The Devil and Andrew Jackson

Wednesday, May 3, AD 2017


(I originally posted this back in 2009.  Old Hickory is back in the news because of President Trump’s musings upon him.  As a result I decided to repost this.)


I have never liked President’s Day.  Why celebrate loser presidents like Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan, non-entities like Millard Fillmore, bad presidents, like Grant, with great presidents like Washington and Lincoln?  We have had other great presidents, and one of them, although Republican as I am I bridle on bestowing the title upon him, was Andrew Jackson.  No one was ever neutral about Old Hickory.  He is described as the father of the Democrat party.  Actually, both major parties owe their existence to him.   The Whig party, the main ancestor of the modern Republican party, was founded in opposition to Jackson’s policies.

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4 Responses to The Devil and Andrew Jackson

  • Thank you. Very interesting. Even though I spent four years in Knoxville I didn’t know that much about Jackson.
    Now the Democrats want to take Pres. Jackson’s face off the $20 bill; substitute it with a woman as a sop to feminism and minorities. Bad enough that three Navy ships were to be named for G. Giffords (gun control), C. Chavez (Latino vote and farm worker labor) and Harvey Milk (LBGT vote) instead of MOH winners.

  • On long car trips in the 50s my dad would alleviate the boredom by leading us in college fight songs. My brother and I in turn would sing the Battle of New Orleans and other patriotic songs.

  • Wow! Old Hickory, bark and all,.

  • Thank you Donald, for fleshing out the bare bones of my knowledge of Andrew Jackson. I admit to allowing the expulsion of the Cherokees from Georgia to unduly define the man. Many whom we unanimously revere would be considered rough as cobs, were they present among us.

April 19, 1775: Lexington and Concord-Why They Fought

Wednesday, April 19, AD 2017



In 1843 twenty two year old Mellen Chamberlain, who would later be a legislator, a judge and chief librarian of Boston, interviewed 86 year old Captain Levi Preston, last surviving veteran of the battle of Concord:

Question:  “Captain Preston, what made you go  to the Concord fight?

Answer:  “What did I go for?”

Question:  “Yes, my histories tell me that you men of the Revolution took up arms against intolerable oppressions.  What were they?”

Answer:  “Oppressions?  I didn’t feel them.”

Question: “What, were you not oppressed by the Stamp Act?”

Answer:  No, I never saw one of those stamps, and always understood that Governor Bernard put them all in Castle William. I am certain I never paid a penny for one of them.

Question:  “Well, what about the tea tax?”

Answer: “Tea tax!  I never drank a drop of the stuff:   the boys threw it all overboard.”

Question: “I suppose you had been reading Harrington, Sidney, and Locke about the eternal principle of liberty?”

Answer:  “Never heard of ’em. The only books we had were the Bible, the Catechism, Watts’ Psalms, and Hymns and the Almanac.”

Question:  “Well, then, what was the matter?”

Answer:  “Young man, what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should.”

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18 Responses to April 19, 1775: Lexington and Concord-Why They Fought

  • Interesting.

    Not oppressed. Not taxed “without representation”. Ignorant of any the philosophical schools.

    Just simply rebelling against authority.

    non serviam.

  • Cassandra: Our Fifth Amendment may be found in Isaiah 50: 9. Do read our Constitution. Self-governance is an innate human civil right that inheres in the sovereign personhood of the human being. Being “owned” by George III made subjects of us all. Abraham Lincoln said: “One man cannot own another man. FREEDOM

  • “Just simply rebelling against authority.”

    You flew right by that whole right to rule ourselves section.

    “But there is still behind a third consideration concerning this object, which serves to determine my opinion on the sort of policy which ought to be pursued in the management of America, even more than its population and its commerce—I mean its temper and character. In this character of the Americans a love of freedom is the predominating feature, which marks and distinguishes the whole; and, as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your Colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable, whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English Colonies, probably, than in any other people of the earth, and this from a variety of powerful causes, which, to understand the true temper of their minds, and the direction which this spirit takes, it will not be amiss to lay open somewhat more largely.
    First, the people of the Colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, sir, is a nation which still, I hope, respects, and formerly adored her freedom. The Colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are, therefore, not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favorite point which, by way of eminence, becomes the criterion of their happiness. It happened, you know, sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country were, from the earliest times chiefly upon the question of taxing.”

    Edmund Burke, On Conciliation With America, March 22, 1775

  • I’m with Cassandra on this one. The Colonies rebelled against their legal authority that supported them while they were gestating and very vulnerable to attacks from the native populations, the French, and the Spanish. They ginned-up an oppression narrative because the Crown had the gall to ask them to help defer the costs of defending them. It’s ironic that at the same time the British were incubating a revolution in the salons of France that their own would turn on them, but let’s be real: the American revolt was a further move away from Logos to a secular world of Obama’s, Trumps, and Bergoglios.

  • Laughable. The idea that the British Crown had a legitimate power to do away with colonial legislatures, close ports, transport defendants across the sea for trial in England, occupy American cities with garrisons of British troops, not for defense, but to impose autocratic rule, and other abuses flies in the face of any concept of traditional English liberty. The colonists had every right to rebel.

    “The temper and character which prevail in our Colonies are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. We can not, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce people, and persuade them that they are not sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates. The language in which they would hear you tell them this tale would detect the imposition. Your speech would betray you. An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery.”

    Edmund Burke, On Conciliation With America, March 22, 1775

  • One of the first things the American government did was murder its own war heroes who rightly saw the Whiskey Tax (to pay of bankers and swindlers) as the same damn-ed thing they had just fought against. If Britain was so harsh and unfair, why did 2/3 of Americans not want a revolution? If what you say is the case, then why did Canada not follow that lead? And lastly, I’m sure you know what all these wonderful American Revolutionary leaders thought of Catholics. Do you know what the Quebec Act of 1774 was about?

    “The Quebec Act angered the Virginia elite, since most of the western lands they claimed were now officially part of Quebec or in the Indian reserve. The act, which Parliament passed at the same time as legislation placing Massachusetts under crown control, also fueled resentment among Calvinist New Englanders, who saw in its autocratic, pro-Catholic provisions further evidence of an imperial conspiracy against colonial liberties.”

  • “One of the first things the American government did was murder its own war heroes who rightly saw the Whiskey Tax (to pay of bankers and swindlers) as the same damn-ed thing they had just fought against.”

    No, the Whiskey Rebellion demonstrated that bullets were no substitute for ballots. After the rebellion was put down, the tax was repealed by Congress during the Jefferson Administration.

    “Do you know what the Quebec Act of 1774 was about?”

    Yes. Do you know that during the Revolution the Brits attempted to use anti-Catholic propaganda, written by Benedict Arnold against the patriots following the French alliance, and that most of the Founding Fathers attended Mass on occasion during the Revolution to show their gratitude for the aid of Catholic France?

    As Washington noted to leading Catholics in a letter after he was elected President:

    “As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality. And I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution, and the establishment of their government; or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed.”

    Of course your argument is really with Pope Leo XIII who wrote:

    “Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.”

  • Let me guess: You think America is a “shining city on a hill” don’t you?
    Anyway, I appreciate the forum to express my opinion. Thank you.

