Benjamin Franklin Join or Die

On this day in 1754, the first American newspaper political cartoon was published in the Benjamin Franklin owned Pennsylvania Gazette. The illustration showed a snake cut into sections, each representing an American colony with the caption, “JOIN, or DIE.”

Benjamin Franklin Join or Die

Franklin originally designed the cartoon and text to unite the colonies against the French in the French and Indian War.

In 1765, American colonists began to use it to unite the colonies against the British.

What meaning would you ascribe to it today?

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia, an 81 year old Benjamin Franklin united the Founders behind prayer, with this quote that inspired Our shirt below:

“I have lived a long time, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

Benjamin Franklin "See... God governs" t-shirt

On this day in 1758, the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe is born in Virginia. Monroe was the first United States Senator to be elected President.

He was a contemporary of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. As such, he was the last American revolutionary to become president. What follows are a few remarks from both inaugural addresses of James Monroe, in 1817 and 1821 respectively.

Fervent Prayers

1817

“If we persevere in the career in which we have advanced so far and in the path already traced, we can not fail, under the favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which seems to await us.”

“Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of the Government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow-citizens with my fervent prayers to the Almighty that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection which He has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor.”

1821

“it is obvious that other powerful causes, indicating the great strength and stability of our Union, have essentially contributed to draw you together. That these powerful causes exist, and that they are permanent, is my fixed opinion; that they may produce a like accord in all questions touching, however remotely, the liberty, prosperity, and happiness of our country will always be the object of my most fervent prayers to the Supreme Author of All Good.”

Firm Reliance

“With full confidence in the continuance of that candor and generous indulgence from my fellow-citizens at large which I have heretofore experienced, and with a firm reliance on the protection of Almighty God, I shall forthwith commence the duties of the high trust to which you have called me.”

James Monroe White House portrait 1819

 

US Constitution

On this day in 1770, protesting colonists and occupying British soldiers clash in what we know as the Boston Massacre. This event is widely seen as the start of the American Revolution. It is also why we learn the name of African-American sailor Crispus Attucks, likely the first man to fall.

The British soldiers go on trial, though John Adams (born near Boston) and Josiah Quincy, Jr. (born in Boston) agree to defend them, demonstrating support for the colonial justice system. Then, upon conclusion of the trial in December 1770, the jury found just two of the eight British soldiers guilty of manslaughter.

In fact, the Algeron Sidney quote Adams used in closing his defense speech at the trial seems foundational to the Adams quote in second half of this post:
“The law, (says he,) no passion can disturb. Tis void of desire and fear, lust and anger. ‘Tis mens sine affectu; written reason; retaining some measure of the divine perfection.”

By Design

On March 4, 1789 government under the U.S. Constitution begins with the first session of Congress, held, at that time, in New York City.

Almost emblematic of the purpose Our Lost Founding, there is a connection here, despite the number of years between these events, but due to the consecutive dates:

John Adams, one of the aforementioned defense lawyers, Founding Father, the second president, etc., said this of Our Constitution in October of 1789 :

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (emphasis added)

So, the answer to the question in the title of this post is, frankly, quite a bit. Furthermore, that might explain a lot of the problems we experience in Our country today. Finally, it underscores the critical importance of rediscovering our lost founding.

Our Constitution

 

Richard Montgomery First National Memorial

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress authorizes the first national memorial of the Revolutionary War, in honor of Brigadier General Richard Montgomery. He was killed during in Quebec on December 31, 1775, where he was initially interred.

The monument, as seen below, is the first ever commissioned by the United States. Benjamin Franklin hired French sculptor Jean Jacques Caffieri to design and build the Montgomery memorial. Eventually, in 1787, it was installed in the front of St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan, where it remains today. Then, Montgomery’s remains were moved to St. Paul’s in 1818.

Interestingly, St. Paul’s was George Washington’s church during his time in New York as the United States’ first president in 1789.

