Friday, August 01, 2014 Ranks George Washington #3 in List of Top 10 Presidents

Despite the fact that a successful George Washington presidency was indispensable to the United States of America getting off the ground as a stable, self-sufficient country, ranked him behind Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Here's the video....

Personally, I'd rank Lincoln as #2. Yes, his accomplishments were immense, and the United States would've surely divided into two or more countries, were it not for his leadership. But there would have been no United States to divide - no country to fight a civil war - had Washington failed. And to rank Franklin D. Roosevelt above Washington is intellectually unforgivable. Does FDR belong in the Top 10? Absolutely. Probably even in the Top 5. But ahead of the father of our country? Puleeeeeze.

What are your thoughts on the ranking?

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Tale of Two Revolutions: David R. Stokes Contrasts the American and French Revolutions

"The American and French Revolutions are linked in history largely because of chronology, but they were vastly different affairs," writes David R. Stokes in a column for "One led to a new birth of freedom - the other to terror and tyranny, becoming the prototype for unspeakable horrors to come."

To read more, go to...

David R. Stokes is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Shooting Salvationist. He's also an ordained minister, a broadcaster, and a commentator based in Northern Virginia. And, as my friend and former pastor, he's been something of a spiritual and professional mentor to me personally. And in this article, he articulates quite well the key differences between the two Revolutions in July, and why we as Americans should be forever grateful for the legacy of our Founders.

Happy Reading.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

July 2 -- 238th Anniversary of Most Important Congressional Vote and a False Prediction by John Adams

John Adams: wrong about July 2
Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago today (July 2), the Second Continental Congress voted unanimously for independence, officially severing ties with the British Empire - at least in their minds. They still had to fight a war to get the British to see things that way. As John Adams saw it, this date - July 2 - would go down as "the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America." In a July 3 letter to his wife Abigail, he prophesied that it would be celebrated every year "as the great anniversary Festival" complete with "Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more." But...

It was not to be. The American people chose to celebrate the Fourth of July (rather than the Second of July) as the "great anniversary Festival," thanks in large part to the power of the pen. While the Congress formally voted for independence on the Second of July in 1776, it wasn't until two days later that they officially declared the reasons for their independence to the world. They did so, of course, in the form of the Declaration of Independence, authored primarily by Thomas Jefferson. The anniversary of the approval of the Declaration of Independence became "the great anniversary Festival" Adams spoke of, only it was to be celebrated on the Fourth and not the Second.

This turned out to be somewhat of a source of envy for Mr. Adams. When future generations remembered the most significant action of the Second Continental Congress, they would think of Thomas Jefferson thanks to the eloquence of Mr. Jefferson's pen and not John Adams, who probably did more than any other congressional delegate to secure unanimous approval of America's independence.

Fortunately, Adams is remembered for the second most important vote Congress took, that being the selection of George Washington to be the commander of the newly formed Continental Army. That vote was taken in June 1775, and it was that masterstroke which united North and South against Great Britain and gave command of the army to a man they could all trust.

Even though Americans may think of Jefferson in connection with the Fourth of July before they think of Adams, few can dispute the immense role John Adams played in the birth and success of the United States of America.

**To read more about the contributions of John Adams, check out David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize winning John Adams and also his outstanding narrative history of 1776.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

1776 Printing of Virginia Declaration of Rights Acquired for Yorktown Museum

YORKTOWN, Va., July 1, 2014 – A rare newspaper printing of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, a precursor of the United States Declaration of Independence, has been acquired for the future American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, replacing the Yorktown Victory Center by late 2016.  The June 12, 1776, issue of The Pennsylvania Gazette containing the Virginia Declaration will be exhibited in the new museum galleries near a July 1776 broadside of the U.S. Declaration of Independence that currently is on exhibit at the Yorktown Victory Center.  

