Presumption of Innocence

2018-10-02T15:35:08+00:00October 2, 2018|Articles|

Presumption of Innocence

With the recent Supreme Court hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, we hearken back to early American history and the more recent case of Clarence Thomas, where we see emotionally driven testimony lacking the support of factual evidence.

In the example of John Adams, some of the most powerful men in Boston opposed his case. On behalf of the accused British soldiers, he faced off against John Hancock, Sam Adams and Joseph Warren, as well as the wholly partisan press, and the visual media — illustrated by the popular and respected Paul Revere, who represented the mob as “victims.”

Adams knew that the presumption of innocence was at stake when he uttered the above powerful words — as apropos today as in 1770.

On our history tour of Boston we stand on the spot where British soldiers were pelted with rocks and ice and, fearing for their lives, fired in self-defense. Or was it revenge for verbal abuse suffered over the previous months? Smoldering anti-British sentiment ignited into blind emotional hatred. Against a tidal wave of public opinion, Adams built his case on facts and evidence, arguing that the innocent should be protected at all costs or the law would cease to have meaning. He won his case, but this timeless principle must be defended in every generation.

 

God’s Remedy for Bearing False Witness

“If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” —Deuteronomy 19:16-19, ESV

Boston Street Terrorism

2017-07-04T23:06:21+00:00September 27, 2016|Articles|

Unhappy Boston! see thy Sons deplore,
Thy hallow’d Walks besmear’d with guiltless Gore:
While faithless P—n and his savage Bands,
With murd’rous Rancour stretch their bloody Hands;
Like fierce Barbarians grinning o’er their Prey,
Approve the Carnage and enjoy the Day.

—Excerpt from above image engraved, printed
and published by Paul Revere, 1770 Boston

 

Few words convey a more evocative negative image than “massacre.” We know how it makes us feel in our own day — it has always been thus. When American Indians won a battle against the cavalry or settlers, it was always deemed a massacre. When the troops won, it was a “hard-fought victory.” The marketing of a battle by the government or the mass media manipulates the outcome on the home front and often demonizes the enemy. On March 5, 1770, a street riot in which British soldiers defended themselves with deadly force was instantly trumpeted throughout the colonies as “The Boston Massacre,” a name the event still retains. The “patriots” won the propaganda battle.

 


The Old Massachusetts State House then and now —
We will visit a memorial to the conflict here in front of the Old State House as part of our Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims Tour in Boston and Plymouth November 14-18!

The mere presence of Redcoated soldiers in the city continued to provide insult and provocation to the people of Boston, especially the element agitating for their removal and a restoration of the American rights of self-taxation and non-interference in trade. On a cold night filled with ice and snow, numbers of Bostonian men young and old were in the streets, some responding to a fire alarm, others just throwing snowballs and looking for trouble. An English sentinel came under attack and “called for backup.” An unruly gang began to pelt both him and his comrades with ice and snow, and some claimed, rocks and brickbats.

 


An 1856 depiction of the Boston Massacre by William L. Champey — Learn about the Boston Massacre and much more as part of our
Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims Tour in Boston and Plymouth November 14-18!

The soldiers backed off until cornered and then fired their muskets. The subsequent blood in the snow created a sensation across the colonies, and five years later would again be brought up as a reason for separation from England. The site today is a mere plaque on a wall along the Freedom Trail in Boston.


Inside and out at the Old Massachusetts State House — This and much more as part of our Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims Tour in Boston and Plymouth November 14-18!

Join us as we visit the site of the Boston massacre and imagine the tragic incidents of that night long ago that still lives in the memories of a nation, even as it stimulated our ancestors to further resistance and the creation of a Republic. By the way, John Adams defended the soldiers in a Boston courtroom and won the case against the mob. Street riot, unprovoked attack, self-defense, massacre?

 

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One if by Land and Two if by Sea

2017-07-05T03:28:49+00:00September 22, 2016|Articles|

One if by land, and two if by sea
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.

