Category Archives: Patriotic

Thought of the Day 10.30.12 John Adams PART TWO

John Adams [PART TWO] [Click here to read PART ONE]

“If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom should we serve?”
–John Adams

John Adams, ca 1816, by Samuel F.B. Morse (Bro...

John Adams, ca 1816, by Samuel F.B. Morse (Brooklyn Museum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1777 Adams was dispatched to Europe as Ambassador to France. Unfortunately he didn’t speak French, (and his background as a New England farmer’s son left him a little adrift in the powdered wig-ed drawing rooms of the French court.)

The Hague to obtain a much needed loan and to open commerce. In 1781, together with Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, Adams was part of the commission of American diplomats that negotiated the Treaty of Paris, the pact that brought an end to the War of Independence. [Miller]

After the war he was the first US minister to England.

In 1787 He wrote Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, that called for a strong Executive branch that would act as “father and protector” of the nation.

He expanded on this theme in a series of essays for a Philadelphia newspaper that were ultimately known as “Discourses on Davila.” Many contemporaries mistakenly believed that they advocated a hereditary monarchy for the United States.[Ibid]

After  ten years in Europe he came back to America in 1788. He was elected Vice President (under George Washington) the next year. He faithfully served as Washington’s Vice President for eight years, a job he describe as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”[]

John Adams, ca.1788, by Mather Brown.

When Washington announced that he would retire after his second term the first contested American Presidential election took place. It was four man race with the Federalist nominating Adams and Thomas Pinckney of  South Carolina, and the Democratic-Republicans nominating Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Jefferson was labeled a Francophile, a coward and an atheist. “Adams was portrayed as a monarchist and an Anglophile who was secretly bent on establishing a family dynasty by having his son succeed him as President.”  [Miller]  Adams won  by three votes; Jefferson came in second, making him Vice President.

When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States on the high seas and intense partisanship among contending factions within the Nation. [Our Presidents/2.John Adams.]

Adams sent commissioners to France, but Paris refused to meet with them unless they paid a bribe. “Adams reported the insult to Congress, and the Senate printed the correspondence, in which the Frenchmen were referred to only as “X, Y, and Z.”” [Ibid] The X,Y,Z affair increased Adam’s and the Federalist’s popularity.  Congress passed the Alien and Sedition act and  funded three new frigates for the navy.

President Adams did not call for a declaration of war, but hostilities began at sea. At first, American shipping was almost defenseless against French privateers, but by 1800 armed merchantmen and U.S. warships were clearing the sea-lanes. [Ibid]

The US had some spectacular victories at sea and France sent word that it would now receive an envoy (this time without a bribe). Negotiations ensued and the quasi war ended.  But by sending an envoy to France to sue for peace the Adams Administration infuriated the Democratic-Republicans. The Federalist were weakened. Washington’s death in 1799 hurt the party even more. In the 1800 Election Jefferson won the electoral vote  by 8 votes.

Just before he left the office of Presidency, Adams arrived at the new Capital City (now Washington DC)

to take up his residence in the White House. On his second evening in its damp, unfinished rooms, he wrote his wife, “Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.” [Ibid]

In retirement he moved back to Massachusetts to his farm at Peacefield. He did not attend Jefferson’s inauguration (Adam’s son Charles had just died and he was anxious to get home).

English: One of the last letters between forme...

English: One of the last letters between former President Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams, wife of former President John Adams. Written by Jefferson at Monticello, his Virginia home, 15 May 1817. The Thomas Jefferson Papers, Series 1, General Correspondence, The Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles’s widow, Sally, and her young daughters moved in with John and Abigail, filling the house with laughter and life. For five years, John Quincy’s son lived there as well while his parents were abroad on public service. The family of Thomas Adams, another son, also lived nearby.[Miller]

The farm was a lively and happy place. John Quincy was a frequent visitor as he sought his father’s advice on matters “that ranged from diplomatic to elected office and culminated in his election as President in 1824.” [Ibid]

John Adams wrote his biography (which he did not complete) in which he addressed everything “from the nature of his manure piles at the farm to history and political philosophy.” [Ibid] In 1812 He and Jefferson renewed their friendship through an exchange of letters that lasted for 14 years. The two men died on the same day, July 4th 1826.

