19 December 2012

America has never been a "Christian Nation"


Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.” – Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1791)

Christians are no more persecuted in America than strictly observant Shia Muslims loyal to “the system” are in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Christians here who complain that they are being persecuted are like the slave owners, and wannabe slave-owners, in the antebellum Old South who constantly complained that their rights were being violated by those who wanted to abolish slavery, or their Jim Crow successors who complained in the mid-20th century that their rights were being violated because they couldn’t discriminate against African-Americans.

The Treaty of Tripoli

Much has been made by both sides of Article 11 in the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli between the new United States of America and the Bey of Tripolitania (essentially Libya) that, “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”  The treaty was negotiated by Consul-General John Barlow with full authority from President Washington, a fact with which then Vice President and later President Adams was completely aware and in full agreement. 

It is irrelevant to the mind of Congress and of the President at the time of its passage that this treaty was later superceded by another and that the English translation of the Arabic original may not have been the best.  The word-for-word accuracy of Consul-General John Barlow’s English translation of the Arabic original he himself had written does not matter.  Whether the Article 11 of his translation exists in that Arabic original is immaterial.  The one thing which does count is that Consul-General Barlow’s translation was the one presented to the Senate, read aloud in chambers to the entire body, approved unanimously, signed into law by Pres. John Adams, and published in every major newspaper in the country to little but yawns in response.

Christian Dominionists and other theocrats doth protest too much.  On the other hand, the opposing position, that the treaty and its Article 11 establish under the law that America was not founded as a “Christian Nation” is equally flawed.  And also unnecessary, since history already does that better than any single piece of legislation could do.

Religion in the English Colonies

The colonization of North America by the kingdom of England rested in the hands of two stock corporations, Plymouth Company (later succeeded by Massachusetts Bay Company) for the northern territories and London Company for the southern territories, both owned by the greater Virginia Company.  Yes, investors bought shares with money which the companies used as capital for the colonization ventures, and for one reason and one only: to make a profit.  Had not the stock companies’ capital existed and had they not expected to make more money than they had invested, none of the colonies would have been established. 

America may have been colonized by both pulpit and profit, but the latter weighed much more in importance.

True, the colony at New Plymouth counted among its founders English Separatists (Calvinists who wanted to separate completely from the Church of England), but the entrepreneurs and soldiers who were mainline Anglicans that came with them, “The Strangers” as they were called by the Separatists, made a 60% majority.  That majority was recruited and paid by the Merchant Adventurers of London.

The earlier colony at Jamestown had a religious component too, but it was mainline Church of England and its entrepreneur element was overwhelmingly dominant. 

The later colony at Massachusetts Bay established a government which restricted its electorate, and most of its profits, to the Puritan sect of the Church of England.  Puritans were Calvinists much like their Separatist cousins but considered themselves Anglicans whose duty it was to purify their church and force everyone else to worship their way.  But even there, and in its spin-offs, the profit motive trumped the desires of the pulpit.

Celebrations, even the observances of, Christmas and Easter were forbidden by law with harsh penalties attached in the colonies of New England, by the way.  The Puritans, both here and on the other side of the Great Pond, launched the original “war on Christmas”.

Besides the 19 unfortunate persons hanged, the one tortured to death because he wouldn’t make a plea, and the 50 who were thrown in prison under such harsh conditions that 5 died during the Salem witch hysteria, Massachusetts Bay Colony also persecuted Christians of other faiths, hanging 4 Quakers and imprisoning countless others.

In Puritan New England, there was no singing of anything but hymns unaccompanied by instruments, no dancing whatsoever, no toys for children and especially not dolls, no education but religious education, nothing but work and church and more work.  They did, however, drink beer and later rum in moderation, carrying over from Europe where no one in their right mind drank water (nearly all sources were polluted).  The overwhelming majority of weddings occurred because of pregnancy, but kissing one’s spouse after six months at sea in public could land a man in the stocks for three hours.

In 1775, all the southern colonies of the kingdom of Great Britain (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland) had the Church of England as their established church, while in New England were nearly all Congregational (as the Puritans had become), the one exception there being Rhode Island.  The Church of England was also established in New York, but the colony there also had a long-established tradition of tolerance for differing, including non-Christian, creeds.  Pennsylvania and Delaware had no established church; the former never had and the second had none after becoming part of Pennsylvania (it was first New Sweden, and later part of New Netherlands beforehand).

However, the basis upon which English (later British) colonies were founded and governed, including what status religion had within them, has no bearing whatsoever on the foundation of the United States of America as a separate free and independent nation.  As a matter of fact, only 7% of Americans had any church affiliation by the end of the Revolution, largely due to a lack of religious interest, particularly in orthodox denominations.  Many of the “sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-angry-God” Calvinists in the New England states had become Unitarians, Universalists, Transcendentalists, and Spiritualists, for example.

Not one of the first six U.S. Presidents was an orthodox Christian.  George Washington was a practicing Episcopalian but his personal were Deist and Freethinking and fit in with what is called the Broad Church that had existed in the Church of England (and the rest of the Anglican Communion) since the 17th century.  John Adams was a Unitarian who started as an orthodox Congregationalist.  Thomas Jefferson grew up Church of England and was technically an Episcopalian, but his own ideas were Deist and Unitarian.  James Madison and James Monroe were both Deists who attended the Episcopal Church.  John Quincy Adams was, like his father, a Unitarian.  Andrew Jackson didn’t join a church (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.) until after leaving office.

A New Order for the Ages

What is relevant in that regard is the collection of documents upon which that Nation was founded:  the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. Bill of Rights.  In not one of those documents is Christianity, or any other religion, mentioned or alluded to.  The sole one of those four in which “God” is mentioned (Declaration of Independence) specifies “Nature’s God”, the Enlightenment concept of God held by deists and other freethinkers rather than by that of any denomination of the religion of Christianity or of any other religion.

