Daniel Webster and Leviathan

Friday, January 18, AD 2013

Daniel Webster's Sea Serpent

I have long admired Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster in which Daniel Webster defeats Satan in a jury trial for the soul of Jabez Stone.  Far lesser known is an amusing story written by Benet in which Daniel Webster encounters Leviathan from the Bible:

“Well, Mr. Webster,” said Seth, and stared at his boots, “she says you’re quite a handsome man. She says she never did see anybody quite like you,” he went on. “I hate to tell you this, Mr. Webster, and I feel kind of responsible, but I think you ought to know. And I told you that you oughtn’t to have shot at her—she’s pretty proud of that. She says she knows just how you meant it. Well, I’m no great hand at being embarrassed, Mr. Webster, but, I tell you, she embarrassed me. You see, she’s been an old maid for about a hundred and fifty years, I guess, and that’s the worst of it. And being the last of her folks in those particular waters, there’s just no way to restrain her—her father and mother was as sensible, hard-working serpents as ever gave a feller a tow through a fog, but you know how it is with those old families. Well, she says wherever you go, she’ll follow you, and she claims she wants to hear you speak before the Supreme Court——”

“Did you tell her I’m a married man?” said Dan’l. “Did you tell her that?”

“Yes, I told her,” said Seth, and you could see the perspiration on his forehead. “But she says that doesn’t signify—her being a serpent and different—and she’s fixing to move right in. She says Washington’s got a lovely climate and she’s heard all about the balls and the diplomatic receptions. I don’t know how she’s heard about them, but she has.” He swallowed. “I got her to promise she’d kind of lie low for two weeks and not come up the Potomac by daylight—she was fixing to do that because she wants to meet the President. Well, I got her to promise that much. But she says, even so, if you don’t come to see her once an evening, she’ll hoot till you do, and she told me to tell you that you haven’t heard hooting yet. And as soon as the fish market’s open, I better run down and buy a barrel of flaked cod, Mr. Webster—she’s partial to flaked cod and she usually takes it in the barrel. Well, I don’t want to worry you, Mr. Webster, but I’m afraid that we’re in a fix.”

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The Reverend John Smeet

Tuesday, January 15, AD 2013

The Reverend John Smeet, with his strangler’s hands and his Geneva gown, walked as daintily as he had to the gallows. The red print of the rope was still around his neck, but he carried a perfumed handkerchief in one hand.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone.  Only seven of these entities are named.  This is the second in a series giving brief biographies of these men.  Go here to read the biography of Simon Girty.

The Reverend John Smeet long puzzled literary analysts of The Devil and Daniel Webster.  No record could be uncovered as to his existence.  Scholarly debate raged as to whether Benet had been referring to other historical personages.  The mystery was not cleared up until 1960 when his widow, Rosemary Benet, wrote a letter to the New York Times Book Review in which she stated that Smeet was an imaginary character that her late husband simply inserted into the work.  This was not unusual for Benet.  He had invented a character called John Cotton, and even written a brief bio of him.  I will now do the same for the Reverend Smeet.

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Girty the Renegade

Monday, January 14, AD 2013

And there was Simon Girty, the renegade, who saw white men burned at the stake and whooped with the Indians to see them burn. His eyes were green, like a catamount’s, and the stains on his hunting shirt did not come from the blood of the deer.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone.  Only seven of these entities are named.  This is beginning of a series to give short biographies on each of these figures.

Born in 1741 on the Pennsylvania frontier, Girty’s life took a sharp turn when he and his brothers were captured by the Seneca and adopted by them.  It would be seven years before Girty was able to return to his family.  By that time Girty was a Seneca in all but skin color.  At the outset of the American Revolution Girty supported the patriots, but eventually became a loyalist.  Frontier patriots regarded him as a turncoat and renegade.

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Fortnight For Freedom Day 1: Freedom is Not Just a Big Word

Thursday, June 21, AD 2012

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the first of these blog posts.

The video at the top of this post is a scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone.   In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history.  I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American.

In regard to Freedom it reminds us that it is just not a word:  Freedom is not just a big word — it is the bread and the   morning and the risen sun. It was for freedom we came in boats and ships to these shores.  It has been a long journey, a hard one, a bitter one. There is sadness in being a man, but it is a proud thing, too.  Out of the suffering and the starvation, the wrong and the right, a new thing has come, a free man. When the whips of   the oppressors are broken, and their names forgotten and destroyed, free men will be walking and talking under a free star. Yes, we   have planted freedom here in this earth like wheat.  This is the priceless treasure that Goverment encroachments like the HHS Mandate begin to take away from us.

Go here to read the passage in the Stephen Vincet Benet’s short story.  Below is the scene as written in the screenplay:

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27 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day 1: Freedom is Not Just a Big Word

  • Defend Religious Liberty.

    Stop Tyranny.

    Defeat Obama.

  • Isn’t it ironic that Democrats are the most anti-freedom people around, from their support of slavery in the 1800s to their support of baby-murdering in the late 1900s and early 2000s? Having sold their souls to Satan, I suppose they have no other choice.

  • Freedom of religion lets us live by conscience.
    Freedom of worship is within ‘church’ walls, not the law. Until … such as places in the eastern world.
    Two weeks for special prayer for Christianity, whether or not locales have any plans to get people together to understand.

  • I will be saying the St. Michael Prayer, which Pope Leo XIII wrote after seeing a horrific vision of demons and St. Michael. Our country, the Catholic Church and the world certainly needs his intercession. We all need to be warriors now!

    Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

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  • Satan has no soul. Satan is a person as he testifies for himself, but Satan has no soul. Saint Michael, appearing to the children of Fatima, brought to them Holy Communion. Saint Michael bowed to the earth in their presence and confessed that he could not receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Satan, the Destroyer, liar and murderer, cannot be a citizen as he claims in the story The Devil and Daniel Webster, because a citizen constitutes a nation. Just being there as he claims, when the slaves were enslaved, does not constitute citizenship. Constituting the nation constitutes citizenship. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, has a human, rational soul. Jesus Christ is Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Because Jesus Christ is the Son of God, perfect innocence, perfect charity, the standard of Justice and mercy, Jesus Christ constitutes all nations, all sovereignty, and therefore, is a citizen of all nations, all people. Jesus Christ, as citizen of the universe, nation and the USA, cannot be denied access to the public square, the public square, Jesus’ God and Father created.
    When the Person of God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity of Persons, the first family, the community of LOVE, is returned to the public square, all freedom will reign. Viva Christo Rey
    The moral order is established by God. Jesus Christ lives the moral order.

  • Our US bishops have exercised, for the most part, silence regarding the Church’s truth, though hard sayings, regarding artificial contraception and abortion. The bishops, the USCCB, have not for many years exercised their so called American “freedom” and “freedom of conscience” regarding the Church’s doctrines. They have been afraid to speak the truth in love to Catholics or they have sold their souls to the liberal, often Judaized, philosophies. Fear and silence do not go together with truth and true freedom. Pope Gregory the Great famously said .. “If people are scandalized at the truth, it is better to allow the birth of scandal, than to abandon the truth” Here is what Saint Catherine of Siena said about silence. “I’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.” A follower of Christ is to be a bondslave of Christ.

    Now we are supposed to be rallying and considering “civil disobedience” in this “Fortnight of Freedom”, when the Americanist bishops and “American Catholics” for the cause of “freedom”, which is NOT the cause of Christ, and is NOT first obedience to God.

    Read what Pope Pius X said about Americanism and the Americanists. The founding of the USA was by those who believed in the principles of the Enlightenment. The principles of the Englightenment are anti-Christ and anti Christ toward Christ’s Catholic Church.

    Thomas Payne and Thomas Jefferson spoke of “freedom” not in Christ’s definition of “freedom” (the glorious freedom of the children of God) but in this worldly Englightenment ideas of freedom, and that is the way this Fortnight of Freedom is promoting “freedom.” This is not freedom under God. This is freedom above God.

    Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!

  • In a word, Jeannon, baloney. Try reading this passage from 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. She, by her very nature, guards and defends all the principles on which duties are founded, and setting before us the motives most powerful to influence us, commands us to live virtuously and forbids us to transgress. Now what is the Church other than a legitimate society, founded by the will and ordinance of Jesus Christ for the preservation of morality and the defence of religion? For this reason have We repeatedly endeavored, from the summit of the pontifical dignity, to inculcate that the Church, whilst directly and immediately aiming at the salvation of souls and the beatitude which is to be attained in heaven, is yet, even in the order of temporal things, the fountain of blessings so numerous and great that they could not have been greater or more numerous had the original purpose of her institution been the pursuit of happiness during the life which is spent on earth.

    5. That your Republic is .progressing and developing by giant strides is patent to all; and this holds good in religious matters also. For even as your cities, in the course of one century, have made a marvellous increase in wealth and power, so do we behold the Church, from scant and slender beginnings, grown with rapidity to be great and exceedingly flourishing. Now if, on the one hand, the increased riches and resources of your cities are justly attributed to the talents and active industry of the American people, on the other hand, the prosperous condition of Catholicity must be ascribed, first indeed, to the virtue, the ability, and the prudence of the bishops and clergy; but in so slight measure also, to the faith and generosity of the Catholic laity. Thus, while the different classes exerted their best energies, you were enabled to erect unnumbered religious and useful institutions, sacred edifices, schools for the instruction of youth, colleges for the higher branches, homes for the poor, hospitals for the sick, and convents and monasteries. As for what more closely touches spiritual interests, which are based upon the exercise of Christian virtues, many facts have been brought to Our notice, whereby We are animated with hope and filled with joy, namely, that the numbers of the secular and regular clergy are steadily augmenting, that pious sodalities and confraternities are held in esteem, that the Catholic parochial schools, the Sunday-schools for imparting Christian doctrine, and summer schools are in a flourishing condition; moreover, associations for mutual aid, for the relief of the indigent, for the promotion of temperate living, add to all this the many evidences of popular piety.

    6. The main factor, no doubt, in bringing things into this happy state were the ordinances and decrees of your synods, especially of those which in more recent times were convened and confirmed by the authority of the Apostolic See. But, moreover (a fact which it gives pleasure to acknowledge), thanks are due to the equity of the laws which obtain in America and to the customs of the well-ordered Republic. For the Church amongst you, unopposed by the Constitution and government of your nation, fettered by no hostile legislation, protected against violence by the common laws and the impartiality of the tribunals, is free to live and act without hindrance.”

    The hatred that some trad Catholics have for their own nation and our heritage of freedom as Americans is simply bizarre and has nothing to do with Catholicism.

  • Correct me if I am wrong, but as I understand it, Pope Leo XIII wasn’t so much critical of the Republican system of secular government over these United States, as he was of installing such a system of government for the Church in these United States. Indeed, one might rightly argue that it is the liberals who want Church matters decided on by popular vote, as though the Church ought to be ruled by the “peepul”.

    Establishing Americanism as the Church government in America is obviously wrong. But having a Constitutional Republican government for secular society is exactly what has prevented secular government from telling the Church what to do or not do, and thus has enabled (or at least allowed) the Successors to the Apostles act like the Successors to the Apostles.

  • In a word, Mr. McClareey, baloney. Try reading this passage from Leo XIII Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae (1899).

    “Pope Leo identified three major erroneous views that served to dilute Catholicism in America. The first is the belief that “in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions.”

    And further, Mr. Baloney, your statement “The hatred that some trad Catholics have for their own nation and our heritage of freedom as Americans is simply bizarre and has nothing to do with Catholicism.” is bizaare and has nothing to do with Catholic conduct.

