Category archives: History

America’s Inauguration: A Retrospective—Thomas Jefferson: Americans “Enlightened by a Benign Religion”

by Robert Morrison

January 15, 2009

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March 4, 1801

Thomas Jefferson would wear no ceremonial swords to his simple swearing-in ceremony. He would ride in no stately coach-and-six, as President George Washington had enjoyed. “Mr. Jefferson,” as the simple Virginia republican preferred to be called, took breakfast at his Washington boarding house with all the other diners on Inauguration Morning, 1801. Then, he walked to the still unfinished Capitol, where he took the oath of office. He was the first President to take office in the new national capital. He was the first sworn in since the death of George Washington in 1799. Jefferson spoke in a barely audible voice (he was never the orator John Adams or Patrick Henry had been). Still, his listeners appreciated the way we soothed the ruffled feathers of a hard-fought election campaign. “We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists.” Jefferson had been elected only after weeks of balloting in the House of Representatives when the Electoral College failed to designate a clear winner. He spoke of religious liberty as one of the great achievements of the young republic. He and his close friend James Madison had blazed that trail with their work on the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom fifteen years earlier, in 1786. Now, Jefferson described God as “an overruling Providence [who] delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter…” He closed his inaugural address with a question: “[W]ith all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens-a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” These wise words can certainly be treasured by us two hundred years later, when national administrations of both parties are planning to add trillions to the national debt that will weigh down our children and our children’s children. Another point jumps out from Jefferson’s first inaugural address: It’s pretty hard to square his words about God’s “overruling Providence,” His delight in our happiness here and hereafter, with the scurrilous charges thrown at Jefferson during the 1800 campaign. It’s hard to see this man as an “atheist” of any kind.

America’s Inauguration: A Retrospective—Honest John Adams, Coming and Going

by Robert Morrison

January 15, 2009

Our redoubtable second President, John Adams of Massachusetts, was inaugurated in Philadelphia on March 4, 1797. He followed two terms of the man revered as “Father of Our Country.” The bald and portly Adams was short, but powerfully built. Rising to the occasion, he wore a ceremonial sword for his swearing-in. Some of the senators sniped. “His Rotundity,” they called the man who was a genuine hero of the revolution. Adams, like Washington before him, attributed American independence to “the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Providence which had so signally protected this country from the first.” While professing no religious ties himself, he said “a decent respect for Christianity [is] among the best recommendations for the public service.” In his diary, Adams later noted that the people who watched him take the oath were weeping. “[W]hether it was from grief or joy, whether from the loss of their beloved President [Washington], or from the accession of an unbeloved one…I know not.” Still, John Adams presided over the first peaceful transfer of political power. This was another of Washington’s great gifts to the nation. Four years later, in 1801, the defeated John Adams did not attend President Jefferson’s inauguration in the new capital of Washington, D.C. He left the vast, empty President’s House-in whose cavernous East Room First Lady Abigail Adams had hung her laundry-before dawn. He took the early coach home to the Bay State. Biographer David McCullough tells us that Adams was not the sore loser history thinks he was. He simply wasn’t invited to Mr. Jefferson’s inauguration. Even in this, however, Adams again made history. This was the first time the government had changed hands in a contested election, the first time the “ins” voluntarily stepped “out.” John and Abigail Adams were the first First Family to live in the President’s House. Leaving, John offered this prayer: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but wise and honest men every rule under this roof.”

America’s Inauguration: A Retrospective—”The Sacred Fire of Liberty”

by Robert Morrison

January 14, 2009

George Washington was keenly aware that he “walked on untrodden ground.” Everything he did would create a precedent, for good or ill. He had to borrow money to make the journey from his beloved Mount Vernon to New York City, where the new government made its temporary headquarters. Washington’s inaugural route was a great celebration. He passed under flowered bowers, past cheering throngs, and saluted by thirteen white-clad maidens, each one representing one of the original states. Thirteen strong rowers conveyed the new President across the river from the Jersey shore to New York. The Federal Building in lower Manhattan had been specially refurbished by Maj. Pierre L’Enfant, a French immigrant, for the occasion of the first Presidential Inauguration. It would be held on April 30, 1789.

Washington did not wear the blue and buff uniform he had worn as commander of the Continental Army. He had been firm in resigning his military commission to Congress meeting at Annapolis more than five years earlier. Instead, he wore a new brown suit, made for him from American fabric by American tailors.

With our recent flap about prayers at a Presidential Inauguration in mind, it’s interesting to speculate on what today’s atheizers-those people who want to impose their atheism on the rest of us—-would make of Washington’s Inauguration. Appearing on the balcony before a large crowd, Washington added to the Presidential Oath of Office four significant words. They don’t appear in the oath as it is written in the Constitution. But every President since George Washington has followed his leading: “So help me God.”

Then, in the full view of a cloud of witnesses, Washington kissed the Bible.

Inside Federal Hall, Washington delivered his Inaugural Address. He openly prayed to God as “that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect” Washington asked God for “his benediction [which] may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves…” Even the precious gifts of Independence and free government Washington attributed to the hand of Providence. In fact, he spoke of “the sacred fire of liberty” being entrusted to Americans.