In establishing a “New Order for the Ages” (Novus Ordo Seclorum; one of the three mottos on the Great Seal adopted in 1782), the Founding Fathers rejected the hereditary monarchy and both its Lords Spiritual (religious prelates) and Lords Temporal (hereditary nobility).  If they saw themselves as a light shining on a hill, it was as the light of reason in a New Rome.

Indeed, when seeking a location for a national capital, they seized upon the community of Rome, Virginia, with seven hills and a river named Tiber.  The Mall between the Capitol and the White House was consciously built in imitation of the Roman Forum.  In the Capitol itself, an eternal flame burned in the basement could be viewed through a large circular hole with a rail in the ground floor until the mid-19th century.  The first Congress convened on 25 December 1789, Christmas Day.  Mail ran seven days a week, including Sundays.

The earliest document, the Declaration of Independence of 1776, contains, as stated before, a reference to “Nature’s God”, which is specifically a freethinking deistic concept of God.  There is also a mention of “trusting in Divine Providence”, another deist concept.  But it does need to be highlighted that the Declaration of Independence is not law.

The Articles of Confederation of 1781, which preceded the Constitution, contained nothing about religion at all, being too short. 

It was, however, the Congress of the Confederation which in 1782 adopted the Great Seal of the United States which remains today.  On its obverse (front) side is a bald eagle with an olive branch in its right claw and arrows in its left, with a banner in its beak which reads “E pluribus unum”, or “From many one”.  That was the design and motto proposed.  The originally proposed design for the reverse, the Eye of Providence over a thirteen-level pyramid, was also retained but its mottoes were changed.  “Deo favente” (God favors) became  “Annuit coeptis” (He approves) and “Perennis” (Everlasting) was  discarded in favor of “Novus ordo seclorum” (New order for the ages).  Less religious theism in favor of more Enlightenment.

Despite what Christian Dominionists and other theocrats who advocate that America abandon its founding principles in order to erect a so-called “Christian Nation” mirroring the Islamic Republic of Iran in all but name on the ashes of the Constitution claim, nothing in the original Constitution of the United States of America of 1789 mentions religion, except to forbid religious tests for office or public trust.  Those who claim that Article 1 sets a provision for chaplains in one or both houses of Congress have either not read the document or are outright lying.  While some might call the latter a “pious fraud”, it is nevertheless bearing a false witness and therefore not simply lacking in piety but an affront to it.

The Bill of Rights of 1791, in its Article 1 (aka First Amendment or Article 8 of the Constitution), guarantees freedom of religion and forbids the establishment of religion.  Neither of those are provisions which would be welcome to the government of the current Islamic Republic of Iran, though I know that many of its citizens, especially the sincerely religious, devoutly wish to be governed under those standards.

Of course, the Bill of Rights only applies to the government of the United States of America, but the 14th Amendment to the Constitution (aka Article 22) of 1868 guaranteed the rights of citizens of the United States to every citizen of each of its constituent states and territories.  However, Thomas Jefferson oft-debated letter indicates the founders probably intended those rights to extend to citizens of states as well as of the nation.

Wall of Separation

 The phrase “wall of separation between church and state” as it is used in current American legislation and jurisprudence comes directly from the 1802 letter of then President Thomas Jefferson to the head of the Danbury Baptist Association in Virginia.  Unlike many of their modern incarnations, late 18th and early 19th century Baptists were absolutists on church-state separation.  The Danbury group’s fears were that Virginia was about to declare the Protestant Episcopal Church (successor to the Church of England) its established church.

To them, Jefferson replied, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Jefferson borrowed the phrase from America’s first Baptist, Roger Williams, founder of Providence Plantation, the first colony in Rhode Island.  Williams, himself a victim of religious persecution under the Puritan regime in Massachusetts Bay, stated in a 1644 book that there needed to be a “…wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world.”  In Williams’ colony, not only was tolerance for all religions law, but slavery and other obnoxious practices then current were abolished.

Regardless of where the phrase “separation of church and state” came from, however, that is the law under American jurisprudence, which follows its predecessor English common law.  In the 1947 case of Everson v. Board of Education, Justice Hugo Black writing the majority opinion for the Supreme Court included the following: “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.”

Jesus’ position

I’m going to list these quotes without comment.

“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God the things that are God’s.”

“No one can serve two masters, for either they will love one and hate the other, or they will hold to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.”

“My kingdom is not of this world.”

“The kingdom of God is inside each of you.”

“When you pray, go into your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in secret.”

Would the man who said these things be in favor of idols to the so-called “Ten Commandments” being placed in courthouses and government squares?  Would the man who said these things want prayer in his name before government meetings or public school sporting events?  Would the man who said these things wish for prayers and/or Bible readings over public school intercoms?  Would the man who said these things like to see the name of his father taken in vain with “In God we trust” emblazoned all over our currency?  Perhaps he would reply that it is emblazoned on the only God that America really trusts.

11 December 2012

Confederate surrenders

Contrary to common assumption, the American Civil War (War Between the States, War of the Rebellion, War for Southern Independence, War of Northern/Southern Aggression, War for the Union, or, to most other countries, War of the Secession) did not come to a screeching halt after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.  The Army and Navy of the Confederate States of America did not surrender all at one time, but rather in a piecemeal fashion over a widely dispersed geographic distribution, including one unit overseas.  Some units, in fact, never surrendered at all. 

The Confederate Navy was composed of ironclads, submarines, gunboats, torpedo boats, various supports ships, and a number of blockade-runners and commissioned privateers.

