Monday, January 28, 2013

James Oglethorpe

Here is my next instalment of Profiles of Leadership in America. Not all efforts by great leaders are counted as immediate successes or even as successful as intended. Nevertheless, intentions often count for much and, in the case of James Oglethorpe, his dream of a Georgia, successful and offering freedom for all, eventually became reality, although almost a century after his death.

James Oglethorpe
December, 22 1696—June 30, 1785

Last, but not least, of the original thirteen American colonies, was Georgia (named for England’s King George II). When one thinks of Georgia today, they may think of the pro-slavery state deep in the antebellum south. Though it did eventually become a great stronghold of slavery, its founder, James Oglethorpe did not intend it to be.

James Ogglethorpe was born in 1696 in Surrey, England, to Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe and Lady Eleanor (Oglethorpe). He began his schooling at Oxford, but immediately entered the Austrian army of Prince Eugene of Savoy as the Prince's aide-de-camp. Oglethorpe served with distinction in the Austro-Turkish War of 1716–18. In 1722, he was elected to the British Parliament and became interested in humanitarian causes. He published an anonymous pamphlet, 'The Sailors Advocate,' in which he exposed the deplorable conditions experienced by sailors in the Britain's Royal navy. He was also became acquainted with and concerned about the abuses of the debtor’s prison in London. He was appointed to a committee to investigate the abuses, and it was at this time that he conceived of his plan to send English debtors to North America to establish yet one more colony. He planned also to establish an asylum for oppressed Protestants throughout Europe.

The fact that England wanted a defensive buffer between Spain’s colony in Florida and her own colonies to the north probably encouraged the King of England to grant a charter to Oglethorpe in1732. In 1733 with 120 original colonists he established Charleston and Savannah, and served for 10 years as Governor. His military experience served him well as he defended his colony and its neighbors against the Spaniards and Indians from Florida. His military successes and his efforts to trade with the Cherokees enabled Oglethorpe to render to the Crown services much beyond the usual of a colonial administrator. In 1739, during the War of Austrian Succession a related lesser conflict known as the War of Jenkin’s Ear erupted between Georgia and Spanish Florida. With Seminole Indian allies, Oglethorpe managed a number of successful raids on Spanish forts, with the exception of a failed siege of St. Augustine.

Because the colony's primary role, in the British Governments’ eyes, was as a military buffer between English and Spanish-held territories and because of Oglethorpe’s personal views against slavery, the original plan for the colonisation of Georgia did not include, or allow the use of slave labour. In contrast to the other American colonies, Oglethorpe, as Governor of Georgia, insisted that slavery be forbidden in his colony. He not only hated slavery because it degraded blacks, but also because he believed that it promoted laziness in whites. He believed that slavery was contrary to the principles that his group was trying to embrace—of lifting the oppressed. He feared also the threat of bloody revolt, as was experienced in South Carolina’s Stono Rebellion of 1739.

James Oglethorpe’s attempt was, in some respects, a failure. The conditions for release from debtor’s prison, that Parliament set, were so difficult to meet for most debtors that very few actually arrived at Georgia’s shores. Almost half of those immigrating to Georgia were Germans, Swiss, and Scots including a few Jews. In some respects the anti slavery position kept the colony from competing economically. Land holdings no larger than 500 acres and no slave labor made it difficult to raise profitable cash crops like rice or tobacco. Many settlers began to oppose Oglethorpe and regarded him as a dictator, causing newer settlers to move on to the north, to South Carolina, where they felt less restrictions and a better likelihood of economic success. In 1750, after a series of political defeats, Oglethorpe essentially gave up his opposition to slavery and the ban was lifted. It was not long after Oglethorpe returned to England that Georgia followed the lead of her sister colonies and embraced slavery.

Although he was able to preserve his colony for England militarily, he returned to England, financially strapped because of the many non-repaid loans he made to his colonists, and disappointed that slavery would surely take hold in his colony. After his return to England, in 1745, Oglethorpe was promoted to the rank of Major General. During the Jacobite War of that year his conduct resulted in a court marshal and acquittal. He was later raised in rank to full General and died in England.

Eventually, slavery and fewer restrictions on land ownership transformed Georgia into a booming colony. Though it became an economic success in his absence, Oglethorpe’s Georgia was an experiment in noble humanity that failed. If James Oglethorpe had been as good a financial leader as he was a moral leader, perhaps he could have changed the philosophic tide in the southern colonies. If the need for profit could have been met without resorting to immorality of slavery, the term “antebellum south” might not have meaning today.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Unhappy Birthday, Roe V. Wade!