    “The second error condemned by Pope Leo was “that opinion of the lovers of novelty, according to which they hold such liberty should be allowed in the Church, that…allowance be granted the faithful, each one to follow out more freely the leading of his own mind and the trend of his own proper activity.” The pope was condemning the idea of private judgment being the supreme guide as to how one should live, and he was rejecting the idea that the Church should have no say over the consciences of men. The source of this error was the constitutional, enlightenment states that were growing up in the 1800s, and according to American history professor, author and Pulitzer prize winner, Joseph Ellis, the USA is an Enlightenment state. We see the Enlightenment’s imprint on the US in Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote inscribed in the Jefferson Memorial that “I have sworn on the alter of god, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

    “The Third error condemned was “an unwarranted importance to the natural virtues as though they better responded to the customs and necessities of the times.” The late Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, states “In general, active virtues correspond to what is commonly associated with American activism.” The great Dominican Thomist, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, explained in his monumental work, The Three Ages of the Interior Life, that Americanism was the revival of the spirit of “practical naturalism” which is “the negation of the spirit of faith in the conduct of life”. (Tan Books, 1989, vol 1. P. 275) He teaches that Americanism says that the passions are neither good nor bad, but that they “become so according to the intention of our will. They are forces to be utilized; they must not be mortified, but regulated and modulated.” (p. 276) Americanism resists efforts to “combat private judgment, self-will…[because to do so] is to place oneself in a state of servitude which destroys all initiative and makes a person lose contact with the world, which one ought not to scorn, but to ameliorate.” (p. 276).

    The above summarization of Testem

    At the root of Americanism is pride, a pride that says America is not only unique and special but that it is also the greatest. A pride that corrupts doctrine and says that America knows better than the Church and that the Church should learn from America. A pride that places loyalty to America and the USA before loyalty to the Church and the Holy Father. A pride that places being American before being Roman Catholic. This is what we may draw from Leo’s indication that Americanism is a rejection of the words and spirit of St. Jerome who speaking to Pope St. Damasus said “I acknowledge no other leader than Christ, am bound in fellowship with your Holiness; that is with the chair of Peter. I know that the church was built upon him as its rock, and that whosever gathereth not with you, scattereth.” It is the primacy of Christ and his Church, as well of the authority of the Holy Father, that is needed in the hearts of believers to keep unity. For, as Leo XIII continued, the “true church is one, as by unity of doctrine, so by unity of government.”

    The summarization of Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae is taken from a speech of David Wemhoff, “THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT AND THE NEW AMERICANISM”

    http://www.romancatholicreport.com/id172.html

  • Jeannon Kralj,

    Everything you quoted from Pope Leo XIII’s Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae confirms what I wrote: the Pope wasn’t criticizing the Constitutional Repubic that was the United States, but the application of “peepul” rule and popular opinion for Church government.

    Look at the statements in your comment:

    (1) “…The first is the belief that ‘in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age…'”

    (2) “The second error condemned by Pope Leo was ‘that opinion of the lovers of novelty, according to which they hold such liberty should be allowed in the Church…'”

    (3) “The Third error condemned was ‘an unwarranted importance to the natural virtues as though they better responded to the customs and necessities of the times…'”

    The Pope never criticized the United States herself as a Constitutional Republic. Rather, he criticized trying to apply a system of voting, popular opinion and relativism in place of the Church government that Jesus established.

    BTW, I love my country, but I love God first. So I take exception to these statements:

    “At the root of Americanism is pride, a pride that says America is not only unique and special but that it is also the greatest. A pride that corrupts doctrine and says that America knows better than the Church and that the Church should learn from America.”

    That’s not the Americanism I have or profess. Rather, the Americanism I have and profess is one where God is honored first, where Holy Mother Church occupies a central place in the public square, where free exercise of religion is sacrosanct, and where the country I love is restored to being the Christian Consitutional Republic that she once was. We can never be best or greatest except that God be first.

  • BTW, one other thing Jeannon. You correctly wrote incriticism of this idea: “America knows better than the Church and that the Church should learn from America.” The whole idea of of this fortnight for freedom prayer time is to combat this very notion.

    America does NOT know better than the Church, the indefectible Bride of Christ (though Barack Hussein Obama and Kathleen Sebelius think otherwise), and the Church, the indefectible Bride of Christ, ought NOT to learn anything from America (though LCWR and the other liberal Katholyks think otherwise) except perhaps what NOT to do.

  • Jeannon, when you quote papal documents actually quote them, and not glosses. There is nothing in Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae which supports the wacked out argument you are making.

    Here is what the Pope actually said:

    “From the foregoing it is manifest, beloved son, that we are not able to give approval to those views which, in their collective sense, are called by some “Americanism.” But if by this name are to be understood certain endowments of mind which belong to the American people, just as other characteristics belong to various other nations, and if, moreover, by it is designated your political condition and the laws and customs by which you are governed, there is no reason to take exception to the name. But if this is to be so understood that the doctrines which have been adverted to above are not only indicated, but exalted, there can be no manner of doubt that our venerable brethren, the bishops of America, would be the first to repudiate and condemn it as being most injurious to themselves and to their country. For it would give rise to the suspicion that there are among you some who conceive and would have the Church in America to be different from what it is in the rest of the world.”
    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13teste.htm

    Paul, the Church teaches us how to go to Heaven, it teaches us very little about a wide range of subjects outside that sphere. The Church has never claimed to have all wisdom in secular matters, and Catholics who pretend otherwise, and I do not place you in that group, are very much mistaken.

  • Oh, and Jeannon, David Wemhoff who you quote seems to hold some nutty theories including that Pope Benedict is a tool of the United States:

    “But that is what conquerors do — they destroy the conquered and themselves if their conquest is not in the name of Jesus Christ and with the sign of the Cross. Munoz’ mind is enslaved by the Americans just as is the mind of Joseph Ratzinger. Benedict’s many speeches praising America are a, if not the, critical factor for the darkening of Munoz’ mind so as to accept error. Benedict, as leader of the Catholics, has been conditioned to be an American and to serve America, and so Catholics are bound to follow their leader into captivity. Ratzinger, now pope, as a type of Manchurian Candidate, is a symbol of America’s occupation of the Catholic Church.