For most of the war, the Confederate Army was composed of three major field commands (Army of Northern Virginia, Army of Tennessee, and Army of the Trans-Mississippi), with a number of smaller independent field units such as Forrest’s Cavalry Corps (in the latter stages of the war), the Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders, and Mosby’s Partisan Rangers, and of geographic units (Division, Department, District, in decreasing order of size). 

The three field commands mentioned above were the most enduring, but several other short-lived commands designated as armies were formed at times, particularly early in the war. 

For instance, the earliest field army in the western theater was Gen. Sidney Johnson’s Army of Mississippi, which later combined with the Central Army of Kentucky (originally under Maj. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner) to become the Army of Tennessee.  Two other commands were also named Army of Mississippi, one formed around what had been Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn’s Army of West Tennessee, the other, under Maj. Gen. John C. Pemberton, later merged into the Army of Tennessee, or at least its remnants did so. 

There was also an Army of Middle Tennessee under Maj. Gen. John C. Breckenridge which became a division of Hardee’s Corps in the Army of Tennessee.  The Army of East Tennessee formed under Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith became the Army of Kentucky before merging into the Army of Tennessee after Kirby-Smith’s promotion and transfer to head the Army and Department of the Trans-Mississippi.

None of these Confederate armies of Tennessee should be confused with Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee, which was named for the river.

The surrenders of Confederate forces

The first attempt by a large field army or geographic section to try to surrender took place in the southwest.  On 11 March 1865, Brig. Gen. James Slaughter and Col. John Salmon “Rip” Ford met with Union Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace and agreed to terms of surrender for all forces in the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona that included an amnesty for former Confederates and the gradual emancipation of slaves.  Slaughter’s and Ford’s superior, Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, temporarily commanding the District in the absence of Maj. Gen. Bankhead Magruder, refused the terms, however.

On 9 April 1865, General-in-chief Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army and Department of Northern Virginia to General-of-the-Army Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.

On 12 April 1865, Brig. Gen. John Echols disbanded the Department of East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia at Christiansburg, Virginia, upon learning of Lee’s surrender through a telegram waiting for him when he mustered his forces in Christiansburg.  The command’s sixteen artillery piece carriages were cut apart, the gun barrels were spiked, and the ammunition was destroyed.  All who wished were allowed to return home.

After Echols dissolved the Department, Brig. Gen. George Cosby took his the remainder of his brigade west into Kentucky to surrender to federal authorities.  Echols led the remaining troops of Brig. Gen. Vaughn’s Brigade and Brig. Gen. Basil Duke’s Brigade, toward North Carolina hoping to link up with Gen Joe Johnston and the Army of Tennessee.  The former Department’s District of Western North Carolina remained unaffected and intact.

On 16 April 1865, the remnant force from East Tennessee-Southwest Virginia split, with some few following Brig. Gen. Echols toward the Army of Tennessee and the remaining majority, under the overall command of  Brig. Gen. Vaughn, hoping to meet up with Gen. Joe Wheeler’s cavalry. 

The two brigades under Echols joined the bodyguard of President Jefferson Davis on 19 April 1865, under command of Gen. John C. Breckenridge made up of Brig. Gen. George Dibrell’s Brigade, Brig. Gen. Samuel Ferguson’s Brigade. and Col. William Breckenridge’s Brigade.

On 20 April 1865, Maj. Gen. Howell Cobb surrendered the District of Georgia and Florida to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Macon, Georgia.

On 21 April 1865, Col. John S. Mosby disbanded Mosby’s Partisan Rangers, (also known as 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry) at Salem, Virginia.

On 26 April 1865, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the Division of the West under himself, the Army of Tennessee under Lt. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart, the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia under Gen. Braxton Bragg, the Department of the West under Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, and the Department of Tennessee and Georgia under Lt. Gen. William Hardee to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina.  Brig. Gen. Echols, formerly of the Department of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, was by this time with Johnston, having left the column of Vaughn’s and Duke’s brigades on 16 April.

On 27 April 1865, Confederate Secret Service operative Robert Louden used a coal torpedo (a bomb made to look like a lump of coal) to sink the SS Sultana on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee, killing 1600-1800 of its 2400 passengers, most of them former POW’s from the Union Army.  It remains the biggest maritime disaster in U.S. history and arguably the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil prior to 9/11/2001.


On 3 May 1865, Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton surrendered Hampton’s Cavalry Command to Col. Willard Warner of the 180th Ohio Volunteers at Charlotte, North Carolina.

On 4 May 1865, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor surrendered the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Citronelle, Alabama.

On 5 May 1865, Maj. Gen. Dabney Maury surrendered the District of the Gulf to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Citronelle, Alabama.

Also on 5 May 1865, Pres. Jefferson Davis met with his Cabinet for the last time in Washington, Georgia (Wilkes County), to dissolve the government of the Confederate States of America.  The next day Pres. Davis continued on with a small bodyguard under Capt. Given Campbell.

On 6 May 1865, Brig. Gen. Joseph Lewis surrendered the Kentucky Orphan Brigade along with the remnants of Ferguson’s and Breckinridge’s brigades to Capt. Lot Abraham of the 4th Iowa Cavalry in Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson’s cavalry corps at Washington, Georgia.

On 8 May 1865, Capt. Jesse McNeill surrendered McNeill’s Partisan Rangers to Maj. Gen. (and future U.S. President) Rutherford B. Hayes at Sycamore Dale, West Virginia.

On 9 May 1865, Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest surrendered Forrest’s Cavalry Corps to Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson of the Cavalry Corps of the Military Division of the Mississippi at Gainesville, Alabama.

