Fortnight For Freedom: A Just War

Monday, June 30, AD 2014

Fortnight For Freedom 2014

As we approach the Fourth of July we celebrate American independence and the liberties we enjoy.  Independence was won on the battlefield.  Was the American Revolution a just war is therefore a question that should be asked and answered.

Based on the just war doctrine first enunciated by Saint Augustine, I believe the American Revolution was a just war.

 

Over the centuries the precise content of the just war doctrine has varied.  The classic definition of it by Saint Thomas Aquinas is set forth in Part II, Question 40 of his Summa Theologica:

“I answer that, In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rm. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.”

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (Questions. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine’s works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

The most recent formulation of the Just War doctrine for the Church is set forth in the Catechism at 2309:

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Fortnight For Freedom: Revolution, Independence and Schoolhouse Rock

Saturday, June 28, AD 2014

Fortnight For Freedom 2014

 

Something for the weekend.  I loved these schoolhouse rock videos when they were first broadcast back in the Seventies right before the bicentennial.  Among a fair number of kids I knew they sparked an interest in history.  Of the videos, I believe No More Kings has the catchiest tune.  For a cartoon, The Shot Heard Round the World does a fairly good job of conveying information about the Revolution in a very short span of time:  it manages to include the opening battles of the war, Washington as the central figure of the war, the role of the militia, the endurance of the Continentals, the battle of Trenton, Valley Forge, the frequent defeats of the Americans, the importance of diplomacy and foreign intervention, and the decisive victory at Yorktown.  Fireworks is a nice opening view of the Declaration for kids.  If readers have kids, or if, like me, part of them has never really grown up, watching these cartoons can be a good way to get into the Fourth of July spirit!

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One Response to Fortnight For Freedom: Revolution, Independence and Schoolhouse Rock

  • “Shot heard round the world” is still my favorite– main reason I got the DVD of School House Rock. (Which now lives with the Daffy Duck Mathamagic Land DVD in my computer bag, for somewhat educational child distraction.)

Fortnight For Freedom: The Father of Our Country

Friday, June 27, AD 2014

Fortnight For Freedom 2014

 

America has been blessed by God in many ways but I suspect no blessing has been greater than His granting us George Washington to lead us in our struggle for independence and to be our first President.  Catholics have perhaps more reason than other Americans to keep the memory of Washington alive in our hearts.  In a time of strong prejudice against Catholics in many parts of the colonies he was free from religious bigotry as he demonstrated on November 5, 1775 when he banned the anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes celebrations.

“As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope – He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.”

Order in Quarters, November 5, 1775

– George Washington

This stand against anti-Catholicism was not unusual for Washington.  Throughout his life Washington had Catholic friends, including John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the US.  He would sometimes attend Mass, as he did during the Constitutional Convention when he led a delegation of the Convention to attend Mass in Philadelphia as he had attended Protestant churches in that town during the Covention.  This sent a powerful signal that under the Constitution Catholics would be just as good Americans as Protestant Americans.

Washington underlined this point in response to a letter from prominent Catholics, including Charles and John Carroll, congratulating him on being elected President:

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6 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: The Father of Our Country

  • Americans are indeed blessed by God with George Washington. Every citizen ought to emulate Washington’s wisdom, courage and love for God, country and his fellow man.
    .
    Common sense is necessary for the common good and the general welfare and to fulfill the mandates of the Preamble, the purpose, the unchangeable purpose, of the Constitution. Washington called anti-Catholicism “a void of common sense”.”a void of common sense” is called “a no people, a foolish nation” in the Bible.”a void of common sense” is filled with criminality.
    .
    A recent guest on EWTN’s Father Mich Pacwa Show said that only 6% of people entering into college this fall know the Ten Commandments, a very great “void of common sense”.
    .
    It must be noted as well, that Thomas Paine, a pamphleteer who supported freedom and independence for the colonies wrote “Common Sense” to encourage the people to realize their unalienable civil rights. To realize one’s unalienable human rights, one must acknoweldge all men’s unalienable human rights.
    .
    Obama denies his conscience and imposes his “void of common sense” on all citizens.

  • “Thomas Paine, a pamphleteer”

    Having been granted honorary French citizenship, along with other foreign friendsof liberty by the Legislative Assembly’s decree of 26 August 1792, later that year, he was elected to the National Convention as deputy for Pas-de-Calais. His contributions to the assembly’s debates were limited, for he did not speak French. He sat with the Girondins and Robespierre, in a rare flash of wit, remarked that he looked forward to hearing Paine’s speech from the scaffold.

  • Paine barely escaped from execution due to Thermidor. His enthusiasm for Revolutionary France was only one illustration that the author of Common Sense possessed little enough of that attribute himself.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “Paine barely escaped from execution due to Thermidor”

    It is said that, the night before he was ordered for execution, a gaoler, who had dined well rather than wisely, put the usual chalk-mark on the inside of his door, open because he had official visitors, instead of the inside.

    His enthusiasm for the French Revolution he shared with Jefferson, who said of the September Massacres in Paris in the summer of 1792 “Many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as anybody. But—it was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree—was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood?”

    Lord Acton was shocked by this “disinterested enthusiasm for murder”

  • One of many reasons why my feelings for Jefferson can best be described as ambiguous.

  • ” … my feelings for Jefferson can best be described as ambiguous.” Ditto, Donald — and mine for Paine as well. I tend to explain both of them when they are at their genuine best as examples of the adage that “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”

Fortnight For Freedom: Charles Carroll of Carrollton-Faith and Freedom

Thursday, June 26, AD 2014

Fortnight For Freedom 2014

charles-carroll-of-carrollton

And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

George Washington, Farewell Address

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 religion.  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.

Two stories are told about him signing the document.  Supposedly he initially signed as Charles Carroll.  A member of Congress, who disliked Carroll because of his Catholicism, sneered, saying how would the British know which Charles Carroll had signed, this being a common name.  Carroll then angrily took up his quill pen and appended “of Carrollton” to his signature.  I love this story, but alas it is unlikely.  Charles Carroll had been adding  “of Carrollton” to his signature for years prior to the Revolution, a reference to his Manor known as Carrollton.  Additionally, as one of the richest men in the colonies,  it is unlikely that the British government would have had any confusion as to which Charles Carroll had signed his name.

The second story is much more likely to be true, as fond of gallows humor as the Founding Fathers tended to be.  When he signed his name one of the other members of Congress said, “There goes several millions!”.

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:

These events will be hastened by the pretended philosophy of France; divine revelation has been scoffed at by the Philosophers of the present day, the immortality of the soul treated as the dreams of fools, or the invention of knaves, & death has been declared by public authority an eternal sleep; these opinions are gaining ground amongst us & silently saping the foundations of religion & encouragement of good, the terror of evildoers and the consolation of the poor, the miserable, and the distressed. Remove the hope & dread of future reward & punishment, the most powerful restraint on wicked action, & ye strongest inducement to virtuous ones is done away. Virtue, it may be said, is its own reward; I believe it to be so, and even in this life the only source of happiness, and this intimate & necessary connection between virtue & happiness here, & between vice & misery, is to my mind one of the surest pledge of happiness or misery in a future state of existence. But how few practice virtue merely for its own reward? Some of happy dispositon & temperament, calm reflecting men, exempt in a great degree from the turbulance of passions may be virtuous for vitrtue’s sake. Small however is the number who are guided by reason alone, & who can always subject their passions to its dictates. He can thust act may be said to be virtuous, but reason is often inlisted on the side of the passions, or at best, when most wanted, is weakest. Hence the necessity of a superior motive for acting virtuously; Now, what motive can be stronger than ye belief, founded on revelation, that a virtuous life will be rewarded by a happy immortality? Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore, who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, & insures to the good eternal happiness are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free government.

