Today: St. John of the Cross, Paxton Boys rebel, Civil Rights and the Commerce Clause, Napoleon, War of 1812, Jimmy Doolittle, Washington Dies, Christmas Music
And More . . .
Today: St. John of the Cross, Paxton Boys rebel, Civil Rights and the Commerce Clause, Napoleon, War of 1812, Jimmy Doolittle, Washington Dies, Christmas Music
And More . . .
Today: Slavery, Dunmore’s Proclamation, Small Pox & The Ethiopian Regiment in the Revolutionary War; England’s Glorious Revolution; Lutefisk; John Milton; Christmas Music . . .
AND MORE . . . [Read more…]
A look at some of the history and holidays on December 3
The feast of St. Francis Xavier, one of history’s most successful Catholic missionaries and, in 1534, one of the co-founders of the Jesuit Order. Before joining the clergy, Xavier was a student at the Univ. of Paris. He roomed with the primary founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, who convinced him to take up life in the Church, famously asking of Xavier, “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” As a Jesuit missionary, Xavier spent most of his adult life evangelizing in India, Malaysia and Japan, putting into practice his belief that a missionary must adapt to the customs and language of the people he evangelizes. Moreover, he advocated growing the Church in areas he evangelized by developing an educated native clergy. He is the patron saint of missionaries.
1771: Somerset’s Case
This was the first major landmark legal victory in the 18th century abolition movement to end chattel slavery.
Charles Stewart purchased a black man, James Somerset, as a slave while he was in Boston. When Stewart returned to England, Somerset escaped. Somerset was taken in by abolitionists and converted to Christianity before Stewart found him. Stewart found Somerset and imprisoned him aboard a ship that would soon be bound for Jamaica. Stewart instructed the ship’s captain to sell Somerset there as a slave. Three people, in their capacity as Somerset’s godparents from his baptism as a Christian in England, and with the financial backing of the abolitionist, Granville Sharp, made an application on this date in 1771 before the Court of King’s Bench for a writ of habeas corpus, meaning that the ship’s captain had to bring Somerset before the Court and determine whether Somerset was lawfully a slave.
Granville Sharp insured that the case became a cause celebre in the press of the day. Lord Mansfield, the justice hearing the case, well understood the implications for Britain’s colonial holdings should he declare that slavery was unlawful. Not wanting to have to issue a judgment, he strongly recommended that the parties come to an agreement, such as buying the freedom of Somerset. If not, he famously said, then fīat jūstitia ruat cælumet — let justice be done though the heavens fall.
No settlement was reached, and after three hearings over a period of six months, Lord Mansfield issued a judgment. Chattel slavery can only exist in any geographical place if explicitly sanctioned by the controlling laws. Parliament had passed no law in Britain that explicitly give one man property rights in another, and the Judge would not assume them from the common law. Thus Stewart had no right to recapture Somerset and forcibly deport him to be sold. Mansfield ordered that Somerset be set free.
Mansfield wrote his holding as narrowly as possible, even limiting it only to the mainland of Britain. Still, it was a first, very public judicial blow against slavery and in support of the nascent abolitionist movement morally opposed to black chattel slavery on both sides of the pond.
A look at some of the history and holidays on December 2
The Feast of St. Bibiana, a virgin martyr of the early Roman Church. Legend has it that According to this legend, Bibiana was the daughter of a former prefect, Flavianus, who was banished by Julian the Apostate. Dafrosa, the wife of Flavianus, and his two daughters, Demetria and Bibiana, were also persecuted by Julian. Dafrosa and Demetria died a natural death and were buried by Bibiana in their own house; but Bibiana was scourged to death. Two days after her death a priest named John buried Bibiana near her mother and sister in her home, the house. A church in Rome, Santa Bibiana, was built over the house in the 3rd century and exists to this day.
1763 – Dedication of the Touro Synagogue, in Newport, Rhode Island.
The Touro Synagogue was, by a matter of weeks, the first synagogue in colonial America (the second being at the home of the largest Jewish population in the colonies, Charleston, SC). Colonial America, and then early America, were among the few places that welcomed Jews with open arms. No one made that more plain then George Washington who, on his 1790 tour of the colonies to lobby for the passage of the Bill of Rights, exchanged letters with the congregation of the Touro Synagogue. After receiving a laudatory letter on August 17, 1790 from the synagogue’s warden, Moses Seixas, Washington responded with a now famous full throated embrace of religious tolerance:
While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.
