Declaration of Independence

On June 7th, 1776, Richard Henry Lee made a motion in the Second Continental Congress to declare independence.

Congress felt that if the motion was approved, a proper document justifying independence was needed.

So a committee was created…

The Committee for the Declaration of Independence was also known as the Committee of Five.  Its members included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, John Adams, and Robert Livingstone.

Thomas Jefferson did most of the writing, the other members of the Committee did some editing to his work.

After the Declaration was prepared, Congress actually voted on the motion

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of Richard Henry Lee’s June 7th motion to declare independence.  Richard Henry Lee was a cousin of the American soldier Henry Lee (a cavalry commander).  Future U.S. president John Adams wrote to his wife predicting that the second of July would be celebrated as Independence Day.

The vote for independence on July 2 is considered to have been unanimous with 12 states voting for independence and one state (New York) abstaining.  Several days later New York voted for independence.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted in favor of the document known as the Declaration of Independence.  The Fourth of July is celebrated as Independence Day.

The Liberty Bell was rung for the Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776.  This bell-ringing celebrated the first public reading of the Declaration.

A quote from Leviticus 25:10b is inscribed on the Liberty Bell.  “…and proclaim liberty throughout the land and to its inhabitants”.  The passage is about the Hebrew practice of a jubilee.  Jubilees occur once every 50 years.

Most members of the Continental Congress signed on August 2, 1776.  They signed a formal version that had been drawn up on parchment.  Broadsides (posters) of the Declaration were printed and distributed right away after the Declaration was approved on July 4th.  24 of these broadsides are known to still exist.

Since signing such a document greatly increased the chances that the signer would face capital punishment if arrested by the British, president of the Congress, John Hancock, signed his name in a defiantly large font size.

No signers were killed as a direct result of signing but the British did attempt to capture signers as well as target the homes, businesses, and property of signers.  About one third of the signers were reduced to poverty as the result of such depredations during the Revolutionary War.

The Declaration of Independence occurred after the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill.  Somewhat ironically the battle of Bunker Hill was the deadliest battle for the British during the war and the war hadn’t even properly started yet.  (Bunker Hill was fought in June of 1775).

The Battle of Long Island (August-September 1776) was the first major battle to be fought after the Declaration of Independence.

Father’s Day

Since 1972 Father’s Day has been highlighted by the president at the request of Congress. From 1972 through 1998 the request was made by a joint resolution. In 1998 the request was stuck into the United States Code.
 
36 USC 109 says
 
“(a)Designation.—
The third Sunday in June is Father’s Day.
(b)Proclamation.—The President is requested to issue a proclamation—
(1) calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on Father’s Day;
(2) inviting State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe Father’s Day with appropriate ceremonies; and
(3) urging the people of the United States to offer public and private expressions of Father’s Day to the abiding love and gratitude they have for their fathers.”
 
Prior to the federal government stepping in, there was no Father’s Day. Just kidding.
 
At a YMCA in Spokane, Washington, on June 19, 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd gave a speech requesting that the ministers in the city give a sermon honoring fathers. Within a few decades June Father’s Day celebrations were common nationwide. Despite attempts right away and in the intervening decades, there was resistance at the federal level to making it an official holiday and it did not become an official holiday until 1972. This delay is in stark contrast to Mother’s Day which received Congressional recognition in 1914.
 
Happy Father’s Day!

Magna Carta and the Due Process Clause

Three chapters of the Magna Carta are still valid law today. They include the chapter on religious freedom (1), the chapter protecting the rights of towns (9), and the most famous chapter of the Magna Carta, the one protecting due process rights (29). The chapter numbers refer to the 1225 text because that text was used when the Magna Carta was enrolled as a statute in 1297.

Magna Carta represented a significant step forward in legal protection from arbitrary laws.

