The Journals & Notebook of
 Nathan Bangs 1805-1806, 1817


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Editorial Annotations

Bangs's mixed feelings about war seem in no way to diminish his belief that the outcome of the War of Independence was ordained by God—a sentiment that would not likely be shared by Methodists in Canada. That Bangs was offered the bishopric by the newly independent Canadian Methodists in 1828, however, suggests that he did not wear his patriotism on his sleeve. It is interesting to note that because Bangs was converted while living in Canada Egerton Ryerson accounted him "the first Canadian preacher converted and employed as an itinerant" (32, italics mine). Although not as illustrious as Bangs, it is probably Sylvanus Keeler to whom that distinction belongs. (Carroll 21-22).


July 4th [1817]

We had a meeting appointed in Forsyth street Church. As this was the anniversary of our independence as a nation, great preparations were underway to celebrate the event, by the political parties, the play actors, the Hucksters, the gardeners, by the military &c. Taking my two oldest sons, I went to a neighbor's in the morning, to view the military parade, which, indeed made a noble appearance. They were reviewed by the Governor. However others might have been affected with this scene, my own mind was very solemnly affected. I could but weep while I beheld the youth of our country, clad in military accoutrements, neatly and richly dressed, hailing the auspicious morning which gave birth to a nation. The situation of our Fathers in 1776, their heroism, their intrepidity, and their perseverance, in achieving the independence of our country, was brought to my recollection producing emotions of soul truly indescribable — Some of them delightful — But then, while beholding this parade, I could but reflect, on the melancholy fact, that war, is necessary in this present state of human society, to defend each others rights from the infringements of unjust lawless men. How awful the spectacle, thought I, were these men drawn up in line of battle, to meet a depredating foe! How many valuable lives would be sacrificed to justify the ambition of a few individuals. How many mothers would weep! How many children would become fatherless! How many widows — How many brothers and sisters torn from their affectionate relatives — Good Lord! what heartrending service. Are these things then necessary! Are these thy glories O men! Are they not rather melancholy evidences of the wickedness of human beings? Were there no disposition to infringe upon the rights of another, that other would need no means of defense — of course no weapons of war — and therefore sheding [sic] of human blood would be at an end. How excellent then is Christianity. It teach[es] us to do justly, as well as to love mercy and to walk humbly with God [Micah 6.8]. Were it then universally embraced, as all injustice, and unmericfulness would cease, so war would be done away, the implements of war would perish, these costly parades would silently retire fortifications, (the nation's glory, and mankind's greatest reproach!) demolished, gun, shot, and powder, magazines, factories and magazines removed, lawyers rendered useless, judges superseded, wickedness is swept from the earth. From what an enormous load, which now makes many a poor man sweat and groan, would the world be exonerated! These were some of the thoughts which passed through my mind.

I then, in company with a friend, walked to church, and heard an excellent discourse, somewhat appropriate for the occasion. Here my mind was fed, and led to a devout acknowledgement of the hand of God, who is the sacred author of all our blessings; and that of our independence among others.

3 June 1817

1 August 1817

Primary Sources




Huckster: A shopkeeper, stall merchant, peddler, or hawker.


Edited by Scott McLaren
Book History Practicum
University of Toronto