    One of the great causes for hope and miracles of the day, in addition to the numbers of people entering the Church and growing it around the world even while its prelates are suffering through their American and Jewish captivity, is that the Holy Spirit still speaks through the papal encyclicals, such as Deus Caritas Est, which calls Catholics, and all people, to the truth and liberation from error. For error leads to sin, and the wages of sin is death. One need only consult antiquity and societies of the modern era grown too engrossed in serving wealth to see where it all leads. The unfortunate part is that many who consider themselves Catholic will go down with the sinking ship known as America. And, most importantly, many are in danger of the fires of hell because of the American ideas that come from the man who is pope.

    [1] “American(s)” refers to those who hold to the liberal, Enlightenment principles that created the country known as the USA which, with its Constitution and Declaration of Independence in large measure, shape the society known as America. One can be a citizen of the USA (that is, CUSA) and be a Catholic, and most CUSAs are Americans. One cannot be a Catholic and an American. To be an American is to believe in American principles before the teachings of the Church, or in other words to accept the Enlightenment ideals as superior to the teachings of the Faith.”

    http://catholicforum.fisheaters.com/index.php/topic,3445145.0.html

    Rad Trads can be just as nutty as leftist Catholics.

  • I agree with your statement, Donald: “…the Church teaches us how to go to Heaven, it teaches us very little about a wide range of subjects outside that sphere. The Church has never claimed to have all wisdom in secular matters…” (e.g., US NRC oversight of reactor plant safety – clearly a non-spiritual issue.)

    As you correctly noted: “…I do not place you in that group…”

    I should have been more precise in my statements. It’s difficult getting all the nuances right. I did not intend to confuse rightful authority in secular matters that would devolve onto government with authority in spiritual matters that would devolve onto the Church.

  • “the Church teaches us how to go to Heaven, it teaches us very little about a wide range of subjects outside that sphere.”

    I believe the Church’s social teachings, which are founded on caring for “the common good” teach us much about a wide range of subjects outside the sphere of how to go to heaven. For example, the Church used rightly to teach us about usury and how wrong it is. Dante put sodomites and usurers in the same circle of hell. Usury seems to be the basis of the “capitalism” that we have in America. The basics of economics falls within the Church’s social teachings. Another example, the Church cares about just wages for the worker and just prices. It looks to me like the Left and the Right of all parties have been rewarding corporations for moving their industrial operations and jobs for Americans overseas, and they have been doing this for at least 40 years, possibly much longer.

    I do not consider myself a “Rad Trad” and I do not know what the terms “liberal” and “conservative” mean anymore.

    The one thing the Church as been way too silent about is that there have been dark forces and people for centuries, if not millennia, who have in stealth manipulated unjust wars and other deceptions for the purpose of forming a world government, which will nothing other than a death and slavery system for all. We know that one world government will come about from reading the Apocalypse. Who can make war with the beast? But we are to expose it, oppose it, and work to establish Christ the King’s rule on this earth as best we can.

    America was founded as a Protestant country. You say America is a Christian country. When I read the words of Christ, I simply cannot see that.

  • “You say America is a Christian country. When I read the words of Christ, I simply cannot see that.”

    No, I say that America was founded as a country of religious liberty, a concept that the Church has fully embraced.

    “For example, the Church used rightly to teach us about usury and how wrong it is.”

    Yep, and history moved on and the Church came to terms with interest and banks. The world is not static and neither is the teaching of the Church in areas not directly connected to dogma or revelation.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15235c.htm
    “basics of economics falls within the Church’s social teachings. ”

    Not really. Ecclesiastics tend to be as poor at economics as economists tend to be at theology. A recent example in support of this proposition:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2011/10/27/a-fisk-of-towards-reforming-the-international-financial-and-monetary-systems-in-the-context-of-global-public-authority/

    “It looks to me like the Left and the Right of all parties have been rewarding corporations for moving their industrial operations and jobs for Americans overseas, and they have been doing this for at least 40 years, possibly much longer.”

    Actually it is the law of production costs. Corporations tend to go where the work force is cheapest, other things being equal. The Chinese now are losing factories along their coast due to rising labor costs. Assuming that government fiat can alter the laws of economics has been a pleasing superstition for too many government officials and clerics down through the centuries.

  • Must Jehovah Witnesses employers include blood transfusions in coverage for Catholic employees? Can Muslim employers insist on Sharia law in the workplace? Must Christian Scientist employers provide health insurance?

    This slippery slope is coated with ice.

  • “the Church teaches us how to go to Heaven, it teaches us very little about a wide range of subjects outside that sphere”.

    I don’t think that is right. I see really no subjects outside that sphere. There is no part of me or my life than I can keep separate from the quest for Heaven. I can’t put my religion in my back pocket when I am thinking about nuclear reactors or anything else.

  • “I can’t put my religion in my back pocket when I am thinking about nuclear reactors or anything else.”

    You will find precious little in Church teaching as to how to construct nuclear reactors Anzlyne, or as to what the Hearsay Rule is, how best to utilize grazing fire in a fire fight, how to fill out the Estate Tax Return that will be one of my duties today or myriads of other topics. The confusion of religion with secular knowledge is never a good idea. Religion of course gives us our guide in morality, but too often clerics pretend to expertise in secular matters that they sadly lack, and not infrequently prove themselves buffoons in such areas to the same extent that non-clerics frequently do when they pontificate on matters of religion.

