Monday, December 7, 2009

Family Geneology

Being that there have been no posting since Veterans Day I felt it necessary to explain the reason why. Over the last few weeks I have been researching my family history in my spare time. After seeing a commercial for and visiting the website,, I believed it important for me to begin the research and study of my past, answering the questions of who I am and what is my past.

Despite only spending a few weeks of spare time going through the website and its vast array of resources I have been able to track my father's family line all the back to the 18th century. These discoveries and current lack of new information has sparked a curiosity in me of my past that I never knew existed. I am so excited about discovering more information and learning where I came from and the type of people in my family tree.

For anyone that considers themselves a lover of history then this is an exercise I highly suggest taking on. Not only will you learn new and exciting things but I'm beginning to see a need for the amateur or professional historian to learn about their own past. It has given me a greater appreciation for the storied past of others.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honoring our Veterans

Veteran’s Day Tribute

When America had an urgent need,
These brave ones raised a hand;
No hesitation held them back;
They were proud to take a stand.

They left their friends and family;
They gave up normal life;
To serve their country and their God,
They plowed into the strife.

They fought for freedom and for peace
On strange and foreign shores;
Some lost new friends; some lost their lives
In long and brutal wars.

Other veterans answered a call
To support the ones who fought;
Their country had requirements for
The essential skills they brought.

We salute each and every one of them,
The noble and the brave,
The ones still with us here today,
And those who rest in a grave.

So here’s to our country’s heroes;
They’re a cut above the rest;
Let’s give the honor that is due
To our country’s very best.
-------------By Joanna Fuchs----------------

This day can go easily overlooked with the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. However I believe it is so important and we, as Americans, seek out and thank a veteran. The choice of sacrifice that these men and women have made gets overlooked consistently by an apathetic and uninformed society. Our liberty is not something to be taken lightly or for granted. If it was not for these individuals that liberty and freedom would be in jeopardy. So to all of those veterans who read this I say THANK YOU. We will remember your sacrifice and service through the lives we lead in freedom everyday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Persian Army Found After Missing for 2500 years

The year was 525BC and Cambyses II, ruler of Persian was looking to expand his empire into the recently weakened country of Egypt. Pharaoh Psamtik II had assumed the reign of Egypt from his father however Psamtik II was inexperienced and not prepared to lead his country against an invading force, especially one as strong as the Persians. The Persians were successful in defeating the Egyptians at Pelusium and expanding their empire.

The priests at the temple of the Oracle of Amun were refusing to legitimize the claim of Cambyses II as ruler of Egypt. Cambyses II did not tolerate this behavior so he sent a 50,000 man army to Siwa Oasis in order to kill the priests and destroy the temple. The problem is the army never made to the temple. The army was lost in what was believed to have been a massive sandstorm which instantly buried everywhere. Herodotus wrote of this account and what happened to the army. Without any evidence however many historians believed this account to by simply a myth. Numerous archaeologists have attempted to search for this lost army in the deserts of Egypt with no luck.

After numerous expeditions and exhaustive research and analysis famous twin archaeologists Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni believe that have discovered the remains of this lost army. What started out as an expedition to locate the presence of iron meteorites the brothers and their research team came across a half-buried pot and some human remains. From their they came across a large rock which the brothers believed was possibly used as a shield against the sandstorm. Further digging at the time revealed a bronze dagger and several arrow tips, all dating to the Persian era.

Further expeditions allowed the brothers to find elements of a necklace, dated in the Acheamenid period, an earring, as well as graveyard of bones which a few decades ago had been uncovered by a sandstorm. They had learned that grave robbers and tourists had taken many priceless artifacts from the area however the team was able to uncover more Persian arrow heads and a horse bit which matches that of images of a Persian horse bit. Further analysis of the bones and digging in the area will hopefully answer more questions about what happened to this army. This has the potential to be a very significant find in terms of the validity of Herodotus' account.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Hoard of Ancient Jewelry Found in Scotland

David Booth had only purchase the metal detector five days prior and was out scanning his first field for hidden treasure. He never expected to unearth one of the most significant finds in Scotland in the last 150 years. Booth was about an hour into his first treasure hunting experience when his device went off. Only seven paces away from his car it told him that there was gold. Marking out the territory and digging about six to seven inches down he discover something that people might only dream of finding. Buried in ground he found four gold necklaces that have been dated during the Iron Age (around 300BC-100BC). 

Within hours of contacting the National Museum of Scotland, officials met him to examine the find. Experts such as Dr. Fraser Hunter is elated about the discovery and immediately established a dig around the site in which the gold pieces were found. The pieces have identify by style and type to come from the Southwestern France which means they were purchased and brought to the area in some way. Hunter believed that this "will revolutionise the way Scotland's ancient inhabitants are viewed - it shows they were much less isolated than previously believed." The dig site revealed remnants of a wooden roundhouse, leading experts to believe that the jewellery was buried for safekeeping or possible used as an ancient votive. These finds "suggest tribes in what we think of as 'Scotland' had rather wider links than archaeologists a generation ago would have expected. They knew what was going on elsewhere, valued similar things, and emulated practice in burials or votives." The dig site is being kept secret at this time while the "Treasure Trove Unit" of the National Museum of Scotland seeks to answer questions that have been brought about by this latest find.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fritz Darges, Adolf Hitler's Adjutant, Dies at 96

Volunteering to join the SS right out of school in 1933, Fritz Darges moved up the ranks eventually reaching First Lieutenant in 1937. As the war broke out Darges became a company commander earning himself two Iron Crosses and distinguishing himself as a skilled leader. In March of 1943 Darges became Hitler's adjutant, giving him ultimate access to all war plans and the life of Adolf Hitler.

Darges was famously dismissed as adjutant and sent to the eastern front when Hitler asked him to kill a fly and Darges joking states that it was an airborne issue and the responsibility of the Luftwaffe. Darges then took command of the 5th Panzer Regiment where he was awarded the Knight's Cross for his involvement in an engagement in January 1945. There his regiment destroyed a Soviet Tank Force and advanced toward Regis Castle, forcing the garrison there to retreat. Darges quickly found himself surrounded by Soviet reinforcements and fought off numerous attacks for three days until he was relieved by another tank regiment.

