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, January 31, 2011

Roger Sherman

Roger Sherman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was one of the most remarkable men of revolutionary times. He was born on April 19, 1721, in Newton, Massachusetts. The family moved to 1723 to Stonington, Massachusetts, where they lived until Roger’s father died in 1741. Roger was only 19 when his father passed away but had to assume the entire care and support of a large family. He had previously been an apprentice to a shoemaker, but he left that job to care for his father’s small farm. The family stayed on the farm until 1744 when they sold it and moved to New Milford, Connecticut, to be near an older married brother. Roger made this journey on foot and carried his shoemaker’s tools with him. He worked as a shoemaker for some time in New Milford.

Roger had very limited education, but he had a naturally strong and active mind. During his apprenticeship, he did much studying. The report is that he had a book open before him on the bench, so placed so that he could study at times when his eyes did not need to be on his work. He gained a good knowledge of mathematics by his study. When only 27 years old, he made astronomical calculations for an almanac published in New York.

Soon after he moved to New Milford, Roger and his brother opened a mercantile business. Roger was always very studious while on this job also. He began the study of law during his times of leisure. He did not have any instructor and had to borrow books, but he became so proficient in legal knowledge that he was admitted to the bar in December 1754. He became a very successful jurist.

Roger was elected as a representative of New Milford in the General Assembly of Connecticut in 1755. That same year, he was appointed to be a Justice of the Peace. About five years after he started practicing law, he was appointed Judge of the County Court for Litchfield County. When these appointments were made in 1761, Roger moved to New Haven. He was also selected to be treasurer of Yale College, which bestowed an honorary degree upon him in 1765.

Roger was elected to be a senator in the upper house of the Connecticut legislature in 1766. The Stamp Act had recently been passed, and American politicians were taking a defiant stand against Great Britain. Roger was a fearless leader among the patriots even before war started. He was chosen to be a delegate to the Continental Congress and was present when Congress opened on September 5, 1774. He was very active in the Congress and was appointed to the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. After the document was adopted by Congress, he joyfully signed the document.

During the Revolutionary War he was very busy as a member of Congress, but Roger was also a member of the Committee of Safety for Connecticut. In 1783 he joined Judge Law of New London and used his great abilities in revising the statutes of the State. He was a delegate from Connecticut to the Convention in 1787 when the Constitution was framed. He was also a member of the Convention in Connecticut that ratified the Constitution.

Two years after the government of the United States organized under the Constitution, Roger was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was “promoted” to the office of Senator and held that office until his death. Roger simultaneously held the office of mayor of New Haven until his death.

Roger was married twice. At age 26, he married Elizabeth Hartwell of Stoughton, Massachusetts, in 1749. This couple was blessed with seven children before Elizabeth died in 1760. When Roger was 42, he married Rebecca Prescott, age 20, on May 12, 1763. This couple was blessed with eight children, seven of whom grew to maturity.

Roger was the only man to sign all four of the great state papers: The Address to the King, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. He died on July 23, 1793, at age 72

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meeting Place

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.4: “Neither house shall, without the consent of the other, vote to meet at a different place.” Each house in Congress has the right to have the other house available at an agreed upon meeting place in order that the necessary business can be performed. This provision was included to prevent our Congress from following the bad example of the English parliament.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Creation

There are people who believe that our beautiful world was created by a "Big Bang." If this theory really worked, I should be able to put all my cookie ingredients on the table, shake the table, and have cookie dough! Another comparison would be to put the parts to a watch, etc. on the table, shake the table, and have a functioning watch.

I personally believe that our loving Heavenly Father planned and organized this earth for us. We lived in heaven as spirit children of heavenly parents. Heavenly Father called all of His spirit children together and presented His plan of how we could become like Him. We liked His plan so much that we shouted for joy (Job 38:7). We wanted the new experiences even though we knew we would have to leave heaven. We knew that we needed mortal bodies and a new home in order to prepare ourselves.

Under the direction of Heavenly Father and using the power of the priesthood, Jesus Christ created or organized this earth out of available materials. God the Father told Moses, "Worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten" (Moses 1:33). Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon said that they saw Jesus Christ in a vision. They testified “that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:24).

The earth and everything on it were planned and created spiritually before they were created physically (see Moses 3:5). While planning the physical creation of the earth, Christ told those who were with Him, “We will go down, for there is space there, … and we will make an earth whereon these [the spirit children of our Father in Heaven] may dwell” (Abraham 3:24).

Christ, as directed by the Father, formed and organized the earth and divided the light from the darkness. He formed the sun, moon and stars and hung them in the heavens. He divided the water from the earth. He made the earth beautiful and planted all kinds of plants, such as trees, grass, flowers, and shrubs. He planned that all these plants would reproduce themselves from seeds contained within each plant. He created fish, insects, birds, and animals, all capable of reproducing their own kind.

God's greatest creation - mankind - came after the earth was completed and prepared. The spirit children of God would be given bodies of flesh and blood so they could live on earth. “And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and it was so” (Moses 2:26). Man and woman were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Adam, the first man, and Eve, the first woman, were formed and given bodies that looked like those of our heavenly parents. After Adam and Eve were created, God announced that He was pleased and knew His work was good. Then He rested for a time.

We can know of God and His love for us as we look at the world around us. We have this beautiful world to live in. We have the sun to keep us warm and give us light. We receive rain to make plants grow and to clean and refresh our air. We have our bodies, which are true miracles and which allow us to work, play and rest. All of the creations of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ show us how wise, powerful, and loving They are. They love us so much that They created this beautiful world for us.

Plants and animals were created to give us joy. The Lord said, “Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19). God has many creations, and yet He knows and loves them all. He said, “All things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them” (Moses 1:35).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Scripture Study

Families are strengthened when they diligently study the scriptures. The simple act of searching the scriptures for knowledge and assistance will bring the power of God into our lives. The words of the following prophets express very eloquently why we should study the scriptures daily.

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-95) said, "I commend to you the revelations of God as the standard by which we must live our lives and by which we must measure every decision and every deed. Accordingly, when you have worries and challenges, face them by turning to the scriptures and the prophets" ("Fear Not, little Flock," in 1988-89 Devotional and Fireside Speeches [1989], 112).

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) said, "Success in righteousness, the power to avoid deception and resist temptation, guidance in our daily lives, healing of the soul - these are but a few of the promises the Lord has given to those who will come to His word. … Certain blessings are to be found only in the scriptures, only in coming to the word of the Lord and holding fast to it…. Recommit yourselves to a study of the scriptures. Immerse yourselves in them daily so you will have the power of the Spirit to attend you in your callings. Read them in your families and teach your children to love and treasure them" ("The Power of the Word," Ensign, May 1986, 82).

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985) said, "As you become more and more familiar with the truths of the scriptures, you will be more and more effective in keeping the second great commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. Become scholars of the scriptures - not to put others down but to lift them up! After all, who has any greater need to `treasure up' the truths of the gospel (on which they may call in their moments of need) than do women and mothers who do so much nurturing and teaching?" ("The Role of Righteous Women," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 95).

President Thomas S. Monson said, "The holy scriptures adorn our bookshelves. Make certain they provide nourishment to our minds and guidance for our lives" ("The Mighty Strength of the Relief Society," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 95).

There are many ways to study the scriptures. My particular type of scripture study is to look for information in the scriptures that might help my grandchildren. A suggested way to study the scriptures is to follow the counsel given by Nephi (1 Nephi 19:23) and "liken" them to ourselves. Another way is to search for knowledge about a specific principle. I recently gained much knowledge about faith simply because I focused on one principle. The important thing is to start studying the scriptures and make them a daily part of life. Reading from the scriptures daily helps us to keep our thoughts on eternity as we endure this mortal life.

Scripture study accompanied by prayer helps us to gain the knowledge that brings peace and keeps our focus on eternal principles. Families are strengthened as they mine the scriptures for the rich treasures of truth they contain.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unalienable Rights

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the principle of liberty that all men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." We know from this statement in the Declaration of Independence that the Founders understood that the basic rights of mankind come directly from God and not from any government authority. These unalienable rights are also called natural rights. No man or government has the authority to take these rights from us without answering to God, but we can use our agency unwisely and forfeit them.

It is important that we understand that our basic rights come from God and not from the government. Rights that come from God can be taken away only by God. Rights that come from the government are often taken away by the government. If we believe our unalienable rights come from the government, then there is a good chance that government will start to take those rights away from us. This is probably one reason why progressives are trying to take God out of the equation all together. The rights created by governments are called vested rights. They include such rights as the opportunity to hunt in a certain area or season and the opportunity to use a certain highway or the right to obtain a driving license at a certain age. These are the kinds of rights that the government has authority to change or take from us.

