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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Spirit

The Spirit of Christmas comes into the hearts of mankind each December. It “is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things” (1 Nephi 11:22).

The spirit of love is available to all mankind throughout the year, but most of us feel it more abundantly at Christmas time. It causes our hearts to soften toward other people and makes us want to give of ourselves and our substance to bless the lives of others.

“Christmas is more than trees and twinkling lights, more than toys and gifts and baubles of a hundred varieties. It is love. It is the love of the Son of God for all mankind. It reaches out beyond our power to comprehend. It is magnificent and beautiful” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand A Little Taller, 371).

Christmas also means the love of Heavenly Father to all His children: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son….” (St. John 3:16). We have Christmas and the season of giving because Heavenly Father gave His Son, and Jesus Christ gave His life. Without Their gifts and sacrifices, there would be no Christmas. The Christmas spirit is the love of God to mankind. I encourage all of us to open our hearts wide in order to invite the Christmas spirit into our lives.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Matthew Thornton

Matthew Thornton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Ireland in 1714 and immigrated with his father to America when he was only two or three years old. His father first settled at Wiscasset in Maine and then moved to Worcester in Massachusetts a few years later. There he arranged for his son to receive an academic education in preparation for a profession. Matthew chose the medical profession, and when finished with his studies, he set up his office in Londonderry, New Hampshire, where he became a well-known and successful physician.

Thornton was appointed in 1745 to be the surgeon for the New Hampshire troops and accompanied them in their battle against Louisburg during the French and Indian War. Louisburg was a French fortress upon the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which was considered to be one of the strongest fortifications in North America. Upon his return from this expedition, he was appointed by Governor Wentworth, the royal governor, to be a Colonel of Militia and a Justice of the Peace. When he joined the cause of liberty for the colonists, he became obnoxious to the governor. He was so popular among the people that he caused the chief magistrate to feel jealousy and alarm.

Upon the abdication of Governor Wentworth, the provincial government of New Hampshire was organized and Dr. Thornton was elected to be its president. He was chosen to be Speaker of the House when the provincial Congress was organized. He served as an elected member of the Court of Common Pleas, and in January 1776, he was appointed to be a judge of the Superior Court of New Hampshire. In September 1776, he was appointed to be a delegate to the Continental Congress for one year. He was permitted to sign his name to the Declaration of Independence when he was seated in November. Dr. Thornton was not the only one who was so indulged. Several members who were absent when the vote was taken to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4 later signed their names to the document. In December 1776 he was again elected to the general Congress for one year beginning January 23, 1777. He retired from Congress at the end of his term. He engaged in public affairs as judge when required, but he resigned his judgeship in 1782.

Dr. Thornton purchased a farm in Exeter in 1789 and resided there until his death. He was visiting his daughters in Newburyport, Massachusetts when he died on June 24, 1803, at age 89.

“Dr. Thornton was greatly beloved by all who knew him, and to the close of his long life he was a consistent and zealous Christian. He always enjoyed remarkably good health,” but he was plagued with a weakness of the lungs and a tendency toward pulmonary disease after a severe attack of whooping cough at age 81. He practiced the virtues of temperance and cheerfulness and lived to a “patriarchal age” (Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 21).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Determine Own Rules

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.2: “The House and the Senate shall each determine the rules and proceedings by which it will carry out its responsibilities.” This principle sets forth the right of the House and the Senate to be independent from each other in how they perform their duties.

Under this provision either chamber may criticize the rules of procedure in the other chamber but neither has power to do anything about it. One such difference in rules is that the members of the Senate can filibuster but members of the House cannot.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Second Coming of Christ

Jesus Christ and His Apostles gathered together on the Mount of Olives forty days after His Resurrection. Jesus had completed all of His assignments for that time, and He was ready to leave the earth and return to the presence of Heavenly Father.

Christ instructed His Apostles and then ascended into heaven. While the Apostles stood there looking heavenward, two angels stood beside them and said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go” (Acts 1:11). The followers of Jesus Christ have looked forward to the Second Coming from that time until the present day.

There are several actions that Jesus Christ will do when He comes back to earth, including the following: 1) He will cleanse the earth. 2) He will judge His people. 3) He will usher in the Millennium. 4) He will complete the First Resurrection. 5) He will take His rightful place as King of heaven and earth.

When Jesus comes again, He will come in power and great glory. At that time the wicked will be destroyed. All things that are corrupt will be burned, and the earth will be cleansed by fire (see Doctrine and Covenants 101:24-25).

When Jesus comes again, He will judge all nations and will divide the righteous from the wicked (see Matthew 25:31-46). John the Revelator wrote about the judgment: “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, … and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” He saw that the wicked “lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:4-5; see also Doctrine and Covenants 88:95-98).

When Jesus comes again, He will usher in the Millennium, the thousand-year period of time when Jesus will reign on the earth. The righteous will be caught up to meet Jesus at His coming (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:96).

President Brigham Young said, “In the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth in power, glory and perfection, and the reign of wickedness that has so long prevailed is subdued, the Saints of God will have the privilege of building their temples, and of entering into them, becoming, as it were, pillars in the temples of God [see Revelation 3:12], and they will officiate for their dead. Then we will see our friends come up, and perhaps some that we have been acquainted with here…. And we will have revelations to know our forefathers clear back to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and we will enter into the temples of God and officiate for them. Then [children] will be sealed to [parents] until the chain is made perfect back to Adam, so that there will be a perfect chain of Priesthood from Adam to the winding-up scene” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 333-34).

