The United States of America, bearing Shades of …the Renaissance…?

I suspect that many of us, when we have occasion to think about America’s founding, might have a kind of limited vision.

I become more intrigued every day by our spectacular history. But until recently, the extent of my awareness was limited to specific Revolutionary times & events. Seeing a larger picture brings about a cohesiveness for me, that allows an appreciation & a respect for other countries, cultures & times that I just plain didn’t have before…

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When I first began to be interested in America’s founding & Founders, my focus was initially on our first Commander-in-Chief, General & President George Washington. His background still gives me great pause. My respect for & gratitude to God, for how He worked to fashion & equip this man to lead into being the greatest country ever to exist, becomes ever more profound.) Those thirteen United States of America were my only focus. From there, I soon moved forward & then branched outwards, into related topics. But I never really ventured backwards too far beyond the Revolutionary past – except for George Washington’s & Thomas Jefferson’s!

Like arriving at a movie theater a half-hour late – you have to get your bearings & find out what happened before you arrived!

In actual historical knowledge covering centuries, that can take some doing…and some time…to catch up. I suspect I/we never really will – not on this earth, in this age and dimension. It will probably take eternity to catch the full vision of God’s intentions for America, woven into the awesome tapestry of all that exists, has existed, and will exist according to the heart, mind & works of Yahweh.

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So often, I have seen language like this: “The Preamble {to the Declaration of Independence}has often been cited as a great political and a great human statement…this represented the first time in history that these principles were being put into action, as the basis for founding a new government and a new nation.” This statement continues “…in one sudden thrust…a kind of freedom that before had been only a matter of philosophical discussion…” had become that hallowed goal to which our founders most solemnly committed their all. (Vincent Wilson, Jr., ed., The Book of Great American Documents)

My heart soars whenever I read such words!

But, as I learned more about the thinking of our Founding Fathers, I discovered that much of the structure and ideas underlying & leading to our form of government had come from ancient Greece and Rome, among other sources. Since then, it has surprised me to realize that much of what I had considered uniquely American ideals & practices had their origins elsewhere. It was, in fact, opposition to the eventual corruption of systems of liberty elsewhere in the world, that provided a written narrative that crossed the Atlantic & fueled the thought processes of the Americans, leading the way to our great war for independence.

To my even greater surprise, the very country from which we so radically broke – England – has been quoted as at one time being“…a uniquely favored people, the freest in the world.”(Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism) The England I had known was ruled by the tyrant King George III, so when did this happen?! Not only had England once been a country with a markedly American-sounding governing body, but shades & tones of future colonial ideals and endeavors appeared in the 15th., 16th. and 17th. centuries as well.

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Renaissance Italy provided what came to be a rebirth in the colonies, in times preceding the American Revolution, a “revived perception of the collectivity of public life…which men might think about and be a part of…”and which life, especially political, included virtue. (Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism)

I backtracked to what is today the city of Florence, searching out its medieval past, and found it to be quite interesting. “…Michelangelo created his famous statue of David to be located in front of the Palazzo della Signoria as guardian to the Florentine freedom.” (About Florence)  By mid-15th century, in fact, the Florentine people considered themselvesthe heirs to the Ancient Roman Republic, prepared to sacrifice for the cause of freedom and liberty.” Does not such a mindsetdeclaration (2) foreshadow language to be penned over two centuries later, by men who, for the cause of freedom & independence, pledged their own lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor?

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Archaeological findings point to an Etruscan village, settled around 200 BC, as being the beginnings of Etruria_map_METFlorence. Interestingly enough, the ‘small town’ of Rome had been included in Etruscan territory as well, until about three centuries earlier; it broke away & in succeeding decades gained control of some of the surrounding settlements. Eventually, it moved against Etruria, which had become a very powerful league of kings, and prevailed. By the time Florence was established, Etruria had been under Roman rule for about 65 years. The tables had been turned, Rome was in charge & Florence dwelt under its dominion.