Magna Carta Chapter 29
“No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or deprived of his freehold or of his liberties or free customs, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, nor shall we go upon him, nor shall we send upon him, except by a legal judgment of his peers or by the law of the land”

The U.S Constitution Amendments 5, 14
“nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”
“nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”

The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights Article 9
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile”

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day. Congress approved of the first U.S. Flag on June 14, 1777. The blue stands for justice. The white stands for liberty. The red stands for apple pie. Strike that. The red stands for bravery. The 13 stripes represented the 13 states. In 1794 two more stripes and stars were added for Vermont and Kentucky. In 1818 it was decided that adding stripes for each new state was not going to work and so the flag returned to its original 13 stripe design with only a star for each new state. What does the circle of stars represent on the original flag?

Constitutional Convention

The Constitutional Convention convened on May 25, 1787.  The Convention was supposed to convene earlier in the month but due to slow travel did not have enough members present for a quorum to begin.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

A tax on paper (The Stamp Act) pushed the colonies closer to independence.

NEW QUESTION

Which presidential power listed in the Constitution has never been used?

A. Commander-in-chief leading an army in the field

B. Legislative adjournment

C. Line item veto

Rum ration

For breakfast the typical ration for a Continental soldier included a half gill of rum. On days when battle was expected this ration was often raised to a full gill. A gill is about a teacup-full.
 
The battle ration was the equivalent of at least 4.5 alcoholic drinks. It is more than is recommended be consumed in a day (nowadays).
 
The typical soldier on drinking the battle ration would probably have a BAC of at least .08 if not .11 or higher by the time the battle rolled around.
 
While 4.5 drinks for breakfast sounds like a lot of alcohol, and it is, it has been estimated that the average adult American male drank 12 gills of rum per week during the Revolutionary War era.
 
Rum is made from molasses and molasses is made from sugar. A tax on sugar was one of the triggers that pushed the colonies towards independence. The sugar crop used slave labor and the ongoing dispute over slavery ultimately led to the Civil War. (Although most sugar was grown outside of the U.S. in the Caribbean, and by the time of the Civil War, whiskey was a more popular drink than rum)
 
The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and soon had over 1 million members. (U.S. population around 13 million in 1830).
ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION
Rhode Island was the last state of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution.
NEW QUESTION
The taxation of what product (after the sugar tax) led to widespread protests and further pushed the colonies towards independence?
A. Indigo
B. Paper
C. Wheat

Another anniversary this year

Another anniversary this year is the 230th anniversary of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution which took place over the summer of 1787, with business concluding on September 17th, 1787. (It took almost a year after that for enough states to ratify the Constitution so it would take effect).

The much-maligned Articles of Confederation had been drafted 10 years prior (another anniversary this year! November 15th!) and ratified by all the states by early 1781.

(Sorry for the technical difficulties.  I think I have those fixed now).

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

Patrick Ferguson invented a breech-loading musket that fired considerably faster than a conventional musket.  Only a few hundred models were made.  Ferguson was killed at Saratoga and that was a setback on the development of breech-loading weapons.

NEW QUESTION

Which state was the last state to ratify the Constitution?

A. Delaware

B. New Hampshire

C. Rhode Island

2017 is the 240th anniversary of Saratoga

2017 marks the 240th anniversary of the Revolutionary War battle of Saratoga. Saratoga ranks as one of the most pivotal battles of the war. (Arguments could also be made for the battles of Long Island, and Trenton in terms of “the most pivotal”)

When the British drew up the battle plan for the campaign that ultimately culminated in Saratoga, the plan was to have three armies converge on Albany and thereby end the war by dividing and conquering New England.

One by one the British armies were defeated. When the third army suffered a staggering defeat in the thick pine forests 30 miles north of Albany, France declared war on Britain and joined the war on the American side. (A war that became much easier to win with French aid). Rather than hasten the end of the war, the campaign had the exact opposite effect. It greatly raised American morale and brought France into the war.

The Saratoga campaign ended in mid-October 1777 with the surrender of the third British army led by Gen. John Burgoyne.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S TRIVIA QUESTION

Brown Bess muskets might be nicknamed for Queen Elizabeth I.  She is the best answer to the question.

NEW QUESTION

Which British officer invented a breech loading musket?

