Thursday, February 28, 2013

Day 34, February 28

The expedition halted for the winter in later October.  With the other men, York labored for days, cutting trees and building a small fort near the villages of two Indian tribes, the Mandan and the Hidatsa. 

The Hidatsa chief wet his finger and rubbed at York's skin, expecting it to be paint and to wash away.  Surprised that York's color did not wash off, the chief proclaimed him as "big medicine".  York found himself honored by both the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes.

One December night, the temperature fell to 45 egrees below zero, causing the men to huddle in their shelters.   When the air warmed to zero, they hunted for food.  Clark, York, and fourteen others killed a deer and eight bison.  York and several others returned to the fort with frostbitten feet.

By early April, the Missouri River was free of ice.  The explorers prepared to continue on their journey.  A dozen men broke apart from the main body and headed downstream in a keelboart.  The boat contiained maps, written reports, animal skins, and other cargo for President Jefferson.   York sent a gift of a robe made from bison skin to his wife in Kentucky.

The other explorers continued upriver in the two pirogues and six new canoes they had fashioned from tree trunks.  The Corps of Discovery now had two new members:  a teenage girl named Sacagawea and her month old son.  Sacagawea spoke the Shoshone language, and Lewis and Clark hoped that she could help them trade with that tribe for horses, which they would need to cross the Rocky Mountains.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Day 33, February 27

Lewis prepared supplies for the expedition.  Clark turned his attention to finding the  men they would need.  The two agreed that they needed young, healthy, hard-working men who had experinece surviving in the wilderness.  William had no doubt that he wanted York at his side.

The Lewis and Clark expedition--formally referred to as the Corps of Discovery--set out on May 14, 1804 by boat up the Missouri River.  York was among the four dozen men who rowed the Corp's large keelboat and two smaller flat-bottomed pirogues.  Food, clothing, tools, weapons, gunpowder, and lead for bullets, along with bundles of beads, scissors, combs, knives and other items that could be used in trade with Indians--loaded down the boats.

The Missouri River was filled with dangers, causing the boatmen to have to avoid branches and sometimes whole uprooted trees swept downstream by the rapid current.  At times, York and the others struggled to free a boat that had come stuck on a sandbar.  The crew worked long hours every day, using oars, long poles, and towropes to travel ten miles upstream.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Day 32, February 26

When he truned nineteen, William left home to serve in the military.  He became a lieutenant in the United States Army.  During William's absence, York probably served as a house slave.  Later, in 1795, William returned home to help the family run the farm at Mulberry Hill, and York became his personal slave once more.  William occasionally traveled on family buisness to New York, Washington, DC, and New Orleans, usually accompanied by York.

In 1800, at the turn of the century, William turned 30.  By that time, York was in his late twenties.  He had fallen in love with a slave from a nearby farm.  Their masters granted them permission to marry. 

Marriage between slaves was accomplished by a simple ceremony, usually conducted by the master of the plantation.  No public records were kept of the marriages of slaves, so no information about York's wife or whether they had children is known.

In the meantime, William received a letter from Meriwether Lewis, who had become a friend while they were both serving in the army.  The letter explained of President Thomas Jefferson's (we  just can't get away from Jefferson, can we?) plan to explore the West, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  Lewis asked Clark to help him lead this expedition.

Clark eagerly accepted.  He wrote back, "My friend, I join you with hand and Heart."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 31, February 25

We are all familiar with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  We know of William Clark, Meriwether Lewis, and their Indian guide, Sacagawea.  However, an important member of the expedition is much less well knowon.  York,  William Clark's personal slave, also accompanied the explorers.

York (whose last name is not known) grew up on the plantation owned by the John Clark Family.  The Clarks had six sons, four daughers, and about twenty slaves.  Though most slaves spent their time tending the tobacco and vegetable fields, York, who was a few years younger than William, the Clarks' youngest son, was chosen to be William's personal servant.

York slept in the Clark house and was treated much better than the other slaves.  He and William became more than servant and master.  They became friends.