The first memorial and the first president

So, the first memorial in the history of the United States was given a prominent place in a culturally and architecturally significant gathering place in New York City. Also, it’s where Our first president went to church.

Richard Montgomery First National Memorial

Emanuel Leutze George Washington Crossing the Delaware

On December 26, 1776, General George Washington and 2,400 soldiers successfully cross the icy Delaware River just before dawn.

Perhaps unrealistic, they appear rather heroic as depicted by Emanuel Leutze in his famous 1851 painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware. Even so, the actual circumstances surrounding the iconic crossing further enhance their heroism.

Unfavorable Conditions

Christmas night, Washington’s army began preparations for a ‘surprise attack’ on the Hessian troops at their Trenton, New Jersey camp. His plan called for three separate divisions embarking on three different crossings of the river. The cold rain that accompanied them on their march to the launch points became a blustery snowstorm. As a result, only Washington’s division made it across. Worse yet, they were three hours behind schedule, endangering the entire mission.

Additionally, spies and deserters passed along advance warning to the Hessians, mitigating the crucial element of surprise. Thankfully, a Christmastime attack in a winter storm seemed unlikely.

Despite all of this, Washington remained “determined to push on at all Events.”
The pursuant victory provided a much needed morale boost for the soldiers and colonists alike.

Favorable Interpositions

Events such as these are indicative of the “signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war,” as President Washington wrote in his 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation.

Clearly, he believed God was with them.

This belief is also evident in the following quote from his Inaugural Address, which inspired Our shirt, found HERE:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the United States.”

Emanuel Leutze George Washington Crossing the Delaware

 

George Washington Valley Forge Resignation Speech

On this day in 1777, commander of the Continental Army George Washington leads 11,000 soldiers into Valley Forge, Pennsylvania for their winter encampment.

Though named for an iron forge on Valley Creek in Whitemarsh, the name Valley Forge is symbolically significant.

Valley

Washington and his army were most certainly at a low point. They had lost the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Philadelphia that year. His army was tired, cold, and they lacked proper equipment, nourishment, and training.

More than 2,500 of those soldiers would be dead before spring.

Washington himself faced criticism ranging from incompetence to dictatorial ambitions from both congress and his subordinate generals.

Forge

On June 19, the Continental Army marched out of Valley Forge disciplined, organized, better equipped, and exhibiting esprit de corps. Nine days later they forced a British retreat at the Battle of Monmouth. We know the rest.

Through all this, we have the legend of “The Prayer at Valley Forge,”  which is also the name of the famous painting by Arnold Friberg that inspired the silhouette of Our “George Washington… Invisible Hand” t-shirt, HERE in Our shop.

Though impossible to prove or disprove, and although we will not, in our earthly lives, hear the words of Washington’s presumed prayer, we do have other words from Washington that suggest he would “fervently beseech… blessings” of “the great Ruler of nations.”

First, here is just ONE of his Proclamations for “a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.”

Next, the quote from his Inaugural Address that inspired Our shirt:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the United States.” 

Finally, a portion of his Resignation Speech given on December 23, 1783, peaked by “gratitude for the interposition of Providence:

“I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my Official life, by commending the Interests of our dearest Country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.”

As we know, that would not be the end of his “Official life.”

George Washington Valley Forge Resignation Speech

Benjamin Franklin See... God governs

On this day in 1776, London’s St. James Chronicle announces that “The very identical Dr. Franklyn [Benjamin Franklin], whom Lord Chatham so much caressed, and used to say he was proud in calling his friend, is now at the head of the rebellion in North America.”

This confirmed Franklin’s position as an American leader, and he was instrumental in securing an the crucial alliance with France.

Cleverly crafting an argument for ratification of the newly written Constitution, Franklin wrote “A Comparison of the Conduct of the ancient JEWS, and of the ANTIFEDERALISTS in the United States of AMERICA.”  He concluded it with this paragraph:

“I beg I may not be understood to infer, that our general convention was divinely inspired when it formed the new federal constitution, merely because that constitution has been unreasonably and vehemently opposed: yet, I must own, I have so much faith in the general government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a transaction of such momentous importance to the welfare of millions now existing, and to exist in the posterity of a great nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenced, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior spirits live, and move, and have their being.”

