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
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).
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.” [22
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Rising to the occasion is a concept so misunderstood… it borders on the cliché. When used in the wrong context it cheapens actual heroic achievement. Too often, historic deeds are overlooked because well-worn studies have rendered them routine because of historic scope. In the pivotal battle of the war, at its decisive moment, actions speak louder than the words of any biographer…. as Confederate soldiers stormed over the stonewall at the “Angle”- decisive action was needed, and General Alexander Webb provided it.
The 72nd PA and Webb’s charge
Alexander Webb received the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 3, 1863. Webb’s brigade occupied the crucial position at the “copse of trees” which was the focal point of Lee’s attack. Webb marched defiantly up and down his line during the fierce bombardment that preceded Pickett’s charge. The confederates under Armistead charged into Webb’s position and the two brigades were locked in deadly combat. Seizing the colors of the 72nd Pennsylvania, Webb led a charge into the confederates at the famous “angle” in the stone wall. The two generals nearly came to personal blows as Webb’s counter attack brought them to within feet of each other. Armistead fell mortally wounded while a ball passed through Webb’s upper thigh, but he remained on the field. Webb describes the action in his report of the battle. General George Gordon Meade nominated Webb for the Medal of Honor which he received in 1891.
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Academics say the darnedest things… in the cozy confines of the University system. Impressionable undergrads eagerly hang on every word and grad students serve as willful accomplices as they look to continued advancement. Peer review is a veiled threat at best, considering the lock step that seems to permeate academia. Even when a proven fraud like Ward Churchill is called to account, academic circles are reluctant to police their own because of the lofty standard “academic freedom.”(The investigation revealed that Churchill had received tenure without a PhD in addition to plagiarism and fraud charges.)
Devaluing the term “genocide” since 1978
So, say whatever you please, professor… tenure has your back. History professors proclaim “changing the narrative” as the driving force behind their scholarship. Everything we’ve learned about America is wrong… so, like a Seinfeld episode of note, the opposite must be true: The founding of America actually had a negative impact on human history, the Founders were greedy imperialists in training, and ALL 15 Presidents before Lincoln owned slaves…. that’s right- ALL of them.
Surely, you jest…
This would come as a shock to John Adams and his son… both from Quincy, Massachusetts. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce, and Martin Van Buren would likewise have an argument to such an absurd notion. Millard Fillmore was only in office two years, but slave owning cannot be included on his resume. Even Virginian William Henry Harrison had abandoned the practice by the time he entered public life. Members of the Founding generation hated the institution, yet felt trapped by it- Jefferson described having a wolf by the ears. As the abolition movement grew, later Presidents sought to defend slave owning rights, but their arguments were swept away in the tide. But, to listen to many academics today, the Presidency was nothing more than the last line of defense for the slave owning class. Never be surprised at what nonsense seeps out of our universities… our hard earned dollars make this “academic freedom” possible.
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June 12, 1987
Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down…the Berlin Wall and seemingly cemented his Cold War legacy. Historical debate erupted in recent years as partisan politicians look to the Reagan legacy for inspiration. Competing interpretations of the speech, delivered at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987, show that Reagan’s foreign policy is still pertinent to this day. Liberals decry the speech as a “stunt” with no impact on US-Soviet relations; Reagan supporters hail the speech as the event that led to the end of the Cold War. Neither perspective is correct, both fail to acknowledge the complexity of Reagan’s Soviet policy.
“We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!“
Negotiate from strength
Critics fail to acknowledge the effects the speech… had upon Soviet leadership. Declassified documents clearly show that Gorbachev was listening- “If he’s talking about this wall, he’s never going to let go unless we do something.” The Soviets needed Glasnost and Reagan showed them the way. Reagan admirers make the mistake of placing mythical proportions on the moment; Reagan spoke, the world trembled, the Cold War was over- It just didn’t happen that way. Reagan’s handling of the Soviet Union was a complex series of give and take- summits, speeches, deals, and treaties. American Conservatives (Bill Buckley in particular) were frustrated with the foreign policy of Reagan’s second term. The tough rhetoric and military build-up of the first term had given way to nuclear talks and peaceful overtures. “Tear down this wall” was not an ending, but a prelude to more negotiations. Reagan was responding to Glasnost, but on our terms….
Three days of indecisive movements by Union forces… allowed Robert E. Lee’s army to strengthen its positions near Bethesda Church and New Cold Harbor. The delay muted the Federal assaults of June 1-2. The troops in blue knew exactly what awaited them the following day. The carnage of Grant’s Overland campaign had taken its toll.
Jefferson Truitt was one of the Union soldiers… who knew exactly what was going to happen on June 3rd. The all-to-familiar pattern could again be seen; Confederates controlled the thoroughfares to Richmond, and Union troops would try bludgeon them open. War-weary troops began pinning names to their uniform coats for easier identification; many penned one final diary entry- “Killed at Cold Harbor.” Jefferson Truitt, and his regiment, the 62nd PA. were due to leave the service on July 1. He had survived the bloodiest conflicts of the war: Malvern Hill, Antietam, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania… now, with just weeks to serve, he would meet his end near the intersection of Old Church and Walnut Grove roads.
Last full measure
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