Happy Portsmouth (Rhode Island) Founders’ Day (1638)

A sheet of paper with frayed edges and a small hole turned 378 today and residents of this small Aquidneck Island town today filtered through Town Hall to pay their respects. (photo credit: Rose Hehl)

A sheet of paper with frayed edges and a small hole turned 378 today and residents of this small Aquidneck Island town today filtered through Town Hall to pay their respects. (photo credit: Rose Hehl)

Happy Portsmouth (Rhode Island) Founders’ Day! The council chambers at Town Hall were packed today for a public viewing of the Portsmouth Compact, the document that marked the town’s founding on this date in 1638.

The Portsmouth Compact of 1638 was signed by a group of outcasts that had been banished for challenging the authority of the theocratic leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Anne Hutchinson and a some of her followers gathered on March 7 of that year and signed the document proclaiming their intention to create a “bodie politick” based on their own principles. Their search for land led them to Roger Williams, who in turn urged them to buy Aquidneck Island from the Narragansett Indians.

Now a priceless document held in the Rhode Island state archives, the Portsmouth Compact not only established the Aquidneck Island town, but also set a precedent. It was the first document to establish political and religious independence from England.

Direct ancestors of mine who were signers of the Portmouth Compact are: William Dyer (husband of Mary Dyer), William Freeborn, William Hutchinson (husband of Anne Hutchinson), Edward Hutchinson, Jr. (eldest son of William and Anne Hutchinson, called “Jr.” to distinguish him from his uncle Edward Hutchinson Sr.), and John Walker, all of whom are discussed under their own headings (follow the links). John Clarke and his brother Thomas (my 8th g-grand uncles – brothers of Joseph Clarke), John Coggeshall (father of my 7th g-grand uncle Samuel Rathbun, brother of Thomas Rathbun), Edward Hutchinson Sr. (my 10th g-grand uncle), and Thomas Savage (husband of my 9th g-grand aunt Faith Hutchinson, brother of Edward Hutchinson Jr.) were also signers.

Here’s a link to an online article about today’s event in Portsmouth from the Portsmouth Patch.

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Richard Nixon was born on today’s date in 1913

Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the United States (1969-1974) was born on today’s date in 1913.  Nixon & I are distant cousins on my father’s side, through both Nixon’s mother (8th cousins 2x removed) and his father (9th cousins 2x removed). The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953-1961 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Nixon walking on the beach in San Clemente, California

Nixon walking on the beach in San Clemente, California

 

 

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On This Day In Newport History: Touro Synagogue Dedicated in 1763

From the website, What’sUpNewp (information from Touro Synagogue’s website & Wikipedia):

Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States, was dedicated during the Chanukah festival celebrations on 2 Dec 1763.

Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States, was dedicated during the Chanukah festival celebrations on 2 Dec 1763.

According to the Touro Synagogue’s website, the dedication ceremony was a regional celebration attended not only by the congregation, but also by clergy and other dignitaries from around the colony including Congregationalist Minister Ezra Stiles who later became the president of Yale University.

Five Fun Facts

  1. The Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue building still standing in the United States, the oldest surviving Jewish synagogue building in North America and the only surviving synagogue building in the U.S. dating to the colonial era.
  2. It was designed by noted British-Colonial era architect and Rhode Island resident Peter Harrison and is considered his most notable work.
  3. The interior is flanked by a series of twelve Ionic columns supporting balconies. The columns signify the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. Each column is carved from a single tree.
  4. The building is oriented to face east toward Jerusalem.
  5. In 1790, the synagogue’s warden, Moses Seixas, wrote to George Washington, expressing his support for Washington’s administration and good wishes for him. Washington sent a letter in response. Each year, the Touro Foundation sponsors an educational lecture series and holds a public reading of the George Washington letter as a celebration and pronouncement of religious freedom.

Touro-stamp-20cIn 1677, the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island purchased land for a burial place from my 8th g-grandfather, Nathaniel Dickens (1614-1690). Touro Synagogue is considered by some to be the most historically significant Jewish building in the United States. You can read more about my connection to this bit of history in a post that I wrote earlier this year —> HERE, and you can read more about Nathaniel Dickens and his family line — > HERE.

