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Hail, Columbia

Hail Columbia, happy land! 
Hail, ye heroes, heav’n-born band,
Who fought and bled in freedom’s cause,
Who fought and bled in freedom’s cause,
And when the storm of war was gone
Enjoy’d the peace your valor won.
Let independence be our boast,
Ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize,
Let its altar reach the skies.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Immortal patriots, rise once more,
Defend your rights, defend your shore!
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Invade the shrine where sacred lies
Of toil and blood, the well-earned prize,
While off’ring peace, sincere and just,
In Heaven’s we place a manly trust,
That truth and justice will prevail,
And every scheme of bondage fail.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Sound, sound the trump of fame,
Let Washington’s great name
Ring through the world with loud applause,
Ring through the world with loud applause,
Let ev’ry clime to freedom dear,
Listen with a joyful ear,
With equal skill, with God-like pow’r
He governs in the fearful hour
Of horrid war, or guides with ease
The happier times of honest peace.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Behold the chief who now commands,
Once more to serve his country stands.
The rock on which the storm will break,
The rock on which the storm will break,
But armed in virtue, firm, and true,
His hopes are fixed on Heav’n and you.
When hope was sinking in dismay,
When glooms obscured Columbia’s day,
His steady mind, from changes free,
Resolved on death or liberty.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Written for George Washington’s inauguration in 1789, “Hail, Columbia” or “The President’s March” was considered the unofficial U.S. national anthem until 1931, when “The Star Spangled Banner” was made the official anthem. Today, it is “the ceremonial entrance march of the Vice President of the United States” (Source)

The music was written by Philip Phile and the lyrics by Joseph Hopkins. It was then that the song’s title was changed to “Hail, Columbia.”

On April 25, 1798, Gilbert Fox opened a concert at Philadelphia’s New Theatre with “Hail, Columbia.” It proved to be immensely popular. So popular, in fact, that rumors say an encore was requested as many as 12 times! A few nights later, President Adams saw the show. Then, on July 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson invited the U.S. Marine Band to play at the White House. It was typical for the song to be played at any formal events at the White House.

“Hail Columbia” was used as the national anthem up through the 1890’s.

Today, Hail, Columbia “is played whenever the Vice-President of the United States arrives at a ceremony or as he enters a formal event” (Source). “Ruffles and Flourishes” traditionally precedes the piece.

Listen: Hail, Columbia

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Today in History: September 19, 1796 – Washington’s Farewell Address

Starting with President Washington, our country has a tradition of presidential warnings in their farewell addresses. Take President Eisenhower’s, for example, which we saw just recently here in our trivia questions. Or President Reagan’s, which I’m sure we’ll see soon enough. Bush, I actually remember his. Johnson, I vaguely remember reading his (or, at least about his). And, ahem, others, I’m sure. 

It all started with President Washington, back in 1796, when he decided to not seek a 3rd term, starting a precedent that (thankfully) every following president would follow (except, of course, for Roosevelt, thanks to WWII). 

Washington warned:

“Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

“The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, your peace abroad, of your safety, of your prosperity, of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth, as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”

A love of country. That no force – from outside our walls or from within – should dare to tear this country apart. That should make it anything less than the great nation that he and others sacrificed to form.

“The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. . . .You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together. The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.”

He reminded people that you, you fought for this country. That you have suffered for this country. That by the very virtue of being American, binds you to one another.

“While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and particular interest in union, all the parts combined can not fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations, and what is of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves which so frequently afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same governments, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and imbitter.”

He continued to warn that we should never let our differences divid us to the point of waring amongst ourselves. Of course, the Civil War followed, many years later. But that was a war of necessity, for every man was created to live equally in this country. Meaning, each man has the same right to a home, to education, and to a job. No man should be owned by another. But why should we let petty rivalries about different ideologies separate us?

“Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true liberty.”

He reminded the people of the importance of obeying all the laws of the government and of minding the Constitution. 