— Excerpt from Paul Revere’s Ride
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Old North Church in Boston possessed a towering steeple that could be seen from across the river in Charles Town. As an Anglican Church in Congregationalist Boston, the congregation often contained British soldiers on occupation duty in the town. The members themselves were divided over the appropriate level of resistance to “Royal tyranny.” One of the key leaders of the rebellion was the local silversmith and man-about-town, Paul Revere, and he set up both a network of spies, and a plan to notify the countryside in case the redcoats made an aggressive move in that direction. The steeple of Old North would serve as a beacon, though only for one important minute in the history of the world.

 


Paul Revere riding to “… spread the alarm through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

 

That minute arrived on the evening of April 18, 1775. Three sworn patriots — the church sexton Robert Newman, Captain John Pulling, and Thomas Bernard — sprang into action that evening, carrying two lanterns to the steeple windows to send the twin lights across the water to the riders. The pre-arranged signal called for one lit lantern if the troops moved across Boston Neck and the Great Bridge and two if they chose an amphibious landing farther up river. In either case, the signal would trigger riders on the Charles Town side of the river to gallop into the countryside and raise the alarm.


Tour the home of Paul Revere, visit Old North Church, and see the historical sites along Boston’s Freedom Trail — this and much more as part of our Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims Tour in Boston and Plymouth November 14-18!

The two lanterns were lit and off the riders went toward Lexington and dozens of other small towns to warn of the enemy’s approach. Not one to delegate all the risk to others, Revere bolted for Lexington, a feat that every school child in the United States would remember after it was immortalized a hundred years later in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. William Dawes, a local tanner and a member of the militia made that same midnight ride and with as much gusto and risk as Revere, and he was joined by others as the night wore on. It is too late for “the midnight ride of William Dawes” but the effect was the same. The militias formed and the “Lexington Alarm” produced “the shot heard round the world.”


Visit Lexington and Concord — site of the famous ’shot heard round the world” and charge over Old Concord Bridge — this and much more as part of our Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims Tour in Boston and Plymouth November 14-18!

Join Landmark Events as we walk in the paths of Revere and Dawes, gaze across to Charles Town, look up at the Old North steeple (the third one erected since then) and wonder how history would have changed had a couple faithful men decided to sleep in when the times called for action!

 

Carrie McGavock — An American Heroine

2017-11-25T15:19:52+00:00March 1, 2016|Articles, Battle of Franklin|

 

Heroism and self-sacrifice are often exhibited in battle, but it was in the aftermath of the battle of Franklin, Tennessee that one woman’s selflessness became legendary. The impression of Carrie McGavock’s unflinching kindness and the services she rendered lingered long in the memory of both those she served and the entire South.

The number of wounded that were left behind after the battle to be cared for by the citizens of that small town was staggering. The homes of overwhelmed civilians were crowded to overflowing with Confederate soldiers, hastily attended to by too few doctors equipped with inadequate supplies.

 


Carnton Plantation and the McGavock Confederate Cemetery

The largest of these field-hospitals was Carnton Plantation, the home of Carrie McGavock. This young mother’s tireless efforts to comfort and calm the soldiers whose shattered bodies filled her home were never forgotten by them.

Accounts written by the survivors of that horrible time are full of gratitude and reverence for the woman who cared for them as if they were her own.


Carrie McGavock

The last of these wounded men would not leave her home until the following year. By that time, Carrie McGavock and her husband, John had taken upon themselves yet another momentous duty.

Offering a portion of their own land, the McGavocks initiated and oversaw the identifying and reinterring of nearly 1,500 Confederate soldiers previously buried in mass graves.

Carrie McGavock was committed to identifying and honoring these brave men whose relations had previously been in ignorance of their fate. In a ponderous ledger, she meticulously recorded their names, possessions and final places of burial.

From 1866 until her death in 1905, she cheerfully welcomed a flood of visitors who came in hopes of finding the grave of a loved one they had not heard of since before the battle. Her dedication to preserving the memory of these fallen sons of the Confederacy earned her the nickname “The Widow of the South.”