Darges died on October 25, 2009 at the age of 96 leaving behind a manuscript which was instructed to be published after his death. The manuscript is believed to shed some light on the inner works and conversations of Adolf Hitler. Many historians believe that Darges' manuscript will show that Hitler planned and executed the 'final solution' which resulted in the death of millions of Jews. It will be interesting to read through this manuscript when it is published and learn, first hand, about Hitler from the perspective of Nazi commander.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Exploring the Constitution: Part 3 - Congress

Article 1

section 4
The first part of section 4 placed the power of elections in the hands of the states. Allowing them to choose the time, place, and manner in which they handle the elections. This is something I believed is taken for granted today however placing the power of elections in the hands of the states allows for a major check and balance in possible election fraud. If the central government had the power to control the elections then the majority power in office would have the power to effect the outcome. On the other side if the minority power lost in another election they could claim election fraud even though there might not be any. This prevents any sign of possible fraud by either party or political group.

The second part of section 4 is actually superseded by the 20th Amendment and therefore not something we will dive into until then.

section 5
Here each House (Senate and House of Representatives) is given the authority to dictate their own rules of its proceedings, journals, elections, and punishments.

section 6
Aside from the same portion on Compensation from the Treasury which is actually covered in the 27th Amendment, this section covers the prevention of Congressional member from being arrested going to, while in session, and leaving their House. Many people are confused by this concept but we have to remind ourselves what branch of the government has the duty of enforcing the law? With that power in the hands of the executive branch, the President could use arrest as a form of intimidation to get his agenda passed or use it as a means to prevent certain elected representatives from voting on legislation.

This section also prevents members of either House from holding another Civil Office in the United States or being elected into the opposite House at the same time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What is the History Behind... Sweetest Day

You always here those people, especially men, get upset about having to buy flowers, cards, or gifts for some random holiday. They usually end up saying that this holiday was "created by the card and candy companies just to sell more stuff." There are some truths to those rumors when it comes to Sweetest Day.

On October 8, 1921, in Cleveland, Ohio, people celebrated Sweestest Day for the first time. The origins of the holiday are debated by people in the area. Many attribute the holiday to a candy company employee named Herbert Birch Kingston. His idea was to give out candy and chocolate to those less fortunate in order to brighten up their day. On that first Sweetest Day it is exactly what happened. Various candy companies in the area contribute to the effort of passing out candy boxes to those less fortunate around the city. Big time Hollywood stars at the time, Ann Pennington and Theda Bara, came to Cleveland and handed out out over 12,000 boxes of candy to newsboys, orphans, and widows, they even arrived at a local Hospital to pass out boxes of chocolates there. The idea was for this day to be set aside as "The Sweetest Day in the Year."

In the following year an editorial was published in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer on October 8, 1922 with the intention of promoting the upcoming Sweetest Day on October 14th. The editorial was a single page which stated:

"Love is always the dominant motif in a successful life. Most of us have love in our hearts, but too often it remains there, never manifesting itself before those who inspire it. Perhaps the business of living in this day and age when every moment requires energy and exertion, precludes the constant exhibition of sentiment. There are those of us who have mothers and fathers back in the little home town--or here in Cleveland for that matter. Life itself would not be too much of a sacrifice in their behalf if necessary, yet how few times do we really show that we care. And remember your glorious courtship when all the world seemed in tune. Years will never dim the sacred memory of those golden days. Your wife remembers the hundreds of little attentions you showered upon her then. Little things perhaps, but maybe she sighs to herself every once in a while, and yearns--and hopes. The Sweetest Day in the year came into being because the founders recognized the eternal tendency of men and women to become so engaged in the rush and whirl of life, and to forget the finer, more appealing things. On this day, next Saturday, steal enough time from the turmoil of routine affairs, to bring a bit of good cheer to those you love. A present, perhaps, and more than that add a loving word--a smile--a kiss. This life we lead is but a segment in the eternal order of things. Too soon we find ourselves out of the running, living on memories of days gone by. Build yourself a heritage for that time. The Sweetest day is worthy of our attention. Regard it's observance as a sacred duty--and a rare opportunity. J.L.S."

In addition to the editorial a reporter for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Bill Lubinger, chronicled how the first Sweetest Day came about. His story indicated how the holiday was created by a committee known as 'The Sweetest Day in the Year Committee'. The group consisted of twelve candymakers and manufactures chaired by C.C. Hartzell. Led by Hartzell they helped organize the entire event, brought in the Hollywood stars and pushed for the holiday to continue the following year on October 14, 1922. You can see from the editorial above that Sweetest Day, within just a year, took on a different meaning. What started out as a way to brighten the lives of those less fortunate had now evolved into showing affection or sweetness to all those around you.

Attempts were actually made to spread Sweetest Day around the country. The first objective for the Committee was to take it to New York City. In October 1927, The New York Times reported that the powers that be had named a week "Sweetest Week." In 1937, the New York Times reported that the National Confectioners Association is trying to rank Sweetest Day on the same level with Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. And finally in 1940, the 'Sweetest Day in the Year Committee' passed out over 10,000 boxes of candy to local charities around the city. These attempts to spread the holiday to New York aided in making it a holiday that is celebrated by some today.

Today Sweetest Day has never been able to elevate itself to the same level as Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. It is still celebrated however by mainly people in the Great Lakes region. For the most part the majority of the country has never heard of Sweetest Day or does not recognize it as a holiday they celebrate. Based on sales of Sweetest Day cards and gifts the most popular cities which celebrate this holiday are Cleveland, Detroit, and Buffalo. Growing up in Indiana I had never heard of it until I was 26 years old and even then I thought it was a joke. Despite the lack of widespread popularity Hallmark produces nearly 150 Sweetest Day cards with many stores in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois advertising gift baskets and flower arrangements for that special someone. I would say that whether you have celebrated this holiday or never heard of it, it is a great reason to make the gesture for your sweetheart or significant other and show them how much you care.

So to my wife I want to say: Happy Sweetest Day!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ancient Roman Port Discovered

Nearly 20 miles outside the city center of Rome and only yards away from Rome's International Airport, Fiumicino, British archaeologists have made a major discovery of Ancient Rome. They unearthed what is believed to be the largest and most populous port for the city of Rome, despite earlier beliefs that the major port for Rome was Ostia. Beyond that they also discovered inside an imperial palace at the port a 2,000 seat amphitheatre which is estimated to be around the same size as the Pantheon in Rome.

The ancient port, known as Portus, has seen archaeologists working on it as far back as the 19th century however stronger emphasis has been placed on the site in recent years. The port itself supplied the people of Rome with "food, slaves, wild animals, luxury goods and building materials for hundreds of years." It seems at this point it will take quite a bit longer to discover all the details of how the port was used and its importance in Roman History. According to Professor Keay of the University of Southampton, who is one of the leads on the project, he stated "It's going to generate a lot of rethinking about how ports were used and that will change the way we think about Rome's relationship with the Mediterranean." Keay believes it is possible that Portus had greater role in the economy and socio-relations of Rome to the entire Mediterranean than they ever realized.