Around the same time that York was assigned to be William's servant, the Clark family bought a large tract of land in Kentucky, in the verdant Ohio River Valley.  They settled there in 1785, with everyone working to clearing fields, planting crops, and building a house, barns, fences, and slave quarters.  Part of York's duties consisted of protecting William from raiding Indians.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Day 30, February 24

In early 1781, Marion and his men were camping on Snow's Island, South Carolina, when a British officer arrived to discuss a prisoner exchange. A breakfast of sweet potatoes was roasting in the fire, and after the negotiations, Marion, invited the British soldier to share the humble breakfast.

According to legend, the British officer was so inspired by the Americans' devotion to their cause—despite their lack of adequate provisions, supplies or even proper uniforms—that he promptly switched sides and supported American independence.

Marion's exploits inspired many stories and legends, including a television series and a movie.  He was not perfect; few men are.  But he was one of the first American heroes.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Day 29, February 23

Marion's role in the war changed course after an accident in March of 1780. Attending a dinner party at the Charleston home of a fellow officer, Marion found that the host, in accordance with 18th-century custom, had locked all the doors while he toasted the American cause.

The toasts went on and on, and Marion, who was not a drinking man, felt trapped. He escaped by jumping out a second story window, but broke his ankle in the fall. Marion left town to recuperate in the country, with the happy result that he was not captured when the British took Charleston that May.