Also on 9 May 1865, Brig. Gen. James Martin surrendered the District of Western North Carolina and Col. Will Thomas the Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders to Col. William C. Bartlett at Waynesville, North Carolina, after the Thomas Legion surrounded and captured Bartlett’s entire command the previous day.  The units of the Legion present included the Cherokee Battalion, Love’s Regiment, and Barr’s Battery.

Again on 9 May 1865, Maj. S. G. Spann surrendered his mostly Choctaw Battalion of Independent Scouts at Meridian, Mississippi.

Yet again on 9 May 1865, Brig. Gen. John C. Vaughn surrendered his remnant brigade to Capt. Lot Abraham of the 4th Iowa Cavalry at Washington, Georgia.

On 10 May 1865, Maj. Gen. Samuel Jones surrendered the Department of South Carolina, Florida, and South Georgia to Brig. Gen. Edward M. McCook at Tallahassee, Florida.

Also on 10 May 1865, COMO Ebenezer Farrand surrendered the CSS Nashville, CSS Baltic, CSS Morgan, and several other vessels, nearly all the remaining warships in the Confederate Navy, to RADM Henry Thatcher at Nanna Hubba, Alabama.

Again on 10 May 1865, Brig. Gen. Basil Duke surrendered his remnant brigade Capt. Lot Abraham of the 4th Iowa Cavalry at Washington, Georgia.

Finally on 10 May 1865, former Pres. Davis and his party were captured in Irwinsville, Georgia, by the troops of Lt. Col. Henry Haruden from Maj. Gen. Wilson’s cavalry corps.

On 11 May 1965, Brig. Gen. George Dibrell surrendered his remnant brigade to Capt. Lot Abraham of the 4th Iowa Cavalry at Washington, Georgia.

On 12 May 1865, Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford surrendered the Department of North Georgia to Brig. Gen. Henry M. Judah at Kingston, Georgia (Bartow County).

Also on 12 May 1865, Capt. Stephen Whitaker surrendered Walker’s Battalion of the former Thomas Legion, detached from the rest of the command, to Col. George W. Kirk at Franklin, North Carolina, upon hearing of the surrenders of Thomas and Martin.  This was the last surrender of Confederate troops east of the Mississippi River.

On 13 May 1865, the last land battle of the war was fought at Palmito Ranch in Texas, near Brownsville, with Confederate forces under Col. Rip Ford (incl. his own 2nd Texas Cavalry) defeating decisively the Union forces under Col. Theodore Barrett.

On 26 May 1865, Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner surrendered the Army of the Trans-Mississippi and the District of Arkansas and West Louisiana to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at New Orleans, Louisiana.  Buckner was in direct field command of the army at the time it was surrounded by Union forces.

On 30 May 1865, Brig. Gen. Slaughter and Col. Ford disbanded the remaining field forces of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona at Brownsville, Texas.

On 2 June 1865, Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith surrendered the Department of the Trans-Mississippi to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Galveston, Texas.

On 3 June 1865, CAPT Jonathan H. Carter surrendered the CSS Missouri to LCDR William E. Fitzhugh at Alexandria, Louisiana.

On 23 June 1865, Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, surrendered the First Indian Brigade of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi to Lt. Col. Asa C. Matthews at Doaksville, Choctaw Nation (Indian Territory).

On 6 November 1865, CMDR James Waddell surrendered the privateer vessel CSS Shenandoah and its crew to CAPT R.N Paynter of the HMS Donegal at Liverpool, England.  It was the only Confederate Navy ship to circumvent the globe.  The crew remained in Europe for several years afterward, for the most part, and eventually returned home.  The Shenandoah was sold to the Sultan of Zanzibar.

On 20 August 1866, President Andrew Johnson declared the War Between the States officially over and peace restored.

Non-surrenderees, exiles and expatriates

On 4 July 1865, Maj. Gen. Joseph Shelby led his Iron Brigade and other troops in his Missouri Division across the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass, Texas, into Piedas Negras, Empire of Mexico, to avoid surrender. 

Accompanying Shelby’s column were former Confederate governors Pendelton Murrah (Texas), Henry Allen (Louisiana), Thomas Reynolds (Missouri), and Isham Harris (Tennessee), as well as ex-generals Edmund Kirby-Smith, Sterling Price, Bankhead Magruder, Alexander W. Terrell, and other officers of the former Trans-Mississippi Department and their families.

Under the direction of former COMO Matthew Fontaine Maury of the Confederate Navy, the ex-officers and troops who had crossed into the Empire of Mexico established the New Virginia Colony in the state of Veracruz at the invitation of Emperor Maximilian.  Its central city was Carlota, named for Maximilian’s empress.  Slaves were not allowed, slavery still being against Mexican law.  When the republican Juaristas (supporters of Pres. Benito Juarez, whom the French ousted in 1864) overthrew Maximilian’s government in 1867, these former Confederates returned north, many becoming prominent citizens.

Interestingly, in 1851 Maury had once formulated a plan to both eradicate slavery from within the borders of the U.S. and slow or end Brasil’s slave trade with Africa.

Between ten and twenty thousand former Confederates emigrated to the Empire of Brasil at the invitation of Dom Pedro II, who wanted to encourage the growth of cotton.  The now multi-racial Los Confederados are extremely proud of their history and send young people to the American South every year to see the former homeland.  The original settlers included an ancestor of former First Lady Rosalyn Carter.

