On April 15, 1775, four days before hostilities between British and American troops began at Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress proclaimed May 11 as a day of fasting and prayer throughout the colony. The fast day proclamation accused the British ministry of inciting the "Powers of Earth and Hell" to harass the Congregational Church in Massachusetts. Those, it asserted, "who should be Nursing Fathers become its Persecutors." "Nursing Fathers"? Where did this peculiar phrase, more appropriate for an aberration in biology than statecraft, come from and what did it mean?