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Voting Wisdom

WISDOM FROM SCRIPTURE

“Listen now to [me]; I will counsel you, and God will be with you… choose able men from all the people–God-fearing men of truth who hate unjust gain–and place them… to be their rulers… If you will do this, and God so commands you, you will be able to endure. and all these people also will go to their [tents] in peace.” Ex. 18:19-23 AMP

VoteButton“Choose wise, understanding, experienced, and respected men… and I will make them heads over you.” Deut. 1:13 AMP

“Uprightness and right standing with God (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) elevate a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Prov. 14:34 Amp

“When the [uncompromisingly] righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.” Prov. 29:2 AMP

“They set up kings, but not from Me [therefore without My blessing]…” Hos. 8:4 AMP

“That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared.” Job 34:30

WISDOM FROM THE FOUNDERS

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” — John Quincy Adams

“When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, ‘just men who will rule in the fear of God.’ [Exodus 18:21] The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.” — Noah Webster, History of the United States (New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), pp. 336-337, 49.

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” — John Jay (1745-1829), Original Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, President of the American Bible Society

“But neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man.” — Samuel Adams

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” — Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. IV, p. 256, in the Boston Gazette on April 16, 1781.

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.” — Samuel Adams, The Writings of Samuel Adams, Harry Alonzo Cushing, editor (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1907), Vol. III, p. 236-237, to James Warren on November 4, 1775.

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate – look to his character… When a citizen gives his suffrage [vote] to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor, he betrays the interest of his country.” — Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education to which is subjoined a Brief History of the United States (New Haven: S. Converse, 1823), pp. 18, 19.

“Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation… [And t]he people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches.” — John Witherspoon, The Works of John Witherspoon Edinburgh: J. Ogle, 1815), Vol. IV, pp. 266, 277.

ballot box“Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.” — Daniel Webster, The Works of Daniel Webster (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1853), Vol. II, p. 108, from remarks made at a public reception by the ladies of Richmond, Virginia, on October 5, 1840.

“Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them; and as governments are made and moved by men, so by them they are ruined too. Wherefore governments rather depend upon men than men upon governments. Let men be good and the government cannot be bad… But if men be bad, let the government be never so good, they will endeavor to warp and spoil it to their turn… [T]hough good laws do well, good men do better; for good laws may want [lack] good men and be abolished or invaded by ill men; but good men will never want good laws nor suffer [allow] ill ones.” — William Penn quoted from: Thomas Clarkson, Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William Penn (London: Richard Taylor and Co., 1813) Vol. I, p.303.

“Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature… [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation… it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.” — James A. Garfield, The Works of James Abram Garfield, Burke Hinsdale, editor (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1883), Vol. II, pp. 486, 489, “A Century of Congress,” July, 1877.

WISDOM FROM FOUNDING ERA CLERGY

“Consider well the important trust… which God… [has] put into your hands… To God and posterity you are accountable for [your rights and your rulers]… Let not your children have reason to curse you for giving up those rights and prostrating those institutions which your fathers delivered to you… [L]ook well to the characters and qualifications of those you elect and raise to office and places of trust… Think not that your interests will be safe in the hands of the weak and ignorant; or faithfully managed by the impious, the dissolute and the immoral. Think not that men who acknowledge not the providence of God nor regard His laws will be uncorrupt in office, firm in defense of the righteous cause against the oppressor, or resolutely oppose the torrent of iniquity… Watch over your liberties and privileges – civil and religious – with a careful eye.” — Matthias Burnett, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Norwalk, An Election Sermon, Preached at Hartford, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 12, 1803 (Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1803), pp. 27-28.