A large number of Los Confederados stayed in Rio de Janero.  Led by Col. William H. Norris of Alabama, others founded Norris Colony near Santa Barbara (now Americana); Col. Charles Gunter founded Gunter Colony on Lake JurapaƱa and Rio Doce; Dr. James McFadden Gaston of South Carolina founded Gaston Colony near Xiririca; the Rev. Ballard S. Dunn founded Lizzieland on the Juquia River; Frank McMullen established New Texas on the Sao Lourenco River; Col. M. S. Swain founded Parangua on the Assunguy River; and Lansford Warren Hastings organized Santarem at the confluence of the Amazon River and Rio Tapaj.

Other former Confederates settled in what was then British Honduras (now Belize), a group of Virginians under the Rev. B. R. Duval establishing New Richmond near San Pedro, the seat of the community, as well as Toledo, Manattee, and eight others on the New River south of Orange Walk Town (most of these being Louisianans) and around the town of Punta Gorda, in addition to the majority of the former Confederate expatriates who remained in Belize City.  Within a few decades, these groups had assimilated and lost their distinctiveness.

Former Confederate cavalry Major Abednago Greenberry Malcolm led another group of mostly Kentuckians to establish a colony they called Medina in Spanish Honduras.

Ex-RADM John Tucker led a group of former Confederate expatriates into Peru to establish New Manasses and wound up being assigned to chart the Amazon River. 

Dr. Henry Price, former major in the Confederate medical corps, took another group into Venezuela to occupy large areas of the state of Guyana called the Price Grant, where they set up the short-lived settlements of Orinoco City, Las Tablas, Santa Cruz, Caroni, Paragua, Carratel, and Pattisonville.
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Other smaller groups of Confederate became expatriates in Costa Rica, Cuba, and Ontario, the latter community including former Secretary of War John C. Breckenridge and several former Confederate generals.

Of all these, Los Confederados de Brasil is the only former community whose descendants still survive as a distinctive ethnic group.  The best account I have seen of these expatriate groups is the 2007 master’s thesis of Justin Horton at the East Tennessee State University: “The Second Lost Cause: Post-National Confederate Imperialism in the Americas”; it is online.

Brasil abolished slavery in 1888.  Former slave owners, backed by the military, overthrew the imperial government in 1889.  A military dictatorship ruled the country till civilian republicans came to power in 1894.

The Reconstruction of the former Confederate states lasted from the end of the war until the Great Compromise of 1877, which is also called the Corrupt Bargain.  The so-called Redemption Era of the South (which brought us Jim Crow, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and drastic historical revisionism) lasted from that time until the civil rights legislation of the mid-1960’s.

06 December 2012

Lost in Translation: Church and State


Many Christians prefer the King James Version of the Bible to any other because it is the “Authorized Version”, though authorized not by any body or official from the Church of England but by the king, who was then James I of England. 

One wonders why these same people do not likewise use the Book of Common Prayer which the good King James also “authorized” in 1604 (really just a slight revision of the 1559 BCP).  As well as why none of their Bibles contain the complete and unabridged Authorized Version, since they lack the books of the Apocrypha which were indeed a part of the full Authorized Version of the good King James.  Come to think of it, why, in the United States of America, is it important that King James “authorized” it?  Didn’t we fight an eight-year revolution to break away from the rule of the king of England and establish an elected republic?

True, in some passages, such as the Psalm 23, the poetry is unmatched in any subsequent translations.  I myself much prefer the KJV translation of Ecclesiastes 12 to that of any later version, for example.  But some of the wording throughout the KJV Bible, even many of the words themselves, is archaic or even obsolete, and carries an entirely different meaning than what it did in 1611.  Take, for instance, the word “comprehended” in the first chapter of the Gospel of John.  Here, in King James time, “to comprehend” did not mean “to understand” but “to overcome” or “to conquer”.

Since we’re at that chapter, let’s look at how it opens:  “In the beginning was the Word…”  The English word “Word” here is translated from the Greek word “Logos”.  The word Logos can be translated as “speech”, “reason”, “study”, “statement”, or “wisdom”.  For example, in Decalogue, the Greek term for what may call the “Ten Commandments”, the –logue is derived from logos meaning “saying”.  The word logic is likewise derived from logos.

As used in the first chapter of John, Logos referred more to a concept than a dictionary meaning and isn’t readily translatable.  In Hellenistic philosophy, Logos was the principle governing the cosmos, the universe, especially among the Stoics.  To Neoplatonists, Logos was the mediator between Soul, Spirit, and the One.  To Jews, the Word of God (God’s actual words or voice, rather than the Tanakh) had always had special power, and among the Hellenistic Jewish mystics based in Alexandria (Philo in particular), Logos became God’s instrument in the creation of the universe and intermediary between creation and Creator.  All this led to the writer of the Gospel of John identifying Logos with Jesus of Nazareth.  Later Christian writers such as Justin Martyr and Augustine of Hippo expanded on John’s use.  The concept even crossed over to Islam through its Sufi mystics, especially the late 12th/early 13th century philosopher Ibn Arabi of Murcia in Al-Andalus (Moorish Iberia).

When the king of England’s translators sat down to begin work on that gospel, they had several options to choose for the meaning of Logos.  Perhaps since Logos stood for a concept rather than a word with a definite meaning they should have just left it as Logos.  But they chose to use “Word” instead, a mistaken if convenient translation (in 1st century Greek, the actual word for “word” was “lexis”).  They could just have easily, and if they had been working a century later may have, translated Logos as “Reason”, a much more correct translation, linguistics-wise anyway, than “Word”. 

Here’s how that might have looked:  “In the beginning was Reason, and Reason was with God, and Reason was God.  Reason was in the beginning with God.  All things were made with Reason; and without Reason was not anything made that was made.  In Reason was life; and that life was the light of men.  And the light of Reason shines in the darkness, but the darkness conquered it not.”

Note the KJV style; it’s the only translation not under copyright.