The real find for the archaeologists has been the amphitheatre which they discovered within an imperial palace on the grounds. It seems as if the amphitheatre was something used for private events. "'Its design, using luxurious materials and substantial colonnades, suggests it was used by a high status official, possibly even the emperor himself, and the activities that took place there were strictly private: it could have been games or gladiatorial combat, wild beast baiting or the staging of mock sea battles, but we really do not know." It is absolutely fascinating to think that a 2,000 seat arena was built strictly for the private use of the emperor and his friends. I would venture to guess that the private facility was used to entertain visiting dignitaries or important officials who were visiting Rome by way of the harbor at Portus.

For further information on the story visit the two links below:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

History in Film: Defiance

Set in Poland in World War II, Defiance depicts the exploits of the Bielski Brothers and how they saved the lives of over 1,200 Jews from the concentration camps of Hitler and the German Army. The Bielski Brothers, led by Tuvia and Zus, fled to the forests for protection from the invading Germans. While there they came across more Jews fleeing into the forest for protection with little food and no shelter. Tuvia, played by Daniel Craig, decides it is up to them to led and protect these people; helping them to provided shelter, scavenger for food, and seek out weapons. Despite disagreements with his brother Zus, the brothers helped in bringing the people together and creating a community. Many of the supplies that they received were either voluntarily or by force from nearby towns and villages. The Bielski's formed, along with many others in the region, a partisan group which were basically small military style groups that fought against the Germans. These resistance groups, like the Bielski Partisans, would not face Germany armies but rather engaged in guerrilla warfare and sabotage against the Nazis and aiding the Soviet army when needed.

The historical accuracy of the film is on par for being a Hollywood production. The Bielski brothers did exist and they did led over a thousand Jews into forming a protective community within the Naliboki Forest in the Belarussia region. However like most Hollywood movies some creative license was taken. The fact that these people were Polish was difficult to ascertain. For the majority of the movie you believe these Jewish exiles are Russian. I believe their connection to their descent, both Polish and Jewish, play a much bigger role in the story than was depicted in the movie. From accounts that I have read the Bielski partisan never actually encountered German tanks or heavy infintry which you see in a climatic scene near the end. Despite being an entertaining portion of the movie it is more than likely untrue.

Aside from Daniel Craig's inability to maintain his Eastern European accent at times he did a fantastic job at depicting the turmoil of being maintain control of the community as well as his fear for the lives of himself and the people around him. The weight of leadership shows itself on numerous occasions but Tuvia does everything he can to not show that. In addition, the idea conveyed that the Bielski Partisan was a righteous group of freedom fighters is a little skewd. Although the brothers themselves are not believed to have been involved the Bielski Partisan itself has been connected to a possible massacre of 129 women and children in the village of Naliboki. An investigation has been going over the last 8 years but nothing definitive has been released on the matter(1). Without having read either of the two major works on the Bielksi Brothers by Tec (1993) and Duffy (2004), I am unable to give a definitive analysis of the historical details of the movie. Overall I enjoyed the movie, learned something, and would recommend it to others.

Entertainment Rating - 3.5 out of 5
Historical Value - 3 out of 5


Friday, October 2, 2009

The Presidential Rankings Survey

In 2000, and again in 2009, C-SPAN put out a survey to 65 historians and other scholars ranking the Presidents of the United States from greatest to least. Some of the top historians of the day are included in the group including H.W. Brands, Richard Norton Smith, and James McPherson. The survey was broke down into ten leadership characteristics that define a President. The historians gave a score to each President in each specific category, such as Crisis Leadership, and an average of the scores for each President in that category was given. The best possible overall score a President could receive is 100 with the worst being zero, for instance James K. Polk was given a total score of 70.2 for Crisis Leadership.

In the 2009 survey the top ten Presidents were ranked in this order:
  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. George Washington
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  4. Theodore Roosevelt
  5. Harry S. Truman
  6. John F. Kennedy
  7. Thomas Jefferson
  8. Dwight D Eisenhower
  9. Woodrow Wilson
  10. Ronald Reagan

As Presidents go it is hard to argue the validity of these ten Presidents and how great they were in this role. I found some of the trends between the 2000 survey and the 2009 survey interesting. Nearly all the Presidents since Eisenhower have seen an increase in their overall rankings. Eisenhower, Reagan, Ford, Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush all saw small increases. Clinton seeing the most dramatic increase in his ranking going from 21st to 15th. This is not too surprising to see because as time progresses history reflects on past events and individuals more objectively. For instance one could simply look at similar polls of Presidential rankings throughout the last 50 years and would see Presidents making dramatic moves up or down the list. For instance, Eisenhower moved up the rankings from 22nd in 1962 to 8th in 2009. In addition Herbert Hoover dropped during that same time period from 19th to 34th.

Historians for the most part tend to look at all events in the past through their own personal worldview. If there is a historical event or period of time that they personally experienced then their personal views on that moment tend to cloud their objective historical analysis. Which is why that history is difficult to analyze and evaluate for at least a single generation. Currently for instance George W. Bush is ranked 36th in the 2009 survey. I firmly believe that you will see him move up in the rankings, probably not dramatically, but to some degree simply because a look at his presidency more objectively will take place over time. The best example I have for this is Richard M. Nixon. In two different 1982 surveys Nixon was ranked 34th. However in a more recent Presidential survey his ranking has increased to 27th. Nixon was not a well liked individual and President upon his resignation and for a few decades afterwards. The focal point of his administration was always upon Watergate. However after his death in 1994, Nixon's administration was looked at more objectively and his Presidential accomplishments began to show through. Without question Nixon will always be ranked near the bottom but he has seen increases more recently because we are starting to look at his Presidency more objectively.

I really found the C-SPAN survey to be interesting and informative. I look forward to seeing another come out after the Obama administration leaves office. It will be interesting to see where certain Presidents rank at that point, specifically George W. Bush and Barak Obama. Below you will find a link to the survey and I suggest you explore and see if you agree with where your favorite President ranks, especially in the various categories their are graded upon.