  • Hi Mr. Mc. I think we are coming from different angles here–both correct I think in what we mean.
    I think we agree that knowledge is not always wisdom, but that wisdom includes knowledge– and morality. Morality requires judgments (distinctions, decisions) based on something– and that “something” is found our religion- the foundational plank to base our lives’ actions and choices on.
    Like you, I don’t think the Bible, Tradition or the Teaching Authority of the Church try to teach us how to build a nuclear reactor. There are lots of things we can know HOW to do with or without revealed religion.
    I do think the wisdom of our religion can help us do what we can morally choose to do, better, having considered the ends, and the means to the ends. Consideration of our religion colors all of our decisions, even though it does not directly supply the ‘how to”

  • “Consideration of our religion colors all of our decisions, even though it does not directly supply the ‘how to””

    Writ large enough on big issues perhaps. My Catholicism however really does not impact my decision on how to apply the Hearsay Rule in court, or whether the Deadman’s Act is a good piece of public policy. On the other hand I think my Catholicism clearly impacts on my view of the sanctity of an oath taken in Court to tell the truth.

  • Yes. and I might add from your quote above:
    …”And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure- …. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion. She, by her very nature, guards and defends all the principles on which duties are founded, and setting before us the motives most powerful to influence us, commands us to live virtuously and forbids us to transgress.”

    Thank you so much- I thoroughly enjoy the discussion

  • Even the pagans can see the myth of America was founded as a Christian country on Christian principles.

    Note this article on a “secular humanist” site secularhumanism.org

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=walters_32_4

    Once and for All, Is America a Christian Nation?
    The Myth of America’s Christian Heritage
    Kerry Walters

    Do not agree with Professor Walters completely, but he does provide us a much clearer picture of history. Note, in reading the article, that Catholics are not part of the early American “evangelicalism.”

    Catholics were allowed into the New World but were barely tolerated.

  • Hmm, Kerry Walters or Alexis De Tocqueville? I’m really having a hard time determining who might have a firmer grasp on America’s founding.

    In all seriousness, Walters’s grasp of history is almost as poor as David Barton, whom I critiqued here the other day. He cherrypicks select quotes and pretend that he has stockpiled evidence in his defense. If Walters had stopped at Jefferson and Franklin in his litany of heterodox Christians, he would have perhaps had a point. But just as Barton overstates his case with regards to Jefferson’s orthodoxy, Walters overstates his case with regards to the heterodoxy of the rest.

  • From Waller’s linked to article. “But the big players in the founding of the United States—such men as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and probably Alexander Hamilton—weren’t.”

    Thomas Paine, the “filthy little atheist” as Teddy Roosevelt called him, was a bit player in the Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was a deist who had doubts about the divinity of Christ, but lacked evidence sufficient for him to venture a verdict. George Washington was a conventional Christian. Thomas Jefferson was a deist. James Madison really doesn’t give enough evidence from his writings to say whether he was a Deist or a Christian. John Adams was a Christian most of his life and had Unitarian leanings by the time of his death. Hamilton dabbled with deism as a young man but was an orthodox Christian by the time of his death.

The Devil and Daniel Webster: Closing Argument to the Jury of the Damned

Thursday, March 15, AD 2012

A scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone.   In this scene Daniel Webster addresses a jury of the damned, all villains of American history.  I have always thought this speech one of the most eloquent statements of what it means to be an American.  Go here to read the passage in  Stephen Vincet Benet’s short story.  Below is the scene as written in the screenplay:

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6 Responses to The Devil and Daniel Webster: Closing Argument to the Jury of the Damned

  • Donald McClarey: The Devil and Daniel Webster is my favorite movie of all time. The devil stole a pie at the end and enjoyed his ill gotten pie. Every man can escape from the devil’s clutches because the devil is a liar and man has a finite mind and cannot give fully informed consent to a lie. The rational, immortal soul of each and every man is acknowedged and fought over to be free, a sovereignty American citizens are in joepardy of losing under HHS. May God bless you and yours.

  • The Catholic Church does not hold a person’s soul liable for any sin committed while the person is possessed by the devil. Really, if it can be proved that “the devil made me do it” in a court of law, the person is found to be not guilty by reason of possession by the devil. Might this argument not be used to return petition for Divine Providence, protection and deliverance from the evil one, in the public square? These prayers are said for the common good. “And may Almighty God have mercy on your immortal soul” was said at one time by the judge after the verdict and at sentencing, to a condemned capital one murderer, as we’ll as the invocation to almighty God “to tell the Truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God” at the beginning of sworn testimony. What could be better for the common good? Returning the acknowledgment of the rational, immortal soul of each and every American citizen will staunch our nation’s descent into the hell fires of inhumanity, the propagation of LUST as love, homicide as charity and bestiality as tenderness, and the worst, tyranny as a desirable form of government.
    ATHEISM UNDONE BY TRUTH from http://www.rosaryvictory blogspot.com
    Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the self-proclaimed atheist sued to have all mankind’s First Amendment rights to FREEDOM subjugated to her lawsuit through her complaint that prayer to God, through Jesus Christ offended her son. An imperfect human nature, who is offended by perfection.
    If Madalyn Murray O’Hair was truly an atheist, she would have annihilated her own being. God, our Creator, made all things and KEEPS THEM IN EXISTENCE, therefore, Madalyn Murray O’Hair at some underlying level of consciousness, accepted God’s love for her and for her son. Madalyn Murray O’Hair spoke perjury in The United States Supreme Court, when, as an atheist she said: “I AM an atheist.” The atheist used God’s name: “I AM”, in vain and contradicted herself. Madalyn Murray O’Hair did not prove her case as perjurers never do.
    Madalyn Murray O’Hair did not have two witnesses to establish a judicial fact. Two atheists cannot bear the Truth into a court of law. Perjury does not count.
    Thank you Donald McClarey for The American Catholic

  • It is the intent of Obama’s HHS mandate to remove from every person their sovereignty, to enslave the person’s soul to the dictates of the mandate. When one lays down with the devil, one wakes up in chains.

  • iN MAYO V. SATAN: the court was wrong. All the Legion could fit on the head of a pin and all the space is left over. The court ought to have ordered an exorcism as the decision. The separation of Church and state are complementary.