I have to take a moment and mention something about the grave historical milestone we have reached in this country. I do not even feel like being snarky about it, which is one of my favorite things to be, when it comes to criticizing the the socialist progressive policies we have adopted. After 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision was made by our morally bankrupt Supreme Court, over 55,000,000 unborn human babies have been brutally slain in this country. Even Margaret Sanger, who started Planned Parenthood as an organization to help provide reproductive education to women and to whom the progressives look to as a saint, would be appalled. Before her death and the Roe v. Wade obscenity, and while Planned Parenthood was focused on the prevention of unwanted pregnancy, Sanger is reported have said before,"while there are cases where even the law recognizes  an abortion justifiable by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization."  Now, we know that Sanger was a bit of a racist--she believed that lighter-skinned people were superior to darker-skinned people--and she was into eugenics, though not to the extent of Hitler, but even she understood that wholesale abortion is a human travesty. Clearly, she would not approve of the inglorious destruction her organization has wrought. While the progressives produce disgusting television ads, in which they high-five themselves for what they have accomplished with Roe v. Wade, we must pray to God for forgiveness, for allowing our culture to become so morally depraved. The majority of the Supreme Court ruled, but fifty-five million babies had their votes ignored.  Roe v. Wade had a birthday this week, but fifty-five million babies did not.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


For several years I have been thinking of writing a book of a collection of my essays about persons from American history, who I believe exhibited exceptional leadership that influenced, for the better, American society, or influenced the direction that we, as Americans, have come so far. I think it is important to recognize how we got here and who helped lead us here. I am personally very conservative, both politically and socially, so in my opinion, there have been many 'leaders' in America's history--though likely revered by those who embrace a more progressive political philosophy--who have exhibited little positive influence on the development of the United States of America. Therefore, I choose not to include those persons in this collection. Some of the persons I include may have had some progressive tendencies during their careers and embraced, what I would consider, some misguided causes, but I include them for what positive actions or ideas they contributed, to who we are as a nation. So, this is the first instalment of my effort, to which I plan to add to on a timely basis. I hope it will generate some comment from readers and, perhaps, promote some suggestions of other historical figures to consider. I have posted some of these before, but since I have a lot more readers today than I did when I first started this blog site, I have chosen to post all the of essays again, with the newer ones which have not been posted before, before I publish them. So, here goes...

Profiles of Leadership in America
By Randall D. Mundy

Every four years, we in America divide ourselves in political parties or groups of political thought or persuasion, and discuss the leadership qualities, or the lack thereof, of the myriad of candidates seeking the highest office in the land. I find it interesting that any one candidate can be aggressively held up by one group as the epitome of leadership and the obvious savior of the nation, while another group will be blind to the same individual’s attributes, in fact they will be convinced that he or she is an utter fool and/or completely devoid of true honest character. Our political process allows us to narrow the field of candidates until eventually the electorate chooses a leader for the next four years.

In a perfect world, in a democratic sense, we would all get behind the new president and support him or her in the direction they take us for the next 4 years, and then solemnly revisit the selection of a new leader or the re-election of the current leader for the next cycle. But, in the real world of American politics—my study of American history teaches me that it has never been otherwise—a debate continues, with nary a respite, as to his or her leadership qualities, with intermittent polls asking the public what they think. The obvious attempt here is for media groups and opposition parties—often they are one and the same—to influence the nations' “leader” to be led by public opinion and to shelve whatever plans he or she may have had to lead us into greatness.

And, every few years polls are taken to find out who the American public thinks were the greatest Presidents. Of course the American public is influenced in their opinions by short memories and very little historical perspective. They tend to choose Presidents close to their own life time, or persons that the current educators are particularly enamored with. There are obvious choices among American presidential icons, such as Washington and Lincoln, because of their dramatic actions at important times in history. Because of their prominence in our history, they can hardly be ignored for their greatness, although there are those who look for chinks in their personal armor to reduce their stature. The truth is that they were great men and, though they may have had some personal flaws, they were willing to make personal sacrifices and lead out when opposition would have defeated lesser men.

