Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 26, 2014

Lincoln—National Thanksgiving Day


During the dark days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln establishes the last Thursday of November as the National Thanksgiving Day.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

Day of national thanksgiving.



THE year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequal magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

Great Seal of the United States.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 25, 2014

The Light Of Stars

This poem was written on a beautiful summer night. The moon, a little strip of silver, was just setting behind the groves of Mount Auburn, and the planet Mars blazing in the southeast. There was a singular light in the sky.—H.W.L.


The Light of Stars.


THE night is come, but not too soon;
And sinking silently,
All silently, the little moon
Drops down behind the sky.

There is no light in earth or heaven,
But the cold light of stars;
And the first watch of night is given
To the red planet Mars.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 24, 2014

Robert Rogers—Plan of Discipline

Background of the American Revolution

During the French and Indian War, Major Robert Rogers—in his Journal—records his instruction to the frontier militiamen assigned him.

Such in general are the rules to be observed in the Ranging service; there are, however, a thousand occurrences and circumstances which may happen, that will make it necessary, in some measure, to depart from them, and to put other arts and stratagems in practice; in which cases every man’s reason and judgment must be his guide …

Rogers Rock—The Battle on Snow Shoes, March 13, 1758.


General Rules
(or Plan of Discipline)
for the
Ranging Service.
Major Robert Rogers.



THESE volunteers I formed into a company by themselves, and took the more immediate command and management of them to myself; and for their benefit and instruction reduced into writing the following rules or plan of discipline, which, on various occasions, I had found by experience to be necessary and advantageous, viz.:

I. All Rangers are to be subject to the rules and articles of war; to appear at roll-call every evening on their own parade, equipped, each with a fire-lock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet, at which time an officer from each company is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute’s warning; and before they are dismissed the necessary guards are to be draughted, and scouts for the next day appointed.

II. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemies forts or frontiers for discoveries, if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body, if the ground you march over will admit of it, to give the signal to the officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number, &c.

III. If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other, to prevent the enemy from tracking you, (as they would do if you marched in a single file) till you get over such ground, and then resume your former order, and march till it is quite dark before you encamp, which do, if possible, on a piece of ground that may afford your centries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy at some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 22, 2014

Commentary: A Toad-Eater


An editor describes a common creature.


I am not at all surprised that a countryman, who generally lives upon the fruit of his labour, and breathes the sweet air of real independence, should not understand what a Toad-eater means.

A Toad-Eater.


A “COUNTRYMAN” asks me the meaning of the appellation Toad-eater. I am not at all surprised that a countryman, who generally lives upon the fruit of his labour, and breathes the sweet air of real independence, should not understand what a Toad-eater means; I shall, therefore, endeavour to explain its meaning to him.—

A Toad-eater, odd as it may seem, is an animal that walks upon two legs. His chief business in life is to seek his food; and, provided he can obtain the end, he is not delicate about the means; but the quality from which he derives his name, is standing in the gap, and swallowing the satire that would otherwise be forced down the throat of a rich knave or fool, rather than do which there is no man of spirit would not swallow that most loathsome of all creatures, a toad. Hence the name of Toad-eater.—

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 20, 2014

Loguen—To the Syracuse Citizens Convention

Background of the American Civil War

Immediately following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, Rev. Jermain W. Loguen—a fugitive slave from Tennessee—addresses the citizens of Syracuse, New York.

Mr. President, long ago I was beset by over prudent and good men and women to purchase my freedom. Nay, I was frequently importuned to consent that they purchase it, and present it as an evidence of their partiality to my person and character. Generous and kind as those friends were, my heart recoiled from the proposal. I owe my freedom to the God who made me, and who stirred me to claim it against all other beings in God’s universe. I will not, nor will I consent, that any body else shall countenance the claims of a vulgar despot to my soul and body. … I received my freedom from Heaven, and with it came the command to defend my title to it. I have long since resolved to do nothing and suffer nothing that can, in any way, imply that I am indebted to any power but the Almighty for my manhood and personality.

The Address
Rev. Jermain W. Loguen
to the
Fugitive Slave Act Citizens Convention
Syracuse, New York.
October 4, 1850.




Rev. Jermain Wesley Loguen.