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10 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: Charles Carroll of Carrollton-Faith and Freedom

  • In Scotland, strictly speaking, a heritor should always include his territorial designation, when signing a deed or other formal writ, thus, “MPS of Boyd.” A tenant would sign “at Boyd”

    This is why one encounters names like “Maitland of that ilk,” meaning “Maitland of that same,” in other words, Maitland of Maitland, where his surname and the name of his seat are the same.

    In country areas, it is very common for farmers to be called by their territorial designations. Everyone locally calls me “Boyd.” After all, Mr Boyd means master of Boyd and Mr P-S means nothing at all.

    Perhaps, that is why it has always been quite common here for married couples to keep their own surnames, but to use the same designation, thus John Brown and Janet Gordon may be Mr & Mrs Kersland.

  • What a great man! And to think that Hollywood recently portrayed him as a member of the Masonic Order? Who knew!?

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  • This is where you have the advantage of me Donald. I was under the impression that Maryland was founded by Lord Baltimore as a Catholic colony (or at least as a colony tolerant of Catholicism). Had that changed by 1776?

  • Ernst, Maryland was never a Catholic majority colony. Except for a brief Puritan revolt during the time of Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth, the Calvert family were allowed to run the colony as a haven of religious toleration. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 Parliament outlawed Catholicism in Maryland, and it stayed that way until the American Revolution

  • TomD

    Following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Catholicism became identified in the minds of British Protestants with support for the exiled House of Stuart.
    In this, they were not wrong. The Stuarts, beginning with Charles I, who was married to a French Catholic (who may have given her name to Maryland), had always used their power to mitigate the disabilities of Catholics, James II was openly a Catholic and Charles II was probably an undeclared one.
    Add to this that the Catholic clergy in Britain was wholly French-educated, as was a fair portion of the Catholic gentry, who were sent to Jesuit or Benedictine schools at Douai. There they imbibed a strong belief in sacral monarchy and legitimism. Although the Jacobite cause was plainly lost after the ’45 Rebellion, many Catholics continued to believe they could not, in conscience, swear allegiance to “the Elector of Brunswick,” or renounce “the Pretender”until after the direct Stuart line came to an end with the death of the Cardinal Duke of York in 1807.
    As a result, although religious tolerance, not to say indifference, increased in Britain throughout the 18th century, Catholics remained politically suspect and, often, with good reason.

  • “Catholics remained politically suspect and, often, with good reason.”

    And this was pure prejudice, MPS. Everyone remembers Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, which would seem to be a ‘good reason’ to suspect Catholics. Does anyone remember that it was English Catholics who put an end to the plot by informing the government? No, of course not. Over a century earlier Thomas More supported the Crown on every topic but one, and that support gained him no credit in the end. A ‘good reason’ to suspect Catholics could always be found.
    It’s a good thing Europe gave us Martin Luther when it did and not Karl Marx, or the English anti-papists would have been a thousand times bloodier.

  • TomD

    When people make no secret of their support for a government in exile at Bar-le-duc and refuse to take an oath of allegiance to the current government, they cannot really complain, if they are not admitted to public office.

    Robert Dundas of Arniston (Solicitor General 1742-46, Lord Advocate 1754-60 and Lord President 1760-87) certainly represented educated opinion in Scotland, when he wrote, ““The spirit of persecution and intolerance is happily now almost extinguished. It survives only in those illiberal minds who join a morose and harsh disposition to a weak understanding. An acquaintance with the history of mankind will easily show that calamity, bloodshed, rebellion and depopulation have taken their rise from religious persecution, but no example ever occurred of a political evil which arose from toleration.” But, for him, abjuring allegiance to the Pretender was non-negotiable, pleas of conscience notwithstanding. When Rev Mr William Harrison, Parish Priest of the Rough Bounds was captured carrying dispatches from the Pretender’s court, Dundas had him promptly deported to France.

  • I am glad that Robert Dundas did not hang William Harrison. That was a generous act of mercy.

    None of this has a bearing on Maryland. Maryland did not have a Catholic majority. The later Lords Baltimore were Anglican. Many of their appointed governors were not Catholic. Maryland was not going to host any Stuarts (the cooking in France was better). Personally I find the colonial politics of less import than the fact that the Protestants were unhappy with the Maryland Toleration Act. Suspicion may have been understandable, intolerance was not.

  • TomD wrote, “I am glad that Robert Dundas did not hang William Harrison. That was a generous act of mercy.”
    That would have been quite unthinkable. Of the priests who had accompanied the Prince in the ‘45, only Rev Mr Colin Campbell of Morar was murdered; although unarmed, he was shot down on the field of Culloden by Hessian mercenaries, as he tried to rally the MacDonalds for one last charge.
    Of the others, Rev Mr Allan MacDonald, rector of the (illegal but tolerated) seminary at Scalan, near Glenlivet was imprisoned for a year in a military garrison and then ordered to leave the country. Scalan itself was burned on the orders of Butcher Cumberland, as a “nest of traitors.” Rev Mr Aeneas McGillis of Glengarry was put to the horn (outlawed) and fled the country. Of those who had stayed at home, but had “prayed for the Pretender,” Rev Mr Neil McFie of the Rough Bounds, Rev Mr Alexander Forrester of Uist and Rev Mr James Grant of Barra were deported to France. Savage as such treatment of clergymen appears to us, it was not unduly harsh by the standards of the time. They were pardoned under the Indemnity Act 1747. They were welcomed back with a letter from the Lord Advocate, William Grant of Prestongrange (a staunch Presbyterian) warning them that, in future “such clemency might not be so expedient for the public welfare as it would be agreeable to his Lordship’s inclinations,” so they were effectively on probation.
    Only the Apostolic Visitor, Bishop Hugh MacDonald of Morar, who had blessed the Jacobite standard at Glenfinnan, was prosecuted (not for treason, but as a “Jesuit, priest, or trafficking papist”) at the insistence of the London government. Banished on pain of death, he ignored the sentence and went on with his work as before and the Scottish authorities winked at it. He was granted a pension by the French Intelligence Service, under his nom de guerre of of Marolle.

Fortnight For Freedom: Catholics in the American Revolution

Wednesday, June 25, AD 2014

Fortnight For Freedom 2014

 

 

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

From the foundation of this nation, Catholics have fought and died in defense of American liberties.  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.

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.

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

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9 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom: Catholics in the American Revolution

  • Spain sent her Navy to battle her ancient British enemy in defense of the fledgling American republic as well. The anti-Catholics among us have no idea how much assistance was provided by Catholics,both American and from friendly countries, in the War for Independence. Victory would not have been achieved without it.

  • Yep.
    “France serving as our ally in the American Revolution not only helped us win our freedom but also began to dispel the anti-Catholic prejudice held by most Americans prior to the Revolution. After the alliance the British attempted to use anti-Catholicism to convince Americans to abandon the fight. Here is a portion of a proclamation by the American traitor Benedict Arnold after he had turned his coat:

    “What is America now but a land of widows, orphans, and beggars?–and should the parent nation cease her exertions to deliver you, what security remains to you even for the enjoyment of the consolations of that religion for which your fathers braved the ocean, the heathen, and the wilderness? Do you know that the eye which guides this pen lately saw your mean and profligate Congress at mass for the soul of a Roman Catholic in Purgatory, and participating in the rites of a Church, against whose antichristian corruptions your pious ancestors would have witnessed with their blood.”