"The original sketch of Mr. Adams, taken ...

“The original sketch of Mr. Adams, taken when dying by A.J.S. in the Rotunda of the Capitol at Washington” “Sketch showing head of John Q. Adams as he lay unconscious in the Rotunda after suffering a stroke.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the Day 10.11.12 Eleanor Roosevelt

  [Eleanor Roosevelt is such a hero of mine, I’m thrilled to write this bio.]

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

“No one can make you fell inferior without your consent.”

“Remember always: That you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”

“You must do the thing you think you can not do.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in ...

Eleanor Roosevelt at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City – NARA – 195324 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on this day in New York City, New York, USA in 1884. Today is the 128th anniversary of her birth.

She was the niece of one US president and the wife of another. She grew up with immense wealth and great personal sorrow. She was a quiet, shy child, so serious that she was nicknamed “Granny”. Her mother died when she was eight of diphtheria. Just months later both her brothers contracted Scarlet fever, one, Elliot, died. Her father died two years later.  Orphaned she went to live with her grandmother Mary Ludlow Hall. She was privately tutored until 15. Then she was sent to a finishing school near London, England called Allenswood. It was a progressive school where Eleanor was said to be studious but popular. At Allenswood she learned self-confidence.

“During her time at Allenswood, Roosevelt came out of her shell of childhood loneliness and isolation. She thrived both academically and emotionally. ” [New World Encyclopedia]

Eleanor in 1898 at school in England. [Image courtesy: New World Encyclopedia.]

Eleanor (she always preferred to be called by her middle name) was presented to society on December 14, 1902 at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. As a young woman she volunteered with the New York Junior League and worked in the city’s slums. She taught dancing and calisthenics to children and was a member of the Consumers League (a group that investigated sweatshop conditions in the city.) It was a connection with the poor that she would continue through her life.

She met Franklin D. Roosevelt later that year. He was her fifth cousin, they got engaged in 1904 and married on St. Patrick’s Day of 1905. President Theodore Roosevelt gave away his niece.

When Franklin entered politics Eleanor became his partner in “it” as well. Her role shifted, “I simply knew that what we had to do we did, and that my job was to make it easy.”  During World War I she “threw herself into wartime relief.” She worked for the Red Cross and helped with Navy Relief. Her work was outside the scope of what she had done to promote her husband’s career, and, she later noted “I … gained certain assurance as to my ability to run things, and the knowledge that there is joy in accomplishing good.”  [The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project]

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt wi...

She had an infamously difficult relationship with her mother-in-law Sara Delano Roosevelt. Franklin was very attached to his mother and the lived in one of her houses. The tide turned when Franklin contracted Polio, Eleanor realized that she had to “stand on her own two feet in regards to her husband’s life, her own life and the rearing of her children. ” [Franklin d. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum]

Together she and Franklin had six children: Anna Eleanor, Jr. ; James (after Franklin’s father James); Franklin Delano, Jr (who died as an infant); Elliott (after Eleanor’s father); Franklin Delano, Jr (the second son named for Franklin); and John Aspinwall.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sara...

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sara Delano Roosevelt, and Mr. and Mrs. James Roosevelt in New York City… – NARA – 197052 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although Eleanor never sought elected office she was surely America’s FIRST LADY.

“While she neither drafted legislation nor held elective office, she worked with other reformers outside and inside the administration to shape the contours of the New Deal.” [Franklin d. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum]

She also wrote  a syndicated column “My Day” six days a week  from 1935 til her death. It was her bully pulpit for social issues.

English: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Li...

After Franklin’s death she was

“…Selected to be a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, serving from 1945 to 1953. She also became the chair of the UN’s Human Rights Commission. As a part of this commission, she helped to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” [Biography]

English: Former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosev...

English: Former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt with the English version of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Italiano: Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, moglie del presidente degli Stati Uniti, mostra la Dichiarazione in formato poster (1949) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She wrote about her experiences in 1937’s This Is My Story;  1949’s  This I Remember;  1958’s On My Own; and 1961’s Autobiography.