YourVoiceYourVote“…From year to year be careful in the choice of your representatives and the higher powers [offices] of government. Fix your eyes upon men of good understanding and known honesty; men of knowledge, improved by experience; men who fear God and hate covetousness; who love truth and righteousness, and sincerely wish for the public welfare… Let not men openly irreligious and immoral become your legislators… If the legislative body are corrupt, you will soon have bad men for counselors, corrupt judges, unqualified justices, and officers in every department who will dishonor their stations… Never give countenance to turbulent men, who wish to distinguish themselves and rise to power by forming combinations and exciting insurrections against government…” — “The Republic of the Israelites, an Example to the American States,” by Samuel Langdon, Concord, New Hampshire, 1788)

“Those who rule over others must be just, ruling in the fear of God. They ought to be so in their private capacity; maintaining a care to exhibit in their conduct towards all they are concerned with, a fair transcript of that fundamental law of the religion of Jesus, as well as eternal rule of natural justice. They must be just in their use of power; confining it within the limits prescribed in the constitution they are under. Whatever power they are vested with ’tis delegated to them according to some civil constitution. And this, so long as it remains the constitution, they are bound in justice to conform themselves to: To be sure, they ought not to act in violation of any of its main and essential rights…” — Rev. Charles Chauncy, May 27, 1747, Boston

“The Church must take right ground in regard to politics… The time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them. They must be honest men themselves, and instead of voting for a man because he belongs to their party, Bank or Anti-Bank, Jackson or Anti-Jackson, they must find out whether he is honest and upright, and fit to be trusted. They must let the world see that the church will uphold no man in office, who is known to be a knave [a base, unscrupulous swindler], or an adulterer, or a Sabbath-breaker, or a gambler. Such is the spread of intelligence and the facility of communication in our country, that every man can know for whom he gives his vote. And if he will give his vote only for honest man, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers. All parties will be compelled to put up honest man as candidates. Christians have been exceedingly guilty in this matter but the time has come when they must act differently, or God will curse the nation, and withdraw his Spirit. As on the subject of slavery and temperance, so on this subject, the church must act right or the country will be ruined. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country which we love and pray for unless the Church will take right ground. Politics are a part of a religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation are becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they think God does not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation according to the course they take.”  — From “Lectures on Revival of Religion” by Rev. Charles Grandison Finney, 1835

WISDOM FROM OTHER SOURCES

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(Click on image to enlarge)

“The qualifications of a candidate should not be issue-oriented as much as character-oriented. They should be ‘able’ and ‘experienced’ men of course for the position which they seek. Beyond that, Scripture says they should be men who ‘fear God,’ that is, they should be Christians, as affirmed by John Jay. They should also be ‘men of truth’ and ‘wise and discerning’ men. This means that they should be Christians with the Biblical worldview — men who reason from absolute truth, not human wisdom. Many candidates may claim to be Christians but do not hold to a Biblical worldview. Former President Jimmy Carter was example of a Christian whose mind was unrenewed by Scripture and thus reasoned and governed from a ‘humanistic’ worldview. Finally, Scripture says that our representatives must ‘hate dishonest gain.’ This means that beyond a correct worldview, they must have Christian character, a godly home life, and pure motives.” — From page 265 of “America’s Providential History” by Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell of Providence Foundation

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Know any other maxims from Scripture or history on this topic? Feel free to share them in the comments section below. We’d love to see them!

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The Founders on Political Parties

Have you ever considered the current state of our political party system? Have you ever wondered what our Founding Fathers would say if they saw what the parties have done to our nation?

George Washington, in his farewell address, warned us of the many dangers of political parties (Taken from Source)…

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President George Washington (Click on image to enlarge)

[Political parties] serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests. However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion… the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it…

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

President Thomas Jefferson  (Click on image to enlarge)

President Thomas Jefferson (Click on image to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Francis Hopkinson Paris (Dated March 13, 1789), wrote (Source)…

I am not a Federalist, because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all. Therefore I protest to you I am not of the party of federalists. But I am much farther from that of the Antifederalists.

President John Adams (Click on image to enlarge)

President John Adams (Click on image to enlarge)

John Adams, in a letter to Jonathan Jackson in October 1780, wrote (Source)…

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

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Know any other maxims from the Framers on this topic? Feel free to share them in the comments section below. We would love to see them!

The Tea Party, Then and Now

After enduring the Navigation Acts, the Molasses Act of 1733, the Currency Act of 1764, the Stamp Act of 1765, the Quartering Act of 1765, the Declaratory Act of 1766, the Revenue Act of 1767, the Townsend Acts, and many other cruel and oppressive actions by King George, which ravaged individual liberty and “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” the Colonists’ desire for freedom ignited into a blazing revolution. Of course, as John Adams said, “The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.”