    The effort proved futile. Except for the Tory minority, Americans saw that the French were fighting to assist them and not to impose either French rule or the Catholic church upon them. On July 4, 1779, at the invitation of the French minister Gerard, members of the Continental Congress attended Mass at St. Mary’s in Philadelphia for a Te Deum for American independence.”

    https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/our-oldest-ally/

  • We too easily forget the disabilities to which Catholics were still subject in Great Britain and Ireland as late as 1776.

    In Scotland, the Penal Laws were not enforced, but they remained on the statute book. The prosecution of Bishop Hugh MacDonald of Morar, titular bishop of Diana and Apostolic Visitor to the Highland District in 1756 under the act against “Jesuits, seminaries, mass priests and trafficking papists” and the deportation of those priests who were “out” in the ’45 had shown these laws could still be exploited against political opponents. Bishop Hugh’s real offence in the eyes of government had been his blessing the Prince’s standard at the Gathering at Glenfinnan on 19 August 1745.

    However, the civil disabilities resulting from the Test Acts effectively excluded Catholics from all public employment, civil or military, from the universities and the learned professions and from sitting in either house of parliament.

    In England, the limited relief offered by the Act of 1778 led to the Gordon Riots of 1780 and showed how easily the anti-Catholic sentiments of the mob could be exploited by demagogues. In Ireland, the Ascendency, as backward as the boyars of Russia and quite untouched by the Enlightenment, continued to enforce the Penal Laws in their full rigour, until the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1791 was adopted by the Irish Parliament in 1792-3, the London government having provided a fund for “rounding up the boys.” This largesse was inspired by a dread of Jacobin sentiments spreading from France. The ’98 Rising showed the fear was well-founded.

  • Mr. Paterson-Seymour,

    I am aware of the hostility in England and Scotland towards Catholics that went on for centuries. Great Britain was especially hypocritical in its treatment to Catholics. Great Britain took Quebec from France in the 1760s. The terms of surrender included the religious freedom of Quebec Catholics. However, in the 13 colonies, only Pennsylvania had any real religious freedom. Maryland was established as a safe haven for English Catholics, but that was wiped out in less than 100 years. As a result, many Maryland Catholics moved west to the Pennsylvania frontiers, establishing themselves in several places, among them present day Cambria County (Johnstown). Father Demetrius Gallitzin, a Russian noble and a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, converted to the Catholic church as a result of his time in France (before the French Revolution), became a priest, and served the fledgling Catholic population in present day West Central Pennsylvania in the years subsequent to the War for Independence.

    Most American Catholics are aware of the plight of the Irish. Countless Irish emigrated to these shores as a result of persecution, oppression and starvation by the English – even after the Acts of 1829 that allowed the Catholic Church to reestablish itself in England.

    The Americans of Irish descent were never in a rush to help Great Britain in either World War as a result of these evil deeds.

    Another English “sin” was the Black Legend. England cranked up the propaganda machine accusing Spain of countless horrors related to the Inquisition and the Spanish Empire in the New World. Meanwhile, England thought nothing of stealing Spanish gold, sinking Spanish shipping, invading Spanish colonies and torturing and killing Catholics in the UK. Henry Tudor and his bastard daughter Elizabeth killed more people – mostly Catholics – than the Inquisition and it isn’t even close.

    England bestowed upon us in the US its tradition of common law and an elected legislature. She gave us slavery and anti Catholicism too.

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  • Penguins Fan wrote, “England bestowed upon us in the US its tradition of common law…”
    Except in Louisiana. When the governor had attempted to promulgate common law in the new territory, the legislature protested, complaining about the “frightful chaos of the common law.” Thus, in 1808, a Kentucky lawyer, James Brown and the Paris-trained Louis Moreau Lislet (a refugee from the slave revolt of 1791 in Saint-Domingue) drew up the new Civil Code, with the French Code Civil of 1804 (Code Napoléon) at their elbow.

    Scotland, too, preserves its legacy of Roman Law, despite the Act of Union in 1707

  • Louisiana was, of course, part of the Louisiana Purchase made by Thomas Jefferson from Napoleon, after Haiti achieved its independence from France (at a frightful cost). Napoleon had no need of the land he (took from Spain) sold. Louisiana, being a Catholic outpost and previously settled, had its own legal code in place.

    The “free associated state” of Puerto Rico, which has a population larger than several US states, also uses Napoleonic law in its own Commonwealth legal code.

    I should mention that there is a cause for canonization underway for Father Demetrius Gallitzin. No doubt it would annoy the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy, who is still annoyed at the existence of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

    Another foreign born Catholic – a Pole – who volunteered for the American cause was Tadeusz Kościuszko. He was a colonel in the Continental Army for seven years.

  • Penguins Fan

    Tadeusz Kościuszko was a very great man, who long fought for the freedom of Poland. Having met him, the astonished Talleyrand remarked, “The search of Diogenes is ended: we have found an honest man.”
    By the Décret de 26 août 1792, the French Legislative Assembly awarded Kościuszko honorary citizenship of France in honour of his fight for the freedom of his fatherland, as well as of the United States and for the ideas of equality and liberty. The decree, conferred the same honour on William Wilberforce, the English anti-slavery campaigner and Kościuszko himself left his American estate for the freeing and education of African-American slaves.
    He famously called Napoléon, “the undertaker of the French Republic.”

  • Great post and comments. The quote from Benedict Arnold chills me.

    Bishop Carroll:
    “They concurred with perhaps greater unanimity than any other body of men, in recommending and promoting that government, from whose influence America anticipates all the blessings of justice, peace, plenty, good order and civil and religious liberty.”
    .

    Wouldn’t it be great if that could be said of us today!

Fortnight For Freedom: Top Ten Movies for the Fourth of July

Tuesday, June 24, AD 2014

Fortnight For Freedom 2014

 

 

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.

John Adams

 

 

 

This is a repeat from a post last year, with some very slight modifications, but I think the logic behind the post still holds true.  As we are embroiled now in a struggle to preserve our religious liberty, I think the Fourth of July is a good time to recall the price paid to establish our liberties.  It is trite to say that freedom is not free, but it is also true.  A people who forget this eternal lesson will not remain free for long.

 

 

A number of feature films and miniseries have been made about the events of the American Revolution.  Here are my top ten choices for Fourth of July viewing:

10.  Ben and Me (1953)- Something for the younger patriots.  Disney put to film the novel of Robert Lawson, Ben and Me, which related how many of Ben Franklin’s bright ideas came from his mouse Amos.  Quite a bit of fun.   Not a classic but certainly an overlooked gem.

9.  The Crossing (2000)-A retelling of Washington’s brilliant crossing of the Delaware on Christmas 1776 and the battle of Trenton.  This film would rank much higher on my list but for Jeff Daniels’ portrayal of Washington as sullen and out of sorts throughout the movie.  Washington had a temper, and he could give vent to it if provoked, although he usually kept it under control, but the peevish Washington portrayed here is simply ahistoric and mars an otherwise good recreation of the turning point of the Revolution.

8.  John Paul Jones (1959)  Robert Stack, just before he rose to fame in the Untouchables, is grand in the role of the archetypal American sea hero.  Bette Davis is absolutely unforgettable as Catherine the Great.  The climactic sea battle with the Serapis is well done, especially for those pre-CGI days.  The only problem with the film is that many of the details are wrong.  This is forgivable to a certain extent since scholarship on Jones was badly skewed by Augustus Buell in a two-volume “scholarly biography” which appeared in 1900.  Buell was a charlatan who made up many incidents about Jones and then invented sources to support his fabrications.  Buell was not completely exposed until Samuel Eliot Morison, Harvard professor of history, and an Admiral in the Navy, wrote his definitive biography of Jones. Here is a list of the fabrications of Buell compiled by Morison.  Morison’s book appeared after the movie, which is to be regretted.