The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.
If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.
The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.
A look at some of the history and holidays on November 28, the Thanksgiving Edition
Thanksgiving Day — In 1620, the Mayflower set out with 102 people aboard, most of whom were pilgrims had left their home of 12 years in Leiden destined for Virginia to find a home where they could freely worship God as they saw fit. As William Bradford, a leader of the expedition would later write:
So they lefte [that] goodly & pleasante citie, which had been ther resting place, nere 12 years; but they knew they were pilgrimes, & looked not much on these things; but lift up their eyes to ye heavens, their dearest cuntrie, and quieted their spirits
They made it as far as Cape Cod, then, with dwindling provisions and winter fast approaching, put ashore. In the harsh winter to follow, only half of the Pilgrims survived to see Spring. Those that did survive, assisted by the the Patuxet Squanto and the Wampanoag tribe, were able to plant crops. Sometime after the harvest, between the end of Sept., and early November, 1621, the Pilgrims held a harvest feast to thank God for their survival and their bounty, and to thank the Indians for their help. The fifty surviving Pilgrims and approximately 90 Indians took part in the three day feast. And yes, they did eat turkey, among many other dishes.
It was quite common, in the 18th century, for governments and church leaders to call for a day of “fasting and prayer” to mark a particular event. What made the 1621 celebration of the pilgrims different was in combining the harvest feast with prayer — though not coupled with a Sabbath celebration — to celebrate not just the harvest, but their journey to and survival in the New World. Several colonies had similar local traditions, perhaps Virginia even earlier than the Pilgrims, But it was the Pilgrims who apparently had the superior marketing.
The first national proclamation of a day of Thanksgiving was by Continental Congress in 1775 and calls for the same went out most every year until we became a fledgling nation. Then, in 1789, it was George Washington who issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation for our nation organized under the newly adopted Constitution.
Between then and 1863, Thanksgiving celebrations were wholly local. What changed in 1863, when President Lincoln was moved to issue his own proclamation for a national day of Thanksgiving, was the dogged lobbying of the president by “Sarah Josepha Hale—a novelist, poet, and the editor of “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” a lifestyle magazine with an impressive pre-Civil War circulation of 150,000:”
Hale saw Thanksgiving as an important supplement to the nation’s principal civic holiday: Independence Day. While Independence Day celebrates the birth of our nation, our Founding Fathers, and our founding principles, Thanksgiving celebrates the origins of the American people, family, and faith in God.
As Hale wrote in 1852: “The Fourth of July is the exponent of independence and civil freedom, Thanksgiving Day is the national pledge of Christian faith in God, acknowledging Him as the dispenser of blessings.”
Nondenominational faith in a providential God was a prominent component of Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation—as it had been in Washington’s first proclamation—and it has remained so in nearly every presidential proclamation since.
While Independence Day celebrates our freedom, Thanksgiving celebrates the faith that prevents that liberty from degenerating into licentiousness. While Independence Day celebrates our nation’s sovereignty, Thanksgiving reminds us that God should be the source of our highest devotion.
Hale envisioned that a nationwide celebration of Thanksgiving would also help bind the nation together more tightly. Living under the same Constitution and the same federal government was, in her estimation, not enough to forge one people from America’s diverse inhabitants and distinct regions.
After Lincoln, Presidents annually proclaimed a day to be set aside for Thanksgiving. The only alteration came about in 1941, when FDR slightly adjusted the timing of the celebration to be held in November.
A look at some of the history and holidays on November 26
Feast of St. Siricius, a Pope who lived and died in his 75th year, that also being the 15th year of his papacy, on this day in 399 A.D. He is an important Pope in the historical sense because he is the first Pope whose original writings are still extant. You can find an English translation here of a Decretal of the Pope, written in 385 A.D., answering fifteen questions of Cannon law. In it, he deals with a variety of issues, from priestly celibacy to baptism, and also with handling several of the heretical sects that competed with the early Church. They should be, he writes, cut off from the Church, but should they repent, the Church should accept them back “because, as the Lord teaches, we do not wish the death of a sinner, only that he be converted and live.”
