It’s That Time of Year To Take Inventory . . .


In the Headlines

Not ready yet to leave the Christmas celebrations that honored the birth of Christ?  Me, too!  Yet, I am being rudely pushed to look back on the major stories and the deaths around the world in the headlines of 2016 before bidding it farewell–as if living through them wasn’t enough already!  This isn’t to say that I won’t welcome 2017 with open arms, because I will.  But, we can’t possibly know (or choose not to foretell) what is in store next for humankind.  And this is where I choose prayer over worry or anticipation, and to poke fun when and where I can.

Acknowledging Deaths of Notables

So let’s just chat a little about the counts and categorizations of these notable deaths of those humans who were better known than most of us because of their occupations and their lives in the limelight.  Yet for them, like many of our family, friends and neighbors, they were chosen–regardless of their age, gender, race or ethnicity, DNA heritage, wealth, or reason for notability to end their journey and stay here on planet earth.  Now this is what I call an equalizer!   Most of these notables were widely known in Hollywood and were comfortable in the various social circles in which these people congregate to celebrate life and their successes, and various media worldwide annually count and pay homage to them.

Interestingly enough though, these counts and categorizations vary depending upon the source who provides them.    For example, TV Guide’s web article sites 60; Legacy.com’s slideshow includes 93; CBS News’ slideshow has 151 as of December 28; and, one of my favorite genealogical resources findagrave.com has a comprehensive “Necrology” Page that lists people and links to individual biographies and memorial pages for those who have died during a specific time period.  Findagrave states that it lists only 75 of the most famous people who died during the year–it starts in the year 1900 and maintains famous deaths by year and occupation through the present day.  And my count of the photos totals 75.  In contrast, however, Findagrave’s comprehensive list classifies notables and spans them across a variety of 31 categories.  One would quite naturally think then that one wouldn’t find counts of as many as 76 names within a single category. Yet six of the 31 categories have 70+  deaths listed. In fact, Findagrave’s sum of their categorized listings for 2016 totaled  566 !!!  I guess I’m just being picky, or maybe Findagrave chose not to rank individual notables or their talents and skills for which they might be best known so they cross-classified them.

Below is my raw table of the 31 categories and counts of deceased with links to Findagrave’s categorized lists and associated pictures and biographies–followed by my admittedly quirky comments.

Click on any category within this table to go directly to findagrave.com’s page. choose thumbnails or list view, then click on any individual to see their full biography and memorial page.

Actors 76
Actresses 73
Animals 1
Artists & Architects 7
Authors and Writers 54
Business Magnates 3
Crime Fighters & Lawyers 1
Criminals, Eccentrics, & Oddities 1
Educators 1
Entertainers 75
Explorers & Adventurers 4
Magicians 0
Medal of Honor Recipients 3
Military Figures 5
Miscellaneous 9
Musicians & Composers 75
Native Americans 1
Organized Crime Figures 0
Philanthropists 0
Politicians 75
Relatives of Notables 0
Religious Figures 10
Royalty 6
Scientists & Inventors 9
Social Reformers 0
Sports Figures 75
Suffragists 0
U.S. First Ladies 1
U.S. Presidents & Vice Presidents 0
U.S. Supreme Court Justices 1
Victims of Crime & Disaster 0

Quirky Commentary

Let’s start with the obvious:

