Archive | History RSS feed for this section

The Runaway Governor ~ Saturday Stories

Saturday-Stories-JeffersonThere is no doubt that he is an all-time American hero. An early President, the first Governor of his home state, contributing author of some of our founding documents. Yet some people in his time, like some historians today, considered that one event a blot on his character.

He was a patriot, all right. And well did the British General Cornwallis know it. In fact, he Read More…

Saturday Stories ~ Turn and Fire!

Saturday-Stories-Andrew-Jackson-and-Charles-DicksonIt was early morning on May 30, 1806. Two men, coincidentally both lawyers, had ridden two days for this occasion. One would someday be a President of the United States. One would soon be dead.

Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickson had come to blows in the time-honored but foolish custom of dueling. Jackson had had a disagreement with Dickson’s father-in-law about a horse race. Dickson had taken offense and had said something about the character of Jackson’s wife. Others had chimed in on both sides and the disagreement escalated. Dickson published insults to Jackson in the newspaper. Jackson responded in kind and finally wrote to Dickson personally, requesting “satisfaction.” Read More…

Saturday Stories ~ The Exploding Ship

Saturday-Stories-SDBoys of Liberty Collection 3- The War of 1812 Series

Stephen Decatur is said to have been the first national military hero after the War of Independence. Starting as a lowly midshipman in his late teens, he was promoted to the high rank of Commodore while still a young man.

Of the many adventures that advanced his career was an especially dangerous one that took him and his comrades right under the noses of enemy guns. It was in the midst of our conflict with the Barbary Pirates, a very early episode in our Read More…

Saturday Stories ~ A “Wasted” Ride

Saturday-Stories-WentworthWentworth Cheswell was a Patriot of mixed race. Although his appearance reflected that of his slave father, his mother was a free white woman. He grew up in New Hampshire prior to the War of Independence and is considered the first black American to hold public office.

Cheswell served his community and state in a number of ways and was well thought of in both church and community. One of his more exciting experiences was a midnight ride he took on the same night of Paul Revere’s famous trek, April 18, 1775.

Young Cheswell was a designated messenger for the local Committee of Correspondence in Exeter, New Hampshire. On the day of his adventure, word had come that the British intended to come around by sea and attack nearby Portsmouth. The town must be warned. Cheswell mounted his horse and took off.

It was a ride of several miles and several hours. Riding a galloping horse is dangerous in the dark and there was the added risk of running into a British patrol. But around dawn of the 19th, as the colonists faced the British at Lexington, Massachusetts the young messenger slid, exhausted from his horse in Portsmouth. Immediately the town was awake and frantically looking to her seaward defenses.

But the attack never came. In one of the dramatic twists of history, the British had settled on a plan to attack the colonists to the west rather than to the north of their headquarters in Boston.

Wentworth Cheswell was just one of several riders that night. As Paul Revere and William Dawes rode west from Boston to warn Lexington and Concord, others picked up the urgent message and galloped off in all directions. Responding to their message, hundreds of patriot minutemen picked up their muskets and hastened to Lexington to make it hot for the British as they retreated to Boston.

Paul Revere was the one made famous by a Longfellow poem (“Billy Dawes got on his hoss…” doesn’t have quite the right ring, I guess), but let us not forget the other heroes of that fateful night and following day. Some rode, some fought. One of them, Wentworth Cheswell went on to serve honorably in the war and then establish himself and his family as pillars of an early American community. You can read more about him and others in Profiles of Valor.

www.ProfilesOfValor.com

Lawyer for the Defense – Saturday Stories

Saturday-Stories-Boston-MassacreNo doubt you’ve heard of the Boston Massacre. By the title given to the event, you might imagine a huge bloodbath with hundreds of bodies littering the streets. Actually, five colonists were killed.

The confrontation came about because a gang of colonists were harassing a small group of British soldiers on guard duty. The Redcoats were hated in Boston as in many parts of the colonies because they represented the tyrannical grip that King George held on them. Some British soldiers had committed serious offenses, so the red uniform was looked upon with malice. Read More…

The First Prayer in Congress ~ Saturday Stories

Saturday-Stories-PrayerWe often hear about “separation of church and state.” This ­­­­­­term has been twisted to mean just about the opposite of what Jefferson meant when he used it in a letter to the Danbury Baptists. By the way, it’s not in the Constitution.

Such a concept would have been very strange indeed to the Founding Fathers. Their devotion to the Christian faith is the reason that most federal buildings in Washington DC have Scripture passages etched into their stone walls.

America started out as a Christian nation and her Founders intended that it should remain so. The very first Continental Congress, opening on September 7, 1774 set a most interesting and encouraging precedent.

The delegates had just received the news that Boston Harbor had been closed by the British navy, bringing to a sudden stop its bustling trade. Further, Britain was rushing more and more soldiers to keep a lid on the increasing American resentment of King George’s rude treatment of the American colonies. These were not the actions of a benevolent king.

So it was that representatives from 12 of the 13 colonies met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia on September 6 to form a Congress and to discuss what measures to take in the face of such grave threats of tyranny. Someone suggested that the meeting must be opened with prayer. Others said such a move was inappropriate because several denominations of Christians were represented, and none must feel slighted if the minister chosen to pray was of another sect.

Then Sam Adams stood. “I am no bigot,” he pronounced. “I can hear a prayer from any man who is also a patriot.” He suggested the Reverend Jacob Duche, of whom he had heard a good report. Reverend Duche was summoned.

Next morning, the minister faced the assembled delegates and read from Psalm 35: “Contend O LORD with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.” He finished the Psalm and then launched into extemporaneous prayer. His words were so eloquent that some members remarked that it would have been worth a hundred-mile ride to hear him. When he finished the entire company, many on their knees, joined in prayer. The whole exercise continued for over 3 hours.

That spirit of dependence on God continued throughout the War of Independence and the founding of America as a free nation. Only in recent years has there been any serious question that America was intended to be born and continue as a Christian nation. To this day, Congress opens each session with prayer.