Sunday, February 22, 2009

George Washington Born

George Washington at Princeton
Charles Wilson Peale (1779)

On this date in 1732 George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Often referred to as the "Father of our country" Washington was the Commanding General of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and was instrumental in winning our independence from Great Britain. He was called upon yet again by his countrymen when he was unanimously elected as our first President in 1789. Washington served two four-year terms in office before retiring a final time to his Mt. Vernon, Va. estate. He died on 14 December 1799 after a brief illness.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"The Patriot"

The Patriot
Great Road
Bedford, Mass.

This statue, titled The Patriot, represents a Bedford Militia Man carrying the famous Bedford Flag into battle, presumably on 19 April 1775. (The Bedford flag was a battle flag made for the Bedford Militia in the early 18th century). According to popular tradition, the flag was carried by Minute Man Nathaniel Page to the Concord North Bridge where the Bedford Minute Men saw action against British Regulars on that date.

The statue, made by sculptor Bruce Papitto, was commissioned by the Bedford Cultural Council and was erected in the year 2000. It can be found in a park diagonally across from the Bedford Post Office located at 158 Great Road Bedford, Mass.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Battle Reenactment Canceled Due To Protests

The Death of General Wolfe
Benjamin West (1770)

It was announced yesterday by the Canadian National Battlefields Commission that the 250th anniversary re-enactment of the 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham planned to take place this summer in the city of Quebec, Canada has been canceled due to safety concerns. Radical French-separatists in the city and province had vehemently opposed the commemoration of this important battle that led to the defeat of French forces and gave Great Britain final control over Canada. The threat of protests and even violence against anyone taking part in the re-enactment led the Commission to their decision. The story is more fully told here.

As this is a non-political blog, I won't comment on what I think about this situation in Quebec.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Abraham Lincolns Birthday

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States. Upon his election to office in 1860 the long simmering differences between the north and the south over the issue of slavery quickly turned into an open conflict. Even before Lincoln was sworn into office, state legislatures in the south began to pass legislation calling for secession from the Union.

On April 12, 1861 with the firing on Ft. Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina President Lincoln issued an executive order to the states to call out their volunteer militias t0 put down this rebellion. This caused the last holdovers in the south to choose sides and many chose to defend their home states against this "aggression" from the North.

Most famously U.S. Army Col. Robert E. Lee of Virginia, who had been offered command of the Federal forces, assumed command of the Northern Army of Virginia in 1862 and fought for the Confederate States of America. His divided loyalties was just one example of many and a bloody civil war of brother against brother ensued. The American Civil War, or the War between the States, lasted for four years and the fighting cost the lives of over 600,000 Americans on the battlefield.