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Thursday, July 4, 2013

For Independence Day


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

George's Busy Life
By GC SMITH

Chompin' cherries with wooden dentures isn't any fun. Red stains on white painted teeth could make a man blue. Hey, red, white, and blue, great colors for the new flag. If George was with us he'd say: I'll have Martha talk to Betsy about that at next week's Mahjong party. Speaking of Betsy, I'm sure, G.W. would like to sleep there. Ah, to rest his weary head on that lush bosom. But, if Martha ever found out she'd have his hide and he'd be in for even more shoeless camping in the snow. He couldn't afford that, not with Lafayette coming to meet about forming the Escadrille with 'mercan pilots (and more than a century ahead of it's time). I think he'd better go and powder the wig now before meeting time. Lord knows a man can never look too good.


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

Benjamin Franklin

Busy Ben, a founding father, literally. A common law conjoiner and Pater familias to an illegitimate son. (Though just how a flesh and blood human standing before the world could possibly lack legitimacy has always eluded this chronicler.) But, be that as it may or may not be Ben went on to a continued shocking life. There were inventions galore and amazing scientific enquires, chief among which was the kite and string sting.

Our Ben is likely best remembered for his grand misogyny concerning why a young man should seek the comfort of older women, who were not yet in those days of yore identified by the cutsey appellation --Cougar. His advice: they don’t yell, or tell, or swell, and they’re grateful as hell.

Ah, but there were other sides to this most accomplished man. Lest we forget, despite peccadilloes, Ben also preached virtuousness thereby establishing an unbroken politician's hypocrisy practiced assiduously from the first days of the Republic to this very moment. Ah, yes, busy Ben, stage setter extraordinaire.

Ben Franklin, founding father, pride of the new Nation.



FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

Thomas Jefferson

To truly get a feel for Thomas Jefferson one should take the guided tour of his ancestral home, Monticello, for it is as an innovator we can actually see the great man’s mind at work. Inside the front door of Monticello, mounted on the foyer wall is a clock-calendar. The device not only tells time but it marks the day. To the device’s winding chain Jefferson attached heavy lead weights that dropped day by day, which were noted on the wall. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Oops!

The chain unfortunately hit the floor before the week's final day. Was our polymath, Jefferson, deterred. Not in the least. Jefferson cut a hole in the foyer floor so that the weighted chain could continue its decent. Our Monticello guide remarked, “on Saturday Mr. Jefferson’s balls are in the basement.”

Bright fellow that he was you’ll find that Jefferson also dabbled in horticulture, statesmanship, architectecture, archaeology, paleontology, invention, and, of course, Sally.

So, dear reader, you have in this telling a glimpse into the mind and makeup of the man who was to become America’s third President. A man who truly represents this Nations frenetic inventiveness.


 

FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

John Adams.

Revolutionary, second President of the United States, Adams came by it naturally. He cut his teeth as a teacher and lawyer while preparing for public service. He failed as a farmer. He failed as a malter/brewer (seems Sam did better). He failed as a tax collector (unless you were a friend). Fouled by failure, Adams went through life looking as if he was sucking on a sour pickle, but I suppose you would as well if you were married to Abigail. Rumor has it she was not an easy woman. Then, of course, there was Jefferson, Adams ally and later fierce opponent and successor, in 1800, to the throne Presidency. Now permanently soured, Adams on his Independence Day deathbed, July 4, 1826, uttered his last words, “Jefferson lives”. He was of course wrong, which had he known might have sweetened the sour. Jefferson had died at Monticello hours earlier. But, such is the course of grudges.


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

Hamilton & Burr

Post revolutionary American politics, awash in rivalies and argument, precursed what goes on to this very day.

Then in America it was the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists having at one another. It’s tempting to say the arguments were liberal/conservative contretemps but it’s impossible to sort the muddled political philosophies so neatly. Let’s simply sat that then as today it all boiled down to “I’m right, you’re wrong” on the one side and “You’re wrong, I’m right” on the other side.

