The clock on the fireplace mantel along the far wall still ticks away the seconds. On May 10, 1863, that same clock, in that same place, ticked away the last few hours of Stonewall Jackson’s life. When he died, at 3:15 p.m., many said that the last hopes of Confederate independence died with him. No less an authority than David Lloyd George, former British Prime Minister, said, “That old house witnessed the downfall of the Southern Confederacy. No doubt the history of America would have to be rewritten had ‘Stonewall’ Jackson lived.”
It’s a couple days before Independence Day, and I’m working at the Stonewall Jackson Shrine, a historic site run by the National Park Service within the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The Shrine provides a contemplative environment, but several disparate elements converge today that give me something unexpected to mull over. Continue reading →
— John Adams, on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Adams was 91 years old when civic leaders from Boston asked the Sage of Quincy for words of wisdom to commemorate America’s fiftieth birthday. During the Second Continental Congress, Adams had chaired the committee that drafted the Declaration, and he’d been the one to cajole Jefferson into doing the actual writing. On the floor on the Congress, Adams served as the lead sponsor and most vocal supporter of the document, eventually shepherding it through to passage. He was one of the seminal Founders, and in 1826, one of only three signers of the Declaration still alive (Jefferson was one of the others). Continue reading →
As I predicted four years ago on the Fourth of July, little has changed. This year’s fireworks and barbecues offer only a brief respite from the problems of the nation, how they are worsening, and how those who are supposed to address them remain mere chanters of their respective ideologies.
Sadly, I did not predict that more than 30,000 journalists would lose their jobs in the past four years, lessening the ability of the press to hold government accountable. To me, corporations are now essentially the American government; more journalists, not fewer, trained in the same accounting chicanery that allowed Enron to flourish, are necessary to hold corporate government accountable, too. Continue reading →