A more commonly accepted history is that Julius Caesar, in 59 BC, constructed a garrison, Florentia, on the Arno River, connecting Rome to northern Italy & what is now known as France. It is unclear as to whether the garrison was built on the site of the pre-existing settlement of Florence. Either way, Florence was birthed within Roman territory. And Rome sprang from, and was influenced by, Etruria & its ways, including its theocratic republics.

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I’m not finding much about Florence during the centuries between its Etruscan village days & the 1100’s AD. At one point, it became a part of a territory called the Marquisate of Tuscany, which was founded in

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Tomb of Matilda of Tuscany

the 9th century AD. Mid-11th century, Matilda of Tuscany was given rulership over the Marquisate. Matilda was “one of the few medieval women to be remembered for her military accomplishments”, and “one of the most important figures of the Italian Middle Ages.” Florence may not have had much choice about existing within her powerful domain, but upon her death in 1115 AD, it resisted her successor, resulting in bloodshed & his death, and established itself as a free commune.

First mention of Florence as an official republic has been recorded as in 1138 AD. At that time, the city Florence Republic, Italy_1494ADjoined with several others in forming a league against Henry X, Margrave of Tuscany and duke of Bavaria. (It was feared that Henry, who had previously oppressed them as imperial legate, might be elected emperor.)

(Note: It’s interesting to me that, according to a study conducted through the University of Florence in 2004, about 15 old, aristocratic families (money & power?) settled in Florence during the 100 yr. period prior to Matilda’s death, after which the city came into its own as a recognized republic. I say that this influx of established families is ‘interesting’ because it is today considered by many that this world is run covertly by about 12 or 13 wealthy, elite families, such as the Rothschilds or Rockefellers, among others. Were similar agendas in place in Italy during the 12th century as well?)

After the failure of the 1378-1382 popular regime and the disappearance of the guild regime, a small number of families, long present in positions of state power, are said to have stolen political power…” (An Invisible Princely Regime, Cairn.info)

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As a free commune, life in Florence was governed by a nine-member council called a signoria. Headed by a gonfaloniere, the council members & their leader were replaced every 2 months. The new members were chosen by lottery. “The lottery was often pre-determined, and the results were usually favourable to influential families.” (Strathern, Paul, Medici: “Godfathers of the Renaissance”)

Additionally, to even be considered for a seat on the signoria, one had to be a member of one of Florence’s main guilds: bankers, judges & merchants.

Florence was simultaneously a political regime that favoured citizen self-government and a system largely controlled by a ruling political class” (Cairn.info)

(Sound a little…contrived? Slanted in favor of the more accomplished, wealthy, powerful? Remind you of any modern-day power structures?)

…nonetheless…”the ideals that emerged in Florence at the very end of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth centuries…having numerous roots in classical Greek and Roman philosophy, as well as in the political philosophy of the Middle Ages…would ultimately have important repercussions on the constitution of a specifically modern republican tradition.” {bold mine} (Civic Humanism and Republicanism, Cairn.info)

It was…in Florence that the modern concept of the republic was created…”

…deliberative and electoral techniques and the forms of voting that would become standard in modern politics“ were practiced in the Florentine republic. (Florentine Political History, Cairn.info)

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Some are familiar with the concept of America as a ‘redeemer nation.’ In his preface to Redeemer Nation: the Idea of America’s Millennial Role, author Ernest Tuveson introduces a quote from an historian-statesman of the turn of the 19th century. In it, he declares what he believes is the purpose & calling of the nation. The quote ends with these words: And of all our race He has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the redemption of the world.” (Albert J. Beveridge) Tuveson questions, ‘when & how did the conception of an American redemptive mission begin?’ He believes those moments arrived during the reversal of certain interpretations of history that were prevalent during the Middle AgesThe Machiavellian Moment and the Renaissance periods, interpretations concerning St. Augustine’s ‘city of God.’ It began to be thought that perhaps a life of citizenship & being active in the commonwealth might be more desirable, or at least comparable to, a contemplative life.  what was happening to the earthly republic here & now, or what might happen & why; and how the actions of men, both immediately and over time, could bear on its fate…” (J.G.A Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition)

