American History

Books: ‘The Pioneers’ is a gentle reminder of the ideals and grit that made America

In a country preoccupied with presidential candidates preaching extreme liberalism and even unabashed socialism comes America’s greatest living historian, David McCullough, with a new and needed book. It’s called “The Pioneers” and the subtitle is its theme: “The heroic story of the settlers who brought the American ideal west.” Nowadays, while students at universities and public schools are learning a history often tainted by political correctness and revisionism, McCullough writes of a young country that might have been stillborn were it not for these pioneers. The founding fathers with whom most are familiar — Washington, Jefferson and Adams — play minor roles in McCullough’s book. Instead, we’re offered characters who are likely unfamiliar to most, such as Manasseh and Ephraim Cutler, Rufus Putnam and Samuel Hildreth. These and many others did the grunt work of nation building. The land on which McCullough mostly focuses was called The Northwest Territory, the initial boundaries of which included the Ohio and Muskinghum Rivers. Its inspiration was The Northwest Ordinance, passed by the Confederation Congress in 1787. The document contained this sentence in Article 3, long since abandoned to our detriment: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” McCullough details the enormous sacrifices of men, women and children, who cleared trees, endured harsh weather and conquered lands, expanding the boundaries of the new nation. Yes, Native Americans were displaced in ways that were disgraceful. McCullough notes all that remained were their tribal names, which were assigned to rivers and towns. Among the tribes were the Delaware, Miami, Ottawa, Shawnee and Wyandot. Among the rivers named for them were the Cuyahoga and Chippewa Creek — the creek being a tributary of the Cuyahoga River — as was the Tuscarawas River. It was small consolation to native people who believed land was sacred and not to be owned and who preceded white settlers. As with his other books, McCullough’s writing style makes one feel a part of it all. What astounds is how much New Englanders were willing to sacrifice to explore foreign and hostile land and expand America’s borders. Many died of disease, accidents, bad weather and war with Native American tribes. Living conditions were harsh compared to what they had known in New England, but they persisted. In summing up the contributions of these pioneers, McCullough writes: “(they) had finished their work, each in his or her own way, and no matter the adversities to be faced, propelled as they were by high, worthy purpose. They accomplished what they had set out to do not for money, not for possessions or fame, but to advance the quality and opportunities of life — to propel as best they could the American ideals.” What do we consider to be our American ideals in 2019? The pioneers would likely see them in conflict with their own. Many of our forebears had a strong faith in God and were motivated by what they believed was His will in establishing a nation in which religious freedom and education were paramount. Most believed the Bible was the foundation of a good education. These pioneers also believed America had a purpose, sanctioned by God, which the world might wish to emulate. Slavery was abolished in Ohio by the state’s original constitution (1802), owing much to the anti-slavery efforts of Manasseh and Ephraim Cutler. “The Pioneers” is a rebuke to the entitlement mentality of the 21st century. It should be mandatory reading for all seeking a better understanding of the way we were and how far we have departed from the ideals of those great and heroic men and women of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Definitely look forward to reading this new book!  Thanks to veteran columnist Cal Thomas for bringing this to our attention.  Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. His latest book is “What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America“. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.      🙂

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez falsely claims Republicans amended Constitution to kick FDR out of office

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., might want to brush up on some history after asserting, incorrectly, that Republicans in Congress amended the Constitution to kick President Franklin Delano Roosevelt out of office. “They had to amend the Constitution of the United States to make sure Roosevelt did not get reelected,” Ocasio-Cortez said Friday during a night hall event with MSNBC with Chris Hayes. Ocasio-Cortez was referring to the 22nd Amendment of the Constitution which passed in 1947. The text of the amendment states, “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” FDR died in 1945, meaning he was dead for a full two years before presidential term limits were implemented. This is not the first time Ocasio-Cortez has made factually dubious statements. For instance, in December of last year she claimed “Medicare for All” could be funded by $21 trillion in accounting errors by the Pentagon.