President Kennedy asked her to serve as chair of the Commission on the Status of Women and made her delegate to the UN in 1961.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Thought of the Day 8.17.12 Davy Crockett

“Since you have chosen to elect a man with a timber toe to succeed me, you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.”

–Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett

Davy Crockett (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David Stern Crockett was born on this day near the Nolichucky River in Greene County, Tennessee in 1786. Today is the 226th anniversary of his birth.

Here’s what I THOUGHT I knew about Davy Crockett…

He was born on a mountain top in Tennessee. He wore a coon skin hat. He looked like either Fess Parker or John Wayne. He killed himself a bear when he was only three. He had a riffle named Ole Betsy. He was “King of the Wild Frontier.” He died in the Alamo.

English: Davy Crockett 1967 Issue, 5c

English: Davy Crockett 1967 Issue, 5c (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s what I LEARNED about Davy Crockett while researching this Thought of the Day segment…

John and Rebecca Crockett had 9 children, Davy was their 5th. His father taught him how to hunt and shoot (when he was 8 — so that bear probably lived another 5 years.) His father put him in school at 13, but Davy had some trouble with a bully and lasted only 4 days. After he “whupped the tar” out of the class bully  he reckoned he was in trouble with both the teacher and his parents so he ran away. He spent three years in the wilderness before coming home. He didn’t learn to read and write until he was 18. He married his first wife Mary Finley when he was 19 going on 20. They  had three children together, but then Mary passed away. Crockett then married Elizabeth Patton and fathered two more children.

Crockett enlisted in the army in 1813 as a scout  and was stationed in Winchester, Tennessee. He took part in the massacre against the Cree at Tallussahatchee on November 3rd, 1813. He left the  US Army in 1815 as a fourth sergeant. He joined the Tennesee Militia and became a lieutenant colonel.

English: Oil on canvas portrait of Davy Crocke...

English: Oil on canvas portrait of Davy Crockett; original size without frame 76.2×63.5 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His folksy demeanor and larger than life frontiersman ways gave him a folk legend status. Crockett was elected to the Tennessee State Legislature  and in 1826  ran for US House of Representatives as a supporter of Andrew Jackson. He  was pro squatters rights and he won a second term. But when he opposed Jackson’s Indian Removal Act  he was defeated for his bid for a third consecutive term. He bounced back in 1832, insisting that he would remain independent of Jackson “I bark at no man’s bid. I will never come and go, and fetch and carry, at the whistle of the great man in the White House no matter who he is.”

When he was defeated in 1835 he decided he’d had enough of backstabbing Washington politics and he joined the fight for Texan Independence.

Cover of "The Alamo"

Cover of The Alamo

He arrived at the Alamo on February 8, 1836. He liked his new environment and his new companions. “I would rather be in my present situation” he wrote in a letter to his daughter, “than to be elected to a seat in Congress for life.” General Santa Anna’s Mexican army laid siege to the make shift fort on February 23. He fought at the Alamo with 189 defenders in San Antonio for 13 days against the much larger Mexican Army. On March 6, in a 20 minute final battle, the fort was over run and Crockett was killed.

Thought of the Day 8.15.12 Julia Child

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook”

Julia Child

Julia McWilliams was born on this day in Pasadena, California in 1912. Today is the 100th Anniversary of her birth.

“Juju” was the oldest of three children in the McWilliams household. Their father was a real estate magnet, their mother a paper-company heiress and daughter of a lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. Julia was vivacious, athletic (she was 6’2″ by the time she graduated the exclusive Katherine Branson School for Girl’s in San Francisco) and loved a good laugh. She studied writing at Smith College and worked in advertising after graduation.

During WWII Julia tried to join the Woman’s Army Corps, but she was too tall to be a WAC, so she volunteered at the OSS, a government intelligence agency. She started as a typist in Washington but worked her way up to researcher for Top Secret intelligence. She worked overseas in China and Sri Lanka. The SPY Museum in Washington DC included a display on Julia’s time in the OSS as part of their collection. In 2009 they held a special event featuring Child’s Coq au Vin and a talk about the chef’s life as a spy.

