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Remembering the Titanic

2021-04-14T18:03:37-05:00April 14, 2021|Articles|

Remembering the Titanic

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” —John 15:13

One hundred nine years ago tonight, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and, in less than three short hours before she sank, her enduring legacy of heroism and hubris was cemented in history.

Far into the early hours of April 15, wireless operators were misinformed regarding the severity of damage, and reports were that Titanic was still afloat and being assisted by multiple sister ships. This was not the case.

It was soon learned that only one ship had both received Titanic’s SOS and chosen to act. Only the Carpathia, captained by the heroic Arthur Rostron, chose to risk even his own passengers by blazing back through the ice to rescue desperate survivors.

What Rostron found in tallying the survivors was that 1,500 souls, including the captain, had gone down into the frigid Atlantic. The sinking of the ship RMS Titanic remains the deadliest in times of peace.


Sir Arthur Henry Rostron (1869-1940) captain of the RMS Carpathia


Edward J. Smith (1850-1912), captain of the RMS Titanic

In a century dawning with suffragettes, booming industrialism, communism and looming world war—all of which had new ideas regarding chivalry’s place in the world—the age-old practice of women and children first would, once again, have its role in Providence.

For many months, the eyes of the world were glued to an unfolding narrative of contrasts: one warring with human nature for the Christian ethic of sacrifice, the other compromising with the hellish doctrine of self-preservation.


April 16, 1912—Paperboy Ned Parfett stands outside the White Star Line offices in London


The Titanic sank in under three hours

Caught in unimaginable tragedy, men of the Titanic, and even some women, chose to lay down their lives for the weak. In the end, duty and gallantry, even at appalling cost, remained the victor that night.

The implication of that still grips us today.

The Inauguration of John Tyler, 1841

2021-04-07T08:41:06-05:00April 7, 2021|HH 2021|

The Inauguration of John Tyler, April 6, 1841

“My son, observe the commandment of your father.” —Proverbs 6:20a

President Truman said of him, “he is one of the Presidents we could do without.” Theodore Roosevelt suggested that “he has been called a mediocre man; but this is unwarranted flattery.” The New York Times obituary stated that “he had left the Presidency as the most unpopular public man that had ever held any public office in the United States.” But then, none of them cared a whit for the meaning of the Constitution or dared oppose their own party when that party passed unconstitutional legislation. John Tyler stood his ground on principles, an almost unheard of position in the twentieth or twenty-first centuries—presidents actually having sound convictions or standing by them.


John Tyler (1790-1862)

John Tyler (1790-1862) was the son of John Tyler, Sr., known as “Judge Tyler.” Raised in rural Charles City County Virginia, both Tylers were graduates of the College of William and Mary. Judge Tyler’s roommate was Thomas Jefferson. The Senior Tyler self-consciously trained his son to take his place in the seats of power, and regaled him with stories of the Founding Fathers and their sacrifices for the Republic. Young John graduated at the age of 17, passed the bar at 19 and opened a law practice, while his father served as governor of Virginia. Encouraged by his father to go into politics, John Tyler was elected to the House of Burgesses at the age of 21. There he made known his strong allegiance to States Rights and the Constitution, as had his father before him. In 1816, he was sent to Congress representing his Charles City County constituents.


John “Judge” Tyler, Sr. (1747-1813) father of U.S. President John Tyler


Greenway Plantation in Charles City County Virginia, birthplace of John Tyler

Having married in 1813, with a growing family (which eventually reached fifteen children), and citing poor health, Tyler stepped down from Congress to build up his law practice. Upon his return to state politics, John was appointed Governor, but within a year entered the United States Senate by legislative acclimation. As a senator Tyler became known as a strong “Jeffersonian,” always opposing the centralization of power and defending Constitutional State authority. His independent thinking and actions sometimes led to opposing his own party, eventually breaking with the President and leader of it, Andrew Jackson.

Tyler supported the right of South Carolina to nullify unconstitutional Federal legislation and opposed Jackson’s dismantling of the National Bank by fiat. Thus identifying with the up-and-coming anti-Jackson Whig Party, Tyler resigned from the Senate when he realized Virginia’s House of Delegates was going to ask him to vote against his conscience and political convictions. Leaving the Senate, Tyler returned to state politics as a member of the Virginia House. In a remarkable turn of events, the Virginian’s sterling character and popularity in his home state caused the Whig Party to add Tyler to the ticket as Vice Presidential candidate in the election of 1840, along with popular General William Henry Harrison for President. They won the “Hard Cider and Log Cabin” election and the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” passed into history as a most successful campaign.