When Jesus comes again, He will complete the First Resurrection. All people who have earned the privilege of coming forth in the resurrection of the just will rise from their graves. They will be caught up to meet the Savior as He comes down from heaven. (See Doctrine and Covenants 88:97-98.)

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was the beginning of the first resurrection. His Resurrection was followed by the resurrection of other righteous people who had died. These people appeared in Jerusalem and also on the American continent. (See Matthew 27:52-53; 3 Nephi 23:9-10.) Other people have been resurrected since that time. Those who have already been resurrected and those who will be resurrected at the time of His coming will all inherit the glory of the celestial kingdom (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:50-70).

The candidates for the terrestrial kingdom will be resurrected after the resurrection of all those who will inherit celestial glory. These two events will complete the First Resurrection.

The wicked people living on earth when the Savior comes will be destroyed in the flesh. They and all wicked who are already dead will have to wait until the last resurrection. They will either inherit telestial glory or be cast into outer darkness with Satan (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:32-33, 81-112).

When Jesus comes again, He will establish His government on the earth and take His rightful place as King of heaven and earth. Christ will rule all the people of the earth in peace for 1,000 years. The Church will become part of His kingdom.

When Jesus Christ came to earth the first time, He was born in a lowly stable and laid in a manger filled with hay. He did not come in glory or with great armies as the Jews expected their Messiah to do. Jesus came humbly and lived humbly. He said, “Love your enemies, … do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44). He was despised, rejected, and crucified. When He comes the second time, He will not be rejected but “every ear shall hear it, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” that Jesus is the Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 88:104). He will be greeted as “Lord of lords, and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). He will be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

There were only a few people who knew when Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, was born. When He returns to earth, everyone will know who He is. No one knows the exact time of His coming: “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36; see also Doctrine and Covenants 49:7).

The Lord gave the parable of the fig tree to tell us how we can know when His coming is near. He taught, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
“So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors” (Mark 13:28-29).

After the Lord gave us some signs to let us know when His coming is near, He cautioned: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come….
“… Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42, 44).

We can prepare for the Savior’s coming by accepting the teachings of the gospel and making them a part of our lives. When He was on earth Jesus taught us that we should live each day in the best way we can – better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today. We have a modern-day prophet to whom we can look for guidance and counsel. We can also have the guidance of the Holy Ghost to guide us if we live worthy of His presence. As long as we live righteously, we can look forward to the Savior’s coming with happiness instead of fear. The Lord taught: “Fear not, little flock, the kingdom is yours until I come. Behold, I come quickly. Even so. Amen” (Doctrine and Covenants 35:27).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Study Habits

Families are strengthened when students develop good study habits and take responsibility for doing their own school work. There is far less stress in a home when parents are a resource and teacher rather than an enforcer. I am grateful that my own children developed good study habits and accepted the responsibility for their own school work. Some of them were better at organizing themselves and completing homework than others – or at different times – but all of them received good grades.

The familiar advice to parents in my day included having a specific time and place for homework, setting goals, sticking to a homework schedule, etc. Apparently, this was not the best counsel. Cognitive scientists realized in recent years that students learn more by following some simple techniques that can help any student at any age. These techniques and principles have not caught on because they contradict previous ideas about good study habits.

For instance, a team of psychologists found no evidence to support the ideas that children have specific learning styles (auditory learner versus visual learner) or are left-brained or right brained. Psychologists discovered in a 1978 experiment that a variety of study places and a variety of topics helps to increase knowledge gained. College students studying 40 vocabulary words two times in two different rooms did better than students studying the words twice in the same room.

In another study elementary school students were taught four equations, each of which was for a different dimension of a prism. While part of the students practiced calculating repeated study problems of one type, the other students practiced with mixed problems. The students were tested the next day with new problems of the same type. The students doing mixed problems did twice as well as the group doing a single type of problem.

Adults, young and old, were better able to distinguish the painting styles of twelve unfamiliar artists after viewing a mixed assortment than when studying one artist at a time.

“Cramming” helps a student do well on a test, but gradually “packing” the information in the brain improves later recall. Practice tests and quizzes help in the process of remembering because the simple act of recall helps to “store” the information in a more accessible manner.

Parents and teachers can help children study better by putting variety in study places and material. Families are strengthened as students gain more information from their studies and more self-esteem by becoming better students.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Financial Bondage

The topic for this Freedom Friday is the importance of being free from debt. The author of Proverbs 22:7 wrote, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” This principle applies to both individuals and governments.

I along with many other people am concerned about the amount of money that our government is spending. They are spending much more money than they are receiving. Our government has spent money that they have borrowed from foreign nations – most of it from China. This means that China now “owns” a large portion of our country. This also means that China now has power over our finances. The debt needs to be paid so our nation is printing money to pay our debt and to boost our economy. We are now in a terrible situation. Even China and other foreign nations are telling us to be careful or we will cause the economies of all nations to collapse. This is a critical time that promises to get worse unless the proper corrective action is taken.

