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.

Monday, October 31, 2011

William Hooper

                    William Hooper, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on June 17, 1742, probably in Boston, Massachusetts.  His father was an educated Scotchman having graduated from the University of Edinburgh.  Soon after his graduation, he emigrated from Scotland to America and settled in Boston.  He married in Boston, and William was his first born.    Mr. Hooper was especially attentive to William's education and preparation for college.  William was taught by Mr. Lovell, a famous teacher in Massachusetts Bay.  After proper preparation, William entered Harvard University where he was a "close and industrious student" for three years and then graduated with "distinguished honors" in 1760.

                    Mr. Hooper planned for his son to enter the clerical profession, but William decided that he preferred the bar and began his studies in the office of "the celebrated James Otis."  When he completed his studies, he recognized that he would have a difficult time establishing an office in the heavily practiced Massachusetts; therefore, he moved to North Carolina where he had Scottish relatives and began practicing there in 1767.

                    William rose quickly in his profession and was soon head of the bar in that area.  He was particularly well esteemed by government leaders.  After successfully managing several government cases, he became quite influential.

                    In 1770-1771 period of time, a group of people known as the "Regulators" arose.  At their beginning, they appeared to William and others to be trouble makers, and he sided with the government in their efforts to maintain order.  He "advised and assisted Governor Tryon" in his efforts to put down the rebellion.  For this reason, he became known as a "royalist."

                    The "Regulators" were actually the beginning of the patriot movement in North Carolina very similar to those taking place in Massachusetts and Virginia.  The patriots believed that Governor Tryon's acts were "oppressive and cruel," and they were "impelled to action by a strong sense of wrong and injustice."  "Governor Tryon was a tyrant of the darkest hue, for he commingled, with his oppressions, acts of the grossest immorality ad wanton cruelty."  The "Regulators" were common people who showed their true patriotism by "the rules of government they adopted, the professions they made, and the practices they exhibited."  Some of the "Regulators" became early martyrs of the Revolution.

                    Because William had once sided with the government against the patriots, he was viewed with suspicion for awhile when he openly joined the cause of liberty.  Those who knew him best knew that he was a true patriot; Mr. Otis, his instructor in his youth, had lit the flame of patriotism in his heart.  William's sincerity in the cause of liberty became very apparent because of his consistent public service.

                    William began his legislative service as a member of the North Carolina Provincial Assembly in 1773, representing the town of Wilmington.  The next year he was elected to represent Hanover County in the Assembly.  From the beginning of his service in the Assembly, he sympathized with the patriots.  His sympathy to the cause of liberty caused him to "oppose the court party in the state."  His opposition was so great that the royalists considered William to be the leader of the patriots' cause.

                    When Massachusetts proposed a General Congress, North Carolina "hailed" the idea "with joy" and called a convention in the summer of 1774 to consider the matter.  The first action after passing resolutions approving the convention was to appoint William Hooper as their first delegate to the Continental Congress.  William was one of the youngest delegates at the Congress, but he was named to two very important committees - arranging and proposing measures for action.

                    William was elected to Congress again in 1775 and was appointed as chairman for the committee to write a letter to the Assembly of the island of Jamaica.  William wrote the address, which clearly outlined the existing difficulties between Great Britain and the American Colonies.  William was elected to the Congress again in 1776 and voted for the Declaration of Independence.  He signed the document on August 2, 1776.  He continued in Congress until March 1777 when he obtained a leave of absence in order to return home to arrange his private affairs and provide safety for his family.

                    William Hooper, like others who signed the Declaration of Independence, was considered an enemy to the British, and the British "used every means in their power to possess his person, harass his family, and destroy his estate.  After the Revolutionary War was over and peace settled once more upon the land, William resumed his profession.  He was not active in public life until 1786 when Congress appointed him as one of the federal judges responsible to adjudicate the dispute between Massachusetts and New York.  The matter was never brought to court because commissioners were able to settle the problem.

                    Mr. Hooper withdrew from public life again because of bad health.  He died at Hillsborough in October 1790 when he was 48 years old.

                    Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 201-204.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Raise and Support Armies

                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.12:  "The Congress shall have Power … To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two years."  This clause is known as the "Army Clause."  Simply stated, by including this clause in the United States Constitution, the Founders gave Congress the power and authority to raise the money and support necessary for a national military force by taxing the people of the nation.  This was not an easy power for the Founders to bestow.

                    The American colonists did not want a standing army, and their representatives in the Constitutional Convention greatly opposed the very idea of giving a President the power to mobilize an army.  They absolutely did not want either the President or the Congress to have the power to set up a military dictatorship.  They did however understand the need to defend their nation from foreign enemies or from internal rebellions.

                    "For most Americans after the Revolution, a standing army was one of the most dangerous threats to liberty.  In thinking about the potential dangers of a standing army, the Founding generation had before them the precedents of Rome and England.  In the first case, Julius Caesar marched his provincial army into Rome, overthrowing the power of the Senate, destroying the republic, and laying the foundation of empire.  In the second, Cromwell used the army to abolish Parliament and to rule as dictator.  In addition, in the period leading up to the Revolution, the British Crown had forced the American colonists to quarter and otherwise support its troops, which the colonists saw as nothing more than an army of occupation.  Under British practice, the king was not only the commander in chief; it was he who raised the armed forces.  The Framers were determined not to lodge the power of raising an army with the executive" (Mackubin Owens, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 132).