It was the June 12, 1776, Pennsylvania Gazette version of the Virginia Declaration that was available to Thomas Jefferson and the other delegates selected by Congress to draft the U.S. Declaration of Independence, a task they began in Philadelphia on June 11, 1776.  Expressing principles that citizens have the right to “enjoyment of life and liberty … and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety,” and that “all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people,” the Virginia Declaration of Rights directly influenced the composition of the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and many later statements of basic human rights.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights was an outcome of a resolution passed by the Virginia Convention on May 15, 1776, appointing a committee to prepare a declaration of rights and plan of government and instructing Virginia’s delegation to the Continental Congress “to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent states.”  A draft of the Virginia Declaration, whose principal author was George Mason, first appeared in The Virginia Gazette on June 1, 1776.  It subsequently appeared in newspapers outside Virginia, including The Pennsylvania Gazette on June 12, coincidentally the same date as a modified version of the declaration was adopted by the Virginia Convention.  

The Pennsylvania Gazette, founded in 1728, was one of America’s most prominent newspapers during the 18th century and for a time was published by Benjamin Franklin. The June 12, 1776, issue containing the text of the Virginia Declaration of Rights was acquired with private gifts to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., which directs fundraising efforts for private gifts, manages an endowment, assists with the acquisition of artifacts, and supports special projects and programs of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency that operates Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center history museums.

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present a comprehensive overview of the people and events of the Revolution, from the mid-1700s to the early national period, through gallery exhibits, films and outdoor living history.  The Yorktown Victory Center continues in daily operation as a museum of the American Revolution throughout construction, which is occurring in phases and will include a move from the existing museum building to the new facility in early 2015.

Located at 200 Water Street in Yorktown, the Yorktown Victory Center is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through August 15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily beginning August 16.  Admission is $9.75 for adults, $5.50 for ages 6 through 12.  A combination ticket with Jamestown Settlement is $20.50 for adults, $10.25 for ages 6-12.  For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chess for the Revolutionary War Enthusiast

The American Revolution Chess Set
Love chess? Chess is one of my all-time favorite games - a rich, classy game centered on skill and strategy. If you're in the market for a cool chess set, there are many unique chess sets to make any history lover drool. From the classic, can't-go-wrong medieval chess set to The Civil War Chess Set (which I fell in love with as a young boy) to chess sets featuring dragons and wizards and, of course, to a chess set that honors the most important period in American history (the Revolutionary War), there are plenty of options available.

Revolutionary War enthusiasts will of course enjoy simply playing chess on a Revolutionary War chess set, but there are "get your history on" while playing the greatest board game the world has ever played. Here are a couple...

Teach Your Kid the American Revolution and How to Play Chess at the Same Time!

If you're a parent, a great way to use The American Revolution Chess Set is to ask history questions before allowing any moves. When I taught high school history, I would often do review games in class. One of my standbys was to divide the class into two halves in a Tic-Tac-Toe competition. I'd throw out a question and the students on each side (either as individuals in turn or as a group) would need to answer the question before putting their X or O on the board. The games were fun and it helped the students remember what they had learned. You can do something quite similar with The American Revolution Chess Set.

If your child is older, then you each would make a list of questions for the other player to answer before they can move a piece -- or before they can capture a piece. If your child is younger, then you make the list of questions and, to keep things fair, you can let your child know exactly what you're planning to do game-wise (so there are no surprises for him or her) or you can give him or her the opportunity to move twice in a row (provided of course they answer the questions).

Battle of Revolutionary War History Buffs

If you're playing against a fellow history buff, what you can do is (after playing a regular, standard game naturally) make a list of 10 questions about the Revolutionary War for your opponent to answer. Your opponent will do the same. For each question answered correctly, you get a point. Tabulate your score. Now, when it comes to the game itself, you don't automatically get a queen when you advance your pawn to your opponent's back row. Instead, you assign a point value to each power piece: 10 for queen, 8 for rook, 6 for bishop or knight, and so on. When you get your pawn to your opponent's back row, you have however many points you earned in the Revolutionary War quiz to work with. If you got all 10 questions, you get a queen. If not, get the idea.