“All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction; to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community, and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to snake the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans, digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

“However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things to become potent engines by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying. afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Now this is important: He warned of a party that would rewrite the Constitution, paying little heed to the country as a whole, but instead to the wants and desires of the party alone. Maybe more people should pay attention to Washington’s warnings and actually learn the Constitution. Maybe we could have avoided that mistake. He warned us to look out for these people and to not let them have power. For they would thwart it for their own good.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness–these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?”

A country that defies the rights of a religious man cannot prosper. Many a man has debated just how religious Washington actually was. The truth is, we can’t make that judgement. What we do know, is that this country was founded on religious principals and Washington (although briefly) notes that the country cannot stand without the pillars of religion.

It is true that other presidents have acknowledged that this country cannot thrive without God at it’s center. It’s also true that other presidents have warned about division from within. Or about someone, someday throwing out the Constitution. Or that ideologies would divide this country to the extent that we would start another civil war. That all started with Washington.

What is also true is that We the People can learn something from these warnings. We should probably pay attention.

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George Washington

After much discussion, we decided that the next feature we should add is mini biographies about presidents, generals, and other important historical figures. And who better to start off with than our first President!?

George Washington was born in 1732 in Wakefield, Virginia. “His birthplace at Wakefield is commemorated with a reconstructed brick mansion on the original plantation site in Westmoreland County. It is now a national monument” (12).

In school, Washington schooled in manners, morals, as well as the proper texts of the day. His interests? Military arts and western expansion. Appropriate for the man who would lead the revolution. Before joining the military, though, he spent his youth surveying land (no other president would hold this job until Hoover).

[Below: Washington’s birthplace. It has been reconstructed and is now a national monument.]

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In 1754, at 22, Washington was commissioned into the army as a lieutenant colonel, where he would fight in the first skirmishes of the French and Indian War, losing some 300 men. The following year, he would face the British. He was surrounded, but managed to walk away uninjured, despite having two horses shot out from under him and having four bullets go through his coat.

From 1759 until the outbreak of the Revolution, Washington spent most of his time away from military life, choosing, instead, to work the lands around his beloved Mount Vernon and spend time with his wife, Martha, and stepchildren. In between these activities, he spent time fox hunting and entertaining.

Being both a planter and a military man, put Washington amongst the dissatisfied with British ruling. He was increasingly more worried about what would happen to his country, as Britain was taking away more and more liberty from the colonies.

Image result for george washington in military uniformThen, in 1775, he was appointed to the Second Continental Congress. The Congress was after choosing a southern leader to unite all the colonies in this struggle against England. Washington, imposing in his blue military uniform, seemed the perfect choice for the job. And, of course, he was.

Only July 3, 1775 (almost exactly one year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence), Washington took full command of the army. It was his job to pull together the ragtag-looking army. However, as it becoming increasingly clear that England was not willing to budge one iota, Washington became convinced that the war would be not for less taxation and better representation, but for independence itself.

But, even with the signing of the Declaration, Washington still faced numerous obstacles, mostly from Congress (go figure). They refused to believe that he was a capable leader, so refused him even the most basic of necessities, such as supplies and men.

Despite the rank he know holds, Washington may not have been considered the greatest general ever to be seen by the American army. However, he was still a capable commander, and knew how to use his army to the best of their ability. Knowing that the British were far more experienced than his men, Washington discovered that it was far safer to rely on harassment of the enemy, rather than all-out battle – of course, we know they still saw plenty of that. Washington was known to let his men fall back during battles, only to have his men form a surprise attack later. This seemed to work well. Perhaps, one of Washington’s greatest assets as commander of the army was his organizational skills. It would be these skills that would get his men through the darkest of days, such as the winter of 1777-1778.

As the war came to a close, instead of accepting the role of king offered him, Washington preferred retirement and Mount Vernon, with his wife and, now, grandchildren. But then, back at Mount Vernon, Washington realized that the Confederation Government was not functioning well at all. They newly founded government didn’t yet have the authority and respect it needed from other countries to stand strong at sea, against merchants of other countries, or even “marauding Indians” (17). Worse yet, riots were breaking out over heavy taxation, and in Massachusetts, some farmers even began to take up arms.

