Call for a National
by James Madison
By the President of the United States of America
Whereas the Congress of the United States, by a joint resolution of the two Houses have signified a request, that a day may be recommended, to be observed by the people of the United States, with religious solemnity, as a day of public humiliation and prayer: and
Whereas such a recommendation will enable the several religious denominations and societies so disposed, to offer, at one and the same time, their common vows and adorations to Almighty God, on the solemn occasion produced by the war, in which He has been pleased to permit the injustice of a foreign Power to involve these United States;
I do therefore recommend a convenient day to be set apart, for the devout purposes of rendering the Sovereign of the Universe, and the Benefactor of Mankind. The public homage due to His holy attributes; of acknowledging the transgressions which might justly provoke the manifestations of His divine displeasure; of seeking his merciful forgiveness, and His assistance in the great duties of repentance and amendment; and, especially, of offering fervent supplications, that, in the present season of calamity and war, He would take the American people under His peculiar care and protection; that He would guide their public councils, animate their patriotism, and bestow His blessing on their arms; that He would inspire all nations with a love of justice and of concord, and with a reverence for the unerring precept of our holy religion, to do to others as they would require that others should do to them; and, finally, that turning the hearts of our enemies from the violence and injustice which sway their councils against us, He would hasten a restoration of the blessings of peace.
Given at Washington, the 9th day of July, A. D. 1812
[Source: James D. Richardson, A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents (Washington: Bureau of National Literature, 1897), Vol. II, p. 498]