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The Art of Don Troiani - A Prayer of Thanksgiving, April 19, 1783

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350 Signed/Numbered (available)
Overall: 30.75" x 24.5"
Image: 26.75" x 20"
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Overall: 30.75" x 24.5"
Image: 26.75" x 20"
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Overall: 35" x 23"
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April 19th.  At noon the proclamation of Congress for a cessation of hostilities was proclaimed at the door of the New Building, followed by three huzzas; after which a prayer was made by the Reverend Mr. Gano, and an anthem was performed by vocal and instrumental music.” On this eighth anniversary of the momentous eruption of revolution in America, Major General William Heath’s diary entry could hardly have been more exquisitely concise. From that prior April’s initiation of shock and chaos, throughout a seemingly interminable succession of crises and barriers to securing independence, the Continental Army now, indeed, had cause to rejoice and give thanks.

New Jersey native John Gano, graduate of what would become Princeton, was ordained in 1754, becoming founding pastor of the First Baptist Church of New York in 1760. Joining the Continentals as a regimental clergyman, he became chaplain of the New York Brigade in 1777, continuing as such during the Army’s final winter at the New Windsor Cantonment.

The troops had received General Washington’s announcement in yesterday’s daily orders, as recorded by diarist Private Thomas Foster, 7th Massachusetts Regiment: “This evening we had His Excellency’s congratulations on our independence and peace which was settled on good and honorable terms.” Thus, this eighth anniversary of Lexington and Concord would be observed as a day of “… thanksgiving for the remarkable success of our armies in AmericaThe chaplains are desired to attend the services of the day at the temple where the declaration is to be read …  and the army is to have an extra ration of spirits and the following is the toast given by His Excellency for this day:  Perpetual alliance and peace to the United States of America.

Then, while reflecting on the extraordinary chain of seemingly insurmountable challenges the Army had faced and overcome, General Washington’s perspective also widened far beyond today’s celebrations and set forth his vision of what the new nation was and would become, and, most pointedly, of the central virtuous role and responsibility of the ideal disinterested American citizen-soldier:

While the General recollects the almost infinite variety of scenes through which we have passed with a mixture of pleasure, astonishment and gratitude, …  he cannot help wishing that all the brave men … who have shared in the toils and dangers of effecting this glorious revolution, of rescuing millions from the hand of oppression, and of laying the foundation of a great empire might be impressed with a proper idea of the dignified part they have been called to act … on the stage of human affairs. For, happy … shall they be pronounced hereafter who have contributed anything …  in erecting this stupendous fabric of freedom and empire on the broad basis of independency, who have assisted in protecting the rights of human nature and establishing an asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions.

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