The Civil War in the West tour is one of the most interesting and inspiring tours we host, full of remarkable providences and colorful characters including Private Tod Carter, John Bell Hood, Patrick Cleburne and many others. Come walk the battlefields and tour the homes that still bear the marks of war with Landmark Events historian Bill Potter and Sam Turley March 16-17 in Franklin and Nashville, TN.

Learn More and Register for the Civil War in the West Tour!

Great Revival in the Southern Armies

2017-07-05T04:27:47+00:00February 24, 2016|Articles|

 


Military Historian, Bill Potter

One of the greatest spiritual awakenings in history since the Protestant Reformation, occurred in the Southern armies during the American War Between the States. Many thousands of men professed Christ and many thousands of others were renewed in their faith through the faithful preaching of the Word of God by chaplains, missionaries, pastors in and outside the army, and evangelists.

While there is a record of conversions in the Northern armies also, they were simply not on the scale of the broad-based “revival” that swept through the South.

 

Our Civil War in the West tour includes some of the most compelling stories for men and women, young and old, of any tour. Accounts of great sacrifice, selfless service, noble heroism and remarkable foresight abound in this unique insight into God’s providence amongst civilians and soldiers alike. Get more information and register for the Civil War in the West Tour!

A Remarkable Outpouring of the Holy Spirit

In two books of the times are recorded the stories and anecdotes of the great awakening, The Great Revival in the Confederate Armies by W.W. Bennett and Christ in the Camp by J. William Jones, both reprinted in modern times by Sprinkle Publications of Harrisonburg, VA. Letters, diaries, and memoirs across the Confederacy told the story of the remarkable outpouring of the Holy Spirit in power among the troops in gray.

In the Army of Tennessee, “Its [the revival] influence transcended the ranks, extending from the commanding general to the lowest private. The cohesiveness of the army cannot be fully understood without considering its . . . religious pilgrimage.” (Larry Daniel in Soldiering in The Army of the Tennessee, p.115) The evidence is overwhelming and the modern historians do not know how to explain it. Overflow crowds of soldiers gathered for worship and the chaplains were overwhelmed with trying to reach them all with the sermons. One of General Bragg’s soldiers recorded that a good preacher would draw a thousand men in his brigade alone. The Texas Rangers held nightly meetings for a month in 1863, and the interest in the Gospel lasted to the end of the war. Generals Bragg, Hood, and even President Jefferson Davis all made professions of faith and were baptized during the war.


Carnton Plantation, Home of the McGavock Family


Home of Fountain Branch Carter

One soldier recorded that around the campfires in his regiment “could be heard the sweet songs of Zion” being sung in the evenings. Prayer meetings and Bible studies sprang up in the tents of Christian soldiers and chaplains formed Christian associations for believers. Multiple thousands of tracts and Bibles were distributed by colporteurs throughout the army. One of the most oft-observed aspects of the great revivals were their ecumenical nature. The Protestant chaplains all emphasized repentance and faith for salvation and holy living. The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man were preached together without reference to one’s denominational preference. Estimates of the number of men who professed faith in Christ in the Confederate armies during the war range between 15,000 and 50,000. Only God really knows.


Rippavilla Plantation, Spring Hill, Tennessee


Fort Negley – Union Stronghold of Nashville

Of course the scoffers and the careless did not disappear, but their numbers dwindled as the war progressed. The awakening swept through the hospitals and prisons as well, and even churches back home were affected. In the Army of Tennessee, which would be virtually destroyed at Franklin and Nashville, Baptist minister and Brigadier General Mark Lowry preached to his own men and provided great encouragement to the work of the chaplains. Some of the letters and diaries record that in regiments where the Spirit of God had been active in changing men’s hearts, the rates of desertions declined and the men stood stronger in the day of battle. When a man is sure of his eternal destiny he is more likely to do his duty in the face of death, knowing his life is ultimately in God’s hands. People have asked many times how the Southern army could have gone to their deaths at Franklin with such resignation and dignity. I believe the spiritual awakening that had been the powerful experience of many of those men cannot be discounted in the answer.