Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 151, August 20

Railroads in the United States were built on a far larger scale than those in Europe, both in terms of the distances covered and also in the loading gauge which allowed for heavier locomotives and double-deck trains. The railroad era in the United States began in 1830 when Peter Cooper's locomotive, Tom Thumb, first steamed along 13 miles of Baltimore and Ohio railroad track. In 1833, the nation's second railroad ran 136 miles from Charleston to Hamburg in South Carolina.

Not until the 1850s, though, did railroads offer long distance service at reasonable rates. A journey from Philadelphia to Charleston involved eight different gauges, which meant that passengers and freight had to change trains seven times. Only at places like Bowling Green, Kentucky, the railroads were connected to one another.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 150, August 19

We're jumping ahead in time (again), this time to the 1920s where H.L. Mencken wrote something 93 years ago that may be seen as prophetic for our own times:
H.L. Mencken (born 1880 - died 1956) was a journalist, satirist, critic, and Democrat. He wrote this editorial while working for the Baltimore Evening Sun, which appeared in the July 26, 1920, edition:

"As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 149, August 18

The 32-year-old doctor was charged with being an accomplice to the assassination, though it was proven he had no previous relationship with the assassin.  A military ourt tried him and sentenced him to life imprisonment in the horrible federal prison on Shark Island off the coast of Florida.

Mudd never stopped practicing medicine despite his imprisonment.  During an epidemic of yellow fever in the prison, he worked arond the clock saving the livles of hundreds of prisoners and guards alike.

So impressive were his actions that he was officially pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in 1869 and given his freedom.  Mudd returned to Maryland and tried to resume his medical practice, but his life was essentially ruined.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 148, August 17

When Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd answered his door one night in 1865, he had no idea that he would ruin the rest of his life.   How could he have known that the man who showed up at his door needing help was John Wilkes Booth, who had just assassinated Braham Lincoln?

His leg broken from his jump from the President's box in Ford's Theater to the stage where he made his escape, Booth was in tremendous pain.

Lost and nearly delerious in the surrounding countryside, Booth finally came upon the doctor's cottage and begged for help.  Unaware that the president had been assassinated, Dr. Mudd did as he had promised when he took his oath:  he helped someone in need.  He set Booth's leg, gave him medicine, and offereed him a bed and food for the night.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 147, August 16

Here we are back in the Civil War again. 

Did you know that General Ulysses S. Grant had to hold up the fighting because he had lost his false teeth?  This near tragic event occurred during the seige of Vicksburg.  General Grant placed his headquaraters aborad a Mississippi steamboat near the town of Vicksburg.  After retiring one night, he placed his false teeth in a wash basin.

His orderly came during the night and emptied the basin, along with the teeth, into the Mississippi River.  Grant was understandably upset.  He couldn't eat.  He couldn't chomp on his favored cigars without his teeth.

Hence, the battle was temporarily suspended until a dentist, summoned by a rush call, made the general a new set of teeth.

Day 146, August 15

Way back in 1861, the King of Siam thought America could benefit by having a few elephants to help with the "heavy lifting" involved in a nation less than a 100 years old.

The King kindly wrote the United States State Department and offered to send elephants to Washington.  He offered to get the young male and female elephants from the Siamese jungles and (shades of Noah's ark)  ship them one or two pairs at a time to America.  The Siamese king believed that the nation could use the strong animals to travel through the unchartered "jungles" of the United States.

President Abraham Lincoln learned of the proposed gift when he became president, but he declined the offer.  He explained that most of the heavy work in the United States was being done by steam and machines.

He politely thanked the king for the offer but pointed out that the temperature of America was not conducive to the raising of Siamese elephants!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 145, August 14

Which president do you think shook the most hands?  If you guessed Theodore Roosevelt, you'd be right.

Rooselvelt set the record on New Year's Day in 1907.  It was traditional at that time for the President to hold a New year's Day open house and to personally greet those attending. 

At the reception in 1907, President Roosevelt personally shook hands with 8,513 visitors.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 144, August 13

More about Uncle Sam Wilson ...

It didn't take long for political cartoonists started drawing "Uncle Sam."  The first drawings showed Uncle Sam as a short little man with a beard and an infectious grin.  These cartoons,  showing Uncle Sam in striped trousers, flowing coat, and a high hat, were patterned after Sam Wilson.

After the death of Abraham Lincoln, however, the cartoonists started to draw Uncle Sam as a tall, skinny fellow.  Over the years, he grew even taller. 

Today, Uncle Sam is a national symbol and is recognized all over the world as America's trademark.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 143, August 12

Did you know that Uncle Sam was a real person?  I didn't.  The iconic figure with the striped top hat and the white whiskers was Samuel Wilson.  Wilson lived in Troy, New York and was a well-to-do meat packer.  When the War of 1812 began, Sam supplied meat to all the United States troops stationed in the area.

The meat was stamped "U.S." to signify that it had been certified by a US Government meat inspector.  The soldiers believed, however, that the "U.S." stood for Uncle Sam Wilson.  Within a short while, everything with the U.S. stamp became known as the property of "Uncle Sam's'."

Sam Wilson was both pleased and honored with the idea and enjoyed  being called "Uncle Sam."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 142, August 11

In mid-August, the Shenandoah was overtaken by a British ship.  The English commanding officer convinced Captain Waddell that the Civil War had been over for almost four months.  Waddell, fearing that he might be charged with piracy, headed to England.

Eventually, he was exonerated of any wrong-doing and returned as a civilian to Maryland.  Captain Waddell, who was regarded as the Confederacy's last naval hero, had captured or destoryed 23 northern ships, all after the end of the Civil War.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 141, August 10

Without any way of knowing that the war had ended, Waddell captured the whaler William Thompson.  Enraged, the skipper of the William Thompason thrust a copy of a San Francisco newspaper with the headline showing that the war was over in Captain Waddell's face.

Thinking that it was a Yankee trick, Waddell was unimpressed and kept on going after northern whaling ships.  By the end of June of that year (1865), the Shenandoah had captured so many ships and had taken so many prisoners that the prisoners were towed behind the ship in lifeboats.

Waddell captured ten northern whalers on June 28, herded the prisoners on two of the captured ships, and set fire to the other eight.  No one could convince the Southern captain that the war was really over.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day 140, August 9

One overly enthusiastic Confederate sea captain, James Waddell, kept fighting battles four months after the Civil War ended. 

Captain Waddell was in command of the Shenandoah  assigned to cruise the Pacific Ocean and destroy the New England whaling fleet hutning oil in the Pacific.

General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate army to General U.S. Grant at the courthouse in Appomatix, Virginia on April 13, 1865. Earlier that same month, Captain Waddell took command of the Shenandoah and sailed for the Pacific.

At the same time that General Lee and his soldiers were laying down their weapons to the Union Army, Captain Waddell's ship cornered and sank four whalers during the Caroline Islands in the Pacific.  Maneuvering through the ice floes of the North Pacific, Waddell and the Shenandoah captured 15 northern whaling ships between June 22 and June 28, 1865, more than two months after the war had officially ended.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 139, August 8

Did you know that a pig almost started a war between the United States and England.

In 1859, on the island of San Juan, loacted in Friday harbor, just south off the coast of the state of Washington, a pib belonging to the Hudson Bay coCompany rooted in a potato patch owned by Lyman Cutler.

Farmer Cutler shot the offending pig.  This enraged England, which claimed the pig belonged to the British Empire.  The English made protests to Washington (DC) through their diplomat.