The Founders did not include all of mankind's unalienable or natural rights in the Declaration of Independence. Some other natural rights are enumerated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights: the right to self-government, the right to bear arms, the right to worship as we choose, the right to a fair trial, the right of free press, the right to petition our government, the right to speak freely, and the right to assemble. There are still other natural rights such as the right to choose our own mate, place to live, and profession and the right to have children.

The phrase "pursuit of happiness" was well understood at the time it was written, but some people in our day question what it means. John Adams clearly explained it when he stated, "All men are born free and independent, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness." (George A. Peek, Jr., ed., The Political Writings of John Adams, Liberal Arts press, New York, 1954, p 96, as quoted by W. Cleon Skousen in The 5000 Year Leap, p 96).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Wives for Ellery

William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was married twice. He married Ann Remington, daughter of Hon. Jonathan Remington of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in October 1750. Ann was a descendent of Governor Dudley and Governor Bradstreet of the old Bay Colony. She was a young woman who was highly educated and accomplished. At the time of their marriage, William had recently completed his study of law and started his practice. He was 20 years old, and she was 17. Their home in Cambridge became a center for refined and cultured society. Ann and William had seven children, four daughters and three sons. She died in 1764 at the approximate age of 31. Their children and grandchildren were also very accomplished.

Three years after the death of Ann, William married Abigail Carey, the daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Wanton Carey (or Cary) in 1767. Abigail was a 25 year old second cousin to William. Eight children were born to William and Abigail, but only two lived to adulthood. Abigail was there to give support to William through the years that he served in the patriot cause of liberty. Abigail died in 1793, long before the death of her husband.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Abortion has been in the news more than usual lately. President Barack Obama recognized and celebrated the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Thousands of abortion opponents rallied on the Mall on January 24 for their annual March for Life. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that the abortion issue is "one of our highest legislative priorities." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) called the new Republicans in Congress the "biggest and the most pro-life freshmen class in memory." The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act was introduced in the House of Representatives last week and has about 160 sponsors. This bill would strengthen the U.S. ban on using taxpayers' money for abortion services as well as bar the District of Columbia from using its own money to pay for abortions. Another measure was introduced by Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R. NJ) to ensure that Obamacare does not allow funding for abortions. Conservatives are hoping for changes in abortion laws and practices. A Philadelphia doctor was accused of killing a woman during an abortion procedure and is suspected of killing hundreds of living babies over his 30-year career.

Abortion on demand has been legal throughout the United States since January 22, 1973, when the United States Supreme Court made the historic decision to overturn a Texas abortion law. This decision was based on the right of privacy and decreed that a woman with her doctor had the right to abort a baby in the early months of pregnancy with no restrictions; it also gave women the right to abort babies in later months with certain restrictions.

The plaintiff in Roe v. Wade was Norma McCorvey, and the defendant was Henry B. Wade, district attorney of Dallas County, Texas. McCorvey's attornies were Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee while the lawyers for the defendant were John Tolle, Jay Floyd and Robert Flowers. Justices in the majority on the case were Harry Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Chief Justice Warren Burger, William O. Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Lewis Powell, and Potter Stewart. Those dissenting were William Rehnquist and Byron White.

Norma McCorvey wanted to remain anonymous when she sued for the opportunity to have an abortion. Her baby was born and given up for adoption more than two years before the case was decided; she gave up two other children for adoption. In a 1984 television interview, Norma McCorvey revealed that she is Jane Roe, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, the most famous abortion case in U.S. history. In 1989 McCorvey joined in the pro-choice movement and gave a speech on Capital Hill before hundreds of thousands of people on April 9. In August 1995, she made an announcement: "I'm pro-life. I think I have always been pro life, I just didn't know it."

According to California Right to Life, the Roe v Wade decision in 1973 was not the beginning of abortion in mainstream society because the history of abortion goes back decades, centuries and millenniums. Abortion was present under Roman rule "[n]ot only [was] … abortion permitted; [but also] infanticide. The shriveled remains of exposed babies could be found in every countryside of the [Roman] Empire…." This culture was referred to by Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun in Roe v Wade: "Greek and Roman law afforded little protection to the unborn … Ancient religion did not bar abortion."

In their article entitled ROE v. WADE REPORT: A Look at Abortion's History, the California Right to Life organization stated that "Limited records indicate that early Americans used abortion as well." After giving several examples of abortion and infanticide, they stated, "But overall, in America's early years abortion was recognized as a negative phenomenon and an attack on human life."

Even though "the legal system increasingly recognized the sanctity of life," there were people with the belief that any extra children "must necessarily perish." Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, stated "The most merciful thing a large family can do to one of its members is to kill it." I am grateful that my parents chose life for all twelve of their children! I encourage you to read the complete article by California Right to Life.

It is interesting to me that the opponents to "pro life" activists call themselves "pro choice" instead of "pro abortion." They obviously want to change the discussion from killing babies to making sure women enjoy their right to privacy.

Kyle Ann Shriver wrote that "America committed herself to a Holocaust of unprecedented proportions" because Americans' "own hands carry the blood of more than 52 million innocent human beings. Deprived of life by the same evil that took the lives of slaves and all the Anne Franks. Our doctors have become killers. Our women have become clients for paid murder. And people who actually think of themselves as good stand up in public to defend this Holocaust."

I believe that Roe v. Wade needs to be overturned. It is a bad law and very much against the law of nature or nature's God: Thou shalt not kill. On the day that Roe v. Wade became the law of our land, I was about three months pregnant with my second daughter. I cannot imagine how empty my life would be without her - or any of my other children. I pity any woman who purposely kills her baby. Each woman who choses to have an abortion also chooses to cheat herself of many, many wonderful moments with her baby. I loved my children when they were babies, I loved watching them grow and develop, and I love being with my adult children!

Monday, January 24, 2011

William Ellery

William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on December 22, 1727, at Newport, Rhode Island. His father was very interested in making sure William was well educated. William entered Harvard College where he distinguished himself as a good student, especially in Greek and Latin. He graduated from Harvard in 1747 at age 20 highly recommended by the faculty.

William then commenced a study of law and, after completing his studies, opened a practice in Newport. He was a successful lawyer for 20 years. He was called into public service by his fellow patriots when the colonists revolted. Ellery’s home was burned and nearly all of his property destroyed by the British because he was active in the cause of liberty.

Stephen Hopkins and William Ellery were sent to the general Congress as delegates from Rhode Island. William was an active member of the Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. William served on several committees linked to the cause of liberty and independence, and his wisdom and sound judgment made him successful in his service.

William was married twice. He married Ann Remington, daughter of Hon. Jonathan Remington of Cambridge, Massachusetts in October 1750. The couple was blessed with seven children, four daughters and three sons. She died in 1764.

Three years after Ann’s death, William married Abigail, daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Wanton Carey (or Cary) in 1767. William and Abigail were second cousins. Abigail was only 25 at the time of their marriage. Eight children were born to this couple, but only two lived to adulthood. Abigail died in 1793, many years before the death of her husband.

While serving as a judge of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island in 1784, William was chosen to be on the committee to whom the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain was referred. In 1795 he joined Rufus King of New York in an effort to have slavery in the United States abolished. In 1788 after the Constitution was adopted, he served as collector for the port of Newport and held that position until his death. He died on February 15, 1820, at age 92.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Consent to Adjourn

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.4: “Because the Constitution required the participation of both houses to transact business, neither house can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.” Each house has the right to demand that the other house is available and functioning except for intervals shorter than three days.

This provision was put in the Constitution to keep the Congress of the United States from acting as the Parliament in England. One of the English houses would adjourn for long periods of time without the consent of the other house - most often to prevent objectionable legislation from passing. Our Founders did not want this same behavior in our Congress.

The Senate and the House of Representatives must agree upon adjournment. If agreement cannot be reached, the President can order the adjournment of Congress. This is the only control that the President has over the adjourning of Congress.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Moral Agency

The scriptures teach that we have moral agency or the freedom to choose for ourselves. Moses 3:17 is one such scripture: “Thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee.”

We had moral agency in our premortal life. One of the reasons why God created this earth and sent us here was so we could be tested, tried, and prove to Him what choices we will make (see 2 Nephi 2:15-16). We must have the opportunity to choose in order for it to be a fair test. If we were forced to choose the right, we would not be able to show what we would really choose. One result of being able to make our own choice is more happiness.

Agency was a major issue in the premortal Council in Heaven and one of the main causes of the war between the followers of Christ and the followers of Lucifer or Satan. In the Council in Heaven, both Jesus Christ and Lucifer volunteered to be our Savior. Christ indicated that He would follow Father’s plan, but Satan wanted to change the plan. He said, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). In putting forth his own plan, he “rebelled against [God] and sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3). Heavenly Father rejected the offer of Lucifer and then cast him out of heaven along with all his followers (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:36-37).

