Thursday, June 30, 2005

We Must Once Again Become Americans

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment. The unity of government which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so: for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize... The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes. - George Washington

The first thing that stands out when I read this statement that George Washington wrote in his farewell letter, is that the unity of the government constitutes us one people. The reason it stands out is because I think there has never been a time of more divisiveness within our country since the Civil War. We are a nation of equals and yet we are divided.

Red states and blue states are still fresh in my mind though people have gone back to their normal lives for a couple more years. But too soon, we will again be divided at the seams into Republicans and Democrats with seemingly no room in-between. When you start a sentence with 'those republicans' or 'those democrats', aren't you automatically dividing up a nation? Everyday, you read about another division in the news. You are either for abortion or against it, for the war or against it, for the right to die or against it, all with precious little ground in the middle. The seams of our nation are being torn apart and a once great nation is being divided into warring factions.

We need to unify ourselves and become AMERICANS once again. We need to accept the majority as the will of the nation and move on rather than plot how to overturn, reinterpret, or elect an office that will vote the way of the minority. We need to hold those who speak 'for' our nation with the minority view accountable for their actions. If the majority opposes war, then by no means should a minority take us to war, if a majority is pro choice, we must not stack a court for the sole purpose of overturning Roe versus Wade. As a nation, our patriotism no longer has pride to back it up. Instead, we are factions of spoiled people upset because 'our way' is not the way of the majority.

Once as a nation, we stood up as one people and were unified against a king who enacted laws based off 'his way' and not the way of the majority. We gained independence and liberty because of joint councils, joint efforts, common dangers, common sufferings and common successes. Citizens of our newly formed nation, believed so much in liberty and unity that they gave their lives on bloody fields so that we could be free. We did not gain independence by being a divided nation and if we are to be a great nation once again, we must once again, become AMERICANS.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Best Farewell Letter You've Never Read

Author's Note: I found this gem of a farewell speech a couple weeks ago and have been reading it a little bit at a time. Every time I pick up where I left off, the goosebumps come out at the sheer passion put into what I feel has turned out to be a very prophetic letter. We have slipped down the path that George Washington warned us not to go down and are experiencing the consequences already. Maybe if more people, including our presidents, past, especially the present and the future ones, had/would/will read this letter, there would be more peace among ourselves and around the world.

This is powerful powerful stuff and reaffirms my belief that our founding fathers to this great nation were some of the wisest men alive. What I wouldn't give to have them back again, leading the helm of our nation from the dark waters upon which we have sailed upon.


This address was written primarily to eliminate himself as a candidate for a third term. It was never read by the President in public, but it was printed in Claypoole's AMERICAN DAILY ADVERTISER, Philadelphia, September 19, 1796. The address is in two parts: In the first, Washington declines a third term, gives his reasons, and acknowledges a debt of gratitude for the honors conferred upon him and for the confident support of the people. In the second more important part, he presents, as a result of his experience and as a last legacy of advice, thoughts upon the government.

George Washington gave Claypoole a manuscript which he called "his copy" and it was from this manuscript that the type was set in the newspaper. After Claypoole's death, the manuscript was ordered to be sold at auction on February 12, 1850. Senator Henry Clay on January 24 offered a joint resolution for its purchase by the government, but the resolution was not signed by President Taylor until the day of the sale. The manuscript was sold to James Lenox for $2,300, and passed, with his library, to the New York Public Library. There is no evidence of any bid on behalf of the national government.

The following is an exact word for word text of the original. Nothing has been changed or omitted except old English spelling and punctuation.


Friends, And Fellow Citizens

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest; no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and am persuaded whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions, with which, I first undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that, if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans, by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free constitution which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment. The unity of government which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so: for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immoveable attachment to it; accustoming yourself to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal Laws of a common government, finds, in the productions of the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing industry. The South in the same intercourse, benefitting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation invigorated; and while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications, by land and water, will more and more find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one Nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign power, must be intrinsically precarious.

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign Nations; and, what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same government, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and imbitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this sense it is, that your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflecting and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the UNION as a primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere? Let experience solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The inhabitants of our western country have lately had a useful lesson on this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the general Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi; they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them everything they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirming their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantaged on the UNION by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a government for the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a constitution of government better calculated than your former for an intimate union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities are destructive of this fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They 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 illconcerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils, 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.

Towards the preservation of your Government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments, as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypotheses and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypotheses and opinion; and remember, especially, that, for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a Government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprise of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

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 dissention, 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 find 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.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution, in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for, though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

'Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should cooperate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one Nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill will and resentment sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the Liberty, of nations has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions: by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base of foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens), the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.

But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real Patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

`Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that `tis folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. 'Tis an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the index to my plan. Sanctioned by your approving voice, and by that of your representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest to take, a neutral position. Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience. With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope, that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors and dangers.

