HISTORY OF FRENCH FRIES: NATIONAL FRENCH FRY DAY
Today is National French Fry Day. While no one knows who began this celebration, placing in on July 13 is significant in that the most important French holiday is the next day, July 14 for Bastille Day.
Some French people might call the delectable potato confection Belgian Fries, and there is evidence that they may have originated there. However, due to the last year’s defeat of the Belgians to the French at the World Cup games, I cannot find any French people who will give any credit to the Belgians on these historical facts. A Belgian journalist claims that a 1781 family manuscript tells of deep-fried potatoes in the Spanish-Netherlands (now Belgium) before the 1680s. The fact that potatoes did not arrive in that area until around 1735 makes this a hot potato. Eating potatoes for food was popularized in France by King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who wore potato blossoms in their buttonholes and hair. (more…)
HISTORY OF JOHN CALVIN
On July 10, 1509, in Noyon, France was born Jean Cauvin, known to us as John Calvin. Of all the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, none were as significant in forming biblical theology or ecclesiastic thought as this one man. Calvin’s teaching and tradition penetrated more of the world than any of the other Protestant traditions. He would most influence the worldview of Western Europe, the UK, and the Americas up until the Modern period of history. His organization of the church government in Geneva would influence the church polity of Presbyterianism.
Influence on America
Many of the ideas incorporated into the American Constitution were done so by men inspired by John Calvin who had a healthy view of the depravity of man, the need for checks-and-balances in government, the division of powers, and provision for the rightful and orderly succession of rulers. Founding Father James Madison was strongly influenced by Reverend John Witherspoon, the only clergy signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Witherspoon was a descendant of the Scottish Reformer John Knox. Knox, once chaplain to the English King Edward VI, subsequently became a student of Calvin’s in Geneva, calling it:
“the most perfect school of Christ since the days of the Apostles.”
Witherspoon had been president of the Presbyterian school Princeton (known at that time as the College of New Jersey), and Madison spent an additional year after graduating studying Hebrew and political philosophy under Witherspoon. (more…)
HISTORY OF JAMES MADISON
James Madison has correctly been called “the Father of the Constitution,” and one might think that the Constitution went into effect on July 5, 1776, but this is not how it happened. The American Constitution didn’t go into effect until almost a decade and a half after the Declaration of Independence. How did this philosopher, diplomat, and Founding Father influence this? (more…)
We know this polymath as a writer, publisher, printer, merchant, scientist, moral philosopher, international diplomat, and inventor. Musically he invented the glass harmonica, but he also invented the Franklin stove and started the first lending library and fire brigade in Philadelphia.
He did experiments in electricity and developed the lightning rod.
Born on January 17, 1706*, in Boston, he was one of the earliest and oldest of the American Founding Fathers. He served as a lobbyist to England, was first Ambassador to France, and has been called “The First American.”
HISTORY OF THE 4TH OF JULY: JOHN ADAMS
Before John Adams became the first Vice President of the United States under George Washington, second President of the United States, the first resident of the White House, and writer of the Massachusetts State Constitution he had a role during the Revolutionary War period as one of the creators of the Declaration of Independence.
Committee of Five
“The Third President is the Muse of American life, the chief articulator of our national value system and our national self-identity. Jefferson was a man of almost unbelievable achievement: statesman, man of letters, architect, scientist, book collector, political strategist, and utopian visionary. But he is also a man of paradox: liberty-loving slaveholder, Indian-loving relocationist, publicly frugal and privately bankrupt, a constitutional conservative who bought the Louisiana Territory in 1803.”
HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE DAY
Independence Day or the Fourth of July celebrates the adoption by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, of the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming the severance of the allegiance of the American colonies to Great Britain. It is the greatest secular holiday in the United States, observed in all the states, territories, and dependencies.
Although it is assumed that the Continental Congress unanimously signed the document on the 4th of July, in fact not all delegates were present, and there were no signers at all. Here is what really happened.
As the US will soon celebrate their Independence Day, Canadians have a celebration of their own. Canada Day (Fête du Canada) celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the three independent colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into a single dominion. On that date the British North American Act, known today as the Constitution Act, officially confederated Canada. While it was still a subject of the British Empire, Dominion Day as it was originally called (or Le Jour de la Confederation in French) marked this new beginning. It was renamed to Canada Day in 1982.
Canada Day is called “the birthday of Canada” but differs from the U.S. holiday in that it did not become separate from the British Empire until 1982 when it gained complete independence with the Constitution Act of 1982. And they didn’t have to fight a Revolutionary War. Nevertheless, Canada still enjoys its status in the British Commonwealth as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with the British Queen as head of state. So they get a Queen and live in the New World, something that U.S. envies. We have created in her place a synthetic royalty: Hollywood stars.
HISTORY OF JULY
The month of July was renamed for Julius Caesar, who was born in that month. Before that, it was called Quintilis in Latin meaning the fifth month in the ancient Roman calendar. This was before January became the first month of the calendar year about the year 450 BC. We currently use the more recent Gregorian calendar — recent as in AD 1582 — which makes use of Anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord” counting from the birth of Jesus. As we’ve previously discussed, in this calendar Jesus was born curiously 4 to 6 years BC or “Before Christ.”
The Gregorian calendar was a reform of the Julian calendar which was itself a reform of the previous Roman calendar. The Julian calendar was introduced by Julius Caesar himself in 46 BC, where he added — probably after returning from an African military campaign in late Quntilis (July) — an additional 67 days by putting two intercalary months between November and December, as Cicero tells us at the time. This took care of some of the leap year problems. The Romans, after his death, renamed Quintilis to Iulius (July) in honor of his birth month.