But, here in America we have not been led by politicians alone. There have been many American leaders in business, entertainment, and religion that have helped lead us to where we are today. Our American social and political system allows us the freedom of choice. We are free to try to lead and we are free to follow whom we will. As a student of history, I have noted many individuals, some well known, some not so well known, who I feel have been leaders of historical consequence. These leaders are important to me because they influenced, for the better in my opinion, how we live in America today, politically, socially and religiously. And because I deem it important to understand the importance of good leadership in our society; to recognize its qualities in our fellow Americans; and to embrace it, developing those qualities in our individual lives, I have written some short histories, spotlighting individuals who, to me, epitomize leadership in America. I am sure there will be some who may initially disagree with some of my choices, be it for their personal political or religious persuasions, but hopefully they will consider my reasoning and be influenced by my arguments to see their merit. But, after all, it is a free country and we are free to see great leadership where ever we choose. The following are some of my choices.

Roger Williams
December 21, 1603—April 1, 1683

Roger Williams is believed to have been born December 21, 1603 in London, England--the records of his birth were destroyed in a later fire. A child of merchant-class parents, Roger entered an apprenticeship in his teens to jurist, Thomas Cooke. Cooke was taken enough with Williams that he became his patron for education, eventually sending him to Cambridge. Williams excelled in foreign languages, including: Dutch and french, and the ancient languages of Greek, Latin and Hebrew. At the age of eleven, Williams had spiritual conversion. He later took holy orders in the Church of England, but deciding that the Church of England was corrupted and teaching false doctrine, he eventually became a Puritan while at Cambridge. He married Mary Barnard in 1629, with whom he shared six children--all born in America--and in 1631 he brought his bride to America.

Upon arrival to American, Williams was invited to become the minister of the church at Boston. However, Williams was uninterested in the position, declaring that the church there was still too unseparated from the Church of England, that civil authority should not punish infractions against Ten Commandment laws, like idolatry, Sabbath breaking and blasphemy. He also preached that all should be free to worship according to their own convictions and that freedom of religion and separation of church and state were fundamental to true Christianity.

Much has been made of the founding fathers coming to the North American continent looking for religious freedom. Though those of our forefathers that came to the New World first were indeed able to enjoy religious freedom, it is ironic that in most cases they were unwilling to make similar freedom available to those who came after them. Unlike other New England Puritan leaders like Congregationalists John Winthrop, John Eliot and John Cotton, Roger Williams felt that the “New England Way” of religion was tied too closely to the state.

Williams opposed compulsory church attendance and interference by the government in religious beliefs fearing that such meddling would only corrupt the church. Roger Williams was well respected by most every one of his peers, but his questioning of the legality of congregationalism and his insistence that church and state remain separate were judged subversive and ultimately led to his banishment from Massachusetts.

Williams journeyed south and proverbially put his money where his mouth was. Purchasing land from the Narragansett Indians, Williams started a new colony named Providence and invited all dissenters from Orthodox Puritanism to move there. Although its Puritan critics called this new settlement, which became Rhode Island, “Rogues’ Island”, those seeking freedom for their own particular brand of worship streamed into the colony. In some 15 years it grew to accommodate 800 plus settlers and was considered the only colony in New England that practiced religious toleration. Though it was too often imperfectly practiced throughout some periods of our American history, Williams' idea of religious toleration would become the American ideal.

Roger Williams was by most standards a humble Christian. He apparently did not believe that he had a monopoly on religious truth or at least felt that there might be much more truth for him to know. American poet and editor William Cullen Bryant concludes in his book, Picturesque America, that although Williams was an ordained minister, Williams believed that there had been a great apostasy from the church that Christ had organized. According to Bryant, Williams, because of his understanding of Scripture, was awaiting a restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the calling of new apostles as the foundation, “There is no regularly constituted church of Christ on earth, nor any person qualified to administer any church ordinances; nor can there be until new apostles are sent by the Great Head of the Church for whose coming I am seeking. Picturesque America, p. 502) Williams earned his living as a farmer and not as a preacher. He spent much of his time doing missionary work with Indians and was trusted greatly by them. He was truly interested in their spiritual insights and tolerant of their religion. Much of the good will that existed between Indians and New Englanders in 17th Century North America was attributed to Roger Williams’ relationship with the Indians.

It should probably be lamented that those others coming to America, fleeing religious persecution, did not better follow Williams’ example of friendly, honest and equitable treatment of Indians. However, the leadership that Roger Williams provided has been felt for generations. His concept of the necessity of separation of church and state was borrowed from later by Thomas Jefferson and has since been the focus of much debate in the United States even till now. Perhaps, his greatest contribution to our civilization is that he was first to make reality of the myth that was freedom of religion in America.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What's In A Word? In Politics, Everything!

