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Fasting and Repentance
Digital History ID 108

Author:   Stephen Hopkins


In 1756, the French and their Indian allies won a series of military victories in what is now upstate New York and southern Ontario. Following the British and colonial defeats in the early stages of the conflict, Governor Stephen Hopkins (1707-1785) of Rhode Island issued a proclamation calling for a day of fasting and repentance. Because the United States has not been the scene of bloody battles, invasions, and wartime atrocities for well over 130 years (except, of course, for the Native American population), it is easy to forget the ravages and perils of the first 258 years of our history.


All who acknowledge God's moral Government of the World, believe that the Sins of Mankind draw down his Judgments upon them. And as the English Colonies on the Continent are fallen under the Chastising hand of Heaven who has permitted the barbarous and cruel Savages of the Wilderness to spoil and destroy their Borders to murder their young Men and to carry their Sons and Daughters into the most Calamitous Captivity and are threatened with Wars Still more General and Judgments which portend their utter Extirpation Under such Circumstances Reason Suggests and Revelation Demonstrates that our whole Safety depend on deeply humbling ourselves before God Sincerely repenting of our Sins and religiously resolving to reform our Lives and Actions for the Time to come.

Such Considerations have moved the General assembly of the said Colony to direct Me to proclaim Thursday the Twentieth Day of this Instant May to be observed as a Day of Fasting and Prayer throughout the Colony and that no Servile Labor be done on that Day but that all Societies of Christians within the Same Assemble themselves together at their Several usual Places of public Worship and there humbly address the Throne of Grace for the Preservation of George the Second our present King of his Royal Family and of the British Constitution and for the Peace and Safety of all his Colonies. And principally that we may break off from our Sins by hearty Repentance and may avert the Judgments of God and obtain his Favor by true Amendment of Life.

Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute

Additional information: Stephen Hopkins, Proclamation of a day of fasting and rest

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