  • America in its best moments is a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world:

    “The Founding Fathers of the United States asserted their claim to freedom and independence on the basis of certain “self-evident” truths about the human person: truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by “nature’s God.” Thus they meant to bring into being, not just an independent territory, but a great experiment in what George Washington called “ordered liberty”: an experiment in which men and women would enjoy equality of rights and opportunities in the pursuit of happiness and in service to the common good. Reading the founding documents of the United States, one has to be impressed by the concept of freedom they enshrine: a freedom designed to enable people to fulfill their duties and responsibilities toward the family and toward the common good of the community. Their authors clearly understood that there could be no true freedom without moral responsibility and accountability, and no happiness without respect and support for the natural units or groupings through which people exist, develop, and seek the higher purposes of life in concert with others.

    The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways. Millions of people around the world look to the United States as a model in their search for freedom, dignity, and prosperity. But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic. Their commitment to build a free society with liberty and justice for all must be constantly renewed if the United States is to fulfill the destiny to which the Founders pledged their “lives . . . fortunes . . . and sacred honor.”

    John Paul II

    “Anyway, I appreciate the forum to express my opinion. Thank you.”

    You are welcome! That is part of why we are here.

  • America as shining beacon. Let me paraphrase what a professor of mine (yeah, a professor) said when I was in college in the 80s: At its worst, America has never been worse than what you’ll find in other times and places throughout the world and throughout history. At its best, we have yet to see its equal.

  • Well said by your Professor and by you Dave!

  • You flew right by that whole right to rule ourselves section.
    Not at all. “Rule ourselves” and non serviam are in the practical sense equivalent.
    “Rule ourselves” led to the civil war. One cannot with consistency defend rebellion against Britain and condemn the succession of the Confederacy. It’s either “consent of the governed” or it’s not.
    “Rule ourselves” is the political application of protestant repudiation of the authority of the Church.

    and that most of the Founding Fathers attended Mass on occasion during the Revolution
    Politically expedient religious displays have never impressed me.

    Interesting that you would quote Leo XIII. You may be interpreting that to suggest that Leo thought the establishment of the secular government was providential to the Church rather than the opposite intention that the establishment of the American see was providential to bring Catholicism to the secular government. Further along you find:

    “6. ….For the Church amongst you, unopposed by the Constitution and government of your nation, fettered by no hostile legislation, protected against violence by the common laws and the impartiality of the tribunals, is free to live and act without hindrance. Yet, though all this is true, it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the Church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and Church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced. The fact that Catholicity with you is in good condition, nay, is even enjoying a prosperous growth, is by all means to be attributed to the fecundity with which God has endowed His Church, in virtue of which unless men or circumstances interfere, she spontaneously expands and propagates herself; but she would bring forth more abundant fruits if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority.”

    The Church in America—such that it has prospered—did not do so because of the secularism of the government or its ideas about what legitimate liberty meant. It did so out of the Church’s fecundity.

    The problem with discussions like this is the emotion rapped up in criticism of the philosophical errors in the founding of this nation. It is very much like pointing out problems in the papacy. Pointing out problems in the pontificate of JPII or Benedict would bring howls from many of the conservative Catholics suffering from ultramontanism. As painful as it has been, Francis has helped solve that problem. Likewise, pointing out problems in the founding of America still brings howls from those raised in the American mythology. Those errors were arguably smaller than the subsequent errors that produced communism, but they were steps along the way. Of particular importance was the establishment of the first atheist government. Ideas have consequences.

    Let me present this from

    “1517, 1717, 1917, then, are three symbolic dates, three events that are part of a single process. Pius XII, in his speech to the men of Catholic Action on October 12th 1952, summed it up like this: “Christ yes, Church no; (the Protestant Revolution against the Church); then: God yes, Christ no; (the Masonic Revolution against the central mysteries of Christianity); finally the impious cry: God is dead; rather: God has never existed (the atheistic Communist Revolution). And here – Pius XII concludes – is the attempt to build the structure of the world upon foundations that We do not hesitate in pointing out as, the principals responsible for the danger that threatens mankind”.

    Need I point out the prevalence of Masons and Deists amoung the founding fathers?

    I have no illusion of convincing you of anything.

    But then, Of course your argument is really with Pope Leo XIII, and not with me.

  • “Not at all. “Rule ourselves” and non serviam are in the practical sense equivalent.”

    No they are not.

    “One cannot with consistency defend rebellion against Britain and condemn the succession of the Confederacy. It’s either “consent of the governed” or it’s not.”

    Certainly one can. In the case of the American Revolution the colonists had suffered the long train of abuses set forth magnificently in Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. The South had suffered no such abuses and rebelled purely to safeguard the right to hold other human beings as chattel. There was no right of secession created by the Constitution.

    ““Rule ourselves” is the political application of protestant repudiation of the authority of the Church.”

    You are comparing apples to rock salt. Caesar and Christ are not the same and rebellion in the civil realm is not the same as heresy or schism in the realm of religion.

    “The Church in America—such that it has prospered—did not do so because of the secularism of the government or its ideas about what legitimate liberty meant. It did so out of the Church’s fecundity.”

    You draw from Leo XIII what he did not say. What he was saying is that different conditions of time and place prevent any form of government to be the best in all times and places and history demonstrates that this is manifestly true.

    “Likewise, pointing out problems in the founding of America still brings howls from those raised in the American mythology.”

    This is not a discussion about myths but rather about historical facts, at least on my part.

    “Need I point out the prevalence of Masons and Deists amoung the founding fathers?”

    No, since I know the history of that period well. Are you aware of the differences between American masonry and Continental masonry, the masonry that the fulminations of Pius XII and many of his predecessors were directed against? American masonry never had the anti-Christian rage and tendency to atheism that infected Continental masonry. In America, in the time of Washington, the masons were as subversive and atheist as the Rotary Club is in America today.

    “I have no illusion of convincing you of anything.”

    At last, something we can agree on.

  • “I have no illusion of convincing you of anything.”

    At last, something we can agree on.

    Your other responses are likewise not the least surprising, and not the least convincing.
    Time will ultimately demonstrate the correct position.

  • “Time will ultimately demonstrate the correct position.”

    Time will not ultimately determine the correct position, insofar as any of the matters under discussion can be deemed correct or incorrect, but rather the facts will. I know the historical facts and you obviously do not.

  • Trump used this story in his address to the NRA today.
    Someone on his staff must be reading you.

  • “Then Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people that had desired a king of him, and said, ‘This will be the right of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and put them in his chariots, and will make them his horsemen, and his running footmen to run before his chariots; and he will appoint of them to be his tribunes, and centurions, and to plough his fields, and to reap his corn, and to make him arms and chariots. Your daughters also he will take to make him ointments, and to be his cooks, and bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your best oliveyards, and give them to his servants. Moreover, he will take the tenth of your corn and of the revenues of your vineyards, to give his eunuchs and servants. Your servants also and handmaids, and your goodliest young men, and your asses he will take away, and put them to his work. Your flocks also he will tithe, and you shall be his servants.

    ‘And you shall cry out in that day at the face of the king, whom you have chosen to yourselves. and the Lord will not hear you in that day, because you desired for yourselves a king.'”

    We reversed Israel’s mistake.