C-SPAN Presidential Survey:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What is the History Behind... the wedding ring

Two years into the papacy of Pope Nicholas I, also known as Nicholas the Great, he began to consolidate power under the church attempting to make the pope greater than all the kings of Europe. He accomplished this by various means, one in which was through marital law. In 860 AD, Pope Nicholas I decreed that engagement rings were a requirement to symbolize nuptial intent. In addition Nicholas I believed that they should be made of gold, the purpose of this was to show a financial sacrifice for ones true love. This decree is where we get the tradition of giving an engagement ring to signify ones intention to marry another. However the traditions and symbols of rings stretch much further back, all the way back to ancient Egypt.

Nearly 4800 years ago in Ancient Egypt the people along the great Nile River took strands of various plants along the river and created rings to be worn. The ring itself or the circle is a sign for eternity with no beginning or end (much like it does today). In addition, the hole in the middle of the ring symbolizes a gateway leading to future events whether presumed or unknown. The ring quickly became a token of love in the Egyptian culture however was not used in the form in which we use it today. The tradition of placing the ring on the third finger in your left hand started in the Egyptian culture with the belief that a major vein of circulation ran from that third finger straight to the heart. After the conquest of Greeks in 332 B.C. the belief of that vein and the tradition of wearing a ring on that particular finger continued.

During the Roman era, many of these traditions that were passed from the Egyptians to the Greeks continued. With the extended use of metal the ring took on a new form, going from reeds of plant to being made of iron, bronze, and other precious metals. It was also during this time period that the ring was worn by married woman, believed to show the ties of that woman to her husband.

As time progressed beyond the Roman era the traditions of the engagement ring and eventually the wedding ring itself grew. It became more and more popular to use silver and gold to forge rings. Especially after Pope Nicholas I, gold became the standard for engagement and wedding rings. All the way up until the 1940s, men traditionally did not wear wedding rings, it was only the women. It was during World War 2, when men were away from their wives for long periods of time, that men began to wear wedding rings as a remind of their wives back home. Many men said it was a cheerful reminder of what they were fighting for at home. Today the tradition of engagement and wedding rings is seen throughout the world and is a symbol of ones love andcommitment to another person.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Exploring the Constitution: Part 2 - Congress

Article 1

James Madison in writing about the importance of the separation of powers noted that certain powers can not be divided equally among the three branches of government. He stated that too much power in the legislature can be dangerous and to "remedy for this inconvenience is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit" (Federalist 51). Article one focuses in on this branch of the United States Government, its function, its structure, and its purpose.
section 1
The United States Government would be broken up into three distinct and seperate branches. Article on, section one of the U.S. Constitution establishes that the legislative powers of central government will be placed in the hands of the Congress of the United States which will consist of two divisions; a Senate and a House of Representatives. This seems like an obvious statement but it must be established for the states to approve such a resolution that the power of people will be in the hands of representatives from each state. In addition it is important to recognize that not all power is vested within a single body. That body is broken into two distinct groups which represent the people of the United States in different ways. The following two sections identify the exact structure and eligibility for member of each division.

section 2This section focuses mainly on the structure of the House of Representatives. The major aspects of election, eligibility, and number of representatives are identified here (elected every two years, must be at least 25 years old and a U.S. citizen for 7 years, and a census must be completed at least every 10 years to determine proportion of representatives). The section also identifies when a vacancy occurs the Executive of the State that is represented is required to issue a writs of election. The House of Representatives is also responsible for electing a Speaker of the House and has sole authority of Impeachment. The element that needs to be focused on is the middle clause that address who is and is not included in the census data for representation. The original Constitution states that only "free persons" shall be represented. It specifically excludes "Indians not taxed, and" includes "three fifths of all other Persons." Many use this section to show how the Constitution and this new United States of America did not truly mean that "all men are created equal." Let's examine the two major groups here which are Native American Indians and African slaves.

Native Americans were seen as another people, a different culture, in fact a separate nation by the people of that day. When battles or fights broke out between Indians and frontiersmen it was seen as an invasion from one nation upon another. Not specifically stating it was the Indians invading the Americans because the many times the Indians were feeling threatened by the American people in the western states. This forced them to defend their land, their territory. However if you notice the excerpt in the Constitution it states "Indians not taxed" are excluded from representation. The issue was not to say Indians were a sub-race or inferior. The intention of the this was to prevent states from inflating their population statistics and therefore gaining larger representation in the House of Representatives. If an Indian is paying taxes in the state they are a functioning member of the society and therefore contributing to the greater good. If they are not paying taxes then they are not contributing to the state and logically should not be represented.

The next portion is the issue of slavery and their representation among the states. It is very important to realize that this was a major subject of debate between Northern and Southern states. The Constitution states that 3/5 of all slaves will count apart of the census and therefore will affect apportionment of representatives in the House accordingly. This debate over counting slaves was not new to the Constitutional Convention. It actually started with the Articles of Confederation in 1783. Since the decision for the compromise was not unanimous at the time it failed. This allowed for the same debate and compromise to rear its head during the Constitution Convention. One thing that people must realize today was that it would have been impossible for the Northern leaders to stand up against slavery without losing the Union. The South would have broken away at that moment and created their own country. That threat was on the table. To maintain the United States the leaders of the North decided to allow this compromise because many of them believed that slavery was going to slowly die off without direct intervention to stop it. They were seeing this in England and other European countries and it would allow be a matter of time for the South to learn from their ways. Many people try to say that the Founding Fathers were all racist and supported the oppression of African people. This is not true. Countless journals, letters, and newspaper article indicate a peaceful existence between whites and blacks in many areas of the country. There are exceptions, there are always exceptions. Other provisions were made by the Northern leaders to block the spread and retard the growth of slavery in the United States. The rest of section two identifies the number of initial representation for the states, how vacancies are handled, and how a leader and officers are chosen and removed.

section 3
This section focus on the structure of the Senate. It identifies that all states will have two representatives each and each Senator will be provided a single vote. It states that Senators must be at least 30 years of age and citizens of the United States for nine years. It also stated here that Senators are elected by their state assemblies however this process was changed by the 17th Amendment in 1913. Also it states that the President of the Senate and the tie breaking vote will be held by the Vice President of the United States.

The key element in this section are the rules of Impeachment which are exclusive to the Senate. It states that in cases of Impeachment of the President of the United States the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is to preside. However aside from that the Chief Justice is not required. Also for an impeachment to be passed at least two thirds majority vote vote in favor. Impeachment as it states is not a criminal trial it is only the first step necessary toward a removal from office.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What is the History Behind... the term "getting off scot-free"

Every one of us sometime in our lives has uttered the phrase, "getting away with it scot-free." Many people have believed that the term comes from some sort of Scottish tradition or derogatory term against the Scottish people. Others have believed that it began with Dred Scot, an American slave who went to court in order to gain his freedom. In reality the etymology of the phrase has its roots as far back as 13th century medieval Europe.

