Learn about the black robed regiment of the First American Revolution from historian and lecturer Phil Brooks. Then in the video at the bottom, Douglas Gabriel joins Phil to continue the discussion and examine ways that today’s clergy can lead the way back to American liberty and Christian life.
The Black Robed Regiment: Their Christian Faith and American Liberty from Christ
by Phil Brooks
The authors of the Declaration of Independence & the US Constitution were inspired by a Christian Ethos from the Word of God in the Bible, as preached by Colonial clergymen such as Reverend John Wise of Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. Reverend Wise’s writings informed the vernacular of “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness” used by Thomas Jefferson & James Madison.
Other clergymen, like Peter Muhlenberg of Woodstock, Virginia and Jonas Clark of Lexington, Massachusetts, put their belief in Christian Liberty into action.
In the Bible, the Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians, Chapter 5, begins,
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
These became Watch Words for Our Christian, Patriotic ‘Fore Fathers,“Stand Fast.”
In this belief, on Sunday, 21 January 1776, at the Lutheran Church of Woodstock, Virginia, Reverend Muhlenberg preached from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Verses 1 – 8, which begins
“To every thing there is a season…”
After reading in Verse 8,
“…a time of war and a time of peace,”
Rev. Muhlenberg declared, “And this is the time of war,” removing his black robes, to reveal his Colonel’s uniform underneath and then striding out of the church. Drums rolled, husbands kissed their wives then followed out to enlist. By morning’s end 162 men had quickly signed on.
Next day Rev. Muhlenberg led out 300 men, forming the nucleus of the 8th Virginia Regiment – which later saw action at Yorktown, Virginia and the surrender of the British under their commander Lord Charles Cornwallis.
A year earlier on Wednesday, 19 April 1775, Reverend Jonas Clark in Lexington led his congregation members in the first fighting against the British on Lexington Green, where the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” was fired. So began the running battle from Lexington to Concord and all the way back to Boston, during the British Column’s bloodied retreat.
Without their personal arms – sufficient to match the arms of the English Crown’s Infantry – these Massachusetts Minute Men and Our Nation might have continued to languish in Imperial Tyranny, perhaps even to the present.
These Brave American Clergymen – known thenceforth as the ‘Black Robed Regiment’ – were the Moral, Spiritual and Patriotic Embodiment of the Christian Ethic of Liberty given us by Christ and preached by the Apostle Paul to the Galatians.
It was these Patriots’ experience which produced the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads,
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
This single Constitutional provision – together with The Christian Ethos necessary for a Moral People to Govern Themselves, best expressed in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7, Verse 12 – make up the core of the American Experience of Liberty – to date, the greatest degree of Freedom yet achieved among men on Earth.
Matthew 7:12 reads,
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
It is the continuing Foundation of American Society.
In the video below, Douglas Gabriel and Phil Brooks look at the robed regiments of the past and call on a revival of this movement in today’s Second American Revolution.