Wow…  You really can’t make this stuff up, folks.  And no, this is NOT The Onion.  AOC truly is a “glittering jewel of colossal ignorance.”  But, hey..  Her mouth is the gift that keeps on giving.  So, hopefully she continues to say spectacularly stupid things like this.    🙂

Chappaquiddick, Ted Kennedy scandal that left a young woman dead chronicled in new doc

Sen. Ted Kennedy’s political career was tarnished on July 18, 1969, when his car crashed off a bridge on the tiny Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick, plunging into the dark waters of the tide-swept Poucha Pond and killing 28-year-old passenger Mary Jo Kopechne — a mystery that continues to haunt “America’s Royal Family.” The shocking events leading up to the political aide’s demise are the subject of Fox Nation’s new documentary titled “Scandalous: Chappaquiddick,” which aims to investigate how the youngest Kennedy narrowly escaped from drowning and returned back to his hotel room unharmed. The Fox Nation special features never-before-seen interviews and retellings of the events that night, cracking down on the truth, pieces of evidence and errors that were apparent. That fateful night, Kennedy offered Kopechne a ride from a party at Chappaquiddick — and less than 10 hours later her dead body was being pulled from the soaked vehicle. At the time of the accident, Kennedy told police he was “unfamiliar with the road,” and that he came up to a narrow bridge at which point the car “went off the side of the bridge.” According to a description from a 1969 New York Times article, the road approaching the bridge is “narrow” with “no warning side on the approach.” Kennedy also claimed he had “no recollection” of how he got out of the car but added he “came to the surface and repeatedly dove down to the car in an attempt to see if the passenger was still in the car,” noting he was “unsuccessful in the attempt.” The accident was not reported by Kennedy, but rather by a mother of a little boy who saw the overturned car in the pond when he was fishing. Kennedy later described his failure to report the incident to police as “indefensible.” At the time members of the media swarmed Chappaquiddick, right off the east coast of Martha’s Vineyard, and unraveled Kennedy’s multiple mistakes during the evening — derailing Kennedy’s presidential ambitions for certain. Kennedy would go on to become one of the longest-serving U.S. senators, despite previously speaking of a “Kennedy curse” following the incident, questioning whether “some awful curse did actually hang over all the Kennedys.” The circumstances surrounding Kopechne’s drowning remain muddled nearly 10 years after the senator’s death in 2009 at age 77.

How Ted ever got elected to the Senate, and was re-elected over and over, speaks to the mindset of the folks in MA during that time.  Had any one of us done the same thing, we would have been charged (and yes, convicted) of at least involuntary manslaughter and fleeing the scene of the crime.  But, he was a Kennedy.  So, he literally got away with murder, and became a U.S. Senator.  Typical..  For more on this story, click on the text above.

South Carolina town remembers Confederacy’s founding

The Sons of Confederate Veterans have put up a new memorial honoring the men who signed the document for South Carolina to leave the United States. The Confederate heritage group paid for the monument on private land in Abbeville on what is called Secession Hill after key speeches there led the state to decide to leave the Union after President Abraham Lincoln’s election in 1860. The 20-ton (18,100-kilogram), 11-foot (3.3-meter) tall granite marker has the names of the 170 men who signed the Ordinance of Secession and an excerpt of the document’s text. The Sons of Confederate Veterans unveiled and dedicated the marker Nov. 10. Group member Albert Jackson, who raised money for the project, said it’s important to push back against people who think remembering Southern heritage is racist and wrong. “We don’t want too much. We just want our heritage to be left alone. We want our heritage, our monuments, out flags and everything else we represent. Nothing more and nothing less,” Jackson said at the dedication. The group originally wanted to put the monument in Charleston, where the Ordinance of Secession was signed, but the Patriots Point Development Authority and North Charleston both rebuffed efforts to put the marker on public land. Instead, Robert Hayes, who owns the Abbeville site where a series of speeches was credited to pushing South Carolina to leave the Union, offered his land. Hayes plays Confederate President Jefferson Davis at historical events and for years ran a shop in town full of Confederate memorabilia, from flags to T-shirts to bumper stickers with slogans like “If at first you don’t secede, try, try again.” The marker joins a marker known as The Rock, marking the spot where men gave their speeches in 1860. “Some of us true secessionists kiss it and wish for it again,” Hayes said of The Rock, according to The Greenwood Index-Journal. “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re on scared ground. And it is henceforth going to be more sacred.”