The word scot is an old Scandinavian term which references the making of a payment or contribution. In England, starting near the end of the 12th century, a tax was levied against the people known as Scot and Lot. This became a well known tax among the people which was an assessment tax on households for the purpose of raising money to pay for local and some national expenses. Most of the money for these taxes was to go toward helping the poor. Being an assessment tax the more property you owned the larger the tax would be. Many of the wealthier gentlemen and nobles in the country would bribe tax collectors or withhold information for the purpose of avoiding the tax. It was not long until the term scot-free was used to describe this action by the wealthier elite. Since the Scot and Lot tax continued all the way up until 1832 the term became a common phrase within the English language.

Since the term scot refers to making a payment the use of the phrase scot-free expanded beyond just avoiding the Scot and Lot tax. The term scot began to reference ones tab at a local tavern or other entertainment type expenses. If someone paid the tab for them or the person was able to avoid paying the bill you were known to have gotten away scot-free. This simply perpetuated the term and helped integrated it into the everyday vocabulary of the common man. It is easy to see why this term is still being used today.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11th

Eight years ago today the United States was attacked by rogue Islamic terrorists in an attempt to destroy American lives and our basic way of life. On that day eight years ago 2,993 people lost their lives making it the greatest single attack in American History. This event changed the American culture and the way we viewed the world. With this in mind remind yourself of that day, teach your children, and discover the significance it plays out today. Click on the link below and you will find a great interactive link on the events of September 11, 2001.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today in History: 70th Anniversary of the Invasion of Poland

Seventy years ago today, Germany began a military offensive that changed the world. The offensive was apart of an effort by Adolf Hitler to bring all peoples of Germany heritage back into a single country. Early in the morning, 4:40am on September 1, 1939, Luftwaffe forces attacked the town of Wielun, destroying 75% of the town and killing nearly 1,200 people most of the civilians. Minutes later the German battleship, Schleswig-Holstein, opened fire on a Polish military transit depot. By 8am, German troops were marching into the town of Mokra. Within only a month the German army had completely overran Poland, establishing it as apart of their general governmental structure.

Many do not realize that this invasion of Poland was not limited to Germany alone. The Russian army actually invaded from the East on September 17th, 1939. This plan of attack was actually established in an agreement between Germany and Russia in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed on August 24, 1939. Subsequently, the territory once known as Poland was divided between the Germans and Russians and maintained those borders until after the war and beyond.

As younger generations are coming of age the importance of World War 2 I believe is beginning to fade. With fewer veterans and less interest being placed on our history, younger generations are failing to understand the significance that World War 2 had on today's world. There are so many fascinating stories and details of the war that one can get lost in learning. I suggest to everyone out there to find an area of the war that interests them and dive a little deeper. Nearly any and every subject and interest has its place in World War 2 history. If you have trouble finding information on a specific any of interest shoot me a message and I would be more than happy to find something to fit your interest level.

Check out this link:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Today in History: 40th Anniversary of Woodstock

On a farm near the rural town of Bethel, NY became the site of what is considered by many to be one of the most pivitol moments in music history. It started as a simple concert festival however turned into a symbol that defined an entire generation. The music festival was originally billed as: "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music." Worldwide it became known as Woodstock, which went beyond just being a musical event and became a mark on the timeline of history.

Woodstock originally launched as a music festival with the intention of have an audience of no more than 50,000 people. Ticket Sales were limited to just record stores in the greater New York City Area. However, nearly 180,000 tickets were sold beforehand with an anticipated 200,000 additional people that would show up at the gate. The concert organizers had a decision to make. Reinforce security and fences to keep people without tickets out (which was believed would cause violence) or invest their money into a bigger stage and sound system. Woodstock in turn became a free concert for all that turned up. It is estimated that nearly 500,000 people showed up to the 600 acre farm owned by Max Yasgur.

As people arrived traffic became an absolute nightmare. Radio stations as far as Manhattan were telling people to not attended because of their inability to get in. To make the problem even worse, rain had fallen over the last few days causing mud and hazardous conditions for parking vehicles in nearby fields. Despite all the hangups and issues getting the festival started and the bands lined up the music began. Concert-goers were enthralled with the rich music that was played for hours and hours on end. In addition, despite the massive crowds, unsanitary conditions, and lack of food there was no violence and only 2 fatalities. Fearing the damage and massive crowds camping out at Woodstock the organizers received a call from the New York Governor threatening to bring in the National Guard on the final day of the concert however he was convinced not to. Afterwards however the county was declared a state of emergency.

I encourage anyone to research and learn about the concert and specifically the impact it had on the culture of the day. CCR member John Fogerty, being one of the first bands to accept the Woodstock invitation, commented on the concert and their performance at 3am.

"We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn... there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud. And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: a quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, "Don't worry about it John. We're with you." I played the rest of the show for that guy." -- John Fogerty

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Medieval Map showing North America is verified as real

In the 1960s a Medieval map surfaced showing parts of North America. The map, 1440 over fifty years before Columbus' voyage, is believed to have proven Vikings discovered portions of North America and that it was well known outside of the Scandinavian society. Cartographer Rene Larsen of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts stated at a recent conference that he believed the map to be real and authentic based on various tests over the last five years. An important piece of history which changes some perspectives of the time and of the influence of the Viking culture.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Today in History: Apollo 11 Landed on the Moon

Few moments in our lives can we say, "I remember exactly where I was when..." Forty years ago, on July 20, 1969, we had one of those moments with the first man to touch the surface of our moon. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins touched the lives of all Americans and captured the imaginations of an entire generation of people. To add to its majesty the late great Walter Cronkite eloquently brought us through this moment and allowed the people of the United States of America to feel and understand how great this moment truly is and was.

