Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 20, 2014

Samuel Adams—September 27, 1722



Samuel Adams.
September 27, 1722—October 2, 1803.

His nature is too noble for the world:
He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
Or Jove for his power to thunder.—

—Shakespeare, Coriolanus, III, i.


For your use I subjoin the following creed of every good American:—

I BELIEVE that in every kingdom, state, or empire there must be, from the necessity of the thing, one supreme legislative power, with authority to bind every part in all cases the proper object of human laws. I believe that to be bound by laws to which he does not consent by himself, or by his representative, is the direct definition of a slave. I do therefore believe that a dependence on Great Britain, however the same may be limited or qualified, is utterly inconsistent with every idea of liberty, for the defence of which I have solemnly pledged my life and fortune to my countrymen; and this engagement I will sacredly adhere to so long as I shall live. Amen.

—Samuel Adams, from To His Majesty’s Commissioners (1778).

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 19, 2014

Commentary: Fred On Everything—King George Days


Fred Reed, over at Fred On Everything, comments on laws and culture.


You can’t impose decency, honesty, good behavior, or responsibility. They are in the culture, or they are not. If they are, you don’t need laws, police, and supervison. If they are not, laws won’t much help. And this is why the US is over, at least as the country we knew.



King George Days

When We Were America

September 16, 2014

I beg the reader’s indulgence since this is in a large sense a personal communication more than a column for all. It will resonate with many, or some, so I post it anyway.

I am preparing to fly to Fredericksburg, Virginia, for the—God almighty—fifty-year high-school reunion of King George High School. Perhaps we all do it eventually, unless of course we don’t. It is a curious thing, I have learned at previous reunions, to meet after half a century people you last saw when they were seventeen. They seem so little changed.

Mostly wooded, on the Potomac River, Dahlgren Naval Proving Ground the biggest employer, with a fair number of kids who got up at four-thirty in the morning to help their fathers with commercial crabbing on the river.

There was nothing special about the class of 1964, or about King George High, except for those of us who were in it. Our yearbook looked like ten thousand others across America, portraits with acne removed in the photo lab, the basket ball team exactly like everybody else’s, the cheerleaders conventionally glorious, conventional adolescent good-byes in ball-point pen—but without misspelling or bad grammar.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 18, 2014

Weekly Story: A Day on the Oregon Trail

Weekly Story

Enoch W. Conyers—early settler of Clatskanie, Oregon—describes in his diary a day of travel along the Oregon Trail.

This circumstance is only one of the many that has happened this season in crossing the continent.



A Day on the Oregon Trail.


August 23 [1852]—Monday.—We started at 8 a. m.

TRAVELING over a very rocky ridge for one and a half miles brought us to Burnt River again. This stream we crossed and traveled on seven miles over a very rough, dusty road, crossing this same stream twice more. Here we stopped for lunch.

After lunch we traveled three miles—very hilly—to a cold mountain stream of water. Three miles and a half more brought us to another cold spring of water.

Just below this last spring we found a family, consisting of husband, wife and four small children, whose cattle, as we supposed, had given out and died. They were here all alone and no wagon or cattle in sight, the husband sick and scarcely able to raise his head from the pillow, lying by the roadside in the shade of some small bushes to protect them from the burning rays of the sun.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 16, 2014

The Pilgrims Leave The Old World Behind

Freedom of Religion

William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Plantation, relates their reasons for leaving the Old World.

The other partie, though under many colours & pretences, endevored to have ye episcopall dignitie (affter ye popish maner) with their large power & jurisdiction still retained; with all those courts, cannons, & ceremonies, togeather with all such livings, revenues, & subordinate officers, with other such means as formerly upheld their Antichristian greatnes, and enabled them with lordly & tyranous power to persecute ye poore servants of God.


Church of England Heretics.



And first of ye occasion and indusments ther unto; the which that I may truly unfould, I must begine at ye very roote & rise of ye same. The which I shall endevor to manefest in a plaine stile, with singuler regard unto ye simple trueth in all things, at least as near as my slender judgmente can attaine the same.

1. Chapter.

IT is well knowne unto ye godly and judicious, how ever since ye first breaking out of ye lighte of ye gospell in our Honourable Nation of England, (which was ye first of nations whom ye Lord adorned ther with, affter yt grosse darknes of popery which had covered & overspred ye Christian worled,) what warrs & opposissions ever since, Satan hath raised, maintained, and continued against the Saincts, from time to time, in one sorte or other. Some times by bloody death and cruell torments; other whiles imprisonments, banishments, & other hard usages; as being loath his kingdom should goe downe, the trueth prevaile, and ye churches of God reverte to their anciente puritie, and recover their primative order, libertie, & bewtie. But when he could not prevaile by these means, against the maine trueths of ye gospell, but that they began to take rootting in many places, being watered with ye blooud of ye martires, and blessed from heaven with a gracious encrease; he then begane to take him to his anciente strategemes, used of old against the first Christians. That when by ye bloody & barbarous persecutions of ye Heathen Emperours, he could not stoppe & subuerte the course of ye gospell, but that it speedily overspred with a wounderfull celeritie the then best known parts of ye world.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 15, 2014

The Gods of the Copybook Maxims




AS I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place;
Peering through reverent fingers, I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Maxims, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision, and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 11, 2014

Correspondence: Mohammedans at the Gates of Vienna


In September, 1683, after the defeat of the Mohammadans at the Gates of Vienna, John Sobieski—commander of the Europeans—writes to his wife with an account of the battle.