The situation intensified that 400 American soldiers and 15 cannons were sent to the island.  The English retaliated by sending 2,140 British soldiers, 167 guns, and five warships to San Juan.

Though lined up against each other, the soldiers did not fire.  The only casualty of the "Pig War" was the poor pig.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 138, August 7

In 1859, Robert Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, tried to get into Harvard University.  Robert traveled east from Illinois to take the entrance exam for Harvard.  He failed in 15 subjects. 

This worried his father.  Lake all dads, Lincoln wanted his son to make good grades and earn a good education.  He decided to make a trip east to bolster his son's morale and get him to study a little harder.

While there, Lincoln was invited to have dinner with Horace Greeley, the editor-publisher and political king-maker of the day.  The man from Illinois impressed Greeley so much that Greeley arranged for Lincoln to give a lecture to the Cooper Union in New York City.  In a very real way, Horace Greeley launched Lincoln's political career.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 137, August 6

When you think of China, chances are you think of rickshas, among other things.  But did you know that most of the rickshas used in China were, for many years, made in America?

The foremost manufcaturer of rickshas in the whole world was a Yankee, John H. Birch.  He manufactured rickshas in a large factory in Burlington, New Jersey.

It started in the 1870s when Mr. Birch made a trip to China and noticed the unusual vehickles pulled by manpower.  He decided there was a great future in them and also decided that an American could make Chinese rickshas. 

Birtch arrived home, converted his buggy factory in New Jersey, and was soon exporting American made rickshas all over the world.  The rickshas continued for years until a new kind of vehicle emerged, Henry Ford's automobile.  Eventually, the factory was forced to close down.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 136, August 5

More than a little startled, Captain Drolet and his orderly found themselves given seats of honor at the festivitiesr.  After the services, he was invited to be a guest of honor at a special banquet.    He was offered drink after drink to toast the Queen, the new American president, the Colonies, and many other things.

With his belly full of celebratory drinks, he became inebriated.  Men placed him gently back in his wage, and the orderly drove him back to the Canadian barracks.  The captain did not conquer any of the United States, but he apparently had a great deal of fun.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Day 135, August 4

In 1865, Captain Gustave Drolet started to think about the Revolutionary War and that the British had gotten a raw deal in it.  The Canadian Army Captian  decided on the spur of the moment to leave his Canadian Army base and make a sneak attack on Ft. Montgomery in New York.

He and his orderly crossed the border in a horse and wagon, making good progress along the country roads until they reached the town of Camplain Village.

The townsolk, holding a parade to mourn the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, saw the Canadian captain in his uniform and greeted him as a representative of the British Empire and Queen Victoria.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 134, August 3

Did you know that several presidents have been arrested?   Until I started researching for this blog, I had no idea that any president had been arrested or even that a president could be arrested.

Thomas Jefferson was summoned to appear in court in 1807 (when he was president) to testify in the trial of Aaron Burr who was being held for treason.  Jefferson refused to appear and set a precedent.

Two sitting presidents have been arrested.  President. U.S. Grant was driving a team of horses down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, at a brisk pace.  A mounted policeman pulled him over to the curb and brusquely informed the president that he had been going faster than the law allowed.

With great dignity, President Grant admitted that he had been going too fast.  He handed over a $20 bill as a fine and complimented the police officer for performing his duty.

Franklin Pierce was also arrested, when he returned to The White House from a social gathering.  On horseback, he ran over a woman.  A zealous constable arrested the president, but he was released immediately.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 133, August 2

During his term as president, Roye negotiated a loan with Great Britian without the consent of the Liberian Legislature.  Countrymen objected to the terms of the loan and revolted, banishing Roye from office, even going so far as to have him arrested. 

Roye was called to stand trial before the nation's supreme court.  Before the trial, he managed to escape in a native canoe.  He tried to reach an English steamer anchored off shore and drowned.

Edward Roye died a political criminal in Africa and forgotten by his native country.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 132, August 1

The state of Ohio prides itself on having produed many presidents:  Grant, Hayes, Taft, Harding, Garfiled, Harrison, and McKinley all hailed from Ohio.  However, one Ohio-born citizen is all but forgotten in his term of president.

That may be because he did not serve as President of the United States of America but as President of Liberia in Africa.

Edward Royce was born in Newark, Ohio on February 5, 1815.  After trying several jobs as a young man and finding none that suited him, he sailed for Africa in 1846 and became a well-respected merchant in Liberia.  He served as chief judge of the Liberian Supreme Court and became President of the tiny coastal republic in 1871.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 131, July 31

Back we go, back to the Civil War.

Some believe that there is still Civil War gold floating ... or lying ... around, just waiting for someone to find it.  Old records show that in the confusion of defeat, at least two Confederate units buried gold and never returned for it.

The first instance happened during the last days of the war.  Confederate soldiers, retreating from the Union Army, hid $500,000 in gold in the swamps of the Everglades.  It has never been found.

In 1864, when Confederate troops raided the town of St. Albams in Vermont, they buried $250,00  in gold near hte Vermont community before escaping to Canada.

Anyone ready to go digging for gold?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 130, July 30

We're going to skip ahead in time and talk about more recent events.

What really happened at the US embassy in Libya?  Ambassador Stevens and Foreign Service Office Sean Smith, along with admnistrative staff, were working out of temporary quarters due to the fact that in the spring of 2011 during the so-called Arab Spring, the United States cut ties with then president Mommar Gadhafi. Our embassy was lotted and ransacked, causing it to be unusuable.  It is till in a state of disrepair.
Security for embassies and their personnel is to be provided by the hostnation. Since Libyahas gone through a civil war of sorts in the past 18 months, the currentgovernment is very unstable, and therefore, unreliable.

A well-organized attack by radical Muslims was planned specifically targetingthe temporary U.S.embassy building. The Libyan security force that was in place to protect ourpeople deserted their post, or joined the attacking force. Either way, ourpeople were in a real fix. And it should be noted that Ambassador Stevens had mentioned on more than one occasion to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that he was quite concerned for his personal safety and the welfare of his people. It is thought that Ambassador Stevens was on a hit list.

A short distance from the American compound, two Americans were sleeping. They were in Libya's independent contractors working an assignment totally unrelated to our embassy. They also happened to be former Navy SEALs. When they heard the noise coming from the attack on our embassy, as you would expect from highly trained warriors, they ran to the fight. Apparently, they had no weapons, but seeing the Libyan guards dropping their guns in their haste in fleeing the scene,Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty snatched up several of these discarded weaponsand prepared to defend the American compound.

Not knowing exactly what was taking place, the two SEALs set up a defensive perimeter. Unfortunately Ambassador Stevens was already gravely injured, and Foreign Service officer, Sean Smith, was dead. However, due to their quick action and suppressive fire, twenty administrative personnel in the embassy were able to escape to safety. Eventually, these two courageous men were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers brought against them, an enemy force numbering between 100 to 200 attackers which came in two waves. But the stunning part ofthe story is that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty killed 60 of the attacking force. Once the compound was overrun, the attackers were incensed to discover that just two men had inflicted so much death and destruction.

As it became apparent to these selfless heroes, they were definitely going to lose their lives unless some reinforcements showed up in a hurry. As we know now, because of selfishness, apathy, and laziness on the part of the Administration and State Department, that was not to be.  They knew they were going to die in this gunfight, but not before they took a whole lot of bad guys with them!

