From Across The River And Under Shade Trees

"Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave" -Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson

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Rhode Islander by Birth, Texan by the grace of God.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Roger Williams, founder of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Champion of Religious Liberty

Roger Williams

I. Roger Williams was born in 1603 and he died in 1683. He was considered a radical Puritan thinker and is known as the founder of the colony of Rhode Island. Williams was intellectually brilliant and graduated from Cambridge in 1627. He was born to a London merchant tailor who is said to have influenced him towards the ministry. Williams was ordained in The Church of England in 1628. He came to the colonies during the first year of the Puritan migration to New England, arriving in Boston in 1631 with his family. Although he was initially warmly welcomed in Massachusetts, he was later ousted for his defense of freedom of religion. Shortly afterward, he founded the colony of Rhode Island whose first guiding principle was total religious freedom for all. Roger Williams is perhaps most noted, he was given credit by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, as the original thought influencer on the first amendment.

II. Williams and his defense of freedom of religion.
A. Williams defended the religious freedom of the Indians in Massachusetts Colony.
B. Williams argued that the lands given to Massachusetts and Plymouth belonged to the Indians and the government could not enforce religious laws.
C. Williams work among the Indians earned their loyalty, friendship, and respect; He mastered their language and later wrote A Key into the Language of America in 1 643.
D. Refusing to change his "very dangerous" ideas and "strange opinions" Williams was expelled from the colony in October of 1635.
E. He fled with his family and a few other families from Salem in January 1636 to the Indians on Narragansett Bay. He bought land at the head of the bay and named the tiny settlement, the first in Rhode Island, Providence.
F. Williams established as the first principle of the new settlement, and later colony, total religious freedom.
G. Williams denounced Quaker theology, yet consistent with his principles, gave them a haven in Rhode Island.
H. He wrote The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution in 1644, and later The Bloudy Tenent Yet More Bloudy in 1652; the former advocating religious freedom and the latter a critique of Cotton's argument that government must sustain the church.

III. Williams and his defense of freedom of speech.
A. Williams defense of freedom of speech was the logical extent of his defense of freedom of religion.
B. In The Bloudy Tenent Yet More Bloudy, Williams argued that government control of religion eventually meant government control of all areas of human endeavor.
C. In The Bloudy Tenents of Persecution, Williams argued that the government had no right to persecute him for his religious opinions and furthermore, he ought to be able to state them without fear of retribution. This was what lead him to become a stalwart in defense of the freedom of speech.

IV. It is difficult to dispute Williams contribution to the first amendment, and thus to freedom of speech, especially in light of the credit given to him by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. What I have attempted to demonstrate is that Williams was first and foremost a religious man. His opinions of freedom of speech were an outgrowth of his lifelong defense of freedom of religion. In fact, it is interesting to note that while he had strong theological disagreement with the Quakers he offered them solace in Rhode Island. If nothing else, even his detractors admired him for his consistency of thought. Indeed, consistency of thought is what lead him to defend the freedom of speech as well as the freedom of religion.

