First Prayer of the Continental Congress, 1774

The Prayer in the First Congress, A.D. 1774 The Prayer in the First Congress, A.D. 1774

O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!

Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.


Reverend Jacob Duché
Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.

The First Continental Congress

First Continental Congress
Chaplain Jacob Duche leading the first prayer in the First Continental Congress at Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia - The Granger Collection, New York

Further Reading

John Adams by David McCullough

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An excellent Pulitzer Prize winning biography, rich in detail and original sources

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Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis

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Ellis tells us about the conflicts which divided the "founding fathers" of The United States. Pulitzer Prize winner


George Washington's War: The Saga of the American Revolution
by Robert Leckie


The Intolerable Acts helped to unite the colonies in their resistance to the British. The other American colonies united in sympathy with Massachusetts. Virginia set aside a day of prayer and fasting and proposed that the colonies meet.  This led to the calling of the First Continental Congress in September 1774.

Delegates from every colony but Georgia  met in secret at the Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia. Benjamin Franklin had proposed such a meeting a year earlier, but after the Port of Boston was closed the momentum for such a meeting grew rapidly. The goal of the Congress was to resolve the differences between England and the colonies.

Pennsylvania delegate Joseph Galloway proposed a solution in the form of a plan of union, including the creation of an American Parliament to act with the British Parliament. Each body was to have a veto over the other in matters relating to the colonies. Debate was heated between the radicals and conservatives. Galloway's plan was defeated and there were enough votes to send a petition to the King.

Though far from united, they sent to Britain The Declaration and Resolves (October 14, 1774), a petition demanding the Intolerable Acts be repealed.

They also agreed to a boycott of British goods and trade with Britain. They adopted the Continental Association, which established a total boycott by means of non-importation, non-exportation and non-consumption accords. These agreements were to be enforced by a group of committees in each community, which would publish the names of merchants defying the boycott, confiscate contraband and encourage public frugality.

In England, many urged that the crown try to regain good relations with the colonies and avoid war. (Edmund Burke's Speech Urging Conciliation). When King George III heard of the colonists' demands, he answered: "The die is now cast. The colonies must either submit or triumph." The British refused to repeal the Intolerable Acts.

At this Congress some began to think like Americans for the first time. In the words of Patrick Henry  "I am not a Virginian, but an American." When he returned to the Virginia Convention, his voice rang throughout the colonies. "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

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