Greek is kind of a funny language, at least from the point of view of a native speaker of American English; I’m sure native speakers of Greek find English really weird.  In some cases where in English we might express several similar ideas with a single word, Greek uses different words for each.  For example, love.  In Greek, there is “eros”, for romantic or sexual love; “phileos”, for brotherly or platonic love; and “agape”, for unconditional love as for immediate family.  For all those varieties, in English we simply use the word “love”.

Some words in Greek have flexible meaning, like “logos”, while others have more specific meaning.  The Greek word “esothen” falls into the first category while the word “entos” falls into the second; both words, however, are translated in the KJV as “within”.

I mention entos because it figures in one of my favorite passages from the New Testament, one from the 17th chapter of the Gospel of Luke in which a group of Pharisees as Jesus about when the kingdom of God was coming.  He replied, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation.  Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo, there!  For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  (Luke 17:20-21)  That passage was the first that made me interested in the lexicology of Greek words in the New Testament.

The Greek word translated by the scribes “authorized” by King James as “within” in this passage is “entos”.  The word “entos” is used only one other time in the whole New Testament, in Matt. 23:26 – “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” 

In other translations, “entos” is translated variously as “within” you, “in” your “midst”, “among” you, “already among” you, or “in the midst of” you, all of which are incorrect, or at the very best, inexact.  Given that the only other place in the entire New Testament in which the word “entos” is used in the original Greek talks about the inside of a cup or platter, the best and most obvious translation for the word “entos” would be “inside of”.  This would render the passage (in modern English):  “The coming of the kingdom of God can’t be seen.  No one will say, “Look here!” or Look there!”, because the kingdom of God is inside each one of you.”

I think what might be tripping up the translators is that Jesus was talking to the Pharisees and it’s clear from many other passages in the gospels that he didn’t think very much of them.  Often, the word Pharisees is paired with the words hypocrites.  The antipathy seems to have been two ways, as well.  So, it’s not unreasonable to see that a translator might find it hard to believe that Jesus would tell men who didn’t like him and whom he himself frequently called “hypocrites” that the kingdom of God is inside each of them.  Thus do we get the abundance of theologically-inspired mistranslations of this passage.

And since we’re on the subject of the kingdom of God, I have question…

-for all those who either believe America was founded as a Christian Nation or who want to make it one;
-for those who see in the the modern temporal state of Israel the ancient Israel of the Bible;
-for those who want to erect idols of the “Ten Commandments” in courthouses and town squares;
-for those who want to have prayer before local government meetings and public school sports events;
-for those who want to hold prayer meetings, have Bible readings over the intercom, or allow religious recruiting in public schools;
-and for those who want to retain the phrase “In God we trust” as our official national motto rather than the more historic and less sectarian “E pluribus unum” which had stood since the foundation of our Republic: 

What part of “My kingdom is not of this world” do you not understand?


ADDENDUM:  I was telling an atheist friend about the part of this essay dealing with the meaning of the Greek word “entos” and how the true translation of Luke 17:21 is “The kingdom of God is inside of each of you”, and he responded, “Yea!  It’s all in your heads!”.  Maybe that’s exactly what the man Jesus of Nazareth was trying to say.

26 November 2012

Named Plantations and Homes in Hamilton County



There weren’t too many big ante-bellum plantations in Hamilton County, only two, in fact, which could really be called plantations at all in acreage, value, and number of slaves.  Of these, neither left their name on the landscape.  However, there were a number of large farms (and two homes) which were also named and did leave their names to posterity.  Some of these have been written about previously on The Chattanoogan in separate articles, nearly all of these have been covered in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press and its predecessors, but to my knowledge never as a group under this theme.

These may not be all the homes and plantations with names in Hamilton County, and if any reader knows of more, please comment and/or email me.

Amnicola – Near the south bank of the Tennessee River, Chattanooga pioneer Thomas Crutchfield built the home he called Amnicola upon which to live and run his rather large farm.  From the South Chickamauga Creek in the east, the Crutchfield farm (later owned by the Montagues) ran west to Citico Creek, to face the farm of George Gardenhire across it.  The house itself stood roughly where the Amnicola Marsh North facilities are now.  Amnicola listed 28 slaves in 1860.

Altamede – In Hickory Valley along Dupree Road and surrounded by Mary Dupree Circle once stood the stately manor called Altamede, constructed by Col. Lewis Shepherd soon after his arrival on the heels of the displaced Cherokee.  It was, in fact, modeled on the Diamond Hill home of noted Cherokee leader James Vann near Springplace, Georgia, who at the time he lived was the wealthiest man east of the Mississippi River.  Though he gave the name Hickory Valley to the narrow valley his home faced, Shepherd’s home and plantation were always called Altamede.  At one time, it occupied nearly all of Hickory Valley, including what is now Shepherd, Tyner, Silverdale, Bonny Oaks, Old Hawkinsville (along North Hickory Valley Road), even Turkeyfoot along the Tennessee River (now Booker T. Washington Park), around ten thousand acres.  Col. Shepherd’s oldest son was Judge Lewis Shepherd.  Altamede eventually passed to the Dupree family, who held it until 1977, at which time it was demolished.  At the time of the Civil War, the Shepherd family had about 24 slaves. 

Belvoir – This area of Brainerd east of Belvoir and west of the former Conner and Stockburger farms took its name from the 1870 home and large farm of Eli Crabtree, which still stands well to the north of Brainerd Rd. near the Hemphill neighborhood, or did until a few years ago.