7.  The Patriot (2000) Finally, a film which depicts the unsung contribution of Australians to victory in the American Revolution!  Actually not too bad of a film overall.  Heath Ledger is quite good as Gibson’s oldest son who joins the Continentals at the beginning of the war against his father’s wishes.  Jason Isaacs is snarlingly good as the evil Colonel Tavington, very loosely based on Banastre Tarleton, commander of Tarleton’s Raiders during the Southern Campaign.  The film of course allows Gibson to carry on his over-the-top vendetta against all things English.  No, the British did not lock up American civilians in churches and burn them alive.  However, the ferocity of the partisan fighting in the South is well depicted, and Banastre Tarleton  at the Waxhaw Massacre earned a reputation for slaughtering men attempting to surrender.  The final battle of the film is based on the battle of Cowpens where General Daniel Morgan decisively defeated Tarleton.

6.  Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)-A John Ford classic starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert.  Through the eyes of a young newlywed couple, Fonda and Colbert, the American Revolution on the frontier is depicted in the strategic Mohawk Valley.  Full of the usual Ford touches of heroism, humor and ordinary life.

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John Trumbull and Bunker Hill

Tuesday, February 25, AD 2014

“These fellows say we won’t fight! By Heaven, I hope I shall die up to my knees in blood!”

Major General Joseph Warren to his men prior to the battle of Bunker’s Hill

 

A lecture by John Walsh, emeritus director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, on John Trumbull’s painting on the battle of Bunker Hill and its historical accuracy, or lack thereof.  The painting has always been a favorite in my household, as it depicts my ancestor Major Andrew McClary of the New Hampshire militia.

Bunker Hill

Trumbull had witnessed the battle through field glasses, he was serving with the American army, although not with the portion fighting on Breed’s hill.  The painting shows the death of General Warren, and is entitled The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775,  the painting having been commissioned by Warren’s family.  Trumbull squeezes into the painting almost everyone famous who fought in the battle, both Americans and British.  Major Andrew McClary 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.

The scene depicted is not historical, but rather a tribute to General Warren by having his death the center of the action.  To us it seems a very romantic version of the grim reality, but Abigail Adams, who heard the battle from her farm and saw the aftermath of the wounded and dead American soldiers, found it so realistic when she saw it that she shivered with the memories of the fight it aroused in her.  To most of us moderns war is simple butchery and unless it is shown as such, we are almost offended.  To the men and women of Abigail Adams’ generation, at least the Patriots, they would have been offended by a painting that only remembered the death and carnage, they needed few reminders of that, but that ignored the heroism and sacrifice that ultimately prevailed against the odds and established a new nation.

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One Response to John Trumbull and Bunker Hill

  • “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.”
    .
    Most heartily agree. I thought the same thing when I saw the painting, even before I read the above words, having seen your face and that of your son, Larry, in earlier posts, the McClareys resemble their ancestors in courage and patriotism.

Washington: The Greatest American Part II

Saturday, February 22, AD 2014

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

With the end of the Revolutionary War Washington was looking forward to a well earned retirement from public life at his beloved Mount Vernon.

On June 8, 1783 he sent a circular letter out to the states discussing his thoughts on the importance of the states remaining united, paying war debts, taking care of the soldiers who were wounded in the war and the establishment of a peace time military and the regulation of the militia.  It is an interesting document and may be read here.   No doubt Washington viewed this as in some respects his final thoughts addressed to the American people in his role as Commander in Chief.

Washington ends the letter with this striking passage:

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.

The War having been won Washington resigned his commission to Congress in Annapolis, Maryland on December 23, 1783.  The next day he had reached his heart’s desire:  home, Mount Vernon.  Christmas the next day was probably the happiest in his life.

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3 Responses to Washington: The Greatest American Part II

  • Pope Leo XIII called the United States of America “a constitutional Republic”. “A constitutional Republic” is the finest definition of this nation.

  • All citizens, born and unborn, although birth gives the sovereign person citizenship and a tax bill, are George Washington’s constitutional posterity. One purpose inscribed in the Preamble to the Constitution for the United States of America, is to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our (constitutional) posterity”, George Washington’s constitutional posterity, all future generations of whom the present generation is part. Those who offer human sacrifice to the devil in the form of abortion and pornography and so called gay unnatural marriage violate the principles set forth in our Constitution.
    .
    The state does not “own” the sovereign soul newly conceived in innocence and virginity, therefore, the state cannot allow, subsidize, or legalize the termination and destruction of the unborn person’s will to live and his civil right to life.
    .
    George Washington would have vomited Planned Parenthood out of his mouth. And for certain, Planned Parenthood would not be allowed in the District that bears his name: Washington, D. C.

  • George Washington has served as an example for men and women throughout the world who have sought liberty and the end of repression. Miranda (I don’t remember his first name) was an enthusiastic supporter of the American War for Independence and the American republic and he wanted the same for the nations of South America. Simon Bolivar, too, spent time in the US and admired the country and its system of government. Bolivar was a master military strategist, but as a political leader he was something of a tyrant.

    Poland has a Washington Square in Warsaw. The only other foreign leader so honored by the Polish is Reagan. That tells you something.

    Washington’s warning against getting involved in European entanglements was wise advice at the time, and is usually good advice today when conducting foreign policy. It is people like Pat Buchanan that believe isolationism is a cure for all.

    I alluded to Washington’s activity in ending the Whiskey Rebellion earlier.

    The only political leaders that can measure to Washington since he left the scene were Lincoln, Churchill and Reagan.

Washington: The Greatest American-Part I

Monday, February 17, AD 2014

George Washington

by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét

Sing hey! For bold George Washington,

That jolly British tar,

King George’s famous admiral

From Hull to Zanzibar!

No–wait a minute–something’s wrong–

George wished to sail the foam.

But, when his mother thought aghast,

Of Georgie shinning up a mast,

Her tears and protests flowed so fast

That George remained at home.

Sing ho! For grave Washington,

The staid Virginia squire,

Who farms his fields and hunts his hounds

And aims at nothing higher!

Stop, stop it’s going wrong again!

George liked to live on farms,

But when the Colonies agreed

They could and should and would be freed,

They called on George to do the deed

And George cried “Shoulder arms!”

Sing ha! For Emperor Washington,

That hero of renown,

Who freed his land from Britain’s rule

To win a golden crown!

No, no, that’s what George might have won

But didn’t for he said,

“There’s not much point about a king,

They’re pretty but they’re apt to sting

And, as for crowns–the heavy thing

Would only hurt my head.”

Sing ho! For our George Washington!

(At last I’ve got it straight.)

The first in war, the first in peace,

The goodly and the great.

But, when you think about him now,

From here to Valley Forge,

Remember this–he might have been

A highly different specimen,

And, where on earth would we be, then?

I’m glad that George was George.

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?   Officially the date is still the commemoration of George Washington’s birthday and in this post we will recall the life of the greatest American who ever lived.  Ironically in the length of a blog post we will be unable to cover all of Washington’s event filled life, including his Presidency.  We will break off at the close of the Revolution and finish off on February 22, the actual birthday of the man who will always be first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of all of us who, as Americans, in many ways are his children.