1-in-3 pass ‘US Citizenship test,’ just 19% for Americans 45 and younger

Just a third of Americans can pass a multiple choice “U.S. Citizenship Test,” fumbling over such simple questions as the cause of the Cold War or naming just one thing Benjamin Franklin is famous for. And of Americans 45 and younger, the passing rate is a tiny 19 percent, according to a survey done for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Worse: The actual test only requires that 60 percent of the answers be correct. In the survey, just 36 percent passed. Among the embarrassing errors uncovered in the survey of questions taken from the U.S. Citizenship Test and conducted by Lincoln Park Stragtegies: 72 percent of respondents either incorrectly identified or were unsure of which states were part of the 13 original states. 24 percent could correctly identify one thing Benjamin Franklin was famous for, with 37 percent believing he invented the lightbulb. 12 percent incorrectly thought WWII General Dwight Eisenhower led troops in the Civil War. 2 percent said the Cold War was caused by climate change. The foundation did the survey to make the point that Americans need to brush up on history and current events if they want to make a reasoned pick in the upcoming midterm congressional elections. “With voters heading to the polls next month, an informed and engaged citizenry is essential,” Woodrow Wilson Foundation President Arthur Levine said. “Unfortunately this study found the average American to be woefully uninformed regarding America’s history and incapable of passing the U.S. Citizenship Test. It would be an error to view these findings as merely an embarrassment. Knowledge of the history of our country is fundamental to maintaining a democratic society, which is imperiled today,” he added. Only 13 percent of those surveyed knew when the U.S. Constitution was ratified, even on a multiple-choice exam similar to the citizenship exam, with most incorrectly thinking it occurred in 1776. More than half of respondents (60 percent) didn’t know which countries the United States fought in World War II. And despite the recent media spotlight on the U.S. Supreme Court, 57 percent of those surveyed did not know how many Justices actually serve on the nation’s highest court.

Be afraid..   To counter this spectacular deficiency, we recommend adding “The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History” by Thomas Woods to your library…and making it mandatory reading for your kids.  Clearly our schools are teaching American Civics.  So, it’s up to us to look to alternative sources.  That book is a good start.  Hillsdale College in Michigan also offers free online courses on the Constitution and other basics.  You can also sign up for a free subscription to their “Imprimis” newsletter.  Lots of goodies there as well.

Confederate monuments: This 124-year-old women’s group is fighting to keep them around

On the first anniversary of the Charlottesville protests, which turned deadly in clashes between white nationalists and anti-fascists on opposing sides of whether to keep a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in the Virginia city, a group of persistent activists is fighting to protect the controversial statues. The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), a 124-year-old organization, issued a rare public statement after the Charlottesville riots last summer: “We are grieved that certain hate groups have taken the Confederate flag and other symbols as their own,” the UDC’s president general, Patricia M. Bryson, wrote following the August clashes that resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer and the brutal beating of DeAndre Harris. However, while Bryson insisted that the UDC condemned anyone who “promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy,” she argued that the Confederate ancestors honored by these memorials “were and are Americans.” In the year since the riots, more than 30 cities across the United States have removed or relocated Confederate statues and monuments amid an intense, ongoing debate about race and history. Bryson issued a call of her own a year ago: “Join us in denouncing hate groups and affirming that Confederate memorial statues and monuments are part of our shared American history and should remain in place.”

Agreed!!  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

Representative government in America began this week — 399 years ago

If you were at Jamestown—the tiny English settlement on the banks of the James River in Virginia—399 years ago this week, you probably would have been aware that something unusual was happening. Over in the rough-hewn, thatch-roofed church building, 22 duly elected settlers, six councilors, and their newly arrived governor, all white males, were braving the intense summer heat to attend the first meeting of the “general Assemblie.” A new English charter a year earlier had authorized formation of this first representative assembly in the dozen-year-old colony, and the new governor, Sir George Yeardley, had seen to the charter’s implementation. It was the beginning of representative democracy in America, the forerunner of our Congress, state legislatures, and other representative bodies. Planted in Virginia a year before the Mayflower arrived from England, representative government would take root firmly, blossom in 13 largely self-governing colonies, and after independence grow into the great tree of American liberty, inspiring similar plantings in much of the world. It hardly seemed like a monumental event at the time. The burgesses met for less than a week, dealt with practical concerns like setting a tobacco price floor, relations with the Indians, and some criminal cases, and then departed one man down. Mr. Shelley of Smyths Hundred grew ill and passed way from the heat. Governor Yeardley and others also fell sick but survived. Representative government is frustrating today, but at least the survival rate has improved. Next year will mark the 400th anniversary of this hugely important, if rudimentary and tragedy-laced, beginning. It will present an opportunity to reflect on how far representative democracy has come and how far it still has to go. In addition to ceremonial events, the 2019 “American Evolution” Commemoration will feature highly substantive dialogues on the challenges confronting representative democracies today.

To learn more, click on the text above.