George Washington
United States, 17th September 1796

Monday, June 20, 2005

When a Family and a Community Shatters

Our neighbor found out a couple years ago that her oldest daughter was being molested by her husband of almost two decades. Apparently, he had been molesting her for six or seven years and had recently been trying to molest her best friend and that is when this whole thing got out in the public. He was thrown in jail and before a trial could be held, he plea bargained and for admitting his guilt to one count of the several dozen he was being charged for, he has to spend the next twenty-five years in prison. He left behind a shattered family and a shattered community to pick up all the broken pieces.

Paul and Patty (not their real names) have been friends of our family ever since I can remember. Being part of rural Iowa, we consider and call them neighbors even though they actually lived over fifteen miles away by gravel roads. Partly because when you live in a rural area, you want to retain a sense of community even if that means calling people that far away neighbors and partly because they farmed quite a bit of land next to my parents farm and lands. Although their kids were younger than my brother and I, we spent lots of time entertaining them on visits, picnics, and family get togethers at their and my parent's houses. At no time did we ever suspect anything was wrong.

Paul and Patty home schooled their kids, partly because they were poor and couldn't afford everything associated with public schools but mostly because they thought they could do a better job. Patty undertook all of the teaching duties and because they were the only home schooled children I knew, I paid close attention to see how well their education was compared to mine. Even though Patty only had a high school education and was never what you would call an academic, she did a good job of teaching and the kids always seemed to be as smart or smarter than their peers. The one thing that was missing however was the social interaction with other kids and other kid's backgrounds. I think this was a factor that let the molestation go on for so long.

The molestation began when the oldest girl was only twelve. According to the mother and father, the father had intercourse with the young girl several dozen times and from what the mother has said, told the girl that it was what all fathers did to show their love for their daughters. When the daughter was turning eighteen, her father started taking her and her best friend on road trips to haul grain to the river on overnight trips. Paul evidently tried to make moves on his daughter's best friend who knew that such behavior was wrong. The daughter's best friend started asking questions of Paul's daughter and shortly the daughter talked to her mother Patty. Patty called the police, Paul was arrested and the family along with the community shattered into millions of tiny pieces that can never be put back together the way they were.

I was floored when I heard the news because it took me completely by surprise. I had spent lots of time with Paul and had even gone with him on a road trip myself to try and patent a good idea that he had. I had talked with his daughter lots of time and never once did I suspect anything. Paul was a member of my parent's church and actively took part in doing leadership roles and teaching Sunday school classes. How could he do such a thing and remain unnoticed for such a long time? To this day still partially blame the home schooling that created the lack of social interaction with peers where she might have learned that such behavior was neither acceptable nor commonplace as she was led to believe.

I haven't seen or talked to Paul since he was arrested and later put in prison but my father has. When one of your friends gets thrown in jail, the neighborly and Christianly thing to do is to go visit him. Before his trial and his admittance of guilt, most of his former friends and neighbors abandoned him already assuming guilt. My father would visit him once a week, mostly listening as Paul talked of his family and farming. I don't think my father ever asked about the specifics of the trial mostly because he didn't want to know and even warned Paul that anything he said about it would be turned over to the authorities. Nevertheless, Paul wrote my parents letters talking about the crime and in the end, they turned them over to the prosecution, which didn't make Paul very happy. He has since quit talking to my parents.

During this time that my parents remained in communication with Paul, the community and Paul's wife Patty expressed their displeasure. It's understandable, but my parents were between a rock and a hard place. Do they presume guilt too and turn down a long time family friend, abandoning him like so many? It created lots of bad feelings in the community until people realized that because they listen to Paul doesn't mean they condoned his actions. Eventually those wounds closed over but I'm not sure they will ever completely heal. Patty on the other hand I think understand more fully than others and has become good friends with my parents once again. Enough so that she asked to join our father's day celebration at the park on Sunday for the sake of normalcy for her youngest kids.

However, the pieces still lie everywhere and sharp edges abound. I find myself biting my tongue always wanting to mention Paul's name in some old memory that our families share together and not knowing if that will hurt worse than avoiding his name altogether. Those kids are growing up without a father and by the time they get a father back, if ever, they will have families and children of their own. Will they allow their father to be a part of their child's life? The sharp edges of the pieces will be exposed even then.

The molested oldest daughter left out east to go to a college far away from her father and the memories and refuses to come back. I think the pieces in the form of memories followed her out there even though she was trying to avoid them. At the age of nineteen, with the wounds of her past still fresh, she married suddenly. I am terrified that her marriage is a rebound of her past and a way to feel loved after having been hurt by the one you loved the most. I feel sorry for her. The pieces lay everywhere in our community and their sharp trail goes all the way out east. Can a community and a daughter ever pick them all up so that life can resume?

Friday, June 17, 2005

I've Survived "Pizza and Pepsi On the Brain" Disease

The golden brown crust of the Pizza Hut pizza was leaving behind a slight oily sheen to my fingers but oh did it taste so good. The cheese was starting to turn a dark brown at all the high points just the way I like it and the toppings were crammed onto every delicious slice. The meats and vegetables of the Supreme pizza were creating a harmony that was singing in my mouth. I lifted the frosty red class of ice cold Pepsi and took a big drink to wash down my last bite of pizza harmony. The crisp tingling bubbles of carbonation, washed across my tongue like a jacuzzi, and swept down my throat with an invigorating splash. This was just too good to be dreaming but unfortunately it was because in reality, my body was slowly being tortured.