In early 1781, Revolutionary War militia leader Francis Marion and his men were camping on Snow's Island, South Carolina, when a British officer arrived to discuss a prisoner exchange. As one militiaman recalled years later, a breakfast of sweet potatoes was roasting in the fire, and after the negotiations Marion, known as the "Swamp Fox," invited the British soldier to share breakfast. According to a legend that grew out of the much-repeated anecdote, the British officer was so inspired by the Americans' resourcefulness and dedication to the cause—despite their lack of adequate provisions, supplies or proper uniforms—that he promptly switched sides and supported American independence. Around 1820, John Blake White depicted the scene in an oil painting that now hangs in the United States Capitol. In his version, the primly attired Redcoat seems uncomfortable with Marion's ragtag band, who glare at him suspiciously from the shadows of a South Carolina swamp.
The 2000 movie The Patriot exaggerated the Swamp Fox legend for a whole new generation. Although Francis Marion led surprise attacks against the British, and was known for his cunning and resourcefulness, Mel Gibson played The Patriot's Marion-inspired protagonist as an action hero. "One of the silliest things the movie did," says Sean Busick, a professor of American history at Athens State University in Alabama, "was to make Marion into an 18th century Rambo."
Many of the legends that surround the life and exploits of Brigadier General Francis Marion were introduced by M. L. "Parson" Weems, coauthor of the first Marion biography, The Life of General Francis Marion. "I have endeavored to throw some ideas and facts about Genl. Marion into the garb and dress of a military romance," Weems wrote in 1807 to Peter Horry, the South Carolina officer on whose memoir the book was based. Weems had also authored an extremely popular biography of George Washington in 1800, and it was he who invented the apocryphal cherry tree story. Marion's life received similar embellishment.
Fortunately, the real Francis Marion has not been entirely obscured by his legend—historians including William Gilmore Simms and Hugh Rankin have written accurate biographies. Based on the facts alone, "Marion deserves to be remembered as one of the heroes of the War for Independence," says Busick, who has written the introduction to a new edition of Simms' The Life of Francis Marion, out in June 2007.
Marion was born at his family's plantation in Berkeley County, South Carolina, probably in 1732. The family's youngest son, Francis was a small boy with malformed legs, but he was restless, and at about 15 years old he joined the crew of a ship and sailed to the West Indies. During Marion's first voyage, the ship sank, supposedly after a whale rammed it. The seven-man crew escaped in a lifeboat and spent a week at sea before they drifted ashore. After the shipwreck, Marion decided to stick to land, managing his family's plantation until he joined the South Carolina militia at 25 to fight in the French and Indian War.
Most heroes of the Revolution were not the saints that biographers like Parson Weems would have them be, and Francis Marion was a man of his times: he owned slaves, and he fought in a brutal campaign against the Cherokee Indians. While not noble by today's standards, Marion's experience in the French and Indian War prepared him for more admirable service. The Cherokee used the landscape to their advantage, Marion found; they concealed themselves in the Carolina backwoods and mounted devastating ambushes. Two decades later, Marion would apply these tactics against the British.
In 1761, after his militia had defeated the area Cherokees, Marion returned to farming. He was successful enough to purchase his own plantation, Pond Bluff, in 1773. In 1775, Marion was elected to the first South Carolina Provincial Congress, an organization in support of colonial self-determination. After the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the Provincial Congress voted to raise three regiments, commissioning Marion a captain in the second. His first assignments involved guarding artillery and building Fort Sullivan, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. When he saw combat during the Battle of Fort Sullivan in June 1776, Marion acted valiantly. But for much of the next three years, he remained at the fort, occupying the time by trying to discipline his troops, whom he found to be a disorderly, drunken bunch insistent on showing up to roll call barefoot. In 1779, they joined the Siege of Savannah, which the Americans lost.
Marion's role in the war changed course after an odd accident in March of 1780. Attending a dinner party at the Charleston home of a fellow officer, Marion found that the host, in accordance with 18th-century custom, had locked all the doors while he toasted the American cause. The toasts went on and on, and Marion, who was not a drinking man, felt trapped. He escaped by jumping out a second story window, but broke his ankle in the fall. Marion left town to recuperate in the country, with the fortunate result that he was not captured when the British took Charleston that May.
With the American army in retreat, things looked bad in South Carolina. Marion took command of a militia and had his first military success that August, when he led 50 men in a raid against the British. Hiding in dense foliage, the unit attacked an enemy encampment from behind and rescued 150 American prisoners. Though often outnumbered, Marion's militia would continue to use guerilla tactics to surprise enemy regiments, with great success. Because the British never knew where Marion was or where he might strike, they had to divide their forces, weakening them. By needling the enemy and inspiring patriotism among the locals, Busick says, Marion "helped make South Carolina an inhospitable place for the British. Marion and his followers played the role of David to the British Goliath."
In November of 1780, Marion earned the nickname he's remembered by today. British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, informed of Marion's whereabouts by an escaped prisoner, chased the American militia for seven hours, covering some 26 miles. Marion escaped into a swamp, and Tarleton gave up, cursing, "As for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him." The story got around, and soon the locals—who loathed the British occupation—were cheering the Swamp Fox.
Biographer Hugh Rankin described the life of Francis Marion as "something like a sandwich—a highly spiced center between two slabs of rather dry bread." After the war, Marion returned to the quiet, dry-bread life of a gentleman farmer. At 54, he finally married a 49-year old cousin, Mary Esther Videau. He commanded a peacetime militia brigade and served in the South Carolina Assembly, where he opposed punishing Americans who had remained loyal to the British during the war. Championing amnesty for the Loyalists was "among the most admirable things he ever did," says Busick. In 1790, Marion helped write the South Carolina state constitution, and then retired from public life. After a long decline in health, Francis Marion died at his plantation, Pond Bluff, on February 27, 1795.
Francis Marion never commanded a large army or led a major battle. Histories of the Revolutionary War tend to focus on George Washington and his straightforward campaigns in the North, rather than small skirmishes in the South. Nevertheless, the Swamp Fox is one of the war's most enduring characters. "His reputation is certainly well deserved," says Busick. Though things looked bad for the Americans after Charleston fell, Marion's cunning, resourcefulness and determination helped keep the cause of American independence alive in the South.
In December 2006, two centuries after his death, Marion made news again when President George W. Bush signed a proclamation honoring the man described in most biographies as the "faithful servant, Oscar," Marion's personal slave. Bush expressed the thanks of a "grateful nation" for Oscar Marion's "service…in the Armed Forces of the United States." Identified by genealogist Tina Jones, his distant relative, Oscar is the African-American cooking sweet potatoes in John Blake White's painting at the Capitol. Oscar likely "helped with the cooking and mending clothes, but he would also have fought alongside Marion," says Busick. "We have no way of knowing if Oscar had any say in whether or not he went on campaign with Marion, though I think it is safe to assume that had he wanted to run away to the British he could have easily done so." Historians know very little about Oscar, but the few details of his story add new interest to the Swamp Fox legend.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 28, February 22

Francis Marion, The Swamp Fox, used his experiences in the French and Indian War in the War for Independence as he fought the British.. The "guerilla" tactics served him and his men well as, like the Cherokee, they used the landscape to their advantage, concealing themselves in the Carolina backwoods where they mounted devastating ambushes.

