Founding Fathers and War

As you know George Washington wasn’t bashful about going to war—even with an army of untrained, unschooled, and even unpaid farmers, merchants, and shopkeepers. And look what he did with the British!

Thomas Jefferson was not known for his willingness to fight. But when the Barbary Pirates continued their demands for payments of ransoms for ships captured in the Mediterranean, Jefferson refused to meet their demands. Instead he sent ships to fight the pirates (think Muslims). He had to request more men and ships to meet the test. read more

Founding Fathers on Kindness

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is quoted as saying: “Hard times have a way of teaching us lessons that we refuse to learn in good times. That is the one university we all get to attend—tuition free.”

I have learned to be nice to everyone. You don’t really know what others are going through at any particular time. Someone may cut you off in traffic because they must get to the hospital in time. Someone may be a little short with you because they are late for an urgent meeting or date or happening. You never really know. It’s just better to be nice and let little things go. read more

Virtue Discussed by Adams and Washington

John Adams, our second President, believed adamantly in Virtue and Religion. He said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In other words, a virtuous people can maintain our best Constitutional form of government. But without virtue, no written document can protect the people from themselves

George Washington underscored this thought in his First Inaugural Address’ “. . . No Wall of words, no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other.” read more

The Founding Fathers and Education

The Founding Fathers agreed that education was the most important way to teach virtue, shape character, and mold citizens. The “best means of forming manly, virtuous, happy people, will be found in the right education of youth.” And as George Washington wrote: “Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion must fail.”

Moral education should begin when the first habits and manners were established. That’s why they supported public education. “Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. The education here intended is not merely that of the children of the rich and noble, but of every rank and class of people, down to the lowest and poorest. It is not too much to say that schools for the education of all should be placed at convenient distances, and maintained at the public expense.” (John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America”, a two volume work which was next to the Bible the most often quoted work at the Constitutional Convention.) read more

Abraham Lincoln Loved Books

Lincoln was an avid reader. He always kept a book nearby. He read the newspapers voraciously. He loved books. His favorite books included the Bible and books about his beloved George Washington, especially the biography by Reverend Mason Locke “Parson” Weems.

It was through reading books that Lincoln learned how to speak, but he understood that speaking was useless unless people would actually listen to you. That’s why most of his speeches were filled with anecdotes and stories.

Have you ever considered that Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States because of his ability to find the truth by public discussion. Abe Lincoln was not a governor of any state as were Wilson and Roosevelt. He had only served one uneventful term in Congress. But he achieved his prominence through his debates with Stephen A. Douglas. read more

The Revolutionary War

Why did the Colonists win the Revolutionary War? America was not at the center of the world at the time. England was. Great Britain was slow to understand the nature of the threat of war with America and its colonies.

Americans were a bunch of rag-tag but hearty fighters dedicated to an idea. The idea was quite real. It was an idea of personal liberty, freedom and self-government.

The soldiers fighting for England were fighting for their empire or they were being paid to fight for it. When you are fighting for something more personal you are more devoted to the purpose of the fight. It is more personal. It means more to the fighters. read more

The Father of Our Country

George Washington became known as “The Father of Our Country”. Such a fine title for someone who had no children of his own. The country was his child. He was the Indispensible Man.

Washington also relied on the help from Providence, the name he used for God, out of reverence for the Almighty. He relied on his own faith and that of his soldiers. He said: “No man has more perfect Reliance on the alwise and powerful dispensations of the Supreme Being than I have nor thinks his aid more necessary.” read more

George Washington’s Faith

In his youth, George Washington developed faith. He was very private about his faith. During the Revolutionary War his soldiers Knew he often went into the trees to be alone in prayer, or sometimes he knelt in his officers quarters. But George was private about his beliefs, usually referring to “the hand of Providence” when he knew he had been protected by God.

Faith to him was a private thing. Faith required no proof.

Or as Emily Dickinson put it:

“I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea,
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be. read more

Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day to all of you Founding Fathers fans. You know that two of our most famous Founding Fathers had no children of their own. What? They weren’t really Fathers. Well, no, not in that sense. But they were Founding Fathers, and are esteemed as such.

Who are they, you ask? George Washington, known as the Father of our Country, and James Madison, the Father of the Constitution. They had no children of their own.

Martha had 4 children with her previous husband, Daniel Parke Custis, but only 2 of them lived to adulthood. read more

Friends of the Founding Fathers

As I spoke to the High School Seniors in the Advanced Placement Honors History class, I was fascinated. The kids in the class were not much different than I remembered from my high school days many years ago. The main difference was their appearance. The dress standards were not anything close to what ours had been, even on our Rodeo Day, where the dress standards were lessened.

It surely reminded me of a couple of the Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation that George Washington had to write over and over again to learn good penmanship. I thought perhaps we should return to learning that way. read more