1476 – Vlad the Impaler becomes ruler of Wallachia for the third time
Vlad Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracula, hero of Romania, son of Vlad Dracul, was a claimant to the throne of Wallachia during a period when Eastern Europe was under constant threat from the Muslim Turks of the Ottoman Empire. In an era of where ruthlessness and brutality were commonplace, Vlad Tepes stood out for his ruthlessness and brutality.
By 1476, Vlad had already twice been ruler of Wallachia, an area that the Ottoman Sultan looked upon as a tributary state. It is not clear precisely why Vlad was forced to vacate his crown the first time, but his second reign ended when he refused to pay tribute to the Sultan. That brought war with the Turks and, despite winning several military victories over an invading Ottoman army, Vlad did not have the numbers to continue the fight and withdrew. By 1476, the Ottomans had installed their preferred ruler, Basarab Laiota, on the throne, but Vlad, in an alliance with Stephen the Great and Stephen V Báthory, began an invasion that forced Laiota to flee. On this date in 1476, Vlad would be crowned ruler of Wallachia for a third and last time.
His reign was short, however. Laiota returned to Wallachia with an Ottoman army. Vlad the Impaler died fighting them in battle in January, 1477. Much later, he rose from the dead in 1897 to become the lead character in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula.
It is interesting to note that the efforts of rulers like Vlad Dracula to resist the Ottoman Turks ultimately proved successful. Even today, the population of Romania is less than 1% Muslim.
A look at some of the history and holidays on November 25
Feast of Catherine of Alexandria, born a Princess in the 4th century, she was a scholar who converted to Christianity at age 14. She converted hundreds of others to the faith over the next several years. In her 18th year, the pagan Roman Emperor, Maximinus, began a persecution of Christians. Catherine presented herself before the Emperor and upbraided him for worshiping false gods. The Catholic Encyclopedia tells the rest of the legend:
Astounded at the young girl’s audacity, but incompetent to vie with her in point of learning the tyrant detained her in his palace and summoned numerous scholars whom he commanded to use all their skill in specious reasoning that thereby Catherine might be led to apostatize. But she emerged from the debate victorious. Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death. Furious at being baffled, Maximinus had Catherine scourged and then imprisoned. Meanwhile the empress, eager to see so extraordinary a young woman, went with Porphyry, the head of the troops, to visit her in her dungeon, when they in turn yielded to Catherine’s exhortations, believed, were baptized, and immediately won the martyr’s crown. Soon afterwards the saint, who far from forsaking her Faith, effected so many conversions, was condemned to die on the wheel, but, at her touch, this instrument of torture was miraculously destroyed. The emperor, enraged beyond control, then had her beheaded and angels carried her body to Mount Sinai where later a church and monastery were built in her honour.
As the author notes, most of what we know about Catherine is based on fantastical texts that were written to impress an audience, not to recount facts. As to her burial, the church and monastery built in her honor and housing her remains and relics is the famous St. Catherine’s Monastery, built circa 550 A.D. in the Sinai desert of Egypt, and since visited by Ms. BWR, though don’t ask to see her pictures.
St. Catherine of Alexandria became a major figure of worship in the medieval Church. “Numberless chapels” were dedicated to her and “her statue was found in nearly all churches.” Moreover, Joan of Arc claimed to have had a vision of Catherine who appeared to advise Joan in her mission to drive the English out of France during the Hundred Years War. She came to be the patron saint of young maidens, female students, lawyers, and all who work with a wheel.
571 BC – Servius Tullius, king of Rome, celebrates a triumph.
It was common throughout the history of ancient Rome for military leaders, upon their return form a successful battle or campaign, to celebrate “a triumph” — feasting and a parade through Rome. On this date in 571 B.C., the Roman King Servius celebrated a triumph for his defeat of the neighboring Etruscans.
Before Rome became an empire, it was a Republic. And before that, it was a monarchy struggling for its existence among powerful competitors in Italy. During the monarchy, One of Rome’s most important Kings was Servius Tullius. Militarily, he expanded Roman territory, defeating the Etruscans and Veii. In terms of administration, he built several temples and is credited with establishing Rome’s first coinage. Politically, he was a populist who expanded the voting franchise to plebs and instituted the “Servian Reforms” that gave the common man more of a say in governing the nation. These reforms set the stage for the Roman Republic that sprang into existence within three decades after Servius Tullius was assassinated in 535 B.C. by his son-in-law, concluding a 44 year reign.