by Roger Wiliams
First, that the blood of so many hundred thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.
Secondly, pregnant scriptures and arguments are throughout the work proposed against the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience.
Thirdly, satisfactory answers are given to scriptures, and objections produced by Mr. Calvin, Beza, Mr. Cotton, and the ministers of the New English churches and others former and later, tending to prove the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience.
Fourthly, the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience is proved guilty of all the blood of the souls crying for vengeance under the altar.
Fifthly, all civil states with their officers of justice in their respective constitutions and administrations are proved essentially civil, and therefore not judges, governors, or defenders of the spiritual or Christian state and worship.
Sixthly, it is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God's Spirit, the Word of God.
Seventhly, the state of the Land of Israel, the kings and people thereof in peace and war, is proved figurative and ceremonial, and no pattern nor president for any kingdom or civil state in the world to follow.
Eighthly, God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.
Ninthly, in holding an enforced uniformity of religion in a civil state, we must necessarily disclaim our desires and hopes of the Jew's conversion to Christ.
Tenthly, an enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state, confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.
Eleventhly, the permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth only can (according to God) procure a firm and lasting peace (good assurance being taken according to the wisdom of the civil state for uniformity of civil obedience from all forts).
Twelfthly, lastly, true civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or kingdom, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile....
TRUTH. I acknowledge that to molest any person, Jew or Gentile, for either professing doctrine, or practicing worship merely religious or spiritual, it is to persecute him, and such a person (whatever his doctrine or practice be, true or false) suffereth persecution for conscience.
But withal I desire it may be well observed that this distinction is not full and complete: for beside this that a man may be persecuted because he holds or practices what he believes in conscience to be a truth (as Daniel did, for which he was cast into the lions' den, Dan. 6), and many thousands of Christians, because they durst not cease to preach and practice what they believed was by God commanded, as the Apostles answered (Acts 4 & 5), I say besides this a man may also be persecuted, because he dares not be constrained to yield obedience to such doctrines and worships as are by men invented and appointed....
Dear TRUTH, I have two sad complaints:
First, the most sober of the witnesses, that dare to plead thy cause, how are they charged to be mine enemies, contentious, turbulent, seditious?
Secondly, shine enemies, though they speak and rail against thee, though they outrageously pursue, imprison, banish, kill thy faithful witnesses, yet how is all vermilion'd o'er for justice against the heretics? Yea, if they kindle coals, and blow the flames of devouring wars, that leave neither spiritual nor civil state, but burn up branch and root, yet how do all pretend an holy war? He that kills, and he that's killed, they both cry out: "It is for God, and for their conscience."
'Tis true, nor one nor other seldom dare to plead the mighty Prince Christ Jesus for their author, yet (both Protestant and Papist) pretend they have spoke with Moses and the Prophets who all, say they (before Christ came), allowed such holy persecutions, holy wars against the enemies of holy church.
TRUTH. Dear PEACE (to ease thy first complaint), 'tis true, thy dearest sons, most like their mother, peacekeeping, peacemaking sons of God, have borne and still must bear the blurs of troublers of Israel, and turners of the world upside down. And 'tis true again, what Solomon once spake: "The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water, therefore (saith he) leave off contention before it be meddled with. This caveat should keep the banks and sluices firm and strong, that strife, like a breach of waters, break not in upon the sons of men."
Yet strife must be distinguished: It is necessary or unnecessary, godly or Ungodly, Christian or unchristian, etc.
It is unnecessary, unlawful, dishonorable, ungodly, unchristian, in most cases in the world, for there is a possibility of keeping sweet peace in most cases, and, if it be possible, it is the express command of God that peace be kept (Rom. 13).
Again, it is necessary, honorable, godly, etc., with civil and earthly weapons to defend the innocent and to rescue the oppressed from the violent paws and jaws of oppressing persecuting Nimrods 2 (Psal. 73; Job 29).
It is as necessary, yea more honorable, godly, and Christian, to fight the fight of faith, with religious and spiritual artillery, and to contend earnestly for the faith of Jesus, once delivered to the saints against all opposers, and the gates of earth and hell, men or devils, yea against Paul himself, or an angel from heaven, if he bring any other faith or doctrine....
