Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Fall of Adam and Eve

                President Ezra Taft Benson once said that no one understands their need for the Savior until they understand the Fall of Adam and Eve.  Since that is the topic of today’s post, I hope both you and I understand their fall better so that we will appreciate the Atonement of Jesus Christ more.  The Creation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ are the three great “pillars” of eternity.  Each of them played an important in the great plan of salvation.

                Jesus Christ and His associated created this beautiful earth.  After forming and organizing the earth from some available matter, after separating the land from the darkness, after separating the light from the darkness and hanging the sun, moon, and stars, in the sky, after planting the millions of plants to make the world beautiful, and after creating all the animals, birds, insects, and fish – after all these creations, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ created Adam and Eve.

                Heavenly Father chose Adam and Eve to be the first people to live on the earth (see Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:34).  Their mission on earth was to bring mortality into the world and to become the first parents on earth (Doctrine and Covenants 107:54-56).

                Why did God choose Adam and Eve for this great mission?  They were some of the noblest of all Heavenly Father’s spirit children.  Adam was called Michael the Archangel (see Doctrine and Covenants 27:11; Jude 9).  He was chosen by Heavenly Father to lead the righteous in the battle against Satan (see Revelation 12:7-9).  Eve was chosen to be the helpmeet of Adam.  They were foreordained to become the parents of the human race on earth.

                Even though the scriptures are silent about Eve before she entered the Garden of Eden, I believe that we can safely assume that she was a choice daughter of God.  Adam called his wife Eve “because she was the mother of all living” (Moses 4:26).  She was given to Adam by God because God said that “it was not good that man should be alone” (Moses 3:18).  As Adam’s wife and helpmeet, Eve shared his responsibility then and will share his eternal blessings.

                Adam and Eve were not yet mortal when they were placed in the Garden of Eden.  They could not have children.  They did not know about good and evil.  They could not die.  According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie, they had physical life because they had physical bodies made from the dust of the earth (see Abraham 5:7).  They also had spiritual life because they lived in the presence of God.

                Heavenly Father performed their marriage ceremony and commanded them to have children and to manage the resources of the earth.  He said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Moses 2:28).  God gave them permission to eat from every tree in the Garden of Eden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  He told them they would die if they ate from that tree” (Moses 3:17).

                Satan did not know God’s entire plan for His children and thought he could destroy the work of God by tempting Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit.  He lied to Eve when he told her that she would not die, but he was honest when he told her that she would “be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Moses 4:11).  Eve yielded to Satan’s temptation and partook of the fruit.  Adam was not deceived.  When he understood that Eve had partaken of the fruit and would be kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Adam chose to partake of the fruit also.  Something in the fruit changed their bodies into mortal bodies.  The event is called the fall of Adam.

                God forced Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden because they partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  They then entered the world that we know, one much different than the Garden of Eden.  Their new physical condition was mortality.  They could have children, and they and their children could experience the problems of mortality – sickness, pain, and physical death.

                Because of their fall, Adam and Eve also experienced spiritual death.  This means that they could no longer walk and talk with God face to face.  After their fall, Adam and Eve were separated from God both physically and spiritually.

                Some people believe that Adam and Eve committed serious sin by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Latter-day scriptures tell us that the Fall of Adam and Eve was actually a fall forward.  It was a necessary step in God’s plan for His children; it was also a great blessing for all mankind.  Remember, Adam and Eve could not have children in the Garden of Eden:  if they had not partaken of the fruit, none of us would even be here.  Our blessings include physical bodies, the right to use our agency in choosing good or evil, and the opportunity to gain eternal life.  We would have none of these blessings if Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden.

                Eve understood at least some of the changes that took place because she said, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed [children], and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11).

                Lehi, an ancient American prophet, also understood and explained:  “And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen [been cut off from the presence of God], but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden.  And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; … And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.  But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.  Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (Book of Mormon – Another Witness of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 2:22-25).

                I personally am grateful for courage of Adam and Eve in eating of the fruit.  Eve was deceived by Satan, but she did what had to be done.  Adam was not deceived but intentionally chose to stay with Eve.  Together, they made it possible for us to receive physical bodies, gain necessary experience, and prepare to return to Heavenly Father’s presence.  I look forward to the day when I have an opportunity to thank Mother Eve for her great gift to all her posterity!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Real Story of Rudolph

                Families can be strengthened by sharing holiday traditions, both spiritual and temporal.  They can share their traditions with friends and neighbors and strengthen their community.  By strengthening their families and communities, parents can strengthen their nations.

