George Washington Invisible hand angle

On this day in 1775, the second Continental Congress unanimously selects George Washington as first Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. Thankfully for all Americans then, and ever since, he accepted the appointment.

What follows is an excerpt of a letter he wrote to his wife, Martha, shortly thereafter; he wrote:
“[I]t was utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment without exposing my Character to such censures as would have reflected dishonour upon myself, and given pain to my friends – this, I am sure could not, and ought not be pleasing to you, & must have lessened me considerably in my own esteem. I shall rely therefore, confidently, on that Providence which has heretofore preservd, & been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you in the fall…” (emphasis added)

Another acknowledgement

Of course, Washington eventually became the first president of the United States.

Finally, a sentiment similar to the letter above, from his first inaugural address, inspired Our “George Washington Invisible Hand” t-shirt design:
“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.

Though invisible, clearly he saw its guiding influence in his own life and in the birth of America.

Find your shirt, HERE.

George Washington t-shirt

Benjamin Franklin t-shirt

On this day in 1787, delegates from every state except Rhode Island convened (appropriately) in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention.

The delegates met at what we now know as Independence Hall in order to compose the U.S. Constitution. That very building had earlier seen the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the signing of the Articles of Confederation.

Virginia delegate and Revolutionary War hero George Washington was elected convention president.  In 1789, the U.S. Constitution became the law of the land.

The Affairs of Men

At the Convention, an 81 year old Benjamin Franklin, a delegate of Pennsylvania, appealed for prayers:

“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?”

So, that quote, and his own sketch of the bifocals he invented, inspired the artwork for Our Benjamin Franklin “See… God Governs” t-shirt:

Benjamin Franklin “See… God Governs” a quote from the Constitutional Convention

Get yours in Our Shop, HERE.

 

John Hancock Proclamation
Josiah Bartlett

On this day in 1795, Josiah Bartlett dies. Bartlett was a New Hampshire Patriot, and most notably a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. He was also Governor of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Supreme Court chief justice.

“That He would inspire…”

Below is an excerpt from A PROCLAMATION, For A Public THANKSGIVING Josiah Bartlett gave on October 5, 1793. That proclamation declared November 21, 1793 to be a day of Public Thanksgiving:

“That it would please Him still to have these United States under His Holy protection and guidance – that He would inspire those who have the management of all our public affairs with all that wisdom, prudence and integrity that is necessary to the faithful discharge of their important trusts, that all their determinations may tend to promote the real happiness and prosperity of this great and rising Republic, and that all people may be disposed to afflict in carrying such determinations into effect.”

Josiah Bartlett

 

 

 

Josiah Bartlett signature

Benjamin Franklin Epitaph

On this day in 1790, preeminent Founding Father, and “The First American,” Benjamin Franklin dies at age 84 in his adopted home of Philadelphia.

Franklin served as a legislator in Pennsylvania, as a diplomat in England and France, and this prolific patriot (who was also a printer, scientist, statesman, etc.) is the only person to have signed the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783) and the U.S. Constitution (1787).

Even in his early twenties, his wit and wisdom was on full display. For today’s post, it’s especially noteworthy that in 1728 he wrote his own epitaph, revising and sharing it with friends throughout his life. Here is one such version, with a copy below:

The Body of Ben Franklin Printer,
Like the Cover of an old Book
Its contents torn out
And stript of its Lettering & Gilding,
Lies here Food for the Worms,
yet the Work shall not be lost:
For it will, as he believed, appear once more
In a new & most beautiful Edition,
Corrected and amended by the Author.

Benjamin Franklin Epitaph

Benjamin Franklin “lived a long time…”

At age 81, as the elder statesman at the Constitution Convention in his adopted home, Franklin urged the Assembly toward morning “prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on [their] deliberations.” In so doing, he made this famous quote, which inspired Our Benjamin Franklin shirt:

Jefferson Memorial with Cherry Blossoms

On this day in 1743, preeminent Founding Father Thomas Jefferson is born. That is, “created equal.”
Jefferson was the governor of Virginia, and drafter of the Declaration of Independence. He served as secretary of state under President George Washington, as U.S. minister to France, and as vice president under John Adams, He was the third president of the United States, founder the University of Virginia.

