When Thomas Paine’s ship pulled into Baltimore harbor on October 30, 1802, a large gathering of friends and admirers were waiting at dockside to welcome him back. Others stood by as well, some filled with loathing, merely to observe a famous figure. Since leaving the United States in 1787 to find a builder for his iron bridge, Paine had authored some of the most incendiary tracts of the 18th century, had been imprisoned and narrowly escaped Robespierre’s guillotine, and was widely reported to be a drunk and an atheist. Continue reading
Out of the mouth of Abe…
George Mason considered a bill of rights so important that he refused to sign the Constitution and led the opposition to its ratification without one.
Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Clinton Rossiter called “among the world’s most memorable triumphs in applied political theory,” which The Declaration of Independence echoed a few weeks later. Charles Maynes wrote that,
Mason’s revolutionary step was…reversing, in writing and in a supreme governmental document, the traditional relationship between citizen and state. Throughout history it had been the citizen who owed duties to the state, which in turn might bestow certain rights on the citizen…Mason argued that the state had to observe certain citizens’ rights that could not be violated under any circumstances. Mason thus set the United States apart from past constitutional practices. Continue reading
Dickinson recognized that the essential purpose of government was to maintain liberty against others’ predatory acts.
John Dickinson was among America’s most important founders. He was a colonial legislator, member of the Stamp Act, Continental, and Confederation Congresses, chief executive of both Delaware (by a 25 to 1 vote; his being the only opposed) and Pennsylvania, president of the 1786 Annapolis convention that led to the Constitutional Convention, and among the most informed and seasoned statesmen to attend it. Historian Forrest McDonald wrote that, but for Dickinson and a few others, “the resulting constitution would not have been ratified.” Continue reading
When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, that officially ended the war, but the hostilities continued until word made its way to all those still engaged in combat. Yet as soon as word reached Philadelphia, the Congress realized that they would need to choose delegates to negotiate a treaty of peace between themselves and the Crown. They chose John Adams, Henry Laurens, Benjamin Franklin, David Hartley, Richard Oswald and John Jay to represent them in the negotiations.
You have to remember one thing, back then they couldn’t just hop on a plane and be there in 10-12 hours; they had to board a wooden ship and travel across the Atlantic; a journey that could take from six to eight weeks, depending upon weather conditions on the open seas. Continue reading
While all these plans for independence and the establishment of a confederation were well and good for the Colonists; they all hinged on their defeating the most highly trained and well equipped army in the world. When it was suggested that a Continental Army be raised to fight the British, the obvious choice to lead it was right there in the room with them; George Washington.
Washington was a Virginian, so it appeased the Southern States who were somewhat distanced and detached from the troubles going on in Boston. Washington commanded respect wherever he went so when his name was put forward to lead this Continental Army it was a way of saying that this wasn’t just Boston’s problem to deal with, it was a problem all 13 Colonies must deal with together. Continue reading
“Lincoln is theology, not historiology. He is a faith, he is a church, he is a religion, and he has his own priests and acolytes, most of whom . . . are passionately opposed to anybody telling the truth about him . . . with rare exceptions, you can’t believe what any major Lincoln scholar tells you about Abraham Lincoln and race.” ~ Lerone Bennett, Jr., Forced into Glory, p. 114.
The author of the above quotation, Lerone Bennett, Jr., was the executive editor of Ebony magazine for several decades, beginning in 1958. He is a distinguished African-American author of numerous books, including a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. He spent twenty years researching and writing his book, Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, from which he drew the above conclusion about the so-called Lincoln scholars and how they have lied about Lincoln for generations. For obvious reasons, Mr. Bennett is incensed over how so many lies have been told about Lincoln and race. Continue reading
“. ..that the Lord may behold us as a people, offering praise and thereby glorifying Him. ..”
Charlestown, Mass., June 20, 1676 – The American tradition of Thanksgiving, first celebrated by our Pilgrim Fathers more than half a century ago, was proclaimed today in formal statement for the first time from the steps of the Council House.