An eclectic survey of some of the history that occurred on this day
Veterans Day, originally a celebration of the Armistice ending WWI, it was changed in 1954 to a celebration honoring all U.S. military veterans. Happy Veterans Day.
Feast of Martin of Tours, a 4th century Roman cavalry soldier and later a Catholic Bishop most famous for an act of kindness – cutting his cloak in two and giving a half to a poor man in the midst of a cold winter. He is known today the patron saint of soldiers and winemakers and as a Saint who stood against poverty and alcoholism
1620 – The Mayflower Compact
The Puritans left Britain headed for the Colony of Virginia in search of a home to freely practice their faith, but storms forced them into Cape Cod Harbor. Taking account of their dwindling provisions and the approaching winter, they decided to disembark and make a home there. Mindful of the legalities of settling outside of Virginia, and facing the reality that they would be wholly self-governing, the leader of the expedition, William Bradford drew up a governing document for the new settlement.
On this day, the Puritan men aboard the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact, pledging their loyalty to the King (whom they hoped would grant them a patent to settle in this new area) and agreeing as between themselves and “in the Presence of God” to make and be bound by “such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony . . .” As author William Davis observed, “In the cabin of the Mayflower, then not only was the foundation stone of republican institutions on this continent laid, but the first New England town-meeting was held and the first elective officers chosen by the will of a majority.”
Reparations for the unpaid labor of blacks held in slavery in America are speculative at best and cannot be fairly distributed or imposed.
[Note: The picture to the left, which shows Democrat Robert Byrd in a KKK outfit. is a Photoshop, but I use it because, to use the phrase coined by the New York Times, it is “fake but accurate. “]
2020 Democrat presidential candidates immersed in race-obsessed identity politics (as a substitute for the class-based politics of pure Marxism) are pushing for the Holy Grail of victimhood: Reparations for slavery. They are undeterred by the fact that reparations are wholly impractical, utterly immoral, and counterproductive in that they do not address the problems plaguing the lower socio-economic half of the black community.
This will be the third of several posts dealing with the issue of reparations:
Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations
Part IV – Need for Reparations?
Part V – Marxism versus Melting Pots
The New York Times, in a recent article, observed that “2020 Democrats Embrace Race-Conscious Policies, Including Reparations.” Leaving aside the legal, historical, ethical, and equitable considerations of slandering all white Americans with the “original sin” of slavery and establishing at law that black Americans in the present day are permanent victims of evil whites, there are a host of practical problems with the concept of reparations for slavery (only) in America (and only as to American slaves). Those practical problems include calculating the amount of reparations, identifying who should be eligible for the reparations and in what degree, and determining who should be liable for funding the reparations. Do note that none of the race hustlers mentioned in the Times article linked above address any of these questions.
Reparations that economically penalize modern Americans for ancient acts to benefit other modern Americans are not justified by any fair reading of history.
2020 Democrat presidential candidates immersed in race-obsessed identity politics (as a substitute for the class-based politics of pure Marxism) are pushing the for the Holy Grail of victimhood: Reparations for slavery. They are undeterred by the fact that reparations are wholly impractical, utterly immoral, and counterproductive in that they do not address the problems plaguing the lower socio-economic half of the black community.
This will be the second of several posts dealing with the issue of reparations:
Part II – History of Slavery & Equities
Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations
Part IV – Need for Reparations?
Part V – Marxism versus Melting Pots
The end game for those pushing reparations for slavery (who now include the top Democratic presidential candidates among their number) is to paint people with black skin as separate, permanent victims in a modern day America that is itself a hotbed of racism. That hotbed, they claim, is responsible for all of the problems of blacks. This is all part and parcel of the effort to destroy Western Civilization, starting with America, then to remake it into a socialist paradise. A necessary step in this endeavor is to delegitimize the Founders of this country, the Constitution, and the Judaeo-Christian religions.
Significantly, those who push for reparations for slavery in America almost invariably paint slavery as a sin unique to white Americans. No one ever seriously mentions the world-wide history of slavery, the American Civil War, or the unique role that white Americans and Brits — Christians, Jews and capitalists — played in ending slavery as both an American and a world-wide institution. Sadly (and dangerously) very little, if any, of that history comes to the attention of students in America today:
For 11 years, Professor Duke Pesta gave quizzes to his students at the beginning of the school year to test their knowledge on basic facts about American history and Western culture.