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Boston Tea Party (Dec. 16, 1773)

Nevertheless, the Crown trampled the people who became increasingly intolerant of England’s whip. So, when the Tea Act of 1773 was ratified, the people had had enough. So, on December 16, 1773, seven thousand Sons of Liberty, led by Samuel Adams, converged on Boston Harbor and dumped 342 chests of tea overboard in civil protest of big government, overregulation, and taxation without representation. Then, nine days later, in Delaware, another hundred chests of tea were thrown overboard for the same cause.

These two events – the Boston Tea Party and the Delaware Tea Party – riled the Crown. Yet, “We the People” kept fighting (even having a Tea Party in Edenton, NC in 1774) and eventually became free, but at a great cost. As John Adams once wroteOh, Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

Friends, in many ways, we have not made a good use of our freedom. Our lack of eternal vigilance over the last one hundred years has left us with a Country that is headed for a cliff. Today, the Tea Party movement is setting “brushfires of freedom in the minds of men” (Samuel Adams), educating our neighbors, friends, and family in the ideals of our founding documents, and preserving our freedoms and our “certain unalienable,” God-given rights. As a movement comprised of principled people from every political party, every race, every age, every educational background, every employment status, etc., we stand for constitutionally limited government.

audit-the-irs-rally-2-june-19-2013America is being fundamentally transformed, and we all must work together to be informed and active in halting and reversing the decline of our Land of Liberty. Otherwise, we will wake up, someday soon, to find our Republic dead and buried. We can no longer ride the fence. The day of reckoning is upon us.

Want to get involved? Come to our next event.

Our Ageless Constitution

“The structure has been erected by architects of consummate skill and fidelity; its foundations are solid; its components are beautiful, as well as useful; its arrangements are full of wisdom and order…” Justice Joseph Story

The United States Constitution

The United States Constitution

Justice Story’s words pay tribute to the United States Constitution and its Framers. Shortly before the 100th year of the Constitution, in his History of the United States of America, written in 1886 historian George Bancroft said:

“The Constitution is to the American people a possession for the ages.”

He went on to say:

“In America, a new people had risen up without king, or princes, or nobles….By calm meditation and friendly councils they had prepared a constitution which, in the union of freedom with strength and order, excelled every one known before; and which secured itself against violence and revolution by providing a peaceful method for every needed reform. In the happy morning of their existence as one of the powers of the world, they had chosen Justice as their guide.”

And two hundred years after the adoption of this singularly-important document, praised by justice Story in one century and Historian Bancroft in the next and said by Sir William Gladstone to be “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given moment by the brain and purpose of man,” the Constitution of 1787 – with its Bill of Rights – ­remains, yet another century later, a bulwark for liberty, an ageless formula for the government of a free people.

In what sense can any document prepared by human hands be said to be ageless? What are the qualities or attributes which give it permanence?

The Qualities of Agelessness

America’s Constitution had its roots in the nature, experience, and habits of humankind, in the experience of the American people themselves – their beliefs, customs, and traditions, and in the practical aspects of politics and government. It was based on the experience of the ages. Its provisions were designed in recognition of principles which do not change with time and circumstance, because they are inherent in human nature.

“The foundation of every government,” said John Adams, “is some principle or passion in the minds of the people.” The founding generation, aware of its unique place in the ongoing human struggle for liberty, were willing to risk everything for its attainment. Roger Sherman stated that as government is “instituted for those who live under it … it ought, therefore, to be so constituted as not to be dangerous to liberty.” And the American government was structured with that primary purpose in mind – the protection of the peoples liberty.

Of their historic role, in framing a government to secure liberty, the Framers believed that the degree of wisdom and foresight brought to the task at hand might well determine whether future generations would live in liberty or tyranny. As President Washington so aptly put it, “the sacred fire of liberty” might depend “on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people” That experiment, they hoped, would serve as a beacon of liberty throughout the world.

