The American Patriot's Handbook by George Grant by George Grant - Read Online

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The American Patriot's Handbook - George Grant

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Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people.

—Dwight D. Eisenhower

During their public careers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were bitter rivals. But, once they retired from politics, the two men became devoted friends and trusted confidants. Their collected correspondence offers an altogether unique perspective of America’s Founding Era. The two great pioneers who had a hand in shaping the hopes, aspirations, and eventually the political realities of their new nation’s experiment in liberty had a perspective that very few others could have.

In 1815 Adams wrote to Jefferson. He was concerned that what they had worked all their lives for and fought so sacrificially for might somehow now be forgotten or neglected or overlooked in the young nation’s rush to modernization and prosperity. He wrote, What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the Revolution. It was only an effect and a consequence of it.

Adams and Jefferson both understood that America represented something far more significant than mere independence. The American Dream was something far more substantial than mere material gain. Now nearing the end of their lives, they wanted to make certain that future generations would understand that American culture was the fruit of something far more than their shared political, economic, and military aspirations.

This notion is what G. K. Chesterton was describing when he quipped, America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. Other nations find their identity and cohesion in ethnicity, or geography, or partisan ideology, or cultural tradition. But America was founded on certain ideas—ideas about freedom, about human dignity, and about social responsibility. It was this profound peculiarity that most struck Alexis de Tocqueville during his famous visit to this land at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He called it American Exceptionalism.

About the same time de Tocqueville penned his sage observations in his classic book, Democracy in America, educators in the fledgling republic began to realize that if their great experiment in liberty, their extraordinary American Exceptionalism were to be maintained over the course of succeeding generations, then an informed patriotism would have to be instilled in the hearts and minds of the young. Indeed, John Quincy Adams, the remarkable son of John Adams, wrote, Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.

Thus, from the middle of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth, rising citizens were presented with small handbooks—brief guides to the essential elements of the American creed. Pastors, statesmen, educators, and parents wanted to somehow pass on to posterity the moral and constitutional tools necessary to make good use of their freedom.

Over the past few years I have tried to collect a representative sample of such handbooks—scouring dusty antiquarian bookshops, libraries, and academic collections whenever and wherever I could. Though they varied somewhat over the years in presentation, style, and format, it appears that each was designed to be an introductory and documentary record of the development, confirmation, and establishment of the exceptional American creed. They were offered to the ever-changing citizenry in the hope that the never-changing principles of freedom might be fully comprehended and defended against any and all incursions.

This new edition of The American Patriot’s Handbook is an updated version of that vaunted tradition. Containing a concise introduction to the foundational ideas, documents, events, and personalities of American freedom, it is a citizenship primer for a whole new generation of American patriots.

Divided into four chronological sections, the texts, profiles, and samples were selected for their representativeness, not for their comprehensiveness. Part I documents the early settlement of American shores by the colonists. It describes the motivations and innovations of their pioneering efforts—efforts that eventually led to the extraordinary freedoms we enjoy today. Part II details the establishment of American independence. Though much of this story has been well documented in our national lore, it is a story well worth repeating. Part III surveys the growing pains of America’s quick territorial expansion across the continent and its quick economic ascendancy around the world. Here we witness the birth of modernity and the shape of the world we have come to know. Part IV brings the story of American freedom up to date with a documentary snapshot of the modern era—including the titanic struggle to uphold the American creed amidst the fierce onslaught of contemporary controversy.

Alexis de Tocqueville has oft been quoted—perhaps apocryphally—saying:

I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

This anthology of historical and citizenship resources is offered in the hope that the ideas that made America both great and good may once again become the common currency of our national life. It is offered in the hope that the secret of our genius and power might be broadcast far and wide—and thus, essentially cease to be a secret.



* * *

A contempt of the monuments and the wisdom of the past, may be justly reckoned one of the reigning follies of these days, to which pride and idleness have equally contributed.

—Samuel Johnson



In 1492, when he stepped upon the shore of the little Caribbean island of San Salvador, Christopher Columbus ushered in a new age of exploration and settlement the likes of which the world had not ever seen. He also greatly contributed to the providential perspective of American history—a view that asserts the directing hand of Almighty God—through the publication of his Book of Prophesies some ten years later. This short excerpt gives a glimpse of that providential perspective and captures the essence of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea’s extraordinary worldview.