Near the end of the 15th century, Dominican friar, preacher/prophet & reformer Girolamo Savonarola, active in Renaissance Florence and her spiritual & civic life, worked zealously to restore the strict virtues

Savonarola

Girolamo Savonarola

of republican piety to the city. Savonarola denounced tyrants in government & corruption in the clergy. He sought to purge worldly, lewd excess from the city. If she would be penitent & turn to more Godly ways, he declared that Florence would become the “New Jerusalem, the world centre of Christianity…” (Under torture Savonarola eventually confessed to having invented his many prophecies and visions, using them as “a means of enhancing his worldly glory…and effecting his political will.” Yet such a ‘prophecy’, so similar to a coming American ‘redeemer nation’ belief, gives me pause. Do we see a precursor of the future here?)

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Researching this amazing city, I am almost stunned by the crushing constancy of powers opposing its freedom. Valiantly, the people of Florence resisted princely rule longer than any commune excepting Venice. Though remaining a republic for four centuries, the clashes & turmoil, both external as well as internal, never ceased. Coups, conspiracies & assassinations peppered the times. Kings, dukes, popes & emperors marched relentlessly across the stages of Florentine history, sometimes allies, sometimes adversaries. The marriage of secular & religious power, to achieve might, shocks me. Even worse, “…Cardinal Giovanni de’Medici captured Florence with Papal troops during the War of the League of Cambrai.” (Wikipedia) Papal troops? ‘Religious’ military? What was that supposed to be, force in the name of Jesus?

In the end, a similar act of papacy-fueled civil dictate, paired with a powerful family, shut down the Florentine republic forever. “In 1533, Alessandro de’Medici was created Duke of Florence by his uncle Pope Clement VII.” Alessandro’s successor was made Grand Duke of Tuscany thirty-six years later. The Medici ruled as grand dukes over Florence until their extinction in 1737.

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As an American living in the early 21st century, reaching back in time to learn a little of the rich & complicated histories that wove life together, centuries ago, in the days of an earlier republic, I can’t help but sense a kinship of sorts. Though the Florentine republic fell, she too, as did the thirteen American colonies in 1776, stood for freedom.

Managing freedom, where men are not angels, is no easy task.  Florence’s struggle, I think, was Herculean. (As is ours in the United States of America even today.) The forces that seek to steal & abuse freedom, in her case, finally succeeded. Wealth, families in power, papal/’religious’ power…not a mix conducive to liberty.

It appears to me that we in the United States of America have inherited many good things from this once thriving city-state. It seems to me that God was working through them, for our future benefit, planting seeds of blueprints, clues, instructions for government. But in my readings concerning Florentine history, though I did find many mentions of popes, I saw no mentions of Jesus. Simple, New Covenant knowledge of the Savior.

Perhaps that was their fatal flaw?

 

More than just a Signature

Reblogging a favorite post of mine…Francis Lewis, a signer of our Declaration of Independence, played a critical part in the success of the Revolutionary War.

Jesus, the Revolution & You

Have you ever heard of Francis Lewis?  Does the name Abraham Clark ring a bell?  How about John Hart?

Some of you may have guessed that these are the names of three of the men who, along with 53 others, signed that most historic of all documents, the Declaration of Independence.  But do you know their stories?  In fact, do you know anything about any of those men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for the cause of freedom?  We all know about Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, but the majority of these forefathers of ours remain in obscurity for most of us, I imagine.

This shouldn’t be.

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I believe with all my heart that those Founding Fathers with whom we are all familiar were destined by God Himself to be our Founding Fathers.  I also believe that each of the 56 men who signed our…

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Exchanging Your Reality…the Son of God in You

In my life, I have thought more highly of myself than I ought. (Romans 12:3)

These days, I am finding that as I really pay attention to certain Bible message recordings and LET those seeds sink in, I can see how…far short I fell.

This statement is not meant to heap guilt on myself, or anyone else reading this who can relate! I think it’s just a matter of growth…which God gives in the appointed time. But seeing what’s there, into which we can enter & have our being, compared to how I was…and which I thought was the right place but now I see, was just on the way to the right place! is like turning over a new leaf.