 

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John Adams was born 280 years ago today

John Adams was born 280 years ago today.  He served as the 1st Vice President (1789-1797) and 2nd President (1797-1801) of the US and was an American Founding Father, lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. He is also my 3rd cousin 8x removed. There is more information of all of my connections to the Adams Family of Massachusetts —> HERE. John Adams died on 4 Jul 1826, the 50th anniversary of the traditional “signing” date of the Declaration of American Independence — coincidently the same day as the death of Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration’s author.

This bust was made from the life mask of John Adams at age 90:

This bust of John Adams was made from his life mask at age 90.

This bust of John Adams was made from his life mask at age 90.

 

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King Philip’s War began 340 years ago today at the home of my 9th g-grandfather

Dr. William Brackney (co-author of Baptists in Early North America-Swansea, Massachusetts) standing at the monument near the site of John Myles’ Garrison House in Swansea, Massachusetts. Location: 41° 46.37′ N, 71° 17.13′ W. Marker is at the intersection of Old Providence Road and Barneyville Road, on the left when traveling east on Old Providence Road. The text of the plaque reads: “MYLES GARRISON HOUSE SITE Near this spot stood the John Myles Garrison House. 1st place of meeting of the troops of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies commanded by Majors Thomas Savage and James Cudworth, who marched to the relief of Swansea at the opening of King Philip’s War, A.D. 1675. There fell in Swansea, slain by the Indians, Nehemiah Allin, William Cahoone, Gershom Cobb, John Druce, John Fall, William Hammond, John Jones, Robert Jones, Joseph Lewis, John Salisbury, William Salisbury. To mark this historic site, this monument was erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts A.D. 1912.” (photo credit: FBC in Swansea / Rev. C. Hartman)

Dr. William Brackney (co-author of Baptists in Early North America-Swansea, Massachusetts) standing at the monument near the site of John Myles’ Garrison House in Swansea, Massachusetts. Location: 41° 46.37′ N, 71° 17.13′ W. Marker is at the intersection of Old Providence Road and Barneyville Road, on the left when traveling east on Old Providence Road. The text of the plaque reads: “MYLES GARRISON HOUSE SITE Near this spot stood the John Myles Garrison House. 1st place of meeting of the troops of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies commanded by Majors Thomas Savage and James Cudworth, who marched to the relief of Swansea at the opening of King Philip’s War, A.D. 1675. There fell in Swansea, slain by the Indians, Nehemiah Allin, William Cahoone, Gershom Cobb, John Druce, John Fall, William Hammond, John Jones, Robert Jones, Joseph Lewis, John Salisbury, William Salisbury. To mark this historic site, this monument was erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts A.D. 1912.” (photo credit: FBC in Swansea / Rev. C. Hartman)

One of the deadliest wars in American history, known as King Philip’s War, literally began at the home of my 9th g-grandfather, Rev. John Myles in Swansea, Massachusetts. On 20 Jun 1675, the first Indian attack of King Philip’s War had all 70 settlers confined to their stockade when the Indians attacked Swansea, Massachusetts at the time of worship. Many were wounded, one was killed, and much of the town was burned. John Myles‘ house was made a fortification. John Myles subsequently repaired to Boston and became a leader in the Baptist church there for a few years. After the war, the Swansea church erected a new house of worship in 1679, and a parsonage was built for John Myles about the same time, where he dwelt until his death in 1684.

King Philip’s War (sometimes known as Metacomet’s War or the First Indian War) was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies in 1675–78. The war is named for the main leader of the Native American side, Metacomet (c. 1638-1676), who had adopted the English name “King Philip”. Metacomet was the second son of Wampanoag chief Massasoit, who had coexisted peacefully for decades with the original Mayflower Pilgrims of Plymouth and their descendants.

However, the peace was first shattered by the Pequot War in 1637, and by the 1660s, English settlers had outgrown their dependence on the Indians for wilderness survival techniques and had substituted fishing and commerce for the earlier lucrative fur trade. From 1640 to 1675 new waves of land-hungry settlers pushed into Indian territory, particularly in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Indians fought back to protect their homelands.

The war began with various atrocities, insults and attacks between the Native American Indians and the English settlers, and resolved itself into a series of ruthless Indian raids on frontier settlements from the Connecticut River to Massachusetts and Narragansett Bay, followed by brutal retaliatory assaults on Indian villages by the colonial militia. One of the first garrisons that was attacked was Swansea, MA, where the English sought refuge in the garrison house of John Myles. By the end of 1675 many frontier towns had been devastated, and the Narragansett had been wiped out in what was called the Great Swamp Fight. The Indians maintained a distinct advantage in the fighting until the spring of 1676, when their efforts were undermined by the threat of starvation after the destruction of their crops and when the English began to use “Praying Indians” (those who had converted to Christianity) as scouts. Following Metacomet’s death in August, Indian resistance collapsed, although Articles of Peace were not signed for two years.

