History

History, History Column

A Short History of Bullies

By ©2022 Sarah Becker British historian Andrew William Kinglake, best known for his 1874 book The Invasion of The Crimea, published his first tome Eothen, or Traces of Travel, Brought Home from the East in 1844. It is for reason of the latter that his poem Stick and Stones became forever famous. Kinglake’s rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me….” The rhyme has long been “used as a defense against name-calling and verbal bullying.” The Virginia Code [22.1-276.01(A)] defines bullying as “any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power balance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma.” Cyber bullying is included: ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument, or peer conflict is not. In 1844 former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and Tennessee Governor James K. Polk [D-TN] defeated statesman Henry Clay [Whig-KY] for President. America’s anti-slavery movement was gaining momentum, as was Polk’s plan to annex the Republic of Texas. Anti-slavery Whigs thought annexation troubling and Polk supporters responded by claiming Clay “spent his days at the gambling table and his nights in a brothel.” In 1862 Congress forbid slavery in federal territories and President Abraham Lincoln [R-IL] completed the first draft of his Emancipation Proclamation. The black community, free and enslaved became enthused and the African Methodist Episcopal [AME] Church—“born in protest against slavery”—rallied. The Church adapted an “old adage,” Kinglake’s Sticks and Stones and delivered. Said the AME’s Christian Reporter in March 1862, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.” The first black members of the U.S. Congress were elected in 1870. Two years later Southern Republicans, Negroes were “told to stand…

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S.P.I.C.E.S. (No. Not the holiday kind…)

by ©2022 Sarah Becker ‘Tis the holidays, a season many celebrate with tasty treats. Foods made with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. For the Friends Meeting, followers of the Quaker faith—a Protestant faith—SPICES is an acronym for religious Testimonies. According to Swarthmore College, of Quaker origin, Quakers use the word testimony “to describe ‘a witness to the Living Truth Within the human heart’—as it is acted out in everyday life.” The six Quaker Testimonies are: Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship of the Earth. Integrity, adherence to truth and an ethical code is a given. Peace Testimony: “The Peace testimony is based on the same understanding of the nature of God and of human beings,” Swarthmore said. “How can one kill another child of God, a potential channel of Truth, no matter how misguided he or she may seem at the moment?” The testimony has led many Friends to oppose war; to seek a reconciling force between peoples and nations in conflict. “Your principles & conduct are well known to me,” President and retired Revolutionary War General George Washington wrote the Society of Quakers in 1789, “and it is doing the People called Quakers no more than Justice to say, that [except their declining to share with others the burthren of the common defense] there is no Denomination among us who are more exemplary and useful Citizens.” Alexandria educator Benjamin Hallowell [1799-1877] “never doubted the correctness of the Quaker peace testimony.” He remained a pacifist during the War of 1812. An Alexandria exception: Disowned Quaker, Confederate army Major and inventor of the modern knuckle coupler Eli Hamilton Janney [1831-1912]. Two of America’s 46 Presidents were Quakers, Herbert Hoover [R-CA, 1929-1933] and Richard Nixon [R-CA, 1969-1974]. “The son of a Quaker blacksmith, Herbert Clark Hoover brought to the Presidency…

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History, History Column

Why We Give Thanks

by ©2022 Sarah Becker Colonial Virginia celebrated its first day of thanksgiving on December 4, 1619. “We Ordain that the day of our ship’s arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly,” the Berkeley Company declared, “and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God.” There, on the north shore of the James River, settlers, including Episcopal clergyman George Thorpe “knelt and held a thanksgiving service for their safe arrival.” The Pilgrims’ Plymouth, Massachusetts, day of thanksgiving was held one year and seventeen days after Berkeley’s. Berkeley Plantation may well be the “most historic plantation on the James River.” A plantation located halfway between Richmond and Williamsburg Berkeley includes not only a First Thanksgiving Shrine; it is also the 18th century home of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence and his son William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States. Benjamin Harrison III purchased the tobacco plantation in 1691 and created the River’s first commercial shipyard. General George Washington, his Revolutionary Army welcomed thanksgiving. The General’s December 17, 1777, order: “[B]eing the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us—The General directs that the army remain in its present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform divine service with their several Corps and brigades….” Winning a war, forming a Union, and rewriting the Articles of Confederation are not easy tasks. “The disinclination of the individual States to yield competent powers to Congress for the Federal Government—their unreasonable jealousy of that body & of one another—& the disposition which seems to pervade each, of being all-wise & all-powerful within itself, will, if there is…