                    By giving the power to raise taxes for an army to the Congress and limiting the authority to two years, the Founders felt that they could provide for their defense without threatening their freedoms.  They accepted the need for an army, but they also wanted to control the power of Congress to appropriate the funds to support an army.  During the ratification of the Constitution, both Federalists and Anti-Federalists expressed concerns about a standing army.  The Anti-Federalists wanted their defense to be provided by state militias because they held the opinion that a standing army would support tyrants.  The Federalists believed that it was wisdom as well as essential for any government to have an army available for defense.

                    It is interesting that the concerns about a standing army were not part of the discussion about a navy or militias.  This clause is the only one in the Constitution that sets a time limit on the appropriations of funds for military powers.  The time limit of two years on the appropriation of funds to support an army coincides with the length of time of service in the House of Representatives.  

                   W. Cleon Skousen quoted an explanation by Thomas Dawes, Jr.:  "When we consider that this branch is to be elected every two years, there is great propriety in its being restrained from making any grants in support of the army for a longer space than that of their existence.  If the election of this popular branch were for seven years, as in England, the men who would make the first grant, might also be the second and third, for the continuance of the army; and such an acquaintance might exist between the representatives in Congress and the leaders of the army as might be unfavorable to liberty.  But the wisdom of the late Convention has avoided this difficulty.  The army must expire of itself in two years after it shall be raised, unless renewed by representatives, who, at that time, will have just come fresh from the body of the people.  It will share the same fate as that of a temporary law, which dies at the time mentioned in the act itself, unless revived by some future legislature" (The Making of America:  The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 445-446). 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chastity and Virtue

                    The law of chastity is very simple to understand:  We are to have sexual relations only with our spouse to whom we are legally and lawfully married.  No one, male or female, is to have sexual relations before marriage.  After marriage, sexual relations are performed only with our spouse.

                    The law of chastity is not a new law because the Lord told the Israelites, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14).  This law has been repeated with the very same words in our day (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:24).  The law of chastity means more than sexual intercourse.  The First Presidency warned of other sexual sins:  "Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage.  Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person's body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you.  Do not arouse those emotions in your own body" (For the Strength of Youth [pamphlet, 2001], 27).

                    A person who lives the law of chastity is said to be virtuous, but virtue is actually more than just being chaste.  "Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.  It includes chastity and [moral] purity….  Virtue is a requirement to have the companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost….  Being virtuous is a requirement to enter the temple.  And it is a requirement to be worthy to stand in the Savior's presence" (Elaine S. Dalton, "Guardians of Virtue," Ensign, 121-124).

                    Homosexual behavior is a serious sin just like other violations of the law of chastity.  Latter-day prophets have warned about the dangers of homosexual behavior and about concern for people who may have such inclinations.  President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "In the first place, we believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.  We believe that marriage may be eternal through exercise of the power of the everlasting priesthood in the house of the Lord.
                    "People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians.  My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God.  They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control.  Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times.  If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church.  If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
                    "We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties.  But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation.  To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families" (Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).

                    So why is obedience to the law of chastity so important?  When God created the earth, He commanded each living thing to reproduce after its own kind (see Genesis 1:22).  It was part of God's plan that all forms of life would continue to exist on the earth through reproduction of their own kind.

                    After God created all the animals, birds, fish, etc, He created Adam and Eve after His own image.  They were His spirit children, and He brought them together in eternal marriage in the Garden of Eden.  Then He commanded them to multiply and replenish the earth (see Genesis 1:28).  They were to govern their lives by moral laws and not by animal instincts.

                    God planned for His spirit children to be born into families where they could be cared for and taught properly.  As the posterity of Adam and Eve, we too are to provide bodies for God's spirit children.  The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have stated, "We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed" ("The Family:  A Proclamation to the World," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).  God has commanded that sexual relations are to take place in a legal and lawful marriage between a man and a woman.  This commandment is the law of chastity.

                    Satan is cunning and powerful as he does all that he can to destroy the plan of God by enticing us to break the law of chastity.  Because Heavenly Father wants us to keep our bodies covered modestly, Satan attacks the standards of modesty.  Satan knows that immodest dress encourages improper thoughts and actions.  Satan also tempts us through our emotions and chooses a time when we are lonely, confused, or depressed to tempt us to break the law of chastity.  If we will rely on Heavenly Father, He will give us the strength to pass through these trials unharmed.

                    Genesis 39:1-18 tells the story of a righteous young man named Joseph, who was trusted by his master Potiphar.  Joseph had command over everything that belonged to Potiphar.  When Potiphar's wife lusted after Joseph and tempted him to commit adultery with her, Joseph resisted and fled from her, exclaiming, "There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife:  how then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God" (italics added).

                    Breaking the law of chastity is very serious.  The prophet Alma told his son Corianton that unchastity is next to murder in seriousness when he said,  "Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Christ, Alma 39:5).

                    Heavenly Father wants all of His children to obey the law of chastity and any members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who break this law or influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.  Those who break the law of chastity can receive forgiveness and peace, but the way is not easy.  President Spencer W. Kimball said, "To every forgiveness there is a condition.  … The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin.  There must be a broken heart and a contrite spirit….  There must be tears and genuine change of heart.  There must be conviction of the sin, abandonment of the evil, confession of the error to properly constituted authorities of the Lord" (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 353).

                    Confession is usually the most difficult part of repentance for confession must be not only to the Lord but to those who have been offended.  President Kimball warned, "Even though forgiveness is so abundantly promised there is no promise or indication of forgiveness to any soul who does not totally repent ….  We can hardly be too forceful in reminding people that they cannot sin and be forgiven and then sin again and again and expect repeated forgiveness" (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 353, 360).