PEACE. I add that a civil sword (as woeful experience in all ages has proved) is so far from bringing or helping forward an opposite in religion to repentance that magistrates sin grievously against the work of God and blood of souls by such proceedings. Because as (commonly) the sufferings of false and antichristian teachers harden their followers, who being blind, by this means are occasioned to tumble into the ditch of hell after their blind leaders, with more inflamed zeal of lying confidence. So, secondly, violence and a sword of steel begets such an impression in the sufferers that certainly they conclude (as indeed that religion cannot be true which needs such instruments of violence to uphold it so) that persecutors are far from soft and gentle commiseration of the blindness of others....
For (to keep to the similitude which the Spirit useth, for instance) to batter down a stronghold, high wall, fort, tower, or castle, men bring not a first and second admonition, and after obstinacy, excommunication, which are spiritual weapons concerning them that be in the church: nor exhortation to repent and be baptized, to believe in the Lord Jesus, etc., which are proper weapons to them that be without, etc. But to take a stronghold, men bring cannons, culverins, saker, bullets, powder, muskets, swords, pikes, etc., and these to this end are weapons effectual and proportionable.
On the other side, to batter down idolatry, false worship, heresy, schism, blindness, hardness, out of the soul and spirit, it is vain, improper, and unsuitable to bring those weapons which are used by persecutors, stocks, whips, prisons, swords, gibbets, stakes, etc. (where these seem to prevail with some cities or kingdoms, a stronger force sets up again, what a weaker pull'd down), but against these spiritual strongholds in the souls of men, spiritual artillery and weapons are proper, which are mighty through God to subdue and bring under the very thought to obedience, or else to bind fast the soul with chains of darkness, and lock it up in the prison of unbelief and hardness to eternity....
PEACE. I pray descend now to the second evil which you observe in the answerer's position, viz., that it would be evil to tolerate notorious evildoers, seducing teachers, etc.
TRUTH. I say the evil is that he most improperly and confusedly joins and couples seducing teachers with scandalous livers.
PEACE. But is it not true that the world is full of seducing teachers, and is it not true that seducing teachers are notorious evildoers?
TRUTH. I answer, far be it from me to deny either, and yet in two things I shall discover the great evil of this joining and coupling seducing teachers, and scandalous livers as one adequate or proper object of the magistrate's care and work to suppress and punish.
First, it is not an homogeneal (as we speak) but an hetergeneal 3 commixture or joining together of things most different in kinds and natures, as if they were both of one consideration....
TRUTH. I answer, in granting with Brentius 4 that man hath not power to make laws to bind conscience, he overthrows such his tenent and practice as restrain men from their worship, according to their conscience and belief, and constrain them to such worships (though it be out of a pretense that they are convinced) which their own souls tell them they have no satisfaction nor faith in.
Secondly, whereas he affirms that men may make laws to see the laws of God observed.
I answer, God needeth not the help of a material sword of steel to assist the sword of the Spirit in the affairs of conscience, to those men, those magistrates, yea that commonwealth which makes such magistrates, must needs have power and authority from Christ Jesus to fit judge and to determine in all the great controversies concerning doctrine, discipline, government, etc.
And then I ask whether upon this ground it must not evidently follow that:
Either there is no lawful commonw earth nor civil state of men in the world, which is not qualified with this spiritual discerning (and then also that the very commonweal hath more light concerning the church of Christ than the church itself).
Or, that the commonweal and magistrates thereof must judge and punish as they are persuaded in their own belief and conscience (be their conscience paganish, Turkish, or antichristian) what is this but to confound heaven and earth together, and not only to take away the being of Christianity out of the world, but to take away all civility, and the world out of the world, and to lay all upon heaps of confusion? . ..
PEACE. The fourth head is the proper means of both these powers to attain their ends.
First, the proper means whereby the civil power may and should attain its end are only political, and principally these five.
First, the erecting and establishing what form of civil government may seem in wisdom most meet, according to general rules of the world, and state of the people.
Secondly, the making, publishing, and establishing of wholesome civil laws, not only such as concern civil justice, but also the free passage of true religion; for outward civil peace ariseth and is maintained from them both, from the latter as well as from the former.
Civil peace cannot stand entire, where religion is corrupted (2 Chron. 15. 3. 5. 6; and Judges 8). And yet such laws, though conversant about religion, may still be counted civil laws, as, on the contrary, an oath cloth still remain religious though conversant about civil matters.
Thirdly, election and appointment of civil officers to see execution to those laws.
Fourthly, civil punishments and rewards of transgressors and observers of these laws.
Fifthly, taking up arms against the enemies of civil peace.