At a very early age I went to sea and have continued navigating until today. The art of sailing is favorable for anyone who wants to pursue knowledge of this world’s secrets. I have already been at this business for forty years. I have sailed all the waters which up to now, have been navigated. I have had dealings and conversation with learned people—clergymen and laymen, Latins and Greeks, Jews and Moors, and with many others of other sects.

I found our Lord very well disposed toward this, my desire, and he gave me the spirit for it. He prospered me in seamanship and supplied me with the necessary tools of astronomy, as well as geometry and arithmetic and ingenuity of manual skill to draw spherical maps which show cities, rivers and mountains, islands and ports—everything in its proper place.

I have seen and put into study to look into all the Scriptures, cosmography, histories, chronicles, philosophy, and other arts, which our Lord has opened to understanding, so that it became clear to me that it was feasible to navigate from here to the Indies; and He unlocked within me the determination to execute the idea. And I came to the Sovereigns of Castile and Aragon with this ardor. All those who heard about my enterprise rejected it with laughter, scoffing at me. Neither the sciences which I mentioned, nor the authoritative citations from them, were of any avail. In only the sovereigns remained faith and constancy. Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that He, with marvelous rays of light, consoled me through the holy and sacred Scriptures, a strong and clear testimony, with forty four books of the Old Testament, and four Gospels with twenty three Epistles of those blessed Apostles, encouraging me to proceed, and, continually, without ceasing for a moment, they inflame me with a sense of great urgency.

Our Lord wished to perform the clearest work of providence in this matter—the voyage to the Indies—to console me and others in this matter of the Holy Temple: I have spent seven years in the royal court arguing the case with many persons of such authority and learned in all the arts, and in the end they concluded that all was idle nonsense, and with this they gave up the enterprise; yet the outcome was to be the fulfillment of what our Redeemer Jesus Christ said beforehand through the mouth of the prophets.

And so the prophesy has been made manifest.

* * *



From the time of the earliest explorations of the Norse along Ultima Thule and the Spanish in the Caribbean to the settlements of the pioneers in Virginia and Pilgrims in Massachusetts, Americans have always been proud of their courageous heritage and lineage. In this popular nineteenth-century verse, that unique legacy is celebrated.

Oh, who has not heard of the Northmen of yore,

How flew, like the sea-bird, their sails from the shore;

How, westward, they stayed not till, breasting the brine,

They hailed Narragansett, the land of the vine!

Then the war-songs of Rollo, his pennon and glaive,

Were heard as they danced by the moon-lighted wave,

And their golden-haired wives bore them sons of the soil,

While raged with the redskins their feud and turmoil.

And who has not seen, ’mid the summer’s gay crowd,

That old pillared tower of their fortalice proud,

How it stands solid proof of the sea chieftains’ reign

Ere came with Columbus those galleys of Spain!

Twas a claim for their kindred: an earnest of sway,

By the stout-hearted Cabot made good in its day;

Of the Cross of St. George, on the Chesapeake’s tide,

Where lovely Virginia arose like a bride.

Came the Pilgrims with Wintrop; and, saint of the West,

Came Robert of Jamestown, the brave and the blest;

Came Smith, the bold rover, and Rolfe—with his ring,

To wed sweet Matoaka, child of a king.

Undaunted they came, every peril to dare,

Of tribes fiercer far than the wolf in his lair;

Of the wild irksome woods, where in ambush they lay;

Of their terror by night and their arrow by day.

And so where our capes cleave the ice of the poles,

Where groves of the orange scent sea-coast and shoals,

Where the froward Atlantic uplifts its last crest,

Where the sun, when he sets, seeks the East from the West;

The clime that from ocean to ocean expands,

The fields to the snowdrifts that stretch from the sands,

The wilds they have conquered of mountain and plain;

Those Pilgrims have made them fair Freedom’s domain.

And the bread of dependence if proudly they spurned,

Twas the soul of their fathers that kindled and burned,

Twas the blood of old Saxon within them that ran;

They held—to be free is the birthright of man.

So oft the old lion, majestic of mane,

sees cubs of his cave breaking loose from his reign;

Unmeet to be his if they braved not his eye,

He gave them the spirit his own to defy.