Consider these tenets of the Navy SEAL Code: 1) Loyalty to Country, Team andTeammate, 2) Serve with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield, 3)Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit, 4) Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates, 5) Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation, 6) Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation' s Enemies, and 7) Earn your Trident every day. 
Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were true American heroes, sacrificing their own lives for fellow Americans and for a country who quickly forgot about them. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 129, July 29

The thieves drove a horse and wagon to Oak Ridge Cemetery and sawed off the iron door to Lincoln's tomb.  After they pried the marble lid off the tomb, they began to remove the wooden casket.

At that point, one of the gang gave a signal.  It turned out that a government undercover agent had infiltrated the gang.  The tomb filled with Secret Service Agents.

Though the gang members escaped into the night, they were arrested a few days later in Chicago.  Feelings ran high against them.  However, it was determined that no laws had actually been broken.  No law existed in Illiinois at that time against stealing a body.
Lincoln's son Robert engaged the best lawyers in the state toprosecute the theives.  Finally, the men involved were sentenced to twelve months in prison for "conspiring to steal a coffin worth $75."

Friends and family of President Lincoln believed other theives might attempt to steal the body.  They had his coffin hidden away in a dark hallway for several years.

Finally, Lincoln's body was entombed in a great ball of steel, anchored ten feet under the floor of the tomb in solid cement.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 128, July 28

Thieves once tried to steal Abraham Lincoln's body ...and they almost got away with it.

It began in 1876.  A Chicago mob of conterfeiters, headed by "Big Jim Kinealy," needed a master engraver for their operation.  The only master engraver available was Ben Boyd.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), Boyd was in prison.

Big Jim came up with the idea of kidnapping the body of the president from the Lincoln Tomob in Springfield, Illinois and holding it for ransom.  He planned to exchange the body for the Ben Boyd's release from prison.

Big Jim chose the night of November 7, 1876.  He picked that night deliberately as it was national election day.  The thieves bbelieved there would be so much hoopla that there would be little time to worry about the theft of the president's body.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 177, July 27

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln had a special railroad car? Because of his height, Lincoln had a hard time sleeping in the regular railroad car sleeping berths.

After his death, the car was used to transport his body back to Illinois. The railroad car was eventually sold to the Union Pacific Railroad, then became lost. After an extensive search, it was found in a roundhouse in Poctello, Idaho, where it was used as a construction car.

Still later, it was exhibited at the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. Eventually it ended up in Minnesota, where it was destroyed in a grass fire in 1911

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 176, July 26

We're jumping ahead in time--again.

During the Civil War, Americans were hoarding all the silver coins, making it nearly impossible to transact small business.  A mining tycoon, Joseph Wharton, produced nickel and needed a market for his product.

Wharton had two friends in positions of power:  Thaddeus Stevens and William D. Kelly, both members of Congress.  The two congressmen pushed through laws authorizing the U.S. Mint to manufacture nickels, though the coins were never called nickels.  Even today, the U.S. Treasury refers to "nickels" as "5-cent pieces."

Issued in 1866, the first nickel caused no trouble.  But the second nickel issued by the Mint, in 1883, caused a great deal of headache.  The reverse side of the coin had only the Roman  numeral V on it; there was no "5" and no "cents." 

Never fear.  Enterprising Yanks goldplated the nickles by the thousands.  They passed them off as $5 gold pieces.  Yankee ingenunity, indeed!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 175, July 25

Sir Thomas Dale arrived and spotted the probem immediately.  He stepped into the midst of the discouraged colonists who had no reason to make their new home and life succeed.  He diagnosed the problem and proposed the solution:  give the men an investment in the land.  Let them own property.

Without asking permission from the settlement's shareholders, Dale gave three acres of land to those men who had been there the longest.  Those who had been there fewer years received less but were still given a parcel of land to call their own.  Dale asked only that, in return, they provide two barrels of corn for the storehouse at harvest time.

What do you think happened?  The settlers were delighted.  They stopped hunting for gold and set about clearing their land, plowing their land, planting, fertilizing, watering their land. 

By that fall, the storehouse was filled to capacity thanks to the two-barrel tax.  The people were alive.  Tabacco was introduced later, and the once failing colony took off.

(This and the previous two posts came from W. Cleon Skousen's THE FIVE THOUSAND YEAR LEAP.  Read it if you have a chance.  It's excellent.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 174, July 24

The theory, of course, was that the welfare of the colony should be more important than individual welfare.  This grand experiment backfired.  The socialistic order did not take in to account human feelings and the unquenchable desire for self-improvement.

Let's take a look at how and why Jamestown failed.  The leaders divided the men into three groups:  a third to start the farm, a third to build a fot, and a third to go off into the woods and find gold.  Can you guess what happened?

Everyone wanted to slip off into the woods and hunt for gold, thus neglecting the farm and the fort, the very things that were to feed and house the people.

Not until 1614 did the colony leadership get a clue and realize that it wasn't a lack of food that kept kiling the colonists.  It was a lack of knowledge of human nature and correct principles.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 173, July 23

We're jumping back in time once more.  This time, we're visiting Jamestown, Virginia, the first English settlement in America.

In Christmas of 1607, more than 2/3 of the first settlers in Jamestown had died.  The following year, more settlers had arrived but most of them also died that winter.   The next year brought the same result:  more colonists died from starvation.  This pattern repeated for seven years.

Of the approximately 9,000 Englishmen who traveled to the new land, only 1,000 survived.  Why?

The leadership of the colony didn't understand human nature.  They started with a form of communalism:  every man could take from the general storehouse what he needed and was to give back what he could.  Doesn't that sound great?  Idealistic and wonderful.  The only problem was that it didn't work.

Once again, we ask why.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 172, July 22

I grew up watching such television shows as "Davey Crockett" and "Daniel Boone."  I thrilled to their adventures, especially the heroics of Crockett as he served and died at The Alamo.

What I hadn't realized was that Davey Crockett was a very capable and respected political leader, serving three terms as a United States Congressman from Tennessee.

Crocket was as intrepid in his lawmaking as he was in his other exploits.  An old-fashioned man, he didn't care for government handouts or charity.  (Would that we had him in Congress today!)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 171, July 21

It is not surprising that Dr. Walker became active in the suffragette movement.  Traveling across the nation, she made speeches on women's rights.  This caused more than a little contention, among women as well as men.

Dressed in a long frock coat with her neatly pressed pants and sporting a rose on her lapel, Mary visited the ladies in the powder rooms on our journeys.  It was reported that these unexpected visits into the public powder rooms occasionally caused hysteria and screams, even calls for the police. 

Mary insisted upon wearing pants to the end of her life.  In her late 50s, she fell down the steps of the nations's capitol, but she bounced back.  She died in 1919, at the age of 87.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Day 175, July 20

Such was her service in tending the many wounded men, Dr. Walker received a special congressional medal for her services and granted a special pension.

Although she was regarded as a heroine, Mary kept getting into trouble with her insistence on wearing pants.  Likewise, the local police insisted upon arresting her.  At that time, it was considered not only bad taste but illegal for women to wear britches.

Dr. Walker's conflict with the police became such an embarrassment that her firends and colleagues approached members of Congress and asked for something to be done.

Congress acted with a practicality that we wish it might show today.  It made it legal for Dr. Mary Walker to wear pants anywhere in the Continental United States at any time--day, night, and holidays!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 174, July 19

We accept that girls and women wear pants.  It wasn't always so.

Well more than a hundred years ago, it was unheard of for a well-bred woman, or even a woman of lesser birth, to wear trousers or "britches." 

The first American woman to make a point of wearing pants was Dr. Mary Walker.  Dr. Walker raised such a ruckus about her right to wear pants that Congress passed special legilstation giving her the legal right to do so.