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It may be a case of accepting a new reality. We come to Christ while being engaged in living in the world system, and knowing what we experience as natural life, with all its involvements & entanglements. We have no spiritual discernment, as a rule, it seems.

Then, one day, there is a moment, there is an encounter, and we meet up with Jesus. If we choose him (or rather, agree? with His choosing us, perhaps is a better way to phrase it )(John 15:16), then we are translated into the kingdom of Light. After years or decades of not living in that kingdom, we find ourselves transplanted & beginning a learning and changing process. Everyone’s rate of growth & learning curve is unique to them, but I think for most of us, when all is said & done, it does take some time to come into full bloom. (Or as full a bloom as we can, according to God’s good pleasure.)(Hebrews 13:21)

I am at a place where I am beginning to see the more full extent of the exchange of my mindset for His.

And I think it has more to do with ingesting His Word than it does with any ‘effort’ on our part. To really believe a Scripture may challenge your reality more than you realize. But it’s where the rubber meets the road, and the point of origin of freedom in Christ. It is daring & it is bold, but there comes a point when you cannot back away from it. In a way, it is a form of laying down your ‘life’ in that moment & choosing His reality. It is centering. In those moments, you can feel old things fall away. You can sense your new garment.

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Especially clarifying for me is seeing how damaging to life and liberty in Christ is the application of a confrontive & maybe even angry ‘contending for the faith’. We would see Jesus, and it is good to show Jesus to others, not incite hostility. You may need to look to yourself & your motives, and most especially see Jesus & learn of Him before you launch a campaign against something or someone.

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∗∗(If any of what I’ve just written resonates with you, you may want to listen to the messages that triggered off these realizations for me:   Freedom from Condemning Other People’s Beliefs” & “Healing through the Character of God”, available at http://www.lovinggrace.org.)

 

The Redemption of Washington, DC

I had never really thought about cities – how they come into being, why, what is represented by them. Except for an excursion into the origins of Sydney, Australia, urban life & habitation hasn’t been on my radar.

…and I definitely never invested any thought into the origins of Washington, DC…

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From the perspective of 21st century America, we know that those thirteen colonies were destined to prevail in the Revolutionary battle for independence. It is easy to make the assumption that somehow, they also knew that. I had unconsciously carried that kind of thinking in my mind, and so did some of my early-days blogging companions. It may not be a natural response today, to sense the risk, the uncertainty & probably immobilizing fear that would have waged its own war against the thrilling expectations, the glorious hope of & faith in ultimate victory. Especially as the years of war dragged on…

Similarly, from my 21st century America viewpoint, I always just assumed that Washington, DC, as the final capital city of the United States of America, had been a done deal. A slam dunk. Everyone wanted that, and the city/district was created, along with the Capitol building & White House, without a hitch.

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Washington DC , 1800 – US Capitol

(Have I ever met people? In what universe was I living?)

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Washington, DC remained a slatternly miserable village throughout much of the nineteenth century, hardly endurable…” according to Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, authors of The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800.

That was an unexpected revelation!

Fast-forwarding to today, and considering the hostile, accusative & bitter environment so often seen in Washington, DC as the seat of our government, I have to wonder: has an element of its former tarnish, its spoiled & soiled soul, remained? Threading its way through the years, its people & its activities?

If so, why?

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Elkins & McKitrick posit that cities are not created – rather, they ‘germinate’ and then grow. Beneficial growth requires planning & supervision, based on ‘clearly recognized needs’. And not needs only, but the values resident in what/who may already exist in the area.

Commerce also – even & perhaps especially an element as simple as the local market – had proven, through its presence & activity in the towns & cities of medieval Europe, crucial to urban expansion & success. Burgeoning commerce and its attendant developments & accommodations gave rise to a ‘culture strikingly distinct from that of the peasant countryside’. (John Mundy & Peter Reisenberg, The Medieval Town) Distinct from the peasant countryside also, would be the medieval universities that chose cities instead as their habitation.

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The complex social existence that developed in these places forged ties & loyalties whose strengths depended on a healthy corporate functioning; citizens knew there were advantages to be had, benefits & security found only in their belonging to a civic body.

