Celebrating the Fifth of July – blessed are the peacemakers

One year before the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, telling George III that the thirteen colonies were now 13 states independent of his rule, that same Congress sent him an olive branch.

In fact, it’s called the Olive Branch Petition.

On July 5, 1775, the colonial leaders adopted a petition that declared loyalty to the crown and implored George III to compromise over issues of taxation and trade. One of those leaders, John Adams, wrote privately to a friend that he thought the petition unworkable since in his opinion war was inevitable.

Adams’ letter was discovered by the British officials and forwarded to London, where it was taken as evidence that the Olive Branch Petition was insincere. Coupled with the initial fighting at Lexington and Concord in April and the Battle of Bunker Hill in June, George III had reason to declare the colonies in open rebellion.

He did so in August 1775. War continued in the colonies.


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9.)


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7-8.)


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6 Responses to Celebrating the Fifth of July – blessed are the peacemakers

  1. Jeannie says:

    This is really interesting, Tim. I was struck by the fact that in 1776, long before everything we do and say became public fodder via Twitter, FB, Instagram, etc., someone’s private exchange could become public property and affect the course of history. But that’s secondary to your point here. I appreciate this reminder about peacemaking. In the last while this has become my favourite Beatitude. (Other people have favourite Beatles, I have favourite Beatitudes. 🙂 ) I also appreciate the Ecclesiastes reference. We have a wall hanging in our bathroom with this passage on it, and I’ve often thought I should write a blog series on these “time to” statements. Maybe it’s “time to” do that. Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your holiday weekend!

  2. lauradroege says:

    I’ve never heard this story before. (Or if I have, I’ve forgotten it.) I’ve felt a little bit of sympathy for George III ever since I heard that he had bouts of insanity; it must be hard to rule a country (and a bunch of colonies) with the prospect of another psychotic break heavy on the mind. I wonder what history would be like if that Olive Branch Petition had worked. We might be marvelling at the colonial leaders’ ability to make peace, rather than marvelling at our Constitution, etc.

  3. Maureen says:

    If you don’t mind me stealing your topic for a moment –
    My niece (currently stationed in Afghanistan) wrote on her FB, “The Declaration of Independence: the best break-up letter ever.”

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