Born in New York in 1832, Mary was one of the first women in America to become a doctor.  At the young age of 23, she became a practicing physician.

Mary served four years on the battlefields of the Civil War, where she was a commissioned memberm of the Medical Corps with the rank of first lieutenant.  A practical woman, Mary wore pants in treating the wounded.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 173, July 18

For the most part, Americans like to think of our country as a law-abiding nation.  History refutes that, however.  When I consider it, why should we be surprised that a nation conceived in rebellion should not have its own internal rebellion?

Five armed rebellions occurred in the United States since the Colonies declared their independence from England:  Shay's Rebellion (1786), The Whiskey Insurrection (1794), South Carolina Nullification Rebellion (1832), Dorr's Rebellion (1842), and, of course, The Civil War (1861).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 172, July 17

Did you know that at one time income tax was illegal?

It seems nearly impossible to believe that taxing citizens was forbidden.  This probably had its roots in America's conception, when citizens revolted against unfair taxation by England's King George.

In 1895, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Federal income tax was unconstitutional.  This changed in 1913 when income tax was made legal by the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 171, July 16

I was interested to learn that America has had several "portly" presidents and that the country appears to be more propserous under these generously proportioned commanders-in-chief.

President William McKinley was no "lean-and-mean" president and put the United States on the gold standard.

Likewise, Howard Taft was on the heavy side, tipping the scales at over 300 pounds.  During his tenure as president, the United States was both prosperous and peaceful.

Theodore Roosevelt had a hefty build.  His presidency coincided with America's prestige and reputation reaching a high point around the globe. 

One might speculate that a well-fed president made for a well-fed nation.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 170, July 15

More about vice-presidents:

The office of the vice-president has been vacant more than a dozen times.  Eight men have succeeded to the presidency after the death of the president. 

Some would say that one of the most unfortunate vice presidents was William Rufus King.  In 1852, King was elected vice-president under President Franklin Pierce.  Given the oath of office in Havana, Cuba, he was the first man to take the oath on foreign soil. 

He died in 1853 before Congress had actually convened, and did not serve officially as vice-president.  He was also the first vice-president of America who had served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 169, July 14

Vice-presidents are often unnoticed and unremembered.  However, the country has had some interesting men serving as second-in-command.

I found the following facts about vice presidents:

One of the oldest man to ever hold the office was Albert William Barkley, who was 71 when he was inauguarated as vice president under Harry S. Truman in 1949.

One of the youngest vice presidents was John Cabell Breckinridge.  He was 36 when he took office as President James Buchanan's running mate.

Jefferson Davis, who served as president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, was an unsuccessful candidate for the vice president nomination at the Democratic Convention in Baltimore, nine years before the start of the War. 

One of the oldest men ever nominated for the office of vice president was Henry Gassaway Davis, 80 years old, of West Virginia.  Davis was nominated at the Democratic Convention in St. Louis in 1904.  (He didn't make it.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day 168, July 13

How did the American flag get the name "Old Glory?"

It turned out that a sea captian, William Driver, was given his first command of a ship in 1821.  The 21 yyear old captian was given an American flag to fly from the mast of his first command by his mother.

He hoisted the flag and called it "Old Glory."  The name caught on and became the nickname of America's flag.  This flag is now on display in the Smithsonian Institute.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 167, July 12

Did you grow up, as I did, playing "Cowboys and Indians?"  (I'm sure that is politically incorrect now.)  Of course, in those games, the cowboys soundly routed the Indians.

It turns out that my equally politically incorrect friends and I were wrong, that as early as 1791, Indian warriors, under the command of Chief Tecumesh, won a decisive victory over the colonists. 

The battle took place on the east fork of the Wabash River in Ohio.  The chief's warriors supprised American soldiers under the command of General St. Clair.  Over six hundred Americans were killed, while another 500 ran for their lives in the face of their fierce opponents.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 166, July 11

Abraham Lincoln's ghost was not to be outdone by that of Abigail Adams.  Servants at The White House reported seeing President Lincoln's ghost make regular appearances ever since his assassination.  Sometimes, they said, he rapped on the doors of guests after midnight.

Over the years, several White House occupants have reported seeing Lincoln standing near a window in the Oval Room, the same window he stared out of toward the South during the Civil War.

Eleanoro Roosevelt claimed that many times during her years in The White House, she felt Lincoln's presence near her. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 165, July 10

I was interested to find that many believe that ghosts walk the nights in The White House ... and sometimes in the afternoon as well.

Some said they had seen the ghost of Abigail Adams, wife of the second president, John Adams, doing her washing in the East Room of the White House.  The Adams were the first First Couple to live in the White House, having moved in while it was still under construction.

Others reported having seen Dolley Madison visiting her home, at least one time in the rose garden.  When Dolley was First Lady, she created the famed White House rose garden. 

More than a hundred years later, when Woodrow Wilson was President, it was decided to relocate the rose garden.  When workers started to remove the rose bushes, the angry ghost of Dolley Madison appeared.  The legend tells that Dolley's ghost, dressed in the syle of the early 19th century, ran up to the gardeners and gave them a tongue lashing.   Plans to remove the rose garden came to an abrupt halt.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 164, July 9

Can you handle a few more facts about the 4th of July?

The song "America" was performed for the first time in Boston at a Fourth of July celebration in 1832. 

The words of "America the Beautiful" by Katherline Lee Bates appeared for the first time in print in the magazine "The Congregatioinalist" on July 4, 1895.

America's first great songwriter, Stephen Foster, was born on July 4, 1826 in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania.

Poet Walt Whitman publsihed his poetry volunme "Leaves of Grass" on July 4, 1855.

Calvin Coolidge, a great if underappreciated president, was born on July 4, 1872.

The sons of President John Quincy Adams, George and John, were born on the Fourth of July.

Hannibal Hamlin, the first vice president of President Abraham Lincoln, died on July 49, 1891.  He was 82.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 163, July 8

More facts about the 4th of July.

On July 4, 1863, General John C. Pemberton surrendered his Confederate Army to General U.S. Grant at Vicksburg.  The date was selected because Pemberton believed that the surrender would not be so harsh if the move were made on America's birthday.

The State of New York officially abolsihed slavery on July 4, 1827.

Texas voted for admittance to the United States on July 4, 1845.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad began the first railroad passenger service in the united States on July 4, 1823.

On July 4, 1777, the American flag was displayed for the first time on a US naval vessel.

Thomas Jefferson became the first President of the United States to review American military troops on July 4, 1801.

Henry David Thoreau, America's first native born philosoppher, moved to Walden Pond on July 4, 1885.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 162, July 7

Some fun facts about the 4th of July:

Three American Presidents--John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe, died on July 4.  Both Adams and Jefferson died on the same day--July 4, 1826.

President Monroe, who died on July 4, 1831, was kept alive by his doctor for six days with the aid of brandy and stimulants so that he could die on America's birthday.

The same tactics were tried for President Madison, but they failed.  Madison's physicians attempted to keep him alive until the Fourth, but Madison, the last living signer of the Declaration of Independence, died six days before, on June 28, 1836.

Most of us believe that the Declaration of Independence was signed by the members of the Congressional Congress on July 4, 1776.  In fact, only two men--John Hancock and Charles Thompson--signed the Declaration on that day.

On July 4, 1889, both North and South Dakota were admitted into the United States.

The United States Military Academy at West Point officially opened on July 4, 1802.

The 49th star in the American flag, for Alaska, was officially added on July 4, 1959.