                    Chastity and virtue are "most dear and precious above all things" (Book of Mormon, Mormon 9:9) and must be guarded both in ourselves and in others.  We must prepare ourselves daily for this duty by daily personal prayer, daily scripture study, and by weekly attendance at Church.  Sister Dalton suggested that we can make "decisions in advance [to] help you be guardians of virtue … write a list of things you will always do and things you will never do.  Then live your list.
                    "Being a guardian of virtue means you will always be modest not only in your dress but also in your speech, your actions, and your use of social media.  Being a guardian of virtue … means that you understand the importance of chastity because you understand that your body is a temple and that the sacred powers of procreation are not to be tampered with [outside of] marriage.  You understand that you possess a sacred power that involves the holy responsibility of bringing other spirits to earth to receive a body in which to house their eternal spirit.  This power involves another sacred soul.  You are a guardian of something `more precious than rubies' [Proverbs 3:15].  Be faithful.  Be obedient…."

                    Living the law of chastity helps us to live without guilt or shame.  It also brings blessings into our own life and into the lives of our children and grandchildren, born and unborn.  Our children look to our example and follow in our footsteps, and we must make sure we are walking in the ways we should be going. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Welfare Principles

                    Families grow stronger when they practice basic principles of welfare - self-reliance and industry.  Parents can teach these principles to their children by precept and example.  Children are blessed when they learn the importance of being self-reliant.

                    Our world today is much like that of 1929 when the stock market crashed and caused huge financial losses.  My parents married just a few weeks before the crash and spent the rest of their lives being prepared in case such a thing were to happen again.

                    The unemployment rate in Utah climbed to 35.8 percent by 1932.  Even though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had a system of storehouses and programs set up to help members find work, many members of the Church were turning to the United States government for relief.

                    Church leaders did not like the idea of members going to the government for help.  President Heber J. Grant (1856-1945) stated during that difficult time, "I believe that there is a growing disposition among the people to try to get something from the government of the United States with little hope of ever paying it back."

                    Leaders knew that members were struggling, and they were determined to find a way to help the members become independent and avoid promoting idleness and a sense of entitlement.  The Church encouraged able-bodied men to render some sort of service in exchange for any aid received.  Thus the Church Welfare System was put in place.

                    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its welfare program.  When the program was inaugurated in 1936, President David O. McKay, a counselor to President Heber J. Grant, confirmed the divinely inspired foundation of the welfare plan:  "[The welfare program] is established by divine revelation, and there is nothing else in all the world that can so effectively take care of its members."

                    During the past 75 years, our nation has gone through many economic cycles, and many changes have occurred in both the size of the Church and the morals of society.  The soundness of the welfare plan has been proven again and again.  Using welfare principles and operating on faith in God, wards and stakes emphasize righteous, thrifty and independent living, organize classes to teach sewing, food production, canning, etc. and coordinate work projects to help the members to help themselves.  The welfare plan teaches members to help others by giving a "hand up" rather than taking a "hand out" from other sources.

                    President Grant stated, "Our primary purpose was to set up … a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self-respect be once more established amongst our people."  He also said, "Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership."

                    Even though the Great Depression ended and World War II was over, Church leaders felt the need to continue the welfare program.  In October 1945, United States President Harry S. Truman asked President George Albert Smith (1870-1951) how and when the Church could deliver supplies to the war-torn nations of Europe.  President Truman was astonished when Church leaders told him that the food, clothing and other supplies were already collected and ready to ship.

                    The welfare facilities and programs of the Church have been expanded since 1945 and cover more needs and larger areas.  Over time, the welfare program expanded to Mexico, South America, England, and the Pacific Islands.  Today the Church is experiencing new challenging in adapting the welfare program to meet the needs of the developing nations.

                    The basic welfare principles of self-reliance and industry are the same today as they were in 1936.  In fact, the Lord commanded Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Genesis 3:19).

                    The storehouse of the Church is in place to help widows and orphans as well as the poor (Doctrine and Covenants 83:6).  Welfare principles are helping members throughout the world as they practice them in their individual homes.  "The strength of the Church and the Lord's real storehouse is in the homes and hearts of his people" (Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

                    The welfare program's long-term objective continues to be fulfilled as members exercise their faith in Jesus Christ and develop their own self-reliance.  President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., counselor to President McKay, defined this objective as "the building of character in the members of the Church, givers and receivers, rescuing all that is finest down deep inside of them, and bringing to flower and fruitage the latent richness of the spirit, which after all is the mission and purpose and reason for being of this Church."

                    President Thomas S. Monson stated, "I declare that the welfare program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is inspired of Almighty God."

                    His counselor, President Henry B. Eyring noted the difficult times we are living in when he stated, "Great temporal needs of the children of Heavenly Father have come again in our time as they have and as they will in all times.  The principles at the foundation of the Church welfare program are not for only one time or one place.  They are for all times and all places."

                    When we participate in the welfare program of the Church, we are given the opportunity to lift others in need as we covenanted in the waters of baptism.  Silvia H. Allred stated, "Men and women of the Church participate jointly today in bringing relief to those in need….  When love becomes the guiding principle in our care for others, our service to them becomes the gospel in action.  It is the gospel in its finest moment.  It is pure religion."

                    There is a great difference between the welfare program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the entitlement programs of the state and federal governments.  The Church's program strives to help people to help themselves to become self-reliant whereas the government's programs simply invite more greed and feelings of entitlement.