The idea is presented in The Age of Federalism that the men who attempted the planning of Washington, DC had no concept of these actualities. They were men who “had no feeling for cities at all, little sense of what a city was, and little experience of what urban life meant.”

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…well…I’m just laying some of the backstory. The explanations for the fiasco of raising up Washington, DC are more complicated than I’m presenting here today.

A long & bloody war had not that recently been concluded. An entire new nation was being formed & nurtured, and “…there was little room in the American imagination for the idea of a metropolis…” Healing, survival & prosperity don’t happen overnight. Mix all that up with the passions & oft-misguided desires of men and you can see how it might be difficult to…well, see clearly or have had the needed background to know how to plan & build the nation’s official Federal city.

Additionally, the American experience with the metropolis/city was London – I will take the liberty of calling it the colonists’ ‘nemesis city’, corrupt and “where all the schemes for abridging colonial liberties had been hatched.” A Founding decision was made not to allow any such presence in America. But inherent in that decision was also the denial of a place where political authority, commerce & money, and art & intellect could converge. The American people did not have a clear model for their capital city. Looking to a capital where the avenues of civic, social & economic activities could interact, citizens might have had more of a sense of national character & culture within which they could engage.

But, as Elkins & McKitrick state “the anti-urban, anti-metropolitan component of the Revolutionary mentality” proved most persistent.

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…but I’m wondering if there were other forces at play that hindered the desired success of this venture, and whose dark poisons linger still.

If so, what can be done about it?

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I think it’s interesting that the land on which the District of Columbia was raised up, was originally partly marshland. (Some say entirely ‘swamp’…but a little investigation disproves that.) I think it’s interesting because marshy areas bring to my mind Genesis 1:2, “and the earth was without form, and void…”. I wonder, just as God brought forth from that formlessness, that which He finally declared “very good” (v.31), were His intentions for the capital city of the United States of America the same? And just as the serpent slinked his way into the perfect scenario of Paradise, destroying its beauty by poisoning its very existence with his corrupted motives…did that happen to & during the creation of our early capital city?

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One of my theories, based on these readings, is that a city is where the nature of a thing/place comes to a focal point, and is manifested. Elkins & McKitrick conclude that the focal points of Washington, DC were the edifices & monuments that are the visible symbols of majesty and authority, and that the city was primarily designed for the requirements and convenience of the nobility.”

Pennsylvania Avenue

Pennsylvania Ave – Washington DC 19th.Century

In fact, in designer Pierre L’Enfant’s original plans, references to “grand avenues”, “grand edifices” and “grand fountains” are frequently made, with not much mention of provision for everyday life & commerce. (Lewis Mumford, The Culture of Cities) The first few decades of the 19th century produced a total absence of all sights, sounds or smells of commerce” (James S. Young, Washington Community).

The impression is given that the very elements which forced the founding fathers & colonists to severely break from their mother country – monarchical majesty? – were once again taking root?

Was DC launched with wrong motive?

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Jesus told us that when we ask and don’t receive our request, it is because we asked with wrong motive.

At least in more recent history, we hear so much about the fat cats in Washington, the wealthy **global elite running the show (or trying to) for their own selfish purposes and perhaps – in the extreme – unholy agendas, while the bread & butter, the muscle & heart of this great country – the people – are often disregarded, used & hoodwinked, if possible. Does it appear that bad seeds – if I may mix metaphors – came home to roost?

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It would not seem that God is against cities, or at least the idea of a city, as Scripture speaks of Abraham looking for a city whose builder & maker is God (Hebrews 11:10), and “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” in chapter 12, v.22. While the term ‘city’ used in each of these verses may be a spiritual metaphor, nonetheless the actual definition does read ‘a town (properly with walls)’ in the Greek dictionary of Strong’s Concordance.

So I guess the problem might be with the nature of the substance of a city, and accordingly, what kind of fruit is produced?

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While reading my source material for this article, the thought of Jericho, the Biblical ‘cursed city’ came to mind. I remembered something I’d read in an old Bible study manual, regarding that curse on Jericho (Joshua 6:17), and on the one who would rebuild it (v.26) (after Joshua invaded & destroyed it). On the face of it, one gets the impression of doom…but this particular Bible preacher had pointed out a completely opposite result.

