A Prayer of Gratitude for the Discover of Benedict Arnold’s Plot, 1780
On October 18, 1780, the last item for business for the Continental Congress was to issue a Proclamation for a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer in recognition of the Providential discovery on September 25, 1980 of Gen. Benedict Arnold’s plot to hand over the strategic fort at West Point, New York to the British:
“Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, amidst the vicissitudes and calamities of war, to bestow blessings on the people of these states, which call for their devout and thankful acknowledgments, more especially in the late remarkable interposition of his watchful providence, in rescuing the person of our Commander in Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution; in prospering the labours of the husbandmen, and causing the earth to yield its increase in plentiful harvests; and, above all, in continuing to us the enjoyment of the gospel of peace;
“It is therefore recommended to the several states to set apart Thursday, the seventh day of December next, to be observed as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer; that all the people may assemble on that day to celebrate the praises of our Divine Benefactor; to confess our unworthiness of the least of his favours, and to offer our fervent supplications to the God of all grace; that it may please him to pardon our heinous transgressions and incline our hearts for the future to keep all his laws that it may please him still to afford us the blessing of health; to comfort and relieve our brethren who are any wise afflicted or distressed; to smile upon our husbandry and trade and establish the work of our hands; to direct our publick councils, and lead our forces, by land and sea, to victory; to take our illustrious ally under his special protection, and favor our joint councils and exertions for the establishment of speedy and permanent peace; to cherish all schools and seminaries of education, build up his churches in their most holy faith and to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.
“Done in Congress, the l8th day of October, 1780, and in the fifth year of the Independence of the United States of America.”
The fact that the Continental Congress would issue a Proclamation that not only encouraged Americans to thank God for the discovery of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal, but also urged them to pray that God would cause the spread of Christianity is yet another lost episode in American history. But don’t let it be lost forever.