The Framers of America’s Constitution were guided by the wisdom of previous generations and the lessons of history for guidance in structuring a government to secure for untold millions in the future the unalienable rights of individuals. As Jefferson wisely observed:

“History, by apprising the people of the past, will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.”

The Constitution, it has been said, was “not formed upon abstraction,” but upon practicality. Its philosophy and principles, among others, incorporated these practical aspects:

  • Recognition that love of liberty is inherent in the human spirit.
  • Recognition of Creator-endowed, unalienable, individual rights.
  • Recognition that meaningful liberty is possible only in the company of order and justice. In the words of Burke: “Liberty must be limited to be possessed.”
  • Recognition that in order for a people to be free, they must be governed by fixed laws that apply alike to the governed and the government.
  • Recognition that the Creator has not preferred one person or group of persons as rulers over the others and that any government, in order to be just, must be from among the great body of the people and by their consent – that the people have a right to self-government.
  • Recognition of human weakness and the human tendency to abuse power; therefore, of the need to divide and to separate the power granted to government; to provide a system of checks and balances; and to make government accountable to people at frequent intervals.
  • Recognition that laws, to be valid, must have their basis and limit in natural law – that law which, as Cicero wrote, “is the highest reason, implanted in Nature, which commands what ought to be done and forbids the opposite.”
  • Recognition of the need for structuring a government of laws, not of men, based on enduring principles and suitable not only to the age in which it is formed, but amendable to different circumstances and times, without sacrificing any of the three great concepts of Order, justice, or Liberty.
  • Recognition that the right to ownership of property is a right so compelling as to provide a primary reason for individuals to form a government for securing that right.
  • Recognition of the need for protecting the individual rights of each citizen, rich or poor, majority or minority, and of not allowing the coercive power of government to be used to do collectively that which the individual could not do without committing a crime.
  • Recognition of necessity for incentive and reward as impetus for achievement and growth.
  • Recognition of the need for a “Supreme Law of the land” a written constitutionwhich, consistent with its idea of the sovereignty of the people, would provide its own prescribed amendment process, thereby circumventing any potential unconstitutional changes by any of the branches of government without the people’s consent.

The Constitution of the United States of America structured a government for what the Founders called a “virtuous people – that is, a people who would be able, as Burke put it, to “put chains on their own appetites” and, without the coercive hand of government, to live peaceably without violating the rights of others. Such a society would need no standing armies to insure internal order, for the moral beliefs, customs, and love for liberty motivating the actions of the people and their representatives in government – the “unwritten” constitution – would be in keeping with their written constitution.

George Washington, in a speech to the State Governors, shared his own sense of the deep roots and foundations of the new nation:

“The foundation of our empire was not laid in the gloomy age of ignorance and superstition; but at an epoch when the rights of mankind were better understood and more clear­ly defined, than at any former period…. the treasures of knowledge, acquired by the labors of philosophers, sages, and legislators, through a long succession of years, are laid open for our use, and their collective wisdom may be happily applied in the establishment of our forms of government.”

And Abraham Lincoln, in the mid-1800’s, in celebrating the blessings of liberty, challenged Americans to transmit the “political edifice of liberty and equal rights” of their constitutional government to future generations:

“In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running … We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth….We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them – They are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic…race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights, ’tis ours only, to transmit these…to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know….”

Because it rests on sound philosophical foundations and is rooted in enduring principles, the United States Constitution can, indeed, properly be described as “ageless,” for it provides the formula for securing the blessings of liberty, establishing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, promoting the general welfare, and providing for the common defense of a free people who understand its philosophy and principles and who will, with dedication, see that its integrity and vigor are preserved.

Justice Joseph Story was quoted in the caption of this essay as attesting to the skill and fidelity of the architects of the Constitution, its solid foundations, the practical aspects of its features, and its wisdom and order. The closing words of his statement, however, were reserved for use here; for in his 1789 remarks, he recognized the “ageless” quality of the magnificent document, and at the same time, issued a grave warning for Americans of all centuries. He concluded his statement with these words:

“…And its defenses are impregnable from without. It has been reared for immortality, if the work of man may justly aspire to such a title. It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, THE PEOPLE. Republics are created by virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens.”

