The True Date of America’s Declaration of Independence: Fact, Fiction, Myth
July 2, 2011

Signatures Came on July 2, 1776

Declaration Not Signed By Most Everyone Until August 2, 1776 and Some Later

On This Date in History: 235 years ago, a group of 56 men faced the gallows for what they contemplated doing or rather what they had already done. You see, the Declaration of Independence was actually voted on by members of the Continental Congress and approved on July 2, 1776.   You see, it was the formal adoption of the document with a good clean copy that took place on July 4, 1776 and it wasn’t signed by most of the delegates for another month.   It was thought that the document would long be celebrated but at least on of the Founding Fathers contemplated that the actual date of approval would be the one noted in history, not the one associated  with formality.  John Adams wrote to his wife that “The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance.” That letter wasn’t published until the 19th century and by that time the Fourth had become the traditional Independence Day. What happened on July 4 was an approval by the delegates of the final version of the document. The final version was not printed on parchment until July 19 and it wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776 by but 50 delegates. The other six got around to it later.

Did the Delegates Need a Final Bit of Persuasion Before Signing What Amounted to Their Death Warrants?

Someone may have been the catalyst to their moving forward and signing a document that would change world history. No one knows who that someone was but, he gave a speech that roused the emotions of the delegates in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Here is the text of what has become known as The Speech of the Unknown. It is said that this “unknown patriot” said in part, “Sign! if the next moment the gibbet’s rope is round your neck! Sign! if the next moment this hall rings with the echo of the falling axe! Sign! By all your hopes in life or death, as husbands–-as fathers–-as men–-sign your names to the Parchment or be accursed forever!” Sounds pretty good. But is it too good? The text of the speech is quite detailed, even accounting for applause. And the description of the “unknown patriot” is quite compelling, detailed and believeable. However, The Jefferson Encyclopedia says there is no evidence exists to support the story of the Speech of the Unknown. They claim the story of the “unknown patriot” was simply part of a work of historical fiction in 1847 by George Lippard: Washington and His Generals; Or, Legends of the Revolution. As evidence, it cites the American National Biography when it claimed that Lippard “wrote many semifanciful ‘legends’ of American history, mythologizing the founding fathers and retelling key moments of the American Revolution so vividly that several of the legends (most famously the one describing the ringing of the Liberty Bell on 4 July 1776) [2] became part of American folklore.”

Manly P. Hall Believed the Story of the Speech of the Unknown

However, Ronald Reagan and 20th century philosopher Manly P. Hall both made references to the unknown speech with both men claiming that the evidence lies in Thomas Jefferson’s records. Yet, the Jefferson Encyclopedia claims no such evidence exists in Jefferson’s writings. I certainly don’t know the truth, but I can say that I once had a published work (Ohio Valley History, 8 (Fall 2008), 40–61.) that uncovered much new material relating to Louisville. No scholars previously had ever come across the material. The reason was that most studies of Louisville used The 1896 Memorial History of Louisville and the editor of that book included only material that they wanted future Louisvillians to know. They skillfully made no mention of the decade long and successful Industrial Exposition but had an entire chapter devoted to the successful 5-year Southern Exposition. They also made no mention of the 63rd Birthday of Ulysses S. Grant even though it was nationally significant enough to find its way on a plaque at Grant’s Tomb. What I am saying is the the folks at the Jefferson Encyclopedia have no evidence that the speech took place, yet they have no evidence that it did not take place either. When one read’s the text of the speech put forth by Lippard, it is possible that Lippard made it up since he was considered a genius and an eloquent speaker. But, the detail makes it hard to believe that he was that creative and it certainly would indicate that Lippard would have a vivid imagination to match his “genius” talent.

Adams, Franklin and Jefferson collaborated on the Declaration of Independence But Jefferson Had the Mightiest Pen

In any event, the delegates really voted in favor of the declaration on this date in 1776. (see Second of July?) Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Jefferson was not the sole contributor to the Declaration of Independence. He was part of a committee consisting of Jefferson, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin (the committee of five) whose task it was to come up with a document for the Continental Congress to approve. They knew that the Declaration of Independence could be a historically significant document and so Adams and Franklin agreed that Jefferson was a much more gifted writer; Jefferson was thus given the job of putting their ideas to paper. The writer of the declaration, Thomas Jefferson was reluctant. John Adams had to convince him giving him three reasons:

“You are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of business”

” I(Adams) am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise.”

“You can write ten times better than I can.”

Jefferson responded, “if you are decided, then I will do as well as I can.”

John Locke's Ideas Were Foundation of Declaration of Independence

The beauty of the document resides in Jefferson’s style and structure more so than the substance because the ideas in the document were not new. The first part was a reformation of the contract theory of John Locke, a 17th Century British philosopher, which generally was that governments are created to protect the rights of life, liberty and property. Jefferson jazzed it up by exchanging “property” with “the pursuit of happiness.” The second part then laid out the crimes of King George in violating the “contract” with the colonies and he had therefore forfeited his claim on their loyalty. Initially, there was a middle section that condemned King George for his introduction of slavery in the colonies, but that section was removed as it was surmised the southern colonies would never sign such a document. Hence, they kicked the can when it came to the slavery issue and the Congress would follow suit into the mid 19th century when it finally came to a head in the form of a bloody Civil War.

Was Adams Foot on Jefferson's Deliberate of a Matter of Expediency?

In 1817, John Trumbull painted the famous portrait of the signers of the Declaration. He hadn’t been there on July 4, 1776 but he did make sketches of many of the individuals and checked out the room so there is still some accuracy. One funny thing he did was to have John Adams stepping on Thomas Jefferson’s foot. Jefferson and Adams became fast friends but were political rivals. Both died on July 4, 1826 exactly 50 years to the day of the official presentation of the Declaration of Independence. They were the only two signers of the declaration to become president. It is said that, on his deathbed, Adams said “Jefferson survives” or “Jefferson lives” not knowing that Tom had died a few hours earlier. I suppose it’s possible that Trumbull’s placement of Adams’ foot on the top of Jefferson’s was a statement of support for Adams who had been at odds over many issues with Jefferson. It just so happens that Trumbull had painted Adams’ portrait.

Trumbull Left a Few Signers Out and Added Imposters

However, I found one source that claims that the feet are merely close together and the claim of Adams stepping on his foot are unfounded. The University of Baltimore suggests that it was merely the artist’s problem with positioning of the founding fathers and points out that later engravings had the feet repositioned. To the right is a montage of all of the signers that you can click on. Trumbull for some reason left 14 of the signers out of the portrait but did manage to put 5 other men in the picture that were not signers. I have yet to find out why he did that…perhaps he was making another statement or he did not know what they looked like.

And the rest they say, is history. King George though had no idea of what was happening. Back in England, he wrote in his diary on July 4, 1776 that “nothing of importance happened today.” Oh…the folly of Kings. Or was it? Some say this too is a bit of American mythology. But, in this case, I say we go along with the idea brought forth by Maxwell Scott to Ransom Stoddard in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. “

The Forgotten 2-shot Suicide of Meriwether Lewis
October 11, 2010

How does one shoot himself twice with a large caliber, muzzle loading pistol? Thomas Jefferson, amongst others, believe that's exactly what Meriwether Lewis did at age 35 during the height of his fame

Two Shot Suicide?

Two Shot Suicide?

On This Date in History: One thing is certain and that is that famed explorer, Meriwether Lewis, died on this date in 1809. What is unclear is how he died, though there are reports that his ghost still roams.

Well, he died of two gunshots. One to the head and another to the chest. Weapons of the day were single shot firearms typically of a large caliber that required the use of a ram rod to reload.  I have yet to read any account that suggests Lewis had two pistols.  One account from the woman of the house (Mrs. Grinder) that Lewis called out to her to help heal his wounds.  Does that sound like a suicide to you?  That is what the official account was and the suicide story of Meriwether Lewis was accepted by Thomas Jefferson, William Clark and the one accepted by most historians. On the surface it sounds pretty fishy.