President Obama and our current Congress should have listened to the counsel given by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Debt can be a terrible thing. It is so easy to incur and so difficult to repay…. But be wise and do not go beyond your ability to pay. Borrowed money is had only at a price and that price can be burdensome” (Stand A Little Taller, 158).

Debts must be paid to obtain liberty. The Lord counseled, “Pay the debt thou hast contracted…. Release thyself from bondage” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:35).

President Hinckley also counseled, “We have been seduced into believing that borrowed money has no penalty, that financial bondage is an acceptable way to live. I suggest that it is not. We would do well to be modest and prudent in our expenditures, to discipline our purchasing and avoid debt to the extent possible, to pay off debt quickly, and to free ourselves from the bondage of others” (Stand A Little Taller, 74).

The common people in both our nation and in the nations of the world understand that the worldwide economy is in danger. No person or nation can continue to borrow more money than can be repaid and then survive financially. Hopefully, we voted enough “bums” out of Congress and elected enough fiscal conservatives that our representatives will begin to exercise prudence, avoid unnecessary expenses, avoid borrowing more money, and pay off our debt as soon as possible. Our nation cannot enjoy full liberty when we are in financial bondage to our enemies.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Spirit of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can fill us spiritually, emotionally, and mentally as well as physically if we will cultivate the spirit of thanksgiving. The spirit of thanksgiving is to “Live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you” (Alma 34:38).
Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of what has been called the “the big holiday trilogy “– Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. By celebrating this holiday trilogy appropriately, we can be better prepared to receive the “renewal of Easter."

Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude for our many blessings. It is a time to look forward to spending time with family and special friends. It is a wonderful excuse to gather together and remind ourselves that our families are the foundation upon which we build our lives. Our families are what enable us to be the very best version of ourselves. We should give thanks for our families for they truly are the foundation of our lives.

Christmas is a time of love. Heavenly Father loves His children so much that He sent His Beloved Son to earth on a mission to save all of His other children. Jesus Christ accepted and fulfilled that mission because of His love for His Father and for all of us. We celebrate the birth of the Son because we love Him and because we love the Father. We give gifts to our family members and friends because we love them. Christmas is a gift of redemption, a gift that can transform us. It is a wonderful present given to all mankind. Once we open the gift, we can better understand how our lives can be truly fulfilling and rich.

New Year’s Day is a holiday that is often meant to end the Christmas season. It marks the time when children go back to school, adult children leave for college, and family members return to their own homes and lives. It is also an excellent time to set goals for self-improvement. It is truly a clean page in our lives. It gives us a fresh start and a new beginning with endless possibilities.

Easter is a time when we celebrate the Atonement and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we make family the foundation of our lives, learn to love others as God loves us, and learn to use the new year as an opportunity to improve, we are better prepared to truly celebrate Easter.

This wonderful experience begins with Thanksgiving Day and the true spirit of thanksgiving. So how do we go about gaining this special spirit? President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “How magnificently we are blessed! How thankful we ought to be! Cultivate the spirit of thanksgiving in your lives. Make it of the very nature of your lives. It will impart an added dimension to your character that will give depth and strength” (Stand A Little Taller, 347).

We can gain the spirit of thanksgiving by being grateful for the many blessings that we receive. It is so easy to get caught up in complaining about what we do not have instead of expressing thanks for what we do enjoy. Some of the many blessings for which I am grateful include: life itself and the opportunity to live in this beautiful world, the ability to walk, run, and do whatever I desire, clean water to drink, a house to provide warmth and comfort, food to eat, clothes to wear, freedom to go wherever I desire, family, friends, and knowledge of God and His plan for His children. I know that I am truly blessed.

Helene Rothschild wrote:
“… the essence of the holiday is to acknowledge and celebrate all the positive things in your life. It is a time that reminds us to be grateful and appreciate everything and everyone, including ourselves….”

Sean Carter wrote:
“… However, we excel most in keeping the spirit of Thanksgiving alive even today through our undying faith in what our forefathers believed in, the freedom of the soul to choose between what is right and what is wrong and our inner strength to practice this faith in God and ourselves openly. In our national songs, `In God We Trust,’ or `one nation under God,’ this faith finds special attention as well.
“… Thanksgiving is a time to rediscover the spiritual being within and draw strength from our founders and political zealots whose prolific faith has created a nation that we as well as our progeny will be proud of.”

We are all individuals and will each be thankful for specific items and people. We can strengthen ourselves and each other by cultivating the spirit of thanksgiving. We will become more happy and content if we will live in the spirit of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is here again. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Thanksgiving Day is a special Day in the United States and Canada that probably descended from festivals held in England.

The first Thanksgiving in America was exactly what the words describe. It was simply an expression of gratitude. It took place on the banks of the James River near where Charles City, Virginia, now stands and was held to commemorate the arrival of 38 English settlers on December 4, 1619. The day of arrival was to be observed yearly.

The first Thanksgiving in New England took place in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, less than a year after the settlers landed in America. About half of the settlers died during the first winter at Plymouth. The summer of 1621 brought new hope for the settlers. Governor William Bradford organized a celebration to give thanks to God for the blessings received.

