The Ongoing American Revolution

To end the year at ACP, I could think of nothing more fitting than the introduction to the John Adams miniseries on HBO, a repeat for this blog.  Someday I will post a full review, but suffice it to say that it is the best dramatization of a historical period that I can recall seeing. 

The music and the revolutionary flags in the intro I have always found deeply moving.  I had an ancestor die at Bunker Hill fighting in the New Hampshire militia, and to me the American Revolution never has been simply a matter of facts and figures, all contained within the neat bookends of the years 1775-1783.  I approach the American Revolution as a devoted partisan of what the Founding Fathers sought to accomplish.  Those men set in motion powerful historical forces and, in many ways, the American Revolution is still an ongoing process, here and around the globe.  As we end the year 2009, and prepare for the triumphs and tragedies of 2010, it might be a good idea to take a moment and recall that much of what we are today was determined, and will continue to be determined, by the political and military battles waged so long ago.

Published in: on December 31, 2009 at 6:46 am  Comments Off on The Ongoing American Revolution  
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Facts Are Stubborn Things


For my sins, no doubt, I have been an attorney for 27 years.  Few closing arguments by a lawyer have been better reasoned or more eloquently delivered than the closing given by John Adams in his successful defense of the British soldiers accused of homicide in the Boston Massacre of 1770.  It should be read by all attorneys and by anyone interested in effective oratory and tight reasoning.

Tuesday, NINE o’Clock, the Court met according to adjournment, and Mr. ADAMS proceeded:

May it please your Honours, and you Gentlemen of the Jury,

I yesterday afternoon produced from the best authorities, those rules of law which must govern all cases of homicide, particularly that which is now before you; it now remains to consider the evidence, and see whether any thing has occurred, that may be compared to the rules read to you; and I will not trouble myself nor you with laboured endeavours to be methodical, I shall endeavour to make some few observations, on the testimonies of the witnesses, such as will place the facts in a true point of light, with as much brevity as possible; but I suppose it would take me four hours to read to you, (if I did nothing else but read) the minutes of evidence that I have taken in this trial. In the first place the Gentleman who opened this cause, has stated to you, with candour and precision, the evidence of the identity of the persons. (more…)

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 6:48 am  Comments (4)  
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Federalist 25 – Hamilton

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I am going to try to make it my mission to post more regularly in general, but also to get through the Federalist Papers in a timelier manner, otherwise this series of posts will have occupied more time than the actual writing of the papers.

Anyway, with Federalist 25, Hamilton returns to the topic of national defense.  Previously he argued that the federal government was the proper place for the power of defense to be lodged.  In so doing, he rejects the idea that the states could handle this important duty.

It may perhaps be urged that the objects enumerated in the preceding number ought to be provided for by the State governments, under the direction of the Union. But this would be, in reality, an inversion of the primary principle of our political association, as it would in practice transfer the care of the common defense from the federal head to the individual members: a project oppressive to some States, dangerous to all, and baneful to the Confederacy. (more…)

Published in: on December 29, 2009 at 4:27 pm  Comments Off on Federalist 25 – Hamilton  

Napoleon and Christ




I believe one of my blogging colleagues is hard at work on a post regarding Napoleon and America.  The shadow of the Little Corporal loomed large over America in life, and his impact on American miltary strategy continued long after his death.  However, this post will deal with Napoleon and the only historical figure I believe to have more books written about Him than Corsica’s favorite son, Jesus Christ.

