Thursday, June 30, 2005

James Madison (1999)

James Madison (1999). Article by John Patrick Michael Murphy which looks to illustrate President Madison's thoughts and conflicts in building and maintaining a separation of church and state.

From the site:

James Madison (1751-1836), the Father of our Constitution and our fourth president went to Princeton at 18 with the idea of becoming an Anglican minister, and came back to Virginia a freethinker. At age 22, he wrote, "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded project." He then fought for religious liberty for all, believer and disbeliever, which was no easy task-then or now.

In his day, the notorious "Dade Code" was a part of the Virginia statutes, and he could have been executed for his efforts. The code was written in London by Anglican bishops who laid out a tidy list of prohibitions and punishments which were meant to keep people from thinking and speaking their honest thoughts. It meant to mold the citizens into conformity and piety. The code provided the death penalty for anyone who "spoke impiously of the Trinity or one of the divine persons, or against the known articles of Christian faith." The same went for "blaspheming God's holy name." If you were new in town you had to report to the nearest Anglican priest who would put questions to you to see if you were holy enough to stay. Arguing with a clergyman could get you jail time. If you missed church without good reason on three occasions, the death penalty could be imposed. It excluded all other religions from the colony. Every person over 16 had to supply the ministers with an annual donation of ten pounds of tobacco and one bushel of corn. When the price of tobacco waned, an additional assessment was imposed: the "20th calfe, the 20th kidd of goates, and the 20th pigge."

These laws were fought by Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and freethinkers who banded together in common cause. They sought to disestablish the Church of England from the colony, which meant it would have to be supported only by its supporters, not everyone, and allow all other Christian religions equality. Patrick Henry joined with George Washington, John Marshall, and other prominent leaders in a proposed compromise - each could pay the annual duty to the Christian church of one's choice, or a like amount to the school fund. This alarmed James Madison and caused him to write his famous A Memorial and Remonstrance. He looked at the history of the western world from Constantine to the Reformation and summed up what had occurred - "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Governor James Monroe And Southampton Slave Resistance Of 1799 - Critical Essay

Governor James Monroe And Southampton Slave Resistance Of 1799 - Critical Essay. Paper by Arthur Scherr which looks at Virginia Governor James Monroe's suppression of slave resistance in Southampton in 1799. Scroll down the page to find the article. The page looks bad due to some dumb coding but the article is there if you scroll down.

From the site:

James Monroe's governorship of Virginia (1799-1802) is best known for the violent suppression of "Gabriel's slave conspiracy" in 1800, in which freedom-seeking slaves from Henrico and neighboring counties plotted to burn the capital, Richmond, kill its white slaveholders, and kidnap Governor Monroe. The rebellion was quickly crushed, and over 30 blacks were executed in its aftermath. Less well known is Monroe's involvement in another case of slave resistance that took place in Southampton County in 1799 shortly after Monroe took office.

On 15 October, Georgia slave traders Joshua Butte and Harris Spears (or Spiers), partners of James Simms, a member of Georgia's legislature, used ten thousand dollars Simms had embezzled from the state treasury to purchase "a considerable number" of slaves in southeastern Virginia's Southampton County.(1) Travelling along the high road leading from Broadwater to Jerusalem, Butte and Spiers also bought several Maryland blacks from Virginia slave dealers William Boykin and Ben Drew, adding them to their Georgia-bound slave coffle. Several of the Maryland slaves, wielding sticks, knives, and pistols, escaped after having robbed and murdered Butte and Spiers. When the slave patrol caught up with them, ten runaways reportedly were killed, but five were recaptured, identified, and tried before the Southampton County court of oyer and terminer (criminal court). Their names--Hatter Isaac, Old Sam, Jerry, Isaac, and Young Sam--suggest family ties between four of them.(2)

The eight-magistrate court, headed by Chief Justice Benjamin Blunt, Southampton's county lieutenant and militia commander during the Revolution, convicted the first four men of "conspiracy, insurrection, rebellion, and murder" on 25 October 1799 and scheduled their hanging for 25 November. Young Sam pleaded benefit of clergy, an option for first-time youthful offenders until 1848, and was released after receiving 39 lashes and a branding on the hand. Governor Monroe reprieved the other four slaves for several months while he determined whether they had perhaps been freedmen defending themselves from kidnappers. In the interim he pardoned one slave, young Jerry; a second slave, Old Sam, died of exposure in the county jail during the winter. On 5 May 1800, Monroe consented to the execution of the two remaining convicts.(3)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Presidency: How Do Historians Evaluate the Modern Presidency?

