We Have No King But Jesus

Today is the Feast of Christ the King, the end of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church. (more…)

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 6:51 am  Comments Off on We Have No King But Jesus  
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Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier

Something for the weekend.  Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier.  A song that has echoed in all of America’s wars, starting with the American Revolution.  Nothing better captures the sad partings that accompany every war.

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 5:31 am  Comments (4)  

Federalist Papers

Most of you reading this blog are probably already familiar with this, but I have been running a feature on my blog where I analyze each of the Federalist Papers.  So far I have done the first 21, so I am officially a quarter of the way through.  I will henceforward be posting those posts here, but for those of you who are curious, this link will take you to the first 21.

Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 9:18 am  Comments Off on Federalist Papers  

Schoolhouse Rock: American Revolution

Not a bad capsule summary of the American Revolution for a cartoon.  It manages to include the opening battles of the war, Washington as the central figure of the war, the role of the militia, the endurance of the Continentals, the battle of Trenton, Valley Forge, the frequent defeats of the Americans, the importance of diplomacy and foreign intervention, and the decisive victory at Yorktown.  Not bad, as I also thought when I watched it as a child, and it spurred me on to learning more about the Revolution.

Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 5:10 am  Comments (3)  
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Donald has already gotten things started with some great selections from my favorite American political figure.  I just wanted to say welcome to those who are stopping by. Personally speaking, American history is a subject matter near and dear to my heart, being both the subject of my academic career but also simply something I’ve loved reading about since about the time I first picked up a book.  I think this will be a fun forum for discussion, debate, and maybe even a little learning.  So please stick around and feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments – or just sit back, lurk, and enjoy.

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 4:25 pm  Comments (2)  

Much Noted And Long Remembered

Presidents during their presidencies make hundreds of speeches.  Most are utterly forgotten soon after they are delivered.  Even most of the speeches by a president who is also a skilled orator, as Lincoln was, are recalled only by historians and trivia buffs.  Yet the Gettysburg address, given 146 years ago today, has achieved immortality.

Lincoln was invited to say a few words at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.  The featured speaker was Edward Everett, one of the most accomplished men in American public life, who gave a two hour oration.  It is a fine example of nineteenth century oratory, full of learning, argument and passion.  It may seem very odd to contemplate in our sound bite age, but audiences in America in Lincoln’s time expected these type of lengthy excursions into eloquence and felt cheated when a speaker skimped on either length or ornateness in his efforts.

Lincoln then got up and spoke for two minutes.

We are not really sure what Lincoln said.  There are two drafts of the speech in Lincoln’s hand, and they differ from each other.  It is quite likely that neither reflects precisely the words that Lincoln used in the Gettysburg Address.  For the sake of simplicity, and because it is the version people usually think of when reference is made to the Gettysburg address, the text used here is the version carved on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth
on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing
whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so
dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-
field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave
their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot
consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men,
living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it
far above our poor power to add or detract. The world
will little note nor long remember what we say here, but
it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the
living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished
work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly
advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the
great task remaining before us…that from these honored
dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here
highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain;
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of
freedom; and that government of the people, by the people,
for the people, shall not perish from the earth. (more…)

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 5:32 am  Comments (2)  
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Almost Chosen People

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Senate of the State of New-Jersey: I am very grateful to you for the honorable reception of which I have been the object. I cannot but remember the place that New-Jersey holds in our early history. In the early Revolutionary struggle, few of the States among the old Thirteen had more of the battle-fields of the country within their limits than old New-Jersey. May I be pardoned if, upon this occasion, I mention that away back in my childhood, the earliest days of my being able to read, I got hold of a small book, such a one as few of the younger members have ever seen, “Weem’s Life of Washington.” I remember all the accounts there given of the battle fields and struggles for the liberties of the country, and none fixed themselves upon my imagination so deeply as the struggle here at Trenton, New-Jersey. The crossing of the river; the contest with the Hessians; the great hardships endured at that time, all fixed themselves on my memory more than any single revolutionary event; and you all know, for you have all been boys, how these early impressions last longer than any others. I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for; that something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come; I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people, for perpetuating the object of that great struggle. You give me this reception, as I understand, without distinction of party. I learn that this body is composed of a majority of gentlemen who, in the exercise of their best judgment in the choice of a Chief Magistrate, did not think I was the man. I understand, nevertheless, that they came forward here to greet me as the constitutional President of the United States — as citizens of the United States, to meet the man who, for the time being, is the representative man of the nation, united by a purpose to perpetuate the Union and liberties of the people. As such, I accept this reception more gratefully than I could do did I believe it was tendered to me as an individual.

Abraham Lincoln, February 21, 1861

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 5:29 am  Comments Off on Almost Chosen People