One year later, the 50th star was added to the flag honoring Hawaii's admission to the Union.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 161, July 6

Those of my generation remember the student rebellions of the late 60s and early 70s.  However, rebellion on the college campus isn't a recent phenomenon.  We're traveling back in time (again).  This time, to 1770.

The students at King's College in New York staged a campus protest against the conditions.  (Sound familiar?)  The demonstration's highlight was a torchlight parade through the campus with the protestors stopping in front of the home of the college president.

The president took one look at the rebels and fled.  He ran down the back stairs of his home, jumped over a back fence, and found refuge on a British warship anchored in New York harbor.  He sailed on the ship to England and never returned.

Among the protestors was a young radical named Alexander Hamilton. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 160, July 5

More understanding of who is on the Wall:

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

39,996 soldiers on the Wall were just 22 or younger.

8,283 were just 19 years old.

The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.
12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

Five soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.

1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.

Thirty one sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia. I
wonder why so many from one school.

Eight women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.

244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War;
153 of them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation.
There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day 159, July 4

I found these statistics about Viet Nam veterans from the Vietnam Memorial Wall:

There are 58,267 names now listed on the wall,  including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized.
The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass, listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

The most casualties  for a single day occurred on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 158, July 3

My thoughts as Independence Day approaches are, for some reason, focused on the Viet Nam era.  I came of age during that era and was shamefully ignorant about what was going on.  In an effort to atone for that, I found the following information.  Perhaps you will find it as interesting as I did.

Two groups of soldiers serving in Viet Nam stood out:

The Marines of Morenci  led some of the scrappiest high school  football and basketball teams the little Arizona copper town of
Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci's mining families, the nine graduates of  Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service  began on Independence Day, 1966. Only three returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale  included LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales, all boyhood friends.  They lived on three consecutive streets in  Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field ... and they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the  fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was killed assaulting  the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day 157, July 2

More about the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Charles Carroll lived to 90 and died in 1832.  His life spanned the years between Colonial America and the age of engines.  He helped lay the cornerstone of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  Thomas Lynch, Jr, who was only 27 when he signed the Declaration, disappeared three years later with his wife during a voyage to the West Indies.

Who were these men?  They came from every profession.  Twenty-four were lawyers, 14 were farmers.  Four doctors, nine merchants, and one minister were also included.  Many were born overseas, in Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. 

During the War, each signer was offered immunity by England if they would deny the right to rebel against tyranny.  None accepted.  Not one man who signed the Declaration of Independence renounced his decision on freedom.  What a refreshing contrast from so many of today's current leaders who defame America in lies, betrayal, and treason.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 156, July 1

What happened to the signers of the Declaration of Independence?

Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration, five were arrested by the English, charged with treason.  Twelve watched as their homes were looted and burned by British soldiers and sympathizers.  Twoo lost sons who were serving in the Continental Army.  Seventeen lost their entire fortunes.  Nine signers died during the War, giving their lives as they had pledged.  However, several signers lived to old age, three of them living to be over 90, ten past 80,and eleven past 70 years. 

One man, George Wythe, was poisoned by his grand-nephew at the age of 80.  Caesar Rodney died of cancer.  Samuel Chase was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President Goerge Washington.  Button Gwinnett was elected governor of Georgia, only to be killed in a duel at the age of 42.  Oliver Wolcott served as governor of Connecticut. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 155, June 30

We frequently think of revolution as belonging to the young.  The fact was, many of the patriots of the Revolutionary War, especially those who gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence, were older, the average age being 44.  This is particularly significant as at that time, a man in his 40s was considered old and a man in his fifties, ancient.  The youngest signer was Edward Rutledge, at 26 years old; the oldest was Benjamin Frankln, at 70. 

Another misconception about the Revolution was that it was instigated by the poor.  On the contrary, most of the 56 signers of the Declaration were wealthy and highly successful citizens.  Most had money; all had stature in their communities.  They did not belong to a minority; they did not protest because they lacked material goods.  They wanted freedom because it was right.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day 154, June 29

After signing the Declaration of Independence, Ben Franklin turned to the others gathered and said, "Gentlemen, we must all hang together--or surely we will all hang separately."

A fellow signer, Benjamin Harrison, had a robust sense of humor to match his robust size (Harrison weighed in at over 300 pounds).  He, like Franklin, was astute enough to realize that if the revolution failed, he and his colleagues would be hanged for treason. 

When he signed his name to the Declaration of Independence, he turned to another signer, Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts who weighed less than 100 pounds.

"If we hang, with my weight at the end of the rope it will be over in less than a minute," Harrison said.   "But with you, Elbridge, because you are so light, you'll be dancing on air an hour after I'm gone."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 153, June 28

The man who had lost to an upstart nation went on to become one of England's finiest military and government leaders.  He was named
Governor General of India and did much to bring reform to that country and make it, for many years, a shining jewel in the British Empire's crown.

After his years as Indian Governor General, Cornwallis was promoted to the rank of Marquess.  He was named Viceroy of Ireland, which was, at the time, in a state of rebellion.  While in Ireland, Cornwallis quieted things down and won the respect of many Irish leaders in addition to squelching an invasion attempt of Ireland by the French.

He then went to France, where he helped negotiate peace between England and France.  The age of 66, he was sent back to India, which was once more in chaos.  He died while struggling to untangle the turmoil there. 

The man who is best remembered for a crushing public defeat proved that there can still be personal victory.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 152, June 27

Despite his personal feelings, Cornwallis fought against the colonists, honoring his British heritage.  He won some victories, but, because of the erratic orders from England, his command was doomed.  The high command in England could not make up its mind as to how to fight the "War in the Colonies."

Surrounded by the superior forces of Washington, Cornwallis was forced to surrender.  He did so with both honor and dignity. He returned to England in defeat and believed his career to be over.

It wasn't.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 151, June 26

General Charles Cornwallis was blamed by the British for losing the Revolutionary War.  Cornwallis was the commanding general of the British Army in America who handed over his sword in surrender to General George Washington in Yorktown in 1781.

I had always thought of Cornwallis as the ultimate villain, the man who stood between the Colonies and freedom.  In fact, he was on the side of the colonists.

A member of English nobility, Cornwallis took his seat in Parliament at the age of 22.  Two years later, he was elevated to the House of Lords in upon his father's death.

While serving in Parliament, he upheld the American cause and opposed the increased taxation which brought on the revolution.  He made many stirring speeches in Parliament extolling the rights of the American colonists.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day 150, June 25

Martha Washington was not only the first First Lady; she is also the only American woman who has ever been honored on United States currency.

A picture of Martha Washington was on the face of the 1886-1891 US Dollar Silver Certificate.  She is also pictured on the back of the 1896 series dollar Silver Certificate, along with that of George Washington.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 149, June 24

President James Monroe was the first president inaugurated outdoors.  It started with an upset about seats between members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

To calm the opposing factions, the ceremonies were moved outside.  There was also another reason for the change of location:  there was fear that the floor of the House of Representatives, where the ceremony was to be held, wasn't strong enough to hold all of the guests.

James Madison was the first president inaugurated in a suit of clothes made entirely in the United States of America.  It was a woolen suit fashioned from cloth made from native American sheep.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day 148, June 23

Presidential inagurations have changed much in the last 200 plus years.  George Washington was scheduded to be inaugurated into office in the middle of March of 1799, but he wasn't officially notified at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia that he had been elected as President of the United States until April 13 of that year.

After two days of preparation, George Washington and his party started the journey to New York City, the then capital of the nation.
The journey took more than two weeks to travel through Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.  At each stop, there was a gala parade for the newly elected president.  Thousands of veterans who had served with the President during the Revolutionary War greeted him.