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the Provincial Congress voted to raise three regiments, commissioning Marion a captain in the second. His first assignments involved guarding artillery and building Fort Sullivan, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. When he saw combat during the Battle of Fort Sullivan in June 1776, Marion fought valiantly.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day 27, February 21

I hadn't realized, until I did some research, that the Army Rangers have such a storied history.  I'd erroneously believed that they were a more recent addition to America's armed forces.

In 1756, Major Robert Rogers recruited nine companies of American colonists to fight for the British during the French and Indian War. Rogers made the most of the techniques and methods of operations inherent in the frontiersman.  These soldiers were the backbone of the Americans who fought the British in the Revolutionary War.

Men such as Daniel Morgan, who led Morgan's Riflemen and Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, worked to use the native abilities of the woodsmen and fighters they commanded.   With this beginning, Rangers have seen combat in every major conflict in which the United States has been involved.

 "Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country.  I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might.  Surrender is not a Ranger word.  I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under  no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country."--the fifth stanza of the Ranger Creed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 26, February 20

Why risk everything--reputation, property, even  life--for soldiers who fought for the British whom Adams vehemently opposed?  Adams recognized the importance of a fair trial for the accused as one of the tenets upon which he wanted America to be built.. He later wrote that he risked infamy even death, and incurred suspicion and prejudice, for the sense of duty he felt to offer the British soldiers an adequate defense.

 Of his decision to represent the British soldiers, Adams wrote in his diary:  "The part I took in defense of captain Preston and the soldiers, procured me anxiety enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the Quakers or witches, anciently.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Day 25, February 19

It was the most controversial case of its day:   the defense of the British soldiers accused of carrying out what would come to be known as the Boston Massacre. Amid the outrage that followed the shooting, which resulted in the deaths of five colonists, one young Boston attorney courageously took the case to ensure that justice was served.

John Adams was a fervent supporter of American independence..  Few citizens were more more outspoken than Adams for the cause of independence.  However, as deeply as he believed in independence from Britain, he believed just as deeply in justice.  When British soldiers were accused of deliberate murder, Adams knew he had to do something.

His unpopular stand in defending the soldiers earned him few friends, and, in fact, even resulted in the loss of some friends, but Adams refused to back down from what he knew to be right.  


Monday, February 18, 2013

Day 24, February 18

The presence of British troops, who had occupied Boston since 1768 in an effort to put down resistance to the King's policy of taxation without representation, had been a source of continuing tension between the American colonists and the British.  Things came to a head on the snowy evening of March 5, 1770 when a small group of Bostonians gathered to taunt a British sentry.

As the crowd grew into a mob of hundreds, several soldiers under the command of Captain Thomas Preston came to the assistance of the soldier. Rocks and snowballs were thrown, and eventually the soldiers opened fire.

When it was over, three colonists were dead.  The crowd was incensed.  No lawyer would defend the soldiers, no one but a young outspoken lawyer who had, perhaps, more passion than sense.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 23, February 17

The Founding Fathers did not want a “democracy” for they feared a true democracy was just as dangerous as a monarchy. The founders were highly educated people who were experienced in defending themselves against tyranny. They understood that the Constitution could protect the people by limiting the power of anyone to work outside of it much better than a pure system of popularity.

A system of checks and balances was set up to help limit corruption of government and also the potential for an “immoral majority” developing within the American People.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Day 22, February 16

We're going to take a huge step back in time, all the way back to ancient Greece.

Who is the father of democracy? Not Thomas Jefferson, as many people believe. It was, in fact,  Cleisthenes. He first introduced democracy to the Greek city states in 508 BC, after he gained political power in Athens. From 508 to 502 BC, he began to develop a series of major reforms, leading to the formation of Athenian Democracy. He made all free men living in Athens and Attica citizens, giving them the right to vote as part of a democratic society. He also established a council (boule). All citizens over the age of thirty were eligible to sit on the council, encouraging public involvement in the government. While the format may not be the same as the many democracies around the world today, this was the first step.