“Convincing Proofs”

He did “own” it. After all, it was Franklin who, in 1787, urged the Assembly at the Constitutional Convention toward morning “prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on [their] deliberations.” In so doing, he made this famous quote:

“I have lived a long time, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

Might we suggest that you “own” Our shirt commemorating that quote:

Benjamin Franklin See

Benjamin Franklin United States seal

Let’s explore a couple Exodus examples from Our Lost Founding…

Command

First, below you’ll see Benjamin Franklin’s handwritten description (and transcription) of his Great Seal design suggestion from 1776. It describes the climactic events from the book of Exodus in the Bible; following the departure of Moses and the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the once-parted Red Sea swallows up Pharaoh and his army.

This scene clearly speaks the motto “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God” which Thomas Jefferson adopted for use in his own personal seal. That motto and his seal inspired Our TJ t-shirt.

Benjamin Frankin Seal design description

Benjamin Franklin seal design Exodus

Commandments

Later in Exodus, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from the finger of God on two stone tablet atop Mount Sinai. Those tablets are represented on the chamber doors of the Supreme Court as well as on the floor of the National Archives, as seen below.

 

Ten commandments supreme court chamber

US Capitol Cornerstone Ceremony 1793

On this day in 1790, Congress declares a site on the Potomac River to be the nation’s new permanent capital. We know it as Washington, D.C. Originally, George Washington selected the site.

Then, in 1793, George Washington lays the cornerstone of the Capitol building. An engraved silver plate commemorates the occasion with this inscription:

“This South East corner Stone, of the Capitol of the United States of America in the City of Washington, was laid on the 18th day of September 1793, in the thirteenth year of American Independence, in the first year of the second term of the Presidency of George Washington, whose virtues in the civil administration of his country have been as conspicuous and beneficial, as his Military valor and prudence have been useful in establishing her liberties, and in the year of Masonry 5793, by the Grand Lodge of Maryland, several Lodges under its jurisdiction, and Lodge No. 22, from Alexandria, Virginia.”

Foundational

“The year of Masonry 5793” is equivalent to the Gregorian year plus 4,000 because the ceremonial Masonic dating system of A.L., Anno Lucis, Latin for ‘year of light,’ like Anno Mundi, coincides with the estimated year of creation (around 4,000 B.C). Of course, the biblical account in Genesis 1:3 states: “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

Also, the ceremonial foundation stone of the National Cathedral consists of a small stone from a field next to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem set into a slab of American granite. That church that is believed to mark the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.

Capitol Cornerstone Ceremony 1793, Washington

 

Patrick Henry Give me Liberty

On this day in 1736, Patrick Henry is born in Studley, Virginia. As the defense lawyer in the Parsons’ Cause trial in 1763, he crafted an eloquent defense based on the doctrine of natural rights, predating the Declaration of Independence by over a decade.  In addition, Patrick Henry was the first elected governor of Virginia, and a delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congress.

However, he is most well-known for saying: “GIVE ME LIBERTY, OR GIVE ME DEATH!”

Is life so dear…?

Here are selected excerpts of that same speech from March 23, 1775 at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Viriginia:

“Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings… .”

“If we wish to be free…we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!”

“Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations.”

“Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

 

Patrick Henry Give me Liberty

George Washington Invisible hand angle

On this day in 1780, the Americans suffer their worst defeat of the revolution, with the unconditional surrender of Major General Benjamin Lincoln to British Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton and his army at Charleston, South Carolina.

Interestingly, after having surrendered to the British at Charleston, Major General Lincoln was the one accepted Cornwallis’ ceremonial surrender to General George Washington at Yorktown on October 20.

This is yet another example of the faith found in General Washington’s quote from his first inaugural address, and the inspiration of Our George Washington “Invisible Hand” t-shirt:

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible had which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.”