December 26, 1776: Washington Saves the American Revolution

Monday, December 26, AD 2016



Washington crossing the Delaware is ingrained in the American psyche, and well it should be.  Without Washington’s brilliant attack at Trenton against the Hessian garrison stationed there on December 26, 1776, his subsequent maneuver around the reacting British force under General Cornwallis, and his victory at Princeton on January 3, 1777, it is likely that the American Revolution would have died during the winter of 1776-1777, Washington’s army dissolving in the gloom and pessimism brought on by the string of American defeats of 1776.  Instead, Washington’s victories brought out fresh levies of patriot militia from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, strengthening Washington’s army and causing the British to retreat from New Jersey.  In the span of a week, Washington and his men altered the likely outcome of the American Revolution, and all subsequent history.  Here is Washington’s report to the Continental Congress on the victory at Trenton:



Sir: I have the pleasure of Congratulating you upon the success of an enterprize which I had formed against a Detachment of the Enemy lying in Trenton, and which was executed yesterday Morning. The Evening of the 25th I ordered the Troops intended for this Service [which were about 2400] to parade back of McKonkey’s Ferry, that they might begin to pass as soon as it grew dark, imagining we should be able to throw them all over, with the necessary Artillery, by 12 O’Clock, and that we might easily arrive at Trenton by five in the Morning, the distance being about nine Miles. But the Quantity of Ice, made that Night, impeded the passage of the Boats so much, that it was three O’Clock before the Artillery could all get over, and near four, before the Troops took up their line of march.

This made me despair of surprising the Town, as I well knew we could not reach it before the day was fairly broke, but as I was certain there was no making a Retreat without being discovered, and harassed on repassing the River, I determined to push on at all Events. I form’d my detachments into two divisions one to March by the lower or River Road, the other by the upper or Pennington Road. As the Divisions had nearly the same distance to March, I ordered each of them, immediately upon forcing the out Guards, to push directly into the Town, that they might charge the Enemy before they had time to form. The upper Division arrived at the Enemys advanced post, exactly at Eight O’Clock, and in three Minutes after, I found, from the fire on the lower Road that, that Division had also got up. The out Guards made but small Opposition, tho’ for their Numbers, they behaved very well, keeping up a constant retreating fire from behind Houses. We presently saw their main Body formed, but from their Motions, they seemed undetermined how to act. Being hard pressed by our Troops, who had already got possession of part of their Artillery, they attempted to file off by a road on their right leading to Princetown, but perceiving their Intention, I threw a body of Troops in their Way which immediately checked them. Finding from our disposition that they were surrounded, and that they must inevitably be cut to pieces if they made any further Resistance, they agreed to lay down their Arms. The Number, that submitted in this manner, was 23 Officers and 886 Men. Col Rall. the commanding Officer with seven others were found wounded in the Town. I dont exactly know how many they had killed, but I fancy not above twenty or thirty, as they never made any regular Stand. Our loss is very trifling indeed, only two Officers and one or two privates wounded. I find, that the Detachment of the Enemy consisted of the three Hessian Regiments of Lanspatch, Kniphausen and Rohl amounting to about 1500 Men, and a Troop of British Light Horse, but immediately upon the begining of the Attack, all those who were, not killed or taken, pushed directly down the Road towards Bordentown. These would likewise have fallen into our hands, could my plan have been compleatly carried into Execution. Genl. Ewing was to have crossed before day at Trenton Ferry, and taken possession of the Bridge leading out of Town, but the Quantity of Ice was so great, that tho’ he did every thing in his power to effect it, he could not get over.

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December 1776: A Dying Revolution and The Old Fox

Wednesday, December 14, AD 2016

The American Revolution was in the process of dying 240 years ago as General George Washington revealed in letters to his cousin Lund Washington who looked after Mount Vernon for the General during the War.

Dear Lund,

* * * * * *

I wish to Heaven it was in my power to give you a more favorable account of our situation than it is. Our numbers, quite inadequate to the task of opposing that part of the army under the command of General Howe, being reduced by sickness, desertion, and political deaths (on or before the first instant, and having no assistance from the militia), were obliged to retire before the enemy, who were perfectly well informed of our situation, till we came to this place, where I have no idea of being able to make a stand, as my numbers, till joined by the [78] Philadelphia militia, did not exceed three thousand men fit for duty. Now we may be about five thousand to oppose Howe’s whole army, that part of it excepted which sailed under the command of Gen. Clinton. I tremble for Philadelphia. Nothing, in my opinion, but Gen. Lee’s speedy arrival, who has been long expected, though still at a distance (with about three thousand men), can save it. We have brought over and destroyed all the boats we could lay our hands on upon the Jersey shore for many miles above and below this place; but it is next to impossible to guard a shore for sixty miles, with less than half the enemy’s numbers; when by force or strategem they may suddenly attempt a passage in many different places. At present they are encamped or quartered along the other shore above and below us (rather this place, for we are obliged to keep a face towards them) for fifteen miles. * * *

December 17, ten miles above the Falls.

* * * I have since moved up to this place, to be more convenient to our great and extensive defences of this river. Hitherto, by our destruction of the boats, and vigilance in watching the fords of the river above the falls (which are now rather high), we have prevented them from crossing; but how long we shall be able to do it God only knows, as they are still hovering about the river. And if every thing else fails, will wait till the 1st of January, when there will be no other men to oppose them but militia, none of which but those from Philadelphai, mentioned [79] in the first part of the letter, are yet come (although I am told some are expected from the back counties). When I say none but militia, I am to except the Virginia regiments and the shattered remains of Smallwood’s, which, by fatigue, want of clothes, &c., are reduced to nothing—Weedon’s, which was the strongest, not having more than between one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty men fit for duty, the rest being in the hospitals. The unhappy policy of short enlistments and a dependence upon militia will, I fear, prove the downfall of our cause, though early pointed out with an almost prophetic spirit! Our cause has also received a severe blow in the captivity of Gen. Lee. Unhappy man! Taken by his own imprudence, going three or four miles from his own camp, and within twenty of the enemy, notice of which by a rascally Tory was given a party of light horse seized him in the morning after travelling all night, and carried him off in high triumph and with every mark of indignity, not even suffering him to get his hat or surtout coat. The troops that were under his command are not yet come up with us, though they, I think, may be expected to-morrow. A large part of the Jerseys have given every proof of disaffection that they can do, and this part of Pennsylvania are equally inimical. In short, your imagination can scarce extend to a situation more distressing than mine. Our only dependence now is upon the speedy enlistment of a new army. If this fails, I think the game will be pretty well up, as, from disaffection and want of spirit and fortitude, the inhabitants, [80] instead of resistance, are offering submission and taking protection from Gen. Howe in Jersey. * * * I am &c.

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One Response to December 1776: A Dying Revolution and The Old Fox

  • I enjoyed “The Crossing” when I saw it in tv a few (several ?) years ago. Amusing that Jeff Daniels who stars as Washington also starred in “Dumb and Dumber” with Jim Carrey.

The Liberty Song

Saturday, November 19, AD 2016


Something for the weekend.  The Liberty Song sung by Bobby Horton.

Written by Founding Father John Dickinson in 1768, the song was sung by patriots in America to the tune of Heart of OakThe video below is the most hilarious scene from the John Adams mini-series where a completely fish out of water John Adams gets donations for the American cause from French aristocrats as they sing the Liberty Song, led by Ben Franklin who is obviously immensely enjoying himself.  It is a good song for Americans to recall, and perhaps especially so in this year of grace, 2016.

