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George Washington Before The Battle Of Long Island, August, 1776

( Originally Published 1916 )



The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be free-men or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own ; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human effort will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of a brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or to die.

Our own, our country's honor, calls upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion ; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us, then, rely on the goodness of our cause and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us; and we shall have their blessings and praises if, happily, we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. Let us, therefore, animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world that a freeman contending for liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

Liberty, property, life, and honor are all at stake. Upon your courage and conduct rest the hopes of our bleeding and insulted country. Our wives, children, and parents expect safety from us only; and they have every reason to believe that Heaven will crown with success so just a cause. The enemy will endeavor to intimidate by show and appearance ; but remember they have been repulsed on various occasions by a few brave Americans. Their cause is bads their men are conscious of it; and, if opposed with firmness and coolness on their first on-set, with our advantage of works and knowledge of the ground, the victory is most assuredly ours. Every good soldier will be silent and attentive, wait for orders, and reserve his fire until he is sure of doing execution.



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