Many are unaware of some of the details of America’s birth as a nation— including miraculous events that reveal the God of prophecy, who was working behind the scenes.
Concerted efforts to eliminate any reference to God in American schools and media, and the supposed “debunking” of the Bible by academics, have resulted in widespread biblical illiteracy and a tragic ignorance of the true facts involved in the birth of the United States—especially the incredible role that God’s intervention played in the American Revolution.
While secular scholars and liberal theologians may scoff, the shift away from the Bible has eliminated a vital perspective from the study of history that will have serious consequences. The Bible records that long ago, Moses warned the ancient Israelites, who had been supernaturally delivered from Egypt by God through a series of powerful miracles, to “take heed to yourself [that is, remember!], lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart… And teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
Decades later, Joshua reminded his generation of Israelites how God had fought their battles (Joshua 23:2–3) and established their nation in a promised land by halting the waters of the Jordan River (Joshua 5:1), breaking down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:20), and raining hail stones on an enemy army (Joshua 10:11). The Bible also records that other nations recognized these events as divine interventions by Israel’s God (see Exodus 14:14, 25; Joshua 5:1). Centuries later, the prophet Isaiah warned the backsliding nation of Israel to “remember the former things of old” and how God had intervened on its behalf to accomplish His purpose (Isaiah 46:8–11)—yet critics claim these are only fables!
Another vital lesson that our increasingly secular Western societies have lost sight of is that God guides the course of history, that “He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them” (Job 12:23–24). The prophet Daniel records the same important message—that God “removes kings and raises up kings” and “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He will” (Daniel 2:21; 4:17, 25, 32; 5:21).
But what important facts have Americans and the world forgotten, and did God really intervene to guide the outcome of the American Revolution? What sort of evidence is ignored and seldom mentioned today?
George Washington played a leading role in the American Revolution and the nation’s founding. His solid character and firm convictions were key factors in molding the nature and outlook of America. However, the fact that he lived to lead this young nation appears due to what was called Divine Providence—the intervention of God in mankind’s affairs for a purpose. In 1755, during the French and Indian War, 23-year-old Colonel Washington was one of 1,400 British troops under the command of General Braddock marching to capture Fort Duquesne, near Pittsburgh, when they were attacked by a French and Indian force. During the battle, “Braddock was killed and every officer on horseback was shot, except Washington.” The young colonel later wrote to his brother, “But by the All-Powerful Dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me.” A Native American who fought in the battle later stated, “Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet! I had seventeen fair fires at him with my rifle and after all could not bring him to the ground” (Miracles in American History, Federer, pp. 17–19).
Years later, during the early spring of 1776, with the British in control of Boston, Washington ordered cannons brought through the snow from Fort Ticonderoga (some 300 miles away) to fortify Dorchester Heights overlooking Boston harbor. Seeing the danger, British General Howe ordered an amphibious assault on the American position. However, the night before the assault was to begin, “a hurrycane or terrible storm… a southeaster of gale proportions” hit the Boston area and disrupted Howe’s plans, so he called off his attack on the American position due to “the badness of the weather.” As a result of the sudden storm and the strength of the American position commanding movement in and out of Boston harbor, General Howe ordered the British troops to evacuate Boston (see The Weather Factor, Ludlum, pp. 33–34). Washington again wrote to his brother, “this remarkable Interposition of Providence is for some wise purpose, I have not a doubt” (Miracles in American History, p. 41).