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A Mixed History of Alcohol and Alexandria

by ©2022 Sarah Becker How do lawyers and historians pass their respective bar exams?  Lawyers mostly study hard. Spirited historians sip booze. The American Whiskey Trail, championed by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States includes both distilleries and historic sites, sites such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon distillery and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. GW’s favorite alcohol drinks: sweet, fortified wines like Madeira and Port; rum punch, and porter [dark beer]. Reconstructed as of 2007 Mount Vernon’s “whiski distillery” was originally built in 1797: the same year John Adams succeeded George Washington as President. Two years later the distillery was one of the country’s largest 18th century facilities, producing approximately 11,000 gallons of whiskey annually. Whiskey sold for $.50 a gallon and a federal Excise Whiskey Tax was due. The 1791 tax was used “to offset a portion of the federal government’s assumption of state debts.” Mount Vernon’s distillery was a spinoff—born of Washington’s want “to simplify his farming operations.” It generated a substantial profit, thanks mostly to the efforts of Scottish farm manager James Anderson. The Estate produced ample grain; the gristmill and water system were previously installed, and enslaved labor was cheap. Better still, the remaining slop—distilled grain—was recyclable. The distillery was home to 150 pigs and 30 cows. The “demand,” Washington wrote, was “brisk.” Alexandria merchant and leading surveyor George Gilpin was among the distillery’s earliest customers. The un-aged whiskey was made from 60% rye, 35% corn, and 5% malted barley. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health 85.6% of Americans ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 69.5% reported that they drank in the past year. The top alcohol drinks, in descending order: 12-oz. of regular beer, 1½-oz. of distilled spirits, and 5-oz. of…

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A Brief History of Guns, Politics and the NRA

by ©2022 Sarah Becker “We’ve all seen how quickly and creatively Texas can act when it wants to protect the unborn embryo,” CNN Anchor Alisyn Camerota said on May 25, 2022. “Why not act with that alacrity to protect a living, breathing 10-year old child?” Camerota was referring to Uvalde’s Robb Elementary mass shooting. Nineteen school children and two teachers were killed; 17 others were wounded. More than 311,000 students have experienced a school shooting since 1999. A mass shooting is defined as “a gun crime in which four or more people excluding the shooter are killed.” Should returning students learn the particulars of school safety? Absolutely, including vocabulary words like shots fired, active shooter, dangerous someone; inform, counter, and evacuate. On May 24, 2022, children were confined to two Robb Elementary classrooms; held at gunpoint, either dead or pretending death while calling #911 for help. The deceased gunman, age 18, purchased his AR-15 assault style semiautomatic rifle, a rifle akin to the military’s automatic M-16, one day after his May 17 birthday. Texas makes it easy to buy and carry guns. Why, the gun lobby is famous for its generosity. “Gun rights groups including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America spent $15.8 million—a record amount—on lobbying in 2021,” Open Secrets explained. “Senator Ted Cruz [R-TX] has received more funding…than any other politician since 2012.” According to Brady United the NRA’s top career grossing Senators are, in descending order: Mitt Romney (R-UT) #1@$13,647,676, Richard Burr (R-NC) #2, Roy Blunt (R-MO) #3, Thom Tillis (R-NC) #4, Marco Rubio (R-FL) #5@$3,303,355, Joni Ernst (R-IA) #6, Rob Portman (R-OH) #7, Todd Young (R-IN) #8, Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) #9, Tom Cotton (R-AR) #10@$1,971,214, Pat Toomey (R-PA) #11, Josh Hawley (R-MO) #12, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) #13, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) #14@$1,283,515,…