The impact that the landing had on American society probably is far greater than historians will ever be able to determine. The imaginations and inventiveness of the Baby Boom generation created a technologically advanced world that history would have never thought possible. What is the connection? In the minds of children that witnessed that invent the impossible became possible. Dreams became a reality. And most importantly limits could and would now be pushed because so many believed it was now possible. If you know nothing of the lunar landing except that it happened a long time along and the famous quote of Neil Armstrong when he first stepped onto the surface then I challenge you to investigate it. The link below will connect you to the NASA site and the historical data on Apollo 11. This is a moment in our nations history that not only defined a generation but also a society and effected the course of human history.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Exploring the Constitution: The Preamble

"The true key for the construction of everything doubtful in a law is the intention of the law-makers. This is most safely gathered from the words, but may be sought also in extraneous circumstances provided they do not contradict the express words of the law." --Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1808. ME12:59
This is the springboard for a detailed look at our Constitution. It is so vital for all Americans to have a full understanding and grasp of the very foundation of our laws. My goal is to focus in on what the Constitution actually says and decipher its meaning from the perspective of the founding fathers. My objective is to ask the question, why is this in there and what did they mean by it? Basically to find out what does it mean to us today. We start with the Preamble. For those of us that grew up watching "School House Rock!" it is embedded in our minds through a catchy song. The importance of this first paragraph can sometimes go overlooked, however it is an introductory paragraph, a summary of the 5 guidelines to the United States Government. These guidelines are the framework for which the rest of the Constitution is formed.

We the people...
Such a simple phrase in today's language and understanding however then it was so much more important and significant. Our government is all about the will of the people and the preservation of our natural rights. Not the rights and privileges of some King or monarchy. This government is and always will be "of the people, by the people, and for the people" (Abraham Lincoln). It is true that slavery was a prominent component in the United States at this time however it is important to see that the delegates did not exclude anyone in the language of the Preamble. They could have easily written, "We the chosen race" or "We the white people" or "We of European descent." I am not condoning the activities of the slave owning establishment at that time nor do I believe the delegates all believed that slaves had the same rights as whites. What I am suggesting is that the founders, at least key memebers, understood that this language was going to allow for the freedom and liberty of all men regardless of race, religion, or creed. These words, "we the people", became the center piece of the anti-slavery and eventually civil rights movements. In numerous court cases this phrase is the centerpiece of the argument that the language and therefore the intent of the Constitution is to include all men and women to be given equal rights under the law.

in order to form a more perfect Union
The Articles of Confederation, the first government of the United States, was a failure. The national government, which consisted of simply a single congress, had little ability to do anything. They could not require states to pay federal taxes, they could not raise an army, and they could not develop any foreign treaties or relations because the states were doing this without authorization. The states were doing all of these things as if they were autonomous countries, subservient to no one. A better system of government had to be established. That is what is meant by a more perfect Union. The Articles of Confederation was great because it was by the people and cherished states rights. This new Union perseves those same rights of the people and the states however places more control and power in the hands of the central government. In reality this statement was a slogan to pitch the idea of a better government than we've had before. Not different just more perfect than the first.

The following are the 5 purposes of Government:

Establish Justice
With laws being the very foundation of our government they must be defended and enforced. Most important the Constitution, our foundation of law, must be protected from all body politics as well as the people at large. Therefore a key purpose of our government is to establish a judicial system that will protect and defend the Constitution, as well as our individual rights as citizens. Judges must be established to fulfill this obligation. As a judge the "Constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law." - Federalist Paper No. 78. This is the purpose and function for judges appointed to all levels of the Federal and State court system. In addition, one of the biggest fears that people of that day had was a judicial system that was controlled by the political system. Alexander Hamilton agreed that, in Federalist Paper No. 78, "there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislature and executive powers." This quote was actually lifted from the writing of Montesquieu and used as a defense for a third branch of government. The Founding Fathers understood that law is the foundation of a good and stable government, without that a republic will crumble. It can not be left up man along to obey the laws and defend their personal liberties, it must be done through a legal system where rights and fairness are establish and justice is blind to all men.

Insure Domestic Tranquility
To fully understand this concept we must realize the context in which this Constitution was written. Just months before the Constitution Convention convened in the summer of 1787 their was a widespread rebellion in the North, even spreading a little South, known as Shay's Rebellion. One would expect revolutionaries in the United States to support the rebellion as it stood up against oppression, poverty, and government taxation, all monickers of the American Revolution. The reality of the situation was much different. Men like the ardent revolutionary figure Samuel Adams spoke out against the rebellion stating, "Rebellion against a king may be pardoned, or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death." The biggest problem the United States had during the rebellion was an inability of the national government to organize any control over the rebellion. Under the Articles of Confederation, the Congress had no ability to organize a standing army or require funds from the states to aid in the efforts. This was something that the new national government wanted to remedy. Insuring domestic tranquility means to guarantee a peace among the states and the people at large. The national government needed the ability to protect the people without restraint.

Provide for the Common Defense
"National Defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman" (John Adams to James Lloyd, Jan 1815). This is a primary and most prominent responsibility of any government, to defend against foreign invasion. Such an obvious element of a national government yet the U.S. Congress under the Articles of Confederation had no ability to raise a standing army let alone the capabilities to fund it. This changed under the new U.S. Constitution.

Promote the General Welfare
A very controversial phrase and one that has been debated since its creation in 1787. What does promoting general welfare mean and what does it look like? This is a subject will be explored in further detail later however the basic definition of the word welfare I believe answers our initial question. It is the job of the government to promote the general "health, happiness, and prosperity" of the American people. Promoting it however is the term which people get hung up on. The definition of the word suggests encouraging or flourishing the general welfare. This would mean government is responsible for removing any hindrances or obstacles that arrest the growth and development of the general welfare and allowing general welfare to thrive.

Secure the Blessings of Liberty
Liberty is such a foundational objective of the American Revolution that not placing this statement in here as a key element to the Constitution would be ridiculous. One of the greatest symbols of the American Revolution, which still can be seen today is the Liberty Bell. It is a symbol of our freedom and sacrifice. The bell has inscribed on it the importance of how we view Liberty in our country. It says "Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." These blessing that the government will secure are spelled out in the articles of the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights. The government is responsible for protecting those freedoms among all citizens.

to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This Constitution is for the people of the United States and every generation thereafter. The Constitution of the United States is such a sacred document for the American people and our way of life that we must be reminded of it from time to time. It is tragic to think that so many citizens have no clue what is actually written in our founding document. My goal is to explore in detail the articles of the Constitution along with its Amendments and discover what the founders intent was when they wrote it. James Wilson, a lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and delegate to the Constitution Convention stated "The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it."

Monday, July 6, 2009

An over 200 year-old cipher, decoded.

I found this article fascinating. It talks about a code-breaker who cracked the code of a message sent to Thomas Jefferson. The man was actually trying to show Jefferson what he believed to be the perfect cipher. It being 200 years old I would have to say he was close to right.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Refreshing Revolution among the People

I am not suggesting revolution among the people today by any means but what am I suggesting is consideration of the meaning and origins of the American Revolution. One of the purposes of this blog has been and will continue to be a refreshment of the facts, events, people, and purposes of our American Heritage. So let me go back to the question of revolution, what does it mean?

