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How The Declaration Of Independence Inspired George Washington’s Underdog Army To Win
The Federalist ^ | 07/04/2022 | Scott Powell

Posted on 07/04/2022 10:22:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Deeply moved by the power of the Declaration’s words, George Washington ordered copies sent to all generals in the Continental Army.

Most Americans celebrating the July 4 holiday today don’t fully realize that the power of ideas in the Declaration of Independence was the critical enabling factor for the Americans to win the War of Independence. Compared to the British professional military, the American colonial army was simply no match—it was undermanned, underfunded, underequipped, inexperienced, and undertrained. At the outset of the war, the British Royal Navy had 270 warships deployed in American waters, while the Continental Navy had seven ships.

On July 4, 1776, in what is now Manhattan, New York, Gen. George Washington was preparing for battle. He had no idea that a Declaration of Independence was being released in Philadelphia that day, as he pondered the sobering stream of British ships coming through the Narrows and anchoring off Staten Island in New York Harbor.

A month before, Washington had written a letter to his brother, saying: “We expect a very bloody summer of it in New York… If our cause is just, as I do most religiously believe it to be, the same Providence which in many instances appeared for us, will still go on to afford its aid.”

On July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia, it was also a somber day when those 56 members of the Continental Congress committed to signing the Declaration of Independence. Each knew that becoming a signatory put a death warrant on their heads for being a traitor to Great Britain.

Thus, the first Declaration of Independence that was signed on July 4 did not have signatures identifying the committed delegates. Rather, there were two signatures on that first document: John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, and Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress.

It took more than two weeks for the Declaration to be “engrossed”—that is, written on parchment in a clear hand. Many of the 56 delegates to the Continental Congress who had agreed to sign the document did so on August 2, but new delegates replaced some six of the original delegates and an additional seven delegates could not sign until many weeks later. Recognizing the long odds against the small and underequipped American colonial army defeating the British army and navy—the most formidable military force in the world—the Continental Congress decided to hold the 56-signatory Declaration for release at a later time.

Washington’s First Read of the Declaration

Washington was in New York preparing its defense when on July 6, 1776, a courier arrived to deliver a copy of the two-signature Declaration of Independence that had been released in Philadelphia several days before. Deeply moved by the power of the Declaration’s words, Washington ordered copies sent to all generals in the Continental Army and that chaplains be hired for every regiment to assure that, “every officer and man, will endeavor so to live and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.” 

Like the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration was a true covenant with God of absolute commitment, with its last sentence invoking: “with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Washington read the Declaration repeatedly and became so moved that, on July 9, he called a halt to his troops’ battle preparations and announced a respite and gathering to read the Declaration to his soldiers and the townspeople. The crowd hustled down to lower Manhattan, where they gazed out at a forest of masts of the British ships at anchor in New York harbor. After the reading, when a few of the rowdies in the group spotted a statue of King George III, they pulled it down, to others’ tumultuous cheers.

By August, about 35,000 professionally trained and well-equipped British and Hessian mercenary soldiers had arrived on some 400 British ships. The number of soldiers under Washington’s command had some turnover since leaving Boston, but had grown slightly to about 18-19,000, with recent enlistees—primarily farmers, fishermen, and artisans—having no training.

When engagement with the British finally commenced on Long Island on August 27, the colonial army was quickly overwhelmed, with more than 1,000 taken prisoners. Washington decided to retreat from Long Island back to Manhattan to regroup in hope of fighting more successfully another day.

Constant Defeats, and Only a Few Key Victories

It was not to be over the next two months, as Washington’s troops faced two more devastating routs in New York—with six times more casualties than the British suffered and several thousand taken as prisoners. Washington was forced to leave New York in total and abject defeat.

It had been decided to place half the remaining American troops active in the New York campaigns under generals Lee and Gates. Washington would lead the rest and make their way south through New Jersey to Philadelphia. But for a gallant few among some 3,500 marching with Washington, nearly all thought the War for Independence was lost. Washington’s greatest challenge then was maintaining the morale, confidence, and loyalty of his diminished and discouraged troops.

Crossing over into Pennsylvania in early December, Washington’s army encamped on the banks of the Delaware River. Washington’s faith in God’s providence and his belief in the cause of independence sustained him, but he knew at this point only a decisive victory could bring about a reversal of fortune.

Just days later, intelligence from a spy revealed that a large contingent of German Hessians under British command was occupying Trenton, only nine miles away. Washington immediately began planning what would become the legendary crossing of the Delaware on Christmas night to march and strike at Trenton.

The surprise attack that ensued early the morning of December 26 was a resounding victory. A few days later, another intelligence tip was delivered, and Washington decided to make a second surprise attack on British regulars encamped in nearby Princeton.