Score to “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”, a popular and influential tune of the Whig Party’s Log Cabin Campaign, 1840


Harrison and Tyler’s “Hard Cider and Log Cabin” campaign emblem, 1840

Tyler returned to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia to tend to his family while Henry Clay, the leader of the Whig Party, pulled strings and manipulated the President to his heart’s content. And then President Harrison died. John Tyler is often only known at the President of Firsts. The fifty-one-year-old President became the first Vice-President to accede to the Presidency upon the death of the incumbent, as well as the youngest up to that time. Racing to Washington and taking the oath as the successor, Tyler set a precedent that has been followed ever since. He delivered an inaugural address reasserting his States’ Rights principles and “Jeffersonian philosophy.” He would soon discover that the Whig Party and he were very incompatible.


9th U.S. President William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) served only 31 days in office


The death of William Henry Harrison, April 4, 1841

The rest of his Presidency (which wags ever since have called “His Accidentcy”), was one of opposing the legislation of his own party which controlled Congress, because of the unconstitutional nature of much of their legislation. His inherited cabinet resigned (except for Daniel Webster), and the first impeachment proceedings were started against him. As a man without a party, Tyler persevered through his term as tenth President, suffering the attacks and resistance of both Whigs (future Republican Party) and Democrats (his former colleagues). His wife was the first spouse to die; he remarried in the White House, a first.


Letitia Tyler (1790-1842), Tyler’s first wife, died the year after his inauguration


Julia Tyler (1820-1889) Tyler’s second wife, whom he married while in office

John Tyler’s foreign policy initiatives were successful, however, since he had control of that aspect of Presidential power and duty, including bringing Texas into the Union. He left the office a pariah but with his honor and convictions intact, and retired to Sherwood Forest, his home in Charles City County, Virginia. His grandson lives there still. President Tyler died in 1862, beloved by his home state and all the South, the only President not a citizen of the United States at the time of his death—a Confederate congressman. It was he to whom the South turned to seek reconciliation in the early days of secession, but his commission was rebuffed by the Lincoln administration, and the war was on.


Sherwood Forest Plantation, Tyler’s home for the final twenty years of his life


A messenger deliver news to Vice President John Tyler of President Harrison’s death

The man who had been groomed by his father for greatness is hated and vilified by most modern historians. Flawed men who, however, retain their honor and principles, will always run afoul of those who have set themselves up as the paragons of virtue, but are exactly the opposite.

Pilgrim-Wampanoag Treaty Established, 1621

2021-04-07T08:27:47-05:00March 29, 2021|HH 2021|

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” —Matthew 5:9

Pilgrim-Wampanoag Treaty Established, March 29, 1621

T

he year 2020 signified the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the establishment of Plymouth Plantation, an English expedition to the New World, people now designated as “the Pilgrims”. That handful of persecuted Christians left to future American generations a profound legacy of courage, hard work, suffering, and devotion to Christ. Led by their pastor John Robinson and elder William Brewster, they had adopted, in ironclad conviction, the basic doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, based on the divine revelation of the Holy Scriptures. But they had also separated themselves from the Church of England, a punishable crime. These Independents believed God should only be worshipped according to the commands of the Bible, a belief held by other Separatists and Presbyterians, a doctrine known as “the regulative principle of worship”. The congregation left England for the Netherlands, where such dissenters found a warm welcome. In 1620 a portion of Pastor John Robinson’s congregation pioneered another move, this time to the New World.


A hand-drawn map of Plymouth Bay, dated 1605 and showing the native settlements that existed in the area at the time, as well as the approximate eventual location of Plimoth Plantation (marked with a star) and other modern place names

Arriving along the coast of New England near Cape Cod in the winter, the small group of families finally chose an uninhabited harbor landing in which to settle, an area previously the location of the Patuxets, a native tribe wiped out by a plague (sometimes thought to be smallpox), in the two previous years. With only vague ideas regarding the peacefulness of local tribal people, the Pilgrims constructed a palisade, buried their dead secretly at night—half of their number as it turned out—and waited for spring. They sang praises and thanked God in prayer for His providential preservation of the ones who survived that first winter. Little could they have known that Providential preservation had just begun.