  • Take a look first at those table categories that were empty. These would be: Magicians–maybe there is more to this thing they call “magic,” than I realized; Organized Crime Figures–Ah ha–does crime really pay?; Philanthropists–did their gifts to charities and helping the needy buy them more time?; In the Relatives of Notables category, did Notables save their relatives just because they could?; Has society just given up and there are no more Social Reformers or Suffragists?; U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents–now there are a few who are getting up there and we all know the tolls of  being Commander In Chief;  Victims of Crime and Disasters–were there none this year, well that would be a wonder, if it were true.
  • Separate categories for Actors and Actresses?  After 1660 in England, women first started to appear on stage, the terms actor or actress was initially used interchangeably for female performers; in the 1950’s and 1960’s post-World War II period, contributions of women to cultural life in general were being reviewed and occupational titles were being updated to become unisex and universally applied to men and women.  With all the attention recently to transgenders–doesn’t a single category just make more sense?
  • Well, here’s a category that is seldom seen or heard about within notable deaths: Animals.  Let’s see, that reduces my 566 total down to 565.  In this instance, the inclusion was the 18-year-old 2001 Kentucky Derby Winner “Monarchos.”
  • Nancy Reagan’s fame became more universal when she was wife of our 40th President, Ronald Reagan and this country’s First Lady.  (But she was First Lady #39 because President James Buchanan never married!)  Nancy  Reagan was a professional actress from 1949-1956 and appeared in 11 movies and a music video.  She was also a social reformer for her “Just Say No” anti-drug abuse message.  So, Nancy’s fame was cross-classified among 3 categories:  Actress, Authors and Writers, and First Lady–But shouldn’t she also have been included within  the categories “relative of a notable,”  and “Politician?” After all, most of us know she was the woman behind the man–especially in the latter years of Reagan’s administration, during his catnaps.  So, I’ll subtract another 2 from my running count of 565 to make it 563 notable deaths of humans!
  • Now, what comes to your minds when you think “Artists and Architects?”I’m open to suggestions for one or more categories to improve upon Findagrave’s overarching category; but among the 7 notables listed, only 1 was a fine arts and sculpture artist–Marcel Barbeau; two were architects–Gertrude Kerbis and  Zaha Hadid; the remaining four notables:  1 was a cartoon films animator, another was a cartoonist and illustrator, and finally the last two included an entertainer’s costume designer, and a Paris-born fashion designer!
  • But wait, what about the 75 entertainers and 75 musicians and composers? Were the actors and actresses not entertainers, or were the entertainers who among them were Screen, TV, and music producers or directors, comedians, singers, not entertaining?
  • And finally, there also were 75 politicians listed–well, we all have heard far too much about politics and politicians this year–I will just leave this one alone.

Truly, 2016 was a year among years to be remembered–not because it was great in so many ways.  But rather, because it was so painfully hurtful and outright unbelievable in far too many categories–You know, all lives matter! We all should conduct ourselves mannerly and respectfully.  We also should ask ourselves today what legacies do we think we will leave behind, and what will we be remembered for by others when its time for our names to be listed?

Happy 2017 Everyone!

A Christmas Pause During “The Great War” (1914 – 1919)


“No Man’s Land” is the term used by soldiers to describe the ground between the two opposing trenches. Its width along the Western Front could vary a great deal. The average distance in most sectors was about 250 yards (230 metres). However, at Guillemont it was only 50 yards (46 metres) whereas at Cambrai it was over 500 yards (460 metres). The narrowest gap was at Zonnebeke where British and German soldiers were only about seven yards apart.

No Man’s Land contained a considerable amount of barbed wire. In the areas most likely to be attacked, there were ten belts of barbed wire just before the front-line trenches. In some places the wire was more than a 100 feet (30 metres) deep.

The group “Celtic Thunder” sings the story of this World War truce. The German soldiers take a spontaneous pause to sing Christmas Carols and from across “No Man’s Land the allied troops joined in before returning to their fighting in the morn . . . This heart-wrenching music video tells that story.

Christmas Traditions in Our Nation’s Capital


One of my former colleagues posted this article from a pamphlet he picked up at the Mary Surratt House Museum titled, “Christmas of Yesterday: A History of Our Treasured Traditions and Holiday Customs.” (If you recall, Mary Surratt was an alleged member of the Abraham Lincoln assassination conspiracy, and holds the dubious distinction of being the first woman executed by the U.S. government. She was hung for treason in July 1865.)