It was on December 20, 1620, that Governor John Carver gathered around him the small band at Plymouth, to thank God in the midst of overwhelming adversities for the great gift of life itself, in the wilderness of the first colony . Continue reading
Nearly a month after the conflicts at Lexington and Concord, delegates gathered together in the city of Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress. Their goal was to resume where the First Continental Congress had left off the following year, and although independence may have been on the minds of many, it was still a subject that had yet to be openly discussed by the Congress.
Who were these men who put aside their lives and came together to alter the course of America’s history? Some of them you know, some you don’t. For instance, three future presidents were in attendance; George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Adam’s cousin Samuel was also in attendance as was Benjamin Franklin. Are you aware that there were at least two physicians in attendance as well; Benjamin Rush and Josiah Bartlett? Continue reading
As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected before a a drop of blood was shed. ~ John Adams to Thomas Jefferson (August 24, 1815)
As I have already stated, the Colonists lived in relative peace as subjects of the King of Great Britain for a pretty lengthy period before they decided to separate and form their own country. I have also discussed the Stamp Act, which led to open acts of civil disobedience to the King’s Laws. But for a moment I’d like to backtrack a bit; but before I do there is something you need to know.
By today’s standards, most Colonists would be considered drunks. That’s right, I said drunks. The amount of alcohol they consumed is mind boggling by today’s standards. Part of this is due to the fact that water was considered unsanitary and unsafe for human consumption; as they did not have water treatment plants like we do today; so they turned to libations. Continue reading
Builders of the American republic in the decades either side of 1800 grasped and employed new philosophical and ideological tools for its construction. The revolutionary idea of inherent political equality – “all men are created equal” with “inalienable rights” – however limited its reality then seems looking back from now, was the Next Big Thing of the day. Also critical were economic analyses originating with Adam Smith and his British colleagues. “Free market” arguments asserted that self-interested actors uncontrolled by authorities combine to create the greatest good for the greatest number.
John Lauritz Larson, in a recent presidential address to the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, notes a couple of important similarities between the political theories and the economic theories of America’s revolutionary era. Both sets of ideas demanded that the king’s government get off people’s backs, especially by stopping its interference in commerce. And both sets of ideas asserted, based 18th-century “scientific” analysis, that state rule distorted the God- or Providence- or Nature-given order of things. Men, advocates argued, were naturally equal and self-governing; similarly, markets were naturally productive and self-governing. Continue reading
Printed in The Public Advertiser, September 11, 1773; incomplete draft and notes
Franklin was pleased with this satire, which was a companion piece to “An Edict by the King of Prussia.” Both had the virtues, he believed, of brevity, comprehensiveness, and “out-of-the-way forms” that caught attention; but he preferred the “Rules” to the “Edict” for the breadth and variety of its contents and for “a kind of spirited ending of each paragraph.” His technique in the two was different: in this one he challenged his readers to see their government’s policy through colonial eyes; in the “Edict” he jolted them with the fiction that they were colonists themselves. The two essays had a single purpose, to induce the public to take a fresh look at the American problem. When Parliament reconvened in the autumn, that problem promised to be a major subject of discussion; and the sensational demand from Massachusetts for the removal of Hutchinson and Oliver was sure, when it came before the Privy Council, to provoke a storm. Moderate counsels could never prevail unless the folly of past measures was exposed, and Franklin devoted himself to exposing it. At the top of his satirical bent he could not be ignored, and the initial public reaction to his efforts was gratifying. The issue of the Public Advertiser containing the “Edict” sold out immediately, and both satires were widely reprinted in England and then in America. Continue reading
Before I continue I would like to address something that I hope clarifies why I might appear to be somewhat condescending. I have absolutely no idea how much people know about American History, or our system of government. I have met people who are far more educated than I am as it pertains to these two subjects and I have met those who probably couldn’t pass a 5th grade history or civics class.
Therefore, I am going on the assumption that you know absolutely nothing about these subjects; which in all likelihood, (due to the fact that much of what you have been taught is incorrect), is probably closer to the truth than you care to admit. So if I appear to be speaking down to your level of education, please bear with me as I am attempting to catch up those who aren’t as knowledgeable as you are in regards to the subjects under discussion. That said, let’s move on to the next area of discussion. ~ Author
A major piece of printed Americana will go up for sale on November 11. It is a very rare, very early, and very valuable printing of the Declaration of Independence. It was printed in New York on July 9, 1776. However, the auction will not be taking place in New York, at least not the city. It will take place in Potsdam, New York. Where?