Through His prophets, God has told us that we are free to choose between good and evil. We can choose liberty and eternal life by following Jesus Christ or we can choose captivity and death by following Satan. (See 2 Nephi 2:27.) This right to choose between good and evil and to act for ourselves is called agency.

Agency is what makes our life on earth a period of testing. When preparing His plan for the salvation of his children, God said, “We will prove [test] them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25). If we did not have the gift of agency, we could not show Heavenly Father whether we would obey all His commandments. We are responsible for our actions because we have the freedom to choose what we will do (see Helaman 14:30-31).

We strengthen our agency when we choose to follow God’s plan for us. When we make right choices, we increase our power to make good decisions. As we are obedient to God’s commandments, we grow in wisdom and strength of character. Obedience helps our faith in God to increase and makes it easier for us to make right choices.

We started to make choices while we lived with our Father in Heaven. Because we made good choices there, we were worthy to come to earth and to receive mortal bodies. God wants us to grow in faith, power, knowledge, wisdom, and every good thing. As we keep His commandments, choose wisely, and gain understand, we will become like our Father. (See Doctrine and Covenants 93:28.)

There must be opposition for us to have freedom of choice. We could never learn to choose righteousness if the choice between good and evil was never placed before us. A great Book of Mormon prophet named Lehi explained to his son Jacob that in order to bring about the eternal purposes of God, there must be “an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11).

In order that we might have choices, God allows Satan to oppose the good: “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” (Moses 4:3-4).

Satan is very busy in trying to destroy God’s work. He seeks “the misery of all mankind. … He seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:18, 27). Satan does not love us, and he does not want us to be happy. In fact, he wants us to become his slaves and uses many disguises to fool us.

We limit our choices whenever we choose to follow the temptations of Satan. Consider of the following example that I heard. Imagine that you are walking along the seashore and see a sign that reads: “Danger – whirlpool. No swimming allowed here.” Some people might consider this to be a restriction, but it is not. We still have many possible choices. We can choose to swim somewhere else. We can choose to continue our walk along the seashore. We could find a comfortable place to sit and watch the water. We could choose to simply go home. We are also free to ignore the sign and swim in the dangerous place. There are many choices that we could make before entering the water, but once we are in a whirlpool and being pulled under, we have few choices left. We simply might drown by disobeying the warning unless we can somehow escape the whirlpool or obtain help from someone else.

The sad fact remains that we are free to choose our actions, but we are not free to choose the consequences of those actions. Consequences are a natural result of any choice we make, whether the result is good or bad (see Galatians 6:7; Revelation 22:12).

We can escape the captivity of Satan if we will listen to the counsel of our loving Heavenly Father. If we will watch and pray always and ask God to help us withstand Satan’s temptations, we will receive help from heaven to escape from Satan (see 3 Nephi 18:15). Our Heavenly Father has promised us that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our power to resist (see
1 Corinthians 10:13; Alma 13:28).

By following God’s commandments, we will be directed away from danger and toward eternal life. If we will choose wisely, we will gain exaltation, progress eternally, and enjoy perfect happiness (see 2 Nephi 2:27-28).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sincere Prayer

Families grow stronger as they practice sincere prayer. Prayer is the act of communicating our gratitude and needs to God. Prayer has the power to strengthen individuals, families, communities, and nations. Think of the combined strength our nation would have if every person had sincere prayer every morning and every night. Think of the added strength if every family had daily family prayer.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915-85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, "Prayer changes our lives. Through it we draw near to the Lord, and he reaches out his finger and touches us, so we never again are the same. Prayer is a great tower of strength, a pillar of unending righteousness, a mighty force that moves mountains and saves souls" ("Patterns of Prayer," Ensign, May 1984, 32).

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "Every honest and sincere prayer adds another piece to chain-mail armor…. One of the most important ways to clothe yourselves in the armor of God is to make sure that prayer - earnest, sincere, consistent prayer - is part of your daily lives" ("Be Strong in the Lord," Ensign, July 2004, 10).

Prayer is humble acknowledgement that God is our Father and that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Prayer is sincere and humble confession of our sins and transgressions and a request for forgiveness. Prayer shows our recognition of our need for help. Prayer is showing our appreciation and gratitude to our Creator. Prayer is asking for specific blessings from God.

President James E. Faust (1920-2007), Second Counselor in the First Presidency, taught, "… Sincere prayers come from the heart…." ("The Lifeline of Prayer," Ensign, May 2002, 59-60).

When we want blessings from God we must be willing to exert some effort to receive those blessings. Prayer is a type of work and should take some effort. After our "amen," we must be willing to continue acting upon those things we requested from God. We must also put our faith and trust in God as well as believe in God, believe that He is there and will help us.

President Thomas S. Monson said, "If any of us has been slow to hearken to the counsel to pray always, there is no finer hour to begin than now" ("A Royal Priesthood," Ensign, Nov. 2007, 61).

We live in troubled times - times when good is called evil and evil is called good. We live in perilous times when we need to know the right thing to do for our own safety and the safety of our families. Now more than ever, we need enlightenment from God. The simple act of praying sincerely to God will strengthen families.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Equal Rights

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is that governments are to provide equal rights but not equal possessions. According to W. Cleon Skousen, this principle of freedom tells us that "the people cannot delegate to the government the power to do anything except that which they have the lawful right to do themselves. "For example, every person is entitled to protection of his life and property. Therefore it is perfectly legitimate to delegate to the government the task of setting up a police force to protect the lives and property of all the people" (The 5000 Year Leap, p 87).

Skousen further explained that no one has the right to take an extra car from one neighbor who has several vehicles and give it to another neighbor who has no car. We all recognize that this is theft if an individual does it; however, there are many people who consider it to be okay for the government to take wealth from one group of people and redistribute it to another group.

There is much talk in the world today about the "haves" and the "have nots." Our current President and Congress seem to be intent on redistributing wealth from the "haves" to the "have nots" - regardless of the fact that this is unconstitutional. This is a principle of Marxism, socialism and communism.

The Founders were well aware of ideas being practiced in Europe - and they rejected those ideas. The policy of our Founders was to guarantee equal protection of rights for all the people. Using those rights, the people could use their agency to succeed or to fail, but the government would not penalize anyone for succeeding. Our government today seems to be intent on punishing those who succeed by taking their wealth and redistributing it to people who have failed to obtain wealth.

The Constitution guaranteed that all people had the freedom to become prosperous; it also guaranteed that no one would be forced to remain in poverty. The Founders understood that some people would become rich and some would be poor, but they hoped that the whole nation would prosper by maximizing prosperity and minimizing poverty. Using this principle of freedom, Americans soon became the most prosperous, best educated, and most compassionate nation in the world. This happened because the Founders established a government that protected equal rights without trying to provide equal things.

Samuel Adams stated, "The utopian schemes of leveling [redistribution of the wealth], and a community of goods [central ownership of all the means of production and distribution], are as visionary and impracticable as those which vest all property in the Crown. [These ideas] are arbitrary, despotic, and, in our government, unconstitutional." (Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, 1:154, as quoted in The 5000 Year Leap.)

The fact that the Founders guaranteed the freedom to prosper does not mean that they didn't care about the poor. The Founders understood that helping the poor to help themselves was much better than simply giving handouts. It is much better to teach a man to fish so he can obtain food for himself than to simply give him a fish. By giving him a fish for today, he will return tomorrow wanting another fish. The Founders understood that people gain satisfaction by doing what they can for themselves. There is no authority in the Constitution for the federal government to be involved in charity or welfare. From this omission, we can assume that the Founders expected individuals to accept responsibility for their own needs. When help is needed, the next level of responsibility is the family, followed by the church and the local government.

Our federal government has gone far beyond the responsibilities delegated to it in the Constitution. Some examples of unconstitutional programs are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and taking over private companies. A breaking news item is that about 50 percent of the people in this nation pay no income tax. In fact, there are examples of people who have received "income tax refunds" larger than the amount of taxes paid. Why would anyone vote to give up free goodies from the government?

