If asked to name who the most influential persons were during the founding of our country, you would most likely answer, George Washington, John Adams, and other well-known Founders. However, if you asked one of the founders who were the most influential persons you will get a much different answer.
In 1816, Johns Adams said it was the Reverend Dr Samuel Cooper and the Reverend Johnathan Mayhew whose influence set our country on track. These two pastors are one of the many other pastors of the era that earned their place with the “Black Robe Regiment” so named because of the distinctive black robes that ministers of the era wore.
Clinton Rossiter, Cornel University professor from the last generation, wrote the “Seed Time of the Republic.” He named as the most influential founders as Benjamin Franklin, Reverend Thomas Hooker, Reverend Roger Williams, Reverend John Wise and Reverend Jonathan Mayhew. All were pastors except for Franklin and they were all were part of the Black Robe Regiment.
The British first labeled the American pastors, the Black Robe Regiment because they targeted these pastors as agitators who were stirring up rebellion and dissent in the colonies. The British despised these pastors and if captured by the British during the war, the British dealt with the pastors very harshly, some onto death. Moreover, they converted their churches to horse barns; tore them down for lumber, or just burned them sometimes with them and the parishioners locked in them.
At the start and during the Revolutionary War, most of the pastors recruited and trained parishioners to be minute men and soldiers. Most of them led their congregations into battle, such as the Lexington Battle on the green. In addition, there are many examples of these pastors achieving commanding ranks in the Army including Generals.
Alice Baldwin of Duke University recently did a study of the sermons of the American Clergy in New England. She discovered the clergy had preached from the pulpits prior to 1763, all the Biblical concepts of revolution and all the rights listed in the Declaration of Independence.
For example, Reverend John Wise in the 1680s preached, taxation without representation is tyranny, that government needed the consent of the govern in order to rule, and all men are created equal and have certain unalienable rights given by the Creator. This was ninety years before the Declaration. In 1772, Reverend Wise’s sermons were published by Samuel Adams and then then distributed throughout the colony, and sold out. In 1774, Samuel Adams did a second reprinting.
In addition, there were many Black American preachers who some were former slaves, such as Reverend Absalom Jones, Reverend Richard Allen, Reverend John Marrant, and many others. They all were instrumental in shaping our thoughts on freedom and many served as doctors, chaplains and soldiers in the Continental Army.
Many of their stories will be published to show that they were not forgotten even though history has forgotten them, even though they were instrumental in our Godly American Heritage.
Without the Black Robe Regiment, most likely, there would not have been a free Untied States of America and we could have been still be under Great Britain’s control.