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4 Responses to The Liberty Song

  • Vive la France !

    France was the first country to recognize Texas independence.

    Their flag is one of the Six Flags Over Texas.

  • I think related to this account is the now-breaking story of how last night (11/18/16, Friday) Mike Pence attended a performance of “Hamilton” (the musical) in NY at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Broadway:

    Pence, who in my mind has re-defined for the better the word “gentleman” was treated to a consummately insulting cascade of boos as he took his seat in the theater; but wait, wait, it gets better—at the end of the show when the actors returned to take their bows, Brandon Dixon, who plays the part of Aaron Burr, decided to lecture Pence in richly ironic and unconsciously self-parodying words as follows:

    “Mike Pence, we welcome you here. We are the diverse Americans who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents. “Or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights … we hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us,” he continued, to rising cheers. ”

    “We thank you for sharing this wonderful American story, told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.”

    There is too much bovine elimination here to address in Dixon’s remarkably superior and haughty “address”.

    But tellingly, as with all good leftists, they do all the talking, allow for no response, and do no listening. That kind of describes Don McClarey’s outstanding political analysis of the vote demographics and results of the Nov. 8th election right there.

    Keep it up, donkey-derrieres!

  • And by the way, Trump rightly, in the most appropriate way, called the ambush “rude”, and demanded an apology—the best way to seize the moral high ground from tone-deaf leftists

  • I would say 2016 is a “year of grace” in that Hillary was defeated. But I can’t really say the same about Donald Trump’s election.


    Notice explicit mentioning of liberty is practically, if not completely, absent Trump’s rhetoric?

October 2, 1780: Death of Major John Andre

Sunday, October 2, AD 2016

After a court martial composed of senior generals of the Continental Army, Major John Andre, who had been captured on a mission to Major General Benedict Arnold who was about to betray West Point to the British, was executed on October 2, 1780.  Andre made a positive impression on all American officers who came in contact with him, universally praised for his courage and good humor in adversity.  However, the rules of war were the rules of war.  He had been captured in civilian garb within enemy lines on the mission of a spy.  He must therefore meet the fate of a spy.  Andre appealed his sentence to Washington, not to spare his life, but that his mode of execution be an honorable firing squad rather than the dishonorable gallows.  Washington declined the appeal although he esteemed Andre, in his phrase, as an “accomplished man and gallant officer.”

We have an eyewitness account of Andre’s death from James Thatcher, a surgeon in the Continental Army:

October 2d.– Major André is no more among the living. I have just witnessed his exit. It was a tragical scene of the deepest interest. During his confinement and trial, he exhibited those proud and elevated sensibilities which designate greatness and dignity of mind. Not a murmur or a sigh ever escaped him, and the civilities and attentions bestowed on him were politely acknowledged. Having left a mother and two sisters in England, he was heard to mention them in terms of the tenderest affection, and in his letter to Sir Henry Clinton, he recommended them to his particular attention. The principal guard officer, who was constantly in the room with the prisoner, relates that when the hour of execution was announced to him in the morning, he received it without emotion, and while all present were affected with silent gloom, he retained a firm countenance, with calmness and composure of mind. Observing his servant enter the room in tears, he exclaimed, “Leave me till you can show yourself more manly!” His breakfast being sent to him from the table of General Washington, which had been done every day of his confinement, he partook of it as usual, and having shaved and dressed himself, he placed his hat upon the table, and cheerfully said to the guard officers, “I am ready at any moment, gentlemen, to wait on you.” The fatal hour having arrived, a large detachment of troops was paraded, and an immense concourse of people assembled; almost all our general and field officers, excepting his excellency and staff, were present on horseback; melancholy and gloom pervaded all ranks, and the scene was affectingly awful. I was so near during the solemn march to the fatal spot, as to observe every movement, and participate in every emotion which the melancholy scene was calculated to produce.

Major André walked from the stone house, in which he had been confined, between two of our subaltern officers, arm in arm; the eyes of the immense multitude were fixed on him, who, rising superior to the fears of death, appeared as if conscious of the dignified deportment which he displayed. He betrayed no want of fortitude, but retained a complacent smile on his countenance, and politely bowed to several gentlemen whom he knew, which was respectfully returned. It was his earnest desire to be shot, as being the mode of death most conformable to the feelings of a military man, and he had indulged the hope that his request would be granted. At the moment, therefore, when suddenly he came in view of the gallows, he involuntarily started backward, and made a pause. “Why this emotion, sir?” said an officer by his side. Instantly recovering his composure, he said, “I am reconciled to my death, but I detest the mode.” While waiting and standing near the gallows, I observed some degree of trepidation; placing his foot on a stone, and rolling it over and choking in his throat, as if attempting to swallow. So soon, however, as he perceived that things were in readiness, he stepped quickly into the wagon, and at this moment he appeared to shrink, but instantly elevating his head with firmness he said, “It will be but a momentary pang,” and taking from his pocket two white handkerchiefs, the provost-marshal, with one, loosely pinioned his arms, and with the other, the victim, after taking off his hat and stock, bandaged his own eyes with perfect firmness, which melted the hearts and moistened the cheeks, not only of his servant, but of the throng of spectators. The rope being appended to the gallows, he slipped the noose over his head and adjusted it to his neck, without the assistance of the awkward executioner. Colonel Scammel now informed him that he had an opportunity to speak, if he desired it; he raised the handkerchief from his eyes, and said, “I pray you to bear me witness that I meet my fate like a brave man.” The wagon being now removed from under him, he was suspended, and instantly expired; it proved indeed “but a momentary pang.”

Andre, who wrote poetry in his spare time, had a poem in his pocket written by Jehoida Brewer in 1776 that Andre had transcribed during his captivity from memory:

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12 Responses to October 2, 1780: Death of Major John Andre

  • and Andre would have us be subjects to a monarchy without morals, obeisance to a cruel dictator. A free people living in peace do not have to fight a Revolutionary War to exercise their human rights. Mephistopheles
    Perhaps, Andre had not read our Unanimous Declaration of Independence of the United States ratified by every state to which Andre did not adhere.

  • The nobility of the man is nonetheless inspiring and a lesson on the virtue of fortitude. The things we are moved to memorize say much about our character. “The Hiding Place” brought to mind, ” Intra tua vulnera absconde me.”

  • To support the unsupportable as Andre did leads me to believe that he was seduced by the devil, and made to appear as a patriot. For whom? Was it fortitude or studborness, contempt for the reality of a peoples’ innate human rights?

  • Mary De Voe,
    No, Major John Andre` as a loyal British army officer was doing his duty as head of the British Secret Service and was considered a patriot by his countrymen. His remains were sent to England where they were re-interred in Hero’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. I doubt that he was seduced by the devil. He was known to be a religious man and had written a religious poem two days before his death that was found in his uniform pocket after his execution. Two quotes about Maj. Andre` written by Gen George Washington in his correspondence to Comte de Rochambeau, “He was more unfortunate than criminal.” and to a Col. Laurens, “An accomplished man and gallant officer.” The traitor in this episode was the treasonous Gen. Benedict Arnold who sold out his fledgling country for a sum of over a million dollars in modern currency.