I could not locate my old Bible study manual, so I did some online research. I did find the same type of outcome stated in this online study of Jericho.

(I am not in 100% agreement with some other conclusions drawn in this study – for instance, I myself don’t know anywhere Scripture indicates that believers reclaim this Earth in battle…I am omitting that part…otherwise, the gist of the conclusion made here does seem accurate to me.) I am posting some final parts of the study:

In the Battle of Jericho we see that after Jericho is purged with fire, Joshua son of Nun sets the cost {places the curse} of rebuilding the Kingdom at the expense of the owners “firstborn son” and “youngest son”. We know from the Bible that the cost of redeeming this planet back to YHVH and the Remnant back to YHVH came at the expense of YHVH’s firstborn son {Jesus}. And it is with the purchased lives of the eldest to the youngest of the sons of God {believers in Christ}that this Earth will be governed, rebuilt, re-established, after the Earth is purged by fire and everything in it destroyed.”

**“…Today as we witness the Global Elite make their move to control this planet, we see them destroying the Earth. They are poisoning our atmosphere with chemicals, poisoning our water supplies, playing with our weather, and they are playing with the genetics to attempt to achieve eternal life (trans-humanism). In the end, they will neither govern this Earth nor will they achieve Eternal Life…” (Summary)

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…my intention in including the Jericho example/study is as more of an overview than showing many & specific details. I have not read the entire study. But it does seem like Jericho may represent an ultimately redeemed city/state/earth. If such is true, why cannot Washington DC know redemption as well?

Are you a citizen of the United States of America? Do you know Jesus? Then BE BOLD FOR YOUR COUNTRY in His Name! TODAY pray through history & declare the redemption of Washington DC to righteousness.

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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY !

 

“…at that dramatic moment in the summer of 1776 when the Declaration was passed, the ageles tyranny of despotic rule was, at one blow, formally denounced and broken. The echo of that blow will surely ring down through the ages.”

(The Book of Great American Documents, Vincent Wilson, ed. – his Introduction to the Declaration of Independence)

 

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God Bless America

Re-visiting Francis Marion, the ‘Swamp Fox’: Whatever It Took

Marion deserves to be remembered as one of the heroes of the War for Independence.”

(Sean Busick, introduction to Wm. Gilmore Simms, The Life of Francis Marion.)

 

In April, 2014 I wrote a piece about the character of Benjamin Martin, portrayed by Mel ...from Majiid Nawaz to Mel Gibson, The PatriotGibson in the stunning Revolutionary War movie ‘The Patriot’. At that time, if memory serves, I wasn’t able to find much information about Francis Marion, the real-life patriot on whom Gibson’s character was based.

Also at that time, I remember vague wisps of memory seeming to indicate a television series that I had watched as a child or teenager, a series about the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion…it seemed I rather had a crush on this swash-buckling renegade…but the memory was barely there. I figured I was imagining it. Or maybe it was an entirely different show…time can certainly fade memories!

Well, I wasn’t imagining it!

And I’ve recently learned considerably more about Francis Marion, the ‘Swamp Fox’ of Revolutionary American legend & lure.

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True to his fictional counterpart, Francis Marion was himself a South Carolina plantation owner before the war began. Having had previous combat experience fighting the Cherokee in 1761, as a lieutenant in a light-infantry company, Marion was already positioned to be made a cavalry captain by his former commanding officer when the war for independence began. A lieutenant colonel by 1779, “it was largely Marion who kept the pressure on the British with incessant hit-and-run guerilla tactics” after the defeat of American General Horatio Gates at Camden, SC in the late summer of 1780.

(Sidebar: Interestingly enough, General Gates may not have been defeated if he had adjusted his attitude towards the lieutenant colonel {my thought}.