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Women’s Equality Day, 2022? Yeah, right.

by ©2022 Sarah Becker “Abortion presents a profound moral issue on which Americans hold sharply conflicting views,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in February 2022. “For the first 185 years after the adoption of the Constitution, each State was permitted to address the issue in accordance with the views of its citizens. Then, in 1973, this Court decided Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113.” Moral, as defined by the American Heritage dictionary: “Of or concerned with the judgment or instruction of goodness or badness of character and behavior.  Morals: “Rules or habits of conduct, esp. of sexual conduct.” In America such rules are grounded in religion, a political mix of religions and Sir William Blackstone’s 1765 Commentaries of the Laws of England—the Law of Coverture. Today’s politicians mostly favor the moral opinions of those affiliated with the Christian right: Evangelical Protestants, Conservative Catholics, Mormons, Orthodox Jews, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Also: The Federalist Society [est. 1982], Evangelical Protestant Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law & Justice [est. 1990], and Rachel MacNair’s Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America 501(c)4 & PAC [est. 1992]. Pat Robertson, a Virginia Republican is Southern Baptist. In 2016 Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network professed “Christianity is where the power is. There is no separation of church and state.” Amendment 1 of the Constitution’s 1791 Bill of Rights is called the Establishment Clause. It “build[s] a wall of separation between Church & State, adhering to…the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience,” President Thomas Jefferson [DR-VA] told the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. In 1776 Abigail Adams asked husband John to Remember the Laidies [sic] when making the colonies “new code of laws.” She did not want “unlimited power put into the hands of the Husbands.” “Men of…

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Fourth of July – Emerson, Stabler & Zelenskyy

By Sarah Becker ©2022 Copyright ©2022 Sarah Becker In 1837 Michigan was admitted as a free state, the Union’s 26th state. Texas, a slave-holding republic was denied annexation. The Panic of 1837 began: banks failed, a depression followed, and the price of cotton plummeted. Lawyer Abraham Lincoln was admitted to the Illinois Bar, Martin Van Buren [D-NY] became the 8th U.S. President, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson celebrated his Hymn: Sung at the July 4th Completion of the Concord, Massachusetts, Monument. The Monument immortalizes Paul Revere’s midnight ride, the settlers April 19, 1775, resistance to oncoming British forces. The fighting covered 16 miles and included 4,000+ colonials: 1,700 British regulars. Concord, a Puritan settlement established in 1635, was the first Massachusetts community to protest Parliament’s March 31, 1774, Coercive Acts. Independence Day, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary: “July 4, celebrated in the United States to commemorate the adoption in 1776 of the Declaration of Independence. “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands 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 Nature’s God entitle them…. [W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security….” Independent, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary: “Not governed by a foreign power.” “By the rude bridge that arched the flood,/ Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,/ Here once the embattled farmers stood,/ And fired the shot heard round the world,” Emerson’s Hymn begins. “The foe long since in…

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Democratic Convention of 1924

By ©2022 Sarah Becker In 1924 Congress overrode President Calvin Coolidge’s veto of the WWI Soldiers Bonus Bill, and an anti-Asiatic Immigration law was passed. A constitutional amendment “to limit, regulate, and prohibit the labor of persons under eighteen years of age” was sent to the states for ratification. The country, “led by the South, [was] reluctant to circumscribe the work done by child labor.” 1924 was also a presidential election year. Four political parties participated. The Republican Party nominated Vice President Calvin Coolidge, President as of 1923 to serve another term. The Democrats chose New York attorney John W. Davis. It took the Dems a record 103 ballots to decide. Virginia’s 1924 Democratic Convention delegation included U.S. Senator Carter Glass; U.S. Senator Claude A. Swanson and State Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr., Chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party; Governor E. Lee Trinkle and former Governor Henry C. Stuart; Mrs. B.B. Mumford, Mrs. W.B. Sirman, and Alexandria’s Dr. Kate Waller Barrett. They were “to support Glass for the presidential nomination so as long as his name was before the body.” “Anyone who would not expect me to lead—to impress upon Congress my conception of important matters—need never to advocate me for this presidency,” Glass said in reply. Representative Glass was instrumental in the passage of the 1913 Owen-Glass Federal Reserve Act: the formation of the central bank of the United States. “Four years ago [in 1920] Virginia furnished the platform for the [National] Democratic Party,” The Richmond-Times Dispatch reported. “This year it will, in all probability, go-a-step farther, providing both the platform and the candidate. The name Carter Glass is on the lips of every man or woman who discusses nomination possibilities.” “It is admitted on all sides that, in point of ability and general fitness…no man in American public…