Read these compelling quotes found on the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“…I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.”

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

Thomas Jefferson Memorial with Cherry Blossoms
Of note: In Jefferson’s time “establishment” meant mandatory membership, mandatory attendance, mandatory taxes to support it. Furthermore, no one could hold public office unless he was a member.
Also, “separation of church and state” does not appear in any of our founding documents.

 

Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg

On this day in 1789, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg is elected as the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, from 1789-1791.

Two years later, he was also the third Speaker of the House (1793-1795). In total, he served in the House from 1789 to 1797.

Then, he was a member of the Continental Congress in 1779 and 1780. He followed that by serving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1780 to 1783.

Later, he presided over the Pennsylvania ratifying convention of 1787 for the U.S. Constitution.

Finally, he was the first signer of the Bill of Rights. The second was John Adams.

Before all of that, Frederick Muhlenberg was a Lutheran pastor.

Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg First Speaker of the House

 

Thomas Jefferson Summary View

On this day in 1775, Thomas Jefferson is elected to the second Continental Congress.

Jefferson originally established himself in the first Continental Congress with a tract entitled “Summary View of the Rights of British America.”

Inkling of Independence

Here are two excerpts from his “Summary”:

“[P]ropose to the said congress that an humble and dutiful address be presented to his majesty, begging leave to lay before him, as chief magistrate of the British empire, the united complaints of his majesty’s subjects in America; complaints which are excited by many unwarrantable encroachments and usurpations, attempted to be made by the legislature of one part of the empire, upon those rights which God and the laws have given equally and independently to all.”

“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. This, sire, is our last, our determined resolution; and that you will be pleased to interpose with that efficacy which your earnest endeavours may ensure to procure redress of these our great grievances, to quiet the minds of your subjects in British America, against any apprehensions of future encroachment, to establish fraternal love and harmony through the whole empire, and that these may continue to the latest ages of time, is the fervent prayer of all British America!”

Rights Reverberate

Of course, in early June 1776, Congress appointed a committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and Thomas Jefferson to draft what would become the Declaration of Independence. This esteemed committee chose Jefferson to compose the most important document in the history self-government. He drafted it in just a few days, at the age of 33.

As we (should) know, this is the basis of Our Declaration:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Jefferson seemed to suggest as much in his “Summary” two years prior. As seen above, he acknowledged “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.”

 

Thomas Jefferson Summary View

Patrick Henry Give me Liberty

On this day in 1775, in a speech to the second Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry, one of the Sons of Liberty, states emphatically:

“GIVE ME LIBERTY, OR GIVE ME DEATH!”

“All that is left us…”

Some selected excerpts of that same speech:

“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!”

Which course would you choose? In what modern day “fields” do we stand idle?

Patrick Henry "Give me liberty, or give me death!"

 

President James Madison

On this day in 1751, James Madison is born in Conway, Virginia.

He was a key drafter of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well the recorder of the Constitutional Convention. Accordingly, Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.”
Furthermore, he was a key author of the Federalist Papers. Finally, Madison served two terms as the fourth President of the United States, from 1809 to 1817.

For all these towering achievements, James Madison stood at just 5′4″. I like him even more.

Divine Destiny

Here are portions of his Proclamation 20 – Recommending a Day of Public Thanksgiving for Peace from March 4, 1815:

“No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States.”

“And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.”

James Madison

On this day in 1801, Vice President Thomas Jefferson is elected the third president of the United States. His running mate and eventual opponent was the infamous Aaron Burr. A tie vote in the Electoral College and 35 indecisive ballot votes in the House of Representatives preceded Jefferson’s election.

“With all these blessings”

Thus, Thomas Jefferson shared this at his first inaugural address on March 4, 1801

“Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own Federal and Republican principles, our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter — with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens — a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”

 

Thomas Jefferson first Inaugural AddressThomas Jefferson inaugural address 2