Happy President’s Day

On February 17, 1776, the first volume of Gibbon’s “Decline & Fall of Roman Empire” was published. A few months later on July 4, 1776, a new empire was born which was to become known as the United States. This new empire didn’t seem to have a mother, but it did have fathers. Founding fathers, that is. Among these founding fathers were five men who eventually became the first five presidents of the United States.

George Washington-The First President of the United States

George Washington-The First President of the United States

Back in the 1880s, when the birthday of Washington—commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution as well as the first American Preside—was first celebrated as a national holiday. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, which moved several national holidays to Mondays. This change was designed to schedule certain holidays which enabled the labor force to have more long weekends throughout the year, but it has been opposed by those who believe that those holidays should be celebrated on the dates they commemorated. During Congressional debate, someone proposed that Washington’s Birthday be renamed Presidents’ Day in honor of all presidents.

At first, Congress rejected the name change, but when the bill went into effect in 1971, Presidents’ Day had became the commonly accepted name. Retailers had picked up on the name and it stuck.  This holiday on the third Monday of February is marked by public ceremonies throughout the country.

John Adams-The Second President of the United States

John Adams-The Second President of the United States

The second President of the United States was John Adams. Although he rose in popularity due to his opposition to the Stamp Act of  1765, he didn’t believe in violence and against popular opinion he had defended in court the soldiers tried for their participation in what we Americans now call the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770.

He became one of the men assigned to help draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. In 1785 he became the first US minister to England. He became the first US Vice President and served from 1789-1796. He became the second President of the United States and served from 1796-1800. Thomas Jefferson

Another founding father became the third president of the United States was Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, a plantation owner from Virginia was the author of the Declaration of Independent.  After writing the Declaration of Independence, served from 1776-1779 in the  Virginia House of Delegates.After which he was elected Virginia’s second governor. After the death of his wife in 1785, he became the second US minister to France. He returned to America in 1789 and became the first US Secretary of State under the new Constitution. In 1797 he became the Vice President under John Adams and in 1800 he was elected President of the United States. In 1803 his most significant accomplishment as president was the Louisiana Purchase which nearly doubled the size of the country. After his presidency ended in 1809, he returned to his plantation where he died on July 4, 1826, (the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence)  just a few hours after John Adams died.

The fourth president of the United States was James Madison. He wrote the first drafts of the US Constitution, in 1787,  co-wrote the Federalist Papers in 1788 and sponsored the Bill of Rights in 1789. In 1800 he helped President Thomas Jefferson establish the Democrat-Republican Party. He became the fourth President of the United States in 1808. James Madison

James Madison wrote the first drafts of the U.S. Constitution, co-wrote the Federalist Papers and sponsored the Bill of Rights. He established the Democrat-Republican Party with President Thomas Jefferson, and became president himself in 1808. Madison initiated the War of 1812, because US merchant ships where preyed upon by pirates and England and France were seizing US ships and crew. This first US declared war ended in 1815 after the Battle of New Orleans commanded by Andrew Jackson. After Madison’s second term ended, he retired from politics to his Montpelier estate in Virginia where he died on June 28, 1836.

The fifth President of the United States, James Monroe was the last of President who was a founding father. He fought in the American Revolution where he was wounded during the Battle of Trenton. James MonroeHe studied under Thomas Jefferson from 1780-1783 and served as a delegate in the Continental Congress. He was an anti-federalist delegate to the Virginia convention assigned to consider the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1790 and helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. He was the Secretary of State and the Secretary of War during the War of 1812. He became President of the United States in 1816. He drew a line in the sand against European intervention against the independent countries in the Americans with his Monroe Doctrine in 1823. He died was the third one to die on Independence day. He died on July 4, 1831 in New York.

Why Are Some People Famous? (February 12)

Did you ever wonder what it is that makes a person famous? Are we born to be famous? Are we some how gifted at birth with the skills necessary to be successful?

This Day in History

Lincoln Memorial

Today in 1809,  Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky. He grew up living a poor pioneer life in Kentucky and Indiana. He only had one year of formal education, but taught himself to read and the law. As an adult he lived in Illinois and had many jobs including postmaster, surveyor and shop keeping. He was physically strong and was a legendary in Illinois for his wrestling skills, and he became known far and wide for his ability to entertain everyone with his folksy wit.  He then went into politics. He served in as a representative in Illnois from 1834-1836 and after that he became a lawyer. He married Mary Todd in 1842. They had four sons.

Abe Lincoln returned to politics in the 1850s when the issue of slavery was coming to a head. Licoln didn’t advocate abolition, but advocated restricting of slavery to the states where slavery already existed. During a the race for the  Illinois Senate in 1858, he warned his famous statement “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. He lost the Senate seat, but received national recognition because of his run for office.

In 1860, as a presidential candidate, Lincoln attempted to reassure slaveholders that he had no intention of ending slavery where it existed and preferred maintaining the union rather than freeing slaves. He carried the presidency by about 400 thousand popular votes and won the votes in the Electoral College.He was six foot, four inches tall, making him the tallest president.