I am sure this is not the case for everybody--after all, the majority of voters elected socialists to the White House and Senate another time--but I am pretty sick and tired of the left creating new meanings for English words and phrases. I like the English  language. It is a bit cumbersome at times, with all of the words that sound alike but spelled differently, and it probably uses way too many French words to be ideal, but it is the language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. The Founding Fathers spoke, wrote and understood the English language in superb fashion. They said exactly what they meant. It is not their fault that many today are not educated enough to understand what they meant--that would be primarily the fault of our education system and the teachers' unions, I think. So, I am annoyed at how easily the socialists have stolen the meaning of words and phrases to corrupt the minds of English speakers.  I have three examples that particularly irritate me.

Example 1: One cannot read an old classic book or watch an old classic movie or television show without seeing or hearing the word "gay" used in the proper way, but having today's meaning of the word crash in and destroy the whole experience.  The culprits, of course, are the liberal political correction police. Because the term "HOMOSEXUAL" is found to be too harsh for the homosexuals to which it correctly applies, society has been bullied into using a word which means something totally different in its origins. Because of this nonsense, the perfectly good word meaning "happy-go-lucky" will likely never be used again in the proper way.  I think I understand why the word, "Queer" was eventually found offensive, but as I understand it, that was originally chosen by the homosexual community as a preferable term to "homosexual". Be that as it may, I find it not at all queer that most of the homosexuals in the media these days seem to be anything but happy-go-lucky. They want the word "Marriage" to mean something totally different from what it currently means, even from God's definition.

Example 2: The term "Fair Share" has also taken a big hit in modern times.  For some crazy reason, we have allowed a progressive income tax system to exist as a way of generating revenue. The word "fair" has many meanings, including "light in color", "pleasing to the eye", and "According to rules". Nowhere in any dictionary have I found a definition of the word that suggests inequality.  The word "Share", of course, primarily means a "portion". In almost every way is suggests equal divisions. In no way does "share" mean sole possession. However, our "friends" on the left have adopted a definition of the wealthy paying more, if not all of the the income taxes taken as revenue by the federal government. The term ":Fair Share" should mean that everyone would pay an equitable part of the income tax burden. I think God had it right when he commanded us to pay a tithe of ten percent of our increase. The rich would always pay more than the poor, because ten percent of a lot is more than ten percent of a little. This should be logical, but logic has never been the strong suit of the progressive left. And so we have an inequitable system in which the top one percent of income earners pay 30% of the nation's income tax burden while about fifty percent of the nation pays no income tax. If anyone is not paying their fair share, it would be the ones who pay no Federal income taxes.

Example 3: We have been hearing a lot about "Assault Weapons" the last couple decades. Is not any weapon considered an assault weapon? The last time I looked up the term, assault, in the dictionary--just now is so happens--the term meant "any violent attack, as an act, speech, or writing.  ...bodily injury to another. Rape, and so on." Weapon is defined as "any implement for fighting or warfare. Any means that may be used against an adversary: verbal weapons. The sting, claw, spur etc., of an animal". Interestingly, "defensive" is defined as, Intended or suitable for defense." It seems clear to me that weapons are not the sole property of those with a prerogative to assault their neighbors. I, for one, own defensive weapons. It does not matter if they are knives, swords, guns, or even my fists. Each of these weapons can be used for offense, but I live my life in a Christian attitude that allows force to be used in strictly defensive ways. It seriously matters to me how many rounds my magazines hold if my weapons are to be used for defense. If someone or some people want to do me or mine bodily harm, I want to be as sure as I can be that I have as many rounds possible to stop any possible threat. The progressive left can call it what they want, but I know that any weapon I and other law-abiding citizens possess are not "Assault Weapons" but Defensive Weapons".

These are not all of the examples I could draw upon, but they are sufficient, I think, to make my point. The progressive left co-opts language to create straw man arguments, like "pro-choice" when it ignores the value of the unborn and neglects to allow the unborn any choice. They realize that "pro-abortion", though more accurate, is a less harsh terms and is less offensive to the ignorant masses to whom they depend for votes. Language is the best way to make accurate and precise arguments and it is also the best way to muddy the water and distract from the true points. We should not let the left have their way with our language. Our language is virtually under assault, and as we have learned from the dictionary, assault can be rape and weapons can be verbal. So, I guess you might say English language has been ravaged.