Forgetting America’s Revolution

July 21, 2009

Constitution Hall

In our “Changed America,” the life and soul of the American Revolution must be forever forgotten.

When I began this site in 2005, I wrote at the “About Page” of my concern that young people were not aware of the incredible sacrifices made by our forebears when birthing our country. Today, some years later, America has voted overwhelmingly for “change” and a part of that change seems to be a shunning of our past, our heritage. Perhaps it is dismissal of “God,” repudiation of “Dead White Males,” or fear of “Revolution,” I do not really know. What I do now realize is that “official” America and a majority of America’s citizens have little interest in remembering, much less honoring, our Revolutionary War beginnings. I still remember one particular comment-criticism of this site was that I posted too many graves of dead people.
(Slide Show of Revolutionary Patriot Graves)

When I read of the following recent incident, I realized that indeed we have been “CHANGED” as a nation in the “twinkling of an eye.” For the first time in the history of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (The DAR), an American President officially snubbed its members at their yearly convention in Washington, appropriately named “Continental Congress.” From Huntington, West Virginia’s newspaper comes this commentary about our changed America:

“Every single U.S. President since DAR’s inception in 1890 has made either a written or video address thanking the now 165,000 member, 3,000 international chapter organization for its contribution to preserving American heritage and its service to our country. Until this year, 2009, when our new President, Barack Obama, decided to ignore the invitation sent to provide an address that would give credit and thanks for the non-partisan, woman-only organization whose members must prove direct lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution regardless of race, religion or ethnic background and whose motto is: God, Home and Country.

“During the designated time for the presidential address, the expectant audience, many of whom voted for this president, grew to complete silence as it became clear there would be no address or letter this year. The news from women attending from West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky leaves one wondering what exactly does our new President value if none of the above was reason enough to acknowledge the women responsible for such national achievements. What statement does it make for America and her patriots to become the first President in American history to make no statement at all? How should President Barack H. Obama’s silence settle with the country he leads?”

Although President Barack Obama snubbed a request from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution to address them on July 8th, 2009, for their efforts to preserve America’s Revolutionary War heritage, he did travel all the way to Russia on July 7th, 2009, to praise in person Russia’s “timeless heritage.

The lineage society, whose motto is “God, Home and Country,” accepts women who can prove direct descent from a patriot of the American Revolution regardless of race, religion or ethnic background. This year, civil rights legend Dr. Dorothy Irene Height was awarded the DAR’s highest recognition, the DAR Medal of Honor, for her lifetime of service, leadership and patriotism.

During Barack Obama’s tenure as America’s President, women of the DAR, many of whom voted for Obama as Senator and President, volunteered more than 60,000 hours to veteran patients, awarded over $150,000 in scholarships to American students, and supported schools for the underprivileged with donations exceeding one million dollars.

While America’s President was not interested in the efforts of the Daughters of the American Revolution to remember America’s “heritage” and the sacrifices of their patriotic ancestors of the Revolution, Barack Obama spoke in person to the Russians of their “timeless heritage” with these exact words from The White House Official Web Site:

“I speak to you today with deep respect for Russia’s timeless heritage. Russian writers have helped us understand the complexity of the human experience, and recognize eternal truths. Russian painters, composers, and dancers have introduced us to new forms of beauty. Russian scientists have cured disease, sought new frontiers of progress, and helped us go to space.

“These are contributions that are not contained by Russia’s borders, as vast as those borders are. Indeed, Russia’s heritage has touched every corner of the world, and speaks to the humanity that we share. That includes my own country, which has been blessed with Russian immigrants for decades; we’ve been enriched by Russian culture, and enhanced by Russian cooperation. And as a resident of Washington, D.C., I continue to benefit from the contributions of Russians — specifically, from Alexander Ovechkin. We’re very pleased to have him in Washington, D.C.”

UPDATE: The official statement from Linda Gist Calvin, President General of the NSDAR, graciously states “Rumors have been circulating suggesting that the absence of greetings was an intentional slight on the part of the President. Your President General is sure this is not the case. … Greetings from the White House to the DAR Continental Congress actually did not begin until 1910. There have also been more than a dozen years since that time in which greetings were not forthcoming. Regardless, please be assured that the DAR will continue to foster relationships with those in the White House and share our objectives of historic preservation, education and patriotism.”

Obama Disses the DAR

The image, Constitution Hall, is subject to copyright by barneykin. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, an administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.