Only Abraham Lincoln comes close to Washington in our American secular pantheon.  Our first president, he was also the man who led our armies to victory in the Revolutionary War, a conflict I am certain that we would have lost but for his leadership, faith and example.  In his own time, and from his days as a very young man, most people who encountered Washington assumed he was destined for greatness.  Six foot three at a time when most men were around five foot six, Washington was a literal giant for his day, weighing 220 pounds of muscle, and noted for his feats of strength.  A quiet aura of dignity and command seemed to envelop him from the first time that he put on the uniform of a Virginia militia officer.  He had a hot temper that he usually successfully controlled beneath a mask of quiet dignity, leavened by a lively sense of humor.  However, none of these explain why men and women instinctively looked to him for leadership, but they always did.  Perhaps it was simply a matter of trust.  Although the cherry tree is a myth, Washington was always known to be an honest man, and a man who could be entrusted with great tasks that he would attempt to do out of a sense of duty and not for personal aggrandizement.  Such men are very rare in history, and almost all Washington’s contemporaries realized that he was  such a rarity.

Washington of course did not appear full grown on the stage of history.  When he was born none would have expected him to have any historical significance in his life.

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16 Responses to Washington: The Greatest American-Part I

  • We, the people, and all future generations, are George Washington’s constitutional posterity. (All presidents must be held to the highest virtue.)

  • Excellent work, Donald! I look forward to Part 2.

    Will you be addressing the “legend” that Washington had an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or that he died a Catholic?

  • Alas no Nicolas. I have addressed those in other posts and none of that is true. What is true is that during the Revolution and as President Washington occasionally attended Mass, although he did that with other denominations also. He had no religious prejudice and counted many Catholics among his good friends including the first bishop of America. He did have a painting of the Virgin Mary among his other paintings. As Commander in Chief during the Revolution he forbade the army to observed Guy Fawkes Day:

    Here is his order on November 5, 1775:

    “As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope–He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.”

    Catholics always had a friend in the Father of Our Country.

  • “I have never liked President’s Day…Officially the date is still the commemoration of George Washington’s birthday – ”

    I’ve grown to the habit of reminding others that there is no such holiday as “President’s Day”, and I think I notice a trend toward calling the Monday holiday by its correct name. Most shocking was last Wednesday; I went to the Prince George’s County Government offices, and noted the printed announcements posted that they will be closed for Washington’s Birthday, and each posting had a large picture of Mr. Washington… (in color). This is something to be only hoped for on the Virginia side of the river…totally unexpected for this inside-the-beltway Maryland county.

  • It is indeed true that General Washington squashed the stupid observance of Guy Fawkes Day among his troops. I remember reading, I think on the website of the US Ambassador to the Vatican, that President Washington (a Mason most of his adult life) was approached by an emissary from the Vatican congratulating him and asking for permission to send Catholic priests from other lands to serve the faithful in the US. President Washington stated that no such permission from him was necessary – a big difference from other countries that demanded and had a concordat with the Vatican giving them say over the establishment and appointment of sees and bishops.

  • George Washington did have many adventures in the region I call home – Southwestern Pennsylvania, then known as the Ohio Country, which was at one time, during the latter days of the War for Independence and a few years after, a serious point of contention between Pennsylvania and Virginia.

    The French were established throughout the Ohio Valley region, stretching down the Mississippi and all the way to New Orleans even then.

    Washington nearly drowned in the Allegheny River in a back channel between a little island formerly known as Herr’s Landing (now home to several upscale homes and known as Washington’s Landing) less than a mile from the Point, then known as the Forks.

    Today, atop Mount Summit just south of Uniontown (50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh) one can find the small town of Jumonville, named for the French officer who met with the unfortunate end. A few miles south along US Route 40 there is the Fort Necessity National Park, which houses a reconstruction of the fort constructed by Washington’s troops.

    The route Washington used to travel to Pittsburgh, originally old Indian trails, is now US Route 40 from Cumberland, Maryland to Uniontown, and Route 51, from Uniontown to Pittsburgh (Route 51 continues all the way to Public Square in Cleveland). General Braddock’s grave is also located along Route 40 south of Uniontown (founded on July 4, 1776 and the hometown of General George Marshall).

    Colonel Henry Bouquet led the British charge to drive the French from Fort Duquesne. Bouquet made his way from York, PA, to Bedford and then on to Fort Duquesne, carving out a path that eventually became US Route 30. the french evacuated and burned the fort, which bouquet took and renamed fort Pitt in honor of the British Prime Minister of the day, William Pitt (a sympathizer of American independence).

    The Fort Pitt Museum in Point State Park in Pittsburgh has many exhibits of this time period, and there are numerous places in the area named for the people and places of the time (Fort Pitt Bridge, Tunnel and Boulevard, Fort Duquesne Bridge and Boulevard, Bouquet Street, Forbes Avenue, the boroughs of Duquesne and Braddock which have seen better days, Duquesne University, Duquesne Beer, Fort Pitt Beer, etc.)

    The first location named for George Washington was Washington County, Pennsylvania (where my parents grew up), and later the home of the Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790s. Washington himself led the charge of Federal troops to stop the insurrection of angry poor Scot farmers who refused to pay what they thought were exorbitant taxes on the whiskey them made.

    The history of St. Mary of Mercy church in downtown Pittsburgh points out that the first Christian religious service in present day Pittsburgh was Holy Mass celebrated by the French chaplains who accompanied the French troops wherever they went or were stationed.

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  • “”President Washington (a Mason most of his adult life) was approached by an emissary from the Vatican congratulating him and asking for permission to send Catholic priests from other lands to serve the faithful in the US. President Washington stated that no such permission from him was necessary “” Incredible. I love this man, Washington, more and more, for he respected his fellowman and his office. True separation of church and state.

  • “The history of St. Mary of Mercy church in downtown Pittsburgh points out that the first Christian religious service in present day Pittsburgh was Holy Mass celebrated by the French chaplains who accompanied the French troops wherever they went or were stationed.”
    No Mass in government shutdown, because Obama owns the citizen’s soul.

  • Donald, thanks for addressing the “legends” in the combox.

  • Thank you Nicholas! Some day I am going to do a post about all the legends that have clustered around Washington. There are dozens of them!

  • I knew two Jesuits, long since deceased, and they related to me that the Jesuits had passed on news that Washington did indeed convert to Catholicism on his deathbed. He sent his slaves to fetch Father Leonard Neale, SJ (the order being then still supressed), to assist his last hours. Neale would only say that everything was “taken care of.” Washington was also known to bless himself before meals. The affair in Pittsburg with the French does not say much for the man however. Seems to me that the French had more of a right to the land than any colonial frontiersmen. British PM William Pitt wanted to drive the French out of the Ohio Valley (and many other places) and push them into Canada. He was the one who ordered the attack on Fort Duquesne. Washington showed no mercy to any of the French that he did catch up with in the 1758 attack.

  • “I knew two Jesuits, long since deceased, and they related to me that the Jesuits had passed on news that Washington did indeed convert to Catholicism on his deathbed.”

    Washington’s last illness and final hours are quite well documented. No such conversion occurred.

    “Seems to me that the French had more of a right to the land than any colonial frontiersmen.”

    Why? They had no better claim to expand into this land than the British did.

    “Washington showed no mercy to any of the French that he did catch up with in the 1758 attack.”
    Quite untrue. The French blew up Fort Duquesne and evacuated it prior to the British scouts under Colonel Washington arriving at the Fort.

  • George Washington gets my vote (the only one that counts) as the greatest American that ever lived and he will never be eclipsed. The historical record proves it.

    Even today he is “First in war; first in peace; and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

    Who would come “within a mile” of such God-given natural nobility: courage/fortitude, justice, prudence, and temperance? Well, maybe Saint Patrick . . .

    And, I don’t care for any detraction.

    When King Goeorge III was informed that Washingtion did not seize the rule over America, he stated that GW was the greatest man that ever lived. Or, something to that effect.

