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.

- http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,534107,00.html?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a16:g4:r3:c0.000000:b26589886:z0

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.
- www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwaA-hbvYF8

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!
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