The length of an answer to this question could fill book shelves with volumes on the subject. What I am asking is for the person reading this to think about it? What did the revolution mean? Was it solely a political matter in which an oppressive government was forcing their will upon a non-represented distant peoples? Was it a social matter do to the fact that Americans were simply a completely different people than their English counterparts and a separation was the only answer? Was it economically due to England's restrictions on American trade and free market practices? There are so many reasons and possibilities that considering a single root cause to the issue would be impossible. Many historians would argue that it was a multitude of reasons which collided to spawn revolution. The point is for us to always keep in our minds our revolution. To learn about our founding and discover for ourselves the meaning behind it.

With only two days until we celebrate the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence there is so much for us to be thankful. When you watch the fireworks and celebrate with friends consider for a second how it all started, who helped start it, and why. Ask your children and grandchildren if they know who are George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Most important ask them why they were significant before they became Presidents. Finally I want to leave you with a quote from Thomas Jefferson. I welcome comments being left which talk about your thoughts on the following quote and what it means for us today.

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.It is its natural manure."

Happy Fourth of July Everyone!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Regulators Movement in the Carolinas

The following is an article I wrote on the Regulators Movement in the Carolinas. The Regulators, as they were known for trying to regulate prices, started as a rebellion to government officials overtaxing and forcing rural farmers to pay more than required. The culmination of the movement was the Battle of Alamance where they defeated by the Carolina and Virginia militias. The interesting element to the story is that the very men fighting against each other here were fighting along side each other only 5 years later in the American Revolution.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Visiting Red Hill

For those of us out there that love history it can be difficult sometimes to feel apart of it. Sure we can read the stories, analyze the journals, and examine the letters but to feel connected, it can be difficult. There are those moments when we take a trip to a historical site and have that opportunity to see the chair that Washington sat in, witness the landscape that Jefferson saw, view the battlefield as Meade had seen it. Those are the moments that we feel most connected to history. Those are the moments I suggest you try and seek out.

I had one of these opportunities the other day when I visited the last home of Patrick Henry. One area of disappointment, which I know many history pundits out there probably get frustrated with, are replicas. Much of the original home of Henry's was destroyed in a fire and so they rebuilt the structure just recently, bringing it back to what they believe was the original design. I completely understand and appreciate their line of thinking and it still beneficial to see a time period piece of architecture but it does not hold the same weight in my mind. It just does not quite have that feeling of authenticity. The one amazing element of the home was the actual in the far east part of the lot. It was the grave stone of Patrick Henry. This was the actual spot that one of our founding fathers and as Jefferson stated, greatest orator, of America. The moment I touched the solid stone tablet I felt connected to history, to the moment and period of the Revolution. It felt like I was apart of history in a small way. Henry was one of the great orators and thinkers of the Revolutionary period and we thank him for his service.

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.---- Patrick Henry

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior

By the time George Washington reached the age of 16 he had written a list of 110 rules of etiquette. Taken from a book on French etiquette Washington more than likely wrote these out as an exercise of penmanship. He showed however that from a young age and through his Presidency, he regarded it important to act as a gentleman at all times. John Adams was quoted as saying, "There is something charming to me in the conduct of Washington, a gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent." The list below identifies just a few of the rules that Washington consistently lived his life by and maybe we should take to heart.

#1 - Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

#6 - Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

#22 - Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

#40 - Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.

#45 - Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in Private; presently, or at Some other time in what terms to do it & in reproving Show no Sign of Cholar but do it with all Sweetness and Mildness.

#47 - Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break [n]o Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasant abstain from Laughing thereat yourself.

#48 - Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

#50 - Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.

#56 - Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'is better to be alone than in bad Company.

#59 - Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act against the Rules Moral before your inferiors.

#63 - A Man ought not to value himself of his Achievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.

#65 - Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion

#70 - Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiors.

#73 - Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.

#74 - When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.

#79 - Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.

#81 - Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.
#82 - Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.

#89 - Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

#108 - When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously & with reverence. Honor & obey your natural parents although they be poor.

#109 - Let your recreations be manful not sinful.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Noah Webster on Maintaining a Free Republic

The very nature and construct of a republican form of government has been a subject of debate for centuries. What can sustain a republic and why has it not been a standard or common form of government since the Greek era? Republics throughout the ages have risen and fallen usually to the despotism of a few or single individual. On July 4, 1802, the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Noah Webster addressed the concerns he saw of a changing government. One that was losing focus on the foundational principles that made it great. Webster gave this speech at a time when "most of the civil and military characters, conspicuous in the revolution, are now in their graves." Now the newest generation of leaders were replacing the revolutionary leaders and advancing the country to a new era. One that was very unknown to everyone. Webster believed it was vital for this newest generation of Americans to not forget the purpose and sacrifice of that previous generation which fought gallantly in the American Revolution. He also believed it was important to serve a warning to the people of possible calamities in the future that might befall the United States.

It was an important period in American History as the beginning characters and principles of our country were in the rear view mirror and the hopes and dreams of the future were directly ahead. Webster believed that "young men begin the world (or in this case, the United States), with more courage than foresight, and more enthusiasm than correct judgment." Webster wanted to make sure that America kept their feet on the ground and never forgot what made this country great from the beginning and what will sustain it in the future. He was speaking to the people of 1802 not of the people in 1776. It was not that Webster believed the people should not be idealistic and dream for the future. He just wanted to make sure that the people were on a firm foundation. As the 19th century dawned many new challenges were arising amongst a very young country with leadership that had no precedent for dealing with them. Webster was trying to address the past in order to be prepared for the future.

It is, as Webster believed, arrogant for Americans to believe that a unique republican form of government that was created. It is true that the elements of the branches of government may be unique, coupled with a constitution that protects the rights of man and citizen. However the basic elements and ideas of a republic have been around for centuries. The Greeks, Romans, and many European countries and all flirted with various notions of a republican form of government. Webster stated:

"After the experience of four or five thousand years, and numberless forms of government, how should it happen to be reserved for the Americans to discover the great secret, which has eluded all former inquiry, of infusing into a political constitution, the quality of imperishable durability? Is not the pretension to such superior light and wisdom in our citizens, rather an evidence of pride, self-sufficiency, and want of wisdom?"

Our basic design and concept of a republic is not unique to the world. We can not, as Webster points out, believe our system of government will last no matter what happens simply because we are a republic. Representative government with free elections is not a perfect fail safe for corruption nor a blue print for a system of government that will last forever. Republics have existed and republics have fallen, for Webster is was about maintaining something else something much more important, its virtue.