King Philip’s War was the single greatest calamity to afflict seventeenth-century New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in American history, when casualties are compared to the overall population of the time. It is believed that more than half of the 90 settlements in the region had been attacked and a dozen destroyed. The colony’s economy was all but ruined, and both the English and Native populations were decimated, with the English settlers losing one-tenth of all men available for military service. Whole Indian villages were massacred, entire tribes were eradicated, and indigenous refugees fled westward and northward. Thereafter settlers felt free to expand without fear into former Indian territory across southern New England.

A statue of Massasoit overlooks Plymouth Harbor in 2013. (Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty)

A statue of Massasoit overlooks Plymouth Harbor in 2013. (Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor / Getty)

 

 

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Happy Juneteenth (Freedom Day)!

Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas, from whose front balcony General Order #3 was read on 19 Jun 1865

Ashton Villa in Galveston, Texas, from whose front balcony General Order #3 was read on 19 Jun 1865

Today is the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the USA. The occasion is marked in many places by the holiday known as Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. The Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln was issued 22 Sep 1862 with an effective date of 1 Jan 1863. It declared all slaves to be freed in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands. Ironically, this excluded from emancipation many slaves in parts of Tennessee, Virginia and Louisiana occupied by the Union armies, as well as slaves in Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland and Missouri, whose states were not in rebellion.

Juneteenth, a combination of “June” and “nineteenth”, was first celebrated on 19 Jun 1865 (following the end of the Civil War and almost 3 years after the Proclamation), when the slaves of Galveston, Texas formally learned they were free. On that day, General Order #3 was read at Galveston from the front balcony of Ashton Villa. There had been other emancipation days throughout the United States since Lincoln’s proclamation. but Juneteenth was the culminating moment when all American slaves were finally given their freedom. For the first time in American history, black people were legally considered equal to white. They were legally afforded all the rights that their former slave owners enjoyed – the right to marry, the right to own property, the right to assemble and worship. And yet today’s celebration 150 years later holds a bittersweet quality, especially following by only a couple of days, the assassination of nine African Americans in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. We are reminded by this and by so many other daily observations, that ongoing racism still plagues America.

 

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800 Years Ago Today: Magna Carta

An original version of the Magna Carta on display at Sotheby’s auction house in New York is shown on 17 Dec 2007. An edition of the document from 1300 was discovered in a town archive in England. (Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

An original version of the Magna Carta on display at Sotheby’s auction house in New York is shown on 17 Dec 2007. An edition of the document from 1300 was discovered in a town archive in England. (Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Magna Carta, or “The Great Charter of the Liberties of England”, was originally issued on this date in the year 1215.  The charter required King John of England to proclaim certain liberties and accept that his will was not arbitrary, for example by explicitly accepting that no “freeman” (in the sense of non-serf) could be punished except through the law of the land, a right which is still in existence today.  It was the first document forced onto an English King by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their privileges.  It was preceded and directly influenced by the Charter of Liberties in 1100, in which King Henry I had specified particular areas wherein his powers would be limited. Despite its recognized importance, by the second half of the 19th century nearly all of its clauses had been repealed in their original form. Three clauses currently remain part of the law of England and Wales, however, and it is generally considered part of the uncodified constitution.  Lord Denning described it as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”.  In a 2005 speech, Lord Woolf described it as “first of a series of instruments that now are recognized as having a special constitutional status”, the others being the Habeas Corpus Act (1679), the Petition of Right (1628), the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701).

I can trace a direct line of descent from four of the so-called “Sureties” of Magna Carta, and the details can be found — > HERE.  Popular perception is that King John and the barons signed Magna Carta.  There were no signatures on the original document, however, only a single seal placed by the king.  The words of the charter – Data per manum nostram – signify that the document was personally given by the king’s hand.  By placing his seal on the document, the King and the barons followed common law that a seal was sufficient to authenticate a deed, though it had to be done in front of witnesses.  John’s seal was the only one, and he did not sign it.  The barons neither signed nor attached their seals to it.  However, the names of the Barons, Bishops and Abbots who were party to Magna Carta are known from other sources.