It was day thirteen of our backpacking trip in the mountains and we were hiking out from the last base camp to the car some thirteen or fourteen miles away. The plan was to take an easy two days and do some fishing along the way but like all well-intentioned plans, sometimes things just don't seem to work out the way you had planned. We had made it up and over the pass in good time and were now going down the backside. Our packs had been lightened of just about all the food making them seem extremely light when compared to the leaden weights on the way in thirteen days earlier. But just because our mind was fooled, our body wasn't and it knew it was still carrying more of a load than normal as we hiked down the trail.

The trail itself was fairly descent for being in the mountains but it was steep and rough. When hiking down such a trail, for every two feet you walk, you also descend a foot and when you are walking fast while carrying a backpack, this can create a lot of stress on your feet and legs. Mine were definitely feeling the strain but I was a young man and my mother was leading us today since she is the slowest and weakest member of our family. By putting her in the lead, it insures that the faster and stronger people are behind her and that we all remain as a group in case someone gets in trouble. But it also meant that as a strong young man, I couldn't complain that we were going to fast because it would feminize my masculinity in some way. So I resorted to recalling mental images of hot Pizza Hut Supreme pan pizza and glassfuls of ice cold Pepsi.

Whenever I am in the mountains, these images invade my brain like a worm. Down "there" in everyday life, I can go months without eating a pizza or drinking a Pepsi or even getting an urge to do them. But up "here", maybe due to the lower air pressures of the mountains, or the large amounts brain processing time that I suddenly have available, my brain always seems to dwell on that subject and no matter how I try, I can't rid it out of my mind. I'll be catching a monster cutthroat trout on the edge of a beautiful mountain lake nested in a huge cirque of mountains and I'm thinking of sitting in the air conditioned muted darkness in a Pizza Hut. I'll be eating said trout and I am imagining taking my first bite of that Pizza Hut pizza. On it goes all fourteen days that I am in the wilderness.

My mom was really picking them up and putting them down. Her long legged fast pace, that my brother and I inherited and lovingly refer to as the "Gestapo Stomp," was in high gear and we were way ahead of schedule. In fact, we were so far ahead of schedule that we soon passed our planned evening stopping point and the sun hadn't even reached its apex in the sky. My mom kept on hiking and the three of us kept on following behind her without a word except for the occasional grunt when one of us stumbled like a faltering horse on a loose rock or tripped on a tree root. We were all suffering from the pizza and Pepsi condition and none of us wanted to seem like the weakling by asking mom to slow down.

My brother and I inherited long slender legs from our mother. For my brother, it led to a really good high school cross-country career and for a time, I was unbeatable on a bicycle. All three of us have a natural pace that is a slow trot to those with shorter legs. In our family we refer to it as the famous high leg kicking "Gestapo Stomp" that you see in old films of the Hitler era. Many times I will be walking with someone and notice they are getting out a breath only to realize that I am walking to fast for them. Only after family friend Dick died of cancer, did I learn from his widow that he had given our family the nickname of "Hendroids" which is a play on my real last name and robotic like androids. He evidently thought that our sustained high pace was more robotic than human.

Shortly after three in the afternoon, we struggled out of the wilderness and into the parking lot where the vehicle we had left behind was waiting. My feet felt like they had been caned about a hundred times but I didn't care. We were out of the mountains and by nightfall, I would be eating a Supreme pan pizza and sipping on an ice cold Pepsi. Two hours later, we had made it out of the foothills of the mountain and were pulling into a motel parking lot for some hot showers before supper. As I took a step outside the van, I winced and almost cried out in pain coming from the soles of my feet. It hurt so bad, I ended up doing a duck waddle of sorts on the sides of my feet into the hotel room and from there, crawled on my hands and knees into the shower.

The repeated pounding had gradually tenderized my feet until the point where they were deep bruises and I could barely walk and wouldn't be able to do so at a normal gate for almost two weeks. I wasn't the only one. My parents were also limping and my younger brother would eventually lose all his toenails for a time until they re-grew back. Now, years later, we often remember that as our own "Trail of Tears." My mom claims that she thought we were silent because she was going too slow and my father, brother and I all think that we were silent because she was going too fast to waste breath on extraneous talking. After we had all gotten cleaned up, we hobbled out to the van where we drove to the nearest Pizza Hut to find the cure for our "pizza and Pepsi on the brain" disease. It sure must have been a site to see four people waddle like ducks, walking on the sides of their feet, come into the restaurant where they proceeded to inhale hot Pizza Hut Supreme pizza and drink enormous amounts of ice cold Pepsi like it was going out of style. They are probably still talking about us.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Buried In a Wooden Cracker Box In South Dakota

