Tag Archives: Virginia

Weekly History News Roundup

Motion filed to remove Robert E. Lee statue from US CapitolVirginia lawmaker argues against Lee’s place in state history

 

Obama’s Presidential Library to be entirely digital… no paper documents will be housed, even his birth certificates

 

LBJ’s Texas sanctuary is for sale… Ranch is being sold for $2.8 million

 

Nixon’s one liner helped SNL’s parody become reality“Sock it to me” still resonates today

 

American Indian history key to North Dakota’s economy… Mandan and Hidatsa people integral to regional history

 

Cultures collide- and it’s cold!

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On Loss

The grieving optimist- Jefferson lost nearly everyone dear to him…. so he could relate grief to his dear friend, John Adams upon hearing of the death of Abigail.  Relating grief is not the same as understanding it, however…..

 

“Tried myself in the school of affliction, by the loss of every form of connection which can rive the human heart, I know well, and feel what you have lost, what you have suffered, are suffering, and have yet to endure. The same trials have taught me that for ills so immeasurable, time and silence are the only medi­cine….although mingling sincerely my tears with yours, will I say a word more where words are vain, but that it is of some comfort to us both, that the term is not very distant, at which we are to deposit in the same cerement, our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we shall still love and never lose again.”

 

” I have often wondered for what good end the sensations of Grief could be intended.”

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Christmas on the Mountain

Thomas Jefferson celebrated Christmas… but not with stockings and Christmas trees- modern incarnations of the season didn’t take hold in America until after the Civil War.  Jefferson’s Christmas was a time for family, friends, and as he described it, “merriment.”   Family was all important to the Sage of Monticello, and he described the day”  “the day of greatest mirth and jollity.”

Christmas in Albemarle

Christmas in Albemarle

He received the greatest joy from watching his grandchildren… opening gifts and playing games in Monticello.  Describing the scene to a friend, Jefferson observed his youngest grandson; “He is at this moment running about with his cousins bawling out ‘a merry christmas’ ‘(this is) a christmas gift”  His music library included  many Christmas standards including the family favorite, Adeste Fideles. 

Mincemeat for the season

Mincemeat for the season

Good friends, good food, and good conversation… marked the holiday season at Monticello.  Plenty of wine was on hand to compliment Jefferson’s holiday favorite, mince pie.  Mince at Monticello consisted of  apples, raisins, beef suet(fat), and spices.

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Drink Like a Founder pt. 2

3-4 glasses at dinner

3-4 glasses at dinner

Jefferson’s love of wine is well documented… but his first journey to France in 1784 permanently changed his tastes.  British trade policies before the Revolution limited colonial access to French wines. Jefferson and the other Founders largely drank the stronger, heavier wines from Portugal, like Madeira.  Jefferson definitely sought something easier to drink:

“The taste of this country was artificially created by our long restraint under the English government to the strong wines of Portugal and Spain.”

Most superlatively good.

Most superlatively good.

The lighter more flavorful wines of France  appealed to his evolving palate… Jefferson’s favorites were reds from the Hermitage region of the Rhone Valley.  He described it as  “the first wine in the world without a single exception.”  World conflicts continued to affect his wine supplies and this was made known to the merchants stocking Monticello’s wine cellar:

“Disappointments in procuring supplies have at length left me without a drop of wine. I must therefore request you to send me a quarter cask of the best you have. Termo is what I would prefer; and next to that good port. besides the exorbitance of price to which Madeira has got, it is a wine which I do not drink, being entirely too powerful. wine from long habit has become an indispensable for my health, which is now suffering by it’s disuse.”

Weaning his people

Weaning his people

Jefferson wanted nothing more than to change his countrymen’s taste in wine… He had lost his taste for port and fortified wine- blended French wines were his passion and he was willing to use his political influence to convince people he was right:

” I have labored long and hard to procure the reduction of duties on the lighter wines, which is now effected to a certain degree. I have labored hard also in persuading others to use those wines. habit yields with difficulty. perhaps the late diminution of duties may have a good effect.”

 

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Most Unfortunate Decision

Ambrose Burnside had done it…. he outmaneuvered Robert E. Lee.  The reluctant commander  guided the massive Army of the Potomac down the Rappahannock river to Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was scrambling to catch up, but Burnside’s path to Richmond temporarily lay open.  He needed pontoon bridges to get his lengthy supply trains across the river- but they were nowhere to be found- Burnside sat on the Eastern shore waiting.  The bridges arrived a week later, but so did Lee’s army.