                Most of us have heard about Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer.  Most of us enjoy singing about him leading Santa’s sleigh to deliver Christmas presents on a foggy Christmas Eve.  Do you know how the story came to be?

                “Rudolph came to life in 1939 when the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company asked one of their copywriters, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to come up with a Christmas story they could give away in booklet form to shoppers as a promotional gimmick.  The Montgomery Ward stores had been buying and distributing coloring books to customers at Christmastime every year, and May’s department head saw creating a giveaway booklet of their own as a way to save money.  Robert May, who had a penchant for writing children’s stories and limericks, was tapped to create the booklet.

                “May, drawing in part on the tale of The Ugly Duckling and his own background (he was often taunted as a child for being shy, small, and slight), settled on the idea of an underdog ostracized by the reindeer community because of his physical abnormality:  a glowing red nose.  Looking for an alliterative name, May considered and rejected Rollo (too cheerful and carefree a name for the story of a misfit) and Reginald (too British) before deciding on Rudolph.

                “He then proceeded to write Rudolph’s story in verse as a series of rhyming couplets, testing it out on his 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, as he went along.  Although Barbara was thrilled with Rudolph’s story, May’s boss was worried that a story featuring a red nose – an image associated with drinking and drunkards – was unsuitable for a Christmas tale.  May responded by taking Denver Gillen, a friend from Montgomery Ward’s art department, to the Lincoln Park Zoo to sketch some deer.  Gillen’s illustrations of a red-nosed reindeer overcame the hesitancy of May’s superiors, and the Rudolph story was approved.  Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet in 1939, and although wartime paper shortages curtailed printing for the next several years, a total of 6 million copies had been distributed by the end of 1946.

                “The post-war demand for licensing the Rudolph character was tremendous, but since May had created the story on a `work made for hire’ basis as an employee of Montgomery Ward, that company held the copyright to Rudolph, and May received no royalties for his creation.  Deeply in debt from the medical bills resulting from his wife’s terminal illness (she died about the time May created Rudolph), May persuaded Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, Sewell Avery, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, and with the rights to his creation in hand, May’s financial security was assured.  (Unlike Santa Claus and other familiar Christmas figures of the time, the Rudolph character was a protected trademark that required licensing and the payment of royalties for commercial use.)

                “`Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ was reprinted commercially beginning in 1947 and shown in theaters as a nine-minute cartoon the following year, but the Rudolph phenomenon really took off when May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and melody for a Rudolph song.  Marks’ musical version of `Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ (turned down by many in the music industry who didn’t want to meddle with the established Santa legend) was recorded by cowboy crooner Gene Autry in 1949, sold two million copies that year, and went on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time (second only to `White Christmas’).  A stop-action television special about Rudolph produced by Rankin/Bass and narrated by Burl Ives was first aired in 1964 and remains a popular perennial holiday favorite in the U.S.”

                For more information about the real story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer follow this link.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Freedom to Choose

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that God gave us agency or the freedom to choose.  We know this because He revealed it to His prophets.   Heavenly Father wants His children to have the opportunity to obey His commandments because they choose do so and not because they are forced to obey.  This is the reason He bestowed the gift of agency on each of His children.

                Agency is an eternal principle.  We were free agents in our pre-earth life, meaning we had power to act for ourselves.  One of the purposes for our life on earth is to prove that we can make good choices.  If we were forced to choose the right, we would have no way to show what action we would choose if given the opportunity.

                Heavenly Father also desires His children to have happiness.  He knows that people – including little children – are happier when we make our own choices.  When we are persuaded rather than forced to do something, the unpleasant tasks seem to be more acceptable.

                We made our first choices as spirit children while living in the presence of our Heavenly Father.  He called all of us together in a grand council meeting to explain His plan for our salvation and eternal happiness.  We all used our agency to choose to follow Jesus Christ.  We know this because we have physical bodies of flesh and blood.  Those who chose to follow Satan never received physical bodies and never will.

                We know agency was one of the main causes of a great war between those who chose to follow Jesus Christ and those who chose to follow Satan.  When Heavenly Father asked for a volunteer, Satan said that he would bring all of us back to the presence of our Father.  He would take away our agency and force us to do good things.  When Heavenly Father rejected Satan’s plan, Satan rebelled and was cast out of heaven with all his followers.