HE [the fugitive] was a slave; he knew the dangers he was exposed to. He had made up his mind as to the course he was to take. On that score he needed no counsel, nor did the colored citizens generally. They had taken their stand—they would not be taken back to slavery. If to shoot down their assailants should forfeit their lives, such result was the least of the evil. They will have their liberties or die in their defence. What is life to me if I am to be a slave in Tennessee? My neighbors! I have lived with you many years, and you know me. My home is here, and my children were born here. I am bound to Syracuse by pecuniary interests, and social and family bonds. And do you think I can be taken away from you and from my wife and children, and be a slave in Tennessee? Has the President and his Secretary sent this enactment up here, to you, Mr. Chairman, to enforce on me in Syracuse?—and will you obey him? Did I think so meanly of you—did I suppose the people of Syracuse, strong as they are in numbers and love of liberty—or did I believe their love of liberty was so selfish, unmanly and unchristian—did I believe them so sunken and servile and degraded as to remain at their homes and labors, or, with none of that spirit which smites a tyrant down, to surround a United States Marshal to see me torn from my home and family, and burled back to bondage—I say did I think so meanly of you, I could never come to live with you. Nor should I have stopped, on my return from Troy, twenty-four hours since, but to take my family and moveables to a neighborhood which would take fire, and arms, too, to resist the least attempt to execute this diobolical law among them. Some kind and good friends advise me to quit my country, and stay in Canada, until this tempest is passed. I doubt not the sincerity of such counsellors. But my conviction is strong, that their advice comes from a lack of knowledge of themselves and the case in hand. I believe that their own bosoms are charged to the brim with qualities that will smite to the earth the villains who may interfere to enslave any man in Syracuse. I apprehend the advice is suggested by the perturbation of the moment, and not by the tranquil spirit that rules above the storm, in the eternal home of truth and wisdom. Therefore have I hesitated to adopt this advice, at least until I have the opinion of this meeting. Those friends have not canvassed this subject . I have. They are called suddenly to look at it. I have looked at it steadily, calmly, resolutely, and at length defiantly, for a long time. I tell you the people of Syracuse and of the whole North must meet this tyranny and crush it by force, or be crushed by it. This hellish enactment has precipitated the conclusion that white men must live in dishonorable submission, and colored men be slaves, or they must give their physical as well as intellectual powers to the defence of human rights. The time has come to change the tones of submission into tones of defiance, —and to tell Mr. Fillmore and Mr. Webster, if they propose to execute this measure upon us, to send on their blood-hounds. Mr. President, long ago I was beset by over prudent and good men and women to purchase my freedom. Nay, I was frequently importuned to consent that they purchase it, and present it as an evidence of their partiality to my person and character. Generous and kind as those friends were, my heart recoiled from the proposal. I owe my freedom to the God who made me, and who stirred me to claim it against all other beings in God’s universe. I will not, nor will I consent, that any body else shall countenance the claims of a vulgar despot to my soul and body. Were I in chains, and did these kind people come to buy me out of prison, I would acknowledge the boon with inexpressible thankfulness. But I feel no chains, and am in no prison. I received my freedom from Heaven, and with it came the command to defend my title to it. I have long since resolved to do nothing and suffer nothing that can, in any way, imply that I am indebted to any power but the Almighty for my manhood and personality.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 18, 2014

By An Evolutionist


By An Evolutionist.

It is hard to believe in God; but it is harder not to believe. I believe in God, not from what I see in Nature, but from what I find in man.—Tennyson, A Memoir.


THE Lord let the house of a brute to the soul of a man,

And the man said ‘Am I your debtor?’

And the Lord—‘Not yet: but make it as clean as you can,

And then I will let you a better.’

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 13, 2014

Weekly Story: Fort Gunnybags

Weekly Story

In 1856, private citizens choose a headquarters for their campaign against a corrupt political machine.

For a considerable time after the organization of the Committee, on account of the strenuous opposition of their enemies, who were ironically called the “Law and Order party,” great apprenensions were felt of a clash with the State, if not also with the United States, authorities; and the fact was recognized that the Vigilance headquarters would be untenable in case of an attack.



Fort Gunnybags.
The Old Stronghold of the Vigilance Committee.


Only the points that pertain to the building the Committee used as its headquarters concern us here. These, abstracted for this article by Mr. Theodore H. Hittell from his History, are as follows:—

THE third volume of my “History” gives a full account of the building on the south side of Sacramento street between Davis and Front, which was known in the old days as “Fort Gunnybags.” It is the low, two story, brick, business house, with flat roof, the fourth from the corner of Front street. It had been occupied by the firm of Truett and Jones, wholesale liquor merchants, up to Saturday, May 17, 1856, when the famous Vigilance Committee engaged the second story, moved into it, and established their head-quarters. For a short time Truett & Jones continued on the second floor, but, as the work of the Vigilance Committee expanded and more room was required, the firm was induced to remove, and the committee took charge and control of the whole building and remained there until their final adjournment.