In the summer of 1776, General Howe had a British force of more than 400 ships and 32,000 troops stationed around Staten Island in New York Harbor. George Washington gathered about 8,000 American troops to Brooklyn Heights on the western edge of Long Island. The British were able to land about 15,000 troops behind Washington’s lines and inflict heavy losses on the Americans, who were encircled on Brooklyn heights with their backs to the East River. However, the weather again proved to be a deciding factor. Strong winds, an ebbing tide, and incessant rain kept the British from further attacks on the American position, and from moving their warships into the East River to cut off an escape route. Washington, realizing the danger of his position, ordered a nighttime evacuation of Long Island. That evening, at about 11:00 p.m., the wind died down and a thick fog developed, shrouding the American evacuation—and when the fog lifted later the next morning, the British were surprised to find that the American soldiers were nowhere to be found (Seven Miracles That Saved America, pp. 9–11)! One American soldier wrote, “Providentially for us, a great fog arose, which prevented the enemy from seeing our retreat” (The Weather Factor, pp. 36–37). The outcome of this battle has been described as “so astonishing that many (including General Washington) attributed the safe retreat of the American army to the hand of God” (America’s Providential History, Mark A. Beliles & Stephen K. McDowell, pp. 158–161). If the wind, rain, and the fog—termed the “heavenly messenger”—had not intervened for the Americans, they would have been captured, Washington would have been hanged, and the Revolution would have come to an early end.
In December of 1776, with morale low and the American Army dwindling to about 2,000 at Valley Forge, Washington decided to cross the ice-filled Delaware River and launch a surprise attack on the British in Trenton, New Jersey. The Americans attacked at sunrise on December 26 during a driving snow storm, with the wind at their backs and blowing into the faces of the mercenary Hessian troops, who had been celebrating Christmas the day before. In less than an hour, the Americans captured nearly a thousand Hessians and lost only a few men. Artillery officer, Henry Knox wrote of the victory at Trenton: “Providence seemed to have smiled on every part of this enterprise” (America’s Providential History, pp. 161–162).
Following the surprising American victory at Trenton, General Cornwallis was sent to engage Washington and his troops, who had re-crossed the Delaware River and were deployed around Trenton. Traveling over muddy roads due to rain and a January thaw, Cornwallis eventually pinned Washington and his troops with their backs against a little creek. Believing he had Washington trapped, Cornwallis decided to wait till the next day to “bag the fox.” However, during the night there was another “providential change in the weather.” The temperature dropped, freezing the ground and allowing for easier movement of men and materials. Washington’s troops left their fires burning and evacuated their camp. They were able to move over the frozen roads to attack and defeat British troops in Princeton, behind Cornwallis, endangering his supply lines (The Weather Factor, pp. 41–44). This surprising turn of events in favor of the Americans happened because of a “providential” change in the weather. The escape from a trap and victory at the Battle of Princeton were seen as evidence of God’s hand in these events.
Another crucial turning point occurred in the summer of 1777. British General John Burgoyne was marching down the Hudson River Valley from Canada with a force of 7,000 men to join General Howe, who was supposed to be marching north to Albany, New York. However, Burgoyne was stopped at Saratoga by a force of more than 15,000 Americans, who were angered by the brutality inflicted by Burgoyne’s Native American allies. Failing to defeat the Americans, Burgoyne and his troops began a retreat, only to be caught in a rainstorm that turned the roads into a slimy bog. When the Americans crossed the Hudson River ahead of him and blocked his escape, Burgoyne and 6,000 of his troops surrendered. General Howe never made the trip up the Hudson, as his reinforcements and supplies coming from England were prevented from reaching America for three months due to contrary winds. The defeat of one of Britain’s best generals in North America by colonials was a shock to London, but it was viewed as a “miracle” in Paris—as it was a turning point in the Revolutionary War that brought France into the conflict on the side of the Americans (50 Battles that Changed the World, William Weir, pp. 55–59). General Washington wrote of this event, “I most devoutly congratulate my country, and every well-wisher to the cause, on this signal stroke of Providence,” and Roger Sherman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence wrote, “This is the Lord’s doing, and marvelous in our eyes” (Miracles in American History, pp. 55–57).
In the fall of 1780, the treasonous action of General Benedict Arnold, the hero of the Battle of Saratoga, was discovered by a surprising turn of events. Arnold was plotting to turn the American garrison at West Point—a key position for the control of the Hudson River—over to the British in return for a payment of 20,000 pounds (about a million dollars in today’s money). Several American sentries happened to stop Major John Andre, dressed as a civilian, as he attempted to return to British lines. In a hollow space in his boot they found a map of West Point and details of an impending attack. The unexpected apprehension of Major Andre and the discovery of Benedict Arnold’s treachery was widely viewed as an act of “Divine Protection” (America’s Providential History, pp. 163–165). Yale President Ezra Stiles wrote in 1873, “A providential miracle detected the conspiracy of Arnold… [T]he body of the American army, then at West Point, with his excellency General Washington himself, were to have been rendered into the hands of the enemy” (Miracles of American History, pp. 63–66).
