Monday, March 31, 2008

Washington on Episcopal Bishop Samuel Seabury

For those of you who think the mixture of politics and religion is somewhat recent in American history, you might find the story of Bishop Samuel Seabury to be of interest.

The established church in several colonies, including Virginia, prior to the American Revolution was the Church of England (aka the Anglican Church). With the American Revolution, the status and structure of the Church of England was thrown into disarray. To simplify history a bit, the Anglican Church in the United States became the Episcopal Church, USA, and one of the central figures in this transition was the Right Reverend Samuel Seabury.

Seabury had been opposed to the American Revolution - a fact that was not lost on General and later President George Washington, who pointedly avoided any communication with Seabury. Imprisoned briefly in 1775, Seabury took refuge in New York for most of the war - even serving as chaplain to a Loyalist regiment.

By 1783, it was clear that Britain would not reclaim her thirteen American colonies. In March of that year, Seabury was elected by ten of his New England Episcopal peers to serve as bishop over the Episcopal church in America.

Seabury sailed for England for his consecration, but the London-based Anglican Church refused, citing Seabury's citizenship in America. Seabury then turned to the Scottish Church, which granted his request. Seabury then returned to America to reestablish the Anglican (now Episcopal) Church in the newly recognized United States of America.

In 1785, a young Episcopal minister approached retired General George Washington for a recommendation. The man was on his way to see Bishop Seabury, and thought General Washington, a well-known and highly regarded Anglican, would serve as a suitable reference. Washington's account of the meeting is as follows:

A Mr. Jno. Lowe, on his way to Bishop Seabury for Ordination, called & dined here. Could not give him more than a general certificate, founded on information, respecting his character; having no acquaintance with him, nor any desire to open a Correspondence with the new ordained Bishop.

In George Washington's Sacred Fire, Peter Lillback provides two reasons for Washington's feelings toward Seabury:

Why would Washington not have wanted to correspond with the newly ordained Bishop Samuel Seabury? In part, it was due to the differences they had over the cause of liberty. As a New England Anglican, Seabury had been a keen Loyalist and stinging critic of the American revolutionary cause. Furthermore, Bishop Seabury was also an adherent to the High Church doctrine of apostolic succession, a view that was deemphasized by the Anglican Low Church.

Lillback reveals another dimension to the politics surrounding Seabury's Anglicanism. High Church Anglicanism was philosophically in agreement with the doctrine of apostolic succession, as embraced by the Roman Catholic Church. The difference, of course, being that the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke with apostolic authority for the day -- as opposed to the Vatican in Rome.

The influence of the Protestant Reformation in England, however, had divided the Anglican Communion into two groups over this doctrine. High Church Anglicans favored strict apostolic succession, whereas Low Church Anglicans adhered more toward scriptural authority.

Not surprisingly, High Church Anglicans like Seabury sided with King George III during the American Revolution, whereas Low Church Anglicans like George Washington were more open to the Patriot cause.

Washington's Low Church Anglicanism also made him more open to other denominations, as seen in a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette, in which he wrote: "Being no bigot myself to any mode of worship, I am disposed to indulge the professors of Christianity in the church, that road to Heaven, which to them shall seem the most direct plainest easiest and least liable to exception."

Seabury's consecration as the American Episcopal Bishop was seen as an affront to many Low Church Anglicans, like Washington. Lillback explains:

[Seabury] had sought ordination independent of the concerns of Anglicans in the Low Church tradition, and he did so from the hands of Scottish bishops, who were more sympathetic to the Catholic side of the royal family, not the normal bishop of London, who had Protestant sympathies. This ecclesiastical maneuvering left the Low Church patriotic laymen in America feeling uncomfortable with Bishop Seabury and with little incentive or enthusiasm to embrace his leadership.

When one of Seabury's allies, the Reverend John C. Ogden, sent several appeals to Washington for help in a dispute between Seabury's Episcopalians and the New England Congregationalists, Washington declined to respond. One can see why. George Washington had nothing to say to Samuel Seabury and nothing to offer in support for his cause.

Try this Crossword Puzzle

If you like crossword puzzles, try this one from the folks at Archiving Early America. They have some neat online games, movies, and information that you can peruse and enjoy at your leisure.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Battle of Green Spring

Video footage from the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Green Spring...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Would Alexander Hamilton Approve?

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism is a cleverly titled and packaged book defending the free market economic system that Alexander Hamilton fashioned for the United States.

Would Hamilton approve of the points made by Robert Murphy in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism?

If you haven't read the book, you can watch this lecture....

...and then tell us what you think.

President Washington Takes on Lincoln & FDR

So, do you really think Lincoln and FDR are better Presidents than Washington?

If so, watch this...

Okay, it's admittedly irreverent, but the video caught my attention. Would've been funnier had they invested more money in the costumes.

John Adams Speech to Congress

In the HBO Films miniseries John Adams, the Massachusetts farmer-lawyer turned champion of independence gives an eloquent, heartfelt appeal for separation from Great Britain. It's a speech that some viewers of the HBO miniseries find hard to accept as coming from the 18th century statesman.

You can watch the scene in question here...

We know that John Adams was among the principal movers and shakers at the Second Continental Congress - that he was chief among those leading the charge for independence. And, according to biographer David McCullough, Adams gave "the speech of his life" on July 1, 1776 as Congress took up debate on Virginian Richard Henry Lee's pivotal motion for independence.