                Agency is a necessary part of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation and happiness for His children.  We need agency in order to be tested, and we must be tried to see whether we are worthy to be like Heavenly Father.  During His creation of man in his mortal state, God said, “We will prove [test] them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:25).  Without the great gift of agency, we would not be able to prove ourselves. 

                When we choose to live according to the law of God, we strengthen our agency.  When we make right choices we increase our power to make more right choices.  As we obey each of the commandments of Heavenly Father, we become free to learn and obey other commandments.  We grow in wisdom and in strength of character.  Our faith in Jesus Christ increases, and we find it easier to make right choices.

                We all made the right choice in heaven and came to earth for further testing.  Heavenly Father wants us to grow in faith, power, knowledge, wisdom, and every good attribute.  We can continue to grow if we keep God’s commandments and make right choices.  As we learn and understand, we will become more like our Heavenly Father.

                Agency requires that there be a choice.  We cannot truly choose unless we are presented with at least two options.  This is probably the main reason why Heavenly Father allows Satan to tempt us to do bad things.  God revealed this very thing to Moses:  “I caused that he should be cast down.  And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:3-4).

                Satan continues to oppose the work of God and does everything he can to destroy God’s work.  He does not love us or desire that we accomplish anything good.  In fact, he wants us to be his slaves, and he uses many disguises to take us into captivity.  He is so miserable that he desires that all of us are miserable like he is. 

                When we choose to follow Satan, we limit our choices.   The following example shows how this works.  Suppose you saw a sign on the seashore such as the following:  “Danger – whirlpool.  No swimming allowed.”  We could consider this to be a restriction, but we would be wrong because we still have many other choices.  We could choose to:  (1) swim somewhere else, (2) play on the beach, (3) watch the sunset, (4) go home, (5) ignore the sign and go swimming, or (6) make any other choice.  If we chose to go swimming and got caught in the whirlpool, our choices would become very limited very quickly: try to escape, call for help, or drown.

                In order to fully understand agency, we must understand that we are free to choose a course of action, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.  We are responsible for our actions because we have agency or the freedom to make choices.  Consequences are a natural result of any choice – whether good or bad.  If we touch a hot surface, we will be burned.  If we jump off a cliff, we will get hurt.  It is like picking up a stick:  if we pick up one end of the stick, we automatically pick up the other end of the stick also.  Whenever we make a choice – any choice – we also choose the consequence of that choice.  Choice and accountability go together hand in hand. 

                Heavenly Father gives us commandments in order to direct us away from the dangers of Satan and moving toward eternal life.  Commandments are like a fence at the top of a cliff:  they keep us on the road and moving forward.  One of the commandments is that we should “watch and pray always” that we may receive Heavenly Father’s help in making good choices.  If we are trying to live the commandments of Heavenly Father, He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we have the power to resist.  If we continue to make good choices, we will eventually gain exaltation, progress eternally, and receive a fulness of joy.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Women of God

            Women occupy a unique place in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [also known as Mormons].  Although none of us bear the priesthood of God and most of us have no desire to do so, the leaders of the Church heap words of praise upon the women of the Church.   We often hear our leaders make statements such as “We, the Brethren of the Church, honor and respect our good sisters for their unselfish devotion to this glorious cause.”

                In the years following the organization of the Church, women of the Church wanted an organization of their own and wrote bylaws for their organization.  They took their ideas to the Prophet Joseph Smith for his approval.  He told them that their ideas were good, but the Lord had something better for them.  On March 17, 1842, the Prophet met with a number of the sisters and organized them into a society which was given the name of “The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo.”  Today that organization is known as the Relief Society and is one of the largest and oldest organizations for women in the world.  All sisters in the Church, eighteen years and over, are members of Relief Society.  We work together to care for ourselves, each other, and our families.

                President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “That this organization was by revelation, there can be no doubt.  This truth has been abundantly demonstrated throughout the years and today its value and necessity are abundantly attested.
                “Surely the Church of Jesus Christ would not have been completely organized had not this wonderful organization come into existence….  This restoration would not have been complete without the Relief Society in which the sisters are able to accomplish a divinely appointed service so essential to the welfare of the Church.”  (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Joseph Fielding Smith, pp. 297-309.)