Non nobis, non nobis, Domine exercituum, sed nomini tuo da gloriam.—Psalm 115:1.


Plan of the Siege of Vienna in 1683.


Mohammedans at the Gates of Vienna.


To Marysieńka.

In The Tent of the Vizier.
The 13th of September, at night.

There Was a Man sent from God,
Whose Name was John.

ONLY joy of my soul, charming and much loved Mariette! God be praised for ever! He has given the victory to our nation! He has given such a triumph as past ages have never seen. All the artillery, all the camp of the Musulmans, infinite riches have fallen into our hands. The approaches to the city, the fields round, are covered with the dead of the infidel army, and the remains of it are flying in consternation. Our people are bringing us every minute camels, mules, oxen, and sheep, which the enemy had with him, and besides an innumerable quantity of prisoners. The victory has been so sudden and so extraordinary that, in the city as in the camp, there was always a state of alarm. People fancied every moment that they saw the enemy return. He has left in powder and ammunition to the value of a million florins. I was witness this night to a spectacle which I had long desired to see. Our baggage-companies have in several places set fire to gunpowder; the explosion was like that of the Last Judgment, without, however, doing injury to any one. I could see on the occasion in what way clouds are formed in the atmosphere, but it is a misfortune; it is really a loss of half a million. The Vizier, Kara Mustapha, abandoned everything in his flight, he has only kept his clothing and horse. It is I who am his heir, for the greater part of his wealth has fallen into my hands.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 10, 2014

Weekly Story: Napoleon Conquers Moscow

Weekly Story

In September, 1812, a victorious Napoleon enters Moscow.

The defence of our country, of our independence and national honour, have forced me to unsheath the sword. I will not return it to the scabbard as long as a single enemy remains on the Russian territory.—Emperor Alexander.



The Burning of Moscow.


THE sight of the grotesque towers and venerable walls of the Kremlin first revived the Emperor’s imagination, and rekindled those dreams of Oriental conquest, which from his earliest years had floated in his mind. His followers, dispersed over the vast extent of the city, gazed with astonishment on the sumptuous palaces of the nobles and the gilded domes of the churches. The mixture of architectural decoration and shady foliage, of Gothic magnificence and Eastern luxury, excited the admiration of the French soldiers, more susceptible than any other people of impressions of that description. Evening came on: with increasing wonder the French troops traversed the central parts of the metropolis, recently so crowded with passengers; but not a living creature was to be seen to explain the universal desolation. It seemed like a city of the dead. Night approached; an unclouded moon illuminated those beautiful palaces—those vast hotels—those deserted streets: all was still—the silence of the tomb. The officers broke open the doors of some of the principal mansions in search of sleeping quarters. They found everything in perfect order; the bedrooms were fully furnished as if guests were expected; the drawing-rooms bore the marks of having been recently inhabited; even the work of the ladies was on the tables, the keys in the wardrobes; but not an inmate was to be seen. By degrees a few of the lowest class of slaves emerged, pale and trembling, from the cellars, showed the way to the sleeping apartments, and laid open everything which these sumptuous mansions contained; but the only account they could give was that the whole inhabitants had fled, and that they alone were left in the deserted city.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | September 3, 2014

Booker T. Washington: Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are

American Debate

In September, 1895, Booker T. Washington—of the Tuskegee Institute—addresses the Atlanta Exposition.

To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”—cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.


Cast Down Your Bucket Where You Are.

Address by Booker T. Washington, Principal of Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama, at opening of Atlanta Exposition, September 18, 1895.



ONE-THIRD of the population of the South is of the Negro race. No enterprise seeking the material, civil, or moral welfare of this section can disregard this element of our population and reach the highest success. I but convey to you, Mr. President and Directors, the sentiment of the masses of my race when I say that in no way have the value and manhood of the American negro been more fittingly and generously recognized than by the managers of this magnificent Exposition at every stage of its progress. It is a recognition that will do more to cement the friendship of the two races than any occurrence since the dawn of our freedom.

Not only this, but the opportunity here afforded will awaken among us a new era of industrial progress. Ignorant and inexperienced, it is not strange that in the first years of our new life we began at the top instead of at the bottom; that a seat in Congress or the State Legislature was more sought than real estate or industrial skill; that the political convention or stump speaking had more attractions than starting a dairy farm or truck garden.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | August 28, 2014

Power Plant Men Show Their True Colors


The Plant Electrician, at Power Plant Men, remarks upon the people he worked with.


I suppose I could go down a list of times where power plant men did something nice for me. I probably would just be describing a regular day at work with this bunch of grubby guys in tee shirts and jeans and work boots. This post would become long and monotonous pretty fast. So, let me just focus on one example that illustrates what I’m talking about.