President Washington made his triumphant entrace into New York City on a barge from the New Jersey shore.  With great ceremony, he was inaugurated and sworn in by Robert Livingston, Chancellor of the State of New York.  Washington was the only US President not sworn into office by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 147, June 22

King George III ruled England at the time of the Revoluionary War.  History books painted him as a villain, a tyrant.  The fact was, King George wasn't particularly villanious.  What he was was not very bright. 

Tutors said that he was eleven years old before he could read a word.  He never learned grammar or how to spell.  In between suffering periodic fits of insanity, he was reported to chase young ladies around the palace.  A German, he married a German princess, making the ruling monarchy 100% German.

George wasn't revered or even particularly liked by his people.  When traveling the streets of London in his carriage, he was stoned.  A barber's daughter once tried to stab him with a pair of scissors.  George might have been stupid, but he wasn't unkind.  He pardoned the young woman.

He took very little interest in national and foreign affairs.  He tended to listen to advisors who were shortsighted and used their palace influence for their own ends, rather than in strengthening the country.  Hence, the uprising in the Colonies receievd little attention from the Crown.

Eventually George III became totally insane and went blind.  He spent his last days roaming the halls of the castle playing his harpsichord. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 146, June 21

Legend gives credit to Betsy Ross for fashioning the first American flag.  However, facts support the creator of the first flag as Francis Hopkinson, a professional artist and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Hopkinson submitted a formal bill to Congress requesting payment of $7,200 for his work in designing the official flag.  The bill was never paid.

The Betsy Ross legend maintains that on a June afternoon in 1776, three men came to her shop where she worked as a seamstress.  One of the men was George Washington.  They explained they wanted an American Flag to replace the state banners carried by the Revolutionary soldiers.

General Washington is said to have shown Betsy Ross a rough sketch, a square banner with 13 stripes of wed and white, and 13 starts acattered across a blue field.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 145, June 20

Betsy looked at the sketch and suggested the flag be made rectangular rather than square and that the stars be five-pointed instead of containing six points.  Legend then goes on to say that Betsy Ross made such a flag and presented it to Congress, where it was officially adopted as the American flag.

A Quaker, Betsy was married three times.  At the age of 17, she married John Ross, son of an Episcopalian minister, against her family's wishes.  Her parents disowned her for marrying outside of her faith.  John Ross enlisted in the Revolutionary War and was killed in 1776  in a gunpowder explosion.

The young widow supported herself as a seamstres and upholsterer.  She then married Joseph Ashburn, a sea captain.  Captured by the British, Joseph died in an English prison, leaving Betsy with two small daughters.

Betsy also outlived her third husband, John Claypoole.  She and Claypoole had five daughters togher.  Though she went blind in her later years, she continued her sewing until her death.  She died in Phialdelphia in 1836, at the age of 34.

Though there remain doubts that she sewed the first American flag, there are authentic records to prove she made many of the flags.  A voucher, dated May 29, 1777, is still on the record for the amount of 14 pounds, for American flags made for the United States Navy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 144, June 19

When George Washington was only 14, he was a British subject and was proud of the fact.  His family had been loyal English subjects for more than 600 years.  Duirng the summer of his 14th year, an English man-of-war (ship) was anchored in the Potomac near the Washington plantation, Mount Vernon, in Virginia.

The giant war vessel, flying the famous Union Jack, stirred the advernturous spirit of the young boy.  He decided to join the British Navy and fight for England.

He had packed his sea chest, was ready to go, when his plans were derailed by a determined woman--his mother.  She hurried aborad the ship and took George by the collar.  She ordered him to get his sea chest and get back home, where he belonged.

An obedient son, he did as she commanded. 

The course of history could well have been changed if Mother Washington had not acted when she did.  (Takeaway here:  mothers know best.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 143, June 18

Handling gifts has always presented problems when one is serving as President of the United States.  As the chief executive of the world's most powerful country, the president must be both diplomatic and wise in receiving--and declining--gifts. 

Even two hundred years ago, when the nation was far from the earth's most powerful nation, the president had to be careful in accepting gifts from foreign governments.  Thomas Jefferson had occasion to tip-toe through the minefield of gift-receiving when the government of Tunisia presented him with a fine white stallion.

President Jefferson felt he couldn't refuse the gift.  It would have insulted the Tunisian government.  So he placed the stallion in the Presidential stables and made him available for stud.  The stud fees for the stallion were then donated to the government.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 142, June 17

During Lafayette's exile from France, his wife was imprisoneed in the La Petite Force Prison and sentenced to death.

At this time, James Monroe served as the American minister to France.  Upon learning that Madame Lafayette was being held prisoner, his wife, Eliza Monroe, took action.  A beautiful and well-educated woman, Mrs. Monroe spoke flawless French.  Dressed in her finest clothes, she ordered her carriage to the front door of the prison.  Guards rushed to halt the carriage's progress.

In a regal manner, Mrs.Monroe ordered the guards to take her to Madame Lafayette at once.  Seeing the US Amabassador's crest on the carriage, the guards quickly complied.  Bowing and scraping, the guards led her to Madame Lafayette's cell. 

Mrs. Monroe demanded the instant release of the American Revoluntionary War hero's wife.  The startled prison commandant dared not refuse, and Madame Lafayette was released. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 141 June 16

During Lafayette's visit to  Nashville, Tennessee, a pickpocket stole his watch.  Lafayette nearly broke down.  This was the watch George Washington had presented to Lafayette as a reward for his military services during the War.

Government officials apologized, but they couldn't find the stolen watch.  Fifty years later, in 1874, the watch was discovered in a Louisville, Kentucky pawnshop.  It was redeemed with $300 appropriated by Congress and sent to Lafayette's grandson.

Lafayette died in 1834.  He was buried in Paris.  A mound of dirt from Bunker Hill was placed over the grave.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Day 140, June 15

Lafayette did not receive a warm welcome in Franche.  He lost much of his popularity and most of his fortune.  Eventually he fled to Austria where he was imprisoned.  Napoleon resuced him and gave him his freedom.

When Lafayette returned to France, he served for many years in the Chamber of Deputies.  He was always a controversial figure and inspired as many enemies as he did friends.

In 1824, the United States' government invited Lfayette to visit as a special guest.  He stayed at the White House and made a tour of the nation, where he was greeted as a hero.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Day 139, June 14

The French had sympathy for the American Revolution.  One Frenchman in particular showed his support by joining the Revolution.  His real name was Marie Joseph Paul Yves Dilbert du Motier, but he became known in America as the Marquis de Lafayette.

A nobleman, Lafayette bought a ship and sailed from France in 1777 to America where he offered his services to General George Washington.  He was given the rank of a major general and joined Washington's military staff.  (This he did without pay.)

An above average soldier, Lafayette brought tactics to the War that helped secure American victory.  He returned home with honor and participated in the French Revolution.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day 138, June 13

I think of cocktail parties as a fairly modern phenomenon.  However, John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration oof Independence, is famous for hosting one of the greatest cocktail parties of history.

In 1792, years after the Americans defeated the British in the Revolutionary War, Hancock decided to throw a cocktail party for members of the Bston Fusiliers.  The Fusiliers was a military organization composed mostly of veterans of the War.

Old records reveal that eighty Fusiliers attended the party.  During the evening, they consumed 138 bowls of spiked punch, 21 bottles of sherry, and 28 small barrels of brandy and hard cider.