He failed to keep South Carolina and the other southern states from seceding. By February 1, 1861 South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas had seceded. After the Civil War started, the remaining confederate states left as well. In 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This document freed the slaves in the states of the confederacy, but did not prevent slave owners in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska or Arkansas from owning slaves.

His self-effacing sense of humor helped him during the depressing times of the Civil War. He admitted that he suffered depression throughout most of his adult life. During his Senate race debate his opponent called him two faced to which he replied. “If I had another face do you think I would wear this one?”

Even though his early views concerning slavery were considered wishy-washy, he has become known as The Great Emancipator. His greatest accomplishments were his dedication to preserving the union and signing the Emancipation Proclamation. This second act was the fuel to the fire that prompted John Wilkes Booth to assassinate him on April 14, 1865.

Abe Lincoln had neither wealth, education, or an especially optimistic outlook on life and yet he managed to do what most people of his day did not believe was possible. A lesser man would not have succeeded in the way that he succeeded. What was it that made him great? It was the focused determination to keep the union at all costs that kept him on course to keep the country together. In addition he had the foresight to know that he had to to draw the line in the sand admit his convictions concerning slavery. He stepped up to do the job even though he had known failure in the past. He didn’t quit, but remained focused on his objectives until the end.

Focusing on Finishing What I Start

Now that I am pretty back to health, I have been focusing on catching up with those things that I got behind on last week. Surprisingly, in most activities, I have not only caught up, but I also was able to proactively get ahead in some areas. Last Friday I wrote this week’s This day in History as It Relates to the American Revolution which made this week’s blogs easy to finish. After the success that I had because they were done Friday, I intend to continue to write them on Friday. All this helps me stick to my resolution to focus on finishing what I have started.

I have been making it a point to keep up with household chores by doing a few things every day. Making my bed, picking up any laundry, washing, drying, folding, and putting away a load or two of clothes every day is a lot easier for me than trying to catch up on numerous loads on Saturday morning. Rather than putting off the dishes until this morning, last night I rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher. This morning I did up the breakfast dishes. Because I didn’t need to catch up with last night’s supper dishes, I had the time to clean out the refrigerator. All this before noon. So far so good.

As far as writing goes, last night I worked on a school project that is due today and write several pages in my novel A Coward’s Solace and the articles for this week are done as well. Over the weekend I worked on two nonfiction booklets that I intend to have done by the middle of next month so that I can post them in kindle as well as in print. I haven’t done anything with Dad’s poem book in a few weeks, I put out some requests for other family members to respond to what I have written, but I haven’t heard anything back. Things seem to be moving along according to schedule, though.

This Day in History As It Relates to the American Revolution

On this day in January 29, 1777, Major General William Heath and his army of 6,000 men abandon their siege on Fort Independence, in Bronx County, New York because bitter cold and a surprise counter assault by the British and an approaching snow storm made it impossible for the poor clad colonials to continue the siege.

George Washington had given Heath orders to assault Fort Independence eleven days earlier on January 18. Washington was under attack in nearby New Jersey and believed that if Heath could defeat the British at Fort Independence, the British would be forced to divert troops from New Jersey to defend the outpost located just outside British-controlled Manhattan.Fort Independence Park Marker

The Patriots had first built Fort Independence in 1776 then burned it when they were forced to evaluate New York. The British partly rebuilt it when they took control later in the year.

A cloudburst on January 25 flooded the Bronx River making it nearly impossible for Patriot troop movement. Teh counter assault and the pending snowstorm forced retreat on January 29, 1777. The fort survived the Patriot’s attack in 1777, but when the British left the fort in 1779, they destroyed the fort.. The British partially rebuilt the fort when they took control later in the year. The fort endured the Patriots’ attack in 1777, but was destroyed again as the British left in 1779 . The city park that now exists on the site memorializes the fort on its front gates, as well as in its name.

Today the location of Fort Independence is a park in Bronx, New York.

Today the location of Fort Independence is a park in Bronx, New York.

Springfield Writers Guild, Aux Arcs, and Benjamin Franklin in Paris

I Attended my First Springfield Writer’s Guild meeting on

Saturday, January 25,2014

This past week I joined the Springfield Writer’s Guild at the Heritage Cafeteria here in Springfield, MO. I probably should have gone to the mentor hour that they had, but instead I just went to listen to this month’s speaker and to get a feel for the organization. I met one woman who doesn’t live very far from where I do. I hope to see her again next month. This month’s speaker was Joyce Ragland, Ed.D., her latest book Dread the FRED. She talked about how she used creative nonfiction to write this book and how she gathered the information that she needed to write the book.

After the speaker, they conducted the business meeting and then there was a drawing where various authors gave books as door prizes. I was one of the winners and I received a book Aux Arc Black and White of Photography of the Ozarks by Carl James. Beautiful photo book that I will cherish for many years to come. Though the photos are black and white, I can see how I will be able to use many of the pictures as writing prompts.