Bonny Oaks – Not originally the name of a residential industrial school, the land once belonged to the Shepherds of Altamede.  Col. Shepherd sold the land and home (modeled after Altamede) to his in-law, Col. Jarrett G. Dent, who built upon it a home modeled after Altamede.  After the Civil War, Dent sold the home and its lands to Capt. C.S. Peak.  Capt. C.S. Peak bought the home after the war and willed it to the county for a residential industrial school in 1898.  In 1860, Bonny Oaks had 22 slaves.

Canachee – This was the home and estate of Dr. Joseph Gillespie northwest of Chickamauga Station and east of South Chickamauga Creek.  Dr. Gillespie was mayor of Chattanooga 1844-1845.  The land was later acquired by the Shepherds of Altamede.

The Cedars  The mansion built by John Cowart, operator of Cowart's Ferry, the Swing Ferry attached to Chattanooga Island.  After his death, his wife, Cynthia Pack Cowart, daughter of Jasper, Tennessee icon Betsy Pack and grand-daughter of Cherokee leader John Lowery, continued to live there until her death.  Samuel J.A. Frazier, developer of Hill City along with Richard Colville, later lived there.  It burned in 1923.

Citico – This was the farm and estate of Chattanooga pioneer William Gardenhire, immediately east of the Reese Brabson farm and west of the Crutchfield farm Amnicola border at Citico Creek.  During the Middle (or High) Mississippian period, the most prominent town in the entire region was here, the signature 28’ high platform mound (120’ x 30’) of which stood until most of it was destroyed by the building of the Dixie Highway.  What little remains of the mound and townsite are protected by the Tennessee-American Water Co.  The land where the Citizens, Confederate, and Jewish cemeteries lie between UTC and CSAS was once part of Citico.

Cummings Cove – This wasn’t really the name of the home built by John Walter Cummings in Lookout Valley in 1862 for wife Rebecca Fryar, but, along with Cummings Bottoms, it was the moniker by which the land upon which it and the farm over which it reigned sat were and still are known.  The Cummings farm was one of the largest in Wauhatchie.  One of John and Rebecca’s six children was later County Judge Will Cummings.  The home was abandoned by the third quarter of the 20th century and was rumored to be haunted, drawing curious high school students from all over the county.  It caught fire and burned to the ground in 1979.  The home later built by Judge Will Cummings, however, fared better and still stands.

Eastside - The home and estate of Abraham M. Johnson at the foot of Lookout Mountain, before he changed its name to St. Elmo.

Kalmia Cottage – This is the 19th century residence of J.H. Warner atop Lookout Mountain at the end of St. Elmo Turnpike, originally called St. Elmo, after the novel of the same name.  He sold the home in 1885 and the new owners rechristened it by this name.

Lyndhurst – Not the charitable foundation, but the early 20th century (around 1912) 30-room, 30,000 square-foot Riverview mansion built by Coca-Cola magnate John T. Lupton which was torn down in the early 1960’s.  It was named for the palacial home built in Tarrytown, New York, in 1838 for NYC mayor William Paulding and at one time occupied by railroad tycoon and robber baron Jay Gould.

Minnekahda – Another early 20th century Riverview mansion, built by John A. Patten in 1913, this home has been converted to condominiums and still stands.  Patten originally intended for the house to be the center of operations for a large working farm but died in 1916 before these ambitions could be realized.  Patten named his home after the Minikahda Country Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ( Information from John Shearer’s article for The Chattanoogan, “Minnekahda Condominium Was the John A. Patten Mansion”)

Narrowbridge – This was the large brick home built by George Henshall Sr. in the 1941 on the site of the former farm of pioneer Dr. Joseph Mackie, whose house had stood across the creek from where the new house was built.  Before Dr. Mackie, the large farm north of East Brainerd Road (formerly Bird’s Mill-Parker’s Gap Road) and east of Jenkins Road belonged to a Cherokee whose name was rendered as Braname.  The stickball court for the local Cherokee community of Opelika was also located on the site.  Henshall subdivided the land into plots for his children to build houses upon, his son George Jr. in 1963 building the structure he and his wife dubbed Long Ago, which now serves as the city’s Heritage Park as an art and civic center.

Oakland – Unquestionably and by far the largest plantation in ante-bellum Hamilton County, this plantation was owned by Daniel F. Cocke, who built his home which he called by the same name atop Clifton Hill, the knob the crest of which is circled by Clifton Terrace.  Oakland covered a huge swatch of Chattanooga Valley north of the state line, this plantation had 44 slaves living on it at the outbreak of the Civil War.  His more famous nephew was Col. Henry M. Ashby, C.O. of the 2nd Tennessee Cavalry, one of the most feared Confederate regular cavalry units of the War Between the States.  Almost directly across Chattanooga Creek lay the home and plantation of the George Gillespie family at what had been the home of Daniel Ross and is now Calvin Donelson School.  In 1860, Oakland listed 45 slaves.

St. Elmo – The home and estate of Abraham M. Johnson at the foot of Lookout Mountain, named after the novel which took place in the vicinity.  It was first the name of the Warner home atop the mountain until sold in 1885, upon which Johnson immediately bestowed the name upon his own home and the surrounding district, so naturally it became the name of the town that grew up and was incorporated there.

Sunnyside – This area of Brainerd east of Tunnel Blvd. and west of Belvoir took its name from the 19th century home and farm of Judge Robert B. Cooke, which occupied nearly all of the area upon which the neighborhood later stood.

Thankful Place – Mansion built by Abraham Johnson in St. Elmo suburb in 1887 to replace their summer cottage there and their home in Chattanooga.  It was named for his wife, Thankful Whiteside Johnson.