That sacred fire is now handed down to us. With the Inauguration of Barack Obama, we have the forty-fourth President in direct line from George Washington. Ours is the oldest constitutional government in the world. Yet we still recognize that our government is what Washington called it: an experiment. And it needs our prayers and our earnest efforts to sustain it.

May 10, 1940: The Day When Western Civilization Was Saved

by Robert Morrison

May 10, 2007

Adolf Hitler and his top Nazi cohorts rode through the night on the Fuhrer’s special train, code named “Amerika.” In the pre-dawn hours, the train quietly changed course, heading west to take its passengers to the jumping off point for what would become the German army’s stunning blitzkrieg through Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

On this same day, in London, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went to Buckingham Palace to resign his office. There was some last-minute hesitancy on Chamberlain’s part, based on the powerful German offensive in France, but he was persuaded to go ahead with his plans to give up his post. King George VI asked Winston Churchill to form a new British government. Churchill later said: I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been in preparation for this hour and this trial.”

As Americans, we can celebrate this tenth of May as the day when Western Civilization was saved. Churchill knew the stakes. He warned the British people what would happen to America and the world if Hitler won: “If we fail, the whole world, including the United States, and all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister and perhaps more prolonged by the lights of a perverted science.”

They did not fail.

This Day in History/Quote of the Day

by Family Research Council

January 9, 2007

On this day in 1776 Thomas Paine anonymously published his pamphlet “Common Sense,” setting forth his arguments in favor of American independence. “Common Sense” advocated independence for the American colonies from Britain and is considered one of the most influential pamphlets in American history. Credited with uniting average citizens and political leaders behind the idea of independence “Common Sense” played a remarkable role in transforming a colonial squabble into the American Revolution. At the time Paine wrote “Common Sense,” most colonists considered themselves to be aggrieved Britons. Paine fundamentally changed the tenor of colonists’ argument with the crown when he wrote the following: “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

QoD: If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands? Comedian Milton Berle. On this day in (DELETED) a woman who probably deserved a few extra hands let alone sainthood was born, my Mom.

This Day in History/Quote of the Day

by Family Research Council

January 6, 2007

On this day in 1643 was the first record of a legal divorce in the American colonies, Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (any surprise the first destructive element against marriage in the States originated in Massachusetts?) is granted a divorce from her absent and adulterous husband, Denis Clarke, by the Quarter Court of Boston, Massachusetts. In a signed and sealed affidavit presented to John Winthrop Jr., the son of the colony’s founder, Denis Clarke admitted to abandoning his wife, with whom he had two children, for another woman, with whom he had another two children. He also stated his refusal to return to his original wife, thus giving the Puritan court no option but to punish Clarke and grant a divorce to his wife, Anne. The Quarter Court’s final decision read: “Anne Clarke, beeing deserted by Denis Clarke hir husband, and hee refusing to accompany with hir, she is graunted to bee divorced.”

QoD: “A colleague of mine once noted, there is very little difference between men and women. But, VIVE LE DIFFERENCE!!” Warner Brothers romantic skunk, Pepe le Pew, who debuted today in 1945 in the cartoon short Odor-able Kitty.

This Day in History/Quote of the Day

by Family Research Council

December 14, 2006

On this day in 1799, George Washington, the first president of the United States, dies of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. George Washington was born in 1732 to a farm family in Westmoreland County, Virginia. i would swear I'm the only one who remembers the cartoonHis first direct military experience came as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia colonial militia in 1754, when he led a small expedition against the French in the Ohio River valley on behalf of the governor of Virginia. Two years later, Washington took command of the defenses of the western Virginian frontier during the French and Indian War. After the war’s fighting moved elsewhere, he resigned from his military post, returned to a planter’s life, and took a seat in Virginia’s House of Burgesses. In 1774, he represented Virginia at the Continental Congress.

After the American Revolution erupted in 1775, Washington was nominated to be commander in chief of the newly established Continental Army. Some in the Continental Congress opposed his appointment, thinking other candidates were better equipped for the post, but he was ultimately chosen because as a Virginian his leadership helped bind the Southern colonies more closely to the rebellion in New England. After winning the war, the victorious general retired to his estate at Mount Vernon, but in 1787 he heeded his nation’s call and returned to politics to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In February of 1789 Washington was unanimously elected the first president of the United States. In 1792, he was unanimously reelected but four years later refused a third term. In 1797, he finally began a long-awaited retirement at his estate in Virginia. He died two years later. His friend Henry Lee provided a famous eulogy: “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

QoD: “Me and Janet really are two different people.” - Michael Jackson. On this day in 1969 the Jackson Five made their 1st appearance on “Ed Sullivan Show.”

This Day in History/Quote of the Day

by Family Research Council

December 14, 2006

Could i be more obscure?On this day in 1928 the clip on tie was designed. The tie is a bow tie or four in hand tie which is permanently tied into its knot with a dimple just below the knot, which is fixed only to the front of the shirt collar by a metal clip. Many types of occupations require their personnel to wear clip-on ties for safety or efficiency reasons. These occupations include police, paramedics, and engineers. Other people may wear a clip-on tie in lieu of a standard necktie if they do not know how to tie one, while others feel it is less constrictive than a standard necktie.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!” - From Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” published on this day in 1843, selling 6,000 copies.

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