Some of us who are natives or have lived in and around Washington, D.C. (Congress on July 16, 1790, declared the “District of Columbia” as our nation’s capital). may already be familiar with some stories about Christmas traditions just because of our close proximity to The White House.  Others, maybe not so much.  So this post is intended especially for those of you who may be interested in Christmas traditions  in our nation’s capital during the Georgian (1714-1837) and Victorian (1837-1901) Eras.  I added parenthetical and bracketed information to further clarify the times covered within the quotes from the Surratt Museum pamphlet.

[Our second president {1797-1801} and first vice president {1789-1797}], John Adams, inaugurated the custom of holiday parties at the White House. The Oval Room was decorated with greens, and the tables were laden with cakes, punch, and other refreshments, while the children sang, danced, and played with the Adams’ grandchildren.

“Under Thomas Jefferson [President from 1801-1809],  Christmas parties became adult affairs where his guests feasted on imported cheeses, preserved fruits, and other delicacies and where vintage wines accompanied the meal. His six grandchildren wandered among the dignitaries, Congressmen, and Ambassadors, an informality which shocked many in Washington society.

“When Andrew Jackson came to the White House in 1829, he was in mourning for his wife; but his family put up a stocking on a White House mantel and the morning found it stuffed with small presents – including a corncob pipe. His nieces and nephews also had stockings filled with cakes, candles, nuts, and fruits.

“Because President Jackson had been raised as an orphan, he threw a party for other orphans. Among the treats were ices shaped like apples and pears to eat, and snowballs made of starch-powdered cotton to throw.”

“The first Christmas Tree entered the White House in the 1850s during the administration of Franklin Pierce (1853-1857). This official presidential sanction helped to popularize the custom in America.”

Our 16th president’s young son, Tad, reportedly rounded up street waifs during his father’s administration (1861-1865), and brought them home for turkey dinners.”

“By 1885,  President Grover Cleveland (1885-1889) had added new-fangled electric lights to the White House tree.”

“The tradition of Christmas season receptions spread throughout the area into homes not so grand as the White House.”

“On New Year’s Day, our early Presidents generally held an open house in the best democratic tradition. It was open to all, no matter the political and social differences.”

Even the simplest of homes in nearby Southern Maryland (where I grew up and still reside), could be simply decorated with pine, cedar, crowsfoot, running cedar, laurel, bay and holly from the nearby woods. Ivy and rosemary were, surprisingly, the most prized Christmas decorations of the Victorian era. Fresh fruits from the Washington Markets, abundant osage oranges, and pine cones and pods could all be added to the arrangements. Some accounts of the period refer to cedar boughs being dusted with flour to achieve the ‘snow’ effect that we spray on today.

“Mistletoe, shot from trees, abounded. New Englanders had to pay for mistletoe for it grows only in warmer climes, but Marylanders found it abundant in neighboring woods.”

“The proper Victorian was not too staid to enjoy a stolen kiss! And there was a proper way to kiss under the mistletoe. As the man kissed the lady, he was obligated to pluck a berry from the branch and present it to the lady. This practice continued until the berries were gone. The mistletoe then lost its power of love, and no more kisses could be had.”

Huh. That seems to be the Victorian version of the expression, “if you snooze, you lose.”

“Many a Christmas romance started under the mistletoe and led to a Christmas wedding the next year. The season was a popular time for weddings because family and friends traditionally gathered at Christmas and it was easier to get everyone together. The night before the wedding, a party was held at the bride’s house. The next morning the wedding procession began. The days following the wedding were filled with parties, for the bride and groom of the early and mid-19th century did not take honeymoon trips.”

“But, back to our customs…In the nearby hearth burned the traditional Yule log – or Christmas log as it was called in the south. This had been an English custom, and the Southerners stuck with their English ties.” [The Yule Log was believed to bring beneficial magic and was kept burning for at least twelve hours and sometimes as long as twelve days, warming both the house and those who resided within. When the fire of the Yule Log was finally quenched, a small fragment of the wood would be saved and used to light the next year’s log. It was also believed that as long as the Yule Log burned, the house would be protected from witchcraft. The ashes that remained from the sacred Yule Log were scattered over fields to bring fertility, or cast into wells to purify and sweeten the water. Sometimes, the ashes were used in the creation of various charms…to free cattle from vermin, for example, or to ward off hailstorms.]