The recreated Plimoth Plantation settlement, looking towards Plymouth Bay

First contact with the local natives occurred on March 16, 1621, when Samoset, an Abenaki sagamore, strode into the settlement and proclaimed “Welcome, Englishmen!”. He had learned some English from coastal merchants and fishermen. From him they learned where they had settled, the name of a more fluent English-speaker among the local natives, Tisquantum, and the name of the paramount tribal chief of the Wampanoags, Massasoit. The Englishmen had organized for self-defense and appointed Miles Standish the commander of the militia, not knowing what to expect from the natives. If the Jamestown Colony that had been established in Virginia in 1607 had set a precedent, conflict could be expected; lethal fighting, and constant misunderstanding. In Mourt’s Relation they recorded that after Samoset had spent the night with them:


Samoset’s first visit to the Pilgrim settlement

“…in the morning, we dismissed the savage, and gave him a knife, a bracelet, and a ring. He promised within a night or two to come again and to bring with him some of the Massasoits, our neighbors, with such beavers’ skins as they had to truck (trade) with us.”


Map of Southern New England dated 1620–22, showing the locations of various tribes, settlements, and exploration sites

The Pilgrims desired peace, trade, and neighborly relations, but such had not been the experience of other expeditions. They had come as families, demonstrating the desire for permanence and certainly peaceful conditions. No doubt in their own minds, the Plymouth colonists had much trepidation regarding the native people. The chief of the Wampanoags did arrive, along with sixty warriors. Following tentative contact, in which both sides sent a few representatives to converse, the new translator, Squanto, was able to bring about enough rapprochement for the two sides to sit together comfortably:

“Our messenger made a speech unto him, that King James saluted him with words of love and peace, and did accept of him as his friend and ally, and that our governor [William Bradford] desired to see him and truck with him, and to confirm peace with him, as his next neighbor
…They saluted him and he them…our governor kissed his hand, and the king kissed him, and so they sat down…Then they treated of peace.”


William Bradford (1590-1657), governor of Plymouth at the time of the peace treaty


The peace agreement between Massasoit and the Pilgrims

Thus on March 29, 1621, the Pilgrims and Wampanoags made the first well-kept peace treaty between the English and the “first peoples”, and it lasted for more than fifty years!

  1. That neither he nor any of his should injure or do hurt to any of our people.
  2. And if any of his did hurt to any of ours, he should send the offender, that we might punish him.
  3. That if any of our tools were taken away, when our people were at work, he should cause them to be restored; and if ours did any harm to any of his, we would do the like to them.
  4. If any did unjustly war against him, we would aid him; if any did war against us, he should aid us.
  5. He should send to his neighbor confederates to certify them of this, that they might not wrong us, but might be likewise comprised in the conditions of peace.
  6. That when their men came to us, they should leave their bows and arrows behind them, as we should do our pieces when we came to them.
  7. Lastly, that doing this, King James would esteem of him as his friend and ally.


A page from William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation, his account of the history of the settlement of the same name

Relations between the settlers and the natives were not perfect and disputes arose that were not settled amicably. The treaty held the two people together, however, and a satisfactory arrangement enabled them to live side by side in peace.

In our current day, where the Pilgrims are hated and vilified by a malevolent cabal of misinformed and ideologically driven academics and activists, may we keep in mind our duty to be both truth-seekers and peacemakers.


The First Thanksgiving, held nearly four hundred years ago in the autumn of 1621, and celebrated by the surviving Pilgrims, along with Massasoit and a large party of his people

The Birth of Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685

2021-04-07T08:28:00-05:00March 20, 2021|HH 2021|

“Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.” Psalm 150:3-5 (NIV)

The Birth of Johann Sebastian Bach, March 21, 1685

If ever a boy was born to be a great musician, Johann Sebastian Bach was that boy. Born the eighth and final child of Johann and Maria Bach in Eisenach, Germany, Johann became part of a very musical family. He researched his own genealogy and discovered generations of musicians in his line since the Reformation. His father was the director of the town musicians and taught him violin and music theory at a young age; all of his uncles were professional musicians, one of whom taught him to play the organ. Protestantism had taken deep root in that part of Germany, and Johann was steeped in the Christian traditions established by Martin Luther, one hundred fifty years earlier. With no restrictions on exploring the possibilities of musical range and complexity, with the full blessing of family and church, Bach could pursue excellence with all his might. But by the age of ten, Bach was living with an older brother, also Johann (Christof), for both parents had died, eight months apart. Johann’s love of music did not die with them.