Grinder Inn Replica in Lewis County, TN Where Lewis committed suicide by shooting himself twice...quite a feat

Lewis had been appointed as Governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory. He had replaced General James Wilkinson who had been implicated in a plot to establish a separate nation in the Louisiana Territory  along with that infamous Vice-President Aaron Burr. Lewis was traveling back to Washington with a bunch of his papers that he hoped to have published in a book. He came down with malaria and he and his servant, John Pernier, stayed in Fort Pickering (now Memphis) for two weeks. They were then joined by Major James Neeley, an indian agent for the Chickasaw Indians, and the pair with their two servants went on their way. Shortly after they left there was a big rainstorm and two of the pack horses ran off. Neeley went to look for the horses while Lewis and the two servants went on.

General James Wilkinson: Got Even with Lewis?

On the night of October 10, 1809 Lewis was shot twice and died the following morning. How the 35 year old explorer came to that condition is in question because the story kept changing. The captain at the fort and Neeley said that Lewis had been acting drunk and deranged. Yet, twice while at the fort, Lewis wrote very detailed and lucid letters to Jefferson. On the night in question, Lewis had gone to the home of John Grinder. He was away but his wife let Lewis in. From that point, things get shadey because Mrs. Grinder changed her story several times. She says that she heard Lewis pacing around and talking to himself and then heard two gunshots. Yet, neither Lewis’ nor Neeley’s servants heard any shots. Mrs. Grinder claimed at one point that Lewis had shot himself in the head and a little below the breast with two pistols and said “I have done the business my good Servant give me some water.” Later she said that Lewis had crawled into the woods and the next day Pernier arrived wearing Lewis’ clothes. Pernier died suddenly just 7 months later in Washington.  Rumors at the time said that Pernier’s throat had been cut from “ear to ear,” but the man with whom Pernier boarded said in a letter to Thomas Jefferson that Pernier had also committed suicide.  The man claimed that Pernier deliberately took an overdose of laudanum

Would've Solved the Mystery

Would

John Grinder was brought up on murder charges but was acquitted due to lack of evidence and motive. Why he was brought up on charges is a mystery because if there was a motive for murder, it was with Neeley. Neeley is said to have had no money when he left Fort Pickering with Lewis but Lewis had $120. There was no money found in Lewis’ possession yet, Neeley was able to give Pernier $15 to travel to Virginia to make a report to Jefferson. Further, Neeley and the man in charge of the fort, who both reported that Lewis was deranged had both been appointed by Wilkinson, the former governor and conspirator.  Pulitzer-Prize winning historian David L. Chandler wrote that  Lewis discovered certain secrets about General James Wilkinson, his predecessor as Governor of Upper Louisiana. These secrets if revealed, would destroy not only the reputation of General Wilkinson, who was the highest ranking officer in the US Army at the time,  but also that of Thomas Jefferson, who was no longer president. Chandler believed the real reason for Lewis’ trip to Washington was to expose the plot in order to collect his money. The  most efficient way to make certain that no scandal arose was to keep permanantly.  Other suspects would be those who supposedly were helping Lewis in his final days like Major Neelly and Captain Russell.   Whatever the case, Lewis was dead and somehow history has recorded his shots to the head and to the chest with two different guns to be the result of a suicide. Too bad Lt. Columbo wasn’t around.

The Exploits of Vice President Aaron Burr Seem A Work of Fiction
July 11, 2010

There May Be a Good Reason Alexander Hamilton Got in So Many Duels

On This Date In History: In recent years, we have heard the “I” word tossed about rather liberally. That word is impeach.

President Andrew Johnson was impeached but was not convicted by one vote. President Clinton was impeached but also avoided removal from office as the Senate did not vote for conviction. Today, we haven’t heard of anyone calling for the impeachment of the current president or vice-president. Yet. Someone probably will before President Obama’s 4 years are up. There were certainly those who wanted to impeach President Bush and even Vice-President Cheney. These calls came from allegations of malfeasance. But on this date in 1804, there is no doubt about it…Aaron Burr,  Vice-President of the United States gunned down Revolutionary War hero Alexander Hamilton.  And guess what, he wasn’t impeached nor did he go to jail.

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton had been an aide-de-camp of Washington during the war and later led a crucial attack at the Battle of Yorktown. He became the first Secretary of the Treasury and served in that capacity for 6 years before retiring. He then formed the Federalist Party, the first political party in America. He detested Thomas Jefferson and the two developed what became known as Hamiltonian ideals and Jeffersonian ideals. Basically, Hamilton wanted a strong central government and Jefferson was for a weak central government with most of the power belonging to the states. Today, Jefferson must be spinning in his grave.

Burr's 1807 Treason Trial

Burr's 1807 Treason Trial

Anyway, in 1804, Burr was the sitting Vice-President under Jefferson and Hamilton had made some unsavory remarks about Burr, who demanded satisfaction and responded with a challenge to a duel! Hamilton had been famous for dueling but had ironically pushed to outlaw the practice in New York. So, Hamilton and Burr went across the river to New Jersey. On this date in 1804, two shots rang out in Weehawken, New Jersey. Hamilton lay mortally wounded. There is great speculation regarding the incident as many suggest that Hamilton missed on purpose as he was a veteran duelist and a good shot. But there were procedures if one was to desire to not shoot one’s opponent. Hamilton did not follow the procedures. Witnesses could not determine who fired first. But what did happen, is that Burr was forced to stay out of New York for the remainder of his term as murder charges were filed.  For most people, Aaron Burr is now left to nothing more as a footnote to history.   Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand, has lived in immortality as the face of the ten dollar bill.  While the duel is probably Burr’s most infamous act, his lesser known final act for history literally made him an enemy of the United States.

Jefferson and Burr At Odds Till the End

If you recall, Burr and Jefferson both had the same number of electoral votes for the 1800 presidential election. The tie went to the House of Representatives who voted for Jefferson only after Tom’s old nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, reluctantly went to bat for the famous statesman.   Hamilton must have really hated Burr for him to vote for Jefferson.  Help from his political rival made Jefferson the President and Burr the Vice-President.  The original Constitution had the second place electoral vote-getter become Vice-President. But that meant that political rivals had to be the team. That obviously created problems and the Constitution was changed. The problem became all too apparent when Burr, as the sitting Vice-President, took out his anger at Hamilton for his support of Jefferson, as well as other items of disagreement, by taking Hamilton to the dueling field.   Even though the murder charge was eventually dropped, the public turned on Burr for his duel and his political career was over in the United States.

Peter Charles Hoffer Wrote About Burr Treason Trials That Had Nothing To Do With the Duel With Hamilton

So, Burr secretly conspired with Britain and Spain to try and set up a new country in the Southwest of what is now the United States and part of Mexico. Of course, Burr would rule the new empire. But, the plot was foiled and Burr went to trial for Treason.  As part of his defense, he had Jefferson, still the sitting President, called to the trial to produce documents that would exonerate him.   On June 13, 1807, President Thomas Jefferson received a subpoena to testify at the treason trial of his former Vice-President, Aaron Burr.   In response to the subpoena, Jefferson cited his right to protect wing up at the trial and he only offered a few of the documents requested.  If Jefferson was trying to send Burr to the gallows it didn’t work because Chief Justice John Marshall declared that the charges were to be dropped due to lack of evidence. 

Tom Jefferson Depicted As Constitutional Destroyer

I’m not a legal historical scholar but I bet that Jefferson’s claim was the precedent for the presidential claim of Executive Priviledge.  Jefferson had also used his position as Commander in Chief to commit US armed forces halfway around the world for the undeclared Barbary Pirate War.  While those two roles of the president seem to pass constitutional muster,  Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory and the funding of the Lewis and Clark expedition are seen by some as examples of how Jefferson the President acted perhaps differently than Jefferson the author of the Declaration of Independence.   So often today, when we hear charges that the President is shredding the Constitution, we hear the name of Jefferson invoked.  Yet, some of Jefferson’s opponents viewed him as the enemy of the Constitution as evidenced by the cartoon showing Jefferson offering the document to the alter of Satan while the eagle tries to grab it from his hand.   