  • “Give the last word to Washington’s great adversary, King George III. The king asked his American painter, Benjamin West, what Washington would do after winning independence. West replied, “They say he will return to his farm.”

    “If he does that,” the incredulous monarch said, “he will be the greatest man in the world.”

  • Thank you for your comments. Apparently I had read inaccurate information. War is hell. I still say, however, that the French were there first. French explorers had canvassed the area long before English settlers began settling. The French had mapped out the territory and claimed it for the throne. But the English were the worst expansionists. Treaties meant nothing to them. Nor did the conversion of the Indians. At least the French evangelized, many dying martyrs. Have you forgotten Pere Marquette, and Jolliet. De Lasalle also brought missionaries on his expeditions. He was the first to explore the Ohio River (1682). You are wrong about the English having just as much right to the Ohio Valley as the French. That is unhistorical.

2 Responses to We’re In a Revolution

Privateer McClary

Monday, February 10, AD 2014

A feature of the American Revolution that has never received nearly as much coverage in histories of that conflict as it warrants is the successful privateer war waged by the Americans against British merchant shipping.  This conflict helped the Americans in many ways:  got badly needed supplies to the colonies, drove up British maritime insurance rates, caused the Royal Navy to divert ships to chase privateers and increased anti-war sentiment among merchants in Britain.  A typical privateer ship of the period is the McClary.

Commissioned by the state of New Hampshire on September 2, 1776 and named after New Hampshire hero Major Andrew McClary who fell at Bunker Hill, the McClary was an armed schooner equipped during her career with 6-8 cannon and up to six swivel guns.

Between September 1776 and February 1778 she would make five voyages.

In her first voyage she captured five prizes off the Newfoundland Banks:  the schooner Neptune , the schooner Glasgow, the British Army transport Hero, the ship Live Oak and the brigantine Three Friends.

In her second voyage she took the snow (merchant brig) Resolution and a transport, name unknown.

In her third voyage she took the brigantines Jane, Two Sisters and Thetis.

In her fourth voyage she captured the schooner Lusanna.

In her fifth voyage she made no captures and was captured herself by the frigate HMS Unicorn on February 6, 1778, bringing her privateering career to an end.

Although McClary, also called McClarey, a common variant of the McClary family name, enjoyed a brief privateering career, it was a successful one.

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5 Responses to Privateer McClary

General John Glover and His Marbleheaders

Tuesday, December 24, AD 2013

A good argument can be made that but for the presence of John Glover and his Marblehead Regiment in the American Revolution, the War might well have been lost.

Born on November 5, 1732, Glover grew up in poverty in Marblehead, Massachusetts, after the death of his carpenter father when Glover was 4 years old.  Glover became a cordwainer and rum trader, working his way up to become a merchant and a ship owner.  Elected to the Marblehead Committee of Correspondence following the Boston massacre, Glover’s political sympathies were firmly allied with the patriot cause.  A member of the  Marblehead militia since 1759, with the coming of the War Colonel Glover marched the Marblehead militia, Almost all fishermen, to the siege of Boston in April 1775.

While active on land in the fight for independence, Glover was also active on the sea.  General Washington commissioned Glover’s schooner Hannah, to raid British supply vessels.  The Hannah is considered to be the first ship of the US Navy.

The Marblehead militia regiment joined the Continental Army, becoming the 14th Continental regiment.

In 1776, Glover and his “amphibious regiment”, as it was called, saved the army after the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Long Island, by ferrying it to Manhattan in a nighttime operation.  On land throughout the New York campaign the regiment fought fiercely in every engagement.  It capped its service by ferrying the Army across the Delaware on Christmas 1776 to attack the Hessians at Trenton.

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One Response to General John Glover and His Marbleheaders

Remember, Remember

Tuesday, November 5, AD 2013

The idiotic anti-Catholic celebration of Guy Fawkes Day , observed each November fifth, was effectively ended in America during the Revolution, in large part due to George Washington.  Here is his order on November 5, 1775:

As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope–He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.

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3 Responses to Remember, Remember

  • In Scotland, the 5th November is also kept by some as the anniversary of the landing of the Prince of Orange at Brixham harbour in England, delivering us, so we are assured, from “popery, slavery, wooden shoes and brass money.”

    Those whose forebears died at Kiliecrankie Pass with the Glory of the Grahams (the “Bluidy Clavers” of Covenanter legend) take a different view.

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  • Is there any real difference between “We Wun’t Be Druv!” and “Don’t Tread on Me!”?

    I think not.

    Trust in God, and keep your powder dry.

Father of the United States Navy

Sunday, October 13, AD 2013

 

john_barry_by_gilbert_stuart

(First published in 2009, the 238th birthday of the United States Navy is a good day to post it again.)

 

 

1745 was a busy year in the history of the misnamed British Isles, with Bonnie Prince Charlie doing his best to end the reign of the Hanover Dynasty in England, so I guess it is excusable that no note was taken of the birth date of John Barry in Tacumshane, County Wexford, Ireland.  During his childhood John received, along with all the other excellent reasons given to Irish Catholics over the centuries to love Britannia, good reason to look askance at the British when his father was evicted from his poor little farm by their British landlord, and the family went to live in the village of Rosslare.

Yet the nameless landlord, completely unintentionally of course, did John a good turn, because it was in Rosslare that young John found his life’s calling:  the Sea.  Nicholas Barry, his uncle, lived there and was captain of a fishing skiff.  John decided to follow in the footsteps of his uncle and seek his fortunes on water.

This was a completely rational choice on the part of John.  The British imposed penal laws, summarized by the great Edmund Burke as follows:   “For I must do it justice;  it was a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts.   It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”   Rendered helots in their own land,  almost all ambitious Irish Catholic lads and lasses had to seek their fortunes elsewhere.  Additionally, for a poor ambitious young man in Europe in the Eighteenth Century, the Sea offered a path to wealth and social advancement.  If he was willing to work hard, learn to read, and learn enough math to chart the course of a ship, a poor sailor, with luck, could rise to be captain of a ship one day.  Compensation for the crew of a merchant vessel was often based on a share of the profits, with the merchants who bankrolled the vessel usually taking between a half to two-thirds with the remainder being divided among the crew:  the greater the rank, the larger the share.  An able captain could eventually become a wealthy merchant.  His daughters might marry into the aristocracy.  His sons might become wealthy bankers and eventually be ennobled if they played their political cards right.  Although this path was precluded to Irish Catholics by the anti-Catholic Test Act, a poor sailor in the Royal Navy might end his days as an admiral, and there were always a few admirals in the Royal Navy in the Eighteenth Century who had begun their careers in just such a fashion.

However, if the Sea offered opportunities it also had severe risks.  Life aboard ship was cramped and unpleasant, with bad food and putrid water tossed in as a garnish.  Discipline was often brutal and risk to life and limb was an every day occurence.  According to Dr. Samuel Johnson,  “No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned.”   Ports were filled with crippled sailors who eked out a miserable existence with any light work they could get, selling wood carvings and begging.  As Lord Nelson noted, the average British sailor, due to a hard life, was dead by forty-five.

Defying all challenges, John flourished at sea.  Flying through the ranks of cabin boy, seaman, able seaman and a mate’s rating, he proved himself tough and determined.  It also didn’t hurt that he was as strong as a sea-going ox, and grew into a giant  of a man, standing six foot and four inches in a time when the average height of an adult male was five feet and five inches.  During his career he would suppress three mutinies aboard his ships single handedly, and his great physical strength was a key asset in the very rough world afloat.  In 1766 he achieved his dream of becoming a captain and skippered the Barbados with a home port of Philadelphia.  It was on the Barbados that he began his habit, that he kept up in peace and war, in having the day start with a reading from the Bible to the crew.  Captain Barry fell in love with Phillie, a town where he could freely practice his Catholic faith, and a bustling, prosperous port.