“One practice on the plantations called for the Master to allow a Christmas rest for the slaves. The holiday lasted as long as the Christmas log burned, so slaves were often caught sprinkling water on it to keep it burning slowly.”

“A Victorian Christmas was bright and cheerful, and the decorations and parties were as simple or as elaborate as the people cared to make them.”

But, no matter the year, where you live, or how you and yours celebrate this season, let us all not forget, the true meaning and its reason!

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas!

Animated Map Shows Two Centuries of U.S. Immigration: 1820-2013


Emigration and immigrants have been a worldwide political hotbed issue in recent years, (especially in the United States during the 2016 Presidential Campaigns), because millions of people have migrated from their homes to other countries. Some migrants have moved voluntarily, seeking economic opportunities. Others have been forced from their homes by political or religious turmoil, persecution or war and have left their countries to seek asylum elsewhere.  Does this scenario sound familiar to those of us who have studied our ancestry?  Sure it does.

Fifteen years ago, on February 28, 2001, the United Nations General Assembly adopted December 18th as International Migrants Day, so I reached out to a couple of credible fact finders to provide us some key findings on the topic.  Hopefully, the information that follows will clarify at least some of the issues in and around the topic of immigration, emigration, and international migrants.

Max Galka graduated from The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology at the University of Pennsylvania:

This millennial entrepreneur from New York City, is fascinated by data visualization and the ways that data are transforming our understanding of the world–past, present, and future (like me).  I first got into data visualizations about 5 years ago but never went as far with them as I would have liked. Max’s accomplishments in this arena quickly made him one of my idols and I keep up with him primarily on social media.

Max’s map below animates the numbers who emigrated to the United States since 1820–just 30 years after the first Census of the United States which recorded about 4 million people.  Max has the following to say about his animated map:

“Since 1820, a total of 79 million people from around the world have emigrated to the United States and become lawful permanent residents. The animated map below displays them all. The brightness of a country corresponds to its total migration to the U.S. during the time periods shown.”

  • Today’s population according to the U.S. Census Bureau is estimated at over 325,000,000. In 1820, the year the animated map begins, the population of the United States was less than 10 million. It goes to show, we are all immigrants.
  • Initially, the bulk of immigration comes from Western Europe (Ireland, Germany, and the U.K.).  And, over time, the largest source of immigration follows a clear trend through the world.
  • 1880 starts the next wave from further east in Europe (Italy, Russia, and Hungary).
  • Throughout the 20th Century, most of the Immigration arrives from the Americas (Canada and Mexico).
  • And finally, the last few decades have seen a rise in immigration from Asia (China and the Philippines).

You also may be interested in Mr. Galka’s latest project Blueshift.  Blueshift delivers a tool for designing dynamic maps, like the one that he created, above. (I’m hoping this is my opportunity to take my data visualizations further, too.)  And Max also runs FOIA Mapper, which aims to open up “hidden” government databases using the Freedom of Information Act.

From Pew Research Center’s Fact Tank Reports:

Fact Tank is Pew Research Center’s real-time platform dedicated to finding news in the numbers. Launched in mid-2013, Fact Tank is written by experts who combine the rigorous research and quality storytelling for which the center is known to help readers understand the trends shaping the nation and the globe.

5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.–according to Pew Research Center’s December 15, 2016 Fact Tank Report:

How many international migrants are there? Where are they from? Where do they live?
If all of the world’s international migrants (people living in a country that is different from their country or territory of birth) lived in a single country, it would be the world’s fifth largest, with around 244 million people. Overall, international migrants make up 3.3% of the world’s population today.

 

International migrants are dispersed from across the world, with most having moved from middle-income to high-income countries. Top origins of international migrants include India (15.6 million), Mexico (12.3 million), Russia (10.6 million), China (9.5 million) and Bangladesh (7.2 million).  See: International Migrants by Country

Among destination countries, the U.S. has more international migrants than any other country. It is home to about one-in-five international migrants (46.6 million). Other top destinations of migrants include Germany (12.0 million), Russia (11.6 million), Saudi Arabia (10.2 million) and the United Kingdom (8.5 million).