It was there, in front of the second story windows, that James P. Casey and Charles Cora were hanged by the Committee on Thursday, May 22, 1856,—Casey for the murder of James King of William, editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin, and Cora for the murder of William H. Richardson, United States Marshal. Wooden platforms had been run out from two of the windows, extending about a yard beyond the line of the building and provided with hinges at the edges of the sills. These platforms were held in horizontal position by cords fastened at their outer ends, passing up to beams which projected from the roof directly over them and then to the top of the building out of sight. To the projecting beams were also attached the fatal ropes with nooses and slip knots, prepared beforehand. Casey was attended by Father Maraschi and Cora by Father Accolti. Armed files of Vigilance soldiers took up most of the street in front; but the rest of it and several vacant lots on the opposite side and the streets and housetops for blocks around were filled with immense crowds of sympathizing people, Everything was conducted as orderly and calmly as was possible under the circumstances. At twenty-one minutes after one o’clock in the afternoon, the legs of each having been strapped together, the ropes were adjusted about their necks; white caps were drawn over their heads; and at a signal from within the cords holding up the platforms were severed on the roof and the doomed men fell a distance of about six feet. They died apparently without a struggle. Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | November 12, 2014

A Psalm of Praise

Considerations by the Way

An ancient philosopher celebrates in a manner befitting.

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.


And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.—2 Samuel 6:5.


A Song of Praise.


MAKE a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | October 29, 2014

Public Service Notice: Woodpile Report Closes

Public Service Notice

NOTICE: After ten years, Ol’ Remus is closing out the Woodpile Report.

What’s with the title Woodpile Report? Well, it’s this way, from January of 2004 until mid-2007 it was emailed to a subscibers list. In that form it was titled the Woodpile Weather Report. A picture of ol’ Remus’s woodpile appeared at the top as both a weather report and, by documenting the progression from log pile to chunkwood to a split ‘n stacked woodpile, a witness to the seasonal changes. It was the thin thread from which comments hung. As thrilling as all that was, the comments metastasized and took over. But the title remains.



art-link-symbol-small-rev01.jpg Ridin’ into the sunset

Hello. I’m stepping out from behind my Remus persona to tell you something directly. Woodpile Report will come to an end soon, a month say, maybe sooner. Yep, jes like that. Gone. Why? Well, it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed doing it. I’ll miss it. But I won’t miss it enough to keep doing it for ten more years. And I’ve put off other things long enough. So it’s time for ol’ Remus to tap the dottle from his pipe, get his coat ‘n hat and go back to where he came from. I now return you to your regularly scheduled Woodpile Report. Remus, take it away.

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | October 28, 2014

Weekly Story: A Strange Adventure

Weekly Story

A Mounted Policeman relates a story of the old Canadian North West.

I was not much the worse for my experience of the previous day, but the more I thought over the matter, the more bewildered and astonished I became.



A Strange Adventure.


FOR some years after the advent of the North West Mounted Police into the western portion of the then Prince Rupert’s land, and to-day known as the North West Territories, the newness, and also the strangeness, of the country, were a source of unfailing interest to us, who belonged to that force. Game of all kinds abounded throughout the country and as we came to the foot hills of the Rockies, bear, elk and moose were often to be seen. This class of game was little molested by the tribe of Blackfeet Indians, whose home was out on the plains, and who lived altogether on the buffalo, which animals supplied them not only with meat, but nearly everything, either directly or indirectly, that they required. The streams were full of fish of many kinds, trout being the most plentiful, and near the mountains, salmon trout which often weighed fifteen to eighteen pounds were easily to be caught.

In the summer of 1875 I determined to take a trip from the fort on Old Man river to the foot hills of the mountains, and up that river about 40 miles for the purpose of fishing, also intending to give one day to deer hunting. Deer of two kinds were always to be found in the patches of brush and timber along the river bottom, called black and white tail by the hunters of the west. These were not a very large species, but the venison was excellent, and made a welcome addition to our mess, as a continuous course of buffalo meat was found monotonous after a while.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | October 27, 2014

The Body of Liberties—1641

Background of the American Revolution

In December, 1641, the Puritans pass the first code of law in New England.

