and symbolic images in the waging of the war.6 They spoke of devoting their 'sacred honour' to the fight for independence and convoked God-in-general when recruiting troops, sending them into battle, or presiding over funeral rites.
The religion of the American Revolution, like other religions, implied what we might call a metaphysical background, a sense or claim that behind the ordinary appearances of national life there existed a larger narrative and set of meanings and expectations. Thus Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues in the Declaration of Independence made the religious claim that their rights were 'endowed by their Creator'. George Washington and other military and constitutional leaders joined Jefferson in speaking of'Nature's God' unconfined by a particular set of scriptures. They invoked 'Providence' and 'Heaven' to guide them in battle and in drafting documents for the new nation.7
Finally, religious groups expect certain behavioural consequences as a result of the commitments just mentioned. Thus the colonials determined and proclaimed that the British were enslaving them by depriving them of representation in policies that affected them all, and that it was their sacred duty to rebel against such slavery. Just as they expected citizens to lay their lives on the line in the war, so they also stressed the need for virtue and morality, ordinarily based on or related to religion. Washington said as much in his major speeches and as the Congress proclaimed in the Northwest Ordinance, which in 1787 envisioned terms of citizen life in the north-west territories far beyond the eastern coasts.8
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