But absolute numbers don’t tell the whole migration story. For example, while the U.S. has the most immigrants in the world, only 14% of the country’s population is foreign born. This immigrant share is considerably lower than that in several Persian Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, where three-in-four or more people are international migrants. Moreover, top destination countries like Australia (28% foreign born) and Canada (22% foreign born) have much larger immigrant shares of their total population than the U.S.

Interactive: Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, 1990-2015.Interactive: Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, 1990-2015.

Is international migration increasing?
It has increased substantially in terms of absolute numbers, but less so as a share of the world’s current population. The absolute number of international migrants has grown considerably over the past 50 years, from about 79 million in 1960 to nearly 250 million in 2015, a 200% increase. So by population size, there are far more international migrants today.

But the world’s population has also grown during that time, rising nearly 150% from about 3 billion to 7.3 billion. As a result, the share of the world’s population living outside their countries of birth has increased some during the past 50 or so years. In 1960, 2.6% of the world’s population did not live in their birth countries. In 2015, that share was 3.3%. As a share of the world’s population, the 0.7-percentage-point increase in the world’s migrant share is hardly insignificant. Nonetheless, the vast majority (nearly 97%) of the world’s population has not moved across international borders.

What have been some of the major pathways for international migration?
The impact of migration has been large for counties that are part of some of the world’s most-used migrant corridors, particularly when it comes to pathways between a single origin country and a single destination country.

For example, the Mexico-U.S. migration corridor has been one of the world’s most heavily traveled in recent decades. Today, about 12 million people born in Mexico are living in the U.S. This number has declined in recent years as net flows have reversed, with more Mexican immigrants leaving the U.S. than entering it. Also, the number of unauthorized Mexican immigrants in the U.S. has declined by 1 million between 2007 and 2014, even as the total number of unauthorized immigrants has stabilized at about 11.1 million.

While migration of Mexicans to the U.S. has been decreasing, Mexico is an important transit country for other U.S.-bound Latin Americans. U.S. border apprehensions of families and unaccompanied children have more than doubled between fiscal years 2015 and 2016, with most coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. A rising number of Cubans have also entered the U.S. via Mexico.

As of 2015, nearly 3.5 million Indians lived in the UAE, the world’s second-largest migration corridor. Unlike the Mexico-U.S. corridor, the number of Indians living in the UAE and other Persian Gulf countries has increased substantially during the past decade, from 2 million in 1990 to more than 8 million in 2015. Most have migrated for economic opportunities in these oil-rich countries.

The Middle East has the fastest-growing migrant population. When counting both international migrants and displaced migrants within their own countries (internally displaced persons), the number of migrants in the Middle East doubled during the past decade, from 25 million in 2005 to 54 million in 2015.

How many among the world’s migrants are refugees? Are they increasing in number?

Refugees are persons who cross international borders to seek protection from persecution, war and violence. Their total number has also increased from 50 years ago. Not including Palestinian refugees, there were about 1.7 million refugees worldwide in 1960, and about 16 million in 2015, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The number of refugees in 2015, however, is slightly less than the early 1990s following the fall of the Berlin Wall. As of 2015, refugees account for only about 8% of all international migrants.

Refugees are a subset of displaced persons worldwide. The latest UN estimates suggest that more than 60 million, or nearly 1 in 100 people worldwide, are forcibly displaced from their homes, the highest number and share of the world’s population since World War II. As of 2015, nearly two-thirds (63%) of the world’s displaced population still lived in their birth countries.

The Syrian conflict has dramatically increased the number of displaced people since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. About one-fifth of the world’s displaced, or 12.5 million, were born in Syria. Colombia, meanwhile, has more displaced people than any other country: nearly 7 million, most of whom are internally displaced because of the country’s decades-long conflict.

