days and watchful nights” in the pursuit of that outcome. The Founding Fathers in general were intensely aware of ‘the improbability of their undertaking’, according toArthur M. Schlesinger informs us that author of The Cycles of American History. The mighty Roman Empire, which Alexander Hamilton considered to be ‘the utmost height of human greatness’ (The Federalist) – and to which the fathers of our republic turned for instruction in achieving their own aspirations of free men governing themselves – fell nonetheless. Why would one presume the thirteen colonies could do any better?
And yet, as it came to pass“…the glorious events which Heaven has been pleased to produce in our favor” Washington considered to be “the parent of future happiness”. How many of us believe that ‘Heaven was pleased’ to grant us this prize? Such an advantageous outcome Washington called “the greatest possible reason for gratitude and rejoicing.”
This Founder, about to retire (he thought) after leading the thirteen colonies through an eight-year-long war, must have known a depth of satisfaction few ever will. He saw this land as being a “theatre…designated by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity” and as being given “a fairer opportunity for political happiness than any other nation.”
How can we today read such words so full of import, almost bursting from General Washington’s heart, and not be even just slightly encouraged? Going forward, maybe some of us might know a renewed spark of excitement.
Note: Unless otherwise specified, quotes referenced above are taken from “George Washington: In His Own Words” (Maureen Harrison & Steve Gilbert, eds.)