  • The Devil and Daniel Webster, is my favorite movie of all times because it is GOOD.

    THE TEN COMMANDMENTS uses the King James version of the Bible and ends up blaspheming God, by calling God a thing, a “that”. God’s name is “I AM WHO I AM”. WHO IS LIKE UNTO GOD. “WHO” denotes the PERSON OF GOD. The SUPREME SOVERIGN BEING’S NAME IS “I AM WHO I AM” not what is used in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. The correlative pronoun “that” denotes things that are not persons.

    THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST is in a category all by itself.

    The rest are entertainment. I would like to see a movie entitled: Frankenstein goes in search of his soul.

  • In The Lord’s Prayer we read: ”forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who sin against us”. Sinners and trespassers are addressed by “WHO”, but the Lord of heaven and earth is insulted by a correlative pronoun “that”. God’s name is “I AM WHO I AM”

Alternate Georges

Wednesday, February 22, AD 2012

On the birthday of the Father of Our Country it is proper to take a moment and reflect that in all likelihood the United States of America would not exist today but for the leadership shown by George Washington during the Revolution.  The poets Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet explored long ago some of the many different paths the life of Washington might have taken which would have altered our history so profoundly.  We call Washington the Father of Our Country not to honor him, but as a simple statement of fact.

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February 6, 1862: Surrender of Fort Henry

Monday, February 6, AD 2012

Fate has a way of picking unlikely material,

Greasy-haired second lieutenants of French artillery,

And bald-headed, dubious, Roman rake-politicians.

Her stiff hands were busy now with an odd piece of wood,

Sometime Westpointer, by accident more than choice,

Sometime brevet-captain in the old Fourth Infantry,

Mentioned in Mexican orders for gallant service

And, six years later, forced to resign from the Army

Without enough money to pay for a stateroom home.

Turned farmer on Hardscrabble Farm, turned bill-collector,

Turned clerk in the country-store that his brothers ran,

The eldest-born of the lot, but the family-failure,

Unloading frozen hides from a farmer’s sleigh

With stoop-shouldered strength, whittling beside the stove,

And now and then turning to whiskey to take the sting

From winter and certain memories. 

It didn’t take much. A glass or two would thicken the dogged tongue

And flush the fair skin beneath the ragged brown beard.

Poor and shabby–old “Cap” Grant of Galena,

Who should have amounted to something but hadn’t so far

Though he worked hard and was honest.

A middle-aged clerk,

A stumpy, mute man in a faded army overcoat,

Who wrote the War Department after Fort Sumter,

Offering them such service as he could give

And saying he thought that he was fit to command

As much as a regiment, but getting no answer.

So many letters come to a War Department,

One can hardly bother the clerks to answer them all–

Then a Volunteer colonel, drilling recruits with a stick,

A red bandanna instead of an officer’s sash;

A brigadier-general, one of thirty-seven,

Snubbed by Halleck and slighted by fussy Frémont;

And then the frozen February gale

Over Fort Henry and Fort Donelson,

The gunboats on the cold river–the brief siege–

“Unconditional surrender”–and the newspapers.

                                                                                                                                     Stephen Vincent Benet

The taking of Fort Henry by Ulysses S. Grant on February 6, 1862, was important for a number of reasons:

1.  It opened the Tennessee River to Union gunboats and transports down through northern Alabama, effectively allowing the Union to outflank  Confederate

defenses in Memphis and  throughout eastern Tennessee.

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13 Responses to February 6, 1862: Surrender of Fort Henry

  • Was that fort also known as Fort Hood? My American History on Parade calendar names it “Hood.”

    It was the first major Federal victory in the war of northern aggression.

  • I do not believe so T.Shaw. It was named after Senator Gustavus Adolphus Henry of Tennessee. You are correct that it was a major victory in the Glorious Northern Crusade for Union and Liberty.

  • It seems my 2012 “American History on Parade” calaendar is in error. I will need to keep that in mind.

  • My copy of the Patriot’s Almanac made the same “Fort Hood” mistake yesterday. I corrected it before I read it to the kids. It also calls it the first “major victory.”

    Fort Hood was built and named after the War for the Union had concluded.

    Hood was a brave man–and a better soldier than he gets credit for, at least during the Atlanta campaign. Peachtree Creek was a near-run thing.

    But I can’t understand the neglect of other figures instead of him–George Thomas (speaking of Peachtree Creek), for example. Surely he deserves a military installation named after him.

    Much more so than that vindictive ditherer and near-incompetent Bragg.

  • Pap Thomas and Bragg, Dale, definitely are the two ends of military competency in the Civil War. The War might well have had a different outcome if Thomas had gone with Virginia and ended up commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee.

  • Thomas was a great general, and very underappreciated. Betrayed his native Virginia and took up arms against her, so that even some of his family would never speak to him again. I’d like to think it was wisdom not to send him East, where his presence could have provided a sort of negative morale boost due to the contempt his countrymen had for him.
    As to Grant, he did well out west, but when he came east, he earned, I think, the judgment made of him by Winston Churchill: “Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.” And so, with respect to Grant and his overland campaign, Churchill called his strategy “the negation of generalship.”
    But in his early wins in the west, he showed himself to be a competent, agressive leader, which the Union cause desparately needed.

  • I am a Churchill man to the bone, but his courtly sympathies were showing in that assessment of

    Grant’s lack of spectacular success in the eastern theatre is due to two things–1. Lee, and 2., the fact he did not take direct control of the Army of the Potomac. There was nothing fundamentally wrong with the competent Meade, apart from excessive caution, but that extra layer of decisionmaking added unnecessary friction. This was especially true with the Cold Harbor horror.

    It’s also safe to say that Lee also lacked spectacular success facing Grant. The field of battle in Northern Virginia did not permit spectacular manuevers.

    The war in the East was decided after the Wilderness, when Grant gave the order to move south. Lee threw his best haymaker, and Grant kept on coming. Unlike McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker, etc.

