It was 1775 and General George Washington had personally outfitted seven ships in an attempt to drive the British from New England. He believed it was important to be able to attack the British from sea as well as land. Having already surrounded Boston and trapped the British army inside, his mission was to prevent British ships from delivering supplies to the army in Boston.
These seven ships or floating batteries as they were called, in order to be identified as “friendly” to one another, were flying a flag of white, with a pine tree in the middle and the motto, “Appeal to Heaven”; this also became known as Washington’s Cruiser Flag.
This fleet sailed before the first US Navy had even been commissioned, and was also known as “Washington’s Secret Navy”. These schooners captured many a British ship, including the British Brigantine named the “Nancy” that was carrying over a years worth of supplies. This capture is considered the greatest capture of the entire Revolution and it also inspired the birth of the American Navy as we know it today.
In April of 1776, the State of Massachusetts adopted this flag for its own navy as well as ordered the colors of the uniforms of the officers to be green and white. They sailed twenty-five ships in defense of America and were eventually absorbed into the US Navy.
Why this motto – “Appeal to Heaven”?
I’ll attempt to reel in my US History teacher bend and summarize it like so.
John Locke, one of American’s foremost political philosophers argued that
“When all other political and individual methods of resisting tyranny are exhausted, only “an appeal to heaven” remains.”Second Treatise of Civil Government – John Locke
In summary, he contended that “no man had inherent power to regulate or restrict divine arbitration in civil affairs. Even in dire circumstances, natural rights transcended the political process.”
It was clear to our founding fathers that “God governs in the affairs of men”, and Benjamin Franklin clearly, and unapologetically stated that. It therefore held true, that in all things, Locke’s motto- appealing to heaven, should inspire the citizenry to work to the bitter end to achieve a remedy.
Locke maintained “people should be diligent to oppose egregious acts through political action. Rather than a tactic of last resort, an appeal to heaven was warning sign.”
Though today, Locke’s motto may be overlooked, it appears to me, it represents the very place we again find ourselves standing. It indeed is our focus, battle cry and our course of action.
I join with Washington, the founding fathers, and other revolutionaries who on behalf of a nation lift an appeal to heaven against all tyranny, foreign and domestic. If not now, when?
Won’t you join us in this appeal to heaven?
Cheers to you.