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. His theology would influence the Congregational (Puritan) as well as German and Dutch Reformed Churches. Some Baptists and Unitarians, though they did not fellowship with Calvinistic churches, often contained aspects of his theology.
Influence on America
Many of the ideas incorporated into the American Constitution were done so by men inspired by John Calvin. He 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
In this, the last of our articles on the Founding Fathers, we look at James Madison. He has correctly been called “the Father of the Constitution,” and one might think that the Constitution became active on July 5, 1776, but this is not how it happened.
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 most significant 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, contrary to the theatrical musical 1776. Here is what really happened.
HISTORY OF HAMILTON – THE MUSICAL
Hamilton – The Musical, how accurate historically is the recent Broadway blockbuster, currently available on Disney+ TV? It’s based on the 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, but does Hamilton – The Musical compare favorably to the actual history?
As an aficionado of musical theatre — I see as many shows as I can whenever I visit New York or London — I must say it was stunning. I saw it live last summer at the Richard Rodgers Theater in NYC. It is indeed a contemporary American Musical and an especially New York City one (Hamilton lived in NYC.)
How can you argue with a Pulitzer Prize–winning, 11 Tony Award-winning, three-time Grammy Award-winning, Emmy–winning writer, producer, director, conductor, singer, and actor like Lin-Manuel Miranda?
It’s got it all: hip-hop, jazz, R&B, Britpop (King George III), American musical theatre (think, Music Man), and numerous showstoppers throughout the show. It was clever and witty, self-conscious, and funny. There were plays on words and literary, historical, musical theatre, and biblical references. It was immensely entertaining. (more…)
HISTORY OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON
Alexander Hamilton has gained new popularity recently, in large part due to the 2015 Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Birth of Alexander Hamilton
He was born in Charlestown, Nevis, in the Caribbean, out of wedlock to Rachel Faucette, of British & French Huguenot descent. She had been married to and had a son with Johann Michael Lavien when she fell in love with the Scottish James Hamilton. She left her husband and their son and moved in with Hamilton, where she lived with him in Nevis and on St. Croix. Alexander took his natural father’s surname.
His Scottish father, though he owned his paternity of Alexander, had abandoned them when Alexander was around ten when he’d learned her original husband intended to divorce her on the grounds of “adultery and desertion,” hoping to “spare her the charge of bigamy.” His mother ran a small provisions shop, operated by the five female slaves she owned. When she died of yellow fever when he was 13, she left him 34 books, and he was mostly self-educated. (more…)
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.
Birthday of Canada?
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 a constitutional monarchy, with the British Queen as head of state. So they get a Queen and live in the New World, something that the U.S. envies. We have created in her place a synthetic royalty: Hollywood movie 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 contemporary 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.