For the uninitiated, Potsdam is in the far upper reaches of upstate New York. Winter there begins in late July and ends in early July. It’s where if you speak a second language, it’s French, not Spanish. If you’re going to the “big city,” it’s Montreal, not New York. Montreal is 100 miles away, New York City 350. Canada is a mere 50 miles north.
Potsdam is not a large metropolis. It has a population of 9,400. However, it is no hick town either. It is home to two colleges, Clarkson University and the State University of New York at Potsdam. That must be one of the nation’s highest universities per capita ratios. It is also home of Blanchard’s Auction Service. Blanchard’s may not have the caché of a Sotheby’s or Christie’s, but every better known auction house on earth would love to have this item. As the listing explains, the Blanchards have known the unnamed seller for 25 years, who is “committed to our region.” This is how the Declaration came to be offered in far-off Potsdam. Continue reading
During the process of compiling and editing the first volume of AMERICA: The Grand Illusion ~ Book I: Orphans of the Storm, I had occasion to work with my twelve year old granddaughter, Taylor (whose name fittingly works its way into this tale) on a history project for school, dealing with the War Between the States (which we have covered extensively on this site, but will eventually move into a category of its own). Needless to say, her teacher has been compromised in her education, and is subsequently passing her ignorance of American history onto the next generation of ill-informed children.
I searched our families’ boxes of historical archives to gather information on an ancestor, who had fought in that un-civil action, and found a family genealogy, which had been compiled by my great-grandparents in 1926, and later updated in 1959 by a family cousin. Whether it has been updated since remains to be seen, but that, which I am about to share with you has led to great discoveries on the internet about the subject matter of this chapter. For the purposes of brevity however, I will share with you directly from the family records, which are not unlike hundreds of thousands of similar ancestral stories, which can be told of this grand experiment we call, ‘America.’
Just as those who came through Ellis Island many years later, the spellings of one’s name was altered for many reasons and by many sources, including both the legal system and the media (then known as newspapers or broadsides). David’s story is no different.
The following was compiled by the author’s Great Grandparents, Maude Van Hise Gardiner and Harry Martin Gardiner in 1926. – Jeffrey Bennett, Publisher and Author Continue reading
Publisher’s Note: As we open the second segment of Words That Men Live By, please note that in the beginning, there will be no specific order, however as we continue to add to this marvelous Classroom – we will sort all entries out in their proper order. Bear with us and enjoy REAL history.
We open with a lengthy post written by John Adams, an American patriot who would some years later serve as the second President of the United States (1797–1801) and the first Vice President (1789–97). He was a lawyer, diplomat, statesman, political theorist, and, as a Founding Father, a leader of the movement for American independence from Great Britain. The following was written by him some years before all of these events transpired. ~ Jeffrey Bennett, Publisher and frustrated Historian. Oct. 5, 2017
“Ignorance and inconsideration are the two great causes of the ruin of mankind.” This is an observation of Dr. Tillotson, with relation to the interest of his fellow men in a future and immortal state. But it is of equal truth and importance if applied to the happiness of men in society, on this side the grave. In the earliest ages of the world, absolute monarchy seems to have been the universal form of government. Kings, and a few of their great counselors and captains, exercised a cruel tyranny over the people, who held a rank in the scale of intelligence, in those days, but little higher than the camels and elephants that carried them and their engines to war.
