John Adams (1735-1826) Adams was an attorney, diplomat, and statesman;
he graduated from Harvard (1755); leader in the opposition to the Stamp Act
(1765); delegate to the Continental Congress (1774-77) where he signed
the Declaration
of Independence
(1776); appointed Chief Justice of Superior Court of Massachusetts
(1775); delegate to the Massachusetts constitutional convention (1779-80) and
wrote most of the first draft of the Massachusetts Constitution; foreign ambassador
to Holland (1782); signed the peace treaty which ended the American Revolution
(1783); foreign ambassador to Great Britain (1785-88); served two terms as Vice-President
under President George
(1789-97); second President of the United States (1797-1801);
he and his one time political nemesis- turned-close-friend Thomas
both died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration
of Independence; Adams was titled by fellow signer of the Declaration Richard
Stockton as the “Atlas of American Independence.”

This is the text of a national day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer issued by President John Adams as printed in the Columbian Centinel, April 4, 1798. This proclamation was issued on March 23, 1798 declaring May 9, 1798 the day of fasting for the nation. To read a sermon preached by Jeremy Belknap, in Boston, on the day of the national fast, click here.



By the President of the United States of America



AS the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on
the protection and blessing of Almighty God; and the national acknowledgment
of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality
and piety, without which social happiness cannot exist, nor the blessings of
a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so
especially in seasons of difficulty and of danger, when existing or threatening
calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity are a loud
call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are
at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation, by the unfriendly
disposition, conduct and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals
to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our
commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow citizens,
while engaged in their lawful business on the seas: —Under these considerations
it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of
Heaven on our country, demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants.

I HAVE therefore thought it fit to recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of
May next be observed throughout the United States, as a day of Solemn Humiliation,
Fasting and Prayer; That the citizens of these states, abstaining on that day
from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the
Father of Mercies, agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally
adopted as the most suitable and becoming: That all religious congregations
do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before GOD the manifold sins and
transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation;
beseeching him, at the same time, of his infinite Grace, through the Redeemer
of the world, freely to remit all our offences, and to incline us, by his holy
spirit, to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason
to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; That it be made
the subject of particular and earnest supplication, that our country may be
protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious
privileges may be preserved inviolate, and perpetuated to the latest generations;
that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed
at this critical period; that the American people may be united in those bonds
of amity and mutual confidence, and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by
which they have in times past been so highly distinguished, and by which they
have obtained such invaluable advantages: That the health of the inhabitants
of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts
and manufactures be blessed and prospered: That the principles of genuine piety
and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description
of our citizens; and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion,
may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.
proclamation-humiliation-fasting-and-prayer-1798-3And finally I recommend, that on the said day; the duties of humiliation and
prayer be accompanied by fervent Thanksgiving to the bestower of every good
gift, not only for having hitherto protected and preserved the people of these
United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom,
but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of population, and
for conferring on them many and great favours conducive to the happiness and
prosperity of a nation.

Given under my hand and seal of the United States of America, at Philadelphia,
this twenty-third day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven
hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the said States the twenty-second.


By the President,
TIMOTHY PICKERING, Secretary of State