Host Hancock picked up the entire tab.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day 137, June 12

In Saratoga National Historic Park in New York is an unusual monument dedicated to the memory of America's first traitor--Benedict Arnold.  To this day, he remains perhaps the country's best known traitor. 

The monument bears no name, and has only a left military boot and the epaulets of a US Army general. 

General Benedict Arnold was wounded in the left foot during the Battle of Saratoga in October of 1777, the first major victory of the Colonists over the British.  In 1779, Arnold defected to the British. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Day 136, June 11

While in the French prison for ten months, Paine wrote another pamphlet, "The Age of Reason."

For some reason, his writings there tagged him as an atheist.  It was never clear as to why people viewed "The Age of Reason" as preaching atheism.  The pamphlet starts "I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life."

People called him "Godless" and he spent the rest of his life scorned and taunted by others.

President Thomas Jefferson secured Paine's release from The Bastille and he arrived back in the United States.  He spent the remainder of his life in poverty and poor health.  He was buried without fanfare or glory on a small farm near New Rochelle, New York.

Ten years later, his body was exhumed and sent to England.  Strangely enough, it rests in a hero's grave.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Day 135, June 10

"These are the times that try men's souls."  "Tryanny, like hell, is not easily conquered."

Thomas Paine's words, captured in a series of pamphlets that he published, were so impassioned that George Washington ordered them to be read to the troops at Valley Forge.  Paine, not content to simply write about revolution, served as a foot soldier in the War.

After America won victory over the British, Paine tried farming and failed.  When the French Revolution broke out, he sailed to France and was made an honoray citizen there.  However, he couldn't stomach the tactics of the Revolutionists, who believed in chopping off the heads of the aristocracy.  He preached kindness and tolerance.  The French Revolutionists threw him in to The Bastille.

Paine was scheduled for the guillotine himself, but one of the prison guards chalked the wrong side of the prison door.  When the door closed, the mark of death was not visible.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Day 134, June 9

George Washington loaned the war effort great sums of money from his own pocket.  He served as commander-in-chief at no pay and received no salary as President during his two terms.  Yet he was accused of using the presidency to line his own pockets

He faced a civil war among his own countrymen, with riots in the streets over the newly levied whisky tax.  Congress wouldn't even give him an army to enforce the law.

Newspaper articles challenged him to "resign immediately."  "You are uterrly incapable to steer the political ship into the harbor of safey," one writer said.

When a Congressional committee met to draft a reply to Washington's farewell address, many members of Congress refuse to vote their thanks.  He was denounced at meetings, citizens mocked him on the streets.

However, after Washington left office, his enemies calmed down.  In practically no time, George Washington began to attain the stature he holds today as "the Father of our country."

At his death, citizens all over the new nation gathered to express their regret and sadness  Condolences were received from leaders of other countries.

Washington's last words were "I die hard."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Day 133, June 8

President Washington's personal life did not escape criticism either.  One member of Congress said he didn't like the way Washington bowed at parties.

Washington answered:  "I bow as good as I know how.  If my bows are not the right kind, blame my boyhood dancing teacher."

At that time, the nation's capitol was located in Philadelphia.  The social elite of the city gave a birthday party for the president shortly after he took office.  Bedlam broke loose.  The papers accused him of being a "royal snob" ... "a man who dreamed of becoming king." 

Washington could not escape the unrelenting criticism even when he took to the road.  If he reached a small town or hamlet and refused to make a speech, his enemies (and there were many) said he was acting like a king.  If he did make a speech, he was said to be "playing politics."

Newspapers called him "a crocodile," "a hyena," and, the worst of all insults, "pro British." 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 132, June 7

Did you know that George Washington, one of our Founding Fathers, was not loved, or even liked by everyone?  While he was in office, Washington was one of the most unpopular presidents ever to serve. 

He was criticized, defiled in public print, a leading newspaper editor calling him an embezzler, a tryant.  Another editor accused him of murder.  Patriots, who'd served with him, demanded that he resign,  calling him power mad.  His secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, resigned in disagreement over his foreign policies. 

Jefferson went so far as to form a political party to fight Washington.  Another Cabinet member, Alexander Hamilton, did the same.  The fledgling nation was split in two parts by the French Revolution.  One element wanted to come to the aid of the French, as the French had helped secure America's independence.  Washington opposed becoming involved in foreign affairs.

One of his steadfast friends of the Revoluntionary War, Thomas Paine, wrote of Washington:  "You are treacherous in private friendship and a hyppocrite in public life ... the world will be puzzled to decide whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Day 131, June 6

Did you know that many important events of the Revolutionary War took place in taverns?  I didn't.

Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence while sitting in the Queen's Tavern in Philadelphia.  George Washington centered his headquarters in a tavern while he was in New York.  John Adams managed his own tavern from 1783 to 1789.  The first official recruiting office of the United States Marine Corps was held in Tun Tavern in Philadelphia.  It was in a New York tavern where George Washington bid his troops farewell.

Paul Revere recorded this in his diary:

"In the fall of 1774, I was one of upwards of 30 men who formed ourselves into a committee for the watching of movements of British soldiers and the Tories in our midst.  We met at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston."

Tavern keeping was a respectable business in those days, the tavern keeper an important man in town.  He was in many cases the political leader of the community.  He was also the town banker, the town gosspi.  His wife was, in many cases, the community's social and cultural leader.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day 130, June 5

The soldiers at Valley Forge lived in 900 small huts  ashioned from logs and clay.  A dozen soldiers jammed into each 14 by 16 foot hut.

Because of lack of blankets and warm clothing, many soldiers were forced to sit up all night by the fires.  There was a near-famine in the camp.  Weeks went by with the men having no meat and little else to eat.

A few men deserted; however, most of them remained at their posts, despite the horrible conditions.  Washington maintained discipline, insisting his men conduct themselves like soldiers.  Eventually supplies began to trickle through.  Raiding parties captured supplies from the British and supplemented their meager food and clothing.

By the time spring arrived, those who survived knew the worst was over.  In June, the American troops marched from Valley Forge and defeated the British at Monmouth, New Jersey, taking them by surprise. 

It was a turning point in the war, emotionally and strategically.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 129, June 4

Until I did some research, I had believed a battle to be fought at Valley Forge.  And perhaps there was one, though it was not between the Americans and the British.  It was a battle against cold, hunger, and despair.  The defeated American army, under General George Washington, retreated to the plains of Valley Forge, Pennsylvannia. 

The Continental Army had just lost two important battles to the British.  the enemy now occupied Philadelphia, forcing the Americans to the frigid plains.  It (1777)  was one of the worst winters in history.  Winds blew in hurrrican force gales across the plains.  The temperature dropped below zero.  The ill-equipped American Army was without shoes, winter clothing, and food.

More than 3000 American soldiers died that winter in Valley Forge.  They lay in unmarked graves. On December 23, 1777, Washington wrote, "There are 2,898 men in camp unfit for duty because they are barefooted and otherwise naked ..."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Day 128, June 3

What happened to Dawses, Prescott, and Revere?

William Dawes enlisted in the Continental Army and fought through the Revolutionary War.  He ended up owning a grocery store in Boston.

Dr. Prescott served at Ticonderoga, where he was taken prisoner by the British, and died in a Halifax prison.

As for Paul Revere, he started manufacturing gunpowder for the Continental Army and helped cast bronze cannons.  He was given the rank of Colonel in the Army and commanded the garrison at Castle William in Boston Harbor.  After the war, Revere returned to his work as a silversmith in Boston.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Day 127, June 2

Another man figures prominently in the ride to warn Americans of the British invasion.  The day after Revere's aborted ride, 23 year old Israel Bisell was tasked with warning the citizens that the English soldiers had landed at Cambridge and were marching toward Lexington. 

