Articles By: William J. Federer

Bill of Rights

A Creature Determined to Destroy Its Creators

Newly independent, the thirteen States were concerned that their new Government may become too powerful, as King George’s was. They insisted handcuffs be place on the power of the Federal Government. We call these the First Ten Amendments or Bill of Rights, ratified DECEMBER 15, 1791. These Amendments did not limit States or citizens, just the Federal Congress.

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Inscription on the wall of George Washington's Tomb

Washington’s Appeal to the Father of Mercies

He caught a chill riding horseback several hours in the snow while inspecting his Mount Vernon farm. The next morning it developed into acute laryngitis and the doctors were called in. Their response was to bleed him heavily four times, a process of cutting one’s arm to let the “bad blood” out. They also had him gargle with a mixture of molasses, vinegar and butter. Despite their best efforts, the doctors could not save former President George Washington and he died DECEMBER 14, 1799, at the age of sixty-seven.

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Phillips Brooks was born DECEMBER 13, 1835. The bishop of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts, Phillips Brooks took a trip to the Holy Land in 1865, and wrote home: “After an early dinner, we took our horses and rode to Bethlehem…Before dark, we rode out of town to the field where they say the shepherds saw the star. It is a fenced piece of ground with a cave in it (all the Holy Places are caves here), in which, strangely enough, they put the shepherds…”

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Flag of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania: Home of Religious Liberty

Pennsylvania became the 2nd State to join the Union on DECEMBER 12, 1787. The Continental Congress had met there, the Declaration of Independence was signed there, and the Liberty Bell was rung there. The Continental Army spent the freezing winter of 1777 at Valley Forge there. In 1787, the Constitution was written there, and from 1790-1800, the United States Capitol was there. Originally, Pennsylvania was given by King Charles II, in 1682, to William Penn, a Quaker dissenter who was the son of a famous Admiral.

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Moscow, December 1998 (Photo credit: Russian International News Agency)

The Yes-Man is Your Enemy

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was born in Russia, DECEMBER 11, 1918. He was arrested for writing a letter criticizing Joseph Stalin and spent 11 years in prisons and labor camps. He began writing and eventually received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Solzhenitsyn stated on June 30, 1975, in Washington, D.C.: “There is another Russian proverb: ‘The yes-man is your enemy, but your friend will argue with you.’ It is precisely because I am the friend of the United States…that I have come to tell you…You know the words from the Bible: ‘Build not on sand, but on rock’…”

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Colonel Roosevelt and his Rough Riders at the top of the hill which they captured, Battle of San Juan, July 1898

Vainly Striving to Stay the March of Ideas

After slavery ended in the U.S., President Grant spoke to Congress, December 1, 1873, of “…several thousand persons illegally held as slaves in Cuba…by the slaveholders of Havana, who are vainly striving to stay the march of ideas which has terminated slavery in Christendom, Cuba only excepted.”

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Paul Aaron Travis in Fiddler on the Roof (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Hebrew is Never a Beggar

The Play, “Fiddler on the Roof,” tells the story recounted by President Benjamin Harrison on DECEMBER 9, 1891: “This Government has found occasion to express…to the Government of the Czar its serious concern because of the harsh measures now being enforced against the Hebrews in Russia….:

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The U.S. Navy battleships USS West Virginia (BB-48) (sunken at left) and USS Tennessee (BB-43) shrouded in smoke following the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor.

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

“DECEMBER 7, 1941- a date which will live in infamy- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” Thus spoke President Franklin D. Roosevelt following the attack on Pearl Harbor by over 350 Japanese aircraft. Five American battleships and three destroyers were sunk, 400 planes were destroyed and over 4000 were killed or wounded.

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Mosaic of Saint Nicholas (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Origin of Santa Claus

Greek Orthodox tradition tells of Saint Nicholas being born to a wealthy, elderly couple in what is now Turkey in the year 280 AD. When his parents died, he generously gave to the poor. Upon hearing of a merchant who went bankrupt and that creditors were about to take his daughters, Saint Nicholas threw money in the window at night to provide a dowry for the daughters to get married, thus saving them from a life of prostitution.

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Hugh Williamson

A Preacher Who Signed the Constitution

A signer of the Constitution licensed to preach? This was Hugh Williamson, delegate from North Carolina, born DECEMBER 5, 1735. At age 24 he studied theology in Connecticut, was admitted to the Presbytery of Philadelphia and preached two years, visiting and praying for the sick, till a chronic chest weakness caused him to seek another career. He traveled to London to study medicine, but not before seeing the Boston Tea Party, of which he testified before a Privy Counsel that if Britain did not change its policy, the Colonies would rebel.

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