5 Facts about Illegal Immigration in the U.S.–according to Pew Research Center’s November 3, 2016 Fact Tank Report:

There were 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2014, a total unchanged from 2009 and accounting for 3.5% of the nation’s population. The number of unauthorized immigrants peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.

The U.S. civilian workforce included 8 million unauthorized immigrants in 2014, accounting for 5% of those who were working or were unemployed and looking for work, according to new Pew Research Center estimates. The number was unchanged from 2009 and down slightly from 8.2 million in 2007. The share of unauthorized immigrants in the civilian labor force was down slightly from 2009 (5.2%) and 2007 (5.4%). Compared with their 5% share of the civilian workforce overall, unauthorized immigrants are overrepresented in farming occupations (26%) and construction occupations (15%). In all industries and occupations, though, they are outnumbered by U.S.-born workers.

Mexicans made up 52% of all unauthorized immigrants in 2014, though their numbers had been declining in recent years. There were 5.8 million Mexican unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. that year, down from 6.4 million in 2009, according to the latest Pew Research Center estimates. Meanwhile, the number of unauthorized immigrants from nations other than Mexico grew by 325,000 since 2009, to an estimated 5.3 million in 2014. Populations went up most for unauthorized immigrants from Asia and Central America, but the number also ticked up for those from sub-Saharan Africa. Increases in the number of unauthorized immigrants from other countries mostly offset the decline in the number from Mexico.

Six states accounted for 59% of unauthorized immigrants in 2014: California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. But some state populations had changed since 2009, despite the stable trend at the national level. From 2009 to 2014, the unauthorized immigrant population decreased in seven states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina. In all of them, the decline was due to a decrease in unauthorized immigrants from Mexico. In six states, the unauthorized immigrant population rose over the same time period: Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. In all of these but Louisiana, the increases were due to growth in unauthorized immigrant populations from nations other than Mexico. In Louisiana, it was an increase in Mexican unauthorized immigrants that drove the overall increase in the number of unauthorized immigrants.

A rising share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for at least a decade. About two-thirds (66%) of adults in 2014 had been in the U.S. at least that long, compared with 41% in 2005. A declining share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for less than five years – 14% of adults in 2014, compared with 31% in 2005. In 2014, unauthorized immigrant adults had lived in the U.S. for a median of 13.6 years, meaning that half had been in the country at least that long. Only 7% of Mexican unauthorized immigrants had been in the U.S. for less than five years in 2014, compared with 22% of those from all other countries.

 

 

 

Witnesses to Great Commotions Over Religion, Politics, and Money


politics-religion-t-shirtYes, this post may be a game changer–where I dare to speak of religion, politics, and money–Growing up it was drilled into me to never talk about these topics in public and open conversation. But why?  Was this always an American position, or when did this begin?

From the history of my 15th century> ancestors primarily from England, France, Scotland and Wales, I learned that when people upheld their beliefs in conversation or practice, they were persecuted, imprisoned, condemned to death and mutilated, banished, or forced to flee their lands and families.

Persecution of Huguenots by Catholics

huguenots driven out of france

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

The slaughter of Huguenots (French Protestants) by Catholics at Sens, Burgundy in 1562 occurred at the beginning of more than thirty years of religious strife between French Protestants and Catholics. These wars produced numerous atrocities. The worst was the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris, August 24, 1572. Thousands of Huguenots were butchered by Roman Catholic mobs. Although an accommodation between the two sides was sealed in 1598 by the Edict of Nantes, religious privileges of Huguenots eroded during the seventeenth century and were extinguished in 1685 by the revocation of the Edict. As many as 400,000 French Protestants emigrated to various parts of the world, including the British North American colonies.

 “Souled Out” – European Persecution

America has long been a land where people have reserved the right to say, “I disagree.” Many early settlers left England in the first place because they disagreed with English practice. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were two brave puritan souls who reminded everyone at their own great peril of that most sacred right.The dominance of the concept, denounced by Roger Williams as “enforced uniformity of religion,” meant majority religious groups who controlled political power punished dissenters in their midst.  It was this religious conviction and persecution that drove Protestants and Catholics alike from Europe to the British North American.  Nonconformists were shown no mercy and many were executed as heretics.