Ukraine legislators sometimes operate like Americans did many years ago

The political battles that go on today may seem rough.  But, they pale in comparison to the political wars that went on almost from the beginning of the nation.  After all, it’s been a long time since we had a Senator pull a gun on another in the Senate chamber.  I don’t recall a Congressman almost beating a Senator to death while the Senator sat behind his Senate chamber desk nor a House member attacking another on the House Floor with a pair of fire tongs.  As President of the Senate, Vice President Martin Van Buren carried a side arm to keep the peace.  It’s been awhile since a sitting Vice-President gunned down the former Secretary of the Treasury and a long time since we had a former VP try to set up his own country.  But we have an a couple of impeachment trials of two presidents…oh…and then there was Vice-President Cheney who while Vice-President did in fact shoot his friend with a shotgun blast.

Weather  Bottom Line:  I”m not exactly sure of the mechanism that brought t’storms to the Southeast of Louisville on Saturday.  Snow White and I were out riding bikes and I told her that I was guessing that it was on the 850 boundary of the cold front that came through Friday.  I explained that they were probably elevated storms without much rain but with gusty winds and hail.  Well, I heard on the news that there was hail and gusty winds with the storms.  However, I saw the cold front analyzed way to the South.  So, its doubtful that it was the 850 front.  But, I also don’t buy the explanation of one guy who said it was an outflow boundary.   As I said, I was out riding bikes so I didn’t do an analysis.  It was something but I’m not sure what it was some sort of subtle feature.  Sunday should be warm and dry.  A cold front approaches on Monday and our rain chances will be elevated for at least the first half of next week.

Fact, Fiction and Myth Surround the Declaration of Independence
July 4, 2010

Signatures Came on July 2, 1776

Declaration Not Signed By Most Everyone Until August 2, 1776 and Some Later

On This Date in History:  234 years ago, a group of 56 men faced the gallows for what they contemplated doing or rather what they had already done.  You see, the Declaration of Independence was actually voted on by members of the Continental Congress and approved on July 2, 1776.  The formal adoption with a good clean copy took place on this date in 1776.  John Adams wrote to his wife that “The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance.” That letter wasn’t published until the 19th century and by that time the Fourth had become the traditional Independence Day. What happened on July 4 was an approval by the delegates of the final version of the document. The final version was not printed on parchment until July 19 and it wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776 by but 50 delegates. The other six got around to it later.

Did the Delegates Need a Final Bit of Persuasion Before Signing What Amounted to Their Death Warrants?

Someone may have been the catalyst to their moving forward and signing a document that would change world history. No one knows who that someone was but, he gave a speech that roused the emotions of the delegates in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Here is the text of what has become known as The Speech of the Unknown.   It is said that this “unknown patriot” said in part, “Sign! if the next moment the gibbet’s rope is round your neck! Sign! if the next moment this hall rings with the echo of the falling axe! Sign!   By all your hopes in life or death, as husbands–-as fathers–-as men–-sign your names to the Parchment or be accursed forever!”   Sounds pretty good.  But is it too good?   The text of the speech is quite detailed, even accounting for applause.  And the description of the “unknown patriot” is quite compelling, detailed and believeable.  However,  The Jefferson Encyclopedia says there is no evidence exists to support the story of the Speech of the Unknown.  They claim the story of the “unknown patriot” was simply part of a work of historical fiction in 1847 by George Lippard:  Washington and His Generals; Or, Legends of the Revolution.  As evidence, it cites the American National Biography  when it claimed that Lippard “wrote many semifanciful ‘legends’ of American history, mythologizing the founding fathers and retelling key moments of the American Revolution so vividly that several of the legends (most famously the one describing the ringing of the Liberty Bell on 4 July 1776) [2] became part of American folklore.” 

Manly P. Hall Believed the Story of the Speech of the Unknown

However, Ronald Reagan and 20th century philosopher Manly P. Hall both made references to the unknown speech with both men claiming that the evidence lies in Thomas Jefferson’s records.  Yet, the Jefferson Encyclopedia claims no such evidence exists in Jefferson’s writings.  I certainly don’t know the truth, but I can say that I once had a published work (Ohio Valley History, 8 (Fall 2008), 40–61.) that uncovered much new material relating to Louisville.  No scholars previously had ever come across the material.  The reason was that most studies of Louisville used The 1896 Memorial History of Louisville and the editor of that book included only material that they wanted future Louisvillians to know.  They skillfully made no mention of the decade long and successful Industrial Exposition but had an entire chapter devoted to the successful 5-year Southern Exposition.  They also made no mention of the 63rd Birthday of Ulysses S. Grant even though it was nationally significant enough to find its way on a plaque at Grant’s Tomb.  What I am saying is the the folks at the Jefferson Encyclopedia have no evidence that the speech took place, yet  they have no evidence that it did not take place either.  When one read’s the text of the speech put forth by Lippard, it is possible that Lippard made it up since he was considered a genius and an eloquent speaker.  But, the detail makes it hard to believe that he was that creative and it certainly would indicate that Lippard would have a vivid imagination to match his “genius” talent.

Adams, Franklin and Jefferson collaborated on the Declaration of Independence But Jefferson Had the Mightiest Pen

In any event, the delegates really voted in favor of the declaration on July 2, 1776. (see Second of July?)   Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Jefferson was not the sole contributor to the Declaration of Independence.  He was part of a committee consisting of Jefferson, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin (the committee of five) whose task it was to come up with a document for the Continental Congress to approve.   They knew that the Declaration of Independence could be a historically significant document and so Adams and Franklin agreed that Jefferson was a much more gifted writer; Jefferson was thus given the job of putting their ideas to paper.   The writer of the declaration, Thomas Jefferson was reluctant. John Adams had to convince him giving him three reasons:

“You are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of business”

” I(Adams) am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise.”

“You can write ten times better than I can.”

Jefferson responded, “if you are decided, then I will do as well as I can.”

John Locke's Ideas Were Foundation of Declaration of Independence

The beauty of the document resides in Jefferson’s style and structure more so than the substance because the ideas in the document were not new.  The first part was a reformation of the contract theory of John Locke, a 17th Century British philosopher, which generally was that governments are created to protect the rights of life, liberty and property.  Jefferson jazzed it up by exchanging “property” with “the pursuit of happiness.”   The second part then laid out the crimes of King George in violating the “contract” with the colonies and he had therefore forfeited his claim on their loyalty.  Initially, there was a middle section that condemned King George for his introduction of slavery in the colonies, but that section was removed as it was surmised the southern colonies would never sign such a document.  Hence,  they kicked the can when it came to the slavery issue and the Congress would follow suit into the mid 19th century when it finally came to a head in the form of a bloody Civil War.

Was Adams Foot on Jefferson's Deliberate of a Matter of Expediency?

In 1817, John Trumbull painted the famous portrait of the signers of the Declaration. He hadn’t been there on July 4, 1776 but he did make sketches of many of the individuals and checked out the room so there is still some accuracy. One funny thing he did was to have John Adams stepping on Thomas Jefferson’s foot. Jefferson and Adams became fast friends but were political rivals. Both died on this date in 1826 exactly 50 years to the day of the official presentation of the Declaration of Independence. They were the only two signers of the declaration to become president. It is said that, on his deathbed, Adams said “Jefferson survives” or “Jefferson lives” not knowing that Tom had died a few hours earlier. I suppose it’s possible that Trumbull’s placement of Adams’ foot on the top of Jefferson’s was a statement of support for Adams who had been at odds over many issues with Jefferson. It just so happens that Trumbull had painted Adams’ portrait.

Trumbull Left a Few Signers Out and Added Imposters

However, I found one source that claims that the feet are merely close together and the claim of Adams stepping on his foot are unfounded.   The University of Baltimore suggests that it was merely the artist’s problem with positioning of the founding fathers and points out that later engravings had the feet repositioned.   To the right is a  montage of all of the signers that you can click on. Trumbull for some reason left 14 of the signers out of the portrait but did manage to put 5 other men in the picture that were not signers. I have yet to find out why he did that…perhaps he was making another statement or he did not know what they looked like.