  • I firmly regard our Constitution and founding as close an expression of the virtue of justice one can find in a secular context. I am nonetheless uncomfortable with the revolutionary impulse. There is an argument to be made for a crown and altar conservative sentiment and would not condemn Andre on that basis. Ours’ was not a revolution but a war for independence and Major Andre just found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. May he rest in peace.

  • WPW, The ship left without him so he truly was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    Thank you for making a distinction between wars of revolution and independence. Well put.

  • I f only George III had been an honest man and a just king, then Andre would have been an ambassador. Andre was about betraying American colonists, I have no respect for him. England does and that gives the truth to his life.

  • Mary De Voe”
    I say with respect that your view of England and its government of that day strikes me as being rather Manichean. England, prior to the revolution, did not treat the American colonies badly on balance. Many Americans, who stayed loyal to England had to flee to Canada after suffering persecution and the seizure of their property. Their descendants are known here in Canada as United Empire Loyalists.

    If it were as simple as evil tyrannical England against noble democratic Americans seeking independence and self-determination, how do you explain the invasion of Canada in the War of 1812-14? Where were the democratic ideals in the decision to invade a neighbour.

    Ironically, many descendants of Loyalists joined Canadian regiments and fought with the British Army against the American army sent to conquer my country, Canada. In the end we stood firm and, with much blood shed on both sides, sent the Yankee army home to think again.

    We are friends and allies now, thank God, but for many decades the military threat to Canadians came from the imperial aspirations of the USA embodied by the concept of Manifest Destiny. The history is not as simple as you indicate. Major Andre was a patriot, carrying out his sworn duty as a commissioned officer.

  • Hello John. My great Uncle Bill, a Newfie, joined the British Army in 1939 because, as he said, “Somebody has to teach the Limeys how to fight!” Some of my relatives in Newfoundland in 1967 were still ticked at the outcome of the 1948 referendum!

    In many ways the American Revolution made two nations: the United States of America and British Canada. Although many of the Loyalists who fled to Canada at the conclusion of the War ultimately returned to the United States, the portion that remained were all important in the forging of Canada. As an American with 50% Newfie blood, I take a fair amount of pride in that.

  • Major John. Have you read our Founding Principles? Perhaps you do not agree with being created equal and enjoy being a subject and subject to taxation without representation and without habeas corpus and trial by jury. The human being has innate unalienable human rights that become his civil rights. Having a monarch above the law is for lack of a better word, unconstitutional.
    Major Andre was a patriot. For whom?

  • Many years ago, I read Kenneth Roberts’ “Oliver Wiswell”, a novel based on a large number of historical sources, it gives an interesting perspective. I should say it is a mistake to over simplify history. That said, let us pray we defeat Hillary and save our beloved country from becoming a kakistocracy.

  • You can also observe fasts on Tuesday and Saturday.

September 7, 1776: First Submarine Attack

Thursday, September 8, AD 2016

The American Revolution witness several examples of Yankee ingenuity that astonished the foes of the United States and delighted their friends.  David Bushnell while an undergraduate at Yale in 1775 developed the plans for the Turtle, the first submarine used in combat.  Among his innovations was using water as a ballast to raise and lower the submarine, a screw propeller to move the Turtle and a time bomb to serve as the weapon of the Turtle.

The Turtle was constructed and in August General George Washington authorized an attack on HMS Eagle, the flagship of Admiral Richard Howe.  The attack was made on September 7, 1776.  The Turtle was piloted by Sergeant Ezra Lee.  The attack did not succeed.  On February 20, 1815 Ezra Lee wrote a letter describing the attack to General David Humphreys:

Judge Griswold, & Charles Griswold Esq. both informed me that you wished to have an account of a machine invented by David Bushnell of Say. Brook, at the commencement of our Revolutionary war. In the summer of 1776, he went to New York with it to try the Asia man of war: – his brother being acquainted with the working of the machine, was to try the first experiment with it, but having spent untill the middle of August, he gave out, in consequence of indisposition. – Mr. Bushnell then came to General Parsons (of Lyme) to get some one to go, and learn the ways & mystery of this new machine, and to make a trial of it.

General Parsons, sent for me, & two others, who had given in our names to go in a fire ship if wanted, to see if we would undertake the enterprize: – we agreed to it, but first returned with the machine down Sound, and on our way practised with it in several harbours. – we returned as far back as Say-Brook with Mr Bushnell, where some little alterations were made in it – in the course of which time, (it being 8 or 10 days) the British had got possession of Long Island & Governor’s Island – We went back as far as New Rochelle and had it carted over by land to the North River. –

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: George Washington

Thursday, August 25, AD 2016



If Historiographers should be hardy enough to fill the page of History with the advantages that have been gained with unequal numbers (on the part of America) in the course of this contest, and attempt to relate the distressing circumstances under which they have been obtained, it is more than probable that Posterity will bestow on their labors the epithet and marks of fiction; for it will not be believed that such a force as Great Britain has employed for eight years in this Country could be baffled in their plan of Subjugating it by numbers infinitely less, composed of Men oftentimes half starved; always in Rags, without pay, and experiencing, at times, every species of distress which human nature is capable of undergoing.

George Washington, letter to Major General Nathaniel Greene, February 6, 1783

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5 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: George Washington

  • It very well could be that the half starved, lower income, outdated fashion, God fearing Americans with rosaries and faith will befuddle the tyrants of today. Correction.
    Not could be….it will be.

    In the end, Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will Triumph!

    BTW…..Many good and honorable Christians are above the poverty threshold. They are blessed to have and share their wealth with neighbors. They too, are the new Minutemen.

  • Then, God was with us. Read the histories.
    Today, the rulers and their enablers have turned aside from God.
    Washington with God’s help won independence.
    Lincoln with God’s help saved the Union.
    FDR beat the Japanese Empire and German Nazism.
    JFK put men on the Moon.
    Obama put men in the Ladies Room.
    In the end, all will be well for those who constantly pray for, and strive to obtain, God’s gift of grace to do His will.

  • Currently reading David McCullough’s book, 1776, which includes a lot of primary source info re: Washington and detailed battle plans and decision making on the British & American sides. Good stuff. Thank you for posting this.

  • Christian Teacher, I think that is an excellent book. I came away convinced that Washington truly was a great man and that God was on our side; otherwise, we’d be Canada.
    The Battle of Long Island was fought on 27 Aug 1776, 240 years ago tomorrow. Several commemorations are planned.
    The Army’s successful evacuation (by whale boats in night fog) from Brooklyn can be ascribed to Divine Assistance.
    One of the (few) benefits of living just outside of NYC is being able visit Greenwood Cemetery, which not only holds the remains of many famous and notorious New Yorkers, but is the site of the Americans’ main line of resistance in the Battle of Brooklyn Heights. At the high point, there is a bronze statue of Minerva pointing toward the Statue of Liberty, which wasn’t there when erected. Law forbids erecting a building to block the view. Also, close by in the area is the site of the famous stand of the Maryland Regiment.

    Barnet Shecter wrote the book, The Battle For New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution. I have been on tours he led through the battlefield in and around Greenwood Cemetery.
    An aside: Mr. Schecter also wrote, The Devil’s Own Work, which is a detailed history of the 1863 NY draft riots. It’s a good exposition of evil Democrats (I repeat myself again), then and now.

