Declaring Independence Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer for Boston

Story of a Patriot
Film still, 1957

Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer for Boston

(June 1, 1774)

The impending closure of Boston's port prompted, the House of Burgesseses to pass the following resolution:

Being deeply impressed with apprehension of the great dangers, to be derived to british America, from the hostile Invasion of the City of Boston, in our Sister Colony of Massachusetts bay, whose commerce and harbour are, on the first Day of June next, to be stopped by an Armed force, deem it highly necessary that the said first day of June be set apart, by the members of this House as a day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer, devoutly to implore the divine interposition, for averting the heavy Calamity which threatens destruction to our Civil Rights, and the Evils of civil War; to give us one heart and one Mind firmly to appose, by all just and proper means, every injury to American Rights; and that the Minds of his Majesty and his Parliament, may be inspired from above with Wisdom, Moderation, and Justice, to remove from the loyal People of America all cause of danger, from a continued pursuit of Measures, pregnant with their ruin.

Ordered, therefore that the Members of this House do attend in their Places, at the hour of Ten in the forenoon, on the said first day of June next, in Order to proceed with the Speaker, and the Mace, to the Church in this City, for the purposes aforesaid; and that the Reverend Mr. Price be appointed to read Prayers, and the Reverend Mr. Gwatkin, to preach a Sermon, suitable to the Occasion.

Journal of the House of Burgesses, May 24, 1774.

The Reverend Mr. Gwatkin declined the honor of preaching, citing a "disorder in his Breast", although he did write the sermon for the occasion. He was tutor to Lord Dunmore's eldest son, and his sympathies were with the mother country. Mr. Price preached the sermon from a text in Genesis, "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" And he answered, "I will not destroy it for ten's sake" (GEN., 18:23, 32).

George Washington, a member of the House of Burgesses, wrote in his diary on June 1, 1774, "Went to Church & fasted all day".

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