By Bill Federer, staff writer
After George Washington retired from being President, he became Commander-in-Chief of the Army for a second time. It was 1798, the year before he died, that he received an urgent plea from President John Adams. France, in the midst of revolution, was demanding extortion payments not to harass American ships. The cry went out “Millions for defense, but not a cent for tribute.” George Washington replied to President John Adams, JULY 13, 1798: “Satisfied…that you have…exhausted, to the last drop, the cup of reconciliation, we can, with pure hearts, appeal to Heaven for the justice of our cause; and may confidently trust the final result to that kind Providence who has, heretofore, and so often, signally favored the people of these United States.” George Washington continued: “Feeling how incumbent it is upon every person…to contribute at all times to his country’s welfare, and especially in a moment like the present, when everything we hold dear and sacred is so seriously threatened, I have finally determined to accept the commission of Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States.” Then on March 23, 1798, and again on March 6, 1799, President John Adams declared National Days of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer: “That they call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions…That He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; That He would make us deeply sensible that “Righteousness exalteth a nation.”
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