Location of Eisenach within Germany


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

The older Bach brother played the organ at St. Michael’s Church in Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, and put his young brother to work copying musical scores, writing music, and, eventually, performing. Johann Sebastian attended the local school, receiving a classical education common to well-placed boys of his day. He learned to play several other instruments and explored the music of artists both German and Italian. Bach used everything that he learned throughout his teenage years to build a frame of reference that his genius would bring together in unique and stirring compositions that thrilled the world.


A tower is all that remains of St. Michael’s Church


The town of Eisenach in Thuringia, Germany, birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. It was here within the secure walls of Wartburg Castle (far left hilltop) that Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German.

Johann Sebastian took seriously his Christian faith. While he did write a number of “secular” pieces, composing music for the church proved his passion for most of his life. The era in which Bach lived is known as the Baroque, in which music was characterized by harmony written in a particular key, played by chord-playing instruments and plenty of bass. The musicians improvised as well. Regardless of the piece, Bach usually signed them with SDG—Soli Deo Gloria (Only for God’s Glory). Some of his musician contemporaries also became men of great renown including Antonio Vivaldi, George Frederic Handel, Georg Philipp Telemann, Henry Purcell, and other.


George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) was among Bach’s notable musical contemporaries


Bach often signed his works with Soli Deo Gloria

At the age of 18, Bach was appointed organist at Arnstadt, already having played for other churches and sung in a professional choir. For four years he devoted himself to keyboard music, especially organ. In 1707 he married his cousin Barbara Bach, with whom he had seven children. After her death he remarried, this time the daughter of a professional trumpeter with whom he sired thirteen more children. At least three of his children became professional musicians or composers. About half of his children died before reaching maturity.


The church in Arnstadt where Bach served as organist, which was renamed “Bachkirche” in 1935 in his honor


The Wender organ Bach played in Arnstadt

After serving several churches he became the music director in Leipzig, responsible for all the music in four separate Lutheran churches. For the year of 1742 he produced 62 cantatas, 39 of them new works. While Bach certainly worked hard to apply the principles and skills he had learned, he also possessed a natural talent for musical composition.

“One of the most respected attributes in the culture of the 18th century, ‘taste’ is an utterly individual compound of raw talent, imagination, psychological disposition, judgment, skill, and experience. It is unteachable and unlearnable.”


St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Leipzig, where Bach was Kapelmeister (music director) from 1723 until his death in 1750

Except perhaps Handel, whom Bach never met in person, no other composer of the 18th Century exceeded the sheer output or diversity of musical production than Bach. A 21st Century poll of more than a hundred professional classical musicians rated him the greatest composer of history.

Bach became the court composer for the Elector of Saxony, descendant of the patron and defender of Martin Luther two centuries earlier. His reputation brought him to play for the court of Frederick the Great in Prussia. It is generally accepted that Bach died from botched eye surgery, performed by an English charlatan and medical quack, John Taylor. His beloved Anna died ten years later but was buried in a pauper’s grave, her step-sons unable or unwilling to help her financially and her children too young to do so. Bach was a good father and teacher but also “obstinate in the extreme.” He was never without pupils and reportedly kept tight rein on his finances. There have been great revivals of Bach’s music in every century since his death, and his major and many minor works are still performed. SDG.


Bach became the court composer to Augustus III (1696-1763), King of Poland and Elector of Saxony

The Birth of Andrew Jackson, 1767

2021-03-22T11:29:57-05:00March 15, 2021|HH 2021|

“He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly” —Proverbs 14:29

The Birth of Andrew Jackson, March 15, 1767

Historian David Hackett Fischer said of the Scots-Irish who settled the southern regions of the American colonies that “they carried themselves with a fierce and stubborn pride that warned others to treat them with respect”. Very few came as indentured servants, for even poverty “did not breed a spirit of subordination”.1 To view the flesh-and-blood embodiment of those immigrants, look at the image on the $20.00 bill—Andrew Jackson. Do it quickly, for he has fallen prey to the self-anointed elites, race-baiters, and professorial myrmidons of political correctness who do not approve of his beliefs, enormous achievements, and embarrassing existence in the past life of the United States. They are replacing him on the face of the double sawbuck or “dub” with a more acceptable historical figure of the distaff persuasion. The facts—“those stubborn things” (John Adams)—however, remain the same: controversial Andrew Jackson’s impact on the history of our nation, that defined an entire period, is still known as “The Jacksonian Era”.


