A True Love Affair

Thomas Jefferson began his courtship… of young widow, Martha Wayles Skelton in 1770.  Music helped strengthen the bond between the young couple,  Jefferson played the violin and Martha the harpsichord.  The courtship took place at The Forest, Martha’s father’s plantation, where Jefferson was a frequent guest during the summer of 1770.  The warm afternoons were filled with romantic duets so passionately rendered, other suitors left without further inquiry.  The couple was married New Years Day, 1772.

“the horrible dreariness of such a house”

Thomas Jefferson led Martha to his mountain… through one of the worst snowstorms in Virginia history.  The newlyweds were forced to abandon their carriage and trudge the last several miles on horseback.  Martha was dismayed at the sight of the tiny south pavilion, Jefferson had yet to construct the house most associated with his mountaintop.  Jefferson rummaged through some books and found a bottle of wine, and so the couple began their married life.  Nine months later, Patsy was born.

Jefferson’s career dragged him from Monticello… months at a time, but he considered the ten years of his marriage the happiest of his life.  Martha gave him six children, but only three survived infancy.  Historians believe that Martha suffered from diabetes;  Each of their children were larger at birth, the last child Lucy Elizabeth, may have been 16 pounds.  She never recovered from Lucy’s birth in May of 1782.    Jefferson was at her side during that long summer, tending to her every need.  Near the end, when Martha could no longer speak, the couple penned lines from their favorite novel, Tristram Shandy:

Martha began-  Time wastes too fast: every letter I trace tells me with what rapidity life follows my pen. The days and hours of it are flying over our heads like clouds of windy day never to return– more. Every thing presses on–  Too weak to finish, Jefferson completed the passage-and every time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, every absence which follows it, are preludes to that eternal separation which we are shortly to make! 

“for what good end could the sensations of grief be intended?”

Martha made Jefferson promise to never remarry… she couldn’t bear the thought of the children being raised by a stepmother as she was.  After she closed her eyes on September 6th, Jefferson had to be carried from the room.  He was inconsolable for weeks, only his daughter Patsy was able to help him through the ordeal.  Jefferson kept the slip of paper, in his wife’s hand, at his bedside the rest of his life.  It was discovered decades later, fragile after being folded and unfolded hundreds of times.  Inside were locks of hair from Martha and their deceased children.

This is a love story excluded from current… Jefferson scholarship, and for good reason.  It does not fit the salacious narrative that dominates popular opinion about our third President.  A man who felt deeply and loved deeply is contrary to the image of the wicked slave owner.  Pseudo-scholarship promoting this revisionist view of Jefferson is pervasive in our society, even earning some of the highest literary honors.  Decades of scholarship cannot be ignored for the sake of political correctness.

“And were we to love none but with imperfection, this world would be a desert for our love”

 

 

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Picking Pockets and Breaking Legs

How strange it is to hear evangelicals… claim Thomas Jefferson as one of their own, when in his day, he was accused of being an infidel by the Christian clergy.  Jefferson left little doubt about his religious beliefs in his voluminous personal papers.  It is his place in our history and especially our founding that drives advocates of all stripes to want Jefferson’s opinion on their side.  We must remember, Jefferson was not an atheist, far from it; he believed in personal religious freedom and public restraint.  Jefferson did advocate the separation of church and state,

The Devil found a Friend in Government

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”     Jan. 1, 1802

It was the public attacks on his beliefs… that prompted Jefferson to write Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom in 1786.  It is a simple proposition, letting your neighbor worship as they wish, even if that means not worshiping at all.  Jefferson said it best,

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”    Notes on the State of Virginia 1782

Eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man

Jefferson was fascinated by theology… and could talk about it for hours on end.  A deeply personal project was the Jefferson Bible.  He analyzed the New Testament and removed what he considered to be “so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture” along with any mention of miracles or the supernatural (always the scientist.)  Jefferson was interested in the moral philosophy of Jesus.  The Enlightenment taught Jefferson to seek the rational path to moral clarity.

You don’t have to look very hard to learn… about Jefferson’s religious beliefs.  They are found in his personal papers and private correspondence.  This is the essence of Jeffersonian religion–keep it to yourself.

“Our particular principles of  religion are a subject of accountability to God alone. I inquire after no man’s, and  trouble none with mine.”

Scientist, farmer, lawyer, theologian….

 

 

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For the Record

Jefferson was fascinated by theology… and could talk about it for hours on end.  A deeply personal project was the Jefferson Bible.  He analyzed the New Testament and removed what he considered to be “so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture” along with any mention of miracles or the supernatural (always the scientist.)  Jefferson was interested in the moral philosophy of Jesus.  The Enlightenment taught Jefferson to seek the rational path to moral clarity.

“Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to God alone. I inquire after no man’s, and trouble none with mine.”