Leading from the front, Washington displayed such courage, “with a thousand deaths flying around him,” that his men fought with greater vigor than ever and inspired the local townspeople to grab their arms and join in the fight. In short order there were many more British than American casualties, resulting in defeat with the surrender of some 300 Redcoats.

Victory Inspired by the Declaration’s Ideas

Perceiving this dual miracle as a harbinger of more victories to come, and perhaps with many recognizing the power of providence and the vital importance in the ideas manifest in the Declaration, the Continental Congress ordered the reprinting and dissemination to all the colonies of the now-famous 56-signature Declaration of Independence on January 18, 1777—more than six months after the original document had been drafted and approved.

The Revolutionary War would grind on for nearly four more years. In the end, although Washington’s continental army lost six major battles and won only three, Washington’s courage, sacrifice, and persistence inspired and sustained everyone around him.

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, nine fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. Two had sons serving in the Continental Army who died, and another five signers were captured and tortured as traitors, and later died. Twelve of the 56 Declaration signers had their homes looted and destroyed.

A Willingness to Sacrifice All, If Necessary

The Americans’ willingness to sacrifice was on display during the battle of Yorktown from September 28 to October 19, 1781—the decisive and final battle in the war for independence. Thomas Nelson, Jr. a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who succeeded Thomas Jefferson as governor of Virginia, was a native of Yorktown.

When Nelson learned that his Yorktown home had been taken over and occupied as the military headquarters for British Gen. Charles Cornwallis, he urged Washington to aim his cannons and open fire on his own home. Nelson’s home was destroyed and a few weeks later Cornwallis surrendered and acknowledged the American final victory for its complete independence.

In the minds of many, Washington remains the greatest Founding Father because of his fearless courage in battle, his incredible perseverance against unfathomable odds, and his faith in Providence that provided protection and empowered him to achieve the impossible.

As we reflect on the meaning of July 4 this year, we should celebrate and take heart that the same good ideas and principles—natural God-given rights—expressed in the Declaration of Independence that inspired Washington—are as today as they were then. With renewed courage, those who believe in these ideas will be empowered to make good triumph over evil.

Scott S. Powell is senior fellow at Discovery Institute. This article is a vignette adapted from his acclaimed book, “Rediscovering America,” now Amazon’s No. 1 new release in the history genre. Reach him at

TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans; Society
KEYWORDS: 1776; 4thofjuly; godsgravesglyphs; independence; july4th; theframers; thegeneral; therevolution; washington

1 posted on 07/04/2022 10:22:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Maybe it will inspire the decent people of the world to defeat the evil, “woke,” depraved sickos who are destroying all that is decent, good, and holy.

2 posted on 07/04/2022 10:24:54 AM PDT by Savage Beast (You are not walking this path alone--all who walked before you are lifting you. --Michael Singer)
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To: All

I suggest we also engage our friends and neighbors on why the founders put the natural born citizen clause in the Constitution and how ignoring it has resulted in the clown world we find ourselves in.

The purpose of the clause was to prevent foreigners from being CIC.

John Jay to George Washington:

“Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Command in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen.”

That means anyone born with more than ONE nationality is NOT a natural born citizen and is indeed a foreigner and was PRECISELY who the founders were excluding.

Obama should be an object lesson on how correct they were.

3 posted on 07/04/2022 10:27:59 AM PDT by Lurkinanloomin ( (Natural born citizens are born here of citizen parents)(Know Islam, No Peace-No Islam, Know Peace)
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To: SeekAndFind

Inspiring Narrative
by David Barton
This story deals with George Washington when he was involved in the French and Indian War as a young man only twenty-three years of age. The French and Indian War occurred twenty years before the American Revolution. It was the British against the French; the Americans sided with the British; and most of the Indians sided with the French. Both Great Britain and France disputed each others’ claims of territorial ownership along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers; both of them claimed the same land.

Unable to settle the dispute diplomatically, Great Britain sent 2300 hand-picked, veteran British troops to America under General Edward Braddock to rout the French.

The British troops arrived in Virginia, where George Washington (colonel of the Virginia militia) and 100 Virginia buckskins joined General Braddock. They divided their force; and General Braddock, George Washington, and 1300 troops marched north to expel the French from Fort Duquesne — now the city of Pittsburgh. On July 9, 1755 — only seven miles from the fort — while marching through a wooded ravine, they walked right into an ambush; the French and Indians opened fire on them from both sides.

But these were British veterans; they knew exactly what to do. The problem was, they were veterans of European wars. European warfare was all in the open. One army lined up at one end of an open field, the other army lined up at the other end, they looked at each other, took aim, and fired. No running, no hiding, But here they were in the Pennsylvania woods with the French and Indians firing at them from the tops of trees, from behind rocks, and from under logs.