                The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that the women of the Church should be organized because they had an important work in establishing the cause of Zion.  The organization was primarily responsible for the benefit, encouragement, and advancement of the women of the Church, but a secondary responsibility was to aid in the work of mercy and relief from distress and suffering of the poor, the sick, and afflicted throughout the Church.  The Relief Society continues to carry out these responsibilities.

                President Smith stated, “The Relief Society … has grown to be a power in the Church.  Absolutely necessary – we speak of it as an auxiliary, which means a help, but the Relief Society is more than that.  It is needed….
                “The Relief Society was established by the spirit of inspiration, has been guided by that spirit [ever since], and has instilled into the hearts of countless of our good sisters those desires for righteousness which have been pleasing to the Lord.”

                The women of the Church are expected to stand by the side of their husbands and to work with bearers of the priesthood to bless and strengthen individuals and families both in and out of the Church.  The Lord has blessed us with the qualities of sympathy, tenderness of heart, and kindness and has given us the responsibility to minister to the needy and the afflicted.  Women serve under the direction and in harmony with our bishops as we work together to bless our people both spiritually and physically.

                President Smith stated, “It is the duty of the Relief Society, not only to look after those who are members of the Relief Society, but their labor should extend beyond those borders.  Wherever anybody is in trouble, needs help, in difficulties, sick or afflicted, we call upon the Relief Society.  … They can perform a great and wonderful work by encouraging the wayward, helping them, bringing them back into activity, helping them to overcome their weaknesses or sins and imperfections, and bringing them to an understanding of the truth.  I say there is no limit to the good that our sisters can do.”

                President Gordon B. Hinckley echoed this statement while speaking to the National Press Club on March 8, 2000:  “… We are now operating in more than 160 nations.  Our worldwide membership is approaching 11 million.
                “Of these, approximately four million are women who belong to what we call the Relief Society.  I think it is the oldest women’s organization in the world, and perhaps the largest.  It has its own officers and board and these officers also sit on other boards and committees of the Church.  People wonder what we do for our women.  I will tell you what we do.  We get out of their way, and look with wonder at what they are accomplishing.”

                As a member of the Relief Society I have the opportunity to serve and bless other people.  I also have the blessing of being taught by priesthood leaders and my peers.  I have been taught  the Plan of Salvation and my place in it.  I understand that I cannot be saved in the Kingdom of God in ignorance, and I have learned the importance of studying the scriptures to gain and keep a strong testimony.  I understand that the blessings of the priesthood belong to me and my sisters as much as they belong to the brethren of the Church.  I know that women of the Relief Society are becoming women of God.  As women of God, much more is required of us. 

                Sister Margaret Nadauld expressed this requirement with these beautiful words:  “Women of God can never be like women of the world.  The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.  There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.  There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.  We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.  We have enough greed; we need more goodness.  We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.  We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Soil Is Interesting

                I finished my Master Gardener class and learned something new from every lecture.  The class I found most interesting was the lecture on soils – what they are made of, what is in them, how we can work with them, etc.

                Are you aware that soil is made up of weathered rock fragments, organic matter and living organisms?  There are components that are living and some that are not living.  Minerals and dead organic matter make up one portion, and microorganisms, invertebrates, and plant roots make up the living part.  “Soil provides nutrients, water and physical support for plants and air for plant roots.”

                The temperature of the soil has a huge impact on “seed germination, root growth, microbial activity, and nutrient availability and uptake.”  Soil in Alaska is cold and must be warmed to garden successfully.  Many Alaskan gardeners use raised beds in order to garden successfully; others use black plastic or other covering to warm the soil.

                For successful gardening soil must “be both permeable to water and able to supply water to plants.  These two characteristics depend on the network of pores in the soil.  Large pores are made by insects, earthworms, and roots and allow water to rapidly drain with gravity.  Small pores are responsible for increasing the soil’s capacity to hold water against the force of gravity.  Plants need sufficient water but not too much water.

                Whether or not soil has large or small pores depends on its “texture, structure, compaction, organic matter and living organisms” in it.  Texture describes when the soil is more fine or coarse, and this depends on the mixture of sand, silt, clay in the soil. You can tell the quality of the soil by the feel of it.  Sand feels gritty, silt feels smooth like flour, and clay feels hard when dry but can be molded easily when moist.  The difference is made by the size of the individual particles.  Sand particles are the largest; silt particles are smaller than sand, and clay particles are the smallest.  “Although all of these particles seem small, the relative difference in their size is quite large.  If a typical clay particle were the size of a penny, a sand particle would be as large as a house.”  A good garden soil crumbles in your hand when it is ready for tilling.