The festival was held in early autumn and lasted for three days. The menu included ducks, geese, turkeys, clams, fish, plums, leeks, watercress, and corn bread. The cooking was done over outdoor fires, and large tables were set up for eating. About ninety Indians came to the celebration and brought deer to share.

Similar celebrations were held in Plymouth annually, but no particular day was set. The custom of celebrating Thanksgiving Day spread to other New England colonies. There was no regular national Thanksgiving Day for many years even though numerous states had regular Thanksgiving holidays. Numerous presidents tried to promote Thanksgiving Day. George Washington proclaimed November 26, 1789, a day of national thanksgiving. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November 1863 as a "day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father." For seventy-five years the President proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. In 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt - good ole FDR - proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a week earlier. Congress finally passed a law that after 1941 the fourth Thursday in November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day and would be a legal federal holiday.

Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. I drove through Canada on their Thanksgiving weekend this year and had an opportunity to ask some questions about their celebration. I came away from those discussions with the understanding that Thanksgiving is a low-key holiday in Canada and not the big production we make of it in the United States. Canadians purchase lovely fall flowers to decorate their tables and visit with family members, but they don’t spend all week cooking an enormous meal that is gone in half an hour. It seems to me that Americans can learn something from the Canadians: Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude for our many blessings as well as to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Christ. Facts for this post came from an article by Joan R. Gundersen, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 19, 229-230.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Building Walls

Did you hear the news that Mexico is building a wall on its southern border? Mexican Superintendent of Tax Administration Raul Diaz recently confirmed that Mexico is building a wall on its border with Guatemala. The excuse for construction of the wall is to stop the flow of drugs, but Diaz admitted that the wall would also stop illegal aliens from free passage into Mexico.
There are approximately 500,000 people who enter Mexico illegally each year. Just as Mexico condemns the United States for building a wall on their common border, Guatemala Vice President Rafael Espada suggested, “The walls are not the solution to the problems.”
He sounded very much like what Mexican President Felipe Calderon when Arizona’s new law, SB 1070, passed. Calderon denounced Arizona’s law and said it was an invitation “to intolerance, hate, discrimination, and abuse in law enforcement….”
Even though Mexico wants the United States to have an open border, Mexican law bars outsiders who are “found to be physically or mentally unhealthy … economic burdens on society” or anyone who shows contempt for national sovereignty. The penalty for being in Mexico illegally is the opportunity to spend two years in a Mexican prison.
Even though Mexico is showing hypocrisy in condemning the United States for building a wall while building a wall of its own, they have also offered proof of their belief that a wall can stop illegal aliens from entering a country. The fact that Mexico is building its own wall to protect its own country gives the United States permission to build our wall to protect our nation.
I agree with John McCain when he declared, “Build the d_____ wall!” No other nation on earth allows foreigners to enter their country without meeting strict requirements. There is no reason good enough that the United States should allow illegal aliens to continue to come into our nation.
We have been talking about building a wall along our southern border for many years, but we still have only a partial wall in place. This partial wall has vastly decreased the numbers of illegal aliens entering our country in that area. I believe that politicians are trying to “feather their own nests” rather than protect our nation. Remember my post on building the Alaska Highway (October 28, 2010)? During World War II, a road to Alaska was considered necessary to prevent an invasion by Japanese forces. The road to Alaska – 1500 miles long – was built in a period of 8 months and 12 days because politicians realized the importance of it.
At the present time we are being invaded by illegal aliens from numerous nations – and yet the politicians refuse to admit t
that the security of our nation is at stake. If our leaders would stop playing political games, we could have a wall on our southern border in a matter of months and better secure our border and nation. I say, “Stop playing political games and build the wall!”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pilgrims and Puritans

This is the week that the United States celebrates Thanksgiving Day. It is only fitting that the pilgrims and Puritans be our VIPs for this week. A simple definition of these particular pilgrims is that they are people who came to America from England to obtain religious freedom. They settled in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.
Among the pilgrims were Separatists and Puritans. Separatists were once part of a group of English Protestants known as Puritans. The Puritans were a group within the Church of England who tried to continue the changes in the church which started with the Protestant reformation. They were called Puritans by those who opposed them because their goal was to “purify” the church.
Some Puritans in the late 1500’s decided that they could not reform the church; therefore, they decided to leave – or separate from - the Church of England and set up their own congregations. Thus, they became known as Separatists.
Some of the Separatists left England to settle in Holland. After living in Holland for several years, some Separatists feared that their children were becoming more Dutch than English. America began to look really good to them for a couple of reasons. Laws in Holland forbade foreigners from owning land in Holland plus war was starting in Europe.
The Separatists offered to start an English colony in America and found some merchants willing to finance their plans. They sailed to America in September 1620 on the Mayflower. The group on the ship included 41 separatists and 61 other English people. They arrived in America on November 21, 1620, and chose Plymouth as the place for their colony. "The term Pilgrim may have come from William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth Colony. Bradford wrote that `they knew they were pilgrims' when they left Holland.'" (Joan R. Gundersen, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, pp 463-464). Other Puritans gave up on the idea of reforming the Church of England and left for America in the 1600's. Their settlements were in Virginia and along the New England coast, particularly in Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay Colony.
We can understand from this brief history that some Puritans became Separatists and some Puritans and some Separatists later became the Pilgrims - but they were all Puritan at heart. The Puritans' beliefs in the Bible continued to guide their lives in America. These ideals shaped religion, social life, and government in America. Their strong belief in education led to the founding of Harvard and Yale. Their strong belief in hard work may have led to the rise of the free enterprise system (John F. Wilson, World Book Encyclopediaa, Vol. 15, pp.902-911). Religious denominations that developed from Puritan beliefs include Congregationalism, Unitarianism, Methodism, and Calvinism. Puritans of the 1500's and 1600's had a great effect on the development of our nation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Minority Power