When they came under fire, the British troops did exactly what they had been taught; they lined up shoulder-to-shoulder in the bottom of that ravine — and were slaughtered. At the end of two hours, 714 of the 1300 British and American troops had been shot down; only 30 of the French and Indians had been shot.

There were 86 British and American officers involved in that battle; at the end of the battle, George Washington was the only officer who had not been shot down off his horse — he was the only officer left on horseback.

Following this resounding defeat, Washington gathered the remaining troops and retreated back to Fort Cumberland in western Maryland, arriving there on July 17, 1755.

The next day, Washington wrote a letter to his family explaining that after the battle was over, he had taken off his jacket and had found four bullet holes through it, yet not a single bullet had touched him; several horses had been shot from under him, but he had not been harmed. He told them:

By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation.

Washington openly acknowledged that God’s hand was upon him, that God had protected him and kept him through that battle.
However, the story does not stop here. Fifteen years later, in 1770 — now a time of peace — George Washington and a close personal friend, Dr. James Craik, returned to those same Pennsylvania woods. An old Indian chief from far away, having heard that Washington had come back to those woods, traveled a long way just to meet with him.

He sat down with Washington, and face-to-face over a council fire, the chief told Washington that he had been a leader in that battle fifteen years earlier, and that he had instructed his braves to single out all the officers and shoot them down. Washington had been singled out, and the chief explained that he personally had shot at Washington seventeen different times, but without effect. Believing Washington to be under the care of the Great Spirit, the chief instructed his braves to cease firing at him. He then told Washington:

I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle….I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.

4 posted on 07/04/2022 10:36:08 AM PDT by Fungi
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; 31R1O; ...

5 posted on 07/04/2022 11:20:06 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.)
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To: Fungi

” It was the British against the French; the Americans sided with the British; and most of the Indians sided with the French.”

The Americans didn’t just “side with the British” they were British. British subjects in British America.

The Seven Years War that we call the French and Indian War began when 21 yr old Colonial Officer George Washington couldn’t control his Seneca Indian auxiliaries and they killed and scalped a French nobleman that he had taken prisoner.

Washington had been sent to chase a small French force out of a disputed territory that is now Pittsburgh.

6 posted on 07/04/2022 12:15:26 PM PDT by Pelham (World War III is entering on cat's feet. )
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To: Fungi

There are so many stories of the Hand of God on this country, one should be more mindful of their responsibility to remember. We should know our history. Where are the teachers?

7 posted on 07/04/2022 12:21:09 PM PDT by WVNan
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To: SeekAndFind

“The Americans’ willingness to sacrifice was on display during the battle of Yorktown from September 28 to October 19, 1781—the decisive and final battle in the war for independence.”

Yorktown was two decisive battles. The first was The Battle of the Virginia Capes at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on September 5, 1781.

In two hours the French fleet routed the English fleet that was on its way to reinforce Cornwallis.

That left Cornwallis stuck on the shore of the York river where George Washington’s 2,500 Continentals assisted by 4,000 French Marines could trap and defeat them.

8 posted on 07/04/2022 12:29:41 PM PDT by Pelham (World War III is entering on cat's feet. )
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To: SeekAndFind

Without the French, I wonder if they would have won

9 posted on 07/04/2022 1:18:22 PM PDT by roving (Blue Lives Matter More Than Children)
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To: roving

RE: Without the French, I wonder if they would have won

Is this an apt analogy?

The USA was like today’s Ukraine, the British was like today’s Russians and the French was like today’s NATO or today’s USA...

10 posted on 07/04/2022 2:27:45 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: roving; SeekAndFind

“Without the French, I wonder if they would have won”

Probably not. Americans today rarely understand that France was *the* major military power on continental Europe at the time. And a few years later under Napolean they nearly conquered all of it.

In the 1780’s France provided American rebels with the seapower and professional soldiers that resulted in Cornwallis’s defeat at Yorktown. Without that help, the Continental army lured British troops into chasing them across the South while battling them in small actions like Cowpens, King’s Mountain, Guilford Courthouse, Williamson’s Planation.

11 posted on 07/04/2022 4:38:43 PM PDT by Pelham (World War III is entering on cat's feet. )
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To: roving

I’m sorry, but the French contribution is far overrated.

The best thing from French was supplies - though throughout the war, there was never enough, even with a small army.

People don’t realize how little the French actually did. Basically it was at Yorktown, period.

And incidentally that was NOT the end of the war. It’s by luck partly that no other real engagements occurred for 2 years. They nearly did, though.

12 posted on 07/04/2022 8:02:27 PM PDT by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue./Federal-run medical care is as good as state-run DMVds)
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