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6 Responses to Father of the United States Navy

  • In Wexford there is a monument to John Barry and a quayside pub named after him which according to one reviewer serves the best pint of Guinness in town. A great Irishman indeed, who did sterling service for his adopted country.

    BTW, Samuel Johnson was born in Lichfield, which is about as far from the sea as it’s possible to get in England, and like most landlubbers knew nothing about sea service. The prevalent myths about life on board an 18th-century man-of-war (bad food, harsh discipline etc.) were comprehensively blown out of the water by the publication in 1986 of Dr NAM Rodger’s “The Wooden World – An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy”.

    Most Brits know next to nothing about their maritime history, and would be hard pressed (no pun intended) to name a sailor apart from Drake and Nelson. I hope the average American has more knowledge of, and respect for, his proud heritage.

  • Commodore Barry’s contributions to the founding of this country are greatly under appreciated. The three+ hour battle between Alliance (which was built not a mile from where I sit) and Atalanta and Trepassy was every bit as dramatic and desperate as that between Bonhomme Richard and Serapis, if not more so. The winds were light that day and following the start of the battle, Alliance was becalmed, a decided disadvantage where the British ships could also be propelled by sweeps. Alliance had given the British ships a drubbing, but was taking the worst of the punishment when Barry was hit in the shoulder by grapeshot (an iron ball about the size of a golf ball). Staying on the quarterdeck as long as he could, loss of blood eventually forced Barry to be carried to his cabin. As Alliance continued to take a beating from her opponents, Barry’s first lieutenant, Hoystead Hacker, appeared in the cabin and asked Barry’s permission to surrender. “No!”, roared Barry, “If the ship can’t be fought without me I will be carried up on deck!” Chastened, Hacker returned to his post as Barry struggled back into his shirt and coat. Just then, the slightest of breezes sprang up, allowing Alliance to answer her helm and bring her guns to bear. First Atalanta, then Trepassy received broadsides from Alliance and they surrendered in turn as Barry made his way up the hatchway to the quarterdeck. He returned to his cabin, where he received, then returned the sword of Captain Edwards of the Atalanta (Captain Smyth of the Trepassy had bee killed during the battle).

    The battle was hard fought and Barry’s superior seamanship contributed to his victory. At one point, he backed Alliance down between the two British ships, a feat more famously and, I believe not coincidentally, repeated by Captain Charles Stewart (grandfather of Charles Stewart Parnell), who served as a midshipman in Barry’s wardroom aboard the USS United States, when Stewart and USS Constitution encountered HMS Cyane and HMS Levant during the War of 1812.

  • The engagement between the USS Alliance (a 36-gun frigate with a main armament of long 18-prs an a secondary one of 9-prs) and the sloops Atalanta and Trepassy (the larger being only a third of the size of her adversary and both ships mounting only 14 x 6-prs apiece) was hardly an equal contest. The surprising thing is that the English ships decided to give battle in the first place. Given the odds, they could have honourably struck.

  • The British had stalked the Alliance through the previous night and were the hunters in this contest. Alliance was battered from weather and the treacherous battle tactics of a pair of cowardly British captains during a previous encounter, was sorely in need of refit, and had half its normal compliment (and many of them inexperienced), all on top of the maneuverability difficulties posed by light airs. Alliance’s guns, when they could be brought to bear at all, could only be served on one side or the other.

    While Captains Edwards and Smyth could not have known this, the fighting capacity of their own ships was not inconsiderable and, with a two-to-one advantage, they clearly thought Alliance was more than worth the risk. Barry himself would have been within his rights to decline battle, with all that he faced, not least of which was more than 100 British prisoners in the hold of the Alliance. John Kessler, one of Barry’s midshipmen, recalled that “We could not bring one-half our guns nay oft times only guns out astern to bear on them.” In other words, both British captains, taking advantage of the lack of wind and recognizing the superiority of Alliance’s armament, positioned themselves where that superiority was negated.

    Alliance “shattered in the most shocking manner”, suffered tremendous damage, along with 8 killed and 24 wounded, further reducing an already depleted crew. Ultimately, Barry negotiated an exchange of prisoners, sending those aboard the Alliance and captured from Atalanta and Trepassy (save the officers) into Halifax aboard Trepassy. He then nursed his battered frigate back to Boston, where he saw to her refit and served as her captain until she was sold out of the service, the last ship of the Continental Navy, following the Treaty of Paris.

  • John Nolan

    The British are more knowledgeable about the naval history than you give them credit for. I can remember as a schoolboy being required to memorize Newbolt’s poem,

    Effingham, Grenville, Raleigh, Drake,
    Here’s to the bold and free!
    Benbow, Collingwood, Byron, Blake,
    Hail to the Kings of the Sea!
    Admirals all, for England’s sake,
    Honour be yours and fame!
    And honour, as long as waves shall break,
    To Nelson’s peerless name!

    We were expected to know the story of each of them

  • Herman Wouk, in his 1952 novel “The Caine Mutiny” said in the preface that there had never been a successful mutiny aboard a US warship. He must have forgotten about the Alliance, when on 11 August 1780 Captain Landais was removed from command in circumstances strikingly similar to those of Captain Queeg.

A Just War

Saturday, July 6, AD 2013

 

 

(I originally posted this on July 6, 2009 when the blog readership was much smaller.  I therefore have decided to blow the dust off of it and present it again today.  It also reminds me that I need to complete a much delayed project, looking at the Civil War from both the Union and Confederate sides and applying a just war analysis.  I will attempt to do so by the end of the year.)

 

Based on the just war doctrine first enunciated by Saint Augustine, the American Revolution was a just war.

 

Over the centuries the precise content of the just war doctrine has varied.  The classic definition of it by Saint Thomas Aquinas is set forth in Part II, Question 40 of his Summa Theologica:

“I answer that, In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rm. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.”

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (Questions. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine’s works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

The most recent formulation of the Just War doctrine for the Church is set forth in the Catechism at 2309:

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16 Responses to A Just War

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  • I completely disagree, and I think the proof in the pudding. Firstly, I think you are making an enormous comparative error by using just war theory to analyze an internal revolution. Wars and revolutions are hardly the same thing: they are, in fact, very particularly distinct events. By your analysis—which entirely lacks consideration of the role of Christ’s authority in government—both the Glorious Revolution which preceded the American Revolution and the French Revolution which followed would have to be declared “just wars.”
    But to the pudding: from a Catholic perspective, there is nothing in the constitution–the fruit of the “just” revolution—even approaching “justice”! Justice is the sovereign reign of Christ the King, period. Without Our Lord, there is no “justice.” The founding documents, either sparks or ashes of the Revolution, demonstrate there is a careful and particular rejection of the Church and her authority, and Jesus Christ. The founders were nearly to a man Diests, which is in my opinion some kind of post-Enlightenment euphemism for moral relativists, and what, in nearly any opinion, were anti-Catholic and anti-Christ.
    Of the Constitution in particular, it is no wonder that this “just” document enshrined “rights” immediately or nearly-immediately such unjust institutions such as black slavery and divorce, and in a short order was used to enshrine perhaps the most abominable institution in Western Civilization, “legalized” abortion. There can be absolutely no surprise, then, that this same “just” revolution and its documents are now, successfully, being used to “justify” such likewise disordered institutions as homosexual union and modern “total war” theory.
    I am apt to point out to pro-abortionists that when their “logic” ends in the death of an innocent person, it might be a clue that there is a problem with their “logic.” Likewise, when the American Revolution ends with the kind of anti-Christ society that the American Revolution ended with (then and now), it might be a clue that there was a problem with the American Revolution.
    You might be interested to read “Liberty: The God that Failed” by Ferrera. I think it will challenge your contentions to the core, on many, many levels.