And the rest they say, is history. King George though had no idea of what was happening.  Back in England, he wrote in his diary on July 4, 1776 that “nothing of importance happened today.”   Oh…the folly of Kings.  Or was it?  Some say this too is a bit of American mythology.  But, in this case, I say we go along with the idea brought forth by Maxwell Scott to Ransom Stoddard in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:  “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. ”

Weather Bottom Line:  I’ve heard two different weather people on two different stations say that the humidity will not be “that bad” on Sunday.  It may not be as bad as early last week, but it will be a bit difficult especially in comparison to what we had to conclude the week.  Temperatures will be in the low to mid 90’s through at least the middle of the week and rain chances will be slim and none.

The Great Seal of the United States Came About Through Great Effort
June 20, 2010

The Great Seal of the United States of America

Americans Love to Create Committees

On This Date in History:   When an American politician isn’t sure what to do or does not want to make a decision, he tends to set up a committee.  That way, if its a good idea, he can take credit and if it doesn’t work out so well, then he can just say he was following the committee’s recommendation.   This tradition goes back to the beginning as the founders were confounded as to what kind of symbol they wanted for their new nation.   Over a period of 6 years, three separate committees studied the situation in an effort to come up with an acceptable national coat of arms that was needed for the authentification of official documents.    So, who would be the members of such a committee.  Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had done pretty well with a Declaration of Independence so they were given the first shot.

Jefferson's Proposal For the Great Seal Does Not Fit the Paradigm Set That He Wanted No Religion Associated With the Nation

The three creators of the declaration were appointed to the new mission just hours after the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  I suppose the work of a founding father is never done.  They had turned to scholarly writings of the past for inspiration and guidance for the declaration and for a symbol, they looked to the bible and classical mythology from which to take their cues.   Now, Jefferson is often called a “Deist” or non-Christian by some modern historians so it is interesting that he proposed an image of the Israelites passage through the wilderness as they were led by a Divine cloud and pillar of fire.  Adams favored Hercules choosing between a path of virtue or self-indulgence.  For his part, Franklin proposed the likeness of Moses commanding the Red Sea to swallow up pharoah.  They were stuck.

Tough To See: Du Simitière's sketch of his rejected proposal for the Great Seal

So, they called on the help of a consultant.  A Philadelphia artist who hailed from Switzerland, Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere, told them that the greatest virtue of the United States was that it was a new nation forged together by many people of differing backgrounds.  So, he suggested a giant shield that featured the emblems of the 6 most common European nations of most Americans origin.  Around that shield was 13 smaller ones to represent the 13 states, linked by a gold chain.  Holding up the shield were the goddesses of Justice and Liberty.  Above all of that was the Eye of Providence and on the bottom was the motto, E Pluribus Unum, which means “Out of Many, One.”  The committe chose Franklin’s Moses idea for the back and Du Simitiere’s idea for the front.  But, the Continental Congress must not have thought that these guys would come up with something so quickly because they were preoccupied with the Revolutionary War and tabled the issue.   A few years later, in 1780, a second committee was formed and they chose a front side of a shield with 13 stripes that was held up by a soldier and a woman holding an olive branch.  The crest featured a constellation of 13 stars.  On the back was an image of the Goddess of Liberty.  Apparently no one liked that one either because it wasn’t tabled; it was rejected out of hand.

Perhaps Charles Thomson is Ultimately Responsible For the Final Design of the Great Seal. This Engraving of Thomson Was Created by None Other than Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere

In 1782, they tried again.  This time they turned to William Barton who was an authority on heraldry.  He came up with a front side of a European eagle within a crest and for the reverse side, he proposed an incomplete 13-stepped pyramid.   By this time, the Continental Congress had all sorts of designs and so they just shoved them all over to the Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson.  Thomson took a little bit of this and a little bit of that from each idea to synthesize them into a single entity.  He kept E Pluribus Unum from the first committee, the olive branch and shield from the second committee and the third proposal of an eagle and a pyramid.  But, he decided to substitute a rising American Bald Eagle for the European Heraldic Eagle.  He made the grand bird of America the centerpiece with a constellation of 13 stars above its head to support the motto E Pluribus Unum.  He put the shield with the stripes on its chest with the stripes on the shield arranged vertically and he raised the eagle’s wings.  He placed the olive branch in one of its talons and in the other he had the bird clutching 13 arrows.  I guess he wanted to add his own personal touch.  On the reverse side, the unfinished pyramid found a home, topped by the Eye of Providence with the  latin phrase Novus Ordo Seclorum below and the latin Annuit Coeptis above.  On this date in 1782, the Continental Congress instantly approved the design of the Great Seal of the United States.  Seven years later, the first federal Congress similarly adopted the seal and placed it in the custody of the nation’s first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, who may or may not have still been seeting over his Israelites in the wilderness idea being rejected.

Conventional wisdom is that the Eye of Providence and Annuit Coeptis, which means “He has favored our undertaking”, as a symbol of the Founders’ Faith.  The  eye  was put in a radiant triangle which is an ancient symbol of humanity’s accumulation of knowledge.  The constellation of stars bunched together as one illustrates the motto (which is found just below) and the radiance that shines through is emblematic of the new nation taking its place among the others.  The eagle is a symbol of power with the 13 stripes on the shield represents the unification of the 13 original states.  The arrows in the talons shows America’s ability to make war with the olive branch and its 13 leaves and 13 fruits indicating the power to make peace.  I’ve also heard it suggested that the arrows and  olive branch symbolize the idea that the nation makes peace through strength.  The unfinished pyramid symbolizes the unfinished nation as one of strength and endurance.  The base is adorned with 1776 in roman numerals.  Novus Ordo Seclorum means “A new order of the ages” and proclaims the rise of the revolutionary concept of a nation founded on freedom.

The Ideas of the Symbols of America by Emmet Fox Are Detailed in "Alter Your Life"

Now, over time many people have tried to come up with almost conspiratorial ideas about these symbols as they suggest some sort of secrets hidden in Freemasonry.  But, I found an interesting take by an early 20th century theologian named Emmet Fox who took the position that America is part of God’s plan; that in order for people to have the freedom to know the singular God, they have to have political freedom.  Hence, the United States provided that conduit.  Fox says that the motto illustrates man’s initial idea that he is separate from the Divine but the “Light of Truth” dawns on him and he progresses from having many gods to the One God.  He suggests that there is a spiritual significance to the number 13 and also for the number 4.  After all, the Declaration of Independence was officially adoped on July 4th, which was the same day that the order was given to come up with the Great Seal.  The original inauguration day was March 4 and the President serves 4 year terms, which is not duplicated in any other country.  He points out that both Novus Ordo Seclorum and Annuit Coeptis came from Virgil and that “nothing could better describe exactly what America is doing for the world, the fact that she has a Divine mission.”   He says that the olive branch being in the right claw and the arrows in the left is significant.  He has the similar notion that it denotes peace and good-will are to be the primary consideration with defense only as a last resort but he adds that, metaphysically, the olive branch stands for affirmation and the arrows for denial.  It is important, says Fox, to first affirm the presence  of God.  An interesting observation is that most national escutcheons, such as the American shield, are supported by something.  The fact that the American Shield rests on the eagle’s breast shows that it needs not external or material reinforcement.  Fox goes on the detail many other items which may be of interest to some.  But, he does say that the eye is “striking and remarkable.”  He says that the ancient all-seeing eye is the “Single Eye” of which Jesus spoke when He said, “When the eye is single, the whole body is full of light.”  Fox concludes that when an individual or a nation puts God first, and everything else second,” then the whole body, the whole life of that person or that nation, will be healthy and prosperous.”