By usurping authority, the government is turning our country from a nation with the freedom to prosper to one that is dependent on the government. Under federal programs, people no longer feel the responsibility to take care of themselves or the desire to prosper. No one wants to work to achieve and become better when they can obtain money without working. No one wants to achieve just to get slapped down and forced to share their hard-earned wealth. Under the programs of our current President and Congress, all Americans will become poor because there will be no wealth to redistribute. We must stop them from establishing more entitlement programs and insist that they trim or eliminate the ones we already have. The only way that we can achieve this goal is to vote the free-loading progressives out of office and elect people who will legislate and govern according to the Constitution.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two Mrs. Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was married twice. He married Sarah Scott, daughter of Silvanus and Joanna Jenckes Scott, in 1726. They both descended from Quaker stock, and both of them were barely twenty years old. Sarah’s great-grandfather was Richard Scott, apparently the first man from Rhode Island to become a Quaker. Richard’s wife, Catharine Marbury, was whipped in Boston because of her stubborn resistance to religious authority. Her sister, Ann Hutchinson, was driven from Boston because of religious intolerance.

There is very little known about Sarah personally, but it is recorded that she was “a kindly, industrious, and frugal woman, a good mother and an affectionate wife” (Wives of the Signers – The women behind the Declaration of Independence, 87). She was the mother of seven children, five of whom lived to adulthood: Rufus, John, Lydia, Silvanus, and George. Her son, John, age 24, was the master of the ship Two Brothers when he died of smallpox in 1753 off the coast of Spain. His ship immediately put into port to bury him, but he was denied a Christian burial because he was a Protestant. That same year, Silvanus was a mate on a small schooner that wrecked off the coast of Nova Scotia. He attempted to return to Louisburg in an open boat but was surprised by Indians on the shore of St. Peter’s Island. His body was left on the beach. Sarah died the same year as her two sons after 27 years of marriage.

Stephen married a widow by the name of Anne Smith in 1755. The certificate bearing the signatures of the bride, groom, and witnesses is preserved in the collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society. An interesting note about Anne is that she was the daughter of Benjamin Smith of Providence and her first husband’s name was Benjamin Smith – no relation. She was also a descendant of John Smith, one of the four men who accompanied Roger Williams on his journey from Massachusetts in 1636. Anne was 38 years old when she married Stephen, and she brought three children with her – Benjamin, Ruth and Amery. Apparently, there was a wonderful relationship between Stephen and his step-children. There were a couple of marriages within the blended family: Anne’s daughter, Ruth Smith, married Sarah’s son, George Hopkins. Anne’s son, Benjamin, married Mary Tillinghast, a stepdaughter of Sarah’s daughter Lydia.

A few months after his marriage to Anne, Stephen was elected Governor of the Province. He continued serving in one political office after another until he died on July 19, 1785. Ann died about two years prior to his death.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Alaskan Women

Two Alaskan women have been making national headlines recently, but they are not the only extra-ordinary women in Alaska. Sarah Palin and Lisa Murkowski represent many outstanding women who make their homes in Alaska. Alaskan women are a special kind of person because they are capable of surviving and prospering under very difficult conditions. Even though many of the women live in Alaska simply because their husbands found work here, there are many others who live here because they have a great love for the Alaskan way of life.

My family has lived in Alaska for more than 37 years, but I will admit I moved to Alaska with the idea of spending one year here and then get on with our lives. My attitude changed as my husband and I drove up the Alaska Highway with our two babies because I simply fell in love with Alaska. We have often talked of moving out of Alaska, but we have never found any place that we like as much as we like Alaska. One of the reasons I like Alaska so much is the women who surround me. I am convinced that any woman who loves Alaska in spite of the cold, ice, and darkness of winter is a special woman in deed.

I have many Alaskan friends who live extra-ordinary lives but are not well known. Driving on icy roads and jumping car batteries are common activities for Alaskan women, but there are many other fun activities. My good friend Linda gets more excited about flying, hunting, fishing, camping, and exploring in Alaska than any person I know. Her enthusiasm and excitement are contagious, and I love to share these Alaskan activities with her. My friend Brenda decided to drive her children to school one day because the roads resembled icerinks. She found the school bus in the ditch not far from her home. Another friend named Linda visited Alaska in her younger years and was not content until her husband obtained work here. Within just a few years of moving to Alaska, she was able to convince most of her adult children to move their families here also. When her source of water froze early this winter, my daughter Jennifer simply walked out to the spring and hauled water back home. She may have used her dog sled and two sled dogs to haul it.

Sarah Palin and Lisa Murkowski are not the only Alaskan women who have made national headlines. Libby Riddle made history in 1985 when she became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. She was also featured on a float in the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1, 2009. The float was entitled "Celebrating Alaska - Spirit of the Wild" and won the award for "the best depiction of life in the U.S.

"Susan Butcher was another Alaskan woman who became famous for her dog handling skills when she became the second woman to win the Iditarod Race in 1986. She later became the second person to win the race four different years and the first to win four out of five sequential years. Alaska lost a powerful woman when Susan died of cancer in 2006.

Michelle Mitton is an Alaskan blogger who is known nationwide. I knew Michelle as a child and young woman, and I enjoy reading her blog about motherhood in Alaska.

Lisa Murkowski made national headlines when she embarked on a write-in campaign for an Alaska seat in the U.S. Senate. She was appointed to the seat by her father Frank Murkowski, and she won the seat two years later against Democrat Tony Knowles. She lost the 2010 Primary to Joe Miller, a TEA party backed candidate and went back on her word to drop out of the race. She became the first person to win a write-in contest in Alaska and the first Senator to win on a write-in vote in sixty years. These are notable accomplishments; however, her politics are not notable. She is a Republican in name only or a RINO. Her name is now linked with the most liberal Republicans in Congress. She won the write-in vote of unions and Alaska Natives by promising to bring more pork to them, and she voted for EVERY item on President Obama's wish list since the 2010 election. I've been told that she was "not smart enough" to be hired by an Alaskan law firm, and yet a majority of Alaskans chose her to be their Senator. Are the majority of Alaskans unintelligent also? I personally am ashamed to admit that she is my Senator!

Sarah Palin is a conservative Republican woman who put Alaska on the political map. She is very attractive and very conservative. She is either loved or hated by most people. I am proud of her as a "home town girl who made good." I applaud her for standing on conservative principles of pro-life and constitutional law. I am positive that it was not an easy decision to decide to give birth to a baby with Downs Syndrome. The fact that she chose life for her baby makes me consider her to be extra-ordinary. I like the fact that she is pro-military and pro-religion. I like the fact that she was able to score big when the ball was tossed to her. She was a little known governor when John McCain selected her to be his running mate, and she and her family have walked through fire since that day. I think that she has been able to turn everything she touches into gold, and I say, "More power to her. You go, girl!"

I am pleased to have the opportunity to know many outstanding Alaskan women personally as well as to know of many other extra-ordinary women who choose to live in Alaska.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stephen Hopkins

Stephen Hopkins, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on March 7, 1707, in Providence, Rhode Island. Providence was later divided, and the area where Hopkins was born became Scituate. His maternal grandfather was one of the first Baptist ministers in Providence. Stephen did not have many opportunities for formal education, but he sought learning and became self-taught.

Stephen was a farmer until he moved to Providence in 1731 to open a business. The next year he became a delegate representing Scituate in the General Assembly. He was re-elected annually until 1738. When he was re-elected in 1741, he also became Speaker of the House of Representatives. He continued as speaker of the assembly until 1751 when he was chosen as Chief Justice of the Colony.

Hopkins held many political positions: delegate to the Colonial Convention in 1754, Governor of the Colony from 1756 until 1767. As Governor during the French and Indian War, Hopkins encouraged volunteers to enlist in the service.

Stephen opposed Great Britain’s oppression of the colonists. He held three different offices of responsibility in 1774: Chief Justice of Rhode Island, representative in the Provincial Assembly, and delegate to the Continental Congress. He introduced a bill to prevent the importation of slaves into Rhode Island and personally freed all of his own slaves.

In 1775 Stephen was a member of the Committee of Public Safety for Rhode Island as well as serving as a delegate to the General Congress. He was again chosen as a delegate to the Continental Congress of 1776 where he signed the Declaration of Independence. His last time as a delegate to the General Congress was in 1778 when he was part of the committee that drafted the Articles of Confederation for governing the colonies.

Hopkins suffered for many years with what was called “shaking palsy;” this made his signature on the Declaration of Independence very shaky. Stephen was married twice. He married Sarah Scott in 1726, and they were the parents of seven children, five of whom lived to adulthood. Sarah died in 1753 after 27 years of marriage and in the same year that two of her sons died. Stephen married a widow named Anne Smith in 1755. She was 38 years old and had three living children. Ann died about 1783, and Stephen died on July 19, 1785, at age 78.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Roll Call Votes

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.3: “If one-fifth of those present desires to have a recorded vote of each member on a particular issue, the presiding officer will ask for a roll call and the vote of each member will be shown in the journal.” One-fifth of the members present in either house have the right to demand a recorded vote of every person present and voting on a designated issue.