August 16, 1780: Battle of Camden

Tuesday, August 16, AD 2016



“But was there ever an instance of a General running away as Gates has done from his whole army? And was there ever so precipitous a flight?  One hundred and eighty miles in three days and a half.  It does admirable credit to the activity of a man at his time of life.”

Colonel Alexander Hamilton’s comment after the battle of Camden






The battle of Camden, August 16, 1780, was a humiliating defeat for the Americans.  Led by General Horatio Gates, a former British officer, 3700 Americans, more than half of them militia, were defeated by 1500 British regulars and 600 Loyalist militia.  900 Americans were killed and wounded, and a thousand Americans captured, compared to a British loss of 68 killed and 250 wounded.  Most of the American militia ran at the opening of the battle and Gates fled with them, riding his horse 60 miles to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Gates, thankfully, was never given a field command again.  His blundering had thrown away the only major American regular military force remaining in the South.  It was a disaster for the Americans and a humiliating one.

The one bright spot in this fiasco was the heroism of General Johann de Kalb and the Maryland and Delaware Continentals he led.  Born in 1721 into a family of peasants, de Kalb managed the incredible feat in Eighteenth Century Old Regime France of rising due to sheer ability to the rank of Brigadier General and entered the ranks of the nobility as a baron.  He first became familiar with America in 1768:  serving as a French spy he traveled throughout the colonies to determine the level of dissatisfaction of the colonists with British rule.  He grew to sympathize with the Americans.  He came back to America with Lafayette in 1777, becoming a Continental Major General.

After Gates and the militia fled, de Kalb and his 800 Continentals fought ferociously against the entire British Army, making charge after charge, with de Kalb at the head shouting, “To me, my Continentals!”  His Continentals were defeated only after de Kalb fell with 11 wounds.  General Cornwallis, commander of the British forces at Camden, had his personal surgeon treat his brave adversary.  De Kalb died three days later.  To a British officer who offered his sympathy, de Kalb gave a ringing reply that should be remembered by every American:  “I thank you sir for your generous sympathy, but I die the death I always prayed for: the death of a soldier fighting for the rights of man.”  The towns and counties named DeKalb throughout the United States are a tribute to a very brave man and able soldier who died for his adopted country.

Here is the report of Cornwallis on his victory:

Cornwallis, Charles, the Earl
1780 Letter from Charles, the Earl, Cornwallis to Lord George
Germain, dated 21 August 1780.
My Lord:
It is with great pleasure that I communicate to Your Lordship an Account of a Compleat Victory obtained on the 16th Inst., by His Majesty’s Troops under my command, over the Rebel
Southern Army, Commanded by General Gates.

In my Dispatch, No. 1, I had the honour to inform Your Lordship that while at Charlestown I was regularly acquainted by Lord Rawdon with every Material incident or Movement made by the
Enemy, or by the Troops under His Lordship’s command. On the 9th Inst. two Expresses arrived with an account that Genl. Gates was advancing towards Lynche’s Creek with his whole Army, supposed to amount to 6,000 men, exclusive of a Detachment of 1,000 Men under Genl. Sumpter, who, after having in vain attempted to force the Posts at Rocky Mount & Hanging Rock, was believed to be at that time trying to get round the left of our position, to cut off our communications with the Congarees & Charleston; That the disaffected Country between Pedee & Black River had actually revolted, and that Lord Rawdon was contracting his Posts and preparing to assemble his force at Camden.

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The Ongoing American Revolution

Monday, July 4, AD 2016

But the continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic. Their commitment to build a free society with liberty and justice for all must be constantly renewed if the United States is to fulfill the destiny to which the Founders pledged their “lives . . . fortunes . . . and sacred honor.

Saint John Paul II, December 16, 1997



A good way to observe the Fourth of July is to read aloud the Declaration of Independence.  My family has done that for years.  The Declaration is not an historical artifact to be mentioned in passing in forgettable speeches once a year.  It is the most radical document ever to issue from the pen of Man:

  1.  Rights derive from God and are unalienable.
  2. That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.
  3. Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
  4. All men are created equal.
  5. That the people have a right to overthrow a government that is becoming a despotism.

These words, as a cursory glance around the world reveals, remain just as revolutionary and controversial today as when Mr. Jefferson wrote them two hundred and forty years ago.  His words are not meant to be worshiped, but rather to be argued about and debated.  It is common to date the end of the American Revolution to 1783.  Not so, not so.  That is when Britain recognized the independence of the United States.  However, the Revolution itself, as articulated in the Declaration of Independence, is an ongoing proposition, and each day it has defeats and victories, and the outcome of that Revolution is still very much in doubt.  It is up to each of us, by our actions today, to determine whether the vision of the Founding Fathers is a true one or not.

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Catholics in the American Revolution

Monday, July 4, AD 2016



Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.

Pope Leo XIII

American Catholics, a very small percentage of the population of the 13 colonies, 1.6 percent, were overwhelmingly patriots and played a role in the American Revolution out of all proportion to the small fragment of the American people they represented.  Among the Catholics who assumed leadership roles in the fight for our liberty were:

General Stephen Moylan  a noted cavalry commander and the first Muster Master-General of the Continental Army.

Captains Joshua Barney and John Barry,  two of the most successful naval commanders in the American Revolution.

Colonel John Fitzgerald was a trusted aide and private secretary to General George Washington.

Father Pierre Gibault, Vicar General of Illinois, whose aid was instrumental in the conquest of the Northwest for America by George Rogers Clark.

Hercules Mulligan-Ran a haberdashery in New York City during the War which catered to British officers, and all during the occupation of that community by the British was a spy for George Washington.  Washington cleared him of suspicion of Loyalism by having breakfast with him the day after the evacuation by the British of New York in 1783.

Father Eustache Lotbiniere who served as chaplain to one of two Continental regiments, known as Congress’ Own, of French Canadiens.

Nurse Mary Waters’, an Irish immigrant, work in the Continental Army hospitals was praised by Surgeon General Benjamin Rush.

Thomas Fitzsimons served as a Pennsylvania militia company commander during the Trenton campaign.  Later in the War he helped found the Pennsylvania state navy.  After the War he was one of the two Catholic signers of the U.S. Constitution in 1787

Colonel Thomas Moore led a Philadelphia regiment in the War.

Colonel Morgan Connor served as Adjutant General of the Continental Army in 1777.

Major John Doyle led a group of elite riflemen during the War.

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7 Responses to Catholics in the American Revolution

  • Indeed, I haven’t read the comments, but this takes me immediately back to the Vietnam era. Peter Paul and Mary recorded this, and if I remember my research at the time it was an old English folk song titled “Gone the Rainbow, Gone the Dove”. I suspect it long predates the Revolutionary War. We had a folk group, “Group Therapy” who used words similar, to PP&M (which are all over the web). It is and was a gorgeous tune with moving words adaptable to a father, husband or son. – Oh fond, melancholy memories.

  • Oh, yes. I take Catholic’s part in the founding of the country for granted. Ask any 4th degree Knight.

  • I hate my parents for not naming me Hercules Mulligan.

    Happy 4th, all.

  • Comment of the week Pinky! Take ‘er away Sam!

  • Stars and Stripes Forever on the Fourth. I’m honored.

    Anyway, it’s just as well. Naming a kid Hercules Mulligan would just be an unfair leg up in life.

  • Did not Fray Junipero Serra send money to the Americans, as did the society ladies of Havana.