                    Ideas and quotes are from an article by Heather Wrigley entitled "Celebrating 75 Years of Welfare," Ensign, May 2011, pp. 139-141.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Truth Brings Freedom

                    The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that the truth will make you free.  An oft-quoted scripture states:  "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).  Jesus Christ was talking about His gospel when He made this statement; He taught that the truths of His gospel will make all mankind free from the sins of this world.  Christ's statement that truth shall make us free is also true regarding honesty.  When we are honest and make telling the truth a way of life, we are free.  We don't have to worry about when or where the truth will come out - and the truth always comes out sooner or later.

                    "Truth is tough.  It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch, nay, you may kick it all about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening" (Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Professor at the Breakfast Table).

                    "Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold" (Leo Tolstoy).

                    Most of us have at one time or another told a lie.  Besides being dishonest, telling a lie is just plain dumb.  In the first place, in order for the lie to never be discovered, we have to remember the lie we told and possibly repeat it.  The truth is easy to remember, but a lie is difficult to keep straight in our minds.  Secondly, quite often we have to tell another lie to cover up the first lie, and then maybe a third lie to cover up the second lie, etc.  I learned at a very young age that telling lies was harder than facing up to the truth.  It seems that this experience must be repeated in generation after generation.

                    My sweet, precious five-year-old granddaughter made a mistake on her first day of school.  She decided to change seats on the school bus while the bus was still moving.  The bus driver corrected her, and the little girl got off the bus in tears.  Thinking that her mother would also be upset with her, she decided to lie when her mother started asking questions about why she was so upset.  She answered every question with a lie and soon was telling lies to cover up lies that were told to cover up other lies.  Well, her mother became very concerned about the safety of her daughter at school and sent a note to the teacher asking for more information about the situation.  The teacher sent a note home saying that she knew nothing about the alleged incident.  The mother asked the little girl more questions, and finally the truth came out.  In the end, the little girl had to apologize to the teacher, a very embarrassing situation.  She thought she could get away with the lie without anyone at school knowing of it, but it would have been much easier and smarter to be honest with her mother!

 My little granddaughter is far from alone in thinking that lies will make things easier.  We live in a world today where lies are more common than honesty.  Mainstream media lies to the public either directly or indirectly by not reporting true happenings.  Politicians lie to cover up their own greed and crimes or to convince the people to do something that they would not ordinarily do.  Even Presidents lie under oath!  Witnesses swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but they often lie and send innocent people to prison and possibly to their deaths.

                    Truth!  What is truth?  Why is it so important?  Truth is a fact, a state of being.  Truth doesn't change for convenience or time.  Facts are facts.  Truth remains the truth.  Truth is knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and as they are to come.  We need to know what is true in order to avoid confusion and dangers.  Truth is important in order for us to know who we can trust.  

                    A hymn entitled "Oh Say, What Is Truth?" beautifully describes what truth is and why it is important to speak the truth and to stand for the truth.  The following words were written by John Jaques (1827-1900) with appropriate music by Ellen Knowles Melling (1820-1905) (Hymns, 272).

"Oh Say, what is truth?
'Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch's costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.

"Yes, say, what is truth? 
'Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
'Tis an aim for the noblest desire.

"The scepter may fall from the despot's grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bull-works outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant's hopes.

"Then say, what is truth? 
'Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o'er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth's fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, ever-more."

Determine to always tell the truth for it is a compliment to be known as someone who is honest and trustworthy.  The truth will make you free. 

My youngest daughter saw some students bothering another person's belongings at school.  When the mischief was discovered, the responsible students lied.  The teacher didn't know how to handle the situation until she discussed the problem with another teacher.  The other teacher said, "Ask [my daughter].  She will tell you the truth."  My daughter was asked, she told the truth, and the responsible students had to suffer the consequences for their behavior.  I was happy to know that my daughter was known for being honest.

                    How can we know the truth when we don't know who or what we can trust?  We can always turn to God because He is a God of truth.  The Book of Mormon - Another Witness of Christ carries within it a promise of how to know the truthfulness about the book.

                    "And when ye shall receive these things [meaning you have listened, read, studied, and pondered about the Book of Mormon], I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
                    "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Moroni 10:4-5; italics added).

                    When there is no one else that we can trust to help us find out what is true, we can ask God, and He will give us an answer through the power of the Holy Ghost.  He wants us to study out the problem, decide what we believe is the truth, and then ask Him to confirm our belief.  If our belief is true, we will feel that it is right.  If our belief is wrong, we will feel it is wrong.

                    It may not always be easy to be honest, but it will in the long run be easier than trying to lie.  The truth will make us free when we are honest, truthful, and trustworthy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two Mrs. Braxton

                    Carter Braxton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was married twice.  He married Judith Robinson when both of them were 19 years old.  She died at the birth of her second child before her 21st birthday.  Four years after her death, Carter married Elizabeth Corbin.

                    Judith Robinson came from one of Virginia's most prominent families.  She was a descendent of Col. Christopher Robinson, who moved to Virginia in 1666.  The colonel's brother was the Rt. Rev. John Robinson, D.D., Lord Bishop of London during the reign of Queen Anne.  Col. Robinson made his home in Middlesex County and called his estate "Hewick."  He was one of the original trustees of William and Mary College as well as a member of the House of Burgesses and a member of the King's Council.  Judith's father, John Robinson, was a grandson of the original Christopher of Hewick, and her mother was the daughter of Hon. John Wormley.