The $20 bill, prominently featuring Andrew Jackson… for now


An 1831 portrait of Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) entitled Tennessee Gentleman

Jackson was born March 15, 1767 at his uncle’s farm either in North or South Carolina. His parents had emigrated from Northern Ireland to Pennsylvania, and joined family members who had preceded them to northwestern South Carolina. Both North and South Carolina claim him, for he was born in a wilderness cabin on the border. He grew up in South Carolina in a Scots-Irish community of avid Presbyterian frontiersmen, an area known as the “garden of the Waxhaws”. Jackson’s pious mother hoped he would someday enter the Gospel ministry, but those desires were never met. He became, rather, a boy whose profane language and wild outbursts of temper became legendary, and continued long into his life as a means of intimidating opponents and getting his way. He tried to dominate every situation and bend everyone to his own will. He performed outrageous practical jokes that many did not consider humorous in the least. Andy Jackson’s father died shortly before he was born and his mother died when he was fourteen. No one could have predicted much of a good end for an out-of-control orphan boy on the frontier.


A Currier & Ives depiction of Andrew Jackson as a young boy, demonstrating his inflammatory character. The caption reads: “The Brave Boy of the Waxhaws. Andrew Jackson, the Seventh President of the United States; in 1780 when a boy of 13 enlisted in the cause of his country, and was taken prisoner by the British. Being ordered by an officer to clean his boots, he indignantly refused, and received a sword cut for his temerity.”

By the age of twenty he had read law and passed the bar in North Carolina to become a lawyer. Within a year, Jackson had moved westward and hung out his shingle in Nashville, Tennessee, where he married Rachel Robards, supposedly divorced from an abusive husband. Jackson partnered with several prominent men, speculating in lands further west and agitating for Tennessee statehood. In 1796 Tennessee achieved that status and Jackson was elected its first representative, having already served as territorial Attorney General. He was then chosen as Senator, and after resigning that position, a judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Surprisingly, Jackson was known for his honesty and good decision-making, and, although still quick-tempered, always came to the defense of women, fighting duels over honor on several occasions.


Rachel Donelson Robards Jackson (1767-1828), dearly beloved wife of Andrew Jackson


Jackson in 1837

Jackson served as the commander of the Tennessee militia and continued building a prosperous cotton plantation, eventually reaching more than a thousand acres, which, in his lifetime included a workforce of about 300 slaves. He built a fortune as a merchant and planter. Jackson remained in politics, befriending and supporting the controversial Aaron Burr, and backing James Monroe against Madison for President in 1808. Andrew Jackson’s national popularity, however, came from his military service. He took 2,000 Tennessee volunteers into Alabama territory in the midst of the War of 1812 and decisively defeated the “Red Stick” Creek tribe in their revolt against white encroachment on their lands, and civil war against the more numerous “White” Creeks, who sought to accommodate the frontier settlers from the United States.


General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815

He then took his army to defend New Orleans, and defeated a veteran British Army in January of 1815. From there, the hero seized Florida from Spain and then inserted himself into Washington politics again, in a run for President of the United States. Jackson served two terms as President, hugely popular with the common man. He hand-picked his successor to carry on his policies, so his influence transcended his actual time in office. The lean red-headed Jackson’s stormy years as President put his stamp of populist democracy on the country and his reputation for honesty and plain-spokenness, as well as his willingness to go against the political tides, brought him into contention with many other politicians. They formed a national party based solely on opposing Andrew Jackson and his policies.


President Andrew Jackson

Much more could be said of the life of Andrew Jackson, and has been written in many biographies and articles since his day. No single man had a greater impact on the United States and its direction in history than the man known as the “Hero”, “Old Hickory”, “King Andrew I”, and some unprintable titles. He is still a target of assassins, and his magnificent equestrian statues in New Orleans, Nashville, and Washington, DC are targets of rioters and revolutionaries in our iconoclastic times. The statues, like their subject, have repelled all attackers so far. The $20.00 bill, not so much. Don’t grow too fond of the images on the ones, twos, fives, and fifties either.


Daguerrotype of Andrew Jackson in 1845 at the age of 78, months before his death

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