On June 30th, 1775, the Continental Congress agreed to adopt its first “Articles of War.”
On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress drafts its rationale for taking up arms against Great Britain in the Articles of War. Just 15 days earlier, they had appointed General George Washington to Commander-in-Chief.
Our budding constitutional republic was already well underway, and these two events marked a turning point for the 13 colonies with loose bands of militias. They had transformed to a nascent nation with just the tool to set it free: the Continental Army.
What did Congress need to adopt in its “Articles of War?”
The 69 articles on this day in 1775 pertained to conduct, “rules and regulations” for the new Continental Forces.
What rules, you may ask? Really simple things, actually. Some might even say boring. Attend church, or “Divine Worship” as the document calls it. Avoid the use of profanity.
We also see the kind of standard codes of behavior that we still see in today’s military: rules against sedition, mutiny and desertion. As well as a guide to the process of court-martialing offenders of these rules.
Before I go too deep into the details of history, you might be asking “What does this have to do with preparedness?”
Well, you may recall an earlier article we had written about the Stamp Act. Britain repealed this tax in 1766, the first victory on our path to nationhood, ten years prior. At the time, many did not think the end goal was war that would end a decade later.
In fact, even when the Continental Congress adopted these Articles of War, they may have believed an end to war was possible without complete severance of ties with Britain. More on that in a moment.
But first, it’s important to note that if you want to achieve goals – preparedness, self-reliance, food independence – you have to set rules for your own behavior to get there. You might not need 70, but it’s important to think about this. It’s not enough to plan. We know you must practice also. But your preparedness planning and practice should be guided by principles, which at their simplest are rules.
Now, the second, more nuanced lesson has to do with how these Articles of War were worded.
The opening of these acts reads:
Whereas his Majesty's most faithful subjects in these Colonies are reduced to a dangerous and critical situation, by the attempts of the British Ministry, to carry into execution, by force of arms, several unconstitutional and oppressive acts of the British parliament for laying taxes in America, to enforce the collection of these taxes, and for altering and changing the constitution and internal police of some of these Colonies, in violation of the natural and civil rights of the Colonies.
Notice anything peculiar about that language? It’s a far cry from the language used in the Declaration of Independence.
Here we have this budding nation discussing the regulation of its new army, yet referring to itself as “his Majesty’s most faithful subjects?”
At the time, many of the colonists believed that Parliament and the British Ministry were abusing the colonies with taxes without the consent of the King. If they appeared as loyal, productive subjects, perhaps they would be relieved of these unreasonable burdens? That’s why the language in the article is so important.
If you’re scratching your head as to why the colonists believed the King would favor his “most faithful subjects,” you’re not alone. At the time Congress debated the Articles of War, several battles had already been fought.
Obviously, back then, news traveled slower. I can’t say that the news was any more or less reputable than it is now, but it certainly was slower. While the battles raged in Massachusetts and New York, many in other colonies must have believed this could come to a peaceful end – albeit with a show of force.
Start with Ideas, and Spread them Far and Wide
In less than a year, the unified language of the Patriots had changed significantly. Here, a choice snippet from the opening paragraph: “it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.”
That’s pretty cut and dry. They didn’t need the Continental Army because the British Ministry was going rogue, backing the colonies into that “dangerous and critical situation” that necessitated the army in the first place. They needed it to overthrow the reign of Monarchy.
From later in the Declaration of Independence:
“The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”
Again, clear and concise about who the usurper is, the King of Great Britain.
Historians categorize this change in language as a “seismic shift…in American thought.”
How did this happen?
Well, it started with ideas. Liberty. Self-reliance.
These ideas, like seeds, needed time to grow. They also needed to be spread.
Those ideas spread by the people who are the heroes, the founders of our great nation. They are the original ones we honor each year as we enjoy a day off and some spectacular fireworks.
I encourage you to think about this in your preparedness journey. You are doing something important and powerful. These principles that guide us have a rich tradition and history. We honor them by practicing them, but also preaching them.
As we each carry out our individual duties to prepare, I think we should also look outward. Spread the message as far and wide as possible. It’s amazing how much a ton of passion can accomplish in a very little time. This is evident in the history of our nation. It is our duty to carry it forward.
If you ever need any advice in your preparedness journey, especially if you want to discuss how to help others prepare, reach out to our preparedness advisors. You can call 866.229.0927, 9am - 9pm EST, Mon – Sat. Visit with us on social media for the latest news too!
Have a great weekend, folks! And Happy Independence Day!
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply
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