While she was in Sri Lanka on assignment she met fellow OSS employee Paul Child and the two began to date. In 1946 Paul and Julia were married. When Paul, now in the US State Department, was assigned to Paris the couple moved to France.

Julia loved food and loved a challenge, so she started to take classes at the Cordon Bleu cooking school. After graduation she worked with her colleagues Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to start The School of the Three Gourmands for American women in Paris. The three started to write a cookbook that would translate French cuisine to the American kitchen. After a lot of hard work and many revisions that cookbook became Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a best selling cookbook that changed the way people looked at French cuisine.

When Julia promoted the book by cooking an omelet on-air  at her local PBS station the response was so good that they offered her  her own cooking show for $50 a pop.  The French Chef premiered on WGBH Boston in 1962. It was the first cooking show on PBS. It ran for 10 years  and was syndicated nation wide. The show won a Peabody and Emmy award (Julia was first educational television personality to receive an Emmy. In her career she was nominated for a total of eight and won three). In 1966 Time Magazine anointed Julia as a culinary goddess by putting her on the cover with the title “Our Lady of the Ladle.” A dozen more TV shows (with bigger budgets) followed. You can still catch reruns of Baking with Julia on PBS. She used 753 pounds of butter during the filming of that series alone.

She wrote sixteen more cookbooks, most  were associated with her television series.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2003. Her autobiography My Life in France was published posthumously. Her kitchen, designed by her husband Paul, is now installed at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History in Washington DC.

Blogger Julie Powell digested the  Mastering the Art of French Cooking, working her way — recipe by recipe– through the  752 page book in one year. She documented the journey in a book, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (which was then made into a movie, Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep in 2009.)

“Something came out of Julia on television that was unexpected… it was just magical.  You can’t fake that. You can’t take classes to learn how to be wonderful. Our food culture is the better for it. Our stomaches are the better for it. ” — Julie Powell

This week restaurants are celebrating Julia’s 100th birthday by  featuring some of her most famous recipes.

Thought of the Day 8.2.12 L’Enfant

Pierre Charles L'Enfant

Pierre Charles L’Enfant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was born on this day in 1754 at Anet, Eure et Loir, France. Today is the 258th anniversary of his birth.

L’Enfant was educated at the Royal Academy in Paris as an engineer before joining Lafayette  to help the American side during the War of Independence. He arrived in 1777 at the age of 23 and fought as military engineer. He joined George Washington’s staff  after recovering from injuries at the Siege of Savannah. He attainted the rank of Major of Engineers in 1783.

He moved to New York after the war and established a civil engineering firm. In 1788 he redesigned the  New York’s city hall to be the United States’ first capitol building, Federal Hall.  The building was the site of George Washington’s inauguration and where the Bill of Rights was signed.

Federal Hall, Seat of Congress 1790
hand-colored engraving by Amos Doolittle, depicting Washington’s April 30, 1789 inauguration. [Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons: public domain]

In 1791 the US Congress authorized the building of a capital city on the Potomac River. George Washington appointed his old friend L’Enfant  to design the new city in 1791.

L’Enfant’s “Plan of the city of Washington” March 1792 is at the Library of Congress. [Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons. This image is in the Public Domain.]

“Congress House” (the Capitol) was to be on top a hill, a place of honor overlooking the rest of the city.  The “President’s House” (the White House) was to be a grand mansion fit for the leader of the country. His plan outlined the need for public spaces including a grand public walk (today’s National Mall) ). It would be 1 mile long and 400 feet wide and would stretch from the Capitol to an equestrian statue of Washington (the Washington Monument is now where the statue would have been).

The western front of the United States Capitol...

The western front of the United States Capitol. The Capitol serves as the seat of government for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings. It is an exemplar of the Neoclassical architecture style. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to “A Brief History fo Pierre L’Enfant and Washington, D.C.”:

L’Enfant placed Congress on a high point with a commanding view of the Potomac, instead of reserving the grandest spot for the leader’s palace as was customary in Europe. Capitol Hill became the center of the city from which diagonal avenues named after the states radiated, cutting across a grid street system. These wide boulevards allowed for easy transportation across town and offered views of important buildings and common squares from great distances. Public squares and parks were evenly dispersed at intersections.