Roll call votes take more time that routine matters require, but they are critical on important issues. This record shows exactly how an incumbent voted on a certain issue – information that is desirable to know during an election.

The time-consuming roll call vote in the House of Representatives was replaced with an electronic voting system in 1973. Using this system, a representative can insert his computer card into a voting box and push one of the three buttons – “Yea,” “Nay,” or “Present.” Sometimes representatives do not want to support or oppose a matter and simply vote “Present.” This practice may or may not help them during an election.

The individual votes are displayed on a large screen before the House, permanently recorded, and then printed in the Congressional Record. This is how the American public can judge the voting record of any member of Congress.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our Savior Jesus Christ

We lived in heaven before we came to earth with our Heavenly Parents. We loved our parents very much and wanted to be just like Them. One day our Father called all of His children together and presented His plan for their happiness. All of us who came to earth thought it was a wonderful plan. We were there when "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7).

Father explained that we would need to leave our heavenly home and His presence for a time. He also explained that all of us would sin and some of us would lose our way. He understood that none of us would find our way home to Him without some help. He knew and loved each one of us individually and wanted all of us to return to Him. He included in His plan of happiness a way that we could return. His plan provided for a Savior to help us. He asked, "Whom shall I send?" Jesus Christ, known in heaven as Jehovah, said, "Here am I, send me" (Abraham 3:27; see also Moses 4:1-4). Jesus loved Father and us so much that He was willing to come to earth, give His life for us, and take our sins upon Himself. He knew that for Father's plan to work, we must be free to choose. He wanted us to have the opportunity to choose whether or not we would obey Heavenly Father's commandments. He said, "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever" (Moses 4:2).

Satan, who was called Lucifer in heaven, said, "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor" (Moses 4:1). Under Satan's plan we would not be allowed to choose but would be forced to do his will. He would take away our God-given freedom of choice. He also wanted Father's glory. After hearing both sons speak, Heavenly Father said, "I will send the first (Abraham 3:27).

Jesus was chosen and foreordained to be our Savior. There are many scriptures that teach about Jesus Christ’s calling to be our Savior (see 1 Peter 1:19-20; Moses 4:1-2). A scripture in the Book of Mormon tells us that Jesus appeared to a Book of Mormon prophet long before He was born. Christ told this prophet - known as the brother of Jared, “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. … In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name” (Ether 3:14).

Jesus taught the people during His time on earth, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. … And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38, 40).

Satan became angry because Heavenly Father chose Jesus to be the Savior, and he rebelled against God. Satan and those who followed him fought a war in heaven against Jesus and His followers. Revelation 12:11 tells us that the Savior's followers "overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony."

Because of his rebellion, Satan and all the spirits who followed him were sent away from the presence of God and were cast down from heaven. One-third of all the spirits in heaven were punished for rebelling against God and were denied the privilege of receiving mortal bodies.

We know that we chose to follow Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ because we are here on earth with physical bodies. Satan and his followers are spirits roaming around on this earth, and they know who we are and what we did in heaven. They work daily to entice us and to tempt us to do wrong. We followed Jesus Christ and accepted God's plan in heaven, and we must continue to follow Jesus here on earth. It is only by following Him that we can return to Heavenly Father and our heavenly home. The gospel of Jesus Christ tells us what we must do to return to be with God. Jesus came to earth, taught the plan of salvation and exaltation, and gave us a good example to follow. He atoned for our sins and made it possible for us to return to our heavenly home. Now it is up to us to exercise our freedom of choice and choose to follow Christ.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Families are strengthened when individual members keep journals. Some people write in their journals daily, but others simply keep notes and then write in their journals weekly or monthly. I’ve found that I remember events better if I write daily. A friend of mine received temporal blessings for writing in her journal daily. Candy’s son David was involved in an automobile accident, and Candy wrote about it in her journal. Later when David was called into court, Candy’s journal entry was admitted as evidence that helped David in his claim.

In visiting with my siblings about events that happened in our childhoods, I learned that each of us remembers specific events very differently. This could happen because we were each involved differently in our own individual way during the event. It could also happen because memories have a way of changing if there is no written word to use as a reference point. Because traditions and memories of our experiences form a part of our history, we should be certain that we are remembering them accurately.

It is important to have traditions as well as to remember our history correctly. This is one reason why progressives want to change the history and traditions of our nation. In May 2008, Michelle Obama said, "Barack knows that we are going to have to make sacrifices; we are going to have to change our conversation; we're going to have to change our traditions, our history; we're going to have to move into a different place as a nation."

What did she mean when she said that we would have to change our conversations, our traditions, and our history? We change the conversation when we put a different slant on the words. We change traditions when we stop repeating the stories of our national heritage, when we take prayer out of the schools, when we stop pledging allegiance to the flag and start pledging allegiance to the earth. Another way to change history is to say that white things are now black and black is now white. For example, President Obama has said that we are no longer a Christian nation. How can he say that when 92 percent of Americans believe in God? How can he say that when 83 percent of Americans believe that public schools should celebrate religious holidays? How can he say that when 66 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ?

In order for us to remember traditions and history correctly, we need to write down our experiences and the events that are happening around us. We need to write history as we see it happening in order to have a foundation to judge what other people say and write. Keeping journals is a good way to strengthen our families and nations.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Created Equal

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is "all men are created equal." As you know, this statement was just one of one of the "self-evident truths" included in the Declaration of Independence. We must remember that we are “created equal,” but we are not expected or required to remain equal. After being created equal, what we become is up to us as individuals.

The fact that we are created equal does not mean that we were created the same. No two humans are created exactly alike. We are individuals with our own talents and abilities, our own likes and dislikes, and our own strengths and weaknesses. W. Cleon Skousen explained that all men are created in three different ways: "They can only be treated as equals in the sight of God, in the sight of the law, and in the protection of their rights. In these three ways all men are created equal. It is the task of society, as it is with God, to accept people in all their vast array of individual differences, but treat them as equals when it comes to their role as human beings" (The 5000 Year Leap, p 79).

Skousen later explained that the "goal of society is to provide 'equal justice,' which means protecting the rights of the people equally" (p 80). He continued by explaining that Americans have the equal right to vote for whom we choose, to obtain education, to compete for a job, to enjoy freedom of religion, speech, press, etc., to pay our fair share of the taxes and to save, prosper and pass on our possessions to our heirs, plus many other Rights.

Being created equal and receiving equal justice does not insure that we remain equal. Those people who work harder and smarter usually move ahead of those who are lazy and do dumb things. Some people have a natural ability to recognize a great opportunity, and some of those people have the smarts to seize the opportunities that come their way. Some people are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to gain education, and some are not. People with education usually are further ahead than people without education. The fact that there are rich and famous people from every ethnic group shows that there is equal justice in our nation.

I know that some of you will say something like, "What about the minorities?" Skousen explained, "… there is not a single ethnic group in the United States but what has been treated at one time or another as a minority, or less than first-class citizens.
"The story of minorities in the United States is a fascinating tale. Beginning with the French in the 1500s and the English in the 1600s (and the Dutch, Germans, Swedes, Scots, and Irish in between), it was one grand conglomerate of tension, discrimination, malice, and sometimes outright persecution. But the miracle of it all is the fact that they fought side by side for freedom in the Revolutionary War, and all of them could boast of descendants in the White House or the Congress as the years passed by. So all of this became America - a nation of minorities" (p 82).

The Founders tried to establish equality with the Constitution and established the procedures to amend the Constitution as needed. The Thirteenth Amendment established freedom for everyone by abolishing slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment established that all citizens had all the rights of citizens - including all former slaves. The Fifteenth Amendment established that the right to vote could not be denied from citizens because of their race, color, or previous condition of slavery. The Nineteenth Amendment established that the right to vote could not be denied anyone because of sex.

There have been many times in the history of the United States when evil people in powerful positions denied constitutional rights and freedoms from various groups of people. My own great-grandparents moved from Kirtland, Ohio, to Far West, Missouri, to Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in order to escape persecution and threats from residents of those areas. Some members of their church were killed; others left homes that had been set on fire; still others walked away from comfortable homes for the sake of safety. Their freedom to worship as they chose was not protected by either the state or the federal government. This persecution took place simply because they were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly called Mormons. Finally, they reached a place where they could truly enjoy their freedoms. Believe me when I say that I am very aware of persecution and troubles in our nation. It is important to remember that these injustices happened because rights and freedoms were denied by evil people and NOT because our nation is evil. Our Founders created a government for people who are moral and lawful. This means that it is our responsibility to be good and upright citizens of our nation.