Presidency: How Do Historians Evaluate the Modern Presidency? This is a nice essay on how historians look at more recent presidents. It is by Marc Landy and Sid Milkis.

From the site:

The scandalous politics of Bill Clinton's second term, which saw the president of the United States ensnared by revelations of an affair with a White House intern, deeply embarrassed the nation. No less disconcerting was the zealousness with which the special prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, pursued the investigation of the president's peccadilloes, and the alacrity with which a Congress bitterly divided by partisanship supported it. That a constitutional crisis could be brought by such a tawdry episode led government officials, pundits, and a benumbed public to decry the current state of leadership in American politics -- to lament the absence of great leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt as well as the fractious state of American democracy, which appeared to make such extraordinary statesmanship a chimera.

The discontent aroused by the current state of American democracy may have deepened the public's wish for extraordinary leadership, but the demand for greatness far exceeds the supply. In the words of Alexander Hamilton, the American people "build lasting monuments of their gratitude" for certain presidents and not for others. Only a few presidents -- Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, and FDR -- have been deemed worthy of such enduring respect and reverence. Cities, towns, and babies are named for them. Monuments are built in their memory. They are the subjects or popular novels and TV docudramas. Even when they are reviled, they are spoken of with awe. It is almost as if they occupied a different office and lived on a different political plane from other numerous incumbents of the presidential office, many of whom seem to be forgotten almost as quickly as they leave office.

Monday, June 27, 2005

BlackDog's USA Presidents Crossword Puzzle

BlackDog's USA Presidents Crossword Puzzle. Offers a fun crossword puzzle for youngsters to help them learn the chronological order of the American Presidents.

From the site:

It's easy. Just click in the first square of the word you want to solve then start typing. If a word starts with the same letter across and down, clicking again in the same square changes the direction of the typing. Clicking "Solution" shows the puzzle's solution. Clicking "Reveal" discloses the answer to one clue.

In this puzzle, the clue to the President's name is what number President that President was in the line of all the USA Presidents. For example, George Washington was President Number 1. The President's name can be either the last name or the full name. Enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2005

First Inaugural Address of Grover Cleveland

First Inaugural Address of Grover Cleveland. This is the speech given by President Cleveland after he was sworn in on March 4th, 1885. He was the first Democratic to be elected President of the USA after the Civil War.

From the site:

In the presence of this vast assemblage of my countrymen I am about to supplement and seal by the oath which I shall take the manifestation of the will of a great and free people. In the exercise of their power and right of self-government they have committed to one of their fellow-citizens a supreme and sacred trust, and he here consecrates himself to their service.

This impressive ceremony adds little to the solemn sense of responsibility with which I contemplate the duty I owe to all the people of the land. Nothing can relieve me from anxiety lest by any act of mine their interests may suffer, and nothing is needed to strengthen my resolution to engage every faculty and effort in the promotion of their welfare.

Amid the din of party strife the people's choice was made, but its attendant circumstances have demonstrated anew the strength and safety of a government by the people. In each succeeding year it more clearly appears that our democratic principle needs no apology, and that in its fearless and faithful application is to be found the surest guaranty of good government.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bill Clinton Quotes

Bill Clinton Quotes. This is a short collection of President Clinto quotes at Uncover the Net. Is the first quote below real? Did Clinton really suggest that ninjas should go after al Qaeda?

From the site:

It would scare the shit out of al Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters in to the middle of their camp. It would get us an enormous deterrence and show those guys we're not afraid. By Bill Clinton on al Qaeda

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. By Bill Clinton on America

You should have disagreements with your leaders and your colleagues, but if it becomes immediately a question of questioning people's motives, and if immediately you decide that somebody who sees a whole new situation differently than you must be a bad person and somehow twisted inside, we are not going to get very far in forming a more perfect union. By Bill Clinton on Disagreements

Our rich texture of racial, religious and political diversity will be a Godsend in the 21st century. Great rewards will come to those who can live together, learn together, work together, forge new ties that bind together. By Bill Clinton on Diversity

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Who is your Favorite President of the United States?

Who is your F avoritePresident of the United States? This is a fun site created by 5th Graders at Pocantico Hills School in 2000. Includes data on past presidents, details on the electoral process, and campaign memorabilia.

From the site:

The United States has had 43 presidents in its history. In November our country selected a new president. Unfortunately, 5th graders are too young to vote! Do you know how a president gets elected? It is not as simple as you think. Learn about the Electoral College. (No, it's not a real college.) Read a brief biography of each of our past presidents. Vote for your favorite president.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Herbert Hoover and His Memoirs on the Belgian Relief

Herbert Hoover and His Memoirs on the Belgian Relief. Offers an account of President Hoover's efforts providing food to German-occupied Belgium during WWI. He may have (or not) failed as a President, but he was clearly a good human being.