                “Nearly all soils contain a mixture of particle sizes, giving them a pore network containing a mixture of pore sizes….  A soil with roughly equal influence form sand, silt and clay particles is called a loam.  Loams usually make good agricultural and garden soils because they have a balance of macropores and micropores.  They usually have good water- and nutrient-holding capacity, along with moderate permeability.”

                Sandy loams are similar to loams but will drain water more quickly.  Silt loams will hold more water.  Clays and clay-loams are hard when dry and sticky when wet; they have the greatest capacity to hold water and nutrients.  “Almost any texture of soil can be suitable for gardening, as long as you are aware of the soil’s limitations and adjust your management to compensate….  Many soils can benefit from additions of high-quality organic matter….”

                Besides the texture of soil a gardener needs to be aware of the slope, the aspect (direction of exposure), and the depth of the soil.  Slope determines the availability of water because water flows down with gravity; there is usually more water in a valley than on the mountain ridge.  “Site aspect also is important.  South- ad southwest-facing exposures collect the most heat and use the most water.”  Depth is important because deeper soil holds more water than shallow soil.

                Soil is alive.  “Besides the plant roots, insects and earthworms you can see, soil is home to an abundant and diverse population of microorganisms.  A single gram of topsoil (about ¼ teaspoon) can contain as many as a billion microorganisms.”  Most of the microorganisms are located in the soil surrounding the roots of the plants – an area known as the rhizosphere.  The organisms break down plant remains and other organisms and make energy, nutrients, and carbon dioxide available to the plants.  This also helps to stabilize the soil more.

                Soil supplies 17 essential plant nutrients.  There are macronutrients and micronutrients.  The primary nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).  Secondary nutrients are sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg), and calcium (Ca), carbon (C), hydrogen (H),
oxygen (O), and nickel (Ni).  Micronutrients are zinc (Zn), boron (B), iron (FE), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), and
chlorine (Cl).  If the soil is deficient in any of these nutrients, the plants will be affected.  For example, soil that is deficient in nitrogen will produce plants with yellow leaves, and soil that is deficient in phosphorus will have red leaves.  I found it interesting to learn the plant will take the nutrient from the older leaves and supply it to the newer leaves; therefore, it is the older leaves that change color first.

                Nutrient deficiencies can be corrected by adding organic or non-organic fertilizers.  Processed fertilizers work faster and make their nutrients available to plants quicker.  Organic fertilizers release their nutrients more slowly, making the nutrients available to the plant over the growing season.  There are some organic fertilizers, such as fresh manure and fish meal, which contain available nutrients.  Some nutrients are not even available for the plants until the next growing season.  “Repeated application of organic fertilizers builds up a pool of material that releases nutrients very slowly.  In the long run, this nutrient supply decreases the need for supplemental fertilizer.”

                Gardeners can determine the need for fertilizer and how much by having their soil tested every few years.  If the pH level is too low, lime can be added.  If the pH level is too high, elemental sulfur or iron sulfate can be added.

                I have learned a lot about soil and its effects on plants and realize there is much more knowledge to gain as well as how to apply it in my garden.  The Master Gardener course is very interesting and worthwhile to me.

Monday, December 15, 2014

William Jennings Bryan

                William Jennings Bryan was born on March 19, 1860, in Salem, Illinois, to Silas Lillard Bryan and Mariah Elizabeth Jennings Bryan.  His maternal ancestry was from England.  Mariah Bryan mother joined the Salem Baptists in 1872.   Bryan attended services at the Methodist Church on Sunday morning, and then he attended services at the Baptist Church in the afternoon.  About this time Bryan began spending his afternoons at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  When he was 14 years old, he attended a revival and was soon baptized in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  He later stated that his decision to  be baptized was the most important day of his life; however he later left that church and joined the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, a larger church.

                Silas Bryan was of Scottish-Irish and English heritage.  He was also an avid Jacksonian Democrat.  He entered politics when he was elected to the Illinois State Senate but was defeated for re-election in 1860.  He was also elected as a state circuit judge.  In 1866 he moved his family to a 520-acre farm north of Salem with a large ten-room house.