I was surprised how organized the guild is and how many people attended the meeting. I look forward to coming back next month and continuing to network with others who have like passions. I look forward to next month’s meeting.

This Day In History as it Relates to the American Revolution

While George Washington and his men were held up at Valley Forge, it is possible that 70-year-old Benjamin Franklin attended the premiere of Piccinni’s opera “Roland” in Paris on this date in 1778.

piccinni roland operaBut Franklin had not gone to Paris as a social outing. He had gone on a life or death mission. His own life and the life of the other patriots hinged on convincing the French to side with the Americans against the British. The French greeted him, the American celebrity with open arms and wondered what had brought this world famous scientist to their shores. What had brought him was the fact that the newly declared citizens of America had little ammunition, no money, no credit, and no common cause and that he knew that because the French were enemies with Great Britain, perhaps they would be happy to recognize and become friends with the newly self-proclaimed independent county.

Fortunately for Franklin, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been waiting for such an opportunity. They had been poised for an American revolt longer than the colonies had even considered one. If the American could convince them that the Americans were worthy English foes, they were willing to give the fledgling country a chance.

Franklin danced around the facts as well as with  French debutantes. He was able to convince the French that the British would need a 200 thousand man army to subdue the Americans. He made it sound as though the American Continental Army was not the rag tag army that it was. That it had repositioned itself to fight on indefinitely and by spring would become a strong force of 89 thousand expertly trained men. He alluded that as the British pushed into the continent, the more the countryside would push back.

The truth was, gunpowder had to be severely rationed and Washington commanded only 14 thousand barely clad, poorly fed men. If Franklin did not succeed on his mission, British would have won and the Patriot cause would have been dead along with its leadership. The diplomatic expertise that Franklin demonstrated went beyond the desperation of the circumstances, it was sheer brilliance.

Reading–A Fundamental of Success

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Without an education, we are like a monkey in a cage. There’s a big world out there that we cannot access.

When I took my husband to his truck yesterday, he and I were talking about what I planned to do with this blog. I am not really certain about what direction I want to take it. He suggested that I use the idea that “Jews are successful because they teach their children to be successful. They emulate success and teach those success principles to their children and therefore the children become successful.”

Education is a fundamental key to success. Reading is a fundamental key to education, therefore learning to read is a fundamental key to success. Think about it. Reading is required for every class we take in school, not just the communication arts classes. We need to be able to read to learn sciences, humanities, and yes, even math.Every aspect of our lives involves reading. Even if we have no ambition and simply want to work at McDonald’s for the rest of our lives, we have to be able to read in order to fill out the job application.

The problem with our current education program is that it tries to separate the learning process from the normal every day process of life. Our education really shouldn’t be the esoteric classroom process that we have turned it into. The program “No child left behind” has failed to produce the sort of acceleration in educating our children that it promised. On the 2013 Reading, Scientific and Mathematical Literacy Scales  (Furnished by the OECD), the United States has dropped to a dismal ranking of 33rd.  I believe that it has put too much emphasis on blaming teachers and less on where the real problems lie. Our educational system does not reflect the needs of the students.

Our education system focuses on failure rather than on success. Even the name of the program focuses on the idea of a child being left behind. For our education system to become most effective, we should be teaching our children to build on their strengths. In our education system. We should be focusing more on teaching our children to consider reading as a skill that is more valuable than sports. (I know, I said it. I could go on and on about that, but right now, it would be a rabbit hole.)

I believe that the most important skill that needs to be developed is in teaching the parent how to parent which includes, in my opinion, teaching children the basics of reading. I know there is a program called “Parents as Teachers” unfortunately, these programs are underfunded. Also, adult literacy programs are sadly underfunded as well, so the illiterate parents are unable to help educate their children early. I think that instead of having the “no child left behind”, I believe that a program called something like Excellent American Parents would be a far more effective program. How about American Education Excels?

Such a program would, of course, include teaching parents to care for their children’s physical needs, but it would also focus on teaching reading skills to that child from birth. I have learned something about teaching my children in the fact that I have three children of my own. My eldest son was dyslexic and he never learned to read until he was in the fourth grade. He now has his own business as a logger. My middle son I started working with when he was two and he was third in his graduating class.  He is currently a Chinese linguist in the US Air Force. My daughter who is still in school learned to read before she was in kindergarten and was reading above a second grade level. She’s now in the seventh grade and is also doing well in school. She has a very high self-esteem and currently wants to be a makeup artist. Why are my children doing so well in their lives? Partly because I learned that teaching my children what they need to know to be successful in life, cannot begin in the school system. The teaching process has to begin with the parent. Teach the parents how to teach and the child will learn as well.

Articles I have Written on This Subject

(Click on title to view article)

Read to Me, Mommy

Finding Parenting Advice for New Parents