    As to Thomas, it is one of the minor tragedies of history that he ordered his papers to be burnt upon his death, and his beloved wife faithfully carried out that order. We have no picture of the inner man and his struggle over secession. It seems to have come down to what oaths men considered binding, and against whom they could draw their swords.

    For the significant–likely decisive–number of Southern Unionists like Thomas, they could not draw their swords against the Union, which itself would have constituted a betrayal.

  • “…that assessment of Grant’s generalship. He admired Lee greatly.”

    My goodness, maybe I shouldn’t start blogging again if that’s what’s going to happen to my thought processes. [Scare quotes around the word thought.]

  • I really appreciate learning about the history in these posts. It is very interesting and informative, especially now, that America may be heading towards another civil war against a grotesque form of totalitarianism. Thank you Donald McClarey and others. Mary De Voe

  • Lee was only hobbled by a lack of troops at that late time in the war. The opposite of Grant,he was a master of manuever, as Chancellorsville demonstrated, in the same area of Virginia as the beginning of the overland campaign. Outnumbered 2-1, despite continually inflicting twice the casualties on Grant as the ANV suffered, Lee could not replace his men, like Grant could. Grant knew this, and decided to simply spend his men’s lives by staying engaged with Lee, rather than attempting to defeat him or interpose between him and Richmond by manuever.

    As it was, there were at least two occasions I can think of where Lee came mighty close to inflicting what might have been a fatal blow to the AOP during the overland campaign.

    Cold Harbor was Grant’s responsibility, as he manfully acknowledged. He had been hoping for months that Lee and the ANV were demoralized and ready to crack. Cold Harbor disillusioned him of that idea.

  • Grant knew this, and decided to simply spend his men’s lives by staying engaged with Lee, rather than attempting to defeat him or interpose between him and Richmond by manuever.

    Except that it’s not true–Grant did by swinging around to Petersburg, which was, for a brief time, undefended.

    Yes, Lee could have defeated the Union at the North Anna–with the army of 1863. But he had no lieutenant who understood him implicitly, as Jackson and Longstreet did. There’s a reason he couldn’t manuever as well by that point–the ANV wasn’t the same army, and not solely because of the Overland Campaign. The losses had been piling up for a couple of years by that point, and the relative advantage in leadership had been worn away.

    Grant came within a hair of crushing the ANV with Hancock’s assault at the Wilderness. But, leaving aside the relative merits of the commanders, there was a reason armies were (with one exception) not destroyed during the War. It was extremely hard to do.

    Finally, Grant’s strategy was extremely good–force the Confederates to fight at multiple points in Virginia, and keep them from shifting forces between east and west. If he had had two non-incompetents instead of Butler and Sigel, things might have ended much sooner.

  • Gordon found the Union right open at the Wilderness, and a strong strike against it would likely have rolled up the federal right. Delay unfortunately resulted in a loss of daylight to complete the maneuver.

    Grant crossed the James finally because he realized at Cold Harbor courtesy of 7,000 dead soldiers that his attrition strategy had no end in sight. He had stayed true to his pledge to fight it out along the overland front all summer, and had certainly bled Lee, but at a fearsome price of his double the losses of his own men.

    His delay in striking at Petersburg, which was open for a brief window, guaranteed months of further bloody attrition until Sheridan finally flanked the ANV, stretched thin as paper, at Five Forks.

  • Of course, if Grant had led the AOP in 1862 on the Penninsula, the war likely would have ended that year with the capture of Richmond… imagine how an early federal victory would have resulted in a much different post-war outcome.

Sam Grant, the Beatles and the Internet

Saturday, October 15, AD 2011

I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to “Let us have peace.”  

Ulysses S. Grant, written just before his death

 

Something for the weekend.  Quotations from Ulysses S. Grant to the Beatles song  In My Life.  A follow up to my post on Robert E. Lee, the Beatles and the Internet.  Another demonstration of what a wild and wacky place the internet truly is!

 

Few men in American history have gone from complete obscurity to being a  central figure in the life of the nation faster than Ulysses Simpson Grant.  Known as Sam Grant by his West Point friends, his first two initials making Sam an inevitable nickname, Grant had an unerring ability to fail at everything he put his hand to, except for war, his marriage and his last gallant race against the Grim Reaper, as he was dying of cancer, to finish his memoirs and provide financially for his wife and children.  Most great figures in our history have known success more than failure.  Not so Sam Grant.  He would encounter humiliating defeats throughout his life, from beginning to end.

 

At the beginning of the Civil War, he was a clerk, barely able to support his family.  Seemingly a dull plodder, but possessed of iron determination and an uncanny ability to never let the trees obscure the forest;  happily married and a firm believer in God, but subject to bouts of depression when he would grasp for the bottle;  the shabby little man who, incredibly, ended up winning the greatest war in American history.

 

His men didn’t hold him in awe as Lee’s men did Lee;  Grant was far too common and prosaic a figure for that.  However, they did respect him, as this section of Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem on the Civil War, John Brown’s Body, indicates:

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2 Responses to Sam Grant, the Beatles and the Internet

  • I have never made the time to look at them extensively or, even, carefully, but Grant’s memoirs have reputed, among critics and college academics (stuck with teaching ill-prepared and indifferent undergraduates to distinguish between “its” and “it’s” and “there” and “their” (and, even, “they’re” and imparting the trick of assembling complete sentences into a coherent paragraph) to be if not the pinnacle of, then among the very finest prose writing in American letters.
    So–he was good at two things.

  • True. Grant was a fine writer. Some people have accused Mark Twain, a former Confederate and friend of Grant, of ghost writing the memoirs but that is untrue. Twain gave Grant some help in getting the publishing deal for his memoirs, but that is all. Grant’s memoirs read like his written orders during the War: Crisp, direct and easy to understand.

