Election day sermons were commanded by law in New England during colonial times. This meant that a local minister would preach to the gathered assembly of state leaders every Spring. He was not there to tickle their ears but to preach the duty of government. And even the duty to resist tyrants.
Unlike today, when sermons are mostly entertaining and non-informative, back then preaching was accomplished by the most educated men in the state. The most informed men as well. This was the average man's talking newspaper. This was also the source of public discussion and commonly reprinted into pamphlets, especially election day sermons. Ministers were the leading thinkers and leaders in an age of religion that is foreign to many readers.
Here are some election day sermons preached before governors and representatives and before the Declaration of Independence:
"Unlimited submission is not due to government in a free state. There are certain boundaries beyond which submission can not be justly required, and should not be yielded." Rev. Tucker, 1771.
"If I am mistaken in supposing plans are formed and executing, subversive of our natural and chartered rights and privileges, and incompatible with every idea of liberty, all America is mistaken with me...Let the Governor [Hutchinson] in his chair of state hear it, we not only mourn, but with groanings that can not be uttered, and all because the wicked rule...King George may say the evils that produce this state of things are imaginary, but I tell you and I tell the tyrant to his face, it is because the wicked bear rule." Rev. Hitchcock, 1774.
"Let us praise God for the advantages already given us over the enemies of liberty — particularly that they have been so dispirited by repeated experience of the efficacy of our arms in the late action at Chelsea, when several hundred of our soldiery, the greater part open to the fire of so many cannon swivels and musketry from a battery advantageously
situated, from two armed cutters full of marines, and from ships of the line in the harbor, not one man on our side was killed, and but two or three wounded, when a great number were killed and wounded on the other side, and one of the cutters taken and burnt. If God be for us, who can be against us ?" Rev. Langdon, 1775.
"Let us look upon freedom from the power of tyrants as a blessing that can not be purchased too dear, and let us bless God that he has so far delivered us from the idolatrous reverence which men are so apt to pay to arbitrary tyrants, and let us pray that he would be pleased graciously to perfect the mercy he has begun to show us, by confounding the devices of our enemies, and bringing their counsels to naught, and by establishing our just rights and privileges upon such a firm and lasting basis that the powers of earth and hell shall not prevail against it." Rev. West, Spring, 1776
"When Congress appointed a day of fasting and prayer in May, 1776, Dr. Witherspoon preached a discourse, entitled "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men," in which he went thoroughly into the great political questions of the day. The sermon being published, it was received with warm encomiums in America, but denounced in Scotland, where it was republished, with notes, and the author stigmatized as a rebel and traitor."
The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution, Headley