Power Plant Men Show Their True Colors — Repost

By Plant Electrician on August 27, 2014

Originally posted August 23, 2013:

If you happened to stop some Saturday evening at the old gas station just north of the Power Plant in North Central Oklahoma back in the late 70’s around supper time, you might run into a group of grubby men that looked like they had fallen into a coal bin.  They might look like they had been swimming in a batch of coal dust and sweat.  Dark hair greasy with the grime of the day.  If you took a closer look and observed their handkerchief after it had been used, you would have seen the black slime soaking through.  The pores in their skin darkened by the black dust they had been wading through.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | August 27, 2014

The Virginia Petition

American Papers

In 1772, just prior to the American Revolution, Virginia petitions George III to allow them to halt the slave trade to the colony.








MR Harrison reported from the Committee appointed* upon Friday, the twentieth Day of last Month, to draw up an Address to be presented to his Majesty, that the Committee had drawn up an Address accordingly, which they had directed him to report to the House; and he read the same in his Place, and afterwards delivered it in at the Clerk’s Table; where the same was read, and is as followeth, viz.

Most Gracious Sovereign,

We, your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Burgesses of Virginia, now met in General Assembly, beg Leave, with all Humility, to approach your Royal Presence.

The many Instances of your Majesty’s benevolent Intentions and most gracious Disposition to promote the Prosperity and Happiness of your Subjects in the Colonies, encourage us to look up to the Throne, and implore your Majesty’s paternal Assistance in averting a Calamity of a most alarming Nature.

The Importation of Slaves into the Colonies from the Coast of Africa hath long been considered as a Trade of great Inhumanity, and, under its present Encouragement, we have too much Reason to fear will endanger the very Existance of your Majesty’s American Dominions.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | August 26, 2014

Weekly Story: Franklin—On Whitefield

Weekly Story

Benjamin Franklin relates the story of George Whitefield in America.

Some of Mr. Whitefield’s enemies affected to suppose that he would apply these collections to his own private emolument; but I, who was intimately acquainted with him, being employed in printing his Sermons and Journals, never had the least suspicion of his integrity; but am to this day decidedly of opinion, that he was in all his conduct a perfectly honest man; and methinks my testimony in his favour ought to have the more weight, as we had no religious connexion. He us’d, indeed, sometimes, to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard. Ours was a mere civil friendship, sincere on both sides, and lasted to his death.



George Whitefied in America.


IN 1739, arrived among us from Ireland the Reverend Mr. Whitefield, who had made himself remarkable there as an itinerant preacher. He was at first permitted to preach in some of our churches; but the clergy, taking a dislike to him, soon refus’d him their pulpits, and he was oblig’d to preach in the fields. The multitudes of all sects and denominations that attended his sermons were enormous, and it was a matter of speculation to me, who was one of the number, to observe the extraordinary influence of his oratory on his hearers, and how much they admir’d and respected him, notwithstanding his common abuse of them, by assuring them, they were naturally half beasts and half devils. It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | August 22, 2014

Justice Joseph Story—On the Separation of Church and State

Foundations of the United States Constitution

In 1833, Joseph Story—selected for the Supreme Court by James Madison in 1811—publishes a three volume commentary on the United States Constitution. Included is a commentary on the Bill of Rights.

Now, there will probably be found few persons in this, or any other Christian country, who would deliberately contend, that it was unreasonable, or unjust to foster and encourage the Christian religion generally, as a matter of sound policy, as well as of revealed truth.




§ 1863. Let us now enter upon the consideration of the amendments, which, it will be found, principally regard subjects properly belonging to a bill of rights.

§ 1864. The first is, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition government for a redress of grievances.”

§ 1865. And first, the prohibition of any establishment of religion, and the freedom of religious opinion and worship.

How far any government has a right to interfere in matters touching religion, has been a subject much discussed by writers upon public and political law. The right and the duty of the interference of government, in matters of religion, have been maintained by many distinguished authors, as well those, who were the warmest advocates of free governments, as those, who were attached to governments of a more arbitrary character.1 Indeed, the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice. The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion, the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God; the responsibility to him for all our actions, founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues;—these never can be a matter of indifference in any well ordered community.2 It is, indeed, difficult to conceive, how any civilized society can well exist without them. And at all events, it is impossible for those, who believe in the truth of Christianity, as a divine revelation, to doubt, that it is the especial duty of government to foster, and encourage it among all the citizens and subjects. This is a point wholly distinct from that of the right of private judgment in matters of religion, and of the freedom of public worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | August 19, 2014


Considerations by the Way

The first children’s picture book is published in 1658—in Latin and German.

We shall not presume to anticipate the judgment of our fellow-citizens throughout the Union on these important letters, by interposing any comments of our own.—Four Letters on the Important Subject of Government, 1802.



Justice. CXVI. Justitia.


JUSTICE, 1. is painted, sitting on a square stone, 2. for she out to be immoveable; with hood-winked eyes, 3. that she may not respect persons; stopping the left ear, 4. to be reserved for the other party;

Holding in her Right Hand a Sword, 5. and a Bridle, 6. to punish and restrain evil men;

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