The most surprising result from his 11-year experiment? Students’ overwhelming belief that slavery began in the United States and was almost exclusively an American phenomenon, he said.
“Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America,” Pesta told The College Fix. “They are convinced that slavery was an American problem that more or less ended with the Civil War, and they are very fuzzy about the history of slavery prior to the Colonial era. Their entire education about slavery was confined to America.” . . .
It is the birthday of George Washington, our nation’s indispensable man. Here are a few things you might not know about him.
Today is the birthday of George Washington, this country’s “indispensable man.” Without him, it is nearly impossible imagine how we would have won the American Revolution — and it is completely impossible imagine how we would have a Constitutional republic.
Washington’s major achievements are legend, and each worthy of a bit of detail. His most important:
As our first President, Washington gave us the customs of a limited tenure for President and the peaceful transition of power. Those two customs have allowed our Republic to prosper for over two centuries.
Then there is what Washington didn’t do. By refusing to seize power, he further defined our nation as one based on a Constitution and laws, not on coercive power. Despite numerous opportunities to take power as a dictator, either by coup or, after the end of the war, by popular acclamation (Washington is the only person elected to the Presidency to receive all possible electoral votes), he refrained. Virtually every other military commander of a revolutionary force in history has seized political power afterwards – Julius Caesar, Oliver Cromwell and Napoleon are but three examples. Yet Washington refused to do so. To put this in stark perspective, no one was more surprised than King George III when told that Washington had retired after the war and returned home. The King was moved to call Washington “the greatest character of our age.”
Moreover, Washington stopped the single greatest threat to the nascent Republic, the Newburgh Conspiracy of 1783. At the end of the war, many of the officers had not been paid for their service. They were on the verge of marching on Congress with musket and cannon to conduct a coup when Washington intervened, calling them all to a meeting. At one point, Washington paused to read aloud a letter. He apologized as he fumbled for his reading glasses, saying to his officers that he had gone somewhat “blind in the service of our country.” That was a cathartic moment for many of the officers, for their respect for Washington was boundless. He had shared their hardships from day one and never wavered. Many broke out into tears. The Conspiracy ended at that moment. [Read more…]
George Washington’s extraordinary accomplishments set the stage for American liberty — so of course Progressives must reduce him to a racist slave owner.
No figure was more central to the birth of our nation, first in war, then as a Constitutional Republic, than George Washington. In 1776, with the Revolution by all accounts lost and our army in tatters, it was Washington who led a ragged band of men in history’s most audacious, decisive and pivotal raids at Trenton and Princeton. It was Washington who, through 1782, kept the military together under unimaginable adversity and who, at the end of the war, stopped a military coup by his unpaid officers. It was Washington in 1783 who, unlike almost all other military leaders throughout history, laid down his sword at the end of the war and bowed to civilian control of the government.
It was Washington, called from retirement in 1787, who presided over the drafting and passage of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. It was Washington who, in 1789, was unanimously elected to serve as our President. And it was Washington who, eight years later, stepped down as President, establishing a precedent of a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. He was, as Lord Byron later wrote, the Cinncinatus of the West.
Few people in history have succeeded under the adversity Washington faced. Even fewer accomplished so much in both war and peace. None but he accomplished those in the furtherance of freedom from government. He is one of the few historical figures that was truly indispensable. And yet . . .
Enter Drake Univ. Prof. Jennifer Harvey – she a progressive with an exquisitely fine tuned sense of social justice and white guilt. Writing an op-ed at the NYT, she asks “Are We Raising Racists?” It seems that her seven year old daughter came home from school “singing the praises of George Washington.” Ms. Harvey found herself “dismayed” at this “one dimensional” teaching of history. Well, history does indeed have countless dimensions, all of which contribute to the context and understanding of any particular event of note. But Ms. Harvey had only a very selective second dimension in mind:
The White House is a bully pulpit. Words spoken there travel far through space and time.
Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest, but even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such acceptance it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more.
Hat tip: Caped Crusader
UPDATE: If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Thanks to Earl, I know that Washington actually said this: “A free people ought not only to be armed but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies.” It’s a great quotation in support of arms, but not quite as punchy.