My great-great-great aunt Ethel was pregnant and expecting her child to be born around October 1, 1910. In August of that year, she started out with her father (4G grandfather) and her two children for the railroad terminal at Sturgis, South Dakota, which was 85 miles away. Ethel and her husband John had moved to South Dakota for the health of the daughter Susan who was suffering from "lung fever" and Ethel was intending to return to Iowa where her husband had moved back to their family home earlier. When the group was about half way to Sturgis, traveling in a spring wagon, they stopped to camp for the night near a settlement of sorts. Ethel went into premature labor and was delivered of twins by her father and a nurse who happened to be caring for a smallpox patient at the home near where Ethel and her little party were stopped. Even though it was August, it was cold and Ethel was lying on a bed of straw in a tent when both of the baby girls were born on August 4, 1910. One was named Zelena Evelyn and the other Evelyn Zelena but in spite of much effort on the part of the nurse and the family whose home Ethel took refuge in, one of the twins (Evelyn Zelena) died. Her little body was placed in a wooden cracker box filled with cotton and tied with ribbon and buried on a hill in Haakon county, South Dakota.

Friday, June 10, 2005

If You Are Red-Headed, Beware of the Indians!

I found this story of my great-great-great-great Aunt Asenath and thought it was pretty interesting.

Asenath and "Tom's" granddaughter, Sophie Duly DuVall told us this: "I remember my mother telling me about their trip to South Dakota. They had two covered wagons. Grandpa Duly driving one and my Dad driving the other one and we kids would argue who was going to ride with Grandpa. At one time the Indians tried to kidnap my brother, Edward, because he was red-headed. The kept begging my mother for the papoose. So Dad and Grandpa took turns with the shot gun standing guard and when they did come again Grandma Duly hid my brother under her full skirt and put some sewing in her lap and told him to be quiet or they would cut his ears off. While on the way back from South Dakota, Asenath was taken sick and died. She was buried in Salem, South Dakota."

Another Civil War Story

...and here is the story I found of a great-great-great-great uncle from the same branch of the family tree as the last blog entry who fought, was a prisoner of war, and fought again in the Civil War.

Charles Valentine Surfus was a private in Company E, 12th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. He was honorably discharged at Cherwalla, Tennessee on December 25, 1863. He immediately re-enlisted the very same day in Company E, 12th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry as a veteran volunteer. It is surprising that he would re-enlist since he was taken a prisoner-of-war in the first really big battle of the war, the Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburgh Landing) Tennessee, which took place on April 6 and 7, 1862. The 8th, 12th, and the 14th Iowa Volunteers "composed four-fifths" of the troops that held fast under Benjamin Prentiss, in what became known as "The Hornet's Nest" in the battle. After some six hours of savage fighting, Prentiss, finding himself nearly surrounded by the enemy, surrendered his division at 5:30 in the afternoon of April 6. He surrendered some 2,200 men, half of his original force.

After the surrender, Charles V. Surfus marched with the rest of the prisoners some five miles to the rear and "spent a stormy night in a cornfield." From there they were marched to Corinth, Mississippi, where they were put on a train and taken to Mobile, Alabama. At Mobile, the officers and troops were separated; the men whose rank was lieutenant or lower were sent to "loathsome prisons" in Alabama and the officers to Selma. Eventually Charles and all the others, officers and enlisted men alike, were paroled (i.e. exchanged) at Aiken's Landing, Virginia on October 17, 1862. They were rejoined with those men of the Twelfth not taken prisoner and wound up at the Siege of Vicksburg. There followed four more years of fighting, marching, raiding and guarding after which Charles was discharged a first sargeant on January 20, 1866 at Memphis Tennessee. Charles returned to Bristow, Iowa after his final discharge where he spent the rest of his life engaged in the occupation of farming until he died in 1878.

On a side note, his wife Amanda Ann Surfus died on December 15, 1915. Sometime before her death she had gotten up rather hurriedly from bed for some forgotten reason and stubbed her toe on the bed. She got gangrene in her toe and had her leg amputated. She lived about 48 hours after the operation and died in the hospital in Waverly, Iowa.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

A Civil War Story

The following is the story of my great-great-great-great uncle Hiram W. Thomas.

Late in the summer of 1862 after his wife Rachel gave birth to their second child, my 4G uncle Hiram enrolled to serve three years in the 88th Regiment of the Indiana Volunteers, as a soldier in the Union forces. He enlisted in Company C at Leo, Indiana on August 8, 1862 and almost immediately he found himself in Camp Allen at Fort Wayne, Indiana. He and the rest of Company C left Camp Allen on August 26, 1862 and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where he was mustered into service as a private on the 29th day of August 1862. He was 19 days short of being thirty-one years old. Three days after his mustering into government service, he was sent to Louisville, Kentucky. He arrived at Camp Yates, Kentucky on September 6, and on September 17 he had his first taste of warfare when the 88th Indiana went to the aid of General Nelson at Richmond, Kentucky.

A great deal of maneuvering was going on in Kentucky and Tennessee by the Confederate and Union forces in the late summer of 1862 and both sides were determined to control Kentucky. Confederate General Braxton Bragg commanded an army of thirty thousand men near Chattanooga and General Edmund Kirby-Smith had twelve thousand more at Knoxville. Suddenly these two began to move north toward Kentucky, while at the same time, the Army of the Ohio, of which the 88th Indiana was a part, was sitting at Louisville, Kentucky. On August 30, 1862, Kirby-Smith managed to surround Union General William Nelson at Richmond, Kentucky and captured 4,303 Union soldiers.