The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.1: “When no quorum is present in either of the houses of Congress, the minority may meet for the purpose of calling up the absent members and compelling them, where necessary, to suffer certain penalties until such time as a quorum is in attendance. The smaller group can also adjourn from day to day until a quorum is attained.” This principle gives power to a minority of the members of either the Senate or the House to meet together and impose penalties on absent members until there is a quorum in attendance. This principle insures that members of the House and Senate will be available to act in case of national security situation arose.

A problem arose in the House of Representatives when opposition to a matter of business would break a quorum by refusing to vote. House rule XV said that if members were present but not voting, they would be considered as part of a quorum. There are times when a majority is present to start a session and then some members go back to their offices or to a committee meeting. The business of the house continues under a ruling from the Supreme Court: “A quorum once established is presumed to continue unless and until a point of no quorum is raised.” When an “important vote” is to be taken, a point of “no quorum” is raised, and the whole House or Senate is ordered to return to session.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Signs of the Second Coming

I believe that Jesus Christ will return to earth. I believe that His Second Coming is near and may occur during my lifetime. I look forward to this event with great excitement and wonder.

The Savior told Joseph Smith, “I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory … and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:11). Jesus has also given numerous signs and events that will warn us when the time of His coming is near.

Followers of Jesus Christ look forward to His coming again and have done so for thousands of years. We expect it to be a time of peace and joy and yet understand that we will experience great trials and calamities before He comes. Heavenly Father has forewarned us about these difficult times because He wants us to be prepared to survive them. He also expects us to prepare ourselves spiritually in order to be ready when the Savior comes in His glory. This is the reason He has revealed these signs to His prophets throughout the ages. He said that all of the Savior’s faithful followers will know what the signs are and will be watching for them (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:39). Studying the scriptures will help us to know the signs and to be obedient and faithful.

Some of the signs of the Savior’s Second Coming have already been fulfilled or are in the process of being fulfilled. The rest will be fulfilled in the future. These signs are always revealed through the prophets, and many of them will be dreadful and terrifying. We have been warned that the earth will experience great turmoil, wickedness, war, and suffering. The prophet Daniel said that the time before Christ comes again will be a time of trouble such as the earth has never previously known (see Daniel 12:1).

The Lord said, “The love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:27). “And all things shall be in commotion; and … fear shall come upon all people” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:91). We can expect earthquakes, disease, famines, great storms, lightning, and thunder (see Matthew 24:7; Doctrine and Covenants 88:90). Hailstorms will destroy the crops of the earth (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:16).

When the disciples of Jesus Christ asked Him about His Second Coming, the Lord told them, “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars…. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Be not discouraged when we tell you of perilous times, for they must shortly come, for the sword, famine, and pestilences are approaching. There shall be great destructions upon the face of this land, for ye need not suppose that one jot or tittle of the prophecies of all the holy prophets shall fail, and there are many that remain to be fulfilled yet” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 252).

Many of these signs are currently in the process of being fulfilled. Wickedness is everywhere – in every city, state and nation of the world. At any given time, two or more nations are at war. Earthquakes and other calamities are occurring regularly. Millions of people are now suffering from terrible storms, drought, hunger, and diseases. These calamities will certainly become more severe before the Lord comes.

Some of the events of the Second Coming bring joy to the world. Some of the joyful events are: the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached in the entire world, the coming of Elijah, the Lamanites becoming righteous and respected, and the building of the New Jerusalem.

The Lord explained, “Light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fullness of my gospel” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:28). Prophets of old foretold the Restoration of the gospel, and the Apostle John saw in vision that the gospel would be restored by an angel (see Revelation 14:6-7). The angel Moroni and other heavenly beings brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith and fulfilled this prophecy.

When Jesus Christ visited the Nephites, He gave them another sign of His coming: the Book of Mormon would come to their descendants (see 3 Nephi 21). The Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel foresaw the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (see Isaiah 29:4-18; Ezekiel 37:16-20). These prophecies are being fulfilled in our day. The Book of Mormon was brought forth and is currently being taken to the entire world.

Jesus Christ told His disciples that the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the entire world for a witness unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14; see also Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:31). He has also revealed that all people will hear the fullness of the gospel in their own language (see Doctrine and Covenants 90:11). Ever since the Restoration of the Church, missionaries have been preaching the gospel. There are now tens of thousands of missionaries preaching the gospel in many countries of the world in many different languages. Before Christ returns to earth and during the Millennium, the truth will be taken to all nations.

The prophet Elijah held the sealing power during his life on earth, and the prophet Malachi prophesied that Elijah would bring the power back to earth before the Savior comes: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:5-6).