"Virtue is the foundation of a republic. . . Virtue will maintain a free government." These are the words of Montesquieu echoed by Webster in his speech on July 4, 1802. One would ask the question both of Montesquieu and of Webster what is virtue in the light of a republic? Among the original formers of republican government, the Greeks and Romans viewed virtue as "personal bravery, and enthusiastic love of military glory, and a heroic contempt of death, in the service of their country." As Webster wrote, one's virtue is attached closely to the place of their birth, their heritage, and their culture. One could make an argue that these traits or virtues were on display by our revolutionary heroes such as: Henry Knox, Nathaniel Greene, Ethan Allen, Molly Pitcher, John Paul Jones, and the great George Washington. However that sense of "enthusiastic love for military glory" died out with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The people of America sought peace. Webster pointed to another form of virtue, "self-denial." This form was evident within the Spartan culture. Citizenship for the Spartan incorporated "their frugal meals, their rigid discipline, and contempt of riches." A virtue that is difficult for an American citizen to embrace as their own. The other problem with these virtues is that they are fleeting. It is passed down among children and Grandchild however as time progresses the virtues degenerate, the standards for them lax, and eventually die out and get replaced with ambition, jealously, greed, and other sins which reek havoc on a country and eventually lead to decay.

Webster believed there was only one way in which a republic could stand the test of time. If we were to create and maintain this perfectly formed republican form of government that would maintain, "it must be raised upon the pure maxims, and supported by the undecaying practice, of that religion, which breathes 'peace on earth, and good will to men.'" Webster advocated that the basic principles and morals of Christianity were by nature an essential catalyst to maintaining virtue and thereby preserve a free republican form of government.
"That religion (Christianity) is perfectly republican . . . it is calculated to humble the pride and allay the discontents of men . . . it restrains the magistrate from oppression, and the subject from revolt... it secures a perfect equality of rights, by enjoining a discharge of all social duties, and a strict subordination to law."
Webster was not suggesting that Christianity be the religion of the state for that would go against the basic nature and idea of the Constitution as well as the Declaration of Independence. Instead, Webster is challenging that the basic principles and morals of Christianity be used as a compass for our country. He also recognized that certain governments have perverted and twisted Christianity and its basic teachings in order to enslave "the minds of men." Webster argued that the very people that founded this country are the very ones that fought against the religious institutions and government that claimed to be a republic. Because of this our founders set the stage for us not to pervert Christianity for the purpose of political gain but rather utilize as it as a guide for directing our path. Freedom, Independence, and Equality are the basic ideas which hold together the foundation of our constitution. All of which can be found and maintained through intrinsic Christian morals and principles. By Webster's definition, a republic must be founded upon a virtue that endures from generation to generation so it will not decay. Through Christianity our country can maintain its virtue and moral compass. It has unchanging principles which have preserved for nearly 2000 years. 
Not only was an essential understanding of virtue a vital element of a surviving republic, Webster also addressed a concern of something that has occurred among former republics that eventually leads to its demise, a popular sovereign leader. "There is something extremely contemptible in the factitious character of a popularity-seeker, or mere man of the people." One of the most observable destroyers of a republican form of government would be Julius Caesar of Rome. Originally one of three members of the Triumvirate who ruled Rome along with the Senate. Caesar eventually gained great popularity through his victories in Gaul and created an empire placing himself as supreme and solo head of the government. All former laws and rights of the people were suspended to make way for the supreme rule and sovereign leadership of a single man, Caesar. Just after the American Revolution ended, George Washington was given the opportunity, from the urging of a small faction within his army, to march on Philadelphia, disband the Congress and name himself King. Instead Washington recognized the dangers of too much power and popularity. He knew that this country was founded upon laws and rights of each individual man and woman. Rather than taking power he released it back to the people with the laws and representative that govern them. This act made Washington an icon of liberty and freedom, and a model for what republican leadership should look like. He became known as Cincinnatus, who was a Roman farmer given supreme power but later released it back to the people. Webster, just like Washington, feared a popular leader who would "violate the laws and constitution of his country, and sacrifice its interests with impunity."

Webster did not want to see our republic end in the same way past republics had ended. One that has laws and a constitution considered to be flexible and changeable based upon the passions of the populace will ultimately fail. Webster solidified this point by stating that the "natural consequence of too much popularity is, that it enables the possessor to violate the laws and constitution of his country, and sacrifice its interests with impunity." Past experience has shown that despite the foundations of the constitution being protected the passion of the people overwhelm those elements and when a leader steps in. With that wave of popularity at their back the sovereign leadership is able to create negative change upon the very republic and constitution that they claim to defend.
"The open advocate of a strong government is subject to popular podium, his encroachments are eyed with jealousy, or resisted by force. But the hypocritical pretender to patriotism acquires, in the confidence of the people, a giant's force, and he may use it like a giant. The people, like artless females, are liable to be seduced, not by the men they hate or suspect, but by those they love."
Webster recognized that the people can easily be seduced by a passionate and popular individual who will eventually take away their basic rights and liberties while the populace cheer him/her on without realizing the reality of the situation. As a new century began and the American republic was learning to walk on its own two feet, Noah Webster was heeding a warning about losing the great republic to the passion of the populace before it became too late.

Noah Webster's speech on July 4, 1802 was received well among a people that needed reminding of the original principles and sacrifice that founded our constitution, our society, and our way of life. Webster truly believed that the United States was "unquestionably the most excellent form of government in theory; and with all its imperfections, is, in fact, the most eligible form, for nations in the early stages of society." In 1802, the people of the United States were searching for a new identity. Their great leader and compass for the country, George Washington, was dead. Partisan politics and the two party system were beginning to rear their ugly head. Webster at this moment recognized a need for the populace to be reminded of where we came from and where we need to be for this great republic to stand the test of time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What can you find at the Tavern

I read a book once called "Rum, Punch, and Revolution" by Peter Thompson and the book focused on the impact that taverns had on early American history, especially before the revolution. Reading the book I realized that taverns were the location where men from varying religious and economic classes would gather. It was in these taverns that the community would share news, share ideas, and discuss everything from politics to everyday life. 

This is what I want my blog to become. I hope for my blog to be that gathering place for men and women from differing social classes, religious sects, and economic backgrounds. I hope you enjoy what I have to offer and take part in this blog because I desire for it to be a discuss and conversation and not simply just something you read. Now step on up to the bar because we always have history on the tap.  
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