The men of the 88th Indiana left Louisville on October 1, 1862 under command of General Don Carlos Buell, and met Bragg's forces at Perryville, Kentucky where the Battle of Perryville was fought on October 8, 1862. Although it was an indecisive battle, Buell nevertheless claimed victory. Bragg, an unpredictable man, marched back to Tennessee but Buell failed to pursue him and General William S. Rosecrans replaced him in command. Perryville was the high-water mark of the Confederate invasion of Kentucky and never again did they penetrate that far northward in the West.

Rosecrans was popular with the troops and he was also a good fighter. He spent the weeks following his assumption of command refitting and reorganizing his army. For my 4G-uncle Hiram, the weeks after Perryville were mostly spent on the march from Perryville to Nashville, Tennessee, arriving on December 28. On December 31 and January 1, 2, and 3, they engaged the enemy at the Battle of Stones River not far from Nashville. Some 45,000 Union men under Rosecrans and 37,000 Confederates under Bragg fought a "desperate inconclusive battle on a desolate frozen field" at Stones River. For a time it appeared that the Union forces would be routed, but the men of General George H. Thomas 14th Army Corps, in the center of Rosecrans' line (of which Hiram's Company C was a part) hung on until the shattered troops of Rosecrans' right could regroup in the rear.

The sound of musket fire rose to such a deafening pitch that Confederate soldiers plucked raw cotton from the weedy fields and plugged up their ears. All this took place on December 31 and the next three days were more or less a standoff with sporadic firing from picket lines, but no real battles. Unaccountably, on the night of January 3, Bragg withdrew 36 miles to the south and Rosecrans moved into Murfreesboro. The number of men lost on both sides was shocking, fully one fourth of all the troops of both Armies. Few battles of the Civil War cost more in human lives.

The cost of this battle for my great-great-great-great uncle Hiram W. Thomas was enormous for he lost his life. He was wounded during the battle and removed from the field to Hospital number 21 where he died on January 29, 1863, five months to the day from his enlistment at Indianapolis on August 29, 1862. He left behind a widow and two children, the oldest child just six and the youngest one year old.

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Filipino Independence Day Isn't So Clear Cut

June 12th is Independence Day for the Philippines or at least the day they celebrate it. My wife and I, along with numerous Filipinos from all around the area, are in the midst of preparations for the celebration which we are going to celebrate a day earlier on this coming Saturday. (Nobody wants to party on a Sunday when we will all probably be at church repenting our sins from the night before.) So, wanting to know more about the history of their Independence, I did some research and found that it isn't so clear cut and that numerous Filipinos actually oppose this date and say that July 4, 1946 is the date of their real independence. Although I agree with them, I think I will still be there this Saturday celebrating with the rest of them.

On April 27th, 1521, I would theorize that Filipinos first declared their freedom from Spain when native freedom fighters killed Fernando Magellan on the beach of Mactan, Cebu, Philippines. But since the Philippines was not yet a nation and mainly consisted of warring tribes, historians don't give them credit for winning their freedom on this date. In fact, there have been 32 instances since 1754 of rebellions, mutinies and revolts against the Spanish government in the Philippines. If you count the uprisings against the British occupation of Manila from 1762 to 1764, the total would be 41. This also doesn't include the war for independence waged by Princess Urduja of Pangasinan whose army fought the Spaniards from 1680 to 1692.

On July 7, 1892, a secret society of Filipino rebels called the Katipunan and led by Andres Bonifacioich formed and for the first time really got the ball rolling for obtaining of impendence. The "First Cry of Philippine Independence" started on April 10, 1895 in Montalban, Rizal but "The Cry of Balintawak" on August 26, 1896 was more famous because the Filipino rebels fired the first shots of revolution on that day and more than 3000 freedom fighters died. The Battle of Pinaglabanan in San Juan Rizal followed on August 30th and soon the revolt spread to the other provinces but with little success.

After the U.S. naval victory over Spain in the Spanish-American War in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, the U.S. supplied General Emilio Aguinaldo with arms and urged him to rally the Filipinos against the Spanish. The Filipinos soon had taken the entire island of Luzon, except for the old walled city of Manila and on June 12th, 1898, General Aguinaldo declared independence for the Philippines with very limited support. Some say Aguinaldo had the freedom fighters murdered and also ordered the assassination of another general (General Antonio Luna) in order to be able to declare this independence. Whatever the case, it was short-lived. The Philippines were transferred from Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris (1898), which closed the Spanish-American War.

In 1899, Aquinaldo led a new revolt, this time against the United States but was quickly defeated on the battlefield. The Filipinos turned to guerrilla warfare but were also put down with the capture of Aguinaldo in 1901 at the cost of far more American lives than the Spanish-American War. It wouldn't be until the Jones Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1916, which provided for a Filipino popularly elected government, that the islands would get their first definite pledge of independence even though no specific date was set. The movement for Filipino independence would gain speed in the 1930's but hostilities by Japan would take the U.S focus off of that cause.