In February 2015, the PBS Newshour published an article on a forgotten copy of the Magna Carta that was discovered in 2014 in a Victorian-era scrapbook in Kent County, England.  A link to the original article is — > HERE.

For decades, the document, which dates back to 1300, lay forgotten in archives belonging to the town of Sandwich, which intends to keep the charter as a tourist attraction.

Dr. Mark Bateson, a Kent archivist, found the document late last year while looking for a copy of the Charter of the Forest, another medieval legal document, which granted common people access to royal lands, among other things. The two documents were found together in a scrapbook from the late 19th century. The only other such pair in the world belongs to Oriel College, Oxford.

Although the copy of the Magna Carta has been damaged by moisture and is missing about a third of its original text, it has historical and monetary value as one of just 24 known copies of the legal code, which Sotheby’s auction house has called “the most famous document in history.”

Nicholas Vincent, a professor of medieval history at the University of East Anglia in England, who authenticated the discovery, estimates the document is worth up to 10 million British pounds ($15.2 million).

The mayor of Sandwich Town Council, Paul Graeme, told the Guardian: “On behalf of Sandwich town council, I would like to say that we are absolutely delighted to discover that an original Magna Carta and original Charter of the Forest, previously unknown, are in our ownership.”

“To own one of these documents, let alone both, is an immense privilege given their international importance,” he said.

The original Magna Carta, written entirely in Latin, was the result of a compromise between the king and a group of rebel barons in 1215.

The famous charter established several important legal principles, including the rule of law and the notion that everyone–including the king—is subject to the law. It also codified the right of habeas corpus, stating that no free person should be imprisoned without a lawful trial.

Today (15 Jun 2015) marks 800 years since King John sealed the Magna Carta near London in 1215.  The occasion will commemorated by a year-long series of events across the United Kingdom, including an initiative, planned for the eve of the anniversary, called LiberTeas, in which parliament will encourage citizens to “sit down to tea to celebrate, debate or reflect on their liberties.”

 

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My 9th g-grandmother Was A Quaker Hanged For Civil Disobedience 355 Years Ago Today

Mary Dyer statue (Massachusetts State House, Boston)

Mary Dyer statue (Massachusetts State House, Boston)

Another in my occasional series entitled “Bad-Ass Women in History”: 355 years ago today, my 9th g-grandmother, Mary Dyer, was executed by the colonial Massachusetts government for practicing her religion.  She was a Quaker, and she was killed for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the Massachusetts Bay colony.  She is one of the four executed Quakers known as the “Boston Martyrs”.

Mary was born in England in about 1611.  She and her husband, William, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1635.  Mary and William Dyer left Massachusetts for the new colony of Rhode Island in 1638, following in the footsteps of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson (both are my 10th g-grandparents), who were excommunicated and exiled for their unconventional views by the Puritan Church of  Massachusetts Bay colony in 1635 and 1638.  You can read more about her biography and details of my family connections —> HERE.

Christine K. Robinson reminds us, in an article from 2012 on her excellent website, of several important points to keep in mind, of which I include excerpts here (her full post, to which Christie K. Robinson retains the copyright, is available here: “Top 10 Things You May Not Know About Mary Dyer”):