That the United States is not a true democracy but a republic is a subject for another day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 20, February 14

It took 232 years for the Supreme Court to even rule on the Second Amendment because it has never been successfully challenged.   In the 2008 case of Columbia v. Heller,. the Supreme Court ruled that a handgun ban in Washington D.C. was unconstitutional. One also has to take this into consideration. The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, supports an individual's right to own guns.

For those who try to debate the spirit of the Second Amendment, they are no different from people who  try to take Biblical quotes out of context to try to support their immoral decisions.

I have perhaps belabored this this point.  Can you tell that I feel strongly on the subject of constituational rights?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day 19, February 13

The Second Amendment has received a great deal of attention lately.  I thought it was worthwhile to look up the exact wording and examine why this amendment remains as vital to Americans today as it was over two hundred years ago.  "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

The words of some of our nation's first patriots stand as testimony to the Constitution and the Second Amendment:

"Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable . . . the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good." =-George Washington

"The Constitution shall never be construed….to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." -Samuel Adams

The Constitution of the United States of America is a divinely inspired document. If we alter it, if we deny it, we deny the will of the Lord, who inspired the Founding Fathers in writing it.  If we give up this freedom, what freedom will we be asked to relenquish next?    More, what freedom will be wrenched from our hands because we have given up our right to bear arms?  Make no mistake:  the right to bear arms is a right, not a privilege.

My husband and I don't have guns in our home, but we will always defend the rights of those who do.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Day 18, February 12

We are accustomed to seeing the huge battleships and carriers of today's Navy, equipped with the latest in computers, radar, and other high-tech equipment.  However, America's original Navy started out far more humbly.

The United States Navy recognizes 13 October 1775 as the date of its official establishment.   As America took her fight for independence to the seas, the Continental Congress passed a resolution creating the Continental Navy. American ships battled the British, who possessed a  far more experienced and larger Navy.  Soon after the end of the Revolutionry War,  the last ship was sold and the Continental Navy was disbanded.

Eleven years later, conflicts between American merchant shipping and the Barbary Pirates led to the Naval Act of 1794, which created the U.S. Navy. The original six frigates sent to deal with the pirates were authorized as part of the Act. Over the next years, the Navy fought the French Navy in the Quasi War, the Barbary States in the First and Second Barbary War, and the British in the War of 1812.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 17, February 11

During the Second Barbary Wars, the United States was also involved in fighting the British in the War of 1812.  Nearly thirty years after the American Revolution, Britain tried asserting its power over the fledgling nation.    Among other atrocities, the British believed they had the right to impress American sailors into their navy.  The British Navy was the greatest in the world, but America proved herself once again.

On September 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key penned a poem, "The Defence of Fort McHenry."   Key witnessed the Maryland fort being bombarded by British cannons  Inspired by the sight of a lone U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak, he wrote his iconic words.    Later set to music, the poem was renamed "The Stars Spangled Banner" and was declared the national anthem in 1831.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Day 16, February 10

Names of the six heroes, men cited by Congress for their gallantry, were carved upon the monument.  The monument is a tribute to the men who so bravely faced down the Islamists fundmanetalists.

A Tripolitan observer of the time was quoted as saying: “The English, French, and Spanish Consuls have told us that they [the Americans] were a young nation, and got their independence by means of France; that they had a small navy and their officers were inexperi­enced, and they were merely a nation of merchants, and that by taking their ships and men, we should get great ransoms. Instead of this, their Preble pays us a coin of shot, shells, and hard blows; and sent a Decatur, in a dark night with a band of Christian dogs fierce and cruel as the tiger, who killed our brothers and burnt our ships before our eyes.”

Many people, military and civilian, believe that the monument should be placed in front of Congress as a reminder of the true nature of the enemy America faces today.  This seems unlikely until we stop placing politics and polictical correctness above principles and freedom.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Day 15, February 9

Back to the Marines and the Navy.

Jefferson welcomed home Eaton and O'Bannon and all the men who had served in Tripoli as heroes.   A monument was sculpted in 1806 to commemorate these men and the courageous war they had staged against the Barbary Pirates.  Today, it resides at the United States Naval Academy. 