In some areas Catholics persecuted Protestants, in others Protestants persecuted Catholics, and in still others Catholics and Protestants persecuted wayward coreligionists. Although England renounced religious persecution in 1689, it persisted on the European continent. Religious persecution, as observers in every century have commented, was often bloody and implacable and is remembered and resented for generations.

Religion and the American Civil War

Three of our nation’s leading Protestant denominations—Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists—were all divided over slavery or related issues. These church divisions fractured political parties, and ultimately helped to divide the nation.

Christians who opposed the war on religious grounds were often persecuted. The Brethren eventually were allowed to be exempted from military service if they paid $500, but most suffered for their stance. For example, John Kline, moderator of the Brethren Annual Meeting, became distrusted because he provided medical aid to soldiers from both armies. Once he was jailed for two weeks, without cause, and in June 1864 he was ambushed and murdered.

Many preachers, especially in the North, felt that through the war the final glorious reign of God would begin. Both sides thought the war would be over in three months. Instead, it lasted four years, until 364,511 Union and approximately 260,000 Confederate soldiers lay dead from bullets and disease. More Americans died in the Civil War than died in all other American wars combined.

Many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century by men and women, who, in the face of European persecution, who stood up for and refused to compromise their passionately held religious convictions.

Matthew Brady's picture of a sermon given to the "Fighting 69th" Infantry in 1861.

Matthew Brady’s 1861 picture of a sermon given to the “Fighting 69th” Infantry of the New York State Militia.

The New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established “as plantations of religion.” Some settlers who arrived in these areas came for secular motives–“to catch fish” as one New Englander put it–but the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct. They enthusiastically supported the efforts of their leaders to create “a city on a hill” or a “holy experiment,” whose success would prove that God’s plan for his churches could be successfully realized in the American wilderness. Even colonies like Virginia, which were planned as commercial ventures, were led by entrepreneurs who considered themselves “militant Protestants” and who worked diligently to promote the prosperity of the church.  Many of my ancestors, in fact, were quaker, baptist, and methodist ministers.

May 25 – September 17,1787:  The Philadelphia Convention

George Washington Is Elected President of and Presides Over the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia (now referred to as the Constitutional Convention)

George Washington Is Elected President of and Presides Over the Federal Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia (now referred to as the Constitutional Convention)

After nearly four months in session, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed by 38 of 41 delegates present at the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (“The Philadelphia Convention”). Supporters of the document waged a hard-won battle to win ratification by the necessary nine out of 13 U.S. states.  The Constitution and other laws attempted to draw lines separating certain official government functions from the nation’s religious life. But these same laws have largely steered clear of regulating religion in the political sphere. And indeed, religion has long been entangled in the nation’s politics and its political campaigns.

The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries and “Political Correctness”

