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.