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”    Notes on the State of Virginia 1782

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The Myth of the “Cracker Line”: Part One

Originally posted on Emerging Civil War:

We are excited to welcome guest author Frank Varney. Frank is the author of General Grant and the Rewriting of History: How the Destruction of General William S. Rosecrans Influenced Our Understanding of the Civil War. Part one in a series.
Major General William S. Rosecrans

Major General William S. Rosecrans

If you look in pretty much any history of the Civil War that discusses the siege of Chattanooga that followed the Union defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga, you will find some assertion that General William S. Rosecrans, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, went into a state of depression which essentially destroyed his capacity for command. From an intelligent, aggressive commander he supposedly turned into a dazed wreck – his confidence shattered, his spirit broken, unable to take even the most basic steps to keep his army supplied and in fighting trim. The accepted history goes on to say that it…

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Intermission Stories (12)

Originally posted on pacificparatrooper:

Veterans_Day-thanks

Today’s post will in no way be rewritten or condensed by me.  These are short tributes found in various locations to honor the men of three different wars.  Please click on each story to read, they took the time for you.  Thank you.

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WWII update story_____

WWII pilot

WWII pilot

Story from the AARP bulletin.

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Korean War update ______

Distinguished Service Cross recipient

Distinguished Service Cross recipient

From Home of the Heroes.com ( complete citation lists are available at this site).

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A famous Vietnam story ______

Cmdr. Jeremiah Denton, Jr.

Cmdr. Jeremiah Denton, Jr.

This story was taken from the The Week magazine obituaries.

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Farewell Salutes - 

Stanley Brundage – Newark, NJ & W.Palm Bch., FL; US Army, WWII< cryptologist

Thomas Coules – Hartland, WI; US Air Force, Lt., Korea

National Army (AK) Medallion, &quot;Ryngraf&quot;

National Army (AK) Medallion, “Ryngraf”

Charles Hazen (98) – Annadale, VA; US Army, Colonel (Ret.)

Leonard Jagla – Glenview, IL; US Army, WWII

Christina Kloss…

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Wise Chickens

“May God have mercy on General Lee, for I will have none.”…proclaimed Fighting Joe Hooker in March of 1863.  Such bold talk was a welcomed change following the disasters of the Seven Days battles, Second Bull Run, and Fredericksburg.  Hooker took command and reorganized and reinvigorated the Army of the Potomac.  His strategy was far bolder than any of his predecessors and Hooker was supremely confident.  A third of his army would demonstrate against Lee’s forces at Fredericksburg while the remaining troops would cross the Rapidan river north of Lee and threaten his rear.  The Confederates would be forced out of their entrenchments and Hooker would have the initiative.  Hooker boasted to Lincoln, “My plans are perfect.”   Lincoln responded, “The hen is the wisest of all the animal creation, because she never cackles until the egg is laid.” 

A bold strategy for a Union commander

Lee was take entirely by surprise…for one of the few times in the war when he learned Union forces were concentrated in his rear near the tiny hamlet of Chancellorsville.  Hooker’s strategy had been carried out to the letter and his maneuvers placed Lee exactly in the anticipated position.  On May 1, Lee rushed west to meet the threat and to give Hooker battle.  Here lies the great mystery of Chancellorsville; why did Hooker flinch?  Lee seized the initiative on May 1 and never let it go.

Fighting Joe Hooker

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Academic Stick in the Mud

Glenn W. Lafantasie is a historian at Western Kentucky University… who made a name for himself in Civil War circles with the respectable study Twilight at Little Roundtop.    Professor Lafantasie now feels qualified to instruct all Americans in how to honor the  sesquicentennial of the Civil War.  From his lofty perch in academia, the good Professor cannot not bring himself to understand the historical value of living historians (reenactors is the term he prefers.)  On the pages of the snooty Salon magazine   reenactors are called “foolish” and openly mocked with half-truths and innuendo.  The Professor speaks out of both sides of his mouth in his misguided critique, on one hand he chastises reenactors and their inability to accurately portray combat and for being, “overweight baby boomers who are trying, despite their huge girths and hardened arteries, to portray fit, young soldiers”; yet he warns readers that no one except experts (like him) can accurately convey the harrowing experience of Civil War combat.  What interpretive standard is being used here, Professor?

Living historians from Sykes’ regulars

Civil War reenactors are knowledgeable and devoted… hobbyists who volunteer their time to educate the public about the lives of Civil War soldiers.  They are not over-grown children playing soldier, nor are they right-wing extremists out to rekindle lost secessionist fires.  Professor Lafantasie obviously has failed to apply his impeccable research skills to this article.  There is no proof that one reenactor (or living historian) was consulted for the piece.  It is difficult to see how the article could be useful to anyone outside the most secluded academic circles.  Large crowds attend reenactments of all sizes (no, Professor, not all events involve “pretend battles.”)  Rather than talking to spectators, the Professor belittles them as well.  Academics wonder why the public is losing what little faith it had in them; it is clear that intellectuals like Professor Lafantasie have no faith in the American people (even those who bought his book.)  There are historians who disagree with you, Professor.  It speaks volumes that this rambling line of tripe appeared in a petty partisan rag like Salon. 

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