Not much has changed over the past 2 to 3 centuries. Except that we Americans have been hammered with new terms to maintain our “political correctness.”  Who determines what is politically correct, anyway?  Is it the media? Leftists? Rightists? Academics? The public, in general? Somewhere between political correctness and bald-faced bigotry is our Constitution’s First Amendment that protects our rights to believe and say whatever we want.  political-correctness-and-merry-christmas
And yes, I acknowledge that this same first amendment also protects the rights of those who don’t agree with us so they can say whatever they want!  I’m starting to see that we as a human race still haven’t learned how to appropriately communicate with each other, to openly express and discuss our opinions, and to mitigate any discourse that comes as a result of our rights to this freedom of speech–this definitely is not to say that I am a proponent for the many derogatory and defaming words that some people choose to pummel at others because there are differences in race, sexual orientation, religion, politick, or other convictions.
Skipping Ahead to 2016 and the Presidential Election
is-politics-nothing-other-than-the-art-of-deliberately-lying-voltaire
October 15-18 2016: The Economist/YouGov.com conducted a web-based poll of 1,300 Internet Opt-in general population participants to get a handle on political views and the role of religion in their lives.   Its random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, and region) was selected from the 2014 American Community Study. Voter registration was imputed from the November 2014 Current Population Survey Registration and Voting Supplement.  The survey has an error margin of +/- 3.9%. Below is a snip it of its raw top line results for both politics and religion, but let me bottom line just a few sentiments collected as a result of this poll:
  • 2/3’s of respondents reported that religion was somewhat to very important in their lives
  • 3 out of 5 respondents said they prayed outside of religious services from several times a day to at least once a week
  • 55 percent of respondents reported their religion as either protestant (37 percent) or catholic (18 percent)
  • Just under one-third of respondents reported themselves as born-again Christians
  • Just under 2/3’s said this country today is: “off on the wrong track”
  • 80 percent said they would vote for either Clinton (42 percent) or Trump (38 percent)
  • 83 percent when asked the voting question a little differently, “whether they had a good idea of who they would vote for;” said:  “I have no idea”
1. Would you say things in this country today are?
Generally headed in the right direction  28%
Off on the wrong track                           63%
Not sure                                                   9%
2. Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the following people?
Hillary Clinton:
20%  Very favorable
20%  Somewhat favorable
12%  Somewhat unfavorable
45%  Very unfavorable
3%  Don’t know
Donald Trump: 15% 19% 10% 51% 4%
15%  Very favorable
19%  Somewhat favorable
10%  Somewhat unfavorable
51%  Very unfavorable
4%  Don’t know
3. Do you have a good idea of which candidate you’ll vote for in the presidential election in November, or are you still making up your mind? Asked of registered voters who will definitely/probably/maybe vote or have already voted
I have already voted                             5%
I have a good idea of who I’ll vote for 83%
I’m still making up my mind                  9%
Not sure                                                3%
4. Who will you vote for in the election for President in November? Asked of registered voters who will definitely/probably/maybe vote or have already voted – excludes registered voters who will definitely not vote
Hillary Clinton (Democrat)                  42%
Donald Trump (Republican)               38%
Gary Johnson (Libertarian)                  6%
Jill Stein (Green)                                  1%
Other                                                    3%
Not sure                                                8%
Probably won’t vote                              2%
  1. How important is religion in your life?

Very important                               37%
Somewhat important                     29%
Not too important                          16%
Not at all important                        17%

 144. Aside from weddings and funerals, how often do you attend religious services?

More than once a week                10%
Once a week                                15%
Once or twice a month                 10%
A few times a year                        14%
Seldom                                          23%
Never                                             26%
Don’t know                                       2%

145.  Would you describe yourself as a “born-again” or evangelical Christian, or not?

Yes                                                    31%
No                                                     69%

 146.  People practice their religion in different ways. Outside of attending religious services, how often do you pray?

Several times a day                         29%
Once a day                                      16%
A few times a week                         13%
Once a week                                     3%
A few times a month                         6%
Seldom                                            15%
Never                                               16%
Don’t know                                         2%

147.  What is your present religion, if any?

Protestant                                         37%
Roman Catholic                               18%
Mormon                                              2%
Eastern or Greek Orthodox                1%
Jewish                                                2%
Muslim                                                2%
Buddhist                                             1%
Hindu                                                  0%
Atheist                                                4%
Agnostic                                             5%
Nothing in particular                         21%
Something else                                  5%

Abraham Lincoln’s Perspective

Whether choosing to talk politics, who’s side you’re on, who you voted for and why, or comparing the laws of man to God’s laws, Abraham Lincoln probably said it best when he said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Sources:

Christianity and the Civil War
History.com’s This Day In History:  September 17, 1787
Library of Congress:  Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
Pew Research Fact Tank:  Key Findings About Faith and Politics in the 2016 Presidential Campaign
The Economist/YouGov Poll:  October 2016
The Journal of Southern Religion: The Politics of Faith During the Civil War
USHistory.org:  Dissent in Massachusetts Bay