Albemarle County Patriots

July 13, 2009

Revolutionary War Image

The image above, from the Library of Congress, shows the signatures of three of my Albemarle County ancestors, Thomas Craig, John Jameson and Micajah Via, who were supporters of the American Revolution during its earliest and darkest days. They were calling for the English Church to be disestablished as the State Church. An image of the additional signers is here: 1 November 1776. A transcript of the entire document is available here: TRANSCRIPT. With the loss of so many historical documents during the wars fought on Virginia soil, these petitions give us a snapshot of which Virginians were in support of the Revolutionary cause by their opposition to the established Church of England.

Many historians write that the American Revolution was, to a considerable extent, a religious quarrel, between Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Quakers and other Dissenters whose religious principles and politics were in opposition to the established Church and its government. The King of England was the head of the English church. Anglican priests swore allegiance to the King and The Book of Common Prayer offered prayers for the monarch, beseeching God “to be his defender and keeper, giving him victory over all his enemies.” In 1776, those enemies of the King were American soldiers and friends and neighbors of American Anglicans. Loyalty to the Anglican church and to its head, the British monarch, was often seen as treason to the American cause, hence the need to disestablish the English Church in America. See “Religion and the American Revolution” at the Library of Congress site.

A description of these Virginia petitions and how they are tied to the Revolutionary War spirit for liberty is also at the Library of Congress web site, where is “Petitioning in Eighteenth-Century Virginia:”

Although both Anglicans and dissenters frequently petitioned the legislature to address a variety of religious concerns, the relationship of church and state did not assume great importance until the Revolutionary period. As the number of dissenters and their political needs increased, and as Enlightenment ideals gained ground among certain political leaders, complete religious freedom emerged as a common goal for a heterogeneous group of Virginians.

My three ancestors, Thomas Craig, John Jameson and Micajah Via, are amongst the signatories on this Albemarle County, Virginia petition, dated on 1 November 1776. This point in time was less than four months after the signing of the American Declaration of Independence. These Albemarle – Amherst petitioners were well aware of the threatening arrival of 30,000 British troops at New York and the enemy’s occupation of the city, that American forces had been roundly defeated at the Battle of Brooklyn, that the American ragtag army was routed at the Battle of Harlem Heights, defeated by the British at Lake Champlain, and that American troops were forced to retreat at the Battle of White Plains just three days prior.

In the face of all of that, they addressed their words to the “Delegates & Senators, Representatives of the Common Wealth of Virginia at the City of Williamsburg” stating “in consequence of our having thrown off our dependence on the Crown & Parliament of Great Britain.” They closed by ardently wishing that the new Virginia “Commonwealth may become the envy of the Nations & the Glory of the World.” I count these men as Patriots of the Revolution because, if the Rebels had lost the fight, as it indeed appeared they would, and England successfully stopped the rebellion, they would have been considered traitors and suffered consequences.

In pre-Revolutionary America, the Church of England was the staunch defender of the British monarchy. When England tried to strengthen the Church of England in the Colonies, in a ploy to turn the colonies into royal provinces, the locals became more antagonistic towards their own mother country.

In the colony of Virginia the Anglican Church was established by law; Virginia was the stronghold of the English system of church and state. The Anglican faith and worship were prescribed by law. The Anglican church was sustained by taxes imposed on all Virginians. Although Jews, Catholics, and Protestant dissenters were barely tolerated in Virginia, they slowly persisted, eventually gaining minimal acceptance. By the advent of the American Revolution, religious dissenters outnumbered adherents to the established English church.

The English Church had become powerful in the colonies because it was supported by the British government and the official ruling class sent to govern the colonials. The Anglican bishops and archbishops in England were appointed by the monarch, and church rituals and services were governed by acts of Parliament. The British government depended upon its loyal clergy to fend off or report to the authorities any rebellious spirits that might foment in America. The Church, therefore, served as a strong bulwark of the state, playing a political role in the Virginia Colony as well as in England. In the mid eighteenth-century, Revolutionary fervor was rising in Virginia, resulting in the English church redoubling its efforts to strengthen its influence in affairs of the Colony. These methods did not sit well with the larger number of dissenting Protestants, who had bitter remembrances of the religious conflicts they had experienced in Great Britain before immigrating. In addition, loyal members of the English Church in Virginia, witnessing the harsh treatment by their parish leaders against their Dissenter neighbors, became sympathetic.

The image, Albemarle County Signatories 1776, is posted here by barneykin.

General George Washington

July 12, 2009

George Washington

“A good moral character is the first essential in a man.” ~~George Washington

Very few Americans today appreciate the indispensable role played by George Washington in the formation of the United States of America. Without General George Washington, there probably would not be a United States of America today. George Washington was America’s First Great General. He was an indispensable leader of the American Revolution.

I snapped this photograph at the new museum at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

The image, George Washington, is subject to copyright by barneykin. It is posted here with permission via the Flickr API by barneykin, an administrator of “The Revolution flickred” pool.