A. Fergus Robertson

B. Patrick Ferguson

C. Robert Ferguson

Friendly fire

As Flag Day and Independence Day draw closer, there will be a greater frequency of posts relevant in some way, close or tangential, to those holidays.

Friendly-fire has long been an issue in wars. During the Revolutionary War, the Pennsylvania Militia discovered that the red and blue color scheme on their uniforms was similar to that of the Hessians. Similarly, a British artillery unit modified its hats to be more distinct at a distance because both British and American gunners wore blue coats.

One of the most famous friendly-fire casualties of all-time occurred during the Civil War when Confederate general “Stonewall” Jackson was accidentally shot by a nervous picket when Jackson was returning to camp.

Civil War General Robert E. Lee’s father, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, was a cavalry officer with the the Virginia Dragoons during the Revolutionary War. Cavalry were mostly used for raiding and scouting during the Revolutionary War because both sides had a terrible time accumulating enough horses and fodder for large scale cavalry actions. In 1779 Light Horse Harry led 300 troops (a mix of cavalry and infantry) on a successful raid on a fort at Paulus Hook, New Jersey, that led to the capture of 159 British troops with the loss of only 2 Americans.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

False.  Cinco de Mayo is not the equivalent of Independence Day in Mexico.  Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th.

NEW QUESTION

A popular musket during the Revolutionary War was named for which monarch?

A. Charles I

B. Elizabeth I

C. James I

Cinco de Mayo

May 5th is the celebration of Cinco de Mayo or the Fifth of May.  It celebrates a military victory of Mexico against France.  It is a popular celebration in the United States, in some ways it is a lot like the way that St. Patrick’s Day is observed by people who are neither Catholic nor Irish.  Cinco de Mayo celebrations are most common in the United States in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

The Haymarket Square in Chicago was the scene of a major labor battle.

NEW QUESTION

True or False.  Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican equivalent of the Fourth of July?

Magna Carta and May First

William Marshall is the famous knight associated with Magna Carta.  He advised King John and helped negotiate the signing of Magna Carta.

What famous deadly confrontation between police and strikers occurred in Chicago on May 1st?

A. Addison Street

B. Haymarket Square

C. Lakeshore Drive

Knights armor and Magna Carta

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

Chain mail armor is heavy on the neck and shoulders.  Contrary to what is seen in many movies, chain mail armor does not make good casual-wear.  Armor like that would be worn when trouble was expected but otherwise would probably not be worn.

WHAT FAMOUS KNIGHT IS ASSOCIATED WITH MAGNA CARTA?

A. John Falstaff

B. Roger De Lacy

C. William Marshall

Knights soon

I can’t find the piece of paper that I had the answer to my most recent trivia question written down on.  Once I find it, I will repost the question and answer.

In the meantime another question:

Which of the following best describes chain mail armor made of hundreds of links of chain riveted together to form a steel sweater?

A. Extra weight on the wearer’s hips with chain mail

B. Extra weight on the wearer’s shoulders with chain mail

C. The weight for chain mail is evenly distributed

Knight over time

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

Knights changed over time.  Originally they had a strong link to the aristocracy (only the nobility could be knights) but eventually men who were wealthy enough could become knights.

NEW QUESTION

How high are the highest towers on “authentic” medieval castles?  (Castles built before 1400, so 200+ foot high Neuschwanstein Castle doesn’t count)

A. Around 100 feet

B. Around 125 feet

C. Around 150 feet

Knights on horseback

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S QUESTION

A warhorse could carry about 500 pounds or roughly 25 to 33% of the horse’s weight. Warhorses weighed roughly 1400 to 2000 pounds.  Most often Arabian horses are used in the movies, these horses are faster, lighter, more maneuverable, and safer than the draft horses (looking more like the modern Clydesdale horses).  In real life war horses tended to be favored for power and strength rather than speed.

NEW QUESTION

Which phrase best describes medieval knights?

A. A knight in the 800s was very similar to one in the 1300s

B. A knight in the 800s was very different than one in the 1300s