On December 7, 1941, Japan attached without warning and their troops invaded the islands causing 80,000 American/Filipino troops to retreat and eventually surrender. For almost five years, the islands were under Japanese rule until July 5, 1945 when General MacArthur announced that, "All the Philippines are now liberated." On July 4, 1946, the Philippines were officially given their freedom with the independence that they had so desperately been seeking since the days of Ferdinand Magellan. However, President Diosdado Macapagal signed an executive order on May 17, 1962 that "moved" the Philippines's independence day from 1946 to 1898. On the basis of the June 12, 1898, alleged declaration of independence by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, President Diosdado thought that it was his mandate to correct "history." He thought it would serve better the national aspirations of the Filipino people to adopt that date as the Philippines's independence day.

Friday, June 3, 2005

Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor

"Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor."
Our Founding Fathers paid the price for the United States of America.
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist
Copyright 2000 Boston Globe

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted 12-0 -- New York abstained -- in favor of Richard Henry Lee's resolution "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."
On July 4, the Declaration of Independence drafted by Thomas Jefferson -- heavily edited by Congress -- was adopted without dissent. On July 8, the Declaration was publicly proclaimed in Philadelphia. On July 15, Congress learned that the New York Legislature had decided to endorse the Declaration. On Aug. 2, a parchment copy was presented to the Congress for signature. Most of the 56 men who put their name to the document did so that day.

And then?

We tend to forget that to sign the Declaration of Independence was to commit an act of treason -- and the punishment for treason was death. To publicly accuse George III of "repeated injuries and usurpations," to announce that Americans were therefore "Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown," was a move fraught with danger -- so much so that the names of the signers were kept secret for six months
They were risking everything, and they knew it. That is the meaning of the Declaration's soaring last sentence: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Most of the signers survived the war; several went on to illustrious careers. Two of them became presidents of the United States, and among the others were future vice presidents, senators, and governors. But not all were so fortunate. Nine of the 56 died during the Revolution, and never tasted American independence. Five were captured by the British. Eighteen had their homes -- great estates, some of them - looted or burnt by the enemy. Some lost everything they owned. Two were wounded in battle. Two others were the fathers of sons killed or captured during the war.

"Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." It was not just a rhetorical flourish. We all recognize John Hancock's signature, but who ever notices the names beneath his? William Ellery, Thomas Nelson, Richard Stockton, Button Gwinnett, Francis Lewis -- to most of us, these are names without meaning. But each represents a real human being, some of whom paid dearly "for the support of this Declaration" and American independence.

Lewis Morris of New York, for example, must have known when he signed the Declaration that he was signing away his fortune. Within weeks, the British ravaged his estate, destroyed his vast woodlands, butchered his cattle, and sent his family fleeing for their lives.

Another New Yorker, William Floyd, was also forced to flee when the British plundered his property. He and his family lived as refugees for seven years without income. The strain told on his wife; she died two years before the war ended.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, an aristocratic planter who had invested heavily in shipping, saw most of his vessels captured by the British navy. His estates were largely ruined, and by the end of his life he was a pauper.

The home of William Ellery, a Rhode Island delegate, was burned to the ground during the occupation of Newport.

Thomas Heyward Jr., Edward Rutledge, and Arthur Middleton, three members of the South Carolina delegation, all suffered the destruction or vandalizing of their homes at the hands of enemy troops. All three were captured when Charleston fell in 1780, and spent a year in a British prison.

"Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Thomas Nelson Jr. of Virginia raised $2 million for the patriots' cause on his own personal credit. The government never reimbursed him, and repaying the loans wiped out his entire estate. During the battle of Yorktown, his house, which had been seized by the British, was occupied by General Cornwallis. Nelson quietly urged the gunners to fire on his own home. They did so, destroying it. He was never again a man of wealth. He died bankrupt and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Richard Stockton, a judge on New Jersey's supreme court, was betrayed by loyalist neighbors. He was dragged from his bed and thrown in prison, where he was brutally beaten and starved. His lands were devastated, his horses stolen, his library burnt. He was freed in 1777, but his health had so deteriorated that he died within five years. His family lived on charity for the rest of their lives.

In the British assault on New York, Francis Lewis's home and property were pillaged. His wife was captured and imprisoned; so harshly was she treated that she died soon after her release. Lewis spent the remainder of his days in relative poverty.

And then there was John Hart. The speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, he was forced to flee in the winter of 1776, at the age of 65, from his dying wife's bedside. While he hid in forests and caves, his home was demolished, his fields and mill laid waste, and his 13 children put to flight. When it was finally safe for him to return, he found his wife dead, his children missing, and his property decimated. He never saw any of his family again and died, a shattered man, in 1779.

The men who signed that piece of parchment in 1776 were the elite of their colonies. They were men of means and social standing, but for the sake of liberty, they pledged it all -- their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. We are in their debt to this day.

Whiskey and Rebellions Run In My Family

My six-great grandfather Leverton Thomas settled in the Peter's Creek area of Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1769 or 1770 with his wife Mary and children. They survived the great Indian massacre of 1774 and made it through the Revolutionary War but like most people, were seeking a way to make some desperately needed cash. Because rye and wheat were the major grain crops at the time and apples and peaches were grown in abundance, the early settlers turned them into whisky and brandy, which were easier to transport and sell across the mountains.