This session continued three weeks, and established 100 laws, which were called the Body of Liberties. They had been composed by Mr. Nathaniel Ward, (sometime pastor of the church of Ipswich: he had been a minister in England, and formerly a student and practiser in the course of the common law,) and had been revised and altered by the court, and sent forth into every town to be further considered of, and now again in this court, they were revised, amended, and presented, and so established for three years, by that experience to have them fully amended and established to be perpetual.—Winthrop’s History of New England.

The Body of Liberties.




THE free fruition of such liberties Immunities and priveledges as humanitie, Civilitie, and Christianitie call for as due to every man in his place and proportion without impeachment and Infringement hath ever bene and ever will be the tranquillitie and Stabilitie of Churches and Commonwealths. And the deniall or deprivall thereof, the disturbance if not the ruine of both.

We hould it therefore our dutie and safetie whilst we are about the further establishing of this Government to collect and expresse all such freedomes as for present we foresee may concerne us, and our posteritie after us, And to ratify them with our sollemne consent.

Wee doe therefore this day religiously and unanimously decree and confirme these following Rites, liberties and priveledges concerneing our Churches, and Civill State to be respectively impartiallie and inviolably enjoyed and observed throughout our Jurisdiction for ever.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | October 18, 2014

Shipley’s Speech—1774

Background of the American Revolution

Following the Boston Tea Party, Dr. Jonathan Shipley—Bishop of St. Asaph—writes a speech intended for the debate in the House of Lords over altering the charter for Massachusetts. Subsequently published, Benjamin Franklin—his good friend—deems it “a masterpiece of eloquence.”

Let us be content with the spoils and the destruction of the east. If your lordships can see no impropriety in it, let the plunderer and oppressor still go free. But let not the love of liberty be the only crime you think worthy of punishment. I fear we shall soon make it a part of our national character, to ruin every thing that has the misfortune to depend upon us.

of the
Bishop of St. Asaph.



A Speech intended to have been spoken on the Bill for altering the Charters of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay.

IT is of such great importance to compose, or even to moderate, the dissensions which subsist at present between our unhappy country and her colonies, that I cannot help endeavoring, from the faint prospect I have of contributing something to so good an end. to overcome the inexpressible reluctance I feel at uttering my thoughts before the most respectable of all audiences.

The true object of all our deliberations on this occasion, which I hope we shall never lose sight of, is a full and cordial reconciliation with North America. Now I own, my lords, I have many doubts whether the terrors and punishments we hang out to them at present are the surest means of producing this reconciliation. Let us at least do this justice to the people of North America, to own that we can all remember a time when they were much better friends than at present to their mother country. They are neither our natural nor our determined enemies. Before the stamp-act, we considered them in the light of as good subjects as the natives of any county in England.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | October 12, 2014

Emerson—The Man with the Hoe

American Thought

Emerson’s essay on “Farming”—first published in Society and Solitude—was initially an oration given to the Middlesex Agricultural Society during the Cattle-Show on September 29, 1858. He originally called the address “The Man with the Hoe.”

“Not so, Mr. Malthus, but just the opposite of so is the fact.”




Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen:—I suppose there is no anniversary that meets from all parties a more entire good will than this rural festival. Town and country, trader and manufacturer, clerk and layman, sailor and soldier, men and women, all have an equal stake in the prosperity of the farmer. It is well with all when it is well with him. He has no enemy, and all are loud in his praise. Every wise State has favored him, and the best men have held him highest. Cato said, when it was said that such or such a man was a good husbandman, it was looked upon as the very highest compliment. Of all the rewards given by the Romans to great public benefactors, the most valued and the rarest bestowed was the crown of grass, given only by the acclamation of the army for the preservation of the army by the valor of one man. Since the dependence, not of the whole army, but of the whole state, rests on the tiller of the ground, the arval crown, the crown of grass, should be more rightfully awarded to the farmer. Let us then look at the condition of the farmer, or the Man with the Hoe, at his strength and weakness, at his aids and servants, at his greater and lesser means, and his share in the great future which opens before the people of this country.—Exordium to the Cattle-Show Address.

THE glory of the farmer is that, in the division of labors, it is his part to create. All trade rests at last on his primitive activity. He stands close to nature; he obtains from the earth the bread and the meat. The food which was not, he causes to be. The first farmer was the first man, and all historic nobility rests on possession and use of land. Men do not like hard work, but every man has an exceptional respect for tillage, and a feeling that this is the original calling of his race, that he himself is only excused from it by some circumstance which made him delegate it for a time to other hands. If he have not some skill which recommends him to the farmer, some product for which the farmer will give him corn, he must himself return into his due place among the planters. And the profession has in all eyes its ancient charm, as standing nearest to God, the first cause.

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