  • First-AmendmentMary Dyer’s death contributed to the constitutional freedoms of all Americans: The sacrifice of Mary Dyer’s life in 1660 had direct bearing on the Rhode Island Charter of 1663 which legally granted liberty of conscience (religious freedom), and eventually on the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791, and used as a model for many governments around the world. When you hear the words “First Amendment” rights, remember Mary Dyer.  She and her cause were the motive for separation of church and state in America, and freedom to worship (or even not worship!) and speak according to your conscience.  Government and religion must be kept separate, and religious beliefs must not determine laws.  Mary Dyer knew that, and she was ahead of her time.
  • Mary Dyer was not hanged for “being a Quaker”:  Thanks to the Quaker missionaries from England, there were hundreds of Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) converts in New England in the late 1650s and early 1660s.  They were subject to persecution and physical torture because they represented anarchy to the church-state government formed by the Massachusetts Bay founders.  Not one person was hanged for religious beliefs in their hearts and minds for “being a Quaker,” but because they were intentionally disobedient to anti-Quaker laws.  Mary was very definite in her intention to die, if necessary, to bring attention and bear witness to the cruelty of the theocratic governor and magistrates and their unjust laws, and to raise public outcry against them. Although she had left Massachusetts for safety in Rhode Island, her conscience required her to return to Massachusetts, to finish, as she expressed it, “her sad and heavy experience in the bloody town of Boston.”
  • Civil_DisobedienceMary Dyer committed civil disobedience: The four Quakers who were hanged, including Mary Dyer, chose to die, rather than agree to permanent exile from Massachusetts and their preaching and religious support there. They were given the opportunity to leave – and live – and chose instead to take a stand for liberty of conscience in the hope that their deaths would be so shocking that the persecution would end.  They were hanged for civil disobedience.  Mary Dyer’s letter to the Boston magistrates shows that she was opposed to their “bloody” laws of religious intolerance and persecution, and that she rejected their conditional offer of release.
  • Mary Dyer was the mother of a “monster”: Mary’s third pregnancy ended in the premature stillbirth of a girl with anencephaly (having only a brain stem) and spina bifida deformities.  Six months after it was buried, Governor John Winthrop ordered the exhumation and examination of the baby, calling it a monster, and proof of God’s judgment on Mary’s heresy to the puritan beliefs and lifestyle.  In 1644, he published a book in England about Anne Hutchinson’s heresy trial that described the Dyer baby’s appearance.  In the 17th century, there was a common belief that women who preached, or even listened to a woman preacher, bore monsters.  Mary bore eight children, six of whom lived to adulthood.  She has many thousands of living descendants, including me and all of my cousins on my father’s side, who are descended through her son Samuel and Anne Hutchinson (the granddaughter of the famous Anne Marbury Hutchinson – the woman who is known to history as “Anne Hutchinson”) and two different grandchildren.  Mary’s life was cut short by the ignorance and fears of the superstitious times she lived in.  Since those dark times, we’ve come a long way, but we need to guard against the ignorance, fear and superstition that are still with us.
  • Mary Dyer was co-founder of two American cities: Mary came to Boston in 1635 with her husband.  In 1638, she was a pioneer who walked from Boston to Providence, Rhode Island, with her husband, small child and other families connected with Anne Marbury Hutchinson.  Mary’s husband William Dyer signed the Portsmouth Compact that united the founders of the new colony, and he was among the purchasers of Rhode Island from the Indian sachems.  One year later, Mary and William and others established the town of Newport, Rhode Island.
  • inner_lightMary Dyer heard God’s voice: In her twenties, Mary was a close friend and student of Anne Marbury Hutchinson, who claimed divine revelation and visions, and by doing so, incited the fury of the Boston Puritan leaders who believed that God only communicated in that way with men.  Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop said that Anne and Mary were “much addicted to revelations.”  When Mary studied Quaker beliefs in the 1650s, she learned that they called divine revelation the “Inner Light”.  Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians today would recognize it as the Holy Spirit speaking to one’s heart.  Secular people would term it a conscience.

 

You can read more about her biography and details of my family connections —> HERE.

 

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Dabney Carr & my connection to Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello

Monticello - Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia

Monticello – Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia

Dabney Carr, my 1st cousin 8x removed, is the man buried next to Thomas Jefferson at the Jefferson Family Cemetery at Monticello, Albemarle County, Virginia.  Carr and Jefferson were leaders in the American cause leading up to the Revolution of 1776.  Carr was also the brother-in-law of Thomas Jefferson, having married Jefferson’s sister Martha, in 1765.  Although Dabney Carr is largely forgotten by the history books, except for a little microbe (“bilious fever” the doctor called it), he would surely have been one of the giants of the American Revolution.  As it was, Dabney Carr’s contribution to the formation of the American democracy is subtantial, even though he died young.

Dabney Carr was born in 1743 at a thousand-acre Louisa County, Virginia plantation named Bear Castle.  He was the son of John Carr, grandson of Major Thomas Carr, and great-grandson of Thomas Carr (1655-1724), who held extensive land patents in Virginia from about 1701.  In their youth, Dabney Carr and Thomas Jefferson both attended the prestigious academy of Reverend James Maury.  Carr and Jefferson later enrolled in the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.  Although his legal education was interrupted in 1763 by militia service on the frontier with the Louisa County Volunteer Rangers, Carr was licensed to practice law only two years after leaving college.  In July 1765, Dabney Carr married Martha Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson’s sister).