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Historic Anomaly: Benjamin Banneker 1731 – 1806

by ©2022 Sarah Becker Baltimore, 1791: “The Editors of the Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia ALMANACK, feel themselves gratified in the Opportunity of presenting to the Public, through the Medium of their Press, what must be considered an extraordinary Effort of Genius—a complete and accurate EPHEMERIS for the Year 1792, calculated by a sable Descendant of Africa, who, by the Specimen of Ingenuity, evinces, to Demonstration, that mental Powers and Endowments, are not the exclusive Excellence of white People, but that rays of Science may alike illumine the Minds of Men of every Clime, (however they may differ in the Colour of their Skin).” Benjamin Banneker, America’s first Black man of Science compiled The ALMANACK in the 1790s. Banneker was born in Baltimore County, Maryland—a slave state—on November 9, 1731: of a free mother and formerly enslaved father. He grew up free on the family’s multi-acre tobacco farm and briefly attended a Quaker school. “Benjamin Banneker’s place, as a self-educated master of mathematics and astronomy, makes him an ideal subject for African-American history,” Maryland’s Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum said. “Benjamin Banneker, a free Negro, has calculated an Almanack, to the ensuing year, 1792, which being desirous to dispose of to the best advantage, he has requested me to aid his application to you,” Baltimore’s James McHenry wrote Editors Goddard and Angell on August 26, 1791. “Having fully satisfied myself…I may venture to assure you it will do you credit as Editors. McHenry, a military surgeon, was white; a Founding Father and signer of the 1787 Constitution between the States. “He is about fifty-nine years of age,” McHenry continued. “His father and mother having obtained their freedom, were enabled to send him to an obscure school, where he learned, when a boy reading, writing; and to leave him in…

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Taking Care of Mother Earth

by ©2022 Sarah Becker The amount of future warming Earth will experience depends on how much carbon dioxide [CO2] and other greenhouse gases [GHG] we humans emit in the coming decades. GHG are any of the gaseous components that trap heat in the atmosphere. The most abundant greenhouse gas, CO2 is the product of burning fossil fuels [coal, natural gas and oil; solid waste and trees, and chemical reactions like with cement]. In 2019 carbon dioxide accounted for 80% of U.S. greenhouse gases, methane 10%. “There is no good reason why we should fear the future,” President and conservationist Theodore Roosevelt [R-NY] said in 1905, “but there is every reason why we should face it seriously, neither hiding from ourselves the gravity of the problems before us nor fearing to approach these problems with the unbending, unflinching purpose to solve them aright.” Today’s U.S. Western mega- drought is “the worst in 1200 years.” Earth Day was first celebrated 52 years ago—on April 22. Why, to advocate on behalf of environmentalism. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, crippling drought, and more powerful storms,” President Barack Obama [D-IL] said in his 2013 Inaugural Address. “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be…difficult,” Obama continued. “But Americans cannot resist this transition…We cannot cede to the other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries.” Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Catalyst is investing $1.5b in clean technology projects including direct air capture, green hydrogen, long-duration energy storage, and sustainable aviation fuel. “Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, our livelihoods,” the Earth Day website insists. “We need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all…

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