The Tripoli Monument is done in Italian Carrera marble, the same material used by Michelangelo.  Its central figure is a tall rostral column, identifical in every detail to the one used in Rome's Colosseum.  It is studded with the carved prows of enemy ships and capped with the American Eagle.  The turbaned heads of the Barbary pirates are depicted in the square pedestal upon which the columns rests.

A wingled angel representing Fame and a female scribe representing History recoring the deeds of the Marines flank the monument.  Commerce was also shown, symbolizing Ameria's right to trade unchallenged by the priates in the Mediterranean.  Finally, a maiden with two young children at her feet was included to represent America.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 14, February 8

Abrogation dictates that if two verses in the Koran conflict, the later verse takes precedence.  The most violent chapter in the Koran is the ninth.  It is the only sura that doesn't begin with the phrase known as the Basmala--"Allah the compassionate, the merciful."   It contains verses like "...slay the idolaters wherever you find them and those who refuse to fight for Alla will be afflicted with a painful death and will go to hell." 

Jefferson's reading convinced him that America could not negotiate with the terrorists.  He maintained his stance against paying tribute to the Islamists throughout his presidency and afteward.  However, after his term as president, Congress resumed its policy of paying tribute.

Jefferson foretold what would happen with the employment of such a policy.  Eventually the United States would have to fight the Islamists again.  And again.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Day 13, February 7

While in Algeirs, Cervantes suffered five years of horrific treament under his Islamist masters.  He tried to escape four times.  Prior to his ransom finally being paid, Cervantes was bound from head to foot in chains and left that way for five months.  He suffered terribly.  The experience provided much of what he used in writing "The Captive's Tale" in DON QUIXOTE  Prisoners like Cervantes, who worked in the homes and businessness of their masters, picked up interesting bits of information.

 Jefferson tasked himself to not only read but to understand the Koran and DON QUIXOTE.  He felt that understanding the Koran and Cervantes's work was key in defeating the Islamist threat.

Muslims believe that the Koran is complete and unchangeable. To suggest otherwise is consdiered blasphemy and an attack on Islam. However, nearly a fifth of the Koran is filled with contradictions and passages that don't make sense. Part of the confusion arises from the fact that the Koran isn't organized chronologically. It is organized from the longest chapters, or suras, to the shortest. The peaceful verses from the beginning of Islam can be found throughout the book. However, the violent verses take precedence due to abrogation.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 12, February 6

What two books did Jefferson encode on his cypher?  The Koran and DON QUIXOTE.

To understand this, we need to understand something of the history of DON QUIXOTE and its author.  Meguel de Cervantes was a Spanish soldier who had fought in numerous battles against the Muslims, including the Battle of Lepanto.  This battle proved a decisive victory for European Christians against invading Muslim forces.  Though he was weak with fever, Cervantes refused to stay belowdecks and kept fighting, earning him two gunshot wounds to the chest.  One wound rendered his left hand and part of his left arm useless for the rest of his life.

Following six months of recuperation, Cervantes rejoined his unit in Naples and remained with them until 1575, when he set sail for Spain.  His ship was attaced by the Islamist pirates who murdered the captain and most of the crew.  Cervantes and a handful of passengers were taken to Algiers as slaves.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Day 11, February 5

I had known that Thomas Jefferson was a well-read and well-traveled man.  However, I had not known that he was a gifted inventor and scientist as well.

Before he was elected President, Jerfferson maintained homes on the Champs-Elysees in Paris and a small suite of private rooms at the Carthusian monastery in the Jardin Du Luxembourg where he could work and think in peace.  Because his home on the Champs Elysees had been broken into three times in 1789, he did much of his work at the monastery.

Jefferson had an obsession with codes.  One code was created using an ingenious machine he invented called the wheel cipher.    The cipher had twenty-six wooden discs, like donuts or circular coasters with a hole drilled through the center of each.  Each disc was a quarter of an inch thick and four inches in diameter.  The letters of the alphabet were printed in random order around the edge.  The donuts slid into a metal axle.  From there the discs could be rotated to spell out the decoded message.

For the message to be decoded, the recipient had to have his own wheel cipher and also needed to know the order in which to place the wooden wheels along the code.  Without that, any encoded message was worthless.

