Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Anglican Church (Church of England)

Rev. Jacob Duché

Reverend Jacob Duché, a prominent minister in the Anglican Church, delivered the opening prayer at the First Continental Congress, but he fled the colonies before the end of the revolution. (New York Public Library)

New York Public Library

The American War for Independence bitterly divided the Anglican community. As the state church of England, the Anglican Church offered prayers to God and the head of the church, the monarch of the United Kingdom. Many ministers chose exile from the colonies over allegiance to the Revolution.

The story of Rev. Jacob Duché, pictured here, is one example of these tensions. During the early years of the Revolution, he was a patriot. He read the opening prayer to the First Continental Congress and sent liturgical prayers to Congress rather than the King on July 4, 1776. When the British entered Philadelphia in 1777, he was arrested and accused of treason by the British, He attempted to talk George Washington into suing for peace with the British directly, side-stepping Congress. Duché was ultimately forced to flee the colonies.

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