Washington seemed to have no choice but to surrender. As a result, in the summer of 1787, he helped form the Constitutional Convention of Philadelphia. Washington took little part in their debates. But, as was predicted, once the Convention began to operate smoothly, and finally voted on their first president, Washington was elected. Washington wasn’t thrilled about their decision. Nevertheless, he agreed.

Image result for george washingtonAnd, on April 30, 1789, Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States, standing on the balcony of the Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York.

It was a grave man who gave the first Presidential address before Congress. But, he had every reason to be grave. The fledgling country of America was week in more than one area; the treasury and military being just a few of those areas.

Thus, the job fell to our first President. He, however, was insistent on abiding by the Congress. He was convinced that the law-making job fell to Congress and that he should leave well enough alone. He even appeared before the Senate with a list of inquiries, believing whole-heartedly in the Constitutional dictate that he should seek their advice and counsel. When they refused to give him instant answers, however, he never made that mistake again. Instead, he wrote out treaties to the best of his judgment, sending them to the Senate to ratify or reject. Despite his disappointment with the Senate’s ability to offer up suggestions, he found that the members of his cabinet were much more reliable – if not rather bent on disagreeing with one another. Even given their constant bickering, Washington usually sided with the majority. That being said, no one ever doubted that Washington was President and that the authority rested with him. 

Wanting a strong central government – to make sure the “executive authority was independent from total legislative control,” Washington appointed his own heads for Treasury, State, War, and Justice (Source). Congress only had the authority to accept or reject these appointments. He appointed Alexander Hamilton to Treasury, Thomas Jefferson to State, Henry Knox to War, and Edmund Randolph to Justice, while John Adams served as Vice President. These men created the very first Presidential cabinet. 

And the method worked. Until the bickering between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson grew so great that a separate party emerged: the Democratic-Republican party.

After serving two terms as President, Washington had grown weary of politics and was ready to retire to Mount Vernon, for good this time. So, in 1796, he settled down to write his Farewell Address, leaving a precedent of Presidential Warnings. He told the country to unite in heart, spirit, and mind.

Despite his call for unity, the 1796 election would be the first two-party election: John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson. While this has long since been normal protocol, at the time “Washington and many others perceived organized opposition to the government as treasonous” (Source). (People of today should take note of this.)

Back at Mount Vernon, Washington barely enjoy three years of real retirement. On December 14, 1799, he died of throat infection. In his will, he mandated that all his slaves should be set free.

The first President was dead and the nation would spend months mourning his passing.

[Below: Mount Vernon]

Image result for vernon house


Mini-Series: George Washington (84) & The Forging of a Nation (86)

Freidel, Frank. “George Washington: First President (1789-1797).” Our Country’s Presidents. New York: National Geographic Society, 1981, pp. 12-23.

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Revolutionary War History Intro

Our Revolutionary War History logo was designed with the intent to remind people what our founding fathers were willing to sacrifice to gain freedom from England. Just by singing the Declaration of Independence, they could have lost everything – including their lives. 

Revolutionary War History is about remembering the importance of the events that led up to the war – such as the Boston Tea Party or the Stamp Act. It is about why these men fought against the tyranny of the Crown. They wanted independence to govern themselves; they believed that they could successfully govern themselves. They had a better idea of their needs than England did.

Revolutionary War History is also about the heroes of the Revolutionary War war, our founding fathers. Men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, and so many others. Even after the war, they struggled to find the best way to form our government, set with checks and balances to keep the president (or any other individual or branch) from gaining too much power.

The Liberty Bell has become a national memorial to these men and these events. It’s time to remember why they fought. This is the story of how our country was founded. This is the story of our ancestors. We are their children – the proper heirs to a great government. In the words of President Trump (and Reagan): It’s time to Make America Great Again!

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