Dabney Carr was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses in 1771 and 1772 and served on two House committees, including the influential Committee of Privileges and Elections.  He helped incorporate the Virginia Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge, a group “…dedicated to a discussion of geography, natural history, natural philosophy, agriculture, practical mathematics, commerce, medicine and American history.”

Contemporaries regarded Dabney Carr as a powerful orator and a serious challenge to the acknowledged master orator, Patrick Henry (my 3rd cousin 7x removed – Carr and Henry were 2nd cousins 1x removed through Cornelius Dabney, my 9th g-grandfather).  Of Carr, Patrick Henry’s biographer, William Wirt, said [Dabney Carr] “…was considered… the most formidible rival in forensic eloquence that Mr. Henry had ever yet had to encounter.”  Of Carr, Thomas Jefferson said he “…was one of the earliest and most distinquished leaders in the opposition to British tyranny.”

Friday, 12 Mar 1773 was a turning point in American history.  For the previous several years relations between the American colonists and Great Britain had steadily deteriorated.  The Stamp Act of 1765 brought “taxation without representation,” while the Townshend Act of 1767 further burdened ostensibly free colonists with “legislation without representation.”  In June 1772, an incident in Rhode Island added fuel to the simmering cauldron.  The British schooner Gaspée was burned off Newport (an incident that I have written about —> HERE).  In response, the British Parliament passed an act that allowed colonists to be shipped to England for trial.  The freedoms which the colonists cherished so dearly were in terrible jeopardy.

Sensing a severe threat to colonial liberties, several prominent Virginians elected members of the House of Burgesses secretly met together in Raleigh Tavern (Williamsburg) on 11 March 1773 and proposed formation of a network of Committees of Correspondence that would allow the colonies to keep in touch with each other, and to monitor British intentions. Several of the members in the meeting including Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee (both are my 2nd cousin 9x removed through my 10th g-grandfather, Richard Lee) and Dabney Carr (possibly others also) decided to offer the idea of the Committees of Correspondence to the assembled house.  The idea seems to have been Richard Henry Lee’s, with Thomas Jefferson writing the text of the formal resolution that would be offerred for vote.  But it was 29-year old lawyer Dabney Carr who was tasked to rise in the House of Burgesses and introduce the resolution.

The resolution was passed (although not without debate), and Carr, along with ten others, was appointed to the colonies’ first Committee of Correspondence.  By 8 Feb 1774 only one of the remaining twelve colonies had not established their own Committees of Correspondence.  By 5 Sep 1774 the first Continental Congress met in Philadelphia…

…and as they say, “the rest is history.”

Grave of Dabney Carr, Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia

Grave of Dabney Carr, Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia

The road to the American Revolution was surveyed by Dabney Carr, but he unfortunately did not live to trod upon it.  On 16 May 1773, only two months after delivering the speech that resulted in formation of the Committees of Correspondence, and ultimately to the Continental Congress and the American Revolution, the youthful Dabney Carr died of fever.  He is buried at Monticello in the Jefferson family cemetery on the southwestern slope of Mr. Jefferson’s beautiful mountain.

According to legend, this graveyard had its beginning in an agreement between young  Thomas Jefferson and Dabney Carr.  The school-mates and friends had agreed in their youth that they would be buried under a great oak which stood on Jefferson’s plantation.  Carr, who married Jefferson’s sister, was originally buried elsewhere, but Thomas Jefferson caused his body to be disinterred and removed to a grave beneath their favorite oak at Monticello.  Dabney Carr’s was the first grave at the site, which Jefferson laid out as a family burial ground.  Jefferson was buried here in 1826.  The present monument is not the original, designed by Jefferson, but a larger one erected by the United States in 1883.  Its base covers the graves of Jefferson, his wife, his two daughters and of Governor Thomas Mann Randolph, his son-in-law.  The graveyard remains the property of Jefferson’s descendants and continues to be a family burial ground.

