History Articles

History of the American Experiment: A Democracy or A Republic?

July 4, 2022 /
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Self-government

HISTORY OF THE UNIQUE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT: A DEMOCRACY OR A REPUBLIC?

Since 1776, our 246-year experiment with non-monarchical government is rather unique in history. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 officially ended the War of the American Revolution against the colonial power that had previously ruled us, Great Britain. King George III of Great Britain had the most powerful army and navy in the world, but the American Colonies threw off British control through several battles, starting in 1775.

Congress had authorized George Washington to create a Continental Army. In time, the American Revolutionary War would gain the country’s independence.

But was the country’s government going to be a democracy or a republic?

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History of Independence Day: Was the Declaration of Independence really signed on July 4, 1776?

July 4, 2022 /
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Declaration of IndependenceHISTORY 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 actually happened. (more…)

History of Alexander Hamilton

July 3, 2022 /
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Alexander HamiltonHISTORY OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON

Alexander Hamilton has gained new popularity in recent years, in large part due to the 2015 Broadway musical “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

What’s the real story behind this enigmatic Founding Father?

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History of James Madison

July 3, 2022 /
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James MadisonHISTORY OF JAMES MADISON

Among the Founding Fathers, James Madison has justly 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.

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?

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History of Ben Franklin: The Original Founding Father?

July 2, 2022 /
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Ben FranklinHISTORY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

We know this polymath as a writer, publisher, printer, merchant, scientist, moral philosopher, international diplomat, and inventor.

He invented the glass harmonica in music, 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. He was considered:

America’s best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical, though not most profound, political thinkers. — Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

 

Ben Franklin in America

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.”

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History of John Adams

July 2, 2022 /
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John AdamsHISTORY 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.

 

John Adams and the Committee of Five

He was on the Committee of Five who wrote the Declaration of Independence. At the age of 40 he was more senior than the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson, but realized that Jefferson was the more eloquent writer.

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History of the 4th of July: Thomas Jefferson

July 2, 2022 /
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Thomas JeffersonHISTORY OF THE 4th OF JULY: THOMAS JEFFERSON

Perhaps no one person is more associated with the 4th of July in American History than Thomas Jefferson, probably because it was his hand that penned the immortal Declaration of Independence.

As my friend Clay Jenkinson — who has been portraying Jefferson for over 20 years — says in his book Thomas Jefferson: The Man of Light:

“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.”

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History of Canada Day

July 1, 2022 /
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Canada 150HISTORY OF CANADA DAY

As the U.S. will soon celebrate its Independence Day, Canadians have a celebration of their own. Canada Day (Fête du Canada) marks the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the three independent colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, were united into a single dominion.

The British North American Act, known today as the Constitution Act, officially confederated Canada on that date. 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: Birthday of Canada?

Canada Day is called “the birthday of Canada” but differs from the U.S. holiday. 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.

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.

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History of July: Where Do We Get That Name?

July 1, 2022 /
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July

Gaius Julius Caesar

HISTORY OF JULY

July was renamed for Julius Caesar, who was born that month. Before that, it was called Quintilis in Latin, meaning the fifth month in the ancient Roman calendar. But Marc Anthony changed the name to July after Caesar’s assassination. This was before January became the first month of the calendar year, either under ancient rulers Numa or under the Decemvirs about 450 BC (Roman historians differ). We currently use the more contemporary Gregorian calendar — recent, as in since AD 1582. It uses Anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord,” counting from the birth of Jesus. As we’ve previously discussed, in this calendar curiously, Jesus was born 4 to 6 years BC or “Before Christ.”

 

Calendar and Julius

July

Julian calendar in stone

The Gregorian calendar was a reform of the Julian calendar, which was a reform of the previous Roman calendar.

Julius Caesar himself introduced the Julian Calendar in 46 BC, where he added 67 additional days by putting two intercalary months between November and December, He probably did this after returning from an African military campaign in late Quntilis (July), according to Cicero. This took care of some of the leap year problems.

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History of All You Need Is Love, by The Beatles

June 25, 2022 /
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All You Need Is LoveHISTORY OF ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, BY THE BEATLES

On June 25, 1967, The Beatles released the song “All You Need Is Love.”

At that time, they participated in the Our World TV show, which used the recently constructed communication satellite system and broadcast their performance across the globe. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said later,

“It was the first worldwide satellite broadcast ever,”

 

Impact of All You Need Is Love

With “All You Need Is Love,” the Beatles released the anthem of flower power — during the Summer of Love — as I’ve written previously about the prominence that summer of their recently released album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Global_Beatles_Day_promotional_posterIt was broadcast live on TV in 24 countries to over 400 million viewers. The single was later included in the U.S. version of the album Magical Mystery Tour, and in the animated movie Yellow Submarine. Since 2009,  Global Beatles Day, an international celebration of the Beatles’ music and social message, takes place on June 25 each year in tribute.

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History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 4, Rock & Roll

June 25, 2022 /
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Rock & RollHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: PART 4, ROCK & ROLL

 

It was twenty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile

 

Rock & Roll in the late ’60s was exemplified when The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the U.S. on June 2, 1967. It was released in the U.K. the day before. No other rock & roll album defined the soundtrack of the Summer of Love better than Sgt. Pepper. It captured the fantasy, psychedelics, love, and drugs of 1967. Especially with the last song, “A Day In The Life,” which urged

I’d love to turn you on.”

In 1967 I was on a school field trip to San Francisco. Directly across the street from Ghirardelli Square was a record store where I bought my copy of Sgt. Pepper. It felt almost scandalous to bring it home to my small town because “everyone knows it’s all about drugs,” or so people thought. I did now know it at the time, but that was not entirely incorrect, as we’ll see.

Five years ago, the six-disc boxed set 50th Anniversary (Remix) Edition of Sgt. Pepper was released by Giles Martin, the son of the original Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin.

In this, the final article in the series on the 55th anniversary of the Summer of Love, I’ll discuss the significance of Sgt. Pepper as it kicked off that iconic summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

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History of St. John the Baptist Day

June 24, 2022 /
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St John the BaptistHISTORY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST DAY

The Feast of St. John the Baptist, or the Nativity of St John the Forerunner, sometimes called St. John the Baptist Day, is celebrated on June 24 in many places around the world, though not much in the United States, as we’ll see below.

Celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist goes back at least a millennium and a half. The Council of Agde mentions the feast in 506 AD in its list of festivals. Most saints’ festivals are tied to their death, but John’s is an exception, being connected to his birth.

This famous painting of John the Baptist at left by Leonardo da Vinci, believed to be his last painting, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

 

Who was St John the Baptist?

John the BaptistJohn the Baptizer (he wasn’t a member of the Baptist denomination) was a contemporary of Jesus and the son of Jesus’ mother’s sister Elizabeth, making him Jesus’ cousin. As John grew up, he became a prophet in the tradition of Old Testament prophets. No prophet had been recorded since the time of Malachi some 400 years earlier, at the end of the Old Testament canon. His ministry attracted large crowds, and his message, in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, was:

“Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

He operated along the Jordan River in the province of Judea some 2,000 years ago. When people responded to his call for repentance, he baptized them at the Jordan River. (more…)