  • Quite right PF. David Farragut’s father, Jordi Farragut Mesquida, fought both at sea and ashore for the American cause during the Revolution.

Fortnight For Freedom: The Catholic Signer

Sunday, July 3, AD 2016


fortnight for freedom 2016



Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, letter to James McHenry, November 4, 1800.

Charles Carroll of Carrollton, as he signed his name when he added his signature to the Declaration of Independence, was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.  When he died at the age of 95, he was the last of the Signers to depart this vale of tears.

The scion of perhaps the richest family in the colonies, Charles Carroll was initially uninterested in politics and, in any case, was debarred by his religion from participating in politics in his native Maryland by his religions.  However, in his thirties he became a passionate advocate of American independence from Great Britain and quickly became one of the chief leaders of the Patriot cause in his home colony.  It was only natural as a result that he was sent to Congress, in spite of his religion, where he was one of the chief spokesmen for independence and happily placed his signature on the Declaration even though by doing so he risked not only his fortune but his life if the British had prevailed.  By the end of 1776 the revolutionary government of Maryland had issued an act of religious freedom, and Carroll and his fellow Catholics in Maryland enjoyed the same civil rights as Protestants.

In 1778 he returned to Maryland and helped draft the state constitution and in setting up the new state government, serving in the State Senate until 1800, and briefly in the United States Senate.

A slaveholder, throughout his career Carroll spoke and wrote of slavery as an evil that must come to an end as soon as possible.  He attempted, but failed, to have Maryland implement a plan of gradual emancipation.  At the age of 91 he took on the task of being president of the Auxiliary State Colonization Society of Maryland, part of  a national movement to have free blacks voluntarily colonize what would become Liberia in Africa.

Something of a Renaissance man, he had a strong interest in science and in his nineties helped set up the B&O Railroad, lending his prestige to this new technology in his native Maryland.

Throughout his life his two main passions were the American Revolution and his Faith.   Like most of the Founding Fathers he regarded the idea of political liberty divorced from sound morality, derived from religion, as an absurdity.  He set forth his ideas on this subject in a letter to Secretary of War James McHenry in 1800 in which he lamented the then current American political scene:

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4 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: The Catholic Signer

  • Very excited you will be doing more posts on him. I just read the most recent book tha thas com eout on hi and I very much recommend it.

    On a side note his home still stands and his family still lives there. However the Family is trying everything it can to make sure the Estate does not fall to pieces. It would be a shame if that happened

    The Revolution literally cost him millions by the way. He fought a very unpopular fight against Paper money. His Father was rather incensed at him that he did not fight it harder. When paper money came on the scene the value of his estate decreased quite a bit

  • Great piece.
    Thanks again for the History lesson.
    The last signee to pass away…Our Founding Father’s…pray for us.

  • Another good history lesson. Thanks!

  • My father graduated from John Carroll (Jesuit University in Cleveland, Ohio). Was all-male then. Named after relative of Charles and of course the first Catholic bishop of the U.S. My father participated in college ROTC there. I wonder how many Catholic colleges allow that now in these politically correct times (especially the Jesuit ones). A couple of notable alumni include Don Shula and the late Tim Russert (Meet the Press).

Fortnight For Freedom: Major Andrew McClary

Thursday, June 23, AD 2016

fortnight for freedom 2016



I occasionally encounter people who claim that freedom is an abstraction, and that they would never die for an abstraction.  That has never been the case in my family.  McClareys have fought in all the nation’s wars down to the present, and we have attempted to remember them beginning with the first, Andrew McClary, a man who has fascinated me since my father told me about him so long ago.

He is memorialized in the  above section of a painting  by John Trumbull and depicting, with artistic license, “The Death of General John Warren.”  The Major is shown raising his musket to brain a British soldier attempting to bayonet the dying Warren, a warlike action quite in character for him, and one which warms the cockles of my heart.  My wife has noted over the years how much I resemble Major Andrew, and it is intriguing how his facial features have been passed down through the generations of my family.

Born  in 1730 in Ireland, at an early age he emigrated to New Hampshire with his family.  He grew to six feet, a giant of a man for his time, jovial in disposition but always ready to fight if need be to defend his rights or the rights of those he loved.    The colonies were fortunate that quite a few men, like George Washington, who had served in the French and Indian War, were still in the prime of life and constituted a potential officer corps with, in many cases, combat experience, at the time when the Revolution began.  Major Andrew McClary was typical of these men.  After serving as an officer in Rogers’ Rangers during the French and Indian War, and singlehandedly throwing six British officers out of a tavern window during a loud “discussion” on a memorable evening, he had settled down as a farmer outside of Epsom, serving as a selectman of that town,  a member of the New Hampshire legislature, and, always, as an officer of the New Hampshire militia.  When news of Lexington and Concord reached him, he abandoned his plow, told his young family he was off to fight the British, and immediately marched off with a company of 80 militiamen to the siege lines around Boston. There he met up with his old friend from Rogers’ Rangers Colonel John Stark, who made McClary a major in his regiment of New Hampshire militia.

At the battle of Bunker Hill, Major McClary led the regiment onto Breed’s Hill, where the battle was fought on June 17, 1775.  The advance of the regiment was momentarily blocked by a gaggle of Massachusetts militia standing about on the road doing nothing.  That obstruction was removed when McClary yelled out that New Hampshire would like to borrow the road, if Massachusetts was not using it.

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April 26, 1777: Sybil Ludington’s Ride

Tuesday, April 26, AD 2016


The eldest of twelve children, Sybil Ludington grew up in a household of ardent patriots, her father being the commander of the local militia in Duchess County New York.  On April 26, 1777 she became, at age 16, a heroine of the Revolution when she rode forty miles to her father’s militia encampment at night on her horse Star to spread the alarm that the British were moving on Danbury Connecticut.  During her ride she successfully defended herself against a highwayman using a long stick.  She used the same stick to bang on the door of houses along the way to let the occupants know that the British were on the march,  Thanks to her, her father Colonel Henry Ludington chased after the British with 400 of his militia.  They were unable to intercept the British before their attack on Danbury, but they, along with other militia units, harassed the British as they retreated to New York.  The campaign is considered a turning point that helped ensure firm patriot control in Connecticut.  Sybil received the personal thanks of George Washington.

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2 Responses to April 26, 1777: Sybil Ludington’s Ride

April 19, 1775: The Shot Heard Round the World

Tuesday, April 19, AD 2016

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1837)

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2 Responses to April 19, 1775: The Shot Heard Round the World

  • So much for George LII’s efforts at gun control. About 5% supported the King; about 5% supported the good guys. 90% simply did not care. Dejj vu all over again today in the good ole USSA. Guy McClung, San Antonio TX

  • Tories were about 15-20%. Patriots about 45%-50%. The remainder kept their heads down and went with whatever side seemed to have the upperhand. The Tories had a striking inability to organize, except under the protection of British bayonets.

James Otis: Forgotten Founding Father

Sunday, April 17, AD 2016


“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.”

William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, March 1763, in his speech against warrantless searches allowed under the proposed Excise Bill before the British Parliament.

