George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jacob Duché, 5 August 1775

From Jacob Duché

Philadelphia, August 5th 1775


You will find by the inclosed, that I have taken the Liberty to inscribe to you a Sermon, which I lately preached to the First Battalion of our City commanded by Col. Dickinson; not doubting, but under the Sanction of your name, it will meet with the Public Candour.1

If the Manner in which I have treated the Subject should have the least good Influence upon the Hearts & Actions of the Military Freemen of America, or should add one more virtuous Motive to those, by which, I trust, they are already actuated, it will be the best Return I can receive from my Fellow-Citizens, for this little Labour of Love.

I have long been an Admirer of your amiable Character, and was glad of this Opportunity of paying you my little Tribute of Respect.

My Prayers are continually for you, and the brave Troops under your Command. O my dear General! Would to God a speedy and happy Reconciliation could be accomplished without the Effusion of one more Drop of valuable Blood[.] I know well, that your Humanity, and Christian Meekness, would ever prompt you to form the same benevolent Wish; and that the Love of Military Glory will in your Breast always give Way to the Love of Peace, when it can be virtuously and honourably obtained.

May Heaven crown all your truly Patriotic Undertakings with Success, cover your Head in the Day of Danger, and restore you unhurt to the Arms of your friends and your Country. I am, with the sincerest Esteem & Veneration Your Excellency’s most obedient Humble Servant

Jacob Duché


Jacob Duché (1738–1798) of Philadelphia was rector of the united Anglican parishes of Christ Church and St. Peter’s. One of the city’s most popular preachers, he gave opening prayers for both the First and Second Continental Congresses, and on 9 July 1776 he was appointed chaplain to Congress. Duché resigned that office the following October, citing poor health and his parochial duties as his reasons. When the British occupied Philadelphia in 1777, they imprisoned Duché, but he promptly obtained his release by turning Loyalist. In a letter to GW of 8 Oct. 1777, he expressed strong misgivings about the Declaration of Independence and argued that the struggle against the British was both hopeless and needless. Duché sailed for England in December 1777 and became secretary and chaplain of an orphanage there. On 7 Aug. 1789 he wrote to GW begging permission to return to America. He arrived in Philadelphia in May 1792 and remained until his death a few years later.

1This sermon, which Duché preached on 7 July 1775, was printed soon afterwards by James Humphreys, Jr., of Philadelphia under the title of The Duty of Standing Fast in Our Spiritual and Temporal Liberties (Philadelphia, 1775). Duché dedicated it to GW “as a Small Tribute of Respect for His Many Amiable Virtues as well in Private as in Public Life.”

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