Arguments became raucous, particularly between Alexander Hamilton (Federalist) and Aaron Burr (Democratic-Republican). It got loud. It got nasty. One could say that it got so that Hamilton had a Burr up his … It was a mean standoff.

How else was this stuff to be settled but by duel. Dueling however, as it oft does, worked out poorly. Hamilton became a literal deader. Burr’s political ambitions died. Such are the rewards of rancor.

A lesson for today (likely not to be learned) is that we have been reduced to Republicans on one side Democrats on the other and we’re arguing with ourselves. A benefit of argument, this writer believes, is that it beats getting out the guns and shooting.


FOUNDING FATHER SERIES

James Madison

After arguing that a “Bill of Rights” was both unnecessary and dangerous Madison drafted and fought for the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, that is “The Bill Of Rights.” Ah well, consistency, as is well known, is the hobgoblin of little minds. He went on to become the fourth President of the fledgling United States, accomplishing such as the Louisiana purchase and screwing up here and there with little missteps such as the war of 1812.

For all of Madison’s missteps and accomplishments none was so important as his marriage to Dolley. It was, after all, she who brought ice cream to the White House and thereby to a hungry America. Hooray for Dolley.


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

John Hancock


"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these … "


JOHN HANCOCK

He laid it out there for folks. Right up front for King and all. Nothing shy about this signer.

Did Mr. Hancock ever do anything else?

I dunno! Do you?


FOUNDING FATHERS SERIES

Patrick Henry

Known far and wide as a champion of individual rights Patrick Henry gave the famous speech with the quotable line.



"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet,
as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take; but as for me,
give me liberty, or give me death!"



Ah yes, “give me liberty or give me death.”

Then there was Mrs. Henry, Sarah, who according to Patrick went bats. He kept her in a straightjacket in the basement of their home. One could imagine Sarah muttering over and over. “Give me liberty, I’ll give him death." Perhaps the slave woman assigned to attend Sarah would have helped.
 

FOUNDING FATHERS

Paul Revere

“Listen my children and you shall hear
of the midnight ride of …,


of …, of …

Paul Revere and two other guys that Longfellow forgot to mention while lionizing the Boston Silversmith. Two other guys whose names are lost to history. Two other guys …

And maybe Revere was at the tea party as well, maybe.

But;

“Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year”



So, who knows.


 

FOUNDING FATHERS

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

A South Carolinian he signed the Declaration of Independence. Whatever else he may have done is lost to the dust or perhaps buried in dry Heyward family chronicals.

What Thomas Heyward, Jr., South Carolinian, did not do however was:

· Disappear to Argentinia for five days of dalliance.
· Embarrassingly say he would try to fall in love with his wife again.
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was SC Govenor Sanford.

Nor did he:

· Compare government under President Obama to fascism
· Daily rant against anything proposed by the current Administration
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was SC Senator Jim DeMint

And he didn’t shout out:

· You lie, or
· Generally make an ass of himself.

That was SC Congressman Joe Wilson.

Ah, it all makes a proud denizen of the Palmetto State wonder just what they're smoking. This one at least.



FOUNDING FATHERS

Henry Lee

Henry Lee, aka, Light-Horse Harry did some good stuff as a revolutionary military officer. Skill as a cavalry horseman earned him the light-horse sobriquet. Later he was to become governor of Virginia. Ligh-horse Harry eugolized George Washington with the lines which became famous, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, . . .”

All in all he seemed a pretty accomplished guy albeit with a penchant for drinking, gambling, and brawling that led to financial ruin and a stay in debtor’s prison where he wrote his Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States, still the standard text on that portion of the Revolutionary War.

Harry’s son, Robert E. Lee, was offered command of the United States Army by Abe Lincoln but, true son of the South, he went the other way.

In all, the Lees of Virginia were a pretty good bunch.


 

 

 

 

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