Wide avenues and public squares would make it “people’s city”, while monuments  and inspiring buildings would give it the stature and importance of world capital.

While he was concerned with the grand vision of the city  his bosses on the Congressional appointed committee were concerned with how much the project was going to cost . They  wanted to keep the wealthy plantation owners in the area happy. L’Enfant “delayed producing a map for the sale of city lots (fearing real estate speculators would buy up land and leave the city vacant).” And he angered the commission when he had a prominent resident’s house torn down because it was in the way of one his boulevards.  When the city’s surveyor went behind his back and produced a lot map L’Enfant resigned. He was never properly paid for the work he did on the Capital.

The city was built, but the design had been greatly altered. Gone were the arrow straight streets and parkways. The Mall between the Capitol and the White House was a tree-covered park of irregular shape. Cows grazed on it.

Visitors ridiculed the city for its idealistic pretensions in a bumpkin setting and there was even talk after the Civil War of moving the capital to Philadelphia or the Midwest.

But in 1901 the McMillan Commission resurrected L’Enfant’s ideas and updated them for a modern city. The Mall was reclaimed, cleared and lined with American Elm trees. Memorials to Lincoln and Jefferson were added, and Museums and government buildings lined the perimeter.

L’Enfant worked on commissions

after the Capital, but non were very successful. His design for Philadelphia millionaire Robert Morris’ mansion was called Morris’ Folly. His final years were spent at the home of his friend William Dudley Digges, near Bladensburg, Maryland. He was buried there, but his body was exhumed and reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. His tomb now overlooks the city he helped design.

Tomb of Pierre Charles L'Enfant, designer of W...

Tomb of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, designer of Washington, D.C.’s original city plan, on the grounds of Arlington House (the Robert E. Lee Memorial) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thought of the Day 7.11.12

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

–John Quincy Adams

English: John Quincy Adams

English: John Quincy Adams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1767. Today is the 245th anniversary of his birth.

Eldest son of John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy grew up a child of the Revolution. His father was THE voice calling for  Independence from Britain in the Continental  Congress.  When he was 8 years old he watched the Battle of Bunker Hill from his parent’s farm.

After the War he travelled with his father to Europe, acting as his secretary. He attended Harvard and became a lawyer and at 26 was appointed Minister to the Netherlands. He became a US Senator in 1802 and when his term was up he was appointed as Minister to Russia by President Madison.  His international service to the US included the negotiation of numerous treaties including the Treaty of Ghent (that ended the War of 1812.) While Secretary of State under President Monroe he nailed down America’s border with Canada as far as the Pacific Ocean and was instrumental in forming the Monroe Doctrine and acquiring Florida from Spain.

The Presidential election in 1824 was decided in the House of Representatives. Since no candidate had garner a majority of the electoral votes  in the popular count it  was a three-way run off between JQ Adams, Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay. Clay’s platform was similar to Adams’ so he ceded his support to Quincy. Adams in turn named Clay as Secretary of State. Jackson, left out in the cold, raised angry cries of “corrupt bargaining” and began an aggressive campaign to gain the White House in 1828.

As President, Quincy started the first system of interstate roads and canals (breaking ground for the C&O Canal in 1828), he worked to modernize the US economy and paid off much of the National Debt,  encouraged the arts and sciences with a national university, scientific expeditions and an observatory. But he was thwarted on many of his initiatives by an uncooperative Congress.

In 1828 he was defeated in his bid for a second term after a bitter and messy campaign against Jackson and returned to his beloved Massachusetts only to be unexpectedly elected to the US House of Representative in 1830. He is the only  man to have served first as President and then in the House of Representatives, but his 17 years in the House were far more successful than his 4 years in the White House. Ever a stalwart proponent of civil liberties, Adams now became a leading voice against Slavery. He fought against the “gag rule”   — a resolution that automatically tabled any petition having to do with Slavery without review — by attempting to use parliamentary procedures to circumvent the rule. Eventually enough Congressmen from the North came down on the side of  antislavery and freedom of expression, and Adam’s argument gained favor. In 1844, after 8 years of fighting against it, the House rescinded the “Gag Rule” on a motion made by John Quincy Adams.