Elijah the prophet came to Joseph Smith in April 1836. Soon after his visit, people began to take greater interest in genealogy and family history. Sealing ordinances are performed in the temples for both the living and the dead.

The Lord said, “Before the great day of the lord shall come, … the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:24) He meant that the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people when His coming was near. There are great numbers of the descendants of Lehi who are receiving the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As the coming of Jesus Christ draws near, faithful Saints will build the New Jerusalem – a righteous city of God where Jesus Christ Himself will rule. (See 3 Nephi 21:23-25; Moses 7:62-64; Articles of Faith 1:10.) In the latter-days, the Lord revealed that the city would be built in the state of Missouri in the United States (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-3).

There are many signs given in the scriptures for the Second Coming, and these are just a few of them. I encourage you to go to the scriptures and find other signs.

The exact time of the Second Coming has not been revealed. The Lord said, “The hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:7). Christ taught this principle when He gave the parable of the fig tree. He explained to His disciples that when we see leaves coming out on a fig tree, we can know that summer is near. He then explained that we can know that His coming is near when we see the signs described in the scriptures. (See Matthew 24:32-33.)

I believe that Heavenly Father loves all of His children and wants us to be prepared. Because we know these signs, we can put our lives in order and prepare for those times yet to come. We know that we must be prepared spiritually in order to survive the calamities of the great and dreadful day, but we can also look forward with joy to the coming of the Savior. The Lord said, “Be not troubled, for, when all these things [the signs] shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:35). He said that those who are righteous when He comes will not be destroyed “but shall abide the day. And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; … and their children shall grow up without sin…. For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:57-59).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Past, Present, Future

Families are strengthened when they “learn from the past, live in the present, and prepare for the future” (Thomas S. Monson).

There is much to learn from past experiences – good or bad, our own or those of others. The scriptures are full of stories depicting both good and evil. When faced with a choice, remembering those stories could help in our decision. For example, when Joseph faced the “opportunity” to become immoral with his boss’s wife, he remembered that adultery was forbidden and fled the scene. He suffered in prison for his decision but was later given great responsibility and honor. A study of family, American, or world history would produce many other experiences that could teach us important lessons. Remembering past years can help us too.

We must live in the present in order to be truly happy. We must not dwell on past problems or continue to brag on past accomplishments. Today is to be enjoyed. “Take time to smell the roses” and “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” are sayings that have real meaning. Live life fully today – but prepare for tomorrow.

Preparing begins with making plans and setting goals. Preparing also means getting appropriate education and saving for a rainy day. There are many ways to prepare for tomorrow.

Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I don’t worry too much about the future, and I don’t worry very much about the past. The past is gone, and you can’t change, you can’t correct. The future, you can anticipate, but you can’t necessarily do very much about it. It is the present you have to deal with. Reach out for every good opportunity to do what you ought to do” (Stand A Little Taller, 382).

President Hinckley is a good example of a person who studied and learned from the past, lived with enthusiasm, and prepared for tomorrow. Families can grow stronger when they follow his examples.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ponzi Schemes

The topic for this Freedom Friday is Ponzi schemes. Ponzi schemes are illegal. The largest Ponzi scheme in the nation – our Social Security System - threatens to destroy the economical freedom of our rising generations. I am not alone in my belief that Social Security is a giant Ponzi scheme as Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, recently stated the same belief.

The name “Ponzi” for this type of scheme came from Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant to the United States in 1903, but the idea came from Charles Dickens in his novel Little Dorrit published in the 1855-1857 time period. Ponzi became famous for using the technique in early 1920 when his scheme took in so much money that it was known throughout the United States.

According to, a “Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned…. The system is destined to collapse because the earnings, if any, are less than the payments to investors. Usually, the scheme is interrupted by legal authorities before it collapses because a Ponzi scheme is suspected….”

Seniors today insist that their social security checks are not handouts because they paid into Social Security and Medicare. This is only partially true. According to Jagadeesh Gokhale (senior economic advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland) and Laurence J. Kotlikoff (professor of economics at Boston University) and quoted by Dr. Walter E. Williams, “A male reaching 65 years of age today (in 2000, the year of their study) can expect to receive $71,000 more in government ‘transfer’ benefits (of all kinds at both the federal and state levels, but mainly Social Security and Medicare) than he will pay in taxes (of all kinds at both the federal and state levels) before he dies. A 65-year-old female can expect a net gain of more than twice that amount; she can expect $163,000 more in benefits than she will pay in taxes.”

Young people will pay much more in taxes than they will ever receive in transfer programs. “For example: A 20-year-old female can expect to pay $92,000 more in taxes than she will receive in transfer benefits over her lifetime. The future looks more than three times as bleak for her male cohort, who can expect to pay $312,000 more in taxes than he will receive in benefits.”

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme because it is a better deal for those who get on board early. It is a system that leaves younger people paying for the checks that go to seniors.

Geoffrey Kollmann and Dawn Muscular of the Congressional Research Service reported, “Until recent years, Social Security recipients received more, often far more, than the value of the Social Security taxes they paid. … For example, for workers who earned average wages and retired in 1980 at age 65, it took 2.8 years to recover the value of the retirement portion of the combined employee and employer shares of their Social Security taxes plus interest. For their counterparts who retired at age 65 in 2002, it will take 16.9 years. For those retiring in 2020, it will take 20.9 years.”