Our ageless constitution can be shared with the world and passed on to generations far distant if its formula is not altered in violation of principle through the neglect of its keepers – WE, THE PEOPLE.

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Our Ageless Constitution, W. David Stedman & La Vaughn G. Lewis, Editors (Asheboro, NC, W. David Stedman Associates, 1987) Part VII:  ISBN 0-937047-01-5

This article was taken from www.nccs.net/our-ageless-constitution.php.

Davy Crockett & the “General Welfare”

Davy Crockett fighting at the Alamo in 1836. (Click on picture to enlarge)

Davy Crockett fighting at the Alamo in 1836. (Click on picture to enlarge)

“Davy Crockett was killed at the Alamo in 1836 fighting for the independence of Texas. Earlier, however, he had served nine years in Congress. During one of these years a fire broke out in Georgetown, a suburb of Washington, and many of the Congressman, including Crockett, helped fight the blaze. The next morning the Congress voted $20,000 to assist those whose homes were destroyed. Crockett voted for it. However, when he went home he found himself in deep trouble with one of his constituents named Horatio Bunce. Bunce commended him for the anxiety to help the victims of the fire but scolded him for using other people’s money as ‘charity.’ He challenged Crockett to find where the Constitution allowed Congress to spend one penny of other people’s money for charity. Crockett couldn’t think of any such provision. Bunce told him he had a right to help with his own money, but not other people’s money.

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Congressman David “Davy” Crockett served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1826 to 1828 (21st Congress), from 1829 to 1831 (21st Congress, and from 1833 to 1835 (23rd Congress). (Click on picture to enlarge

“Crockett returned to Congress and ran into a similar situation. Congress wanted to give a substantial sum to the widow of a distinguished naval officer who had just died. Crockett took the floor and said:

“‘Mr. Speaker, I have as much . . . sympathy as . . . any man in the House, but . . . Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money . . . Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will among to more than the bill asks.’

“Crockett took his seat. This bill was defeated, but even though some of the congressmen were very wealthy, not one of them came forward to take up Crockett’s offer to donate a week’s salary to the widow as a gesture of private charity.”

Taken from pages 391-392 of “The Making of America” by W. Cleon Skousen (of The National Center for Constitutional Studies), who retrieved this story from pages 138-139 of “The Life of Colonel David Crockett”, published in 1884, by Edward S. Ellis. To read Crockett’s full speech, CLICK HERE.

Christmas with the Presidents

The White House observance of Christmas before the twentieth century was not an official event. First families decorated the house modestly with greens and privately celebrated the Yuletide with family and friends.

Early American Christmas TreeChristmas in Early America: the Pilgrims and Puritans of New England found no Biblical precedent for a public celebration of Christmas (recall that the goal of these groups was to simplify religious worship and to cut away all religious rituals and celebrations not specifically cited in the Bible); nothing in the Bible established any date for the birth of Christ; the holiday was instead established by Roman tradition, thus making it – in their view – one of the many “pagan” holidays that had been inculcated into the corrupt church that had persecuted them, and which they and other religious leaders wished to reform. Consequently, Christmas in New England remained a regular working day. In fact, Massachusetts passed an anti-Christmas law in 1659 declaring: “Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas . . . shall pay for each offense five shillings as a fine to the country.” 1836-print-of-american-christmas-treeThe law was repealed in 1681, but the holiday still was not celebrated by religious non-conformists or dissenters (i.e., the Puritans and Pilgrims); it usually was celebrated only by a few Anglicans (later Episcopalians), Catholics, and other more formal or high-church-tradition New England families. It was not until the 1830s and 1840s that Christmas celebrations were just beginning to be accepted in New England (primarily due to the influence of large-scale Christmas celebrations in cities such as New York) – although as late as 1870 in Boston public schools, a student missing school on Christmas Day could be punished or expelled. By the 1880s, however, Christmas celebrations had finally become as accepted in New England as they were in other parts of the country.