I'm Not Sure What the Founders Had In Mind For Certain But This Certainly Would have been the Cutest Great Seal of Any Nation

So, what is the truth of the symbols of the Great Seal?  It’s hard to say.  The founders were well steeped in scholarship of antiquity.  The ideals put forth on the Declaration of Independence were not new, but instead it was the way that Jefferson expressed them that makes the document stand out.  The symbols collected for the Great Seal also were not new.  In spite of what modern scholars may suggest, the founders were indeed greatly influenced by some form or Christianity.  As we have seen, Jefferson was in favor of a Judao-Christian related symbol to be the emblem for the nation as was Franklin.  However, the fact that ultimately, the Contiental Congress chose not to include any overt references to the Christian Faith in the Great Seal is of some importance.  Perhaps they wished to cloak their faith such as Fox suggests.  Or, maybe they were being careful to not tie their objectives for the nation to any religion in order to symbolize a desire for a secular government.  Unfortunately, I do not believe that Thomson or anyone else left notes or minutes that describe their line of thinking.  In any event, the Great Seal of the United States does seem to stand out among nations…and maybe that was the intent all along.

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Sun June 20 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  The morning storms on Saturday held us only to 90 for the first part of the weekend.  Snow White and I went for a bike ride and it really wasn’t too bad.  Today will be much hotter and more uncomfortable though.  The models advertise a decent shortwave in Iowa during the day but tend to want to just kill it by the time it gets to Illinois as it makes what seems to me a bee-line for our area.  I’m not so sure why it would just go away as they suggest.  I would think that Sunday evening we should get the left overs at least if not something decent.  I mean, we’ll certainly be hot and there will be ample moisture.  Provided there is not some sort of big cap, I would think that there is no reason for that guy to hold together in some form.  Okay..maybe not severe, but still some storms.  The SPC seems to agree as they have the slight risk area kinda nosing down toward our area.  After this, the next several days seem similar.  Unseasonably hot and humid with no real line for storms to come our way but always the possibility of some guys wandering through.

George Washington Preferred Cincinnatus Over King George
May 22, 2010

General Washington Would Not Be King!

Treaty of Paris-From L to R: John Jay, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Henry Laurens, William T. Franklin...the rest were too Chicken to Show up

On this date in History:  In 1782, there was some chaos in the new nation.  There was a shortage of funds to pay foreign debts and Congress was arguing about what to do.  Beyond that, while the British had surrendered at Yorktown, there was no peace treaty with the mother country and many thousands of Royal troops remained in the colonies.  Skirmishes and small battles continued on part of the frontier.  In general, the major fighting for the colonies was over but true independence would not come until November 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris

Adams, Franklin and Jefferson collaborated on the Declaration of Independence But Jefferson Had the Mightiest Pen

Now, most of leaders in the colonial independence movement were from the wealthy classes and were, for lack of a better word, the elites.  Many of the founders were well educated in a classical sense and were some of the wealthiest members of society.  John Hancock was a merchant who was recognized by many historians as the richest of all those in America at the time.  General George Washington was not rolling in cash but the value of his land holdings put his net worth near the top of the list.  Thomas Jefferson enjoyed some financial success but his business decisions were not always sound.  But, his knowledge of historical ideas and his ability to master the language gave him a tremendous ability to express ideas and ideals.  John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson were charged with writing an independence declaration.  Adams and Franklin pushed Jefferson to actually pen the document because they acknowledged his greater written skills.  The ideals put forth on the Declaration of Independence were not new ideas as they had been espoused in the past, most notably by John Locke.  But, it was the way that Jefferson expressd those ideals that makes the document so remarkable.  Jefferson wrote  that “Bacon, Locke and Newton … I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences.”  

George Washington considered himself a planter much along the lines of the Roman tradition of Cincinnatus.  Early in the Roman empire, the Senate ruled Rome.  In a time of war, land holders were called to come and form an army to defend the empire.  In such a time of strife, a dictator was appointed and given temporary powers to rule until the end of the conflict.  Cincinnatus was called to duty in 458 BC and successfully led the defense of Rome.  When the conflict was over,  he resigned his position and returned to his farm.  This was the Roman tradition until around the time of Julius Caesar, who never relinquished the lucrative dictator position.  When several senators got together and murdered him, assassination was introduced into the world of politics.  When Augustus came to power, he remained as dictator but returned much of the rule of Rome to the Senate in the tradition of Cincinnatus while he controled the army on the frontier of the empire.  Augustus preferred to be called “principate” or “first citizen” rather than Caesar.    While Jefferson was greatly influenced by Locke, Washington’s demeanor was patterned after Cincinnatus.   

General Washington Resigning His Commission to Congress. He Voluntarily Surrendered Absolute Power, Not Once, But Twice. The Definition of the man, his character and integrity.

In the atmosphere of an unsettled and uncertain condition that prevailed in the colonies between Yorktown in October 1781 and the Treaty of Paris in 1783,  a proposal arose from officers in the army to settle the situation by proclaiming George Washington as King George I.  He had the ability to seize absolute power since he was the well respected leader of the entire Continental Army.  And many colonists put their Faith in his hands.  Yet,  On This Date in 1782, General George Washington refused to become king when he quickly dispatched such notions, writing from his headquarters in Newburgh, NY  that no such occurrence in the war gave him ”…more painful sensations…” than such talk.  He said that viewed such expressions with “abhorrence and reprehend with severity.”   The officer who had written the proposal to the general was admonished when Washington concluded, “if you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself or  posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind and never communicate, as from yourself, or anyone else, a sentiment of the like nature. ”    The word of General Washington was formidable, thus saving the Democracy before it even really got started. The Constitution was adopted in 1787 and the General became the first President in 1789.  Eight years later, for a second time,  General Washington voluntarily gave up power when he refused to be nominated for a third term even though he had been elected twice as President by a unanimous vote of the electoral college.  Not once, but twice, did General Washington refuse the temptation of absolute power.  In the tradition of Cincinnatus, he returned to his farm where he died in 1799. 

Augustus Known as Principate; Washington as Father

While we do not refer to Washington as “first citizen” like Caesar Augustus, he is commonly referred to as the “Father of the Country.”  A 1788 settlement along the Ohio River became a village in 1802 and took the name of Cincinnati in honor of George Washington, though some accounts say that the moniker was derived from The Society of the Cincinnati .  Nevertheless, the Society of the Cincinnati also was formed by Revolutionary War soldiers who wished to promote the virtues of Cincinnatus.  By extension, those were also the  virtues espoused by General Washington who served as the first President General of the Society of Cincinnatus.  And the nation has largely followed the tradition of Cincinnatus as demonstrated by Washington.   The United States has been involved in a number of armed conflicts but, more often than not, does not control territories following the end of hostilities.  More to the point, politicians followed the tradition of Washington and limited themselves to just two terms in office, until Franklin D. Roosevelt broke the tradition by being elected to four consecutive terms in office.  Shortly thereafter, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified making the tradition of Washington the law of the land: no one can serve for more than two terms as President of the United States.

From Your Son, Dopey

From Your Son, Dopey

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD

Many of us have our own form of Cincinnatus or George Washington who has influenced their life.  On this date a long long time ago, Robert B. Symon, Sr. was introduced to the world. And the world has been a better place for it. I’m hoping to one day live up to the old man but I haven’t quite gotten there. When I was a kid and he helped coach my football or baseball teams. the other guys on the team always told me that my dad was their favorite coach. They said he was nice. Today, I realize that is true. I think we all wish that we could be a person whom about people would say, “you know, I’m a better person for having known him” or “I’m just a little happier for having known him.”  My dad is one of the few people I know in life that I think that is the case. Come to think of it, Snow White is too. One would think that if I am surrounded and influenced by such people, some of it would rub off on me. Well, there’s always tomorrow.

Weather Bottom Line:  We had a storm that produced some funnel clouds and excitement on Friday evening.   There were also some wind damage reported in a few spots in Southern Indiana and large hail reports in Crawford, Franklin and Anderson counties in Indiana and Kentucky.   Rainfall totals were varied with some places getting around a half inch of rain while others about 3 times that in a short period of time.  It’s all over with now and look for temperatures in the mid to perhaps upper 80’s for the week ahead with rain chances being slim and none.