Secondly, the means whereby the church may and should attain her ends are only ecclesiastical, which are chiefly five.
First, setting up that form of church government only of which Christ hath given them a pattern in his Word.
Secondly, acknowledging and admitting of no lawgiver in the church but Christ and the publishing of His laws.
Thirdly, electing and ordaining of such officers only, as Christ hath appointed in his Word.
Fourthly, to receive into their fellowship them that are approved and inflicting spiritual censures against them that o end.
Fifthly, prayer and patience in suffering any evil from them that be without, who disturb their peace.
So that magistrates, as magistrates, have no power of setting up the form of church government, electing church officers, punishing with church censures, but to see that the church does her duty herein. And on the other side, the churches as churches, have no power (though as members of the commonweal they may have power) of erecting or altering forms of civil government, electing of civil officers, inflicting civil punishments (no not on persons excommunicate) as by deposing magistrates from their civil authority, or withdrawing the hearts of the people against them, to their laws, no more than to discharge wives, or children, or servants, from due obedience to their husbands, parents, or masters; or by taking up arms against their magistrates, though he persecute them for conscience: for though members of churches who are public officers also of the civil state may suppress by force the violence of usurpers, as Iehoiada did Athaliah, yet this they do not as members of the church but as officers of the civil state.
TRUTH. Here are divers considerable passages which I shall briefly examine, so far as concerns our controversy.
First, whereas they say that the civil power may erect and establish what form of civil government may seem in wisdom most meet, I acknowledge the proposition to be most true, both in itself and also considered with the end of it, that a civil government is an ordinance of God, to conserve the civil peace of people, so far as concerns their bodies and goods, as formerly hath been said.
But from this grant I infer (as before hath been touched) that the sovereign, original, and foundation of civil power lies in the people (whom they must needs mean by the civil power distinct from the government set up). And, if so, that a people may erect and establish what form of government seems to them most meet for their civil condition; it is evident that such governments as are by them erected and established have no more power, nor for no longer time, than the civil power or people consenting and agreeing shall betrust them with. This is clear not only in reason but in the experience of all commonweals, where the people are not deprived of their natural freedom by the power of tyrants.
And, if so, that the magistrates receive their power of governing the church from the people, undeniably it follows that a people, as a people, naturally consider (of what nature or nation soever in Europe, Asia, Africa, or America), have fundamentally and originally, as men, a power to govern the church, to see her do her duty, to correct her, to redress, reform, establish, etc. And if this be not to pull God and Christ and Spirit out of heaven, and subject them unto natural, sinful, inconstant men, and so consequently to Satan himself, by whom all peoples naturally are guided, let heaven and earth judge....
PEACE. Some will here ask: What may the magistrate then lawfully do with his civil horn or power in matters of religion?
TRUTH. His horn not being the horn of that unicorn or rhinoceros, the power of the Lord Jesus in spiritual cases, his sword not the two-edged sword of the spirit, the word of God (hanging not about the loins or side, but at the lips. and proceeding out of the mouth of his ministers) but of an humane and civil nature and constitution, it must consequently be of a humane and civil operation, for who knows not that operation follows constitution; And therefore I shall end this passage with this consideration:
The civil magistrate either respecteth that religion and worship which his conscience is persuaded is true, and upon which he ventures his soul; or else that and those which he is persuaded are false.
Concerning the first, if that which the magistrate believeth to be true, be true, I say he owes a threefold duty unto it:
First, approbation and countenance, a reverent esteem and honorable testimony, according to Isa. 49, and Revel. 21, with a tender respect of truth, and the professors of it.
Secondly, personal submission of his own soul to the power of the Lord Jesus in that spiritual government and kingdom, according to Matt. 18 and 1 Cor. 5.
Thirdly, protection of such true professors of Christ, whether apart, or met together, as also of their estates from violence and injury, according to Rom. 13.
Now, secondly, if it be a false religion (unto which the civil magistrate dare not adjoin, yet) he owes:
First, permission (for approbation he owes not what is evil) and this according to Matthew 13. 30 for public peace and quiet's sake.
Secondly, he owes protection to the persons of his subjects (though of a false worship), that no injury be offered either to the persons or goods of any....
...The God of Peace, the God of Truth will shortly seal this truth, and confirm this witness, and make it evident to the whole world, that the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience, is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrine of Christ Jesus the Prince of Peace. Amen.

1. Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution ... ("Publications of the Narragansett Club" [Providence, R.I.], Vol. III [1867]), pp. 3-4, 63, 58-59, 138-39, 148, 170-71, 201, 247-50, 372-73, 424-25.
2. See Gen. 10:8-9
3. Old forms for "homogeneous" and "heterogeneous."
4. Johann Brenz (1499-1570), German Lutheran theologian.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What General Am I?

King Edward I
You scored 66 Wisdom, 77 Tactics, 50 Guts, and 60 Ruthlessness!
Or rather, King Edward the Longshanks if you've seen Braveheart. You, like Edward, are incredibly smart and shrewd, but you win at any costs.... William Wallace died at his hands after a fierce Scottish rebellion against his reign. Despite his reputation though, Longshanks had the best interests of his people at heart. But God help you if you got on his bad side.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 66% on Unorthodox

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You scored higher than 71% on Tactics

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You scored higher than 32% on Guts

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You scored higher than 86% on Ruthlessness
Link: The Which Historic General Are You Test

Friday, September 09, 2005

All For One and One For All

"Such Noble Valour"
One of my favorite authors is Alexandre Dumas, the great French author of such works as the Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, and Twenty Years Later. I have read all but the latter. I do love getting lost in a time gone by, when gentlemen stood for something, fought for what they believed in, and though admitting their imperfections they rose above themselves to serve something greater. However, few realize that many of Dumas' historical works of fiction has some basis in real life characters. Allow me the brief pleasure of telling you about his four most famous characters, The Three Musketeers (Porthos, Athos, and Aramis) and their friend, D'Artanagn.
In the year 1600, King Henry IV created an elite force to serve as his personal guard and armed them with muskets. They were disbanded in 1646, and later reformed in 1657. These 150 musketeers were known as "Gray Musketeers" because of the gray horses they all rode, until the king, on a whim, gave them all black stallions and changed their monicre to "Black Musketeers". They were again disbanded in 1776, again reembodied, and disbanded again for the final time in 1791. Some have asked why the Musketeers in Dumas' writings did not carry muskets (a logical question). The answer lies in the strict code of ethics and honor that these men lived by. The king's Musketeers were personal bodyguards, and were held to be the noblest and most renown fighters of their day, and for them to use a firearm instead of a blade would have been unthinkable, leaving the lesser ranks of Musketeers to kill their enemies from a distance.

Dumas' Characters
In The Three Musketeers, Dumas details the adventures of three musketeers -- Athos, Aramis and Porthos, and the aspiring musketeer, D'Artagnan. Incredibly, all of these characters were based on actual persons. Born in Gascony in 1615, the real D'Artagnan had four brothers and three sisters. One of D'Artagnan's brothers joined the Musketeers in 1633 but died shortly thereafter. Another of his brothers was an army captain that governed a district in the Pyrenees for forty years and died at the ripe old age of ninety-four, having outlived all his siblings. (This was quite a long life, especially in the 1600's!). The real D'Artagnan left for Paris in 1638, though Dumas had him arriving in the city of lights much earlier, 1625. Being that nearly all the residents of the Gascony region were dirt poor, it is also unlikely that he rode to Paris on his own horse. In D'Artagnan's first combat as a soldier he returned unscathed with a bullet hole in his hat and three more through his uniform. He was impetuous and a skillful swordsman, distinguishing himself during various sieges from 1640-1642. By some historical accounts, instead of challenging the musketeers to a duel at the Pre' aux Clercs, he instead had gone there with them to duel several of the Cardinal's guards. D'Artagnan once nursed back to health one of his defeated dueling rivals, a man by the name of Bernajoux, who later became his good friend. Later D'Artagnan was appointed command of the king's Grand Musketeers, the most coveted appointment in France. In spite of his military successes, his personal life was riddled with failure. His first (and last) marriage lasted only six years, his wife leaving him citing neglect (they had no children). After being made governor of Lille, D'Artagnan was shot through the throat and killed in 1673 at the siege of Maastricht, a few feet from Captain Churchill, Winston Churchill's great-great-great-grandfather. Henri D'Aramitz (Aramis) was a squire and a lay priest, the nephew of M. de Tresvilles, the captain of the Musketeers. Armand de Sillegue, Lord of Athos, (Athos) was killed in a duel before D'Artagnan ever joined the Musketeers. Isaac de Portau (Porthos) arrived in Paris only a year before D'Artagnan and was initially turned down by the Musketeers, but was later accepted (1643) after he had proved himself within regiment. Cardinal Richelieu was the de facto ruler of France from 1624 on. Richelieu's older brother had been killed in a duel, and he worked steadily to try to enforce laws forbidding dueling for many years. Milady, Duchesse de Winter was actually the Countess of Carlisle, who was, in fact, an agent of Cardinal Richelieu. (She stole two diamond studs from the Duke of Buckingham!)
Cardinal Richelieu, Prime Minister of France. 2003.
Cohen, Richard. By the Sword, Random House / New York 2002. French History. 2003.
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Sunday, August 21, 2005