White House Tree History Christmas Tree Trivia:

  • In 1889, the tradition of a placing an indoor decorated tree in the White House began on Christmas morning during the Presidency of Benjamin Harrison.
  • In 1895, First Lady Frances Cleveland created a “technology savvy” tree when she hung electric lights on the White House tree (electricity was introduced into the White House in 1891).
  • 1901-1909, Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.
  • In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.
  • In 1929, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover established the custom of decorating an official (and not just a personal) tree in the White House – a tradition that has remained with the First Ladies.
  • In 1953, the Eisenhowers sought out Hallmark Cards to assist them in creating a presidential Christmas card – the beginning of the official White House Christmas card.
  • In 1954, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony is named the Pageant of Peace. It is held each year in early December to light the National Christmas Tree and includes performances by popular entertainers before the lighting of the National Christmas Tree by the President. The National Christmas Tree remains lit through January 1.
  • In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy began the tradition of Christmas Tree themes when she decorated the Christmas tree in toy trimmings from the Nutcracker Suite ballet by Tchaikovsky.
  • In 1963, the first Christmas card to include an explicitly religious element was the Kennedy card featuring a photo of a Nativity Scene set up in the East Room of the White House. Jack and Jacqueline had signed 30 cards before their final trip to Dallas. None was ever mailed. The National Christmas Tree that year was not lit until December 22nd because of a national 30-day period of mourning following President Kennedy’s assassination.
  • In 1969, the Pageant of Peace was embroiled in legal controversy over the use of religious symbols, and in 1973, the nativity scene that had always been part of the pageant was no longer allowed.
  • In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran….
  • In 1981, President Ronald Reagan authorized the first official White House ornament, copies of which were made available for purchase.
  • In 1981, Barbara Bush took the first of twelve rides in a cherry-picker to hang the star at the top of the National Christmas Tree.
  • In 1984, the Nativity Scene was allowed to return to the Pageant of Peace, and when the National Christmas Tree was lit on December 13th, temperatures were in the 70s, making it one of the warmest tree lightings in history.
  • In 2001, the first White House Christmas card to contain a Scripture was chosen by Laura Bush. Quoting from Psalm 27, it said “Thy face, Lord, do I seek. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living,” which is what Laura Bush believed would happen after the tragedy of September 11. She chose that Scripture on September 16 (only 5 days after 9/11) based on a sermon the chaplain had preached at Camp David. The Bushes regularly used Scriptures on their Christmas cards.

To continue reading this article from David Barton (WallBuilders.com), CLICK HERE.

Christmas, as Celebrated by the Presidents

Even though Christmas did not become a national holiday until 1870, it has a centuries old history in America. Interestingly, in colonial America, the southern regions that were more directly linked to High-Church traditions (e.g., Anglicans, Catholics, Episcopalians) celebrated Christmas; but the northern regions especially linked to Low-Church traditions (e.g., Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers) did not. Those Low-Church colonists associated the pomp and grandeur of Christmas celebrations directly with the autocratic leaders and monarchs in Europe that they so opposed.

Christmas in the 1800s (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Christmas in the 1800s (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Massachusetts therefore passed an anti-Christmas law in 1659, and it was not until the 1830s and 1840s that Christmas celebrations became accepted in New England (although as late as 1870, a student missing school on Christmas Day in Boston public schools could be punished or expelled). But by the 1880s, Christmas celebrations were finally accepted across the country and began to appear at the White House. For example:

  • In 1889, the first indoor decorated tree was placed in the White House, and in 1895, electric lights were added.
  • In 1923, the first National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was held. In 1954 it was named the Pageant of Peace but in 1969 it became embroiled in a legal controversy over the use of religious symbols. In 1973, the nativity scene that had always been part of the Pageant was no longer allowed, but in 1984, it returned.
  • In 1953, the first White House Christmas card was created by President Dwight Eisenhower. (Ike was an artist in his own right and allowed six of his own paintings to be used as Christmas gifts and cards.) President Kennedy’s 1963 Christmas card was the first to include an explicitly religious element, featuring a photo of a nativity scene. And in 2001, the first White House Christmas card to contain a Scripture was chosen by Laura Bush. It quoted Psalm 27: “Thy face, Lord, do I seek. I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living” – a Scripture she had chosen on September 16 (only 5 days after 9/11), based on a special sermon preached at Camp David.