Bisell rode so hard on his first day that his horse dropped dead beneath him.  He took another horse and raced across Massachusetts, into Connecticut, and on into New York.  He rode for four days without rest, covering more than 300 miles before arriving in Philadelphia.

Why did Longfellow immortalize Revere in his epic poem rather than Bisell or Dawes?  It is speculated by some that the poet couldn't think anything to rhyme with Bisell or Dawes!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 126, June 1

Longfellow's poem "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" is well known and often quoted.  However, Revere didn't finish the famous ride.

Paul Revere was captured by the British halfway to the village of Concord to warn the citizens that the British were coming.  The ride was finished by Dr. Samuel Prescott, who just happened to be along. 

On the night of April 18,1775, William Dawes was dispatched from Boston to warn the countryside of the British invasion.  Paul Revere followed along as a second.  Along the way, they picked up another man, Dr. Prescott, who was coming home from a date with the young lady he was courting.

A British patrol ambushed the three men.  Revere was captured.  Dawes turned around and rode for home.  Prescott jumped his horse over a fence and continued on his way to alert the Minutemen.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 125, May 31

We're going to go back in time for today, all the way back to Ben Franklin and the founding of our country.  Did you know that Franklin was not in favor of the American eagle as the symbol for the fledgling nation?  Franklin wanted the turkey.

"An eagle is a bird of very bad moral character," said Franklin.  " He does not even work for a living, but spends its time soaring around stealing fish and anything else edible that isn't nailed down ... There is only one bird fit to be on the official Great Seal of the United States and that is a plain, oldl American turkey.

Franklin argued, cajoed, and argued any more.  The lobby favoring the bald eagle as the symbol for American won. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 124, May 30

A dear friend sent me this email.  It was so compelling that I decided I needed to share it in this, the Patriot Pages.  I hope you find it as fascinating and inspiring as I did.

Irena Sendler

Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98)
Warsaw, Poland

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the
Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist.

She had an ulterior motive.

Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of
the tool box she carried.
She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck, for larger kids.

Irena kept a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to
smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi's broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out, In a glass jar that she buried under a tree in  her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family.  Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster families or adopted.

In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.   She was not selected.
Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.

So, why am I including a story on Irena, when she wasn't even an American?  The answer is simple.  Irena exemplified the American spirit, one of sacrifice, compassion, and the willingness to protect the innocent.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Day 123, May 29

World War II indeed changed the world.  If the Allies had not triumphed, the world as we know it would not have existed.  Despite its importance, though, forty-six years passed before a museum was built to honor those who served and tell the story of the American experience in the war – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today.   

Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 122, May 28

I can't help but tell the story of my father's participation in World War II.

Dad was a Navy yeoman serving in Washington, DC.  Because he had accounting and typing skills, it was suggested by his commanding officer that he stay in Washington and serve his country there.  However, my father knew he couldn't sit by while others were being shipped overseas.

He asked to be deployed and was sent to the Pacific Theatre.  There, his ship was torpedoed by the Japanese.  Chaos broke out among the sailors, many who were lost, either to injuries or to drowning.   When the survivors were rescued, Dad tasked himself with contacting the families of those men who died, establishing friendships with those family members that continued for many decades afterward.  He, himself, incurred an injury, one which plagued him for years later.

Two of Dad's brothers died during the war.  The Red Cross offered to send him home to comfort his grieving mother, a widow.  He told them that while he appreciated it, he could not return home then.  There was still work to be done.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Day 121, May 27

American General Dwight D. Eisenhower served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, while overall command of ground forces (21st Army Group) was given to General Bernard Montgomery.

The operation, planned by a team under Lieutenant-General Frederick Morgan was the largest amphibious invasion in world history and was executed by land, sea and air elements under direct British-American command with over 160,000  soldiers landing on 6 June 1944: 73,000 Americans, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadians. 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were also involved.

The invasion required the transport of soldiers and supplies from the United Kingdom by aircraft and ships, the assault landings, air support, naval interdiction of the English Channel and naval fire-suppor. . The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day 120, May 26

The Normandy Landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, in Operation Overlord during World War II The landings commenced on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 am British Double Summer Time (GMT+2). In planning, as for most Allied operations, the term D-Day was used for the day of the actual landing.

The landings were conducted in two phases: an airborne assault landing of 24,000 British, American and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing  of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France starting at 6:30 am. Bad weather helped give the Allies the element of surprise. 

A key element was to convince Adolf Hitler that the landings would actually occur to the north at the Pas-de-Calais. There were also decoy operations taking place simultaneously with the landings under the codenames Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the German forces from the real landing areas.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Day 119, May 25

I found this messsage from General Eisenhower to the soldiers just prior to D-Day in World War II. I thought it worth repeating.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man.

Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!
Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 118, May 24

The Allied Forces worked feverishly to defeat the ever-growing treachery and evil of the Axis powers. Defeating Germany and Italy required hand-in-hand cooperation between England, France, and America.

Of all the threats that faced his country in World War II, Winston Churchill said, just one really scared him—what he called the "measureless peril" of the German U-boat campaign.

In that global conflagration, only one battle—the struggle for the Atlantic—lasted from the very first hours of the conflict to its final day. Hitler knew that victory depended on controlling the sea-lanes where American food and fuel and weapons flowed to the Allies.
At the start, U-boats patrolled a few miles off the eastern seaboard, savagely attacking scores of defenseless passenger ships and merchant vessels while hastily converted American cabin cruisers and fishing boats vainly tried to stop them. Before long, though, the United States was ramping up what would be the greatest production of naval vessels the world had ever known. Then the battle became a thrilling cat-and-mouse game between the quickly built U.S. warships and the ever-more cunning and lethal U-boats.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 117, May 23

The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone, struggling to stay in the skies above Germany .

Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.
But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer "Pinky" Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened.

The German didn't pull the trigger. He stared back at the bomber in amazement and respect. Instead of pressing the attack, he nodded at Brown and saluted.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 116, May 22

A friend sent this story to me in an email about a young American pilot during World War II.  I was so impressed by it that I felt it worth repeating here.

The 21-year old American B-17 pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage.

But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision. "My God, this is a nightmare," the co-pilot said. "He's going to destroy us," the pilot agreed.

The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.

Watch this video

Franz Stigler wondered for years what                                                            happened to                                                            the American                                                            pilot he                                                            encountered in                                                            combat.
Luftwaffe Major Franz Stigler

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Day 115, May 21

A second group of Scouts and Raiders, code-named Special Service Unit No. 1, was established on 7 July 1943, as a joint and combined operations force. The first mission, in September 1943, was at Finschafen on New Guinea. Later operations were at Gasmata, Arawe, Cape Gloucester, and the East and South coast of New Britain, all without any loss of personnel. Conflicts arose over operational matters, and all non-Navy personnel were reassigned. The unit, renamed 7th Amphibious Scouts, received a new mission, to go ashore with the assault boats, buoy channels, erect markers for the incoming craft, handle casualties, take offshore soundings, clear beach obstacles and maintain voice communications linking the troops ashore, incoming boats and nearby ships.

The 7th Amphibious Scouts conducted operations in the Pacific for the duration of the conflict, participating in more than 40 landings.
The third Scout and Raiders organization operated in China. Scouts and Raiders were deployed to fight with the Sino-American Cooperative Organization, or SACO.