We must understand that the Founders knew the difference between equal rights and equality in other areas. They knew that our nation could provide equal opportunity, equal rights, equal protection, and equal freedoms. This does not mean that they expected equal results, equal possessions, equal status, or equal grades. They understood that people would be materially equal only if, when and as long as the government forced equality. God gave us agency, and He inspired the Founders who recognized that all men are created equal.. Our Founders wrote our Constitution to protect our rights and freedoms. We all have the freedom to prosper or to fail. The choice is ours!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ann Thompson Gerry

Ann Thompson Gerry, the daughter of James Thompson, was born on August 12, 763. She was educated in Dublin, Ireland, while her two brothers were attending Edinburgh University in Scotland. Her brothers joined the British army but did not serve in America.

Ann was a young woman from a highly honored family in New York when she met Elbridge Gerry, the young delegate from Massachusetts at the Continental Congress. They married during the time he was a member in said Congress where he served almost continuously from 1776 until 1785. The couple was blessed with three sons and six daughters.

When Gerry returned to private life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and introduced his young wife, she became an instant social favorite. She did not have much time to enjoy the companionship of her husband because President John Adams sent Gerry to France to smooth relations between the two countries. Upon his return he was constantly in some office serving either his state or the nation. As he served in Congress, as governor of Massachusetts, or as Vice President of the United States, Mrs. Gerry gave cheerful and graceful support to him. A biographer for her husband wrote: “She possessed considerable force of character and a dignified and gentle manner and, although an invalid, she personally superintended the education and religious training of her children and inspired them with a strong affection and reverence for herself which was evidenced by their devotion to her in her later years in New Haven” (Wives of the Signers – The women behind the Declaration of Independence, p 84).

Elbridge Gerry died suddenly on November 23, 1814, while serving in the office of Vice President and was buried in the Congressional Cemetery. Elbridge had inherited a large fortune from his father but apparently sacrificed most of it in serving the cause of liberty. Ann disposed of the beautiful family home in Cambridge after the death of her husband. She settled in New Haven where she died on March 17, 1849 and was buried in the Old Cemetery. The inscription on her tombstone reads: “Born August 23, 1783; died March 17, 1849, Ann, the widow of Elbridge Gerry, Vice-President of the U.S. His name is immortalized on the Declaration of his country’s Independence, hers in the transcendent virtues of domestic life. Both are embalmed in the veneration of their children” (Wives, 86).

The Gerry’s youngest daughter, Emily Louise, died in New Haven on December 28, 1894, as the last surviving daughter of a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Personal Responsibility

Why are Democrats, liberals, and progressives claiming that heated political rhetoric was a factor in the massacre in Tucson on Saturday, January 8, 2011? Why are they using the attempted assassination of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords (a fiscal conservative), the killing of six other people, and the wounding of a dozen others to smear conservatives? Why do they choose to place the blame for this uncivil behavior on the Tea Partiers, Sarah Palin, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc. rather than the actual shooter?

I believe that the answer to all these questions hides behind an attempt to stifle free speech and to take away the American right to bear arms. Democrats know that they lost the 2010 election because of free speech - the right given to all Americans to share their ideas and beliefs. This is the reason why the Left wants to control the radio airways, the Internet, the media, etc. They want Americans to receive only the information given out by them. The Left also wants to take away the right to bear arms, and this massacre is a "crisis" that they cannot allow to go to waste.

Democrats have tried to make conservatives responsible for the results of deranged minds for many years. Thanks to Patrick J. Buchanan ("The left's political dirt ball," Jan. 11, 2011) for the following historic reminders.

Even though the era of FDR brought a lot of bad ideas into our government, responsibility for personal behavior was still in tact. For example, ponder the experience of Giuseppe Zangara when he attempted to assassinate FDR and ended up wounding four other people on February 15, 1933, in Miami. The blame for the attempt was not placed on Republicans because it followed a rough election, but it was placed securely upon Zangara and no one else. Zangara was sentenced to 80 years in prison after pleading guilty to the attack, but he was retried for murder after Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago died from his wounds. Zangara was sentenced to die in the electric chair and did so on March 20, 1933 - a little over a month after the attack.

Shifting the blame from the person or people actually responsible for attacks to other people and organizations started about the time that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Liberals charged conservatives for Kennedy's murder because they created the "atmosphere" for an assassination to take place. Even though Lee Harvey Oswald, a communist who had defected from Russia, did the actual shooting, the moral responsibility for the act was heaped upon the city of Dallas and the rising conservative movement.

President Bill Clinton employed the same tactic when he blamed right-wing talk radio for the Oklahoma City bombing. According to Clinton, anti-government rhetoric caused Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Murrah Building. Even though McVeigh's actions caused the explosion that killed 168 people, conservatives were blamed for creating the "atmosphere."

Now we have another deranged individual who apparently acted on his own to perform a heinous act. Even though there is no evidence that Jared Loughner even listened to talk radio or other conservatives, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat, declared after the attack: "I'd just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are - how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous." The direction for these comments was later placed directly on talk radio and Fox News.

We all know that heated political rhetoric comes from both conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats. Sarah Palin did put a "target" on numerous Democrats (including Giffords) during the election, but Barack Obama made the statement, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we will bring a gun" and called on Hispanics to help him "punish our enemies."

I believe that both Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, need to be more aware of the amount of incivility in our political discourse and better control the vitriol. I strongly believe that we can disagree with each other without becoming disagreeable and hateful. We all need to act like adults and follow the example of the Founders as we work out our differences to make a better and stronger America. Our Founders shared ideas without the need to destroy other people politically, and we can do the same.

I also believe that we need to return to the day of personal responsibility. Each human being, specifically each American, has agency, the freedom and ability to make our own decisions. We are free to make whatever choice we desire, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our choice. Choice and accountability go together. We cannot have one without the other.

It is becoming more and more apparent that we cannot depend upon our leaders to bring more responsibility into the political process. I believe that positive changes will come into our country only as our citizens insist upon them. My faith in the American people was strengthened when I read the results of a CBS poll released on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. The results of the poll show that "the majority of Americans reject the view that heated rhetoric was a factor in the weekend shooting…." The poll showed that "57 percent of respondents said the harsh political tone had nothing to do with the shooting….."

I believe that Americans know that the political rhetoric is too heated and should be cooled down. I also believe that Americans understand that moral responsibility for bad behavior should be put on the person or people who performed the act. I hope that all of us will bring more morality to our political discussions and insist that personal responsibility be applied where it belongs.

Changing of the Guard

A historical event took place in Washington, D.C., on January 5, 2011, when Representative John Boehner of Ohio took the oath for the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives. This is the first time in four years that Republicans have been in control of the House. The election of Boehner as Speaker of the House makes him the most powerful Republican in Washington because he is just behind the Vice President in the line of presidential succession. This fact alone should make Americans feel a little more comfortable.

Boehner promised that the House makeover, GOP-style, is just beginning: "We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process `less efficient' than our forefathers intended." He also admitted that there is "a great deal of scar tissue" "built up on both sides of the aisle" that will need to be dealt with.

The House Republicans are embarking on a plan to undo major aspects of President Obama's agenda before the President presents his State of the Union address later in January. The first item of business for the House is to begin the process of dismantling the new health-care law as they introduce a two-page bill to repeal it. They will quickly begin the identification of proposed spending cuts amounting to billions of dollars as well as regulations that burden American businesses.

Even though their work will be mainly symbolic because Democrats control both the Senate and the White House, House Republicans want to establish a bulwark against a government that is out of control. The House controls the purse strings of the government; therefore, they can cease to give financial support to any program.

I hope that the incoming freshman class of Congress will remember that they represent the American people and that they were elected because they promised to do their part to return our nation to the Rule of Law. I hope they remember that they can be voted out of office as easily as they were elected if they fail to keep their promises.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Elbridge Gerry

Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on July 17, 1744, in Marblehead, Massachusetts. His father was a merchant who resolved to give his son an excellent education. Elbridge completed his preparatory studies, entered Harvard College, and graduated in 1762. He entered the business world and became both rich and esteemed by fellow citizens. He was intelligent and of good character.

Elbridge watched as the oppressions by Great Britain rapidly grew and expressed his thoughts about it fearlessly. He was elected to be a member of the General Court of the province in 1773. He showed bold, energetic, and ingenious leadership while planning operations and executed them with zeal and judiciousness. He joined John Adams and others as they worked at removing Governor Hutchinson from office because he was so obnoxious. Some letters from Governor Hutchinson to the English Ministers were instead delivered to Benjamin Franklin while he was the Colonial Agent in England. Franklin sent the letters to the General Court of Massachusetts, and the Court adopted a petition to the Ministers asking that Hutchinson be removed from office.

