Jonathan Boucher’s Farewell Sermon

  • John F. Wilson
Part of the Cognition and Language: A Series in Psycholinguistics book series (CALS)


On Sunday, July 24, 1775, the Reverend Jonathan Boucher entered his church, Queen Anne’s Anglican Church in St. George’s county, Maryland, mounted his pulpit, and placed a pair of pistols on the cushion. Then, in what has become known as his “Farewell Sermon,” he shouted down his detractors and preached a diatribe against participation in rebellion.


Private Tutor American Revolution Fear Appeal Hostile Parish Settle Government 
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  1. 1.
    Professor Bronstein’s interest in preaching prompts the contribution of this essay to this volume.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The estimate is that of Calhoon (1973, p. ix).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    An usher was an assistant teacher, a sort of tutor and minor functionary.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For Boucher’s (1925) own account of his relationship with Washington, see Reminiscences, pp. 48-50.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Professor Read also cited Boucher’s contribution to the area of linguistics in a lecture, “Milestones in the Branching of British and American English,” delivered at Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York on December 3,1973. See also Zimmer (1978, pp. 313-326).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Anne Y. Zimmer, in her exhaustive and excellent study, Jonathan Boucher, loyalist in exile, considers the textual authenticity of the sermon examined here. She finally concludes that “in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, the sermons must be presumed to be Boucher’s” (p. 370, footnote). She seems to doubt that the sermon was ever delivered and thinks that all the sermon texts in A View. were reconstructions (p. 338). She further says: “More importantly, the circumstances under which Boucher left Maryland were not conducive to delivering a farewell sermon. The decision to leave and the plans to implement it were quietly managed. No man of even ordinary prudence would have delivered a farewell sermon, and Boucher had uncommon good sense. All of the evidence suggests it is wise to treat Boucher’s book of sermons as part of his English experience” (p. 341). Her speculations are not of consequence here. Whether Boucher actually delivered the sermon does not negate an analysis of the rhetoric he exhibited. The record as it stands is at least one of his intended rhetoric. We may proceed with the assumption that he did say or would have said on the occasion in question what he afterward printed as his “Farewell Sermon.”.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Boucher uses the King James version of the Old Testament. The passage appears in Boucher (1797).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Calhoon (1973, p. 222) says that Boucher never sacrificed Samuel Clarke’s prominent conviction that religious conviction can never be instilled by coercion, fear, or manipulation.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    These ideas concerning the perception of objects seem to reflect the influence of George Berkeley noted later in this essay.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 309.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    From Boucher (1797), pp. 507-508.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 306.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 535.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 538.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    From Boucher (1797), p. 543.Google Scholar


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Speech and TheaterHerbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New YorkUSA

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