* * *



The great critic and editor, James Russell Lowell, wrote a number of poems that bear testimony of the tremendous courage and tenacity of America’s earliest settlers. This particular verse was a favorite during the halcyon days of optimism at the end of the nineteenth century.

Flawless his Heart and tempered to the core

Who, beckoned by the forward-leaning wave,

First left behind him the firm-footed shore,

And, urged by every nerve of sail and oar,

Steered for the Unknown which gods to mortals gave,

Of thought and action the mysterious door,

Bugbear of fools, a summons to the brave:

Strength found he in the unsympathizing sun,

And strange stars from beneath the horizon won,

and the dumb ocean pitilessly grave:

High-hearted surely he;

But bolder they who first off-cast

Their moorings from the habitable Past

And ventured chartless on the sea

Of storm-engendering Liberty:

For all earth’s width of waters is a span,

And their convulsed existence mere repose,

Matched with the unstable heart of man,

Shoreless in wants, mist-girt in all it knows,

Open to every wind of sect or clan,

And sudden-passionate in ebbs and flows.

* * *



Drafted and signed on board the Mayflower as that ship approached Cape Cod on November 11, 1620, this compact is regarded as one of the most important documents in American history. It proves the determination of the small group of English separatist Christians to live under a rule of law, based on the consent of the people, and to set up their own civil government. The parchment has long since disappeared—the current text was first printed in London in 1622 in a pamphlet generally known as Mourt’s Relation, which contained extracts from the fledgling colony’s journals and histories. In an oration delivered at Plymouth in 1802, John Quincy Adams declared that it was perhaps the only instance, in human history, of that positive, original social compact, which speculative philosophers have imagined as the only legitimate source of government. Thus the Pilgrim Fathers had anticipated the social contract seventy years before John Locke and one hundred forty years before Jean Jacques Rousseau.

In the name of God Amen. We whose names are underwriten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord King James by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etceteras.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly & mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politick; for our better ordering, & preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hearof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, Acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony: unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the year the reign of our sovereign Lord King James of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth and of Scotland the fifty fourth, Anno Dominie, 1620.

John Carver, William Bradford, Edward Winslow, William Brewster, Isaac Allerton, Myles Standish, John Alden, Samuel Fuller, Christopher Martin, William Mullins, William White, Richard Warren, John Howland, Stephen Hopkins, Edward Tilley, John Tilley, Francis Cooke, Thomas Rogers, John Turner, Francis Eaton, James Chilton, John Crakston, John Billington, Moses Fletcher, John Goodman, Degory Priest, Thomas Tinker, John Rigdale, Edward Fuller, Thomas Williams, Gilbert Winslow, Edmund Margeson, Peter Brown, Richard Britterige, George Soule, Richard Clarke, Richard Gardiner, John Allerton, Thomas English, Edward Doty, Edward Leister.

* * *



In the spring of 1630 eleven small cargo vessels set sail across three thousand perilous miles of ocean. On board were some seven hundred men, women, and children who were risking their very lives to establish a godly, Puritan community on the shores of Massachusetts. John Winthrop, the leader of the group, composed a lay sermon, A Model of Charity, during the journey—and which he probably read to the assembled ship’s company. Excerpted here, the sermon expressed his intention to unite his people behind a single purpose, the creation of a due form of government, ecclesiastical as well as civil, so that their community would be a model for the Christian world to emulate. Theirs was to be, he said, a City upon a Hill.

God Almighty in His most holy and wise providence hath so disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity; others mean and in subjection.

The reasons hereof: first, to hold conformity with the rest of His works, being delighted to show forth the glory of His wisdom in the variety and difference of the Creatures and the glory of His power, in ordering all these differences for the preservation and good of the whole, and the glory of His greatness that as it is the glory of princes to have many officers, so this great King will have many stewards counting Himself more honored in dispensing His gifts to man by man, then if He did it by His own immediate hand.

Secondly, that He might have the more occasion to manifest the work of His Spirit: first, upon the wicked in moderating and restraining them: so that the rich and mighty should not eat up the poor, nor the poor, and despised rise up against their superiors, and shake off their yoke; secondly, in the regenerate in exercising His graces in them, as in the grate ones, their love mercy, gentleness, temperance etc., in the poor and inferior sort, their faith patience, obedience etceteras.

