It’s time to recall the first government shutdown in American history, and how a future president won that battle with his bold, decisive action. It was in December of 1776, when General George Washington was camped along the Delaware River in northeastern Pennsylvania.
On December 12, 1776, Congress adjourned without extending the enlistments of American soldiers or approving their pay for the coming year. Members of Congress abandoned Philadelphia, where they had been meeting, because they feared the British troops nearby in New Jersey.
Once the soldiers’ enlistments ran out, the Continental Army would disband and soldiers would return to their farms in the 13 colonies. Some soldiers had already gone home, some were barefoot, food was running short, and winter was coming in.
But Washington was not going to give up the American cause without a fight. In an incredibly bold and risky maneuver, he decided to load his entire army ― men, horses and munitions ― into boats to cross the icy Delaware River on Christmas night.
To inspire his men, Washington ordered them to assemble for a public reading of Thomas Paine’s new pamphlet, “The American Crisis,” which had just been published on December 19: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
On December 23 and 24, many boats were collected and secured with the help of experienced seamen. The crossing began at sundown December 25, and lasted all night amid horrendous weather: rain, sleet, snow, ice, and winds that were called a hurricane.
It was daylight on December 26 when troops reassembled on the Jersey shore. They marched 9 miles to Trenton where they surprised and defeated a contingent of British-allied Hessian troops, took them prisoner and captured their food, supplies and horses.
That was the early turning point in the American Revolution, thanks to the leadership of George Washington against all odds. Trump displays the same kind of initiative needed to put our Nation back on the path sought by our Founders.