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IN CONGRESS, OCTOBER 30, 1778. By the Congress of the United States of America.
THESE United States having been driven to hostilities by the oppressive and tyrranous measures of Great Britain, having been compelled to commit the essential rights of man to the decision of arms; and having been, at length, forced to shake off a yoke which had grown too burdensome to bear, they declared themselves free and independent.
Confiding in the justice of their cause; confiding in him who disposes of human events, although weak and unprovided, they set the power of their enemies at defiance.
In this confidence they have continued through the various fortune of three bloody campaigns, unawed by the power, unsubdued by the barbarity of their foes. Their virtuous citizens have borne, without repining, the loss of many things which make life desirable. Their brave troops have patiently endured the hardships and dangers of a situation, fruitful in both beyond former example.
The congress, considering themselves bound to love their enemies, as children of that Being who is equally the father of all; and desirous, since they could not prevent, at least to alleviate, the calamities of war, have studied to spare those who were in arms against them, and to lighten the chains of captivity.
The conduct of those serving under the king of Great Britain hath, with some few exceptions, been diametrically opposite. They have laid waste the open country, burned the defenceless villages, and butchered the citizens of America. Their prisons have been the slaughter-houses of her soldiers;
their ships of her seamen, and the severest injuries have been aggravated by the grossest insults.
Foiled in their vain attempt to subjugate the unconquerable spirit of freedom, they have meanly assailed the representatives of America with bribes, with deceit, and the servility of adulation. They have made a mock of humanity, by the wanton desstruction of men; they have made a mock of religion, by impious appeals to GoD whilst in the violation of his sacred commands; they have made a mock even of reason itself, by endeavouring to prove that the liberty and happiness of America could safely be intrusted to those, who have sold their own, unawed by the sense of virtue or of shame.
Treated with the contempt which such conduct deserved, they have applied to individuals; they have solicited them to break the bonds of allegiance, and embrue their souls with the blackest of crimes; but, fearing that none could be found through these United States, equal to the wickedness of their purpose, to influence weak minds, they have threatened more wide devastation.
While the shadow of hope remained, that our enemies could be taught, by our example, to respect those laws which are held sacred among civilized nations, and to comply with the dictates of a religion, which they pretend, in common with us, to believe and to revere, they have been left to the influence of that religion and that example. But since their incorrigible dispositions cannot be touched by kindness and compassion, it becomes our duty by other means to vindicate the rights of humanity.
We, therefore, the Congress of the United States of America, do solemnly declare and proclaim, that if our enemies presume to execute their threats, or persist in their present career of barbarity, we will take such exemplary vengeance as shall deter
others from a like conduct. We appeal to that Gop who searcheth the hearts of men, for the rectitude of our intentions; and, in His holy presence, we declare, that as we are not moved by any light and hasty suggestions of anger and revenge, so through every possible change of fortune we will adhere to this our determination.
IN CONGRESS, OCTOBER 26, 1781.
WHEREAS, it hath pleased Almighty God, the father of mercies, remarkably to assist and support the United States of America, in their important struggle for liberty, against the long continued efforts of a powerful nation: it is the duty of all ranks to observe and thankfully to acknowledge the interpositions of his providence in their behalf.Through the whole of the contest, from its first rise to this time, the influence of Divine Providence may be clearly perceived, in many signal instances, of which we mention but a few.
In revealing the councils of our enemies, when the discoveries were seasonable and important, and the means seemingly inadequate or fortuitous in preserving and even improving the union of the several states, on the breach of which our enemies placed their greatest dependance: in increasing the number, and adding to the zeal and attachment to the friends of liberty in granting remarkable deliverances, and blessing us with the most signal success, when affairs seemed to have the most discouraging appearance in raising up for us a powerful and generous ally, in one of the first of the European powers: in confounding the councils of our enemies, and suffering them to pursue such
measures as have most directly contributed to frustrate their own desires and expectations: above all, in making their extreme cruelty to the inhabitants of these states, when in their power, and their savage devastation of property, the very means of cementing our union, and adding vigour to every effort in opposition to them.
And as we cannot help leading the good people of these states, to a retrospect on the events which have taken place since the beginning of the war, so we recommend, in a particular manner, to their observation, the goodness of God in the year now drawing to a conclusion. In which the confederation of the United States has been completed in which there have been so many instances of prowess and success in our armies; particularly in the southern states, where, notwithstanding the difficulties with which they had to struggle, they have recovered the whole country which the enemy had overrun, leaving them only a port or two, on or near the sea; in which we have been so powerfully and effectually assisted by our allies, while in all the conjunct operations the most perfect harmony has subsisted in all the allied army in which there has been so plentiful a harvest, and so great abundance of the fruits of the earth of every kind, as not only enables us easily to supply the wants of our army, but gives comfort and happiness to the whole people and in which, after the success of our allies by sea, a general of the first rank, with his whole army has been captured by the allied forces under the direction of our commander in chief.
It is therefore recommended to the several states, to set apart the thirteenth day of December next, to be religiously observed as a day of thanksgiving and prayer; that all the people may assemble on that day, with grateful hearts, to celebrate the praises of our gracious benefactor; to confess our manifold sins; to offer up our most fervent suppli
cations to the GoD of all grace, that it may please him to pardon our offences, and incline our hearts for the future to keep all his laws: to comfort and relieve all our brethren who are in distress or captivity; to prosper our husbandmen, and give success to all engaged in lawful commerce; to impart wisdom and integrity to our councillors, judgment and fortitude to our officers and soldiers to protect and prosper our illustrious ally; and favour our united exertions for the speedy establishment of a safe, honourable and lasting peace; to bless all seminaries of learning; and cause the knowledge of God to cover the earth, as the waters cover the seas.
IN CONGRESS, OCTOBER 18, 1783.
By the United States in Congress assembled;
WHEREAS, it hath pleased the Supreme Ruler of all human events, to dispose the hearts of the late belligerent powers, to put a period to the effusion of human blood, by proclaiming a cessation of all hostilities by sea and land, and these United States are not only happily rescued from the dangers and calamities to which they have been long exposed, but their freedom, sovereignty and independence, ultimately acknowledged. And whereas, in the progress of a contest on which the most essential rights of human nature depended, the interposition of Divine Providence in our favour hath been most abundantly and most gloriously manifested, and the citizens of these United States have every reason for praise and gratitude to the God of their salvation. Impressed, therefore, with an