Thirdly, that every man might have need of other, and from hence they might be all knit more nearly together in the bond of brotherly affection; from hence it appears plainly that no man is made more honorable than another or more wealthy etceteras, out of any particular and singular respect to himself but for the glory of his Creator and the common good of the creature, man; Therefore God still reserves the property of these gifts to himself. He calls wealth His gold and His silver. He claims their service as His due: Honor the Lord with thy riches. All men being thus, by divine providence, ranked into two sorts, rich and poor; under the first, are comprehended all such as are able to live comfortably by their own means duly improved; and all others are poor according to the former distribution. There are two rules whereby we are to walk one towards another: justice and mercy. These are always distinguished in their act and in their object, yet may they both concur in the same subject in such respect; as sometimes there may be an occasion of strewing mercy to a rich man, in some sudden danger of distress, and also doing of mere justice to a poor man in regard of some particular contract. There is likewise a double law by which we are regulated in our conversation one towards another: in both the former respects, the law of nature and the law of grace, or the moral law or the law of the gospel, to omits the rule of justice as not properly belonging to this purpose otherwise then it may fall into consideration in some particular cases; by the first of these laws man as he was enabled so withal is commanded to love his neighbor as himself. Upon this ground stands all the precepts of the moral law, which concerns our dealings with men. To apply this to the works of mercy this law requires two things: first, that every man afford his help to another in every want or distress; secondly, that he perform this out of the same affection, which makes him careful of his own good according to that of our Savior. Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you. This was practiced by Abraham and Lot in entertaining the Angels and the old man of Gibea.

The law of grace or the gospel hath some difference from the former as in these respects: first, the law of nature was given to man in the estate of innocence; this of the gospel in the estate of regeneracy; secondly, the former propounds one man to another, as the same flesh and image of God, this as a brother in Christ also, and in the communion of the same Spirit and so teacheth us to put a difference between Christians and others. Do good to all especially to the household of faith. Upon this ground the Israelites were to put a difference between the brethren of such as were stranger though not of the Canaanites. Thirdly, the law of nature could give no rules for dealing with enemies for all to be considered as friends in the estate of innocence, but the gospel commands love to an enemy. If thine enemy hunger feed him; love your enemies do good to them that hate you.

This law of the gospel propounds likewise a difference of seasons and occasions: there is a time when a Christian must sell all and give to the poor as they did in the Apostles times. There is a time also when a Christian—though they give not all yet—must give beyond their ability, as they of Macedonia. Likewise, a community of perils calls for extraordinary liberality and so clothe the community in some special service for the church. Lastly, when there is no other means whereby our Christian brother may be relieved in this distress we must help him beyond our ability, rather than tempt God, in putting him upon help by miraculous or extraordinary means.

This duty of mercy is exercised in the kinds: giving, lending, and forgiving.

What rule shall a man observe in giving in respect of the measure? If the time and occasion be ordinary he is to give out of his abundance—let him lay aside as god hath blessed him. If the time and occasion be extraordinary he must be ruled by them; taking this withal, that then a man cannot likely do too much especially, if he may leave himself and his family under probable means of comfortable subsistence.

Some though, may object, A man must lay up for posterity, the fathers lay up for posterity and children and he is worse then an Infidel that provideth not for his own. But it is plain, first that the command is being spoken by way of comparison. It must be meant of the ordinary and usual course of fathers and cannot extend to times and occasions extraordinary. In addition, the Apostle speaks against such as walked inordinately, and it is without question, that he is worse than an infidel who through his own sloth and voluptuousness shall neglect to provide for his family.