Jefferson felt two books were important enough to be encrypted on his wheel cipher.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Day 10, February 4

Jefferson continued to maintain that paying "tribute," which he called nothing more than blackmail, to the Muslim states was not the way to deal with the pirates.  He told others, including John Adams, that only through "the medium of war" would America be free of the piracy that plagued her ships.

Jefferson drew heavy criticism when the pirates captured the USS Philadelphia in 1803 and its 300 man crew. In his diary, he related how in 1805 he sent Army officer William Eaton  along with a unit of Marines under Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon to attack Tripoli.  This was America's first battle to take place on foreign soil. 

Eaton joined forces with the pasha's brother, Hamet, the rightful heir to the Tripolitanian throne, who was currently in exile in Egypt.  Their target was the highly fortified port of Derna.  Under the leadership of Captain Isaac Hull, Hamet led soldiers to cut off the road to Tripoli while the Marines and the rest of the hired mercenaries attacked the harbor.

The Marines fought hand-to-hand all the way to the governonor's palace.  An hour and fifteen minutes after their ground assault, Lieutenant O'Bannon raised the American flag over Derna.  Eaton and O'Bannon wanted to press farther into Tripoli, but Jefferson refused to give the order.  He believed securing the release of all Americans being held in Tripoli, including the crew from the USS Philadelphia, to be more important.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day 9, February 3

Declaring that America would spend "millions for defense but not one cent for tribute," Jefferson pressed the issue of piracy on American ships by deploying the Marines as well as six frigates to fight the Barbary Pirates.

In 1805, American Marines marched across the desert from Egypt into Tripolitania, forcing the surrender of Tripoli and the freeing of all American slaves.

Jefferson determined that no nation or religion would blackmail the United States.  His stand against extortion was not a popular one, earning him censor from Congress, the people, and European countries.  However, he did not back off and he did not back down.  (Go, Jefferson!)

Under his administration, the Muslim Barbary States crumbled as a result of intense American naval strikes and shore raids by Marines.  The Barbary States finally officially agreed to abandon slavery and piracy.

Jefferson's victory over the Muslims lives on today in the Marine Hymn, with the line, "From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, We fight our country's battles in the air, on land and sea."

Can you tell that I am a fan of the Marines?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Day 8, February 2

Thomas Jefferson was a true visionary when it came to foreseeing future events as America faced Islamist threats.  He knew that, if left unchecked, extremists would subject their world view on everyone.  His concern was not only for the loss of revenue if American trade were hindered/ he was also deeply concerned with human rights.

Muslim terror was not confined to the high seas.  It extended to the land as well.  The taking of slaves in pre-dawn raids on unsuspecting coastal villages had a high casualty rate. It was typical of Muslim raiders to kill off as many of the "non-Muslim" older men and women as possible so the preferred "booty" of only young women and children could be collected.

(Note:  the following is not for the squeamish.  Feel free to skip it.) 

Young non-Muslim women were targeted because of their value as concubines in Islamic markets. Islamic law provides for the sexual interests of Muslim men by allowing them to take as many as four wives at one time and to have as many concubines as their fortunes allow.

Boys, as young as nine or ten years old, were often mutilated to create eunuchs who would bring higher prices in the slave markets of the Middle East. Muslim slave traders created "eunuch stations" along major African slave routes so the necessary surgery could be performed. It was estimated that only a small number of the boys subjected to the mutilation survived after the surgery

Such practices were abhorrent to Jefferson..

Friday, February 1, 2013

Day 7, February 1

Can you guess what the pasha  did upon receiving Jefferson's refusal?  He chopped down the flagpole in front of the United States Consulate in Tripoli and declared war on America.  Like dominoes, Algiers, Morocco, and Tunis fell in line.

Jefferson decided to meet force with force.  Immediately, he dispatched a squadron of frigates to the Mediterranean Sea to teach the Barbary Coast states a lesson.  With Congress's authorization, Jefferosn empowered American ships to seize all vessels and goods of the pasha of Tripol and also to "cause to be done all other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war would dictate."

Accustomed to American acquiesance to the outrageous demands, Algiers and Tunis were taken aback that the United States had both the will and the means to fight.  They quickly abandoned their allegiance to Tripoli.

Under Jefferson's leadership, American proved herself.  His refusal to be cowed by the Muslim pirates earned respect among both the nations of the Barbary Coast and others.