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:
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