Gerry was active in the leading political movements leading up to the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the Provincial Congress when the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought. In fact, the night before the battle, he slept in the same bed as General Warren. The next morning they parted ways – Gerry went to Congress and Warren was killed on the battle field.

Elbridge was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress in January 1776 and served on several committees needing his expertise in commercial business. He supported the idea of declaring the colonials as free and independent of England, and he signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776.

While Elbridge was serving in the Continental Congress he met and married Ann Thompson, a young woman from New York. The couple was blessed with three sons and six daughters.

Gerry was on a committee assigned to visit General George Washington at his Valley Forge headquarters. The report from the committee brought about more efficient ways to bring relief and support to the army. He retired from Congress in 1780, was re-elected in 1783, and retired again in 1785.

President John Adams appointed Gerry to be an envoy to the Court of France to smooth the relationship between the two countries. Upon his return from France he was nominated for the office of governor of Massachusetts. He lost the first time, but was elected the next time around. He served as governor of Massachusetts from 1810-1812.

While he was governor, Gerry's political opponents accused his party of creating unfair voting districts. The Massachusetts legislature passed a bill in 1812 that divided the state into districts for the election of state senators. This division grouped certain counties together in such a way that the Federalist Party won only a few seats while the Republican Party won many more seats. One of the districts was shaped like a mythical animal that some people thought looked like a salamander. Someone suggested that it was a gerrymander. The word became popular with the Federalist Party and later became part of the American language. The word is still used today to describe redistricting.

Gerry served as Vice President of the United States under President James Madison from 1813 until he became ill and died on November 23, 1814 at age 70. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery and has a nice monument erected by Congress.
Gerry inherited a large fortune from his father, but he sacrificed most of it in the cause of liberty. Mrs. Gerry disposed of the beautiful home in Cambridge after his death.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Majority Rule

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.3: “Decisions on any question before each house will be settled on the basis of the number of `yeas’ and `nays’ of its members.” The American people have the right to have majority rule settle their questions. A two-thirds majority is required by the Constitution in some cases.

Once a quorum has been established at the start of business, a quorum is considered as being present. Routine matters are put before the members present on the floor. In cases of significant concerns, the question of “no quorum” will be raised. The vote will be postponed until a true quorum is in attendance. The vote on any matter is contained in the Journal of the House.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Children of God

One of my most favorite songs is entitled "I Am A Child of God" and was written by Naomi Ward Randall about 1957. It teaches and explains our true relationship to God. I learned this song when I was a child, probably soon after it was written.

"I am a child of God, and He has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. [Chorus] Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with Him some day." The second verse states: "I am a child of God, and so my needs are great; help me to understand His words before it grows too late" followed by the chorus. The third verse is, "I am a child of God. Rich blessings are in store; if I but learn to do His will, I'll live with Him once more.” [Chorus]. The fourth verse was added later and states: I am a child of God. His promises are sure; celestial glory shall be mine if I can but endure" [Chorus].

This song teaches a very important doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ in a manner that even children can understand it. God is the Creator and the Ruler of this earth and many other worlds. He is all powerful and all knowing. He is also our Heavenly Father and loves us very much. All of us are children of our Heavenly Father, literal sons and daughters of God. “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 335).

All people ever born on earth are spiritual brothers and sisters. Because God is our Father and we are His spirit children, we all have the potential to develop divine qualities. Jesus Christ, through His Atonement, made it possible for us to become like Heavenly Father and then to receive a fullness of joy.

We learn from the scriptures that prophets prepared themselves while they were still spirits in heaven to become leaders on earth (see Alma 13:1-3). While still in heaven, God foreordained or chose them to be leaders on earth. Jesus, Adam, and Abraham were among those who were foreordained to be leaders. (See Abraham 3:22-23.) Joseph Smith taught that “every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was [fore]ordained to that very purpose” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 511). Because God gave us all agency, everyone is still free to accept or reject any opportunity to serve.

Just as we are not identical here, we were not all alike as spirits. We were sons and daughters, males and females (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). We all had different talents and abilities and received different assignments on earth. Even though we do not remember our premortal life, Heavenly Father knows who we are and what we did in our life with Him.

Heavenly Father knew that we needed to leave His presence in order to progress and develop godlike qualities. In order to do this, we needed to be tested and tried and to gain experience. We also needed physical bodies, which we would leave at death but would be reunited with in the Resurrection. After our resurrection, our bodies would become immortal just like our Heavenly Father’s body. If we were obedient and passed our tests, we would receive the fulness of joy that Heavenly Father enjoys. (See Doctrine and Covenants 93:30-34.)
Our Heavenly Father called all of His spirit children together in a Grand Council and presented His plan for our progression (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 209, 511). He told us that we would become like Him if we would follow His plan. We would be resurrected; we would have all power in heaven and on earth; we would become heavenly parents and have spirit children just as He does (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20).

Heavenly Father told us that He would provide an earth where we would prove ourselves (see Abraham 3:24-26). We would not be able to remember our heavenly home because a veil would cover our memories. Heavenly Father wanted us to exercise our agency to choose good or evil without any influence of memories of heaven. He wanted us to obey Him because of our faith in Him, not because of our knowledge or memory of Him. He made it possible for all of us to recognize the truth when we heard it again on earth (see John 18:37).

Heavenly Father also told us that some of His children would be deceived, choose other paths, and lose their way. He told us that we would have trials such as sickness, disappointments, pain, sorrow, and death, but He also told us that these things would give us experience and be for our own good (see Doctrine and Covenants 122:7). He told us that these trials would purify us rather than defeat us if we would exercise our faith. He told us that trials would help us to have endurance, patience, and charity (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 15-16).

Heavenly Father informed us that because of our weakness, we would all sin – except little children (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:46-47). He told us that He would provide a Savior so we could overcome our sins and overcome death with resurrection. He counseled us to place our faith in Him, obey His word, and follow His example. If we did those things, we would be exalted, become like Heavenly Father, and receive a fulness of joy.

Besides His general plan of salvation for all of us, Heavenly Father has a specific plan for each of His children. His plan for us will help us to reach our full potential as His child. His plan makes it possible for each of us to learn the lessons that we personally need and to do the most good with our particular talents and personalities.

Our Father in Heaven loves each of His children. He sent us to earth to receive physical bodies and to develop godlike qualities. He did this in order for us to be tested, to gain experience, and to progress as individuals. We were sent here to prove ourselves by exercising our moral agency to choose good or evil.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Freedom to Choose

Families grow stronger as they understand that the foundation for freedom and liberty is moral agency – the freedom to choose. We had agency when we lived as spirits in heaven before we came to this earth. While we lived with our Father in Heaven, He presented His plan for our happiness. He explained that He had prepared a new home for us where we would receive physical bodies and learn many things that we could not learn in heaven. He told us that we would have the ability to choose how we wanted to live our lives on earth. He said that we would one day return to live with Him if we made good choices.

After Father in Heaven presented His plan, another plan was presented to us by Lucifer. Lucifer's plan would insure that we all returned to heaven. To do this, our agency would be taken from us - and we would be forced to be good. There was a war in heaven (Revelation 12:7) because those who chose to follow Lucifer's plan wanted to force everyone else to choose it also. Those who wanted to keep their agency or freedom to choose won the war in heaven and were allowed to come to earth, receive bodies, and learn new things. Those who wanted to use force were cast out of heaven without bodies.

Among those who came to earth are some people who think they are so intelligent that they want to tell others how to live their lives. These people are sometimes called social engineers. They like to use the force of the government to change mankind and to cause them to fit a master plan. These plans are very much like the plan we rejected in heaven.

Many different programs are used to change mankind through the force of the government. Progressives are currently trying to gain control of the citizens in this nation by forcing some of these programs on our nation under the mask of health care reform, climate change, cap and trade, etc. Previous programs in other countries fell under the titles of Nazism, fascism, socialism, and communism. They were all administered under the control of a dictator such as Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Pol Pot, etc.

We fought a war in heaven over agency. Heavenly Father considered agency to be so important that He allowed one-third of the hosts of heaven - His children - to rebel and to choose to live another way.

Our nation was founded on liberty - the freedom to use our God-given agency to make choices. Our Founders fought and won a war that we might have liberty. Now we are in a war to see if we can retain our liberty. The words agency, freedom, independence, and liberty all describe the Right to Choose. Understanding the importance of moral agency helps all of us to be stronger.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Divine Creator

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is contained in the belief that "all things were created by God, therefore upon Him all mankind are equally dependent and to Him they are equally responsible." The writings and speeches of our Founding Fathers show that "the foundation of all reality is the existence of a Creator" (W. Cleon Skousen in The Five Thousand Year Leap, p 73).