The Cry For Liberty That Echoes For the Ages
March 23, 2010

Patrick Henry 1736-1799

On This Date in History:  When one visits Colonial Williamsburg, a popular and common person you find wandering the streets is Patrick Henry.  Henry was born on May 29, 1736 in Hanover County in the Virginia Colony.   He was home-schooled and later studied the law on his own.   One of the homes that is prominent at Colonial Williamsburg is that of the Randolph family and Patrick Henry took his attorney’s examination before several prominent lawyers including John and Peyton Randolph

Henry Delivers His "Treason Speech"

Henry was a firey orator and was an early advocate of protest against what he saw as unjust oppression by the Court of King George III.  In 1763, he proclaimed that if a king vetoed a local law voted on by a local assembly, then that king was no longer the people’s patriarch, but instead was  “a tyrant who forfeits the allegiance of his subjects.”  When he brought his protest of the Stamp Act to the House of Burgesses on May 30, 1765 his arguments are said to have bordered on treason.  When he called out, “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third…” calls of treason rang from the gallery but Henry merely continued with his rant to the point that his argument won over the rest of the burgesses.  This is known as the “Treason Speech.”

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!

Words can be powerful weapons but left on their own, they are simply words.  Those words can call for action though and when the call for action is a call to arms, then those words take on a different meaning altogether.  On this date in 1775, not only did Henry issue a appeal to arms, but also an appeal to the Almighty.  Patrick Henry’s speech read in part, ” There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free–if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!”  When we hear that the founders intended on a separation of church and state, clearly if that was the case they did not intend for individuals to be separated from God because in the 6 paragraphs of Henry’s speech, he mentions or calls on God 5 times.  In fact, the most famous line of Patrick Henry that is well known to most Americans was preceded by his final call for Divine intervention:  “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Nearly Every Painting of Henry Giving a Speech Shows Him with his Arm Raised

While Patrick Henry is closely associated with Williamsburg, his call to “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” was made at St. John’s Church in Richmond.  Apparently, Henry’s theatrics were so overwhelming that the exact verbiage of his speeches were lost on the listener.  Perhaps that is why the text of Henry’s speech was not published until 1816 and that was done after William Wirt pieced the speech together after interviewing numerous people who had witnessed the event first hand.  Nevertheless, it is difficult to say for certain that all of the words are exactly what Henry said or if there were ommissions.  One thing that is for certain, the conclusion was unforgettable and “give me liberty or give me death” has lasted through the decades and will no doubt continue to do so.  According to Charles Cohen, Thomas Jefferson was impressed with Henry, but also had a difficult time recalling exactly what the emotional orator had said.  “Although it was difficult, when [Henry] had spoken, to tell what he had said, yet, while speaking, it always seemed directly to the point. When he had spoken in opposition to my opinion, had produced a great effect, and I myself had been highly delighted and moved, I have asked myself, when he ceased, ‘What the devil has he said?’ and could never answer the inquiry.”

Patrick Henry's Speech Helped Spur the Call To Arms

So, what’s the big deal about this speech? I mean, after all, Henry had been making lots of imflammatory speeches.  One has to consider that the Boston Massacre had taken place in March 1770 which had followed the 1765 Stamp Act Crisis.  Then came the Boston Tea Party in 1773.  After all of these events, colonists had tried to reason with the British Parliament and the King.  The crown thought that the colonists were being unreasonable and just plain difficult. Still, the talk of revolution was not all that prevalent.  Then, in 1774, the first Continental Congress  ,led by first Continental Congress President Peyton Randolph, met and determined that crackdowns going on in the Massachusetts Colony represented a threat to the liberty of all the colonies.  The Continental Congress called on continued resistance to the Coercive Acts, a general boycott of British goods and for the establishment of colonial militias.  Naturally, when Parliament heard of this, especially the notion of raising an army of sorts, it declared that the American colonies in rebellion in February 1775.  Massachusetts had worked taking up arms but no other colony acted.  When Patrick Henry made his speech(video of re-enactment) in Richmond, it was at a convention to consider the issue.  When Henry finished, the room sat silent as the audience may have reacted as Thomas Jefferson had described and so they had to take a moment to understand what had been said.  Slowly, it sank in and the room filled with shouts of approval.  The delegates voted to make military preparations and that set the stage for the American Revolution.  It was one thing for the rabble rousers in Boston to take up arms.   But when the Virginia colony made the move it signaled to the others that there was no turning back and it was Patrick Henry who served as the catalyst.

Weather Bottom Line:  Chilly start Tuesday morning led to a seaonally mild afternoon with highs in the low 60’s.   I betcha we get to the upper 60’s on Wednesday.  Clouds will be increasing but it will still be a great day.  Thursday a storm system passes us to the South and will bring a pretty good chance for rain with some t’storms but I think the strongest storms will be well South.  We get a pokey front coming in from the north around the same time so clouds and showers on Friday will be around with Saturday improving and not too cool before another front messes up Sunday a little.   I”m lazy..have an exam to make up for my students and it’s pretty boring so I’m not telling anything more..that’s all you need to know.

Crappy First House for the President and Crappy Weather Ahead for Louisville
October 13, 2009

Executive Mansion Supposed to be Much Bigger

Executive Mansion Supposed to be Much Bigger

1801 Etching of Executive Mansion

1801 Etching of Executive Mansion

On This Date in History:  If you’ve ever been to the White House, then you know it’s a large house but not nearly as large as many private mansions and certainly not as ornate as many of the residences built in the guilded age out on the Hamptons.  Now, Washington DC came to be the site for the capitol after a negotiation between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson regarding the Assumption Bill in 1790.  Virginians wanted the captiol closer to them in the South and Hamilton wanted a bill that allowed for the Federal Gov’t to assume state debts through the issuance of bonds.  This type of governmental power was more than Jefferson liked, but I guess that he liked the idea of having the capitol near his home more than his ideals so he agreed over dinner with Hamilton to push for support for the bill in return for Hamilton’s support of placing the capitol in or near Virginia.  The site agreed upon was on the banks of the Potomac River that separated Virginia from Maryland.  The exact site was chosen by that old surveyor himself, General George Washington who was the President of the United States at that time. 

John Quincy Adams Marriage to 1st Cousin was Big Event in 1928

John Quincy Adams Marriage to 1st Cousin was Big Event in 1928

As for the residence of the Chief Executive, Washington was in favor of a mansion about 5 times larger than the ultimate final product.  In the spring of 1791, he and French architect Charles L’Enfant laid out their vision for the city planning and a huge presidential mansion was on the drawing board.  But, the building commissioners took one look at L’Enfant’s plan and probably almost had a collective heart attack when they saw the proposed extravagence and grandeur of not just the presidential residence, but also all of the buildings.

L’Enfant wasn’t too clued in on how a democracy operated and so he just assumed that if he had Washington’s blessing, it was a done deal.  So, he started working on the proposed big house right away.  Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson fired him in February 1792 after the grounds had been staked out, the cellar excavated and delivery of the stone for part of the foundation had been delivered.  Ever the egalitarian, Jefferson instead proposed that an open competition be commenced with a $500 prize be awarded for whichever plan was accepted.  Washington agreed to the new scheme and Irish architech James Hoban was the winner.  Washington and the commission thought that his traditional 18th century mansion was “convenient, elegant and within moderate expense.” 

You can buy a DVD concerning the Cornerstone Bicentennial

You can buy a DVD concerning the Cornerstone Bicentennial

On this date in 1792, the cornerstone for the executive mansion was laid but the Capitol and other governmental buildings took priority.  I guess Congress figured that the country could operate just fine with a homeless president but not without a building for the Congress.  So, Washington never lived to see the house.  It was not complete until John Adams took up residence in November 1800.  Abigail Adams at first thought it was “built for ages to come” and “a castle of a house.”  It may have been built for ages to come but Abigail soon found it wasn’t built for them because only half of the walls had been plastered.  She complained that “not one room or chamber is finished as a whole.”  There was shabby furniture provided by the government and outside the construction workers left tree stumps, piles of debris, hacked weeds and in full view, a very conspicuous presidential privy.   Well, Abigail didn’t have  to suffer for long.  Jefferson defeated Adams in the presidential election and by March 1801, the Adams’ were asked to leave and Thomas Jefferson moved in to what I”m sure he deemed as a “fixer upper.” 