Toqua – In 1860, Col. John King, brother-in-law of Thomas Crutchfield, named his home and large farm for the small Cherokee village first built near the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek during the Chickamauga Wars and later rebuilt after those ended.  His lands extended east of the creek along the river and south to at what is now Bonny Oaks Dr.  This included the land upon which Allen Bros. Real Estate Co. built what was planned to be the town of Kings Point, which still exists physically.

Vinegar Hill – Two brothers surnamed Steel moved into what is now the Brainerd Hills-Brainerd Heights-Wrinkletown area, the former Cherokee town of Chickamauga, on the heels of Cherokee Removal and established a farm there named after a famous battle site in their native Ireland during the Rising of the United Irishmen in 1798.  The name for the neighborhood lasted until John D. Gray built the Western & Atlantic Railroad through it and the name Ellis’ Crossing, originally referring to the crossing of the railway by Bird’s Mill (East Brainerd) Road, supplanted it.

West View – One of Hamilton County’s foremost pioneers, Samuel T. Igou, gave his name to many features around the county, including Igou’s Ferry, of which roads on both sides of the Tennessee River retain the name.  After the Cherokee Removal, Igou moved into the new lands of the Ocoee District, building a large home at the western mouth of the gap through Whiteoak Mountain called Igou Gap after him (just north of Parker’s Gap), overlooking his vast acreage in Rabbit Valley.  A group of Cumberland Presbyterians purchased land for a cemetery and church from him in 1854 and gave the name Westview to both in his honor.  After the Morris Hill School made its way east to a spot across the road from the church in the early 20th century, it became (and still is) Westview School.

Wildwood – This may have been the name of the home and lands of Tavner Martin (my own great-great-great-grandfather), whose manor stood in Lookout Valley less than a stone’s throw from the Georgia state line until about a decade ago, which were valued at $12,000 in 1860, a considerable sum for the time, and which included the presence of fourteen slaves.  He and his family also owned much of the adjoining land in Georgia, upon which later grew the community by the same name.  The nearest family was the Tittles in Dade Co., and the two families were so intermarried (as much as the Stewarts and Murphys of Dade Co.) that their descendants now have a Tittle-Martin reunion every year.

To be officially considered a “planter” in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) South, a person had to have landed property and at least 20 slaves.  Other than those noted above, antebellum planters in Hamilton County included:

Philemon Bird – In addition to two mills in Walker County, Georgia, and a large farm in McLemore Cove, Bird owned the former Brainerd Mission and had rebuilt the mill (then called Bird’s Mill) there to be much larger on his 750-acre farm.  In 1860, Bird listed 37 slaves.

James M. Dobbs – From his house along Rossville Road near the state-line, Dobbs presided over 150 acres of land and listed 27 slaves in 1860.  The area was later called Dobbs after him.

George L. Gillespie – Neighbor to Oakland and the Cocke family, Gillespie and his family occupied the former Daniel Ross two-story home at the site where Calvin Donaldson School now stands.  In 1860, he listed 21 slaves.

Elijah M. Hale – He owned a large farmstead in the neighborhood of Harrison and in 1860 listed 21 slaves.

Henry W. Massengale – Owner of two houses in the city, one inside the city limits and the other just south of it, Massengale also owned a 500-acre farm on the west side of South Chickamauga Creek in the vicinity of the ante-bellum village of Old Boyce that grew up around Boyce Station on the Western & Atlantic Railroad, where Harrison Turnpike forded the creek.  He donated land to Chickamauga Baptist Church for a new building in 1856 that stood across the turnpike from the station.  In 1860, Massengale listed 26 slaves.

Hasten Poe – Poe’s large farmstead lay in the land now called Daisy north of the river.  His tavern was the place in which the Hamilton County Court first met.  In 1860, he listed 21 slaves.

20 November 2012

Yesterday night in Gaza

Written by my niece, Hadeel Abu Oun, for the Facebook page "For Gaza, We Blog" on 19 November 2012, and posted here with her permission.


Yesterday night, I almost closed my eyes to catch some Z's after a bloody , miserable day, I barely slept , the sound of explosions began approaching, it was everywhere, I was telling myself it's ok, it's just one, don't worry it's almost over, another explosion, I said that is the last one then everything will be over, Booomb ! Another one, two and three ... it was too much so that I got up from bed.  With every sound of shaking bombs I was fleeing to my parents' room, daddy took me in his arms, he tried hard to stop my rainy eyes. 

Laying between my dad's arms, covering my head under the blanket , closing my eyes to this dark world, having nightmares even while I'm not sleeping, that was how I spent this night. Daddy was watching the window and warning me with every rocket-propelled, he was whispering LIGHT!  As a sign to hold my breath and get ready for the next explosion!

Daddy thought that I was crying because I was afraid of death.  Not really! It was a crying with a different flavor; I was crying because it was the first time to feel that I'm going to lose someone of my family, despite everything was going, I was not afraid of death, it doesn't scare me anymore, even if I knew I would be underground within seconds... but what is scaring me the thought of losing someone I love in these events, I may lose the life of my father, mother, brother, or a friend. I will be lucky if it is about losing my life only. With every explosion, I could see the death becomes closer to one of them, many thoughts were spoiling in my head , I was extremely weak , it was the first time to feel that weakness, I was someone I've never met before.

Fire, bombs, explosions, blood and death, it was too much for a girl in my age to endure, to breathe the atmosphere of blood smell is something terrible!  As if you are experiencing death more than once while you are still alive!!

Then, for a moment, I closed my eyes. There was an instant of extreme cold and total darkness. Suddenly I was in deep, dreamless, sleep.

I opened my eyes upon my mom , she was raising her hands to the sky and praying to God to keep us safe , this increased my faith , I said to myself: they can never defeat us! I decided to curse my weakness and shackle it with chains, I decided to be stronger, yes stronger!