From the site:

Herbert Hoover's memoirs tell us of his selfless works of charity that he preformed to save innocent human lives in German-occupied Belgium during World War I. The evidence from secondary sources will show that his story is fairly accurate and reliable. His memoirs are a good historical account and should be trusted, despite the fact that they have some inaccuracies.

The beginning of Hoover's story starts with Millard Shaler, an American who was living in Belgium when the war broke out. Shaler, according to Hoover, had bought 2,500 tons of food to give to the city of Brussels but was not allowed to do so because of the British blockade. Shaler who had brought to Hoover by Edgar Rikard, a mutual friend. Hoover wrote that he went to Walter Hines Page, the American Ambassador in London and spoke to him about the problem. Page worked with British officials to allow the food in. However, Page stated that the British would not allow any more food to be sent. The British viewed it as the responsibility of the Germans to feed the people whose land they had occupied. They were also concerned that the German Army would steal the food. Hoover, believing that the cause of helping innocent people was just and that the food could be kept away from the German Army, went to the Associated Press to get public support for the relief of Belgian, and other German-occupied lands.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Brigadier General Chester Arthur

Brigadier General Chester Arthur. Provides details on this somewhat obscure president's even lesser-known role as a Brigadier General in the New York State Militia.

From the site:

As a judge advocate in the New York State Militia, Chester Arthur played an active role in that unit’s reorganization. With the start of the Civil War, the governor appointed him as New York’s acting quartermaster-general (today’s logistical officer) of the State Militia. In January of 1862, Arthur submitted a report detailing the condition of the national forts defending New York harbor. He was promoted to brigadier general and inspected the New York troops at Fredericksberg and on the Chickahominy River. Arthur was called from the Army of the Potomac to serve as secretary for the meeting of the governors of the loyal states. On July 10th of that same year, he was officially appointed to the post of quartermaster-general. Arthur’s annual report stated that in one four-month period, his office in New York had “completely clothed, uniformed, and equipped, supplied with camp and garrison equipage, and transported from this state to the seat of war, sixty-eight regiments of infantry, two battalions of calvary, and four battalions of artillery.” Chester Arthur became the 21st president of the United States in 1881.

Friday, June 17, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | Profile: Mark Felt

BBC NEWS Americas Profile: Mark Felt. The man now revealed as "Deep Throat" in the Watergate scandal had a long career with the FBI. This is a look at his biography from the BBC.

From the site:

"Follow the money". This famous phrase has inspired generations of investigative reporters, but its author managed to evade detection for 30 years.

It was one of America's greatest mysteries: Who was the anonymous source who had leaked information about the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of US President Richard Nixon in 1974?

Mark Felt, a former deputy head of the FBI, has revealed that it was he who made the suggestion that led to the discovery of the link between the burglary at the Democratic National Committee HQ in Washington's Watergate complex in June 1972, and the financing of Nixon's re-election campaign.

For decades, the informant was known only as Deep Throat. He was the shadowy, chain-smoking character played by Hal Holbrook in the hit movie All the President's Men starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Imagine What FDR Would Say about Bush's Social Security "Reforms"

Imagine What FDR Would Say about Bush's Social Security "Reforms." This is an interesting but politically skewed look at how FDR would have thought of President Bush's attempts to make changes to Social Security.

From the site:

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt was asked in 1935 to defend payroll contributions to Social Security, he said that he wanted "to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and benefits." "With those taxes in there," he tartly asserted, "no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program."

Seventy years later, President George W. Bush is making a destructive effort to do just that. Insisting that the Social Security system is in danger of bankruptcy and that the only way to avoid the crisis is privatization, Bush is attempting to dismantle the centerpiece of Roosevelt's New Deal. Social Security is the old-age insurance system that was created in 1935 in response to the widespread suffering caused by the Great Depression.

Funding for the pensions of those who reached the age of 65 was to be raised entirely through taxes on employers and employees, not subsidized by general public revenues as in other countries. The size of individual pensions would reflect the amount of the worker's contributions. Thus, the higher one's earnings, the higher one's pension.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Inaugural Address of James A. Garfield

Inaugural Address of James A. Garfield. This is the speech that President Garfield gave when he was sworn into office. Unfortunatley, he would be assasinated the very same year.

From the site:

We stand to-day upon an eminence which overlooks a hundred years of national life--a century crowded with perils, but crowned with the triumphs of liberty and law. Before continuing the onward march let us pause on this height for a moment to strengthen our faith and renew our hope by a glance at the pathway along which our people have traveled.