                    Judith and Carter were married in 1755 and made their home on his estate "Elsing Green" in King William County.  There is little known about Judith or her successor except what is written in brief family genealogies and what little is written in Bishop Meade's Old Families of Virginia.  We know that Judith and Carter were parents of two girls:  Mary Braxton (married Robert Page of "Broadnech House," Hanover County, in 1779) and Judith Braxton (married in 1779 to John White of King William County, a son of Rev. Alexander White, rector of St. David's Parish).  The young mother died shortly after the birth of her second daughter in 1757.

                    Four years after Judith's death, Carter married Elizabeth Corbin of "Laneville," King and Queen County.  She was the daughter of Colonel Richard and Elizabeth Tayloe Corbin; this family dated back to 1650 when Hon. Henry Corbin came from England and settled at "Buckingham House" in Middlesex County.  Colonel Richard was the grandson of "Henry, of Buckingham House;" he was educated in England and was a devoted churchman in the Episcopal faith.  According to Bishop Meade, Colonel Richard furnished the bread and wine for the communion as well as boarded the unmarried ministers of the parish without charge.  He was also President of the King's Council and Receiver General of the Colony.

                    Elizabeth and Carter were parents of sixteen children, several of whom died as babies or in early childhood.  The eldest child was Elizabeth (married Colonel Samuel Griffin; he served in the Revolutionary War and later in Congress); other children included Carter (of King William County, married "Miss Sayre, granddaughter of Hon. Philip Ludwell"), and Colonel George Braxton (of "Chericoke," married Mary, daughter of Hon. Charles and Mary Carter Carter of "Shirley" in Charles City County).

                    Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers:  The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 256-258.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Veterans Farm

                    Some days I simply cannot handle one more news item about what is wrong in our nation and world, and today happens to be one of those days.  I searched for something good to write about and found an article about Veterans Farm in Parade Magazine.  I did a little more research about Veterans Farm and decided to share what I found.

                    Veterans Farm began with one man, former U.S. Army Sgt. Adam Burke, age 34.  Burke was serving as an infantryman in Iraq and was just two weeks from the end of his deployment in May 2004.  His unit was on a mission in the Sunni Triangle when one of his guys was shot while crossing a street.  Burke reached out to pull his buddy to cover when the enemy began firing.  Burke was hit with shrapnel in his head and legs.  He was later awarded the Purple Heart for his injuries, but while he was lying in the street he prayed.  "Lord, if you get me home to see my family at least one more time, I promise that I'll make my life worth saving."

                    Burke was transported back home for a reunion with his wife Michele, and she helped with his recovery.  Burke had been a star athlete earlier in his life, but he could hardly stay on his feet.  His ruptured eardrum made it difficult for him to balance himself.  In addition, he felt "intense anxiety."  He was diagnosed with a number of problems:  traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and hypertension.  After a couple of years of travel and self-pity parties, Burke and Michele made their way to Webster, Florida - his hometown. 

                    Burke grew up on his family farm in the area and was the first member of his family to not go into farming.  Instead, he left at age 17 to join the army.  "Farmer's blood" however ran in his veins.  [Being a farmer's daughter, I understand what it means to have farmer's blood in one's veins.  There is something special to a farmer about the feel and smell of soil, and a true farmer has a real need to work in the soil!]  Burke's family gave him two and a half acres of land, and Burke and Michele moved into a 32-foot trailer.  They "used his disability benefits to buy blueberry bushes and irrigation equipment."

                    "As Burke spent his days working in the sunshine, he noticed that his hand-eye coordination and his cognitive functions, which had been impaired due to his injuries, steadily improved.  After a year and a half, he was able to put aside his cane.  One day he was struck with an idea:  Since farming had benefited him physically and mentally, perhaps it could help other soldiers too.

                    "He also thought it could address another problem faced by returning members of the military:  unemployment.  The jobless rate for the most recent vets is nearly 10 percent.  And farming's challenging lifestyle is actually a good fit for former troops.  Burke notes, `It takes a lot of discipline to get up at five in the morning and work hard, but soldiers are used to it.'"

                    Burke began advertising his farm simply by "word of mouth."  He began to see veterans - some disabled - making their way to his farm.  "When Burke saw that the men in wheelchairs were unable to pick berries from bushes at ground level, he put plants in tall pots they could reach.  `They're handicapped-access berries!' Burke declares."

                    When Burke realized in 2010 that he needed more property, he was able to get funding for eight more acres from Work Vessels for Veterans, a nonprofit organization that helps former military members to launch businesses.

                    Today Burke is providing paying work for "veterans of conflicts ranging from the Korean War to the war in Iraq."  On his farm, the veterans not only tend the soil but they build camaraderie.  There on the farm, working side by side, the veterans can share their hopes and their fears as well as discuss their "guilt" for being alive and healthy while friends didn't make it or getting other bad thoughts and memories out in the open.

                    "Under the bright Florida sun, Burke climbs onto a tractor and pulls a plow across a field.  Once he risked his life to pull a comrade out of the line of fire.  Today, he's leading some of his fellow soldiers to a different kind of sanctuary."

                    More information on Veterans Farm can be found here.  I like their motto:  "Veterans Farm - Home of the Red, White and Blueberry."  Their mission statement is as follows:  Our mission is to help disabled combat veterans reintegrate back into society through the use of horticulture therapy, while working together in a relaxed, open environment.  Veterans will work as a team to develop solutions that will enable them to overcome physical and mental barriers."