Senior citizens who want economical freedom for their posterity need to join the fight for reform of the entitlement programs. Our nation must take some corrective actions because past generations were duped into thinking that the government could take care of them in their old age. We now know that the government does not and will not have enough to pay for all the entitlement programs it has legislated.

No one wants to abolish the federal senior programs, but most people understand that our nation cannot continue to pay out more than we take in. Costs for maintaining Social Security ($710 Billion), Medicare ($456 Billion), and Medicaid ($327 Billion) will bankrupt our nation. We must find a way to compassionately lessen the public cost of our elderly and ill citizens in order that our rising generations can breathe under their burden.

Ponzi schemes are illegal in most instances because they take from one group of investors to pay other investors. The federal entitlement programs brought to us by progressive administrations are nothing more than enormous Ponzi schemes, which will eventually collapse on us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Katharine Moffat Whipple

Katharine Moffat, daughter of John and Katharine Cutt Moffat, married Captain William Whipple, son of William and Mary Cutt Whipple. They were first cousins, and “their mutual ancestors, the Cutts, were among the wealthiest and most prominent people of the Province” (Wives of the Signers – The women behind the Declaration of Independence, 14-15). Her father was a high government official in the Province. She obviously was of “good birth and breeding and must have been of high social standing.”

William was a seafarer until he was twenty-nine and then began a career in the mercantile business. He closed out all of his business affairs when he decided to devote himself to public affairs.

We know that the Whipples lived in Portsmouth from the time of their marriage until the Revolution, but that is about all we know of their private life. The couple had one child, a daughter who died as a baby. After her daughter died, Mrs. Whipple adopted a niece, Mary Tufton Moffat. Mary lived with her uncle and aunt until she married.

We have no date of birth or date of death for Mrs. Whipple. We only know that she lived many years after the death of William Whipple in 1785.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Saving Daylight

I hope that all Americans have made the necessary adjustments of “falling back” to Standard Time. I really dislike the need to change my clocks and put my body through the “jet lag” of changing to or from Daylight Saving Time (DST) twice each year. I decided to do a little research about the time changes.

Time itself – at least in the United States – was anything but standard before the cross-continental railroads were built. Different towns and cities across the nation set their own times. This made it difficult for the railroad to make schedules; therefore, the nation was put into time zones.

Apparently, the idea of moving the clocks forward was present in ancient times, but I didn’t find any definite information on it. Benjamin Franklin is said to have joked about the possibility of saving on the cost of candles if clocks were adjusted to maximum daily sunshine, but I didn’t find any foundation for it.

I found several references to our nation practicing DST during World War I for about seven months. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed our nation to be on “War Time” during World War II in order to save coal. The DST lasted from 1942 to 1945.

In 1966 Congress adopted the Uniform Time Act that established uniform time across our nation. Most of our nation decided to use DST then even though there is no federal law demanding it. Arizona went on DST in April 1967 along with the rest of the Mountain Time zone and tried it for one year. At the end of that year, the Arizona state legislature asked for and received an exemption to the law. Forty years later most of the people in Arizona still do not change their clocks, but some Indian Reservations do. Indiana did not have DST until 2005 when the western part of the state decided to go on it. Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands do not have DST. Mexico now practices DST along with most of Canada.

There are 24 time zones in the world that run north to south from pole to pole. These time zones are 15 degrees apart or the distance the earth travels in an hour around the sun. Time zones apparently begin at the Prime Meridian at 0 degrees longitude. This zone happens to travel through Greenwich, England (a London borough) and is the reason for the name Greenwich Meantime (GMT). GMT gave way to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The official UTC is based on atomic clocks.

According to Wikipedia: “Most areas of North America and Europe observe daylight saving time (DST), while most areas of Africa, Asia (except Russia), and Antarctica do not. South America is mixed, with most countries in the warmer north of the continent near the equator not observing DST, while Chili, Paraguay, and Uruguay and southern parts of Brazil do. Oceania is also mixed with New Zealand and parts of southern Australia observing DST, while most other areas do not.”

Alaska observes DST in order to keep consistent time with the rest of our nation This seems to be the only reason why Alaska has DST. Anchorage in mid-summer has more than 20 hours of daylight. Moving the clock to save an hour of daylight makes little difference when the sun rises at 2:00 a.m. and sets at 11:00 p.m. By the end of March when DST kicks in, Anchorage is enjoying 12 hours of daylight with the amount quickly increasing each day. Anchorage in mid-winter is dark for almost 20 hours each day no matter what time the clock says. The children go to and from school and office workers go to and from work in the dark. Statewide surveys in 2004, 2005, and 2010 showed that a majority (55 percent) of Alaskans do not want to change their clocks twice each year.