Sadly, we do not have an actual transcript of Adams' July 1 speech, so it fell to screenwriter Kirk Ellis and biographer David McCullough to recreate it. And therein lies the rub. To some, the recreated speech delivered by Paul Giamatti (the actor who brilliantly portrays Adams in the miniseries) was not John Adams.

This is perhaps one of those historical debates that has no resolution. For my own part, I'm inclined to give the powers-that-be over the HBO miniseries wide latitude. They did their best in recreating a dramatic moment for television, and it's highly unlikely that Adams would disapprove of the speech given by Giamatti.

In fact, it's quite likely the real John Adams would more than approve of this miniseries, for it places him back in the front rank of the Founders where he truly belongs.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

John Adams Meets George Washington

Another clip from the HBO Films' miniseries on David McCullough's bestselling John Adams. This clip shows John Adams meeting Virginia Colonel George Washington.

Documentary on Marbury v. Madison

Excerpt from an older TV documentary on the Marbury v. Madison decision which gave the judiciary the power of reviewing and determining the constitutionality of laws...

Most Insignificant Justice in US History

Watch this humorous excerpt from a speech by Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts talks about a founding era Supreme Court justice who may be "the most insignificant" Supreme Court Justice in American history. It's worth a few minutes of your time. Very humorous.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Andrew Jackson and Indian Removal

An excerpt from "The Presidents" covering Andrew Jackson and his legacy concerning Native Americans...

Why Not More Revolutionary War Films?

HBO Films' current release of the miniseries John Adams raises a question...

Why aren't there MORE miniseries or films set during the period of the American Revolution?

Sure, there have been a few. On the Big Screen, you've got The Patriot starring Mel Gibson and Revolution with Al Pacino.

And that's about it for the Big Screen.

When it comes to the Little Screen, you've got a varied assortment of miniseries and lower-budget television movies over the years, including:

...and the incredibly hard-to-find, but pretty good...

Why not more?????

The answer seems to be that moviegoing audiences tend to be teenagers and young adults, and this demographic just doesn't find early American history that thrilling.

Older audiences prefer to stay home and watch TV, and this explains why David McCullough went to HBO to produce John Adams as opposed to 20th Century Fox or Touchstone Pictures.

For my own part, I think younger audiences WOULD find the Revolutionary War era appealing IF it was presented in a more gripping format than the tedious name-and-date history class model to which they are accustomed.

What do you think?

Oh, and rumor has it that Tom Hanks and HBO Films are planning to produce David McCullough's bestselling 1776 as their next project. I hope that rumor is true - and I can't wait!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin Discuss Declaration

Here is HBO's recent take on the deliberations between Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson on the early draft of the Declaration of Independence...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Is Western Capitalism Inhumane?

This is an excerpt from a Q&A session with economist Milton Friedman. Friedman takes a question on the success of western capitalism. The questioner alleges that capitalism owes its success to slavery and exploitation. Watch Friedman's response.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How to Interpret the Constitution

Watch and listen to legal expert Edwin Vieira, Jr. argue for the doctrine of original intent in interpreting and understanding the Constitution of the United States...

Schoolhouse Rock: "No More Kings"

On a lighter note, who can forget this classic rendition of the American Revolution from the creative minds of Schoolhouse Rock?

Southern California SAR Salutes Washington

The Sons of the American Revolution salute George Washington in a southern California ceremony, profiled in this news story...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

John Adams: A Closer Look

Tonight's the night. John Adams starts this evening, debuting on HBO. If you don't have HBO, you'll have to get a friend to record it for you, buy the DVD when it comes available, or wait for it to broadcast on The History Channel.

Here's a closer look at the series.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The National Anthem by the Cactus Cuties

Has the National Anthem ever sounded THIS good????

"John Adams" Returns to Life THIS WEEKEND

The highly anticipated HBO Films production John Adams debuts this Sunday night. John Adams stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, and is based on the Pulitzer winning and bestselling book by the same name, authored by David McCullough.

Please follow this link to read an analysis of early reviews of the film. The analysis is written by Brad Hart, the founder and one of the leading contributors to the excellent "American Revolution" blog.

To visit the HBO film site directly, go here.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Slavery in the Deep South

A sobering and highly informative video excerpt (found on YouTube) covering the deepening of slavery in the Deep South...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hey Gamers! Have you seen this?

Those of you that enjoy computer and video gaming....

This is a Revolutionary War "mod" of the PC game Half-Life 2. Looks interesting.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Other Blogs of Interest

While I certainly don't want to encourage anyone to neglect or forget THIS blog, I nevertheless want to direct your attention to some other blogs - some wonderful blogs - pertaining to early American history. I hope you'll take time to visit them...

The American Revolution Blog -- one of the best blogs out there on early US history!

Boston 1775 - the title says it all! But this is a very interesting blog. I recommend checking it out!

Blog4History: American & Civil War History - a very popular and highly regarded blog

A. Lincoln Blog -- self-explanatory

These are just a few. For more, go to The History News Network and look up their list of recommended blogs.


Also, if you want to check out my other blogs, I'd love to have you do so - and provide any feedback...

Brian Tubbs on the Web - my personal blog

How to Vanquish Fear & Insecurity - a motivational blog

The Football Den - self-explanatory (football fans are welcome!)

Movies About History - self-explanatory

And be sure to visit me over at Suite101 and AssociatedContent, where I also write frequently.