In January 1781, American General Daniel Morgan defeated an advancing British force under General Cornwallis at the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina in what has been called a “tactical masterpiece and turning point of the war” (Miracles in American History, p. 67). After the battle, Morgan retreated north, chased by the British. Cornwallis reached the Catawba River only hours after the Americans had crossed, “but a sudden storm made the river impassable… the British nearly overtook the Americans at the Yadkin River, but again rains flooded the river slowing the British” and “another flash flood blocked the British” at the Dan River—allowing the Americans to cross into friendly territory in Virginia. British General Henry Clinton described these events as follows: “Here the royal Army was again stopped by a sudden rise of the waters, which had only just fallen (almost miraculously) to let the enemy over” (ibid., pp. 67–68). George Washington wrote in March of 1781, “We have abundant reasons to thank Providence for its many favorable interpositions in our behalf. It has at times been my only dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us” (ibid., p. 69).
The culminating battles of the Revolutionary War were also decisively influenced by the weather. In October of 1781, an inconclusive engagement between the French and British fleets in the Atlantic—prolonged by shifting winds—allowed another squadron of French ships with troops and supplies to slip into the Chesapeake Bay—preventing British supply ships from reaching Cornwallis, who was surrounded by 17,000 French and American troops in Yorktown. Facing overwhelming odds, Cornwallis attempted a nighttime breakout by starting to ferry his regular troops across the York River. The first group made it safely across the river. However, a sudden and severe rain squall blew the second contingent of soldiers downriver, leaving Cornwallis with a much-reduced force. This sudden “adverse turn of the weather completely disrupted the attempted breakout” and as a British colonel commented, “Thus expired the last hope of the British army” (The Weather Factor, pp. 59–64). Cornwallis surrendered the next day—while a British military band played “The World Turned Upside Down.” The American victory at Yorktown has been called one of the most influential battles in history, as it ended an eight-year struggle for independence and launched America on a path to becoming a world power (The Battle 100, Michael Lee Lanning, pp. 1–4)—and it was aided by a sudden and dramatic change in the weather.
After the pivotal Battle of Yorktown, Yale President Ezra Stiles wrote, “Who but God could have ordained the critical arrival of the Gallic (French) fleet, so as to… assist… in the siege of Yorktown?” Several years later, George Washington wrote, “it will not be believed that such a force as Great Britain has employed for eight years in this country could be baffled in their plan of subjugating it… The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving, while the perseverance of the Armies of the United States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years was little short of a standing miracle” (Miracles in American History, pp. 71–72)—yet the critical role of Divine Intervention is seldom mentioned today.
The general feeling during and after the Revolutionary War was that God had blessed the American effort for independence, and the Hand of God had intervened again and again to guide events at this critical time—but few remember this today. In 1787, when 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin urged the Continental Congress to begin their daily deliberations with prayer, he commented, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men”—as the Bible states in several places (America’s Providential History, p. 172). Many modern Americans and citizens of the world have forgotten this important lesson of history that is plainly revealed in the Scriptures.
The Bible reveals that failure to transmit the true facts of history and the willingness of leaders to ignore important lessons of history will have serious consequences for America and other Israelite nations in the Western world.
The words of the biblical prophets ring out through time. Jeremiah records God’s warning, “Because My people have forgotten Me… I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy” (Jeremiah 18:15–17). His words are consistent in the pen of Ezekiel: “Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry” (Ezekiel 23:35). Likewise, through Hosea, He says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6).
God is going to allow nations whose people ignore His instructions and forget how He has intervened on their behalf to reap what they have sown (Jeremiah 2:17–19; Hosea 4:7–9).
As Americans observe the 241st anniversary of their independence, we all need to heed these ancient warnings from the God who worked the miracles of the American Revolution.