James Otis had a glittering career ahead of him.  At the age of 35 in 1760 he was Advocate General for the Admiralty Court in Boston.  His wife Ruth was heiress to a fortune worth ten thousand pounds.  He threw it all away and resigned his post to represent pro bono, he refused the fee they wished to pay him saying that in such a great cause he despised all fees, colonial merchants subject to writs of assistance.  A writ of assistance was a court order that allowed British officials to search at whim houses and businesses of those suspected of smuggling without obtaining a search warrant.  These writs were in effect for the lifetime of the King during whose reign the writ was issued.  Bearers of writs of assistance were not responsible for any damage caused by their searches.  Otis viewed the writs to be a violation of Magna Carta, English case law and the traditional English legal doctrine that an Englishman’s home was his castle.

In a  five hour address that captivated listeners at the Boston State House on February 24, 1761, James Otis denounced the writs of assistance:

Your Honors will find in the old books concerning the office of a justice of the peace precedents of general warrants to search suspected houses. But in more modern books you will find only special warrants to search such and such houses, specially named, in which the complainant has before sworn that he suspects his goods are concealed; and will find it adjudged that special warrants only are legal. In the same manner I rely on it, that the writ prayed for in this petition, being general, is illegal. It is a power that places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer. I say I admit that special Writs of Assistance, to search special places, may be granted to certain persons on oath; but I deny that the writ now prayed for can be granted, for I beg leave to make some observations on the writ itself, before I proceed to other Acts of Parliament.

In the first place, the writ is universal, being directed “to all and singular justices, sheriffs, constables, and all other officers and subjects”; so that, in short, it is directed to every subject in the King’s dominions. Every one with this writ may be a tyrant; if this commission be legal, a tyrant in a legal manner, also, may control, imprison, or murder any one within the realm. In the next place, it is perpetual; there is no return. A man is accountable to no person for his doings. Every man may reign secure in his petty tyranny, and spread terror and desolation around him, until the trump of the Archangel shall excite different emotions in his soul. In the third place, a person with this writ, in the daytime, may enter all houses, shops, etc., at will, and command all to assist him. Fourthly, by this writ not only deputies, etc., but even their menial servants, are allowed to lord it over us. What is this but to have the curse of Canaan with a witness on us: to be the servants of servants, the most despicable of God’s creation?

Now, one of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court can inquire. Bare suspicion without oath is sufficient.

Otis lost the case, but his bold stand was considered the start of the American independence movement.  John Adams was present during the speech and later wrote:

“The child independence was then and there born,[for] every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance.”

In the years to come he helped popularize the phrase, “No taxation without representation.”  Mental illness cut short his services to the American cause, illness exacerbated by his receiving a blow to his head from a British customs inspector in 1769.  In years to come he would have alternating periods of madness and lucidity.  His wife Ruth, although her personal political sympathies were Tory, loyally stood by her husband and cared for him.

Otis did not let his madness stop him from bearing arms.  Hearing the artillery bombardment preparatory to the battle of Bunker Hill, he snuck out of his house, got a rifle, and joined the American troops on Breed’s Hill.  After the battle he walked home.

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8 Responses to James Otis: Forgotten Founding Father

  • one of our many great founders ; the Nations victory in its’ struggle for independence wasn’t signed until sept 83- 4 months after James ‘ departure’. great story though…..

  • The preliminary peace treaty recognizing American independence was signed on November 30, 1782.

  • Otis was a grea man : nice try but no cigar- Washington did not order a cease fire until near the end of april ’83 i don’t think news of that reached Otis in time – point 2 the transition from a war army to a peacetime force was not begun in congressional committee until april of 83 as well- We all know how fast congress works, even then…….. and as late as that summer, Washington was still inspecting forts and defenses in the northern department, summer of ’83.
    The army was not disbanded until after sept. 83-
    Peace and true Independence was an uncertainty and was not decided until after the War of 1812. IMHO

  • “Otis was a grea man : nice try but no cigar”

    Rubbish. The Americans knew they had won their independence with the signing of the preliminary treaty.

    “Washington did not order a cease fire until near the end of april ’83”

    The last skirmish of the Revolution occurred on December 27, 1782 in South Carolina. The British Parliament voted to end all offensive operations on February 27, 1782. On April 15, 1783 Congress ratified the preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain. Celebrations marking the ending of the war immediately began throughout the US as the news spread. Washington made the formal announcement to his army on April 19, 1783.

  • it is rubbish because you are looking backwards across history – no bugs or crap on the rear window- Geo. III waged war, not parliament – they were the funding organ- no more no less – Washington did not trust the British with cause as was proven time and again before and after 9/83 e.g. the forts in the ohio valley etc. etc. – a contemporary of the negotiations could not presume peace- none less than the great Washington did not trust them, hence his ‘summer tour’ of the northern and western forts in the summer , July , yes July of 1783- see ‘A.C. Flick, “Washington’s Relations to New York State,” New York History, Apr. 1932, 180–181. I suspect the Great Washington also looked for an excuse to get out of the office- and see Saratoga and the Mohawk valley in its grandeur, from the saddle………

    The army did not stand down until last qtr. of 83. – that speaks volumes i think. God Bless all our founders and Praise the Lord for bringing all these great men to bear for freedom in the last qtr of the 18th century, here in Colonial america. “never have so many owed so much to so few” …….

    but i’ll not split hairs[further] – i like you and your thinking and your blog too much; a contemporary of the great Otis would not have presumed victory over the greatest power on earth in may of 1783- there were too many variables at play – of course looking back now we can clearly see the last pitched battles and the success of ‘preliminary’ negotiations. it is all after the fact.

  • Don – the national park service historians think the war ended in april 1783-

    New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is where the Continental Army under General George Washington spent the last winter and spring of the Revolutionary War. In October 1782, General Washington moved his northern army to New Windsor to establish winter quarters. Some 7,500 soldiers and 500 women and children civilian refugees encamped here. By late December 1782, they had erected nearly 600 log huts into a “cantonment,” a military enclave. It was at the New Windsor Cantonment that the cease fire orders were issued by Washington ending the eight-year War of Independence on April 19, 1783.

    yet Washington still kept his guard up – maybe he was padding his expense account ??- and of course he did not bid farewell to his staff until december of 83- at Fraunces Tavern
    if the war was over, why else did he wait so long don?? no rubbish now…….

  • My whole point, and it is a very simple one to grasp, is that by the time of his death on May 23, 1783 Otis, along with all other Americans, knew that they had won their independence. Washington in the summer of 1783 reduced his army to 2000 men. He would not completely demobilize his army until the British evacuated New York City which occurred on November 25, 1783.

  • I deleted your last comment Paul. Your failure to concede when you are clearly mistaken on a matter of historical fact is a waste of my time. You are banned from this blog. Go waste the time of someone else on the internet.

April 7, 1776: Lexington Takes Edward

Thursday, April 7, AD 2016

On March 14, 1776, that sea going Catholic son of Ireland John Barry, received his commission as a Captain in the Continental Navy from the Continental Congress.  It was signed by John Hancock, President of the Congress.  Barry wasted no time making his mark.

Barry was placed in command of the USS Lexington, 14 guns, on December 7, 1775.  Captain Barry took the Lexington on its maiden voyage on March 26, 1776.  On April 7, 1776, Barry had his initial victory of the war, taking H.M.S. sloop Edward after a short but fierce engagement.  This was the first naval victory of the new Continental Navy and the first British warship captured by the Americans. Barry had begun his victorious military career and started to earn the proud title of Father of the American Navy.

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