USS Monitior Had Rensselaer Ties

At the time it was built during the Civil War, the well-known USS Monitor was a new breed of ship that would signal a turning point in modern-day naval warfare. The novel 120-ton, revolving turret that set the ship apart from the rest was recently retrieved from its 140-year-old resting spot in the Atlantic Ocean 20 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.“Monitor Expedition 2002” is the final phase of a multi-year effort to recover the wreck of this famous Civil War ironclad. The operation is being conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Naval Sea Systems Command, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two, and The Mariners’ Museum.The Monitor’s history, in part, is owed to iron manufacturer and steel pioneer John F. Winslow, who was Rensselaer’s fifth president. Winslow, one of the nation’s most dynamic industrialists during the Civil War, was one of the first to see merit in the design of ironclad war vessels. Ships at that time were typically built from wood.Winslow built his reputation in the iron industry by going into business as an iron manufacturer in New Jersey before becoming a partner at Corning, Winslow & Co. (more popularly known as the Albany Iron Works).
The company joined forces with the Rensselaer Iron Works, headed by iron industrialist and Institute Trustee John Griswold, to become the prime contractors for the iron plates of the Monitor.Corning, Winslow & Co. built the deck plates, the hull skirt, and the angle iron for the frame. The Rensselaer Iron Works made the rivets and the bar iron for the pilothouse.In September 1861, Winslow and Griswold convinced President Abraham Lincoln of the potential of the Monitor, designed by Swedish-American engineer, inventor and RPI alumnus John Ericsson, who up until then had met resistance for his revolutionary design.The Monitor was launched from Brooklyn in January 1862. Less than two months later, it faced off with its Confederate rival, the CSS Virginia (a modified version of a steam frigate originally called the USS Merrimack). The battle ended in a draw.The Monitor sank during a storm on New Year’s Eve in 1862. Although short-lived, it became a symbol of modern-day warfare mainly because of its revolving turret that carried two 11-inch cannons. Unlike the Virginia, which had to be steered into position for its guns to take accurate aim, the Monitor’s guns could be aimed simply by adjusting the turret.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

60 Years Gone By and the Fallout Continues

August 6, 1945 marked a change in warfare. It is one of those points in history where everything that came before, what every military had in use became obsolete in one moment. The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hisroshima, Japan. There is no need to go into the details of what happened, it is something that is well documented and abundant at the local librbary, History Channel, and Discovery Channel.

What I want to take a moment to discuss is my view of the fallout that continues to this day. As a native of Lil'Rhody, the only state to still mark V-J Day as a state holiday, I have grown up listening to both sides of the aisle and have been fortunate enough to read my fare share about the Second World War. Today a good number historians, influenced by feel good pshchology and a general America is evil worldview, would have us feel guilty due to the destruction and death the atomic bomb. It was cruel, Japan would have surrendered, we would have invaded the islands of Japan and won out, so why needlessly kill civilians, wasn't Pearl Harbor a military target?? Unfortunately, as the generation that lived and fought through World War II lessens, this "progressive" thinking becomes more pervasive with a weakening defense from the "Greatest Generation." So it must fall to those who understand history and logistics to step up and defend President Truman's decision to drop the bomb.

What needs to be realized is that as horrible as the bomb was in it's death and destruction, there is no disputing that, is that it brought a quick end to the war and probably saved more lives than it took. From a pure military point of view it brought victory with the fewest casualties to U.S. servicemen. From a military point of view, it saved Japanese lives. It brough an unconditional surrender from Japan that also left in place the Emperorship. The United States was gearing up to invade the home islands of the Japanese Empire by beginning to shift forces out of Europe to the Pacific, battle tested veteran units that would need to travel around the globe, be refitted, and brought up to speed on the strengths and weaknesses of a new enemy which was not above comitting suicide if it took more of the enemy to the grave. An invasion of the home islands would result in fighting a well dug in and well supplied enemy on their ground, in towns they grew up in, and that they were willing to defend to the last, not last man, but last man, woman, or child. The ferocity of such fighting would have resulted in casuality projections far greater than the atomic bombs. Logistically, it was the most efficient usage of military power to achieve the desired ends. A few planes and a bomb, cheaper than the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force trying to jointly run an invasion (remember to get all of them to work together is nearly impossible in times of peace, never mind when general's have ego and victory on the line).

The atomic bomb, as destructive and deadly as it was, was the right weapon available at that moment in history to accomplish the ends desired. Whether you think it was needed or not is irrevelant because you have hindsight, in that moment, men made the best descision based on the information they had available at the time they needed to act. For that, I can find no fault.