                    If you choose to help "veterans reintegrate back into society," you can do so through either or both of the following nonprofit groups that help former military members into farming:  1) Farmer-Veteran Coalition and 2) Work Vessels for Veterans. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Carter Braxton

                    Carter Braxton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on September 10, 1736, in King and Queen County, Virginia.  His father, George Braxton, was a wealthy farmer who was well respected by the Virginian planters, and his mother was the daughter of Robert Carter.  Both parents died when Carter and his brother George were young.

                    Carter received his education at William and Mary College, leaving at age nineteen just prior to marriage.  His bride was Miss. Judith Robinson whose father was a wealthy farmer in Middlesex County.  Carter was considered to be one of the wealthiest men in his county.  Not yet twenty-one years old, Judith died giving birth to her second child.  Four years after Judith's death, Carter married Elizabeth Corbin with whom he had sixteen children.

                    In 1757 Carter went to England, returning in 1760 just prior to his second marriage.  Carter had enough wealth and such excellent connections that he could have become part of the aristocracy, but he instead became a Virginian patriot, raising his voice in the cause of liberty.  We do not know when he became active in public life, but he was a member of the House of Burgesses in 1765.  He was in attendance when Patrick Henry made his resolutions concerning the Stamp Act, and he courageously voted in favor of them.  Patrick Henry was an eloquent orator and won Carter to his side:  "The eloquence of Henry on that occasion, fell like successive thunderbolts on the ears of the timid Assembly.  `It was in the midst of the magnificent debate on those resolutions,' says Mr. Wirt, `while he was descanting on the tyranny of the obnoxious Act, that he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a God;  "Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell - and George the Third" - "Treason!" cried the Speaker - "treason, treason," echoed from every part of the House.  It was one of those trying moments which are decisive of character.  Henry faltered not for an instant; but rising to a loftier altitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye of the most determined fire, he finished the sentence with the firmest emphasis - `and George the Third - may profit by their example.  If that be treason, make the most of it.'"

                    Braxton was a member of the Virginia Convention at the time Lord Botetourt dissolved it for acts he thought could be treasonous.  Braxton joined other members of the Convention who immediately went to another location and signed a "non-importation agreement.  After the death of Lord Botetourt in 1770, Lord Dunmore succeeded him and increased the spirit of opposition in Virginia.  During the time between the death of Botetourt and the arrival of Dunmore, Braxton served as county high sheriff but resigned when Dunmore came.

                    Carter Braxton was a member of the Assembly when Dunmore dissolved it in the summer of 1774; he was one of the eighty-nine members who recommended that Virginia hold a general convention at Williamsburg.  The convention was held, and Braxton was elected as one of Virginia's delegates to the Continental Congress scheduled to meet in Philadelphia the next month.

                    In 1777 Dunmore attempted to take the ammunition from the public magazines and put it on board the Fowey ship-of-war that was just off of Williamsburg.  The people became very upset and "threatened open rebellion and armed resistance."   Patrick Henry gathered a military company and led it toward Williamsburg with the plan to demand the return of the powder.  The company grew rapidly as it traveled and was very large as it approached Williamsburg.

                    Meanwhile the captain on board the Fowey declared that he would fire upon the town and destroy it if the governor encountered violence.  The captain then turned the broadside of the ship parallel to the shore and prepared the guns for firing.  Braxton was instrumental in "quelling the disturbance" and making arrangements that satisfied all parties.  The governor agreed to pay for the powder and then was allowed to take his family on board the Fowey in the river.  Williamsburg was saved from destruction.

                    When Governor Dunmore refused to return to his palace and the legislature refused to meet with him on board the ship, a Provincial Government was formed by a convention of Virginians.  Braxton was active as a member of the last House of Burgesses in Virginia convened under royal authority, and he was chosen as a delegate to the new Assembly.

                    Carter was chosen as a delegate to the Continental Congress in December 1775 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Peyton Randolph.  Carter was active in the cause for independence; he voted for the Declaration of Independence and signed it.  He was a member of the Continental Congress for only one session before returning to his seat in the Virginia Legislature.  From 1786 until 1791 Carter served as a member of the council of the State.  He was again elected to the office in 1794, and he held the office until just shortly before he died.  Four days after leaving office, he passed away on October 10, 1797, at age 61.

                    "Mr. Braxton was not a brilliant man, but he was a talented and very useful one.  He possessed a highly cultivated mind, and an imagination of peculiar warmth and vigor, yet the crowing attribute of his character, was sound judgment and remarkable prudence and forethought.  These, in a movement like the American Revolution, were essential elements in the characters of those who were the prominent actors, and well was it for them and for posterity, that a large proportion of not only the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, but those who were called to act in the councils of the nation, possessed these requisites to a remarkable degree.  While fiery spirits were needed to arouse, and bold, energetic men were necessary to control and guide, the success of that rebellion, … depended upon the calm judgment and well directed prudence of a great body of the patriots.
                    "Of this class Mr. Braxton was a prominent one.  His oratory, though not brilliant, was graceful and flowing, and it was persuasive in the highest degree.  He always fixed the attention of his auditors and seldom failed to convince and lead them.  In public, as well as in private life, his virtue and morality were above reproach, and as a public benefactor, his death was widely lamented."
                    Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 197-200.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.8.11:  "The Congress shall have Power To … make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water."  This clause in the United States Constitution gave power to Congress to determine the rules by which prisoners can be captured or enemy property can be confiscated.  Congress however has never used its power to enslave enemy persons, but it has confiscated land.