    President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy stand next to Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House, December 13, 1961. (Click on picture to enlarge)

    President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy stand next to Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House, December 13, 1961. (Click on picture to enlarge)(Photo: National Archives)

Christmas was celebrated by our national leaders as a religious holiday, not the secular holiday it has become.

For example, every Christmas Eve, President Teddy Roosevelt and his family would pile into the family sleigh (later the motor car) and travel to a Christmas service at Christ Church in Oyster Bay, New York. Following the pastor’s sermon, Teddy would deliver one of his famous “sermonettes” on the true meaning of Christmas and then close the service with one of his favorite hymns, “Christmas By the Sea.”

The Roosevelt Family in the East Room of the White House, Christmas Day, 1941

The Roosevelt Family in the East Room of the White House, Christmas Day, 1941 (Click picture to enlarge)(Photo: National Archives)

President Franklin Roosevelt would set up and decorate a tree on Christmas Eve, gather the family round him, and either read Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” or recite it from memory. (The original story is quite different from the modern movies by that name and is well worth the read.) He would also deliver explicitly religious Christmas Eve messages to the nation. For example, in 1944 following D-Day, he said:

Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way – because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and good will. . . . [FDR then prayed a prayer for the troops, and closed with:] We pray that with victory will come a new day of peace onearth in which all the Nations of the earth will join together for all time. That is the spirit of Christmas, the holy day. May that spirit live and grow throughout the world in all the years to come.

President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, decorating their Christmas tree (Click picture to enlarge)

President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, decorating their Christmas tree (Click picture to enlarge)(Photo: National Archives)

(I recommend you go online to the American Presidency Project and look up and especially read some Christ-centered Christmas messages from Presidents, such as that of Franklin Roosevelt in 1935, Harry Truman in 1949 or 1952, Ronald Reagan in 1982 or 1985, George W. Bush in 2003, and there are many additional examples. You should also watch President Reagan deliver one of his Christmas addresses.)

In recent years, there has been a relentless push from secularists and progressives to transform Christmas. Schools, government offices, and many commercial stores have replaced Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays to appease critics, not realizing that 93% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and 97% are not bothered by the use of the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Yet far too often, the 3% seems to drive public policy; Americans need to push back.

Gratefully, religious Jews have been some of the strongest advocates for keeping Christmas a religious celebration. For example, Burt Prelutsky, a Jewish columnist for a number of national publications, declares:

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Christmas would become a dirty word. . . . How is it, one well might ask, that in a Christian nation this is happening? . . . Speaking as a member of a minority group – and one of the smaller ones at that – I say it behooves those of us who don’t accept Jesus Christ as our savior to show some gratitude to those who do, and to start respecting the values and traditions of the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens, just as we keep insisting that they respect ours. Merry Christmas, my friends!

Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Daniel Lapin agrees:

Secular fundamentalism has successfully injected into American culture the notion that the word “Christmas” is deeply offensive. . . . Anti-Christianism is unhealthy for all Americans; but I warn my brethren that it will prove particularly destructive for Jews. . . . Let us all go out of our way to wish our many wonderful Christian friends – a very merry Christmas. Just remember, America’s Bible belt is our safety belt.

So . . . Merry Christmas!!!

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Written by David Barton at WallBuilders.com.

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Thanksgiving Day Proclamation – The Continental Congress, 1777

This is the text of the Continental Congress November 1, 1777 national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation; as printed in the Journals of Congress.

Saturday, November 1, 1777

Congress1The committee appointed to prepare a recommendation to the several states, to set apart a day of public thanksgiving, brought in a report; which was taken into consideration, and agreed to as follows:

Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defense and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessings on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

And it is further recommended, that servile labor, and such recreation as, though at other times innocent, may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment, be omitted on so solemn an occasion.

Take from WallBuilder.com.

President George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

This is the text of George Washington’s Oct 3, 1789 national Thanksgiving Proclamation; as printed in The Providence Gazette & Country Journal, on Oct 17, 1789.