Another may object: The wise man’s eyes are in his head and foreseeth the plague, therefore we must forecast and lay up against evil times when he or his may stand in need of all he can gather. Yet, this very argument Solomon useth to persuade to liberality: Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou knowest not what evil may come upon the land. Make you friends of the riches of iniquity; you will ask how this shall be; very well for first, He that gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will repay him even in this life an hundred fold to him or his. The righteous is ever merciful and lendeth and his seed enjoyeth the blessing; and besides we know what advantage it will be to us in the day of account when many such witnesses shall stand forth for us to witness the improvement of our talent. And I would know of those who plead so much for laying up for time to come, whether they hold that to be. Lay not up for yourselves Treasures upon Earth. If they acknowledge it what extent will they allow it; if only to those primitive times let them consider the reason whereupon our Savior grounds it: the first is that they are subject to the moth, the rust the thief; secondly, they will steal away the hearse, where the treasure is there will the heart be also. The reasons are of like force at all times therefore the exhortation must be general and perpetual which applies always in respect of the love and affection to riches and in regard of the things themselves when any special service for the church or particular distress of our brother do call for the use of them; otherwise it is not only lawful but necessary to lay up as Joseph did to have ready upon such occasions, as the Lord—whose stewards we are of them—shall call for them from us: Christ gives us an instance of the first, when He sent His disciples for the ass, and bids them answer the owner thus, The Lord hath need of him; so when the Tabernacle was to be built He sends to his people to call for their silver and gold, and yields them no other reason but that it was for His work. When Elisha comes to the widow of Sareptah and finds her preparing to make ready her pittance for herself and family, he bids her first provide for him. He challengeth first God’s parse, which she must give before she can serve her own family. All these teach us that the Lord looks that when He is pleased to call for His right in any thing we have, our own interest we have must stand aside, till His turn be sewed, for the other we need look no further than: He who hath this worlds goodies and seeth his brother to need, and shuts up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him, which comes punctually to this conclusion: If thy brother be in want and thou canst help him, thou needst not make doubt, what thou shouldst do; if thou lovest God, thou must help him.

What rule must we observe in lending? Thou must observe whether thy brother hath present or probable, or possible means of repaying thee. If there be none of these, thou must give him according to his necessity, rather than lend him as he requires: if he hath present means of repaying the, thou art to look at him, not as an act of mercy, but by way of commerce; wherein thou art to walk by the rule of justice, but, if his means of repaying thee be only probable or possible then is he an object of thy mercy thou must lend him, though there be danger of loosing it: If any of thy brethren be poor, thou shalt lend him sufficient that men might not shift off this duty by the apparent hazard, he tells them that though the Year of Jubilee were at hand—when he must remit it, if he were not able to repay it before—yet he must lend him and that cheerfully; it may not grieve thee to give him and because some might object, Why so I should soon impoverish my self and my family, he adds with all thy work for our Savior? From him that would borrow of the turn not away.

What rule must we observe in forgiving? Whether thou didst lend by way of commerce or in mercy, if he have nothing to pay thou must forgive him—except in cause where thou hast a surety or a lawful pledge. Every seventh year the creditor was to quits that which he lent to his brother if he were poor as appears: save when there shall be no poor with thee. In all these and like cases Christ was a general rule. Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye the same to them also.

What rule must we observe and walk by in cause of Community of peril? The same as before, but with more enlargement towards others and less respect towards our selves, and our own right hence it was that in the primitive church, They sold all, had all things in common, neither did any man say that that which he possessed was his own. Likewise, in their return out of the captivity, because the work was grease for the restoring of the church and the danger of enemies was common to all, Nehemiah exhorts the Jews to liberality and readiness in remitting their debts to their brethren, and disposeth liberally of his own to such as wanted and stands not upon his own due, which he might have demanded of them. Thus did some of our forefathers in times of persecution in England, and so did many of the faithful in other churches whereof we keep an honorable remembrance of them, and it is to be observed that both in Scriptures and latter stories of the churches that such as have been most bountiful. To the poor saints especially in these extraordinary times and occasions God hath left them highly commended to posterity, and Zacheus, Cornelius, Dorcas, Bishop Hooper, the Cuttler of Brussells and divers others. Observe again that the Scripture gives no caution to restrain any from being over liberal this way; but all men to the liberal and cheerful practice hereof by the sweetest promises as to instance one for many. Is not this the fast that I have chosen to loose the bonds of wickedness, to take off the heavy burdens to let the oppressed goe free and to break every yoke, to deal thy bread to the hungry and to bring the poor that wander into thy house, when thou seest the naked to cover them? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall grow speedily, thy righteousness shall goe before God, and the glory of the lord shall embrace thee, then thou shalt call and the lord shall answer thee. If thou power out thy soul to the hungry, then shall thy light spring out in darkens, and the lord shall guide the continually, and satisfy thy soul in draught, and make fat thy bones; thou shalt be like a watered garden, and they shall be of thee that shall build the old west places. On the contrary most heavy curses are laid upon such as are straightened towards the Lord and his people: Curse ye Meroshe because they came not to help the Lord. He who shutteth his ears from hearing the cry of the poor, he shall cry and shall not be heard: Go ye cursed into everlasting fire. I was hungry and ye fed me not. He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly.