We can all know that God created this earth and rules over the affairs of mankind because the earth itself and the universe around it is evidence of God. I see God in all the creations around me. I see God in the fact that day follows night. I see God in the orderly way that seasons follow each other in an orderly manner. I appreciate the fact that we can depend that spring will follow winter each year. It is this belief that helps many people to endure the cold, dark winters in Alaska. We know that “when the sun comes back" that the snow will melt, the grass will turn green, and the trees will produce leaves.

An unbeliever once asked the prophet Alma for a sign that he might know the reality of God. Alma told him that there were signs of God all around him, including the testimonies of holy prophets and scriptures. He said, "… all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator" (Alma 30:44).

We can all know also that God is near to us. He loves us and is anxious and concerned about us. He wants us to be free and successful. Comments made by our Founding Fathers indicate that they were very much aware of God and His help in winning the Revolutionary War and the writing of the United States Constitution. In his first inaugural address, President George Washington said, "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency." (Fitzpatrick, Writings of George Washington, 30:292 as quoted in Five Thousand Year Leap, p 76.)

Belief that God created this earth and helped to establish this nation can help all of us to stay free. Progressives try to convince us that there is no God or that He is dead or that He is not involved with His children. They do this in order to convince us that our independence from England and our Constitution are the results of the intelligence of mankind. If the people believe that God inspired our Founding Fathers in both the war and the establishment of our government, then the progressives will have a more difficult time convincing us to move further down the road towards socialism.

A belief that "all things were created by God" and that we are dependent upon Him and responsible to Him will help to keep our nation free. It is all together fitting that the motto of our nation is "In God We Trust."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sarah/Sally Cobb Paine

I am not sure if her name was Sarah or Sally or whether Sally was a nickname for Sarah. At any rate Sarah/Sally was born and reared in Taunton, Massachusetts. I didn’t find much information on her personally. Her father was Captain Thomas Cobb who was a prominent citizen, magistrate, and member of the legislature. In 1754 he was assigned to be commander of a Taunton company in the French and Indian War. Her mother, Lydia Leonard, was the daughter and granddaughter of men who were both called Captain James Leonard and who were prominent in earlier history of the county. Her brother was General David Cobb who served in the Revolutionary War and was an aide to General George Washington for three years.

Sarah/Sally lived and was educated about the same as other daughters from well-to-do and church-going families. She married Robert Treat Paine, grandson of Governor Robert Treat of Connecticut about 1770. The couple was blessed with eight children, four sons and four daughters. She suffered the heartbreak of losing her oldest son to death and the disappointment of her second son turning from her teachings and being driven from her home - but not from her heart. She cared for him while he was dying of consumption and welcomed his young widow and her three children into her home to live after his death.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

I am one of many people who set goals at the beginning of each new year. I like to keep my list to three or fewer goals because I actually intend to accomplish my goals. One of my goals for the coming year is to develop a better appreciation for my many blessings. I am convinced that I can recognize more blessings if I have an attitude of gratitude.

Numerous apostles and prophets have counseled us to be grateful. The Apostle Paul wrote, "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21).

President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote, "The habit of saying thank you is the mark of an educated man or woman. Express appreciation to everyone who does you a favor or assists you in any way. Thank the Lord for His goodness to you. Thank the Almighty for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who has done for you what none other in all this world could do. Thank Him for His great example, for His tremendous teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help. Thank Him for His marvelous atonement. Confess His hand in all things" (Stand A Little Taller, p 338).

President Thomas S. Monson stated, "Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings" (Ensign, Nov. 2009, - 87).

I know that I have many blessings in spite of the fact that I experience my own tests and trials. I am grateful for all my blessings and especially for my family, my faith, my freedom, and my friends.

I am grateful for my family. As part of my effort to increase my gratitude for my many blessings, I would like to share with you some of the "tender mercies" that the Lord bestowed upon me as I celebrated the Christmas holidays with my children and grandchildren. I had a wonderful time with them and received many blessings from spending time with them.

Grandchildren are marvelous blessings in and of themselves! There is nothing better than receiving a big hug and a beaming smile from a two-year-old grandson or having a younger toddler lift his little arms in a desire to be held. I thoroughly enjoyed receiving spontaneous hugs from my four-year-old granddaughters and hearing the words, "I love you, Grammy!" I was pleased when my ten-year-old grandson brought his new travel Battleship game so that we could continue our annual tradition of playing Battleship. Each grandchild brought his or her own special and unique blessings into my life, whether it was a hug, a smile, or another way of showing love. I am grateful that they love each other and enjoy spending time together.

The simple experience of watching children grow in knowledge and develop different skills is a great blessing that I have enjoyed from the time that my children were infants. Even though my sons and daughters are now adults with children of their own, I still like to watch as they grow in knowledge and experience. It is especially enjoyable to watch as my sons and daughters deal with their own children. I am impressed with my daughters' willingness to love and serve their husbands and to teach their children with tenderness. I appreciate the way that my sons lead their families in righteousness and share the responsibilities of caring for the children.

I am grateful for children who love each other and enjoy spending time together. I especially appreciate the way that they care for each other's children with the same love and concern as their own. I was thrilled when one of my daughters voluntarily helped her sister by carrying a four-year-old niece piggyback down a steep hill - and then came back to carry her own daughter down the same hill.

I am grateful for my faith in God and for my knowledge and testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I am grateful to know that His gospel has been restored to the earth. I am grateful to belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful for the fact that I can travel and still feel at home in any congregation of the Church. I find the same spirit in all the meetings I attend - even when a different language is spoken. I find the same type of leadership by Melchizedek Priesthood brethren and the same service given by members of the Aaronic Priesthood as they prepare, bless, and pass the sacrament. I find the same hymnals and the same lessons as I would hear in my own home ward.

I am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy in this great nation. I am especially grateful at this time for freedom of religion, especially because Christians in other nations are being persecuted and even killed by members of other religions that claim to be "peaceful."

I am grateful for dear friends in my life and in the lives of my children and grandchildren. Friends are there in many different circumstances, whether it be happy or sad. Friends are the beautiful flowers in our lives.

I am grateful for family, faith in God and Jesus Christ, freedom and friends. I look forward to improving my attitude for gratitude during 2011.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Robert Treat Paine

Robert Treat Paine, a distinguished patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in 1731 in Boston, Massachusetts into a religious and honored family. His father was a clergyman, and his mother was the daughter of the Reverend Mr. Treat. Robert's grandfather was also Governor Treat of Connecticut.

Robert enjoyed the benefits of an early moral education and the advantage of being tutored. He entered Harvard College at the age of 14 and graduated with honors. He taught school after graduating and then took a voyage to Europe. Upon his return he began to study for the ministry and held the position of chaplain in the military. He soon left theology and embarked on the study of law.

Robert opened a law practice in Boston but soon moved it to Taunton. There he became involved in the fight against the Stamp Act. Although he was involved in the cause of liberty, he acted so prudently that he did not lose the confidence of the Governor. Paine was called as a delegate from Taunton to attend a provincial Convention in 1768. When Captain Thomas Preston and his men were being tried in 1770 for the Boston Massacre, the District Attorney became ill, and Robert was chosen to substitute for him. He handled the case with great ability. Captain Preston was acquitted because there was no proof that he ordered his troops to shoot, but two of his men were later convicted of killing citizens of Boston. Paine was a member of the commission appointed to conduct the proceedings in the impeachment of Chief Justice Oliver. Oliver was impeached because he received his salary from England and not from the people.

Paine was selected as a delegate to the General Congress and was appointed by that congress in 1774 as one of the three people to visit and observe the army of General Schuyler. John Adams was appointed Chief Justice for Massachusetts that same year, and Paine was selected as a side judge. He declined the appointment. That December he was again elected to attend the General Congress. He voted on July 4, 1776, for the Declaration of Independence and later signed it.

Robert was appointed as Attorney General of Massachusetts in 1777 and held that office until 1790 when he was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court. He was part of the convention to frame the Constitution of his state, adopted in 1780.

Robert married Sarah/Sally Cobb about 1770, and the couple was blessed with four sons and four daughters. The three older sons, Robert Treat, Thomas, and Charles studied law while the youngest son Henry studied commercial business. After unmarried Robert Treat Paine, Jr., died of yellow fever in 1798, his next younger brother Thomas had his named changed to Robert Treat Paine, Jr. This young man brought both disappointment and unhappiness to his parents and was driven from the home of his parents because he married the daughter of theatrical people. When this son died, his parents took his widow and three children into their home.
Paine served as a judge for 14 years before retiring in 1804 due to infirmities of age. He died at age 84 in 1814.