Sunday, June 19, 2011

Independence Day
Happy 235th Birthday America
The Declaration House
In June of 1776, Thomas Jefferson was part of a Virginia delegation that planned to ask the Second Continental Congress to sever its ties from Great Britain. While that historic body was meeting, Jefferson was assigned to a committee that was asked to write a declaration which enumerated the causes that led to that severance.

Finding his lodging in the heart of the city uncomfortable, he removed to the rooms of Jacob Graff. Mr. Graff was a well-known bricklayer who had built his house on the outskirts of town but a year before Jefferson arrived. It's probable that Jefferson had to pay a little extra for the rooms as they came furnished. The Graffs lived in the house while Jefferson undertook his task. Situated on the outskirts of town, surrounded by fields and a stable across the street, the house provided Jefferson with the space and distance from the city he needed for his task.

Working from the Virginia Constitution as well as an extensive knowledge of political theory Jefferson wrote the document in under three weeks. An author at heart, Jefferson squirmed in resentment as the document was redacted during the final week of June 1776 by his fellow delegates to the Second Continental Congress.

Many people believe the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, because that is the day the United States celebrates independence. This is untrue.

Richard Lee proposed the Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress on June 7, 1776. The Committee of Five (Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston and Thomas Jefferson) began work on June 11. Jefferson wrote the first draft, and the other members of the committee suggested revisions and edits. They presented the completed document to the Continental Congress on June 28, and the Congress passed the resolution on July 2, 1776.

The Declaration of Independence wasn't signed on the 4th of July; the Continental Congress gathered to vote on whether the wording should be corrected or should stay the same. According to some historians, they hurried the process due to the fact that they were overrun by horseflies from the neighboring farm. The first signatures were added in August of 1776 and finished on Jan 18th 1777.

The Declaration of Independence consisted of two parts, a preamble and a bill of particulars. The preamble is the part we generally read. The bill of particulars was a list of almost 2,000 items. Jefferson thought it would be approved on the July 2, but Congress simply made amendments to the bill of particulars. It was finally approved on July 4, 1776 when delegates started signing it.

John Adams wrote a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams, about the approval:
"The Second of July, 1776, will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the Great Anniversary Celebration."

John Adams wrote to Abigail again on July 3, 1776:
Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony "that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do."You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the Causes, which have impell'd Us to this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it, in the Sight of God and Man. A Plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days. On July 2, 1776 the Association known as United Colonies of America officially became the United States of America.

So when was it signed?

Most delegates signed the document on August 2, when a clean copy was finally produced by Timothy Matlack, assistant to the secretary of Congress.

Several did not sign until later. And their names were not released to the public until later still, January 1777.

FAST-FORWARD: On this special day in 1800, the Marine Corps Band played its first public appearance at Tun Tavern, Philadelphia. The Marine Corps Band under the original leadership of Drum Major William Farr was established by the second Marine Corps Commandant, William Ward Burrows. The Marine Corps Band with leadership of John Philip Sousa and other great band leaders, has always been considered the best of the military - it became known as "The President's Own."

William Ward Burrows—born in South Carolina on 16 January 1758—was described by a contemporary, Washington Irving, as a "gentlemen of accomplished mind and polished manner."

Burrows served with the state troops of South Carolina in the American Revolution, before he moved to Philadelphia. There, on 12 July 1798, he was made Commandant of the Marine Corps—newly established by President John Adams.

Commandant Burrows also had a son, Lt. William Ward Burrows II (6 October 1785 - 5 September 1813), was an officer in the United States Navy during the First Barbary War and the War of 1812.

The first Marine Corps units to be organized by the industrious new commandant were those that served in the ships of the fledgling United States Navy. During the first seven months in which Burrows held the office of commandant, the United States embarked on the Quasi-War with the French Republic.

At that time, the headquarters of the Corps was at Philadelphia, then the capital of the country. In addition to organizing his headquarters staff and securing a barracks for transient personnel.

On 4 July 1800, that musical organization first appeared in public at Tun Tavern, in probably the last social function attended by marines while they retained their headquarters at Philadelphia. Burrows reached Washington, D.C., on 15 July, to establish the new Marine Corps headquarters there in the wake of an advance detachment sent down in March to protect the Washington Navy Yard, then under construction.

The remainder of the Marines in Philadelphia were soon shifted down to Washington, and during that time, Burrows received a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel Commandant.

Although the Quasi-War with France continued into the autumn of 1800, Congressional pressure to reduce the cost of a naval establishment frustrated some of Burrows' efforts to establish the Marine Corps on a solid, permanent footing. Nevertheless, the Corps was able to weather the storm because another armed conflict, the Barbary Wars, highlighted the nation's need for Marines.