                    "Land captured by the armed forces does not automatically become part of the United States.  Captured land ceases to be part of the foreign country to which it belonged, but its people cannot be counted as full citizens of the United States until the Congress has adopted the territory into equal status with the rest of the country.  Puerto Rico is a case in point."  (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America:  The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 443.)

                    The Articles of Confederation contained a similar clause giving Congress the power to establish rules about captures taking place on land or water.  Apparently, our Founding Fathers found this power so necessary that they included this clause in the Constitution.

                    The President has the authority to wage war and to seize prisoners and property on the battlefield; however, he does not have the power to confiscate property that is owned by the citizens of other nations and must seek approval from Congress to do so.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blessings of Eternal Marriage

                    "Two of the vital pillars that sustain Father in Heaven's plan of happiness are marriage and the family.  Their lofty significance is underscored by Satan's relentless efforts to splinter the family and to undermine the significance of temple ordinances, which bind the family together for eternity.  The temple sealing has greater meaning as life unfolds.  It will help you draw ever closer together and find greater joy and fulfillment in mortality.  (See Richard G. Scott, "The Eternal Blessings of Marriage," Ensign, May 2011, p. 94.)

                    Eternal marriage has been part of the gospel of Jesus Christ since the beginning of time.  The marriage of Adam and Eve was performed by God in the Garden of Eden; since their marriage was performed by God and took place before death entered the world, they were married for eternity.  (See Genesis 2:21-24.)  Their eternal marriage is an indication that marriages can and do last forever and not just until death.

                    Adam and Eve taught the law of eternal marriage to their children and other posterity.  Through the generations of time, the posterity of Adam became so wicked that the authority to perform the sacred ordinance of eternal marriage was taken from the earth.  This authority was restored to the earth through the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days.

                    To members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, marriage is more than a social custom or a legal agreement between a man and a woman to live together.  "Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God" declared the First Presidency.  (See "The Family:  A Proclamation to the World," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.)

                    Marriage is a sacred covenant, even a sacrament, and the most sacred relationship that can exist between a man and a woman.  Marriage affects our happiness here on earth as well as in the eternities and is a requirement for exaltation.  Because of the importance of marriage, we must be wise in choosing a companion and totally loyal to that companion after marriage.  Husbands and wives are equal partners in marriage who walk side by side as sons and daughters of God.  Neither the husband nor the wife is superior or inferior to the other.

                    President Howard W. Hunter taught, "Being happily and successfully married is generally not so much a matter of marrying the right person as it is being the right person."  He also taught, "The conscious effort to do one's part fully is the greatest element contributing to success." (See Ensign, May 2011, p. 68.)

                    One of the basic truths taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that human beings can become like Heavenly Father by following the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Obedience to the law of eternal marriage is very important to this process.  The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.]  And if he does not, he cannot obtain it" (Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-3).

                    For a marriage to last for eternity, it must be performed by the proper authority and in the proper place.  A marriage must be performed by one who holds the sealing power in order to receive the promised blessing of the Lord:  "If a man marry a wife by … the new and everlasting covenant … by him who is anointed, … and if [they] abide in [the Lord's] covenant, … it … shall be of full force when they are out of the world" (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19).  The proper place for an eternal marriage is one of the holy temples of our Lord - the only place where a marriage for eternity can be performed.

                    Latter-day Saint couples kneel at a sacred altar in the temple to make their marriage covenants before God and in the presence of their family and friends who have received the temple endowment.  The marriage is performed by a man who holds the holy priesthood of God and who has received the authority to perform this sacred ordinance.  Acting under the direction of God, he promises the blessings of exaltation to the couple as well as gives them instructions in how to obtain those blessings - with a reminder that all blessings depend on obedience to God's laws.

                    A marriage performed by any authority other than by the priesthood in the temple is for this life only, and the marriage partners have no claim on each other or on their children after death.  A marriage for eternity presents the opportunity for families to continue after this life.  Couples who have previously been married by civil authority may prepare themselves to go to the temple to be sealed for eternity, but a civil marriage is not a requirement for a temple marriage.

                    There are numerous blessings of an eternal marriage, both in this life and in eternity.  Blessings in this life include: 
1) Knowledge and comfort that our marriage can last forever and will not end at death except through our own disobedience.  This knowledge helps us to strive harder to make a happy, successful marriage.  2) Knowledge that our family relationships can continue throughout eternity helps us to be more careful in teaching and training our children.  This knowledge helps us to use more patience and love in dealing with family members and thus helps to make a happier home.  3) When our marriage is performed in God's ordained way, we have the right to the blessings of God upon our marriage as long as we live worthy of those blessings.

                    Heavenly blessings to enjoy include living in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of God, being exalted as God is, and receiving a fulness of joy.  Keeping an eternal perspective has a great influence on all that we say and do.

                    President Spencer W. Kimball taught, "Marriage is perhaps the most vital of all the decisions and has the most far-reaching effects, for it has to do not only with immediate happiness, but also with eternal joys.  It affects not only the two people involved, but also their families and particularly their children and their children's children down through the many generations.  In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that of all the decisions, this one must not be wrong"  (Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 193).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Potentials and Privileges

                    Families grow stronger when parents teach their children to live up to their potentials and privileges.  Parents have the greatest influence in the lives of their children and should instruct and discipline their children sufficiently for them to learn correct behaviors and attitudes.  Children need much encouragement and help to achieve their potentials.