Napoleon purportedly made some remarkable statements about Christ while he was imprisoned on Saint Helena. This one was supposedly made to General Bertrand: “ Such is the fate of great men ! So it was with Caesar and Alexander. And I, too, am forgotten. And the name of a conqueror and an emperor is a college theme! Our exploits are tasks given to pupils by their tutor, who sit in judgment upon us, awarding censure or praise. And mark what is soon to become of me! Assassinated by the English oligarchy, I die before my time ; and my dead body, too, must return to the earth, to become food for worms. Behold the destiny, near at hand, of him who has been called the great Napoleon! What an abyss between my deep misery and the eternal reign of Christ, which is proclaimed, loved, adored, and which is extending over all the earth! Is this to die? Is it not rather to live? The death of Christ! It is the death of God.” For a moment the Emperor was silent. As General Bertrand made no reply, he solemnly added,  “If you do not perceive that Jesus Christ is God, very well, then I did wrong to make you a general.” (more…)

Published in: on December 29, 2009 at 6:21 am  Comments Off on Napoleon and Christ  
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What Child is This?

Something for the weekend.  Renee Fleming gives a superb rendition of What Child is This.  Written in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix after a near fatal illness, the hymn gently reminds us of why we celebrate Christmas.

What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the king,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary!
Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear; for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary!.

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh;
Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings;
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby;
Joy, joy, for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary!


Published in: on December 26, 2009 at 7:05 am  Comments Off on What Child is This?  
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Christmas in the New World


The first account of the English pioneers celebrating Christmas in the New World is from the pen of the soldier author John Smith:

The next night being lodged at Kecoughtan; six or seaven dayes the extreame winde, rayne, frost and snow caused us to keep Christmas among the Salvages, where we were never more merry, nor fed on more plentie of good Oysters, Fish, Flesh, Wild-foule, and good bread; nor never had better fires in England, then in the dry smoaky houses of Kecoughtan.

Smith was referring to the traditional keeping of Christmas for 12 days, as he and his men did not reach Kecoughtan until December 31, 1608.  Unlike their pilgrim and puritan brethren who would come to the shores of the New World later, the men and women of the first colony had no problem with celebrating the Feast of the Nativity, with feasting, games and good cheer.  May all of our readers have the Merriest of Christmases today.

Published in: on December 25, 2009 at 6:23 am  Comments Off on Christmas in the New World  
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Christmas Eve 1783

George Washington was a happy man on Christmas Eve 1783.  Having led our forces to victory in the American Revolution, surrendered his command to Congress, after having headed off an incipient mutiny by his officers justly frustrated by  an uncaring Congress’ failure to live up to promises made to them and the  men they led, and a triumphal progress on his way home, during which he continually spoke out for the necessity of a strong Union among the states, he had reached his heart’s desire:  home.  Christmas the next day was probably the happiest in his life.  May all of our readers have such a Christmas tomorrow.

Published in: on December 24, 2009 at 5:19 am  Comments Off on Christmas Eve 1783  
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Card Driven Games

It is getting rather close to Christmas to be giving gift ideas, but if you have a child or an adult you are buying for who loves history and likes games you might wish to consider a card driven historical game.


Pictured at the start of this post is the map and counters of  the first of the card driven games, We The People,  that came out in 1994.  In We the People one player commands the British forces and the other player commands the American patriots and their eventual French allies.  Victory in the war is the goal of the game.  The cards in the game are played by the players as they are drawn from the deck and determine how many units a player can move in the term and activate historical events which affect the game.   Here are examples of some of the cards:

 The game is rather straight foward and should be easy to master for any child 12 or up.  I think this type of game is an excellent way to teach history to kids and foster a love of history in them. (more…)

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 6:37 am  Comments Off on Card Driven Games  

Burke on Marie Antoinette

The blog seems to be on a Burke kick, which is fine by me.  I have always thought that Burke’s comments on Marie Antoinette are important in highlighting his view of the world.  Here are his comments:

“It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like the morning star full of life and splendor and joy. 0h, what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.

But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone. It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness. ” (more…)

Published in: on December 20, 2009 at 7:02 am  Comments (1)  
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It Came Upon The Midnight Clear

Something for the weekend.  Written in 1849 by Edmund Sears, a pastor of a Unitarian Church in Weston, Massachusetts, this carol has long been a favorite in America.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Published in: on December 19, 2009 at 5:46 am  Comments Off on It Came Upon The Midnight Clear  
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