  • “Wars and revolutions are hardly the same thing: they are, in fact, very particularly distinct events.”

    Completely disagree. The theory that Christians may never rebel against unjust rule is not the teaching of the Church.

    “which entirely lacks consideration of the role of Christ’s authority in government”

    Christ does not give a blank check to governments to rule as they will and for the subjects of such government to endure whatever it pleases such governments to do.

    “But to the pudding: from a Catholic perspective, there is nothing in the constitution–the fruit of the “just” revolution—even approaching “justice”!”

    Rubbish on stilts as such Catholics at the time as Charles Carroll of Carrollton who signed the Declaration, Daniel Carroll who signed the Constitution and John Carroll, the first American bishop, who all supported the Revolution, would have cheerfully agreed. Then we have this from Pope Leo XIII:

    “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.”

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/02/22/pope-leo-xiii-on-america-and-george-washington/

    “The founding documents, either sparks or ashes of the Revolution, demonstrate there is a careful and particular rejection of the Church and her authority, and Jesus Christ.”

    Actually it was the American Revolution that began the process by which Catholics in the American colonies gained full civil rights. To enlighten your obvious ignorance you might wish to read the post linked below:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/06/28/fortnight-for-freedom-day-eight-catholics-and-the-father-of-our-country/

    “You might be interested to read “Liberty: The God that Failed” by Ferrera.”

    Ferrara is an ignorant crank. If you are reading him you are wasting both your time and your mind. When Tom Woods calls someone an extremist crank, you know that you have entered cloud cuckoo land:

    http://www.tomwoods.com/on-chris-ferrara/

  • “The Eighteenth Century has a reputation of a gentlemanly period of limited war.”

    That is certainly true in comparison with the wars of the previous century, such as the French Wars of Religion, of the Thirty Years War in Central Europe, or the English Civil War, especially the Scottish and Irish campaigns.

    How many modern readers appreciate that most of Jane Austen’s novels describe life in England during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (and written by the sister of two admirals)?

  • England was untouched by war except for the 45. Parts of Germany during the Wars of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War were quite thoroughly ravaged. Prussia was absolutely devastated by its victory and suffered a half a million loss of population during the war from civilian deaths.

  • If we’re going to discuss the American revolution from a just war standpoint, we may as well start with the Boston Tea Party and the British response.

    1. The Boston Tea Partiers dumped tea belonging to the British East India Company to the bottom of Boston Harbor. Was this a legitimate protest? Or was it an act of vandalism in violation of the Seventh Commandment?

    2. In response, London closed down the Port of Boston. Was this a valid punishment on a city that aided and abetted wrongdoing? Or was it disproportionate and vengeful?

  • Many of the colonial leaders, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, were repulsed by the Boston Tea Party as an act of vandalism. The reaction of the British government to it, treating all colonials as guilty, created more patriots overnight than all the years of agitation by Sam Adams. If the colonists were treated as Englishmen with all of the rights of the English, I doubt if the Revolution would have occurred. Instead they were treated as a subject race, fit only to be governed by their “betters” in London.

  • “I do not believe it is a particularly close call.” It is a close call, then, if both side are guilty of injustice.

  • Not if one side, the Brits, are guilty of massive injustice and the colonists are guilty of hardly any. The British government sought to take away the right of the colonists to rule themselves and that is always worth fighting to preserve.

  • Among American grievances, one should not overlook the Navigation Acts. Franklin probably expressed the views of many, when he wrote to the French economist, Morellet: “Nothing can be better expressed than your sentiments are on this point, where you prefer liberty of trading, cultivating, manufacturing, etc., even to civil liberty, this being affected but rarely, the other every hour.” They were far more burdensome in their application than the taxes, which even Marshall described as “too inconsiderable to interest the people of either country.”

  • “They were far more burdensome in their application than the taxes, which even Marshall described as “too inconsiderable to interest the people of either country.”

    One penny was too much for the colonists. They would be taxed only by laws passed by their legislatures and not by laws passed by the Parliament in London.

  • It has been suggested that the Navigation Acts were the underlying cause of the War of Independence, just as the tariff was the real cause of the War between the States.

    In any conflict, the root causes are always economic; the rest is a mere superstructure; three bad harvests produced the French Revolution.

  • “It has been suggested that the Navigation Acts were the underlying cause of the War of Independence, just as the tariff was the real cause of the War between the States.”

    Both suggestions are complete historical idiocy MPS.

    “In any conflict, the root causes are always economic; the rest is a mere superstructure; three bad harvests produced the French Revolution.”

    Rubbish on stilts. Napoleon did not seek to dominate Europe because of economics, but because he wanted to dominate Europe. Economic explanations of historical events remind me of attempts to reduce music to mathematical formulae: missing the point as art form.

  • I am an American, so I probably ought to just say “My country, right or wrong.” But in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, not a single witness came forward to bring the perpetrators to justice. So the entire city of Boston seemed more interested in aiding and abetting the wrongdoers than in obeying the law.

    The American Revolution was the birth pangs of two nations. The colonists who rebelled became Americans. Those who remained loyal to the Crown became Canadians. Maybe the British government did over-react in closing down the port of Boston. Much of their behavior, however, is what you would expect that a European crown and parliament would do in trying to deal with restive colonists. Further, Westminster showed that it could learn from its mistakes, by governing Canada, Australia and New Zealand with a more lenient hand.

    People in America tend to think of her as paradise on earth. Then I look at Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and I must admit that life in these countries is probably just as good. We Americans value self-fulfillment. People in other English-speaking countries value it as well, but they also value social harmony.

  • “People in other English-speaking countries value it as well, but they also value social harmony.”

    I don’t think we value social dysharmony. Perhaps we just differ from other countries on how to achieve it. This would be consistent with Catholic Social Teachign.

  • Whether the American Revolution was a just war depends on which book you abide by, Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan or John Locke’s On Civil Government. A comparison of which book hews closer to Catholic doctrine would make for a good TAC post.

Fortnight For Freedom: Liberty Song

Saturday, June 29, AD 2013

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have proclaimed a second Fortnight for Freedom from June 21-July 4th, and, as last year, The American Catholic will participate with special blog posts each day.

Something for the Weekend.  Liberty Song.  Written by Founding Father John Dickinson in 1768, the song was sung by patriots in America to the tune of Heart of OakThe video above 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, 2013.

 

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Fortnight For Freedom 2013: Yankee Doodle

Saturday, June 22, AD 2013

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have proclaimed a second Fortnight for Freedom from June 21-July 4th, and, as last year, The American Catholic will participate with special blog posts each day.

Something for the weekend.  Yankee Doodle.  Originally sung by British officers to disparage American troops who fought beside them in the French and Indian War, it was seized upon by Patriots, given endless lyrics, and cheered the patriot troops and civilians during the eight long years of the Revolution.  After Lexington and Concord it was reported by Massachusetts newspapers that the British were suddenly not as fond of the song:

“Upon their return to Boston [pursued by the Minutemen], one [Briton] asked his brother officer how he liked the tune now, — ‘Dang them,’ returned he, ‘they made us dance it till we were tired’ — since which Yankee Doodle sounds less sweet to their ears.”

James Cagney did an immortal riff on Yankee Doodle in the musical biopic of composer and actor George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942):

Yankee Doodle plays in the background as Cagney at the end of the film, entirely impromptu, dances down the White House staircase:

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