Burrows resigned his post as Commandant for health reasons on 6 March 1804, and he died exactly one year later, on 6 March 1805. Under his leadership, the United States Marine Corps gained a firm and enduring foundation upon which succeeding leaders built the Corps of later years.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Father's Day
Before reminding you of Father's Day history, I will tell you that I am a new father at my age of 85. She was born on January 16, 2011, and she is as pretty as a princess. I named her Princess Bella. It's great to be a new father again.

Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. It is celebrated on the third Sunday of June in many countries and on other days elsewhere. It complements Mother's Day, the celebration honoring mothers.

Father's Day is a celebration of fathers inaugurated in the early twentieth century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting. Father's Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide and typically involves gift-giving, special dinners to fathers, and family-oriented activities.

The first observance of Father's Day actually took place in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. It was organized by Mrs. Grace Golden Clayton, who wanted to celebrate the lives of the 210 fathers who had been lost in the Monongah Mining disaster several months earlier in Monongah, West Virginia, on December 6, 1907. It's possible that Clayton was influenced by the first celebration of Mother's Day that same year, just a few miles away. Clayton chose the Sunday nearest to the birthday of her recently deceased father.

Unfortunately, the day was overshadowed by other events in the city, West Virginia did not officially register the holiday, and it was not celebrated again. All the credit for Father's Day went to Sonora Dodd, who invented independently her own celebration of Father's Day just two years later, also influenced by Jarvis' Mother's Day.

Clayton's celebration was forgotten until 1972, when one of the attendants to the celebration saw Nixon's proclamation of Father's Day, and worked to recover its legacy. The celebration is now held every year in the Central United Methodist Church – the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was torn down in 1922. Fairmont is now promoted as the "Home of the First Father's Day Service".

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father's Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized. US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents" In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

In addition to Father's Day, International Men's Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 for men and boys who are not fathers.

The Associated Men's Wear Retailers formed a National Father's Day Committee in New York City in the 1930s, which was renamed in 1938 to National Council for the Promotion of Father's Day and incorporated several other trade groups. This council had the goals of legitimizing the holiday in the mind of the people and managing the holiday as a commercial event in a more systematic way, in order to boost the sales during the holiday. This council always had the support of Dodd, who had no problem with the commercialization of the holiday and endorsed several promotions to increase the amount of gifts. In this aspect she can be considered the opposite of Anna Jarvis, who actively opposed all commercialization of Mother's Day.

The merchants recognized the tendency to parody and satirize the holiday, and used it to their benefit by mocking the holiday on the same advertisements where they promoted the gifts for fathers. People felt compelled to buy gifts even though they saw through the commercial fa├žade, and the custom of giving gifts on that day became progressively more accepted. By 1937 the Father's Day Council calculated that only one father in six had received a present on that day. However, by the 1980s, the Council proclaimed that they had achieved their goal: the one-day event had become a three-week commercial event, a "second Christmas". Its executive director explained back in 1949 that, without the coordinated efforts of the Council and of the groups supporting it, the holiday would have disappeared.

Although the name of the event is usually understood as a plural possessive (i.e. "day belonging to fathers"), which would under normal English punctuation guidelines be spelled "Fathers' Day," the most common spelling is "Father's Day," as if it were a singular possessive (i.e. "day belonging to Father"). In the United States, Dodd used the "Fathers' Day" spelling on her original petition for the holiday, but the spelling "Father's Day" was already used in 1913 when a bill was introduced to the U.S. Congress as the first attempt to establish the holiday, and it was still spelled the same way when its creator was commended in 2008 by the U.S. Congress.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

William Blount
(The present Tennessee U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker would not have qualified to have been William Blount's water-boy.)

William Blount, (April 6, 1749 – March 21, 1800) was a United States statesman. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention for North Carolina, the first and only governor of the Southwest Territory, and Democratic-Republican Senator from Tennessee (1796–1797). He played a major role in establishing the state of Tennessee. He was the first U.S. Senator to be expelled from the Senate for treason and the only Senator expelled outside of the Civil War.

Early life and Revolutionary War
Blount was born near Windsor, North Carolina, in Bertie County into a family of distinguished merchants and planters who owned extensive properties along the banks of the Pamlico River.

During the Revolutionary War, Blount accepted appointment as the regimental paymaster for the 3rd North Carolina Regiment. Although a regimental paymaster was not a commissioned officer with command responsibility on the battlefield, Blount served under a warrant on the regimental staff and drew the same pay and allowances as a captain. He also participated in the regiment's march north in the late spring of 1777 when it joined Washington's main army in defense of Philadelphia against Sir William Howe's Royal forces. Blount and his comrades had participated in one of the key battles of the war. By demonstrating Washington's willingness to fight and the Continental Army's recuperative powers, the battle convinced France that the Americans were in the war to the end and directly influenced France's decision to support the Revolution openly.

