Booker Taliaferro Washington was born into slavery on April 5, 1856 in southwest Virginia. Initially, like most slaves, he was known by his nickname “Booker” with no middle or surname. But what began as a tragic result of the sin of slavery that stained the Declaration’s promise of God-given liberty for all was overcome by one of the most amazing stories of courage, character and faith one will read in American history. In my estimation, Booker T. Washington is as big a hero as any founder because he overcame one of their sins and through Christ demonstrated forgiveness and respect.
On March 1, 1781, the first constitution of the United States, called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, officially became the first American covenant of law. Since the ratification required all 13 colonies to agree before it could be finalized, there were 39 months between the first colony, Virginia, who ratified in December of 1777, and Maryland, who ratified it in February of 1781.
It is popular today to assume that the belief that men and women can solve all problems without God or the Bible (the “enlightenment”) was the dominant influence at the time of our Declaration of Independence and the writing of our first (Articles in 1781) and subsequently final (1789) Constitution. However, this is simply not supported by a more thorough scholarship which affirms that orthodox Protestant beliefs, rooted in the Scriptures, was the most influential ideology that directly affected the writing of these documents. It was biblical ideas that found their way into our laws, form of government and philosophy of rights at the formative period of the United States.
Why would a Christian priest in Rome in the 3rd century A.D. be imprisoned, tortured and threatened with death just for standing up for marriage, secretly marrying soldiers to their brides? When we think of Valentine’s Day today, we think of romance, whether serious or trite, but we rarely think of the fact that February 14 denotes the day (in 269 AD) when Valentine (his last name) was beheaded for his faith!
January 1 as New Year’s Day was first celebrated in 46 B.C. when the Julian calendar took effect. The traditional Roman calendar, first established in the 7th century B.C. was based on the lunar cycle. Various politicians would add days to extend their own political terms and thus it was frequently corrupted. Julius Caesar, the new Roman dictator, named the new calendar after himself. Instead of the lunar cycle, he followed the solar cycle. So what can we learn about the new year that could enlighten us today?
When people think of the historic Boston Tea Party that took place in 1773, they often have images of wild and lawless men destroying the personal property of others and throwing it into the sea in a riot, just so they don’t have to pay a very small tax. About the only thing that is accurate in this description of the event that took place on Thursday, December 16, 1773 is the fact that the proposed tax was small! It is time to rehearse the rest of the story, which is often left untold.
At this time of year many people reflect upon the Pilgrims and the origin of our American Thanksgiving holiday. Some contend that it either never occurred or was not a friendly affair with a legacy of genocide. Hopefully some context and clarity can help remove these myths and bring factual balance.
Consider some of these facts: (1) We do not know when the actual harvest feast occurred, though we know it was the fall of 1621. (2) We don’t know if the Pilgrims invited their Native neighbors to a pre-planned event, but we know they feasted together. (3) The Natives provided much of the food, and though they had turkey, venison ruled the day.