8AM Thursday...Wet Drive to Work

8AM Thursday...Wet Drive to Work

Alot of California Rain/Snow

Alot of California Rain/Snow

Weather Bottom Line:  There is some interesting stuff going on.  While the Atlantic Hurricane Season has been pretty benign, the Pacific has been pretty active.  I’ve been bemoaning the fact that no one seems to care about the plight of the Philippines following back-to-back tropical cyclones that have killed over 600 people, hampered the economy and brought general misery.  They’re even having to import coffins.  The US media has largely been silent.  Anyway, the second of these storms was Typhoon Parma that came back to the Philippines after initially striking the nation.  It did so in reaction to the passing of Super Typhoon Melor as it was on its way to Japan.  Well, in less than a week, the remnant of Typhoon Melor made its way all the way across the Pacific and is now bringing heavy rain to California, which could be a problem in areas absent of vegetation from recent wildfires.  It will also bring heavy snow to the higher elevations of the Sierra and also winds as high as 100 mph on mountain peaks.

Now, the subtropical jetstream is set up with a flow from around Acapulco to the Ohio Valley and Southeastern US.  Tropical moisture is being gathered from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific that will bring clouds and rain our way.  There is a tropical storm that is dying just off the Pacific coast of Mexico that will do nothing but add more moisture to the flow.  We have relatively cool air in place with all of this moisture set to come up from the Southwest and run over the top of us.  What that ultimately means to us is cloudy conditions with periods of rain for the last two days of the week and perhaps Saturday.  The clouds and rain will make it tough for us to get out of the 40’s until Sunday as a cold front comes through and clears out the mess. But it also serves to drag down air that will take us into the 30’s each morning for the first few days of next week.  Don’t even bother consider the 60’s any time soon and remind yourself of the threat of global warming as you turn on your furnace.

Unknown Speaker Spurs Colonies to Declare Independence-King George Clueless.
July 4, 2009

ON THIS INDEPENDENCE DAY, REMEMBER THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EVENT. THE COURAGE AND FORESIGHT OF THESE MEN OPENED THE DOORS FOR POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACROSS THE WORLD. THE REVOLUTION THAT THEY BEGAN CONTINUES TO THIS DAY. DO NOT TAKE IT FOR GRANTED AND BE THANKFUL THAT YOU WERE BORN OR CAME TO A NATION THAT ALLOWS FOR ALL OF THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ARGUING THAT WE SOMETIMES LOATHE, BUT IRONICALLY, SHOULD CELEBRATE. WE ARE A MELTING POT THAT CONTINUES TO STIR, BUT IN THE END, WE ARE AMERICANS WITHOUT HYPHENATION. CELEBRATE YOUR AMERICAN HERITAGE.

Unknown Speaker?

Unknown Speaker?

233 years ago, a group of 56 men faced the gallows for what they contemplated doing. Someone may have been the catalyst to their moving forward and signing a document that would change world history. No one knows who that someone was but, he gave a speech that roused the emotions of the delegates in Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Here is the text of what has become known as The Speech of the Unknown.

The delegates really voted in favor of the declaration on July 2, 1776. (see Second of July?) John Adams wrote to his wife that “The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance.” That letter wasn’t published until the 19th century and by that time the Fourth had become the traditional Independence Day. What happened on July 4 was an approval by the delegates of the final version of the document. The final version was not printed on parchment until July 19 and it wasn’t signed until August 2, 1776 by but 50 delegates. The other six got around to it later.

In 1817, John Trumbull painted the famous portrait of the signers of the Declaration. He hadn’t been there on July 4, 1776 but he did make sketches of many of the individuals and checked out the room so there is still some accuracy. One funny thing he did was to have John Adams stepping on Thomas Jefferson’s foot. Jefferson and Adams became fast friends but were political rivals. Both died on this date in 1826 exactly 50 years to the day of the official presentation of the Declaration of Independence. They were the only two signers of the declaration to become president. It is said that, on his deathbed, Adams said “Jefferson survives” or “Jefferson lives” not knowing that Tom had died a few hours earlier. I suppose it’s possible that Trumbull’s placement of Adams’ foot on the top of Jefferson’s was a statement of support for Adams who had been at odds over many issues with Jefferson. It just so happens that Trumbull had painted Adams’ portrait. However, I found one source that claims that the feet are merely close together and the claim of Adams stepping on his foot are unfounded. You decide for yourself on the photo on the left. Now, some sources say that Jefferson is standing on Adams’ foot.  The Wall Street Journal published this article in which none other than historian David McCullough says that its Jefferson’s foot on Adams, but says its really an illusion.   But the University of Maryland Baltmore has this on-line study regarding Adams on Jefferson’s foot. This source claims in engravings of the painting that followed, Adams’ foot was moved. So, the debate goes on. Above is a thumbnail of montage of all of the signers that you can click on. Trumbull for some reason left 14 of the signers out of the portrait but did manage to put 5 other men in the picture that were not signers. I have yet to find out why he did that…perhaps he was making another statement or he did not know what they looked like.

Clueless King was bored on July 4 1776

Clueless King was bored on July 4 1776

The writer of the declaration, Thomas Jefferson was a reluctant scribe. John Adams had to convince Jefferson that he was the most qualified to be the penman by giving him three reasons:

“You are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of business”

” I(Adams) am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise.”

“You can write ten times better than I can.”

Jefferson responded, “if you are decided, then I will do as well as I can.”

And the rest they say, is history. King George though had no idea of what was happening. Back in England, he wrote in his diary on July 4, 1776 that not much happened. Oh…the folly of Kings.

satcat

Tornado probability

Tornado probability

Weather Bottom Line: 

Morning clouds and cool conditions make me think that the risk for thunderstorms and the severe weather potential will be curtailed.  Nevertheless, the Storms Prediction Center has the slight risk of severe weather just to our west.   However, both the GFS and NAM feature a short wave or short wave moving through this afternoon or evening.  Like Forrest Gump, that’s all I’m gonna say about that.    I’ve got a  parade to go to but, if I see sunshine this afternoon in the wake of a shortwave that passed to our north this morning and brought the morning clouds, then I’ll be more on the lookout for t’storms this evening than I would otherwise.

DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK 
   NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
   0727 AM CDT SAT JUL 04 2009
  
   VALID 041300Z – 051200Z

Severe Wind Probability

Severe Wind Probability

   
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS ACROSS THE LWR OH/MID MS VLY
   WWD INTO THE SRN PLNS…
  
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS ACROSS THE CENTRAL/NRN HIGH
   PLAINS…
  
   …MO/AR OZARKS EWD INTO THE LWR OH VALLEY…
   MDT WNWLY FLOW EXTENDS FROM UPPER RIDGE POSITION PAC NW TO ACROSS
   THE ROCKIES AND CENTRAL PLAINS TO MID ATLANTIC STATES AS TROUGH OVER
   NERN STATES MOVES OUT TO SEA.
   
  

Severe Hail Probability

Severe Hail Probability

 COMPOSITE FRONTAL/CONVECTIVE OUTFLOW BOUNDARY FROM OVERNIGHT
   THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS PUSHED EWD ACROSS MID MS VALLEY EXTENDING
   WSWWD ACROSS SRN MO INTO NRN OK/NERN NM.
  
   THE 40-50KT WSWLY LOW LEVEL JET SRN PLAINS TO LWR MO VALLEY HAS
   MAINTAINED THE MOIST WARM ADVECTION FOR THE EXPANSIVE AREA OF
   ELEVATED CONVECTION ONGOING ALONG AND N OF SURFACE BOUNDARY FROM SRN
   KS/NRN OK EWD ACROSS THE MID MS RIVER VALLEY.
  