These are some cool ways to enjoy the classic game of chess while also testing your knowledge of the American Revolution. Feel free to add any other ideas in the comments.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chuck Norris on Thomas Jefferson

Martial arts legend and action movie star Chuck Norris weighs in on the third President of the United States in his latest political opinion column. According to Norris, we Americans have bought into some serious myths concerning Thomas Jefferson, and he hopes to set the record straight. You can check it out at the link below...

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Smithsonian to Honor Star-Spangled Banner Bicentennial

This coming Flag Day (June 14), the Smithsonian's Museum of American History will display the Star-Spangled Banner and the actual manuscript in which Francis Scott Key penned the words that would become our national anthem. This is the first time these two items have been displayed side-by-side. Read more about it at the article below...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why Did George Washington Not Call a Priest or Pastor to His Deathbed?

On this day (December 14) in 1799, the father of the United States of America breathed his last breath. George Washington was the greatest statesman North America ever produced and, quite possibly, one of the greatest in all of human history.

Given his immense stature in world history, it's understandable that many debate the specific nature of his faith. Washington was formally associated with the Anglican Church (which, of course, in America, became the Episcopal Church). He was also a Freemason. Yet, when it came to his faith, he played his cards close to his vest and many argue that these affiliations were more social than spiritual. They allege that Washington was never really a genuine, orthodox Christian and one of their best (at least in their mind) pieces of evidence is that neither Washington nor his family called a priest or pastor to his bedside at the time of his passing. Is the absence of clergy at Washington's passing indicative of his true spiritual or intellectual leanings?

In my short book Was George Washington a Christian?, I examine much of the debate surrounding the specifics of Washington's faith. I talk about the fact that he rarely, if ever, took Communion. And I address how little he publicly spoke of Christ. And I talk about the absence of clergy at his deathbed, which is what we will focus on in this article.

In His Excellency: George Washington, historian Joseph J. Ellis argues that Washington died a "Roman stoic" and not a Christian, and he points to the lack of clergy as Exhibit #1 in drawing that conclusion. This is a huge overreach on Ellis' part. Let me give you four reasons why:
  1. While Stoicism was distinct from Christianity in the ancient world, there are many Christians today (and many in Washington's day) who displayed Stoic tendencies or who held some Stoic convictions alongside their biblical beliefs. There's no reason to make this an "either-or" scenario. Yes, Washington was, in many ways, a "Roman Stoic." He was also, in many ways, a Christian. One such way was his official membership in the Episcopal Church.
  2. Calling clergy to one's bedside was not as convenient or as simple in Washington's day as it would be in later years. As a pastor, I've been called to the bedside of dying members...literally. Clergy in Washington's day had no phone. Getting a priest or pastor to Washington's bedside required a little more effort.
  3. According to the Bible, it's not necessary for clergy to be at someone's bedside when one passes into eternity. Catholics believe that "last rites" are a crucial part of someone's passing, since they involve a set of sacraments meant to prepare the soul for death. Anglicans, at least traditionally, put more emphasis on faith than on works or sacraments when it comes to a person's relationship with God or eternal destiny. If a member of the clergy had been at Washington's bedside, it would've been to provide spiritual comfort and encouragement to the Washingtons, not to help usher Washington into eternity. 
  4. Clergy were a part of Washington's funeral.
When it comes to those who question whether Washington was a true Christian, the best argument they have is that Washington rarely spoke of Christ publicly. That he didn't have clergy at his deathbed is frankly irrelevant to the authenticity or specific nature of his faith. And, honestly, the whole Communion issue is likewise a bit of a red herring. There are several reasons why someone, including a professed Christian, might decline to take Communion. We should not conclude that such a refusal equates with a denial of the faith.

George Washington died with dignity and confidence. He did not fear death, having faced the prospect of death many times before. He knew his time had come, and he was ready for the "Hand of Providence" to usher him from this life into the next.

For more on Washington's faith, I encourage you to read Was George Washington a Christian? 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

New York - 3 October 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.