The end is to improve our lives to do more service to the Lord the comfort and increase of the body of Christ whereof we are members that our selves and posterity may be the better preserved from the common corruptions of this evil world to serve the Lord and work out our salvation under the power and purity of His holy ordinances.

Now the only way to accomplish this end and to provide for our posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. For this end we must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection, we must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities, we must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality, we must delight in one another, make others’ conditions our own rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body, so shall we keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as His own people and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of his wisdom power goodness and truth than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us—when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when he shall make us a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations: The lord make it like that of New England. For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill. The eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work; we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world; we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors for God’s sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whether we are going.

Beloved there is now set before us life, and good, death and evil in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another to walk in His ways and to keep His Commandments and His ordinance, and His laws, and the articles of our covenant with Him that we may line and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whether we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced and worship other gods, our pleasures, and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whether we pass over this vast sea to possess it.

Therefore let us choose life that we, and our seed may live; by obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him, for He is our life, and our prosperity.

* * *



The Mayflower was not the first ship of colonists to arrive in the New World. It was not even the first in the English domains. Yet it retains a place of first importance in the lore and legend of this land. In this romantic verse we catch a glimpse of the faith, resolve, and bold sense of providence that the passengers of that little ship brought with them from across the Atlantic—and that they then endowed upon all those who would follow them.

Ho, Rose! quoth the stout Miles Standish,

As he stood on the Mayflower’s deck,

And gazed on the sandy coast-line

That loomed as a misty speck.

On the edge of the distant offing;

See! yonder we have in view

Bartholomew Gosnold’s headlands.’

’Twas in sixteen hundred and two

"That the Concord of Dartmouth anchored

Just there where the beach is broad,

And the merry old captain named it

(Half swamped by the fish)—Cape Cod.

"And so as his mighty ‘headlands’

are scarcely a league away,

What say you to landing, sweetheart,

And having a washing-day?"

Dear heart—and the sweet Rose Standish

Looked up with a tear in her eye;

She was back in the flag-stoned kitchen

Where she watched, in the days gone by:

Her mother among her maidens

(She should watch them no more, alas!),

And saw as they stretched the linen

To bleach on the Suffolk grass.

In a moment her brow was cloudless,

As she leaned on the vessel’s rail,

And thought of the sea-stained garments,

Of coif and farthingale;

And the doublets of fine Welsh flannel,

The tuckers and homespun gowns,

And the piles of the hose knitted

From the wool of the Devon downs.

So the matrons aboard the Mayflower

Made ready with eager hand

To drop from the deck their baskets

As soon as the prow touched land.

And there did the Pilgrim Mothers,

On a Monday, the record says,

Ordain for their new-found England

The first of her washing-days.

And there did the Pilgrim Fathers,

With matchlock and axe well slung,

Keep guard o’er the smoking kettles

That propt on the crotches hung.

For the trail of the startle savage

Was over the marshy grass,

And the glint of his eyes kept peering

Through cedar and sassafras.

And the children were mad with pleasure

As they gathered the twigs in sheaves,

And piled on the fire the fagots,

And heaped up the autumn leaves.

Do the thing that is next, saith the proverb,

And a nobler shall yet succeed:

’Tis the motive exalts the action;

’Tis the doing, and not the deed;

For the earliest act of the heroes

Whose fame has a world-wide sway

Was—to fashion a crane for a kettle,

And order a washing-day!

* * *



Early on the settlers expressed their thanksgiving for the evidence of God’s good providence in their lives. Despite all the hardships they faced, they recognized the peculiar opportunity they had been afforded. Thus they outwardly affirmed their fealty to God and His ways. In this verse a renowned historical poet captures that predisposition toward gratitude in early Boston.

Praise ye the Lord! The Psalm today

Still rises on our ears,

Borne from the hills of Boston Bay

Through five times fifty years,

When Wintrop’s fleet from Yarmouth crept

Out to the open main,

And through the widening waters swept,

In April sun and rain.

Pray to the Lord with fervent lips,

The leader shouted, pray;

And prayer arose from all the ships

As faded