By what causes it was brought to pass, that the people in the middle ages became more intelligent in general, would not, perhaps, be possible in these days to discover. But the fact is certain; and wherever a general knowledge and sensibility have prevailed among the people, arbitrary government and every kind of oppression have lessened and disappeared in proportion. Man has certainly an exalted soul; and the same principle in human nature, — that aspiring, noble principle founded in benevolence, and cherished by knowledge; I mean the love of power, which has been so often the cause of slavery, — has, whenever freedom has existed, been the cause of freedom. If it is this principle that has always prompted the princes and nobles of the earth, by every species of fraud and violence to shake off all the limitations of their power, it is the same that has always stimulated the common people to aspire at independency, and to endeavor at confining the power of the great within the limits of equity and reason. Continue reading
The Pilgrim’s Mayflower Compact is signed
CAPE COD, 1620 ~ A group of fundamentalist religious immigrants from Europe joined together today on a tiny ship called the Mayflower harbored in Cape Cod. Their purpose was to sign an agreement before establishing a religious settlement in the area to be called Massachusetts. According to inside sources, the manifesto declares their intentions to use the settlement as a base for increasing their religious sect in the New World.
The band of 103 immigrants left Holland a few months ago, and endured treacherous storms during their travels. They came to North America for freedom to practice their religion.
The religious group’s radical leader, William Brewster, led the group in signing the agreement with each other. Another leader, William Bradford, inside sources say, may be drafted to run for mayor of the fundamentalist Christian settlement. Continue reading
And so we begin…
What we begin this day, is the culmination of a nearly 19 year-long project by Kettle Moraine, Ltd. Publications, which includes the intellectual battle which led to the formation of the Law of the Land – our Constitution! In addition, we will be publishing those papers and proclamations which came before, including such works as the Mayflower Compact and The Articles of Confederation, some of which have been previously published in our book, AMERICA the Grand Illusion ~ BOOK I: Orphans of the Storm
You’ll note our first posting below, The Magna Charta (1215), for this is where our American Revolution began. This entirety of this project will be lengthy and arduous – as there over 700 pages of records to load (to include possible cross-references between both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers alone) – and hopefully our end result will provide one of the most thorough and complete dissertations of these monumental records ever published on-line – with (planned for) links connecting the ‘Point’ and ‘Counterpoint’ views of the participants and authors. We look forward to the insight and involvement of Neal Ross on this portion of the project.
For teachers and educators – as well as those who just want to expand their historical knowledge – we are proud to bring this project to you… and so we begin.
Jeffrey Bennett, Publisher Continue reading
“The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history… It was written in Magna Carta.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1941 Inaugural address
June 15, 1215 – In a field at Runnymede, King John affixed his seal to Magna Carta. Confronted by 40 rebellious barons, he consented to their demands in order to avert civil war. Just 10 weeks later, Pope Innocent III nullified the agreement, and England plunged into internal war.
Although Magna Carta failed to resolve the conflict between King John and his barons, it was reissued several times after his death.
Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. It is concerned with many practical matters and specific grievances relevant to the feudal system under which they lived. The interests of the common man were hardly apparent in the minds of the men who brokered the agreement. But there are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day:
“No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land.”
“To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice.”
During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The Fifth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution (“no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”) is a direct descendent of Magna Carta’s guarantee of proceedings according to the “law of the land.” Continue reading
“Your adversaries are composed of wretches who laugh at the rights of humanity, who turn religion into derision, and would, for higher wages, direct their swords against their leaders of their country. WE have no other choice than independence.” ~ Samuel Adams, 1776
In the 1940 MGM movie, Northwest Passage, starring Spencer Tracy (as Major Robert Rogers), and Robert Young (as fictional cartographer, Harvard graduate, Langdon Towne), there were several instances where Rogers and his master map-maker would be separated for one reason or another, whether for hours or longer, and each time they parted, Roger’s would say to Towne, “I’ll see you at sun-down!” It is a line of dialog I have never forgotten.
As I write, it is past one o’clock on the morning of February 5, 2017, and as I ponder on my nearly seven decades on this earth – I wonder what my grandchildren will face when they reach my age.
During these years, I have watched and witnessed the decline and fall of this once great Republic which my ancestors had fought for; those who came to these shores shortly after the Mayflower and settled in Boston in 1633 (David Sellack, né Sellick); those who fought for freedom and liberty during the war for our Independence; those who forged westward to settle in what was then known as the West (Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin) and those who chose to fight for what they believed in during the War of Northern aggression (Uncle Sam Cole of Harvard, Illinois). Continue reading