                    In his address to the priesthood brethren in the April 2011 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency told the story of man whose lifetime dream had been to sail the Mediterranean Sea on a cruise ship.  He wanted to walk the streets of the ancient cities of Rome, Athens, and Istanbul.  In order to reach his dream, he saved every possible penny and made every necessary sacrifice until he had enough money to purchase his ticket.  In order to save money on food, he brought a suitcase full of food with him - beans, crackers, powdered drinks, etc.  He spent the trip eating the food he had brought.

                    The traveler thought that the activities on the ship cost extra money so he didn't work out in the gym, swim in the pool, play miniature golf, or attend movies, shows, or cultural presentations.  He also thought that the meals cost extra money so he didn't partake of the luscious food available at all hours of the day and night.  The man was grateful for the opportunity to see the great cities and other sights, but he did not enjoy the other blessings of the cruise.

                    The man might have gotten off the cruise ship without realizing his losses if a crew member had not spoken to him on the last day of the cruise.  The crew member asked him which farewell party he would be attending.  It was at this point that the man realized that almost everything on board the ship - food, entertainment, activities, etc - were all part of the price of his ticket.  "Too late the man realized that he had been living far beneath his privileges."  (See "Your Potential, Your Privilege," Ensign, May 2011, p. 58.)

                    Like the traveler in the above story, children often do not know what their potentials or privileges are.  How many people live and die without knowing that they are children of God?  The most important information that parents s should give to their children is that they are children of a Heavenly Father and have the potential to become as He is.  Parents can teach this truth to their children by teaching them to pray to Heavenly Father and to listen for counsel from him.  They can teach their children to study the scriptures and to listen to living prophets and apostles in order to learn more about God and how to become like him.

                    A week or so ago, Anchorage was enjoying several beautiful sunshiny days in the midst of a rainy period.  I was too ill to go outside and work in my yard, but I took advantage of this great blessing by spending as much time as possible in the sunniest room of my house.  I carried my laptop to the dining room table in order to work on my blog and keep current with the news, and I napped on the couch of the adjoining living room when I was tired.  I didn't want to miss out on the sunshine because I know that the nice weather will soon be followed by cold and darkness.  I took full advantage of this blessing to the extent that I could. 

                    I did not have the opportunity to take music lessons in my childhood or youth.  I willingly made the necessary sacrifices in order that my own children might have the opportunity to take piano lessons.  All six of them took lessons, but most of them quit taking lessons as soon as they could convince me to do so.  Some of the children have since relearned to play the piano in order to play the piano in their own homes, but none of them took full advantage of the opportunity to learn music.  I believe that they would have been more excited about practicing their lesson material if they had seen me playing and enjoying the piano.

                    Even though my children are all adults now, they sometimes call for help when they need to make important decisions.  Recently one of my daughters called about a decision she needed to make - whether or not to take a job that was offered to her.  She indicated that she thought I had "an open conduit to God" and asked if I would pray about her situation.  We talked for awhile about the various pros and cons of the situation, and I told her that I would make it a matter of prayer.  I did kneel in prayer for guidance as to what I should tell her and felt the impression to tell her to pursue the new job.  I sent her a message with the information and asked her to see if she got the same answer from God.  I am grateful for the opportunity I have as a mother to seek counsel for my children, and I am also grateful that they know how to go to God on their own.

                    Parents can teach their children how to make good decisions by remembering the counsel given to Oliver Cowdery in April 1829.  Oliver was told the steps to making a decision in a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost…."  (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2).  "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
                    "But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; …." (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9).

                    President Uchtdorf taught three principles to living up to our potential and privilege:  1) "Read the Owner's Manual.  "If you owned the world's most advanced and expensive computer, would you use it merely as a desk ornament?  The computer may look impressive.  It may have all kinds of potential.  But it is only when you study the owner's manual, learn how to use the software, and turn on the power that you can access its full potential….
                    "As a people, we rightfully place high priority on secular learning and vocational development.  We want and we must excel in scholarship and craftsmanship….  I invite you to also become experts in the doctrines of the gospel…. 
                    "We live in a time when the scriptures and the words of modern-day prophets are more easily accessible than at any time in the history of the world.  However, it is our privilege and duty, and it is our responsibility to reach out and grasp their teachings.  The principles and doctrines of the priesthood are sublime and supernal.  The more we study the doctrine and potential and apply the practical purpose…, the more our souls will be expanded and our understanding enlarged, and we will see what the Lord has in store for us."

                    President Uchtdorf:  2) "Seek the revelations of the Spirit.  A sure testimony of Jesus Christ and of His restored gospel takes more than knowledge - it requires personal revelation, confirmed thorough honest and dedicated application of gospel principles….
                    "If we are not seeking to use this channel of revelation, we are living beneath our … privileges."

                    President Uchtdorf continued:  3) "Find Joy in … Service.  … You may want to ask yourself if you are merely going through the motions … doing what is expected but not experiencing the joy that should be yours….
                    "Too often we fail to experience the bliss that comes from daily, practical … service.  At times assignments can feel like burdens.  … let us not pass through life immersed in the three Ws:  wearied, worrying, and whining.  We live beneath our privileges when we allow worldly anchors to keep us away from the abundant joy that comes from faithful and dedicated … service, especially within the walls of our own homes.  We live beneath our privileges when we fail to partake of the feast of happiness, peace, and joy that God grants so bountifully to faithful … servants."

                    Parents can strengthen their families by teaching their children to live up to their potentials and privileges.  Parents can help their children to do so by offering positive encouragement.