Continental Congress, made up of delegates from the 13 original American
states (initially colonies), was the government of the United States in
one form or another for 15 years (1774-89).
first Continental Congress (September-October 1774) was an extralegal
body called to protest certain measures of the British Parliament,
especially the Intolerable Acts and the Quebec Act. This congress,
however, also urged the colonies to arm themselves for defense of their
rights. By the time the Second Congress convened (May 1775), the battles
of Lexington and Concord had taken place and the American Revolution had
begun. The Second Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in
July 1776 and drafted the Articles of Confederation (completed in
November 1777), giving itself a constitutional basis. The Articles,
however, were not finally ratified until March 1, 1781; thus Congress
carried on the direction of the Revolutionary War on a makeshift, ad hoc
resolve created by this crisis resulted in the Colonies joining together
in Philadelphia for the first Continental Congress on September 5, 1774.
Continental Congress on September 6, 1774, made their first official act
a call for prayer, as recorded in the Journals of the Continental
Congress, after just receiving the news that the British troops had
Tuesday, September 6, 1774. Resolved, That the Rev. Mr. Duche' be
desired to open the Congress tomorrow morning with prayers, at the
Carpenter's Hall, at 9 o'clock.
letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams described that prayer:
When the Congress met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be
opened with Prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York, and Mr.
Rutledge of South Carolina because we were so divided in religious
sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some
Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists, that we could not join in
the same act of worship.
Samuel Adams arose and said that he was no bigot, and could hear a
Prayer from any gentleman of Piety and virtue, who was at the same time
a friend to his Country. He was a stranger in Philadelphia, but had
heard that Mr. Duche' deserved that character and therefore he moved
that Mr. Duche', an Episcopal clergyman might be desired to read Prayers
to Congress tomorrow morning.
motion was seconded, and passed in the affirmative. Mr. Randolph, our
president, vailed on Mr. Duche', and received for answer, that if his
health would permit, he certainly would.
Accordingly, next morning [the Rev. Mr. Duche'] appeared with his clerk
and in his pontificals, and read several prayers in the established
form, and read the collect for the seventh day of September, which was
the thirty-fifth Psalm. You must remember, this was the next morning
after we heard the horrible rumor of the cannonade of Boston.
never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seem as if heaven had
ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning. After this, Mr. Duche',
unexpectedly to every body, struck out into an extemporary prayer, which
filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess, I never heard a
better prayer, or one so well pronounced.
Episcopalian as he is, Dr. Cooper himself [Adams' personal pastor] never
prayed with such fervor, such ardor, such earnestness and pathos, and in
language so elegant and sublime, for America, for the Congress, for the
province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially the town of Boston. It has
had an excellent effect upon everybody here. I must beg you to read that
35th Psalm, the Psalter for the Seventh day of September, was read by
Rev. Mr. Duche' in the first Continental Congress. It begins:
Plead my cause, Oh, Lord, with them that strive with me, fight against
them that fight against me. Take hold of buckler and shield, and rise up
for my help. Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who
pursue me; Say to my soul, "I am your salvation." Let those be ashamed
and dishonored who seek my life; Let those be turned back and humiliated
who devise evil against me.
Following is the First Prayer in Congress, offered extemporaneously by
Rev. Mr. Duche' in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia on September 7, 1774:
Thou present O God of Wisdom and direct the counsel of this Honorable
Assembly; enable them to settle all things on the best and surest
foundations; that the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that Order,
Harmony and Peace may be effectually restored, and the Truth and
Justice, Religion and Piety, prevail and flourish among the people.
Preserve the health of their bodies, and the vigor of their minds,
shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal
Blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world, and crown them
with everlasting Glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name
and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Saviour, Amen.
Library of Congress, from the collected reports of the various patriots,
records on a famous historical placard, the effect of that first prayer
Washington was kneeling there, and Henry, Randolph, Rutledge, Lee, and
Jay, and by their side there stood, bowed in reverence, the Puritan
Patriots of New England, who at that moment had reason to believe that
an armed soldiery was wasting their humble households. It was believed
that Boston had been bombarded and destroyed.
They prayed fervently "for America, for Congress, for the Province of
Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the town of Boston," and who can
realize the emotion with which they turned imploringly to Heaven for
Divine interposition and "It was enough" says Mr. Adams, "to melt a
heart of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave,
Pacific Quakers of Philadelphia."
Continental Congress of September, 1774, passed the Articles of
Association, as recorded by the Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson,
in the Journals of Congress. It stated:
Article X That the late Act of Parliament for establishing... The French
Laws in that extensive country now called Quebec, is dangerous in an
extreme degree to the Protestant Religion and to the civil rights and
liberties of all America; and therefore as men and protestant
Christians, we are indispensably obliged to take all proper measures for
Continental Congress on June 12, 1775, less than two months after "the
shot heard 'round the world" was fired at Concord, issued a call for all
citizens to fast and pray and confess their sin that the Lord God might
bless the land:
it is recommended to Christians, of all denominations, to assemble for
public worship, and to abstain from servile labour and recreations on
July 6, 1775, the Continental Congress passed “The Declaration of the
Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms,” which concludes:
With a humble confidence in the mercies of the Supreme and impartial God
and ruler of the universe, we most devoutly implore His divine goodness
to protect us happily through this great conflict, and to dispose our
adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby to
relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war.
Continental Congress on July 19, 1775, as recorded in the Journals of
Agreed, The Congress meet here to Morrow morning, at half after 9
o'clock, in order to attend divine service at Mr. Duche's' Church; and
that in the afternoon they meet here to go from this place and attend
divine service at Doctor Allison's church.
Forsaken Chapter 2
Forsaken Chapter 4