When you visit Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, the gravesite is behind, and down the hill from, the west garden.  If you stand on the porch of Monticello, the gravel path down the hill to the Jefferson family gravesite is on the left.  Follow the path along the west lawn, and then down the hill to the gravesite, which is  guarded by a wrought iron fence.  Follow the path around to the right, along the edge of the site, to the gate (it’s locked). Thomas Jefferson’s tombstone is right inside the gate.  Immediately to the right of Jefferson’s own tombstone is that of Dabney Carr.  The bronze plaque at the site is pictured below:

monticello-graveyard-sign

 

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Mother’s Day Proclamation

Mother’s Day Proclamation   The “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world” (later known as “Mother’s Day Proclamation”) by Julia Ward Howe was an appeal for women to unite for peace in the world. Written in 1870, Howe’s “Appeal to womanhood” was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The appeal was tied […]

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)

In 1870 Julia Ward Howe (more information —> HERE) was the first to proclaim Mother’s Day, with her “Mother’s Day Proclamation“.  She is my 5th cousin 5x removed through my paternal 9th g-grandfather, Rev. Pardon Tillinghast (1622-1718).  Julia was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist and poet, most famous as the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, a song that became popular during the American Civil War.  Follow the links on my blog page to a YouTube video about the “Battle Hymn” narrated by Orson Welles, my 7th cousin 2x removed, on my father’s side.  Julia Ward Howe is also (on my father’s side) my 5th-6th cousin 5-6x removed through John Green (1597-1659) and Roger Williams (1603-1683) in various ways (due to marriages of cousins).

The “Mother’s Day Proclamation” (originally knows as her “Appeal to womanhood throughout the world”) by Julia Ward Howe was an appeal for women to unite for peace in the world. Written in 1870, Howe’s “Appeal to womanhood” was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The appeal was tied to Howe’s feminist conviction that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.

In 1872 Howe asked for the celebration of a “Mother’s Day for Peace” on the 2nd June of every year, but she was unsuccessful.  The modern Mother’s Day is an unrelated celebration and it was established by Anna Jarvis years later.

 

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Ancestry.com Allegedly Caught Sharing Customer DNA Data With Police With No Warrant

From The Free Thought Project:

ancestry.com-giving-private-DNA-data-to-police

“Would you find it frightening— perhaps even downright Orwellian — to know that a DNA swab that you sent to a company for recreational purposes would surface years later in the hands of police? What if it caused your child to end up in a police interrogation room as the primary suspect in a murder investigation?

In an extremely troubling case out of Idaho Falls, that’s exactly what happened.”

Read the full article at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/ancestry-com-caught-sharing-dna-information-police-warrant/.

The article also links to a longer article at dated 1 May 2015 on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation with the headline: “How Private DNA Data Led Idaho Cops on a Wild Goose Chase and Linked an Innocent Man to a 20-year-old Murder Case“.

Here’s an excerpt:

The New Orleans Advocate recently published a shocking story that details the very real threats to privacy and civil liberties posed by law enforcement access to private genetic databases and familial DNA searching.

In 1996, a young woman named Angie Dodge was murdered in her apartment in a small town in Idaho. Although the police collected DNA from semen left at the crime scene, they haven’t been able to match the DNA to existing profiles in any criminal database, and the murder has never been solved.

Fast forward to 2014. The Idaho police sent the semen sample to a private lab to extract a DNA profile that included YSTR and mtDNA—the two genetic markers used to determine patrilineal and matrilineal relationships (it’s unclear why they reopened the case after nearly 20 years). These markers would allow investigators to search some existing databases to try to find a match between the sample and genetic relatives.

The cops chose to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database (now owned by Ancestry.com), which claims it’s “the foremost collection of genetic genealogy data in the world.” The reason the Sorenson Database can make such an audacious claim is because it has obtained its more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented multi-generational family histories from “volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.” Some of these volunteers were encouraged by the Mormon Church—well-known for its interest in genealogy—to provide their genetic material to the database. Sorenson promised volunteers their genetic data would only be used for “genealogical services, including the determination of family migration patterns and geographic origins” and would not be shared outside Sorenson. Its consent form states:

The only individuals who will have access to the codes and genealogy information will be the principal investigator and the others specifically authorized by the Principal Investigator, including the SMGF research staff.

Despite this promise, Sorenson shared its vast collection of data with the Idaho police. Without a warrant or court order, investigators asked the lab to run the crime scene DNA against Sorenson’s private genealogical DNA database. Sorenson found 41 potential familial matches, one of which matched on 34 out of 35 alleles—a very close match that would generally indicate a close familial relationship. The cops then asked, not only for the “protected” name associated with that profile, but also for all “all information including full names, date of births, date and other information pertaining to the original donor to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy project.”

Read the full article at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/ancestry-com-caught-sharing-dna-information-police-warrant/.

 

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