   WHILE WEAKENING SOME THE LOW LEVEL JET SHIFTS EWD THIS AFTERNOON
   ACROSS LOWER MO INTO LOWER OH/WRN TN VALLEYS WHICH COUPLED WITH THE
   50KT MID LEVEL FLOW PROVIDES ENVIRONMENT FOR A RENEWED THREAT OF
   SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS. ONCE STRONG HEATING OF WARM SECTOR CAN WEAKEN
   CINH AND PROVIDE MLCAPES AOA 2000 J/KG OR GREATER STORMS SHOULD
   QUICKLY DEVELOP VICINITY OF SURFACE BOUNDARIES
  
   THE PRIMARY STORM MODE ONCE INITIATION OF SURFACE CONVECTION OCCURS
   WILL TRANSITION QUICKLY INTO LINEAR GIVEN THE DOMINANT WESTERLY
   COMPONENT AT ALL LEVELS.  WITH INITIAL DEVELOPMENT OF SURFACE BASED
   STORMS…SUPERCELLS ARE POSSIBLE GIVEN THE SHEAR AND AMOUNT OF
   INSTABILITY THAT WILL BE AVAILABLE.  THUS EARLY IN THE SEVERE THREAT
   THERE WILL BE A POTENTIAL OF ISOLATED TORNADOS WITH ANY SUPERCELL.
   HOWEVER EXPECT STORMS TO CONTINUE DEVELOPING UPSCALE WITH GENERATION
   OF COLD POOLS LEADING TO AN INCREASING THREAT OF DAMAGING WINDS
   ACROSS MID MS VALLEY BY LATE THIS AFTERNOON.  THE WIND PROBABILITIES
   WERE ACCORDINGLY RAISED THIS AREA FOR THIS POTENTIAL.
  
   …SRN PLAINS…
   STRONG HEATING IS EXPECTED ALONG/S OF ADVANCING CDFNT AND OUTFLOW
   BOUNDARIES TODAY.  SFC DEW POINTS UPR 60S/LWR 70S COMBINED
   WITH VERY HOT TEMPERATURES WILL PRODUCE MLCAPES 2000 J/KG FROM THE
   TX S PLNS EWD INTO OK.  SUSTAINED LOW LVL CONVERGENCE INVOF THE
   BOUNDARIES WILL YIELD WDLY SCT ROBUST TSTM DEVELOPMENT…INITIALLY
   ALONG OUTFLOW BOUNDARIES IN CNTRL/ERN OK…THEN ALONG THE CDFNT FROM
   WRN OK/TX S PLNS LATER.  THOUGH DEEP LAYER SHEAR WILL BE
   COMPARATIVELY LESS ACROSS THE REGION THAN AT POINTS FARTHER
   E…INVERTED-V SUB-CLOUD THERMODYNAMIC PROFILES AND MID-LVL DRY AIR
   WILL AUGMENT DOWNDRAFTS RESULTING IN DMGG WIND GUSTS.  THE STRONGEST
   OF STORMS MAY ALSO PRODUCE LARGE HAIL…THOUGH TROPOSPHERIC
   TEMPERATURES WILL BE RATHER WARM.  SVR THREATS WILL CONTINUE SWD
   INVOF BOUNDARIES DURING THE EVENING.
  
   …UPSLOPE AREAS OF CENTRAL AND NRN ROCKIES…
   WEAK BOUNDARY LAYER EASTERLYS/UPSLOPE WILL PREVAIL TO LEE OF ROCKIES
   AS SURFACE RIDGE SHIFTS EWD ACROSS THE PLAINS.  THIS MAINTAINS LOW
   LEVEL MOISTURE IN PLACE AND FAVORABLE DEEP LAYER SHEAR FOR REPEAT OF
   DIURNAL THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT THIS AFTERNOON.  VEERING LOW LEVEL
   WIND PROFILES RESULT IN SFC-6KM SHEAR OF 30-40KT ERN WY/ERN
   CO…MORE THAN SUFFICIENT FOR A FEW ROTATING STORMS. PRIMARY THREAT
   WILL BE LARGE HAIL AND LOCAL WET MICROBURSTS WITH GREATEST POTENTIAL
   ASSOCIATED WITH ANY SUPERCELL DEVELOPMENT.
  
   STORMS WILL MOVE ONLY SLOWLY EWD AWAY FROM HIGHER TERRAIN AS AIR
   MASS EWD ACROSS HIGH PLAINS WILL CONTAIN SOMEWHAT LESS INSTABILITY
   AND LESS FAVORABLE LOW LEVEL SHEAR.
  
   ..HALES/GARNER.. 07/04/2009

Can the GOP Prevent Judge Sotomayor From Coming to a Vote? Can the President Invent Executive Privilege?
June 13, 2009

In Jefferson's Day, Some Thought He Wanted to Burn the Constitution at the alter of Satan!

In Jefferson's Day, Some Thought He Wanted to Burn the Constitution at the alter of Satan!

Can GOP block Sotomayor? Does It want To?

Can GOP block Sotomayor? Does It want To?

Can the Republicans Block the Sotomayor selection to the Supreme Court?  On this post from several days ago, I outlined how it appeared to me that the flip of Sen. Arlen Spector to the Democratic party might alter the Senate Judicial Committee such that the Republicans could keep her nomination in committee.  I haven’t seen anyone on TV talk about this which makes me wonder what happened or if my assessment was flawed.  Better yet, the question remains as to whether the GOP would want to exercise that option in the first place.  Judge Sotomayor’s legal opinions sometimes seem at odds with her public comments.

On This Date In History:  On this date in 1807, President Thomas Jefferson received a subpoena to testify at the treason trial of his former Vice-President, Aaron Burr.  If you recall, Burr and Jefferson both had the same number of electoral votes for the 1800 presidential election.  The tie went to the House of Representatives who voted for Jefferson only after Tom’s old nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, reluctantly went to bat for the famous statesman.  That made Jefferson the President and Burr the Vice-President.  The original Constitution had the second place electoral vote-getter become Vice-President.  But that meant that political rivals had to be the team. 

Burr and Jefferson Not Good Buddies

Burr and Jefferson Not Good Buddies

That obviously created problems and the Constitution was changed.  The problem became all too apparent when Burr, as the sitting Vice-President, took out his anger at Hamilton for his support of Jefferson, as well as other items of disagreement, by taking Hamilton to the dueling field.  Burr killed the Revolutionary Hero and a warrant was issued for the Vice-President’s arrest for murder.  Burr fled until the charges were dropped.

Well, Burr wasn’t done.  His political career was over in the United States as the public turned on him for his duel.  So, he secretly conspired with Britain and Spain to try and set up a new country in the Southwest of what is now the United States and part of Mexico.  Of course, Burr would rule the new empire.  But, he plot was foiled and he went to trial for Treason.  As part of his defense, he had Jefferson, still the sitting President, called to the trial to produce documents that would exonerate him.  But, Jefferson cited his right to protect the public interest as reason for not showing up at the trial and he only offered a few of the documents requested.  If Jefferson was trying to send Burr to the gallows it didn’t work because Chief Justice John Marshall declared that the charges were to be dropped due to lack of evidence.

Peter Charles Hoffer Wrote About Burr Treason Trials

Peter Charles Hoffer Wrote About Burr Treason Trials

Now, I’m not sure why the Chief Justice was involved unless somehow an appeal was made to the Supreme Court or if the judicial system was different then.  But, I do know that this is another of a number of instances in which President Jefferson simply ignored the Constitution to suit his needs. On these here pages, we’ve talked about the undeclared Barbary Pirate War which I suppose set the precedent for other undeclared conflicts to come , with the President exercising the role of commander in chief as reason for using the military overseas.  And, we’ve reviewed Jefferson’s funding of the Lewis and Clark expedition as an example of how Jefferson the President acted perhaps differently than Jefferson the author of the Declaration of Independence.  So often today, when we hear charges that the President is shredding the Constitution, we hear the name of Jefferson invoked….when in fact, Jefferson is hardly the one who should be upheld as the President who held the Constitution without contempt.