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General Gates

 Allegedly Gates had a ‘low opinion’ of Marion & thus sent him on an intelligence-gathering mission, rather than retain his fighting skills & knowledge of strategy in the battle. Though the Americans greatly out-gunned & out-manned the British, their defeat was staggering. General Gates never held a field command again.) Yet that very same month, Marion’s men rescued 150 captured Continental soldiers; soon after, with just 50 men, Marion ambushed 250 Tory militia, overran a Tory outpost, and again waged a battle against more Tories the following month.

The man derided by the humiliated General Gates was promoted to general.

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General Horatio Gates was succeeded by an officer with an entirely different approach to Francis Marion: General Nathanael Greene.

General Greene has been labeled “Washington’s most trusted general” though oddly not for reasons of military successes. In March of 1777, Washington wrote to Congress that Greene “deserves the greatest respect, and much regard is due to his opinions.”

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Generals George Washington & Nathanael Greene

Being so highly esteemed then, General Greene’s endorsement of Marion perhaps more than made up for Gates’ disparaging of the man. Upon relieving Gates of command in December, 1780, General Greene immediately contacted Marion with conciliatory orders showing empathy, encouragement & validation.

My overviews of General Nathanael Greene & Francis Marion seem to show certain alignments of disposition & style; even physical characteristics! which perhaps gave rise to the rapport that seems to have developed between them.

Nathanael Greene was often ill, asthmatic & with a bad leg that caused him to limp; Francis Marion, rather short & thin, had badly-formed knees & ankles since his youth, with similar results: he limped. Neither gave an impressive, soldier-like appearance.

No one appears to have given either of them Best Personality awards. Greene has been described by some (not the enemy!) in very unflattering terms: “belittling & sneering…undignified & petulant”, unpopular with his army; while neither surly nor rude, Marion was described by the son of a Continental officer as having a visage “not pleasing” and manners “not captivating”, being “reserved and silent.” Neither officer was concerned with political correctness! Thank God!

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Both men experienced facing dire odds with but few men:

When Charleston, SC fell to the British, General Washington made Nathanael Green commander-in-chief of the Southern Department, sending him to the now British-controlled backcountry and its surrounding areas. When Greene arrived, he was met with a most disheartening situation. He wrote in a letter that he was in search of the Army he was supposed to have met there, “having found nothing but a few half-starved soldiers, who are remarkable for nothing but poverty & distress.” Eventually, though, General Knox offered high praise for Greene’s accomplishments in such circumstances: “Without an army, without means, without anything, he has performed wonders.”

After this and two other Continental army losses in that area, Marion organized a small band consisting of between 20-70 men, which at that time was the only force opposing the British Army in the state. “Marion & his followers played the role of David to the British Goliath.”(Busick) ‘Marion’s Men’ served without pay, supplying their own horses, arms & often food. (Gray, Jefferson {Autumn 2011} MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. 24 [1] 56-65.) “Though often out-numbered, Marion’s militia would continue to use guerilla tactics to surprise enemy regiments, with great success.” (Smithsonian Magazine)

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Marion & Greene each generated unease & frustration in their adversaries: of Marion, Lieutenant Banastre Tarleton declared that “the devil himself could not catch him.” Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis said that Marion “has so wrought the minds of the people, partly by the terror of his threats and cruelty of his punishments and partly by the promise of plunder…” that most all the area inhabitants were in arms against them; of Greene, Cornwallis declared him as dangerous as Washington…with but little hope of gaining any advantage over him, I never feel secure when encamped in his neighborhood.”

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I point out these similarities between the two leaders to show how a way seems to have been prepared for Francis Marion to step into favor. The Scriptures tell us of how God makes a way when there is no way, and I would like to suggest that He was doing this, in 1780, with Francis Marion.

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A couple of other incidents along these lines caught my attention, as well.

As previously noted, Marion had weakened knees & ankles. He limped. Yet Francis Marion so excelled in close combat guerrilla tactics that he is considered one of its fathers, and as having provided the prototype for future Army Ranger technique. With God all things are possible.”

At this time in history, it was a colonial custom when hosting a dinner party, to lock the doors during the after-dinner toast to the Revolutionary cause. Attending one such event in March of 1780, in Charleston, SC, Marion found himself therefore trapped in the host’s home, which proved too frustrating for him to endure. He was not a drinking man! So he jumped out a second story window. The result was a broken ankle.