Reluctant commander with great whiskers

Reluctant commander with great whiskers

There was still an opportunity to move… against Lee before his forces could dig in.  Burnside weighed his options and formed a plan to cross the river quickly at fords south of town.  Mother Nature wasn’t playing fair that week, a heavy storm dropped six inches of snow on December 5, forcing Burnside to reconsider.  Lee’s men dug in on the heights west of town and covered the fords to the north and south.  With Winter closing in, Burnside decided to build his bridges and cross at Fredericksburg.

Soldiers do their duty, but… Burnside’s subordinates were not happy with his decision.  Joseph Hooker let it be known in the council-of-war on December 10.  Burnside responded,

“I have heard your criticisms, gentlemen, and your complaints. You know how reluctantly I assumed the responsibility of command. I was conscious of what I lacked; but still I have been placed here where I am and will do my best. I rely on God for wisdom and strength. Your duty is not to throw cold water, but to aid me loyally with your advice and hearty service.”

Colonel Samuel Zook minced no words when he learned of the advance, “I expect to be sacrificed tomorrow, Goodbye old Boy & if tomorrow night finds me dead remember me kindly as a soldier who meant to do his whole duty.”    

Could see the writing on the wall at Fredericksburg

Could see the writing on the wall at Fredericksburg

**special thanks to Don Pfanz for the sources.

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Comparisons Must Make Sense

Edward Coles freed his slaves… and was a neighbor(at one time) of Thomas Jefferson.  Paul Finkelman wants to know why Jefferson couldn’t follow the example of this “contemporary.”   Professor Finkelman’s analysis suffers a fatal case of contrariwise-  Coles was following the examples set by his illustrious neighbor.

Just a kid

Jefferson and Coles were not contemporaries… Jefferson was 43 years older than Coles-  an overlooked distinction in Finkelman’s interrogatory.  Coles grew up and matured in a Virginia largely crafted by Jefferson.  The anti-slavery spirit so many associate with Coles was made possible by the liberal society Jefferson helped reform(we should also note that Coles freed his slaves in Illinois territory, not Virginia.)

You have done well, my son.

You have done well, my son.

Edward Coles was the perfect representation… of the generation Jefferson predicted would have an impact on slavery.  Much ink has been spilled about Coles writing Jefferson encouraging emancipation.  While Jefferson never emacipated all his slaves- his anti-slavery views and actions have been documented.  Coles’ activism was the next step forward in the cause, while Jefferson’s were becoming a footnote.  Jefferson said as much in response to one of Coles’ letters:

“The sentiments breathed through the whole do honor to both the head and heart of the writer. Mine on the subject of slavery of negroes have long since been in possession of the public, and time has only served to give them stronger root…. I had always hoped that the younger generation receiving their early impressions after the flame of liberty had been kindled in every breast, & had become as it were the vital spirit of every American, that the generous temperament of youth, analogous to the motion of their blood, and above the suggestions of avarice, would have sympathized with oppression wherever found, and proved their love of liberty beyond their own share of it….Your solitary but welcome voice is the first which has brought this sound to my ear; and I have considered the general silence which prevails on this subject as indicating an apathy unfavorable to every hope. Yet the hour of emancipation is advancing, in the march of time. It will come…”  Jefferson to Coles; Aug. 25, 1814

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Slippery Slope on Display- Hubris pt. 4

Jefferson said:

“I, am laying the foundation of an University in my native state, which I hope will repay the liberalities of it’s legislature by improving the virtue and science of their country…I have been myself the Architect of the plan of it’s buildings, and of it’s system of instruction. four years have been employed on the former, and I assure you it would be thought a handsome & Classical thing in Italy…I have preferred the plan of an Academical village rather than that of a single, massive structure…So it’s most splendid object, and a constant gratification to my sight. “

Go to community college, kiddies…

No one is comfortable giving President Trump credit for much… but the spoiled, ungrateful cretins who desecrated Jefferson’s likeness on the campus of HIS University   are bringing Trump’s somber picture to life.  He warned that the removal of statues to Confederate leaders may lead to similar action against our Founders, like Washington and Jefferson.

 

In the heart of his beloved academical village… Jefferson’s life’s work is naively slandered in name of  trendy activism and political correctness.  Students taking full of advantage of Jefferson’s foresight, vision, and effort dare to question the man and manner their opportunities were provided.  The hubris required to demand the removal of the University’s Founder; as well as, linking him to traitors who fought to destroy the country he helped create- is beyond comprehension.  Twenty-somethings so self-centered and lazy as to carry dozens of photographs of themselves(dressed and undressed)- possess a moral superiority over Thomas Jefferson?   Irony….

To stop desecrating my memory

The post-millennial generation has doomed us… the Founders predicted our fate if the population became ignorant and forgot its past.

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