With my latest book finished and simmering and edits underway on Ring of Secrets for my looming deadline, I've been dividing my time between reading/revising and developing a new idea. And oh, how much fun that is!
This new one will be set around the early-early days of the Revolution, in 1776. But as I launched into my oh-so-fun research, I discovered something in Jefferson's account of the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration.
June 1, 1774. The Boston port was scheduled to be shut down by the British in retaliation for a certain episode of tea-dumping that you may have heard of. Politics between the colonies and England were fast deteriorating--so quickly that Lord North, the Prime Minister at the time, was happy to get sneaky. He came up with a "conciliatory plan" designed to divide us against ourselves. Said, basically, "Yo, any colony that sides with us rather than you neighbors won't be taxed any more. Eh? Eh??"
But not everyone was paying attention to the events in New England. Not everyone could be bothered. Not everyone was convinced that independence was feasible, desirable, or right for the time. Not everyone was even considering it as a question to be discussed. Which, as you might guess, irritated those leading the movement.
So Jefferson and company decided to get their attention. How? By calling for a nation-wide day of fasting and prayer on June 1, 1774. "No example of such a solemnity had existed since the days of our distresses in the war of '55, since which a new generation had grown up," Jefferson writes. He figures that this will "call up & alarm their attention."
Now, knowing that Jefferson was a deist rather than a man of faith, a "moral liberal" if you will, I know well this was a manipulative move. He probably didn't really fast and pray, he just knew that demanding everyone else do it would make them go, "What? Why? What's going on? Is something wrong?"
And it worked. That's what I really love about these days of prayer called for by our leaders. They are powerful, powerful things. I've heard amazing stories about the results of the one Churchill called for in England during WWII. And of others in American history. Because as we well know, when that many people take to their knees and pound the gates of heaven with their prayers, we're in effect taking authority over the powers in our world.
I had no idea until I read Jefferson's account that such a day happened back in 1774, a year before the first shots at Lexington and Concord, two years before the signing of the Declaration. But that really does mark the time when people all through the colonies began to realize that something loomed on the horizon.
Naturally, I had to toss in a prologue to my new book . . . and naturally, it's on June 1, 1774. ;-) This historic day of fasting and prayer only gets a passing mention, but I thought it a perfect day to begin my story. A day when no one would wonder why my heroine went off into the woods by herself to pray. When no one would think it odd that she wanted to be alone. When no one would suspect her many secrets . . . ;-)