After the battle, Blount returned home to become chief paymaster of state forces and later deputy paymaster general for North Carolina. For the next three years he remained intimately involved in the demanding task of recruiting and reequipping forces to be used in support both of Washington's main army in the north and of separate military operations in defense of the southern tier of states.

The fall of Charleston, South Carolina, to British forces under Sir Henry Clinton in May 1780 exposed North Carolina to invasion. The state again faced the difficult task of raising new units, this time to counter a force of British, Hessian, and Loyalist troops under General Charles Cornwallis. Blount not only helped organize these citizen-soldiers but also took to the field with them. His North Carolina unit served under General Horatio Gates, who hastily engaged Cornwallis in a bloody battle at Camden, South Carolina. On August 16, Gates deployed his units – his continentals to the right, the North Carolina and Virginia militia on his left flank – and ordered an advance. The American soldiers were exhausted from weeks of marching and insufficient rations. Furthermore, the militia elements had only recently joined with the regulars, and disciplined teamwork between the two components had not yet been achieved. Such teamwork was especially necessary before hastily assembled militia units could be expected to perform the intricate infantry maneuvers of 18th century linear warfare. While the Continentals easily advanced against the enemy, the militia quickly lost their cohesion in the smoke and confusion, and their lines crumbled before the counterattacking British. Cornwallis then shifted all his forces against the continentals. In less than an hour Gates' army had been lost. This second defeat in the South, the result of inadequate preparations, provided the young Blount a lesson that would stand him in good stead in later years. It also marked the end of Blount's active military career.

Governor of Southwest Territory
Blount was appointed Governor of the Territory South of the Ohio River (the Southwest Territory) by President George Washington in 1790. Blount governed from the home of William Cobb, Rocky Mount, located in current Piney Flats, Tennessee. After concluding the Treaty of Holston, he announced that the territorial capital would move to newly founded Knoxville. Blount named Knoxville after the first Secretary of War, Henry Knox. After moving to Knoxville, construction began on his mansion, known as Blount Mansion, in 1792. The mansion still stands in downtown Knoxville and is a popular museum.

Blount's political offices
* Member of North Carolina state house of commons 1780–1784, and briefly, its Speaker
* Member of the Continental Congress in 1782–1783 and 1786–1787
* Delegate to the Philadelphia Convention that framed the U.S. Constitution in 1787 (and signer of the document)
* North Carolina state senator 1788–1790
* Governor of the Southwest Territory, appointed by President George Washington in 1790, where he brought George Roulstone to Rogersville to print Tennessee's first newspaper, The Knoxville Gazette
* Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern Department 1790–1796
* Chairman of the convention which framed the first State constitution of Tennessee 1796
* U.S. Senator from Tennessee 1796–1797
* Tennessee state senator 1798–1800

U.S. Senate
While serving as U.S. Senator, Blount's affairs took a sharp turn for the worse. In 1797 his land speculations in western lands led him into serious financial difficulties. That same year, he apparently concocted a plan to incite the Creek and Cherokee Indians to aid the British in conquering the Spanish territory of West Florida. A letter he wrote alluding to the plan fell into the hands of President John Adams, who turned it over to the Senate on July 3, 1797. Four days later, on July 7, the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach Blount and on July 8 the Senate voted 25 to 1 to expel him from the Senate. The Senate began an impeachment trial on December 17, 1798, but dropped charges two months later on the grounds that no further action could be taken beyond his expulsion. That set an important precedent for the future with regard to the limitations on actions which could be taken by Congress against its members and former members.

The episode did not seem to hamper Blount's career in Tennessee. In 1798 he was elected to the Tennessee State Senate and rose to the speakership. He died two years later at Knoxville, where he is buried in the cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church.

In 1792, while governor of the Southwest Territory, Blount built the William Blount Mansion in Knoxville. The mansion is a National Historic Landmark.

Blount County, Tennessee, is named after Blount, as is the town of Blountville, Tennessee. Grainger County, Tennessee, and Maryville, Tennessee, are both named after his wife, Mary Grainger Blount. William Blount High School, William Blount Middle School, and Mary Blount Elementary School are named after Blount and his wife. (Blount County, Alabama, is named after his younger half-brother Willie Blount, later governor of Tennessee). Raleigh, North Carolina, has a street named after Blount going though the center of its downtown.

Blount was the father of William Grainger Blount (1784–1827), Tennessee state representative and U.S. Representative from Tennessee, 1815-1819. He was half-brother of Willie Blount (1767–1835), Governor of Tennessee, 1809-1815. He was brother to Thomas Blount (1759–1812), Revolutionary War veteran and U.S. Representative from North Carolina, 1793–1799, 1805–1809 and 1811-1812.