Marion’s damaged ankle, besides not ultimately hindering his physical skill in combat, served to save his freedom & possibly his life. Recuperation necessitated Marion’s removal to the country, with the result that he was not in the city of Charleston when it was taken by the British that May. What some intended for harm, God meant for good.

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One of my final observations: When General Greene first encountered Francis Marion & his men, he considered the lot of them “unimpressive.” He described “wretchedness of…attire…miserably equipped”, their number not exceeding twenty. I get the impression he had to try to restrain his own men from laughing. (Wm. Johnson, Sketches of the Life & Correspondence of Nathanael Greene). Quite the rag-tag bunch. Reading this, I was put in mind of the twelve disciples of Jesus. Small in number, traipsing around dusty roads & hauling stinking fish in boats…an itinerant preacher…a despised tax collector…you get my drift…to be sure, none of them were on anybody’s Best Dressed List, either…but they over-turned the known world at that time, and their impact – because of their Leader – has powerfully affected the world since.

And Marion’s runty band? “Marion’s cunning, resourcefulness & determination helped keep the cause of American independence alive in the South.” (Smithsonian Magazine)

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I had already known a little bit about Marion the plantation owner, Marion the guerilla fighter & Marion the patriot officer & General. But I did NOT know what is possibly the most astounding fact of all, and convinces me more than ever that God was with him, for the sake of the American cause in which we live, move & have our being today. After the war, Francis Marion returned to his plantation life, marrying at age 54 & serving in the South Carolina Assembly where he opposed punishing Americans who had remained loyal to the British during the war, championing amnesty ((Smithsonian Magazine). I hope I am not pushing the envelope here when I say that I see shades of the Savior-Father who paid a hard price to procure our freedom, made a Way to abolish enmity and is faithful to forgive.

 

 

FM statue

Bronze statue of Brigadier General Francis Marion – Johnsonville, SC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source material:

Besides the noted books & articles, much of my information was found in After Yorktown: the Final Struggle for American Independence, by Don Glickstein.

 

 

 

 

God…in Real-Time…Bringing about History

The living nature of the Scriptures may be something that some of us haven’t quite experienced yet.

I think a person has to be made ready for that. I also think that when & how this happens is up to God. But when it does, and a person begins to be in that flow…whether but for a few verses, a Bible study session or for most of the time, that flow becomes peace like a river.

Because the Lord changes not, and His Word endures forever, if He said it in ages & times past, isn’t He still saying it today? I don’t point this out to tout Old Testament law in any way, but rather to emphasize the real-time element to the words of the Lord. If you can apprehend that GOD is saying this NOW, as you read it, those words will beckon you like never before. The hardness of the letter, that sealed up the Life, dissolves completely in that moment. In that moment, everything else fades into the background. It is thrilling. You realize that Jesus is reaching out & touching you.

In the flesh, when someone speaks to you, some kind of response is elicited from you. It may be a non-response, in that you don’t see a reason to answer or to take an action. But that is still a response. And/or the information imparted to you can change your perspective and maybe your decisions.

So when this kind of living dialogue is shared with you by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father God who loves you…wow…

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word-of-god

Old Testament figures come alive. You become privy to His conversations with or about them as though you were/are present. In a sense you are. The Ancient of Days becomes God Right Now. The integrity & faithfulness expressed by the Lord then, pertains to you today. Apprehend that.

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I write about this today, because I have been having this kind of real-time experience lately.  In an unexpected time of refreshing, this Word came alive to me:

Thus saith the LORD…that frustrateth the tokens of the liars…”

Amen.

Thus saith the LORD…that confirmeth the word of His servant…”

Amen.

Thus saith the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus…to subdue nations before him…”

Amen.

Thus saith the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus…I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.”

Amen.  (Isaiah 44: 25,26 & 45: 1,2)

AMEN to all these things, by the word of the Lord, unto our President, unto the eternal purposes of God, His kingdom and the drawing of all men unto our incomparable Lord Jesus.