The on March 3, 1791, the federal government in desperate need of money to fund its army after just having fought a war, passed a law for the collecting of "four pence per gallon on distilled spirits." The people of Washington and surrounding counties broke into open rebellion, (in what has been called the Whiskey Rebellion) refused to pay the tax, and generally abused the tax collectors.

"On the 6th of September (1791)... the opposition to the law broke out in an act of open violence... At a place near Pigeon Creek, in Washington County, a party of men armed and disguised waylaid Robert Johnson (collector of revenue for Allegheny and Washington counties), cut off his hair, stripped him of his clothing, tarred and feathered him and took away his horse."

Things really disintegrated from that point on with house burnings, more tarrings and featherings, robbing of the United States mail, and a general state of insurrection.

"In July, 1794, the United States Marshall, summoning offenders to court, met with mass resistance. Nevertheless, the governor of the state... thought that the courts could handle the situation."

But President Washington had other ideas about such a challenge to the authority of the new government and in October 1794 he marched some fifteen thousand militiamen into southwestern Pennsylvania. Not a shot was fired against him. That was the end of the rebellion and the beginning of authority, power and prestige of the United States Government.

My six-great grandfather Leverton Thomas and his son Edmund Thomas were among the rebels involved in the Whiskey Rebellion and were among the citizens of Washington County who took the oath of allegiance to the United States after the rebellion. The oath they took and signed was this:

I do solemnly, in the presence of Almighty God, swear and declare that I will faithfully and sincerely support the Constitution of the United States, and obey all the laws thereof, and will discontinue opposition thereto, except by way of petition and remonstrance, and all attempts to resist, obstruct, or ill treat the officers of the United States in the execution of their respective duties, so help me God.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

A Big Fish Story

A day after climbing Mount Hooker, we had picked up base camp and hiked out of the Baptiste lake valley up to another valley hidden in a small cirque near the base of Robert's Mountain. The next morning, we climbed an unnamed peak right north of camp a couple thousand feet lower than Mount Hooker just to get a view of the terrain. While sitting on that peak enjoying the sun, I was looking down towards our tents a half-mile (mostly vertical) away along a lakeshore when I noticed some strange shadows playing across the water. After about ten minutes of pondering, a light bulb went off inside my head and I suddenly realized what I was seeing. Fish. Big fish! Big cutthroat trout kind of fish!

A couple hours later, now back in camp, I grabbed my fly rod and headed towards the spot where I had seen the fish from a half mile away. There I found a little feeder stream about a yard across trickling into the lake. I could see the huge trout but they could also see me and stayed out further than I could reach with even my longest roll cast of my fly. There was no cover to hide behind and for once I wished the crystal clear waters weren't quite so clear. I needed to change my tactics.

I reeled in my fly and started creeping back from the lake into the high mountain grasses, peppered with flowers of all colors that bordered the feeder stream. Because it was so narrow and the grasses tall, I could easily conceal myself from the lunkers that I knew were probably lurking in it. I found a likely spot where the water was probably a couple feet deep and the grass grew this out over the bank creating a nice hole for a large cutthroat trout to hang out and chill while waiting for dinner to come floating along.

No room to cast, I just let out a length of my line and with a flick of my wrist, tossed my fly into the water six feet upstream of the hole. One... Two... Three... Splash! A silver tail slapped the water, the fly disappeared and my line started racing downstream. Paying out line, I stood up keeping tension on the line while feeding it out so that my super light test wouldn't snap. The cutthroat trout made it to a short pool where the stream widened out to about thirty feet and there we remained battling, me for the catch of a lifetime, him to prevent becoming dinner.

Back and forth we went in a give and take battle, both of us doing more than our fair share. Ten minutes passed, twenty, a half hour. Finally after almost an hour, the mighty cutthroat trout surrendered and I waded into the pool to retrieve my price. I grabbed him by the lower jaw and hoisted him out of the water admiring the bloody line along the gills that give him his name and removed the hook which I had debarbed earlier so not to harm the trout anymore than I had too. My stomach rumbled at the top of fresh trout fried in some butter but my heart suddenly wasn't in it. This huge guy had made one mistake and here I was about to penalize him for it instead of giving him another chance. I started to rationalize that a trout that big would be too hard to cook in my little fry pan and wasn't worth the hassle. I decided to let him go and look for smaller fish to fry.

Cradling him in my hand, I lowered him into the water and held him there upright while he regained his strength. Grabbing the tail, I pushed him back and forth to keep the water moving past those bloody red gills so that he could get some oxygen. Two minutes pass, four and finally with a tired swish of his tail, he cruised out into the pool, heading for the outlet and the lake some forty feet beyond as if he had meant to do this entire ordeal all along. Satisfied, I retrieved my pole and started working the lakeshore back towards camp, trying to find some smaller game.

