Staying calm in the face of a massive storm – July 4th, 1776

I look to the birth of this great nation as a source of inspiration. General George Washington showed amazing leadership in the face of impossible odds.

Most people don’t know where George Washington spent July 4th, 1776. The day that we now celebrate as Independence Day was anything but a celebration for Washington. In fact, he called it a “truly critical and alarming period” in his letter to the Governor of New York.

Washington was in New York City watching a massive British war fleet arrive in the harbor consisting of 30 Man-of-War battleships with 1200 cannon, 30,000 soldiers, 10,000 sailors, and 300 supply ships.

As Washington opened up the freshly signed Declaration of Independence that was just handed to him from a courier, he had the knowledge that:

  • Charleston, SC was in ruins and smoke from the recent British invasion
  • Smoke was still rising in Boston, MA from the British fleet
  • Admiral Howe was arriving from England with a fresh fleet of troops determined to crush the rebellion
  • The British told their hired mercenaries that the colonists were not taking prisoners and would fight to the death
  • Many of Washington’s men were going back to their homes because their militia contracts had expired.
  • Washington’s army was outnumbered by about 3 to 1

These were pretty dismal facts and things looked pretty depressing for Washington.

Independence was declared, but the war still needed to be won.

The incredible calm and confident leadership of General Washington must have been unbelievable to watch. He read the Declaration to the troops to inspire them and give them resolve. In the back of his mind, he must have heard that defeating voice screaming “You can’t win this! It’s all over!”. But somehow he managed to keep his troops and militias in place to defend and fight for our great freedom.

It was another seven long years of battle before the Treaty of Paris officially ended the war.

Lesson:  Leaders need to model the behavior they want to see in those around them. Just because you’re a leader, you can’t behave poorly or irrationally. Confidence instills confidence. If you want to see it in the people around you, you need to have it yourself.

If you are a Christ Follower, here’s the good news:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

originally posted on July 3, 2012


2 Responses to “Staying calm in the face of a massive storm – July 4th, 1776”

  1. What a fantastic reminder…. fantastic behind the scenes view of that day.

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