United States v. Satan

Wednesday, February 9, AD 2011

A scene from the classic movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster, based upon the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, in which Daniel Webster bests Satan in a jury trial to save the soul of New Hampshireman Jabez Stone.  Prior to the trial, Daniel Webster attempts to get Jabez Stone out of the contract on the ground that the Devil is a foreign prince.  Satan denies this:

Foreign!” said the stranger. “And who calls me a foreigner”?  “Well, I never yet heard of the dev?? of your claiming American citizenship,” said Dan’l Webster with surprise. “And who with better right?” said the stranger, with one of his terrible smiles. “When the first wrong was done to the first Indian, I was there. When the first slaver put out for the Congo, I stood on her deck. Am I not in your books and stories and beliefs, from the first settlements on? Am I not spoken of, still, in every church in New England? ‘Tis true the North claims me for a Southerner and the South for a Northerner, but I am neither. I am merely an honest American, like yourself and of the best descent for, to tell the truth Mr . Webster, though I don’t like to boast of it, my name is older in this country than yours.” “Aha!” said Dan’l Webster, with the veins standing out in his forehead. “Then I stand on the Constitution! I demand a trial for my client!”

This story is actually cited in a federal legal opinion which may be read here, and which is riotously funny in a very dry sense.  I submit it to establish that some judges do have a sense of humor, at least of a sort.

Returning to the short story, I have always treasured this passage:  the closing argument of Daniel Webster to the Jury of the Damned, which I think contains wisdom about patriotism and the human condition:

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2 Responses to United States v. Satan

Marse Robert

Friday, February 13, AD 2009

Some of our readers south of the Mason-Dixon line no doubt have perhaps felt left out in my many posts regarding Abraham Lincoln.  I am fully aware that great Americans fought on both sides of the Civil War, and one of the greatest of Americans, of his time or any time, was Robert E. Lee.

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8 Responses to Marse Robert

  • Don,

    As a Union loving Yankee, let me second your praise for Lee. It was a man (Lee) going up against boys for most of the war until Grant was finally given total command.

  • “He repeatedly expelled white students from Washington University, of which he was President after the war, who engaged in attacks on blacks.”

    Now of course Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. A beautiful town and campus. You can still see Lee’s office as it was on the day he died. A nice museum in the basement of the Chapel.

    Also located in Lexington is VMI where Stonewall Jackson taught prior to the War.

  • Lexington is worth a trip for any history buff. Also of note is that Sam Houston was born there. Just outside of town is Natural Bridge, once owned by Mr. Jefferson. The initials of George Washington can be seen carved into the rock of the Natural Bridge … grafitti from his youthful days as a surveyor of the Virginia wilderness.

  • Lee was a great man and a great general, and were it not for the depletion of good corps and brigade commanders by 1864, as well as the sheer weight of troop numbers, Lee would certainly have bested Grant, who if I remember right, as much as conceded the point. Grant’s genius lay in the observation that if he remained engaged continuously with Lee, constantly reinforced his troop levels, attrition would eventually force Lee back to Richmond and ultimately to surrender. Thus Grant was willing to suffer horrific casualty counts in the Overland campaign from Wilderness to Petersburg. He was vilified by the northern press as a butcher, but Lincoln loved him because he was not afraid to remain engaged with Lee’s army, something that many lesser federal generals never dared.

    In perfect hindsight, it’s almost too bad Lee was such a great commander, because by all rights, the North should have won the war as early as 1862, which would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

    One thing Lincoln deserves credit for is that he had a very good strategic military mind, all the more remarkable since he was not a professional soldier. He recognized the weaknesses of the Confederate military situation, but could not find agressive, smart generals to exploit those weaknesses, until Grant.

  • Hey, Tom and I agree on something regarding the Civil War. 🙂

    Seriously, Tom is exactly right on Grant’s genius. It’s amazing that it took, what, six Union commanders before there was one who realized, “Hey, we have a lot more guys than the other side.” Reading the history of the war is an exercise in frustration because you want to slap the Union generals upside the head for their complete inability and/or unwillingness to act.

  • Wonderful way to cap off the week, Don. Gen. Lee was truly a great American. Making the best of of an untenable situation in the southern states regarding the inhumanity of slavery. Conducting himself as a true Christian gentleman even in engineering battles. Continuing a life of service well into the winter of his years. Just as I marvel at the Revolutionary era- that world class giants like Washington, Franklin, Adams and Jefferson were active simultaneously- so how wonderful God gave Lincoln and Lee to our torn and abused nation during its most fundamental trauma. He has been better to us than we to Him. Or ourselves.

  • Henry Halleck, who was a pretty bad general himself, once told Sherman that it was “little better than murder” to give command to such men as Benjamin Butler, Nathaniel Banks, Franz Siegel, George McClellan, and Lewis Wallace. The Union had decent division and corp commanders in the east throughout the war, but the Army command level was truly pathetic until Grant arrived. McClellan wasn’t bad as a strategist, but as a battlefield commander, he was worse than having no one in command. Burnside deserved a place of dishonor on Halleck’s list. Pope was almost at Burnsides’ level of ineptness. Hooker, a good corp commander, not a bad strategist, but fell apart facing Lee. Meade lucked into a defensive victory at Gettysburg. His Mine Run campaign indictated how poorly he would have performed if Grant hadn’t come East to effectively make him a field chief of staff.

  • Marse Bob is a favourite of mine too. One of the highlights of a 1991 trip to North Carolina was a visit on the return home to Lexington, VA, home of Washington and Lee Univ. as well as VMI. My husband and I spent time at Stonewall Jackson’s house, then enjoyed a short walk to the University campus, down the road to VMI, then to the hall where the Lee Family crypt is located. The office of President of Washington University, which Lee occupied at the time of his death, is kept as it was during his term of office. My father was also an admirer of Gen. Lee, and I thought much of Dad while on the visit. An added treat was locating the grave of Traveller, Lee’s beloved horse, in the grounds adjacent to the Chapel. Marse Robert was the true Southern Gentleman; a worthy adversary and a loyal friend.