I had walked probably a hundred yards away from the feeder stream when I saw a mountain climber who had been over by Mount Hooker the day before walking along the far shore of the lake. When he got to the feeder stream he walked up to about where I had hooked my lunker and laid down along the bank, draping one arm up to his elbow into the water. Within about two minutes, he yanked backwards hauling another large cutthroat trout out of the water by his gills and throwing it into the grass. There he pulled out a sheathed knife and with three quick cuts and a swipe of his hand, gutted and beheaded the fish. He rinsed the fish off in the lake and started walking back the way he had come and disappeared up over a notch in the mountain cirque.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The Climbing of Mount Hooker

"It's time," came the voice outside my tent in a half whisper but instantly I was awake and adrenalin already starting to course through my body. It was still pitch black out but I packed my summit pack by memory and feel and stepped outside the tent into the cool mountain air. My father had the gas stove going and a pancake already cooking when I got to the kitchen area, which consisted of some flat rocks along Baptiste Creek. The day before we had climbed up the Creek drainage to Baptiste Lake and has fished for trout in the crystal blue waters so clear you could see the fish swimming forty feet below you. But this morning we ate our breakfast, did some quick dishes, made sure camp was in good order and set off into the darkness in the direction of the huge monolith known as Mount Hooker.

Mount Hooker is an amusingly named mountain that straddles the Continental Divide deep in the wilderness of Wyoming's Wind River Range. It consists of the highest unbroken vertical face in Wyoming and one of the largest in the entire Rocky Mountains with a massive plateau summit close to one hundred acres in size that was carved from high plateaus by glaciers. The ancient plateau surface is covered in boulders of frost-shattered felsenmeer and in two places is connected to surrounding peaks by steep ridges and faces. Wyoming's Wind River Range runs southeast from its intersection with the Absaroka Mountains at Togwotee Pass to South Pass, where the Continental Divide yields to the rolling hills and sagebrush desert of the Great Divide Basin. Nearly the entire range is wilderness totaling roughly 1 million acres, without a single road crossing or even entering the entire range.

We begin to climb the drainage towards Hailey's Pass for a while until we get to the lower slopes of Mount Hooker. The steep sixty-degree grassy slope salted with large boulders provides fairly easy climbing as we start our accent in dawn's early light. By the time we reach the south face slabs along the often overlooked southern scrambling route, the sky is an eggshell blue even though the sun is still caught behind a mountain on the east side of the valley. We pause for a moment to catch our breath and then begin hiking further up among the rocks.

In 1877, a scientific expedition hosted by Ferdinand Hayden (first director of the U.S. Geological Survey) to the Rocky Mountains was lead by an American botanist Asa Gray and English naturalist Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker. Thought out the later half of the nineteenth century, Joseph Hooker would lead scientific explorations around the globe to Antarctica, the Himalayas, Africa, Australia and the Middle East, which would dramatically increase our understanding of the taxonomic and geographical distribution of plants. He served for a while as president of the Royal Society and his life's accomplishments resulted in their attachment of names to Mt. Hooker and Gray's Peak.

We came to the hardest part of our climb where the ramp narrowed down to only ten feet with huge vertical drops off to each side. Our way was blocked by a huge slab of boulder, that was tilted slightly towards one of those vertical drops and tilted sharply along the slope of the mountain, that could only be scaled by friction walking up it and relying on the your weight holding the rubber sole of your boot to the rough granite surface. It was fairly easy going up but I was certain it would be more than a little spooky on our way back down. Soon we had topped out on the plateau and after taking drinks from puddles of the sweetest, purest tasting water caught in hollows of the boulders from last night's rain, we were boulder hopping our way to the summit.

W.O. Owen would claim the first ascent in 1890 of Mount Hooker but since naming conventions for the mountains have undergone many changes over the years, his ascent is uncertain. The previous location for Mt. Hooker may have been the current Dike Mountain (I'm not making this up folks), which is named for it's mafic intrusion. Owen was known for leaving his name chiseled into a summit rock and there isn't one on either of the mountains, which casts even more doubt on his first ascent claim. The vertical North Face was first climbed in 1964 by a group of climbers from California that included Royal Robbins. Now a number of routes exist on this face, all are difficult due to the discontinuous crack systems.

I looked at my watch, which registered just past ten o'clock in the morning, and then back up to see the magnificent view that was spread out before me from the summit of Mount Hooker. A slight wind was blowing from the west but still enough to chill us in the higher elevations where we currently were. We feasted on the view for a while before hunkering down in the sun filled rocks on the east side out of the wind to munch on an early lunch and to absorb the experience. Every now and then when we were good and toasty warm from the suns rays upon the baking stone like granite rocks, we would re-climb back up to the summit to view the world around us. It was beautiful.

We did this for slightly over two hours before the first wisps of clouds appeared on the western horizon signaling the coming of the normal afternoon thunderstorms. We headed down the way we have come, successfully navigating the friction rock that was very spooky as I had predicted and made our way down the mountain. Just as we climbed into the less steep drainage leading away from Hailey pass, the first big fat drops of rain began to pelt us as we made our way back to camp several miles away. I didn't mind. I still had the view from the summit of Mount Hooker replaying in my mind.