In 1840 Adams, “Old Man Eloquent,”  argued successfully for the defendants in the  Amistad case in front of the Supreme Court.

JQ Adams suffered a stroke while on the floor of the House of Representatives. He was taken to the Speaker’s Chambers and died four days later.

John Quincy Adams portrait. "John Quincy ...

John Quincy Adams portrait. “John Quincy Adams”. Metropolitan Museum of Art . . Retrieved September 4, 2009 . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey Brother, can you spare 5 CENTS?

I’ve been thinking about the National Debt.

And I’ve been thinking about how much money is going to be spent by the candidates in both parties to get IN this Election this year.

President Obama and Governor Romney are both projected to spend at least a Billion dollars in their run for President. And billions more will be spent by those seeking office in Congress and on a state level.

We may never know how much the Super Packs spend to support the candidates and issues that they favor.

I propose that anyone running for public office (and any super pack) give 5 CENTS of every dollar they spend in advertising, polling, telemarketing, research, lawn signs… what ever… 5 cents out of ever dollar that they spend to get to the White House (or Congress or the Governor’s House) to pay down the NATIONAL DEBT.

I don’t think it should be a tax. I think it should be a good will offering.  They could declare it when the report how much they’ve received in donations… then cut a check to the IRS.

Its simple. If you’d like to represent me (and the other citizens of the United States), then I think you should put your money where your mouth is by giving a measly 5 cents per buck  you spend getting into office to help pay off the National Debt.

Do that…and you can proudly proclaim it during your next stump speech or at your next debate. Your really ARE doing something to pay down the Debt!

Do that… and you can use my nifty little logo on your advertising and stuff.

I know that even 5% of all the money spent on this election will not solve the Debt crisis, but at least it will put 5% of ALL THAT MONEY to some good use.



Feel free to repost to you favorite candidate’s site. Come on…lets get THIS party started.

Today’s Thought 7.4.12

“…We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness…”

–The Declaration of Independence

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA

The Declaration of Independence  was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on this date in 1776. It is 236 years old.

The document was written by Thomas Jefferson with help from the “Committee of Five” (Jefferson, John AdamsBenjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman). It announced that the thirteen American colonies had severed ties from the British Empire.

The interior of Independence Hall. This is the room where the Second Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

For the full text of the Declaration of Independence go HERE.  Links to the full text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights can also be found on that page.

Thought of the Day 7.2.12

“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”

Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1908. Today would have been his 104th birthday.

The grandson of a slave, Marshall knew first hand the long arm of a segregated society.  In 1930, after graduating cum laude from Lincoln University,  he applied to the University of Maryland Law School, but wasn’t accepted because of his race. Marshall went instead to Howard University Law School where he graduated magna cum laude. He later successfully sued UofM to admit Donald Murray to the Law school.

He moved to New York and became a special counsel for the NAACP. He helped draft  the constitutions for Ghana and Tanzania on the behest of the United Nations.

Marshall argued in numerous Supreme Court cases, most revolving around segregation. The landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas demolished legal “separate but equal” segregation in the United States.

In 1961 Marshall was appointed by President Kennedy  as a circuit judge.  In 1965 President Johnson appointed him Solicitor General, and in 1967 Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States. He served on the Court until 1991.

He saw the Constitution as  living document , noting in 1987 on the bicentennial of the Constitution that:

“the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and major social transformations to attain the system of constitutional government and its respect for the freedoms and individual rights, we hold as fundamental today…Some may more quietly commemorate the suffering, struggle, and sacrifice that has triumphed over much of what was wrong with the original document, and observe the anniversary with hopes not realized and promises not fulfilled. I plan to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution as a living document, including the Bill of Rights and the other amendments protecting individual freedoms and human rights.”


Thurgood Marshall, appointed by Kennedy to the...

Thurgood Marshall, appointed by Kennedy to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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