Author Archives: sheafferhistorian

About sheafferhistorian

Some of my many hats include: Historian, teacher, writer, curator, archivist, reenactor, sailor, banjo player, and coach; PITT alumnus living out-of-state in a desert, of all places. History Instructor at the James Madison Preparatory School, Tempe, AZ.

A Day to Remember


John Adams considered our independence a moment for all time. All the celebrations we enjoy this day can be traced to this letter sent to his wife shortly after the vote was held.

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells,Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

Founding brothers

50 years after the momentous day, Jefferson still had strong feelings for the cause and the day. He was comforted knowing Americans continued celebrating the day.

” I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made….For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.” 


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Is it the Fourth?

Americans, largely through the efforts of a lewd media, used the Fourth of July 2017… to denigrate and trivialize Thomas Jefferson’s memory.  Salacious accusations disguised as legitimate archaeology and scholarship dragged the author of our Declaration of Independence down into tabloid scandal-mongering.  We have fallen to the point where Jefferson’s name cannot be mentioned without alleged slave mistresses.  We forget what he gave us- focusing instead on trifling conjecture.  We have forgotten what the Fourth of July truly means….

“I thank heaven that the 4th. of July is over. It is always a day of great fatigue to me”

Jefferson said… “And even should the cloud of barbarism and despotism again obscure the science and liberties of Europe, this country remains to preserve and restore light and liberty to them. In short, the flames kindled on the 4th. of July 1776, have spread over too much of the globe to be extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism. On the contrary they will consume those engines, and all who work them.”


Remember what Jefferson gave us…….. never forget what he gave mankind. 


To stop desecrating my memory

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History Built on Complexity

Thomas Jefferson- slaver, master, racist, white supremacist, rapist– The cultural police want their version of history to be accepted far and wide, a continuing justification for their purging of our history and foolish iconoclasm….  They believe in relativism, but only when it suits their agenda.   When it comes to historical figures, there are only absolutes.  The iconoclasts refuse to study, debate, and learn from the complexities of history.


Remember that the evil slaver, Jefferson, included this passage in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence:

 “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another”

Can you read the words falling off my quill?

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The Ultimate Check on Tyranny



Did you guys see this?

The Small Arms Survey estimates there are 393,300,000 civilian-owned firearms in the United States. The survey, performed by the Graduate Institute of Geneva, estimated the United States military has about 4.5 million firearms. It put the number of firearms owned by police throughout the United States at just over 1 million.

That means American civilians own nearly 100 times as many firearms as the U.S. military and nearly 400 times as many as law enforcement.

Federal Bureau of Investigation background check records suggest that civilians bought more than 2 million guns in May alone, which means civilians purchase more than double the number of firearms owned by police departments. The number of gun-related civilian background checks in May and April, at over 4.7 million, is greater than the number of firearms currently owned by the American military.

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Civil War Art

Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained-Author Adrienne Morris

Winslow_Homer_-_The_Brush_Harrow_(1865) The Brush Harrow 1865

Boys without fathers … some heroic men come home broken or not at all. Some battlefields are revisited from one year to the next. Veterans tease new recruits on spring campaigns with the bones of men left to winter over in thick forests.

About 625,000 men died in the Civil War. That’s more Americans than died in both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam combined. This amounted to 2 percent of the population at the time, which would be the equivalent to about 6 million Americans dying today. Battles weren’t as deadly as disease, however..

An estimated 40% of the dead were never identified.”[1]

A_Visit_from_the_Old_Mistress A Visit from the Old Mistress 1876

Slavery is a human condition we have not come even close to eradicating. Sex trafficking in children is alive and well.  Where are the abolitionists now? There are some brave souls but mostly we…

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Harry Truman’s Best Birthday Present

Presidential History Blog

Harry TrumanHarry Truman was just shy of his 61st birthday when he became President.

HST: The Unprepared Vice President

Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) was elected Democratic Senator from Missouri in 1932, the same year Franklin Delano Roosevelt was first elected Democratic President. Over the next twelve years, the two men had casual opportunities to meet, but it was neither close nor meaningful. As the protege of Tom Pendergast, the powerful political boss of western Missouri, FDR gave Truman little respect, and certainly no place in his inner circle.

Senator Harry Truman

Nevertheless, HST made a solid name for himself once World War II was underway, as the champion of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, specifically waste, mismanagement, corruption and similar. The intense investigations and their positive results were important enough for people to call it “The Truman Committee.” FDR couldn’t help being somewhat impressed.

By 1944…

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Custer’s Luck

Progressives, Liberals, and American Indian activists hail this day… as a cathartic moment in North American history.  It is the day the United States received its comeuppance, and the golden boy of American expansion and jingoism was cut down and exposed for the fraud he truly was.  Despite the best efforts of historians to contextualize it, the emotional and irrational interpretations of Little Bighorn prevail.

Yet Custer endures… A generation of revisionist history, bad analogies to Vietnam, worse movies, and even accusations of genocide have only had minimal effect on our fascination with the son of the morning star.  Custeriana is as strong as ever in American remembrance.  Something about him; his Civil War heroics and meteoric rise, contrasted with his frontier exploits and catastrophic demise, Americans hold a place in our story for him.

The mystery of his final battle… is responsible for much of the enduring memory.  His wife’s Herculean efforts to memorializing the bravery of her husband also played a role.  But there is more to the Custer attraction that speaks to the history of the American mind.  We were a people struggling to settle a vast and dangerous frontier, Custer was the heroic image and protector of American ideals.  We are drawn to military service and martial pageantry, Custer struck the perfect image of dashing cavalier on horseback.  We push aside the inglorious reality of the  defeat of Custer and his men and focus our remembrance on the hours leading to it- the dashing cavalry leader at the head of his column, face hardened by the prairie winds and dust, eyes sharp as a hawk.  Much of it is attributable to the Custer mythology, but what historical figures are immune from such myth-making?

He lives on

Was Custer a villain? Does he represent the evils of American expansion?… Such histrionics sell books, inspire ambitious filmmakers, and rouse the irritable activists; but little understanding is actually achieved.  Custer was an ambitious military officer who saw the Plains Wars as an avenue to personal advancement.  But, he was also a frontiersman who sympathized with the plight of a complex foe.  He was a soldier fighting a complex war few people adequately understood, himself included.  Yet, Custer lives on.  He lives on in our memory, exactly where we can imagine him; trotting at head of the 7th Cavalry, wind whipping through his long hair,  the airs of “Garry Owen” whistling over the plains.   Remembrance is not history, but the American mind needs both.


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