ProvidenceGazette1789By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Washington1789ProcWhereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

G. Washington.

george_washington_1307582258

President George Washington

Taken from WallBuilders.com

Rome & America

“Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.”

George Santayana

America is repeating history and this is especially true in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

tattered-American-flagHere are some of the key reasons why Rome fell – See if these don’t parallel, in many ways, what America has been experiencing for the last many, many years:

  1. The rudimentary principles, standards, and judgments about what was meaningful or important to life declined. Human life became cheap. Materialism and decadence became an obsession. Matters of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error became skewed. The acceptable rules or standards of human behavior were lost. Adultery, sexual promiscuity, incest, sodomy, prostitution, orgies, bestiality, sadism, massive consumption of alcohol, etc. became rampant.
  2. Political corruption, greed, and incompetence in the leadership led to instability. The Senate and the Emperors, along with various Consuls and government officials, were sullied by their power, leading many of the emperors to increasingly equate themselves with the gods.
  3. Economic decline weakened and eventually bankrupted Rome through irresponsible spending, skyrocketing debt, oppressive taxation, inflation, the devaluation of currency, class warfare, and constant military engagement.
  4. Increased public need produced increased dependence on government hand-outs, which caused many to shirk their personal responsibilities and continue the negative cycle of dependence on the State. As Edward Gibbons once wrote, “The push for intellectual mediocrity further hastened Rome’s collapse. ‘The minds of men were gradually reduced to the same level, the fire of genius was extinguished.’” In 2012, Justice David Souter alluded to the “pervasive civic ignorance” of the people of Rome as a key weakness in it’s empire. Naturally, this widened the gap between the rich and the poor, and as the poor expected more and more from the government, they fell prey to greater and greater tyranny. Rome equalized incentives for work. Heavy taxes (paid in money, food, goods, or livestock) ate away at the incentive to work hard and the number of those receiving government welfare was so much larger than the number of those paying taxes. People were accustomed to sending huge chunks of their pay to the ever-growing government and seeing nothing in return. By the time Emperor Diocletian forced male children to adopt the profession of their father, all motivation, drive, and individual initiative had vanished; personal ambition withered and a ‘decline of civic vitality’ quickly ensued. This overabundance of ease led to boredom. Therefore, to amuse the “mob”, the emperors sponsored gladiatorial games to buy the favor and support of the “mob.” Yet, in time, one-third of the Empire’s total income was consumed by the cost of the games. According to Gibbon, it was artfully contrived by Augustus that, in the enjoyment of plenty, the Romans should lose the memory of freedom.

3059804_370In 2005, during an appearance at the National Press Club, former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker explained that “the United States can be likened to Rome before the fall of the empire. Its financial condition is ‘worse than advertised’…It has a ‘broken business model.’ It faces deficits in its budget, its balance of payments, its savings — and its leadership.” As David Walker has also said, “There are striking similarities between America’s current situation and that of another great power from the past: Rome… The Roman republic fell for many reasons, but three reasons are worth remembering: declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government.”

Consider these two other insights…

“Rome did not fall because of external forces such as invasion by the barbarians. Rome had no sufficient inward base; the barbarians only completed the breakdown – and Rome gradually became a ruin” (How Should We Then Live! by Francis Schaeffer).

9780300137194“Perhaps we should imagine the Late Roman Empire as a retired athlete whose body has declined from neglect and an unhealthy lifestyle. At times the muscles will still function well and with the memory of former skill and training. Yet, as the neglect continues, the body becomes less and less capable of resisting disease or recovering from injury. Over the years the person would grow weaker and weaker, and in the end could easily succumb to disease. Long decline was the fate of the Roman Empire. In the end, it may well have been ‘murdered’ by barbarian invaders, but these struck at a body made vulnerable by prolonged decay.” (How Rome Fell by Adrian Goldsworthy)

Regarding the collapses of the world’s major empires, British scholar C. E. M. Joad said that the declines all had several things in common: decadence, weariness, and irresponsibility. To that, British historian C. Northcote Parkinson added that collapses are usually marked by an overcentralized government, heavy taxes, and bureaucracy.

Selah (pause and think about it).

Written by Joel M. Killion

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