It is now three days more than a hundred years since the adoption of the first written constitution of the United States--the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The new Republic was then beset with danger on every hand. It had not conquered a place in the family of nations. The decisive battle of the war for independence, whose centennial anniversary will soon be gratefully celebrated at Yorktown, had not yet been fought. The colonists were struggling not only against the armies of a great nation, but against the settled opinions of mankind; for the world did not then believe that the supreme authority of government could be safely intrusted to the guardianship of the people themselves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

George W. Bush Quotes

George W. Bush Quotes. There is a nice collection of President George W. Bush quotes up at Uncover the Net.

Here are a few sample quotes which can be found there:

I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.By George W. Bush on 9/11

We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America.By George W. Bush on America

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.By George W. Bush on Axis of Evil

I support Latino-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, and every-other-kind-of-person-owned businesses.By George W. Bush on Business

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bill Clinton and Warren Harding

Bill Clinton and Warren Harding. Michael Meckler has another good post up dealing with the Presidency. This one compares the performance of Bill Clinton and Warren Harding as President. There are many similarities.

From the site:

As regular readers of The Columbus Dispatch are aware, I was never particularly enamored with Clinton's presidential performance. The passage of time has only reinforced my view that Clinton achieved little while in office. He deserves some credit for bringing a level of stability to the Balkans after the implosion of Yugoslavia and the inability of the Europeans to effect an end to the bloodshed there. The federal government generated a surplus for the first time in nearly 20 years (Nixon had a surplus in 1969), and multiple surpluses for the first time in 40 years (Eisenhower had surpluses in 1956, 1957 and 1960).

But even with his own party in control of both houses of Congress, Clinton was unable to pass much of his domestic agenda during his first two years in office. NAFTA was the notable exception, and that had been negotiated under Republican presidents and was finally approved by Congress primarily with Republican support. After the GOP won control of both houses in the 1994 election (again, something not seen since the Eisenhower adminstration), Clinton was effective only in regard to aspects of his agenda with strong Republican support, such as welfare reform and the line-item veto. (And the Supreme Court threw out the line-item veto.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

Blog Vacation

Blog Vacation. I am taking off on vacation with my wife and sons. I have learned from past experience that it is difficult to keep up a blog posting schedule when I am travelling. As such, this blog is going on vacation too. I should go back to posting again on Monday, June 13th.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Gerald Ford Turns 90

Gerald Ford Turns 90. This is a few years old but noteworthy. That birthday made Ford the fourth former president to reach 90. The others were John Adams, Herbert Hoover, and Ronald Reagan.

From the site:

Gerald Ford says he hopes history will remember him for restoring honesty and integrity to the American presidency.

Ford turned 90 on Monday, joining John Adams, Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan as the only former presidents to become nonagenarians.

"I hope and trust historians 50 years from now will say President Ford restored integrity and honesty in the White House and say he solved the problems in Vietnam, the Watergate mess and the economy," he said in a recent telephone interview with the Hartford Courant from his home in Beaver Creek, Colo.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


President. This is the text of this article from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica at a third party site. It only briefly touches on the concept of the American Presidency but I thought the overall article on the idea of a president and how it has evolved over time was interesting.

From the site:

PRESIDENT (Fr. president, from Lat. praesidens, postAugustan Lat. for praeses, director, ruler, from praesidere, to sit in front of, preside), a style or title of various connotation, but always conveying the sense of one who presides. In classical Latin the title praeses, or president, was given to all governors of provinces, but was confined in the time of Diocletian to the procurators who, as lieutenants of the emperor, governed the smaller provinces. In this sense it survived in the middle ages. Du Cange gives instances from the capitularies of Charlemagne of the style ~raeses provinciae as applied to the count; and later examples of praeses, or praesidens, as used of royal seneschals and other officials having jurisdiction under the Crown.

In England the word survived late in this sense of royal lieutenant. Thus, John Cowell, in his Interpreter of Words (1607) defines President as used in Common Law for the Kings lieutenant in any province or function; as President of Wales, of York, of Berwick. President of the Kings Council. In some of the British North American colonies (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina) there was a president of the council, usually elected by the council; and when Pennsylvania and New Hampshire became states, one member of the Executive Council was called president. The chief (and single) executive head in Delaware, South Carolina and New Hampshire (1784-1792) was called president.

During the revolutionary struggle in America from 1774 onwards, the presiding officer of the Continental Congress was styled President and when the present constitution of the United States was framed in 1787 (in effect 1789) the title of President was transferred to the head of the Federal government. President thus became the accepted style for the elected chief of a modern republic, the example of the United States being followed by the South American republics; by France in 1849, and by Switzerland.