It was the correct decision at that moment in history. Unfortunately, some would like us to believe otherwise. I pitty them and wonder if they would even be here had some of their ancestors been asked to storm the home islands.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wiley Hilburn
HILBURN: Civil War historian Shelby Foote: The Southern Churchill
July 18, 2005

There are at least six good reasons to idolize Shelby Foote, the great novelist and Civil War historian.1. His biblical three-volume, 2,934-word "The Civil War; A Narrative" favors Confederate arms.2. Foote wrote the work entirely on yellow legal pads, using an old-fashioned dip-pen.3. The narrative gives almost book-length treatment to campaigns in Louisiana with interfacing battlefield maps highlighting Monroe, Shreveport and Natchitoches. We fought in the Civil War, too, not just the Army of Northern Virginia.4. Foote was a native Mississippian who did not faint at the sight of the Southern flag.5. Foote drank bourbon whiskey in the daylight hours and scotch at night. I'd trust him with my life.6. He wrote the three volumes in rich, rolling prose that calls up the cadence and power of Churchill, Faulkner and Proust. Foote read Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" six times.The Pulitzer prize-winning Foote would object to the characterization of his Civil War volumes as pro-Southern. So would other historians, calling his treatment of North and South even-handed. In my mind, however, Foote wrote the epic American Civil War story in shades of gray, not in black and white, or blue.The handsome three-book collection occupies the most honored shelf in my Choudrant library in all its big, hard-backed glory. The set was the best Christmas present I ever got in 1978. I proudly wrote my own name in each volume at the time, basking in the reflected glow of a really great writer.Among the passages that caught at my heart was Foote's description of Robert E. Lee's slow surrender canter:"Grief brought a sort of mass relief that let Traveller (Lee's horse) proceed, and as he moved through the press of soldiers, bearing the Southern commander on his back, they reached out to touch both horse and rider, withers and knees, flank and thighs, in expression of their affection."It would be manifestly wrong to think Foote glorified or romanced the Civil War. His tale fairly drips with gore and grief. For instance: "'June 3, Cold Harbor, I was killed,' read the red-stained diary of a dead man later taken from the field."It would be wrong, also, to assume that Foote felt the South was correct in its cause (he was glad the Union won the war) or that Foote sympathized with Southern segregationists while he penned the narrative in the 1960s and 1970s."I'm beginning to hate the one thing I really ever loved -- The South," Foote wrote in a 1963 letter. "No, that's (sic) wrong; not hate "" despise."The same sordid chapter that angered Foote played out bitterly in north Louisiana, when politicians switched from Democratic to Republican, pandering to white segregationists who cried "never." Robert Lee, as Foote wrote, graciously conceded defeat at Appomattox. Some north Louisiana politicians have never joined those Southern soldiers at Appomattox.I'm proud, meanwhile, that I read -- and reread to pieces -- Foote's Civil War books long before Ken Burns' famous PBS series first broadcast in 1990 made the Mississippi writer internationally famous.No doubt other Civil War historians will rise to challenge Foote's Homeric effort. But, forever, Shelby Foote leaves a blue and gray -- more gray than blue -- bruise on America's murderous subject of war with itself.Shelby Foote died June 28, 2005, in Memphis, Tenn.

Time Capsule

Today's Highlight in History:
On July 19, 1985, Christa McAuliffe of New Hampshire was chosen to be the first schoolteacher to ride aboard the space shuttle. (McAuliffe and six other crew members died when Challenger exploded shortly after lift-off the following January.)
On this date:
In 1553, 15-year-old Lady Jane Grey was deposed as Queen of England after claiming the crown for nine days. King Henry VIII's daughter Mary was proclaimed Queen.
In 1848, a pioneer women's rights convention convened in Seneca Falls, N.Y.
In 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill launched his "V for Victory" campaign in Europe.
In 1943, allied air forces raided Rome during World War II.
In 1969, Apollo 11 and its astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Michael Collins, went into orbit around the moon.
In 1975, the Apollo and Soyuz space capsules that were linked in orbit for two days separated.
In 1980, the Moscow Summer Olympics began, minus dozens of nations that were boycotting the games because of the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.
In 1984, U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro, D-N.Y., won the Democratic nomination for vice president by acclamation at the party's convention in San Francisco.
In 1989, 112 people were killed when a United Air Lines DC-10 crashed while making an emergency landing at Sioux City, Iowa; 184 other people survived

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Father's Prayer

by General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) the last five star General

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.
And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, have not lived in vain. Amen.