                Bryan was home-schooled until age ten.  He used the Bible and McGuffey Readers to support his views that gambling and liquor were evil and sinful.  In 1874 he was sent to Whipple Academy, in Jacksonville, Illinois.  After finishing high school at Whipple Academy, he attended Illinois College.  He graduated from Illinois College as valedictorian in 1881; he was also a member of the Sigma Pi literary society and Acacia (fraternity). 

                Bryan then studied law in Chicago at Union Law College, which later became Northwestern University School of Law.  He taught high school while studying for the bar exam.  He also met Mary Elizabeth Baird.  Bryan and Mary Elizabeth had a common cousin, William Sherman Jennings.  Bryan and Mary Elizabeth were married on October 1, 1884 and then settled in Jacksonville, a city of 2,000.   They became parents of three children:  Ruth Bryan Owens, William Jennings Bryan, Jr., and Grace Bryan.

                Mary joined Bryan as an attorney and worked with him on his speeches and writings.  Bryan practiced law from 1883 to 1887 in Jacksonville and then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska.  There he met James Dahlman who helped carry Nebraska for Bryan in two presidential campaigns, and the two remained lifelong friends even though Dahlman was associated with the shady side of Nebraska.

                Bryan was elected by a landslide to the U.S. House of Representatives from Nebraska’s First Congressional District in 1890, becoming only the second Democrat to be elected to Congress in the history of Nebraska.  In his bid for re-election he won by only 140 votes in 1892.  In 1894 he campaigned for the Senate but lost in a Republican landslide.

                “Bryan was a leading American politician from the 1890s until his death.  He was a dominant force in the populist wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as the Party’s candidate for President of the United States (1896, 1900 and 1908).  He served two terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Nebraska and was the United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1915), resigning because of his pacifist position on the World War.  Bryan was a devout Presbyterian, a strong advocate of popular democracy, and an enemy of the banks and their gold standard.  He demanded `Free Silver’ (because it reduced power attributed to money and put more money in the hands of the people).  He was a peace advocate, a prohibitionist and an opponent of Darwinism on religious and humanitarian grounds. With his deep, commanding voice and wide travels, he was one of the best-known orators and lecturers of the era.  Because of his faith in the wisdom of the common people, he was called `The Great Commoner.’

                “In the intensely fought 1896 and 1900 elections, he was defeated by William McKinley but retained control of the Democratic Party.  With over 500 speeches in 1896, Bryan invented the national stumping tour, in an era when other presidential candidates stayed home.  In his three presidential bids, he promoted Free Silver in 1896, anti-imperialism in 1900, and trust-busting in 1908, calling on Democrats to fight the trusts (big corporations) and big banks, and embrace anti-elitist ideals of republicanism.  President Wilson appointed him Secretary of State in 1913, but Wilson’s strong demands on Germany after the Lusitania was torpedoed in 1915 caused Bryan to resign in protest.  After 1920 he was a strong supporter of Prohibition and energetically attacked Darwinism and evolution, most famously at the Scopes Trial in 1925….”

                Bryan continued to edit and deliver speeches and traveled hundreds of miles in five days following the end of the trial.  He traveled from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Dayton, on Sunday, July 26, 1925.  There he went to a church service, ate a large meal and died in his sleep from diabetes and fatigue that afternoon.  He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Without Due Process

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law….”  Every person living within the United States – citizen and non-citizen – has the right to the protection of their life, liberty, and property and to know that none of them can be taken away without due process of law. 

                W. Cleon Skousen explained, “One again, this provision is simply a repletion of what was already guaranteed in the Fifth Amendment:  `No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’
                “`Due process’ means a full hearing as provided by law.  Due process does not necessarily require a jury unless that is the established process for the type of problem involved.  Nor is a formal trial necessary for due process, if there is a full and fair hearing and an opportunity for the determination of the merits of the case.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 273.)

                James W. Ely, Jr. of The Heritage Foundation explained, “Both the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibit governmental deprivations of `life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’  The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment serves three distinct functions in modern constitutional doctrine:  `First, it incorporates [against the States] specific protections defined in the Bill of Rights …. Second, it contains a substantive component, sometimes referred to as `substantive due process.’ …
Daniels v. Williams (1986) (Stevens, J., concurring)

                “Modern law interprets the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to impose the same substantive due process and procedural due process requirements on the federal and state governments….”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 394.)