Most of Alaska is in the Alaska Time Zone, which was previously known as the Yukon Standard Time zone (YST). In 1975 the Yukon Territory switched to the Pacific Standard Time zone, leaving their previous time zone unused. The state of Alaska decided in 1983 to move most of the state to one time zone known as Alaska Time zone. Parts of Alaska were previously in several different time zones, causing difficulties in conducting business – especially when calling government offices on the East Coast. Prior to 1983, Yakutat was on Yukon Standard Time, the Alaska Panhandle communities were on Pacific Standard Time, the Interior was on Alaska-Hawaii Standard Time, and Nome and the Aleutians were on Bering Standard Time. After the 1983 time change, all of Alaska is on Alaska Standard Time except the western Aleutian Islands, which observe Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time and are one hour behind the remainder of the state. Texas is the only other state that I am aware of that has two time zones. The time zone change is located somewhere between El Paso and San Antonio as I remember.

We are told that we go through the exercise of observing DST in order to save energy, but there are questions about whether we actually save energy by using electricity to light the darkness of early morning. There are apparently some good data confirming that DST decreases crime, automobile accidents, and traffic fatalities.

The United Kingdom ended DST a week before the United States ended it. Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus at the University of Westminster’s Policy Studies Institute in London, is of the opinion that the extra hour of daylight each day would encourage more people “to go outside and engage in some physical activity – something that would improve public health” (British Medical Journal quoted by Karen Kaplan of the Los Angeles Times). Hillman has been trying for some time to convince everyone that we should “keep the clocks as they are in the fall and move them forward an additional hour in the spring, the result will be ‘an additional hour of evening daylight in every day of the year.’ The cost for this extra evening daylight is extra morning darkness, but that’s only a problem during the winter, he says.

“But that’s only fair, according to his calculations: `On average over the year only one or two of our waking hours in the morning are spent in darkness whereas nearly half of the 10-11 waking hours after midday are in darkness.’”

An hour more daylight in the evening would mean more time for playing, shopping, gardening, and working. An hour more darkness in the mornings would mean operating longer in the dark for farmers and others who rise before dawn. After all my research, I am still confused about whether or not we should practice daylight saving time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

William Whipple

William Whipple was the second of the New Hampshire delegation to the Continental Congress of 1776; therefore, he was probably the second person to sign the Declaration of the Independence.

Whipple was born at Kittery in New Hampshire – in the part of New Hampshire that later became the State of Maine – in 1730. He received his early education at a common school in his native town. He went to sea at a young age and stayed in that occupation for several years. He quit the seafaring life when he was twenty-nine and began a career in mercantile pursuits with his brother Joseph in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

William became involved in the affairs of the colonies and became a leader in the opposition to British authority. He was elected in 1775 as a member of the Provincial Congress of New Hampshire; this Congress elected him to be a member of the Committee of Safety. New Hampshire was one of several colonies to organize a Committee of Safety and to make it the executive body to regulate the general concerns of the colony during the war. The people of New Hampshire organized a temporary government in 1775 and chose him to be a member of the Council.

In 1776 Whipple was chosen as a delegate to the Continental Congress and was one of those in attendance there on July 4, 1776, who voted for the Declaration of Independence. He retired from the Congress in 1777 when he was appointed a Brigadier General of the New Hampshire Militia. In that position, he was responsible to call out the troops and equip them for their battle against the English General Burgoyne. Under the direction of General Gates, Whipple commanded one brigade while General Stark commanded the other. He was there when Burgoyne was captured and was among the commissioners that arranged the terms of surrender. He was selected as one of the officers in charge of marching the British prisoners to Cambridge.
Whipple led a large force of New Hampshire Militia in the battle against the British on Rhode Island in 1778. When the expedition failed due to lack of support from the French navy, General Whipple took his brigade back to New Hampshire. Whipple was offered several positions of power in the period of 1780-1782 but either declined them or resigned them.

Whipple was appointed in 1782 to a commission assigned to settle a dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut and then was appointed president of the Court. During that same year he became a side judge of the Superior Court of New Hampshire.

Soon after this appointment, he began having problems with his heart. In 1785 while in the court, he began to experience serious heart problems. He retired to his chamber where he died on November 28, 1785, at the age of 55.

Prior to his death, Whipple requested a post mortem examination. The examination found that part of his heart had become ossified, or bony. “Thus terminated the valuable life of one who rose from the post of a cabin boy, to a rank among the first men of his country. His life and character present one of those bright examples of self-reliance which cannot be too often pressed upon the attention of the young; … the great secret of his success was doubtless a hopeful reliance upon a conscious ability to perform any duty required of him” (Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 19).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Majority Required

The topic for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.1: “A majority of the Senate and a majority of the House of Representatives shall be required in order to constitute a quorum to do the business of these houses.” This principle gives the people the Right to have laws passed by a majority of their representatives. This provision prevents small groups of Senators or Representatives taking over and passing laws.

The Founders knew that a requirement for the attendance of the whole body of Senators or Representatives would present the situation where the non-attendance of a few people could prevent the completion of a particular business. They wanted the business of the people to be performed by a quorum of the majority of their representatives without transferring power to a minority.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gathering the House of Israel

Jacob was a great prophet who lived hundreds of years before the time of Christ. Jacob was so faithful in keeping the commandments of God that Heavenly Father gave him the special name of Israel. The name Israel means “one who prevails with God” or “let God prevail” (Bible Dictionary, “Israel,” 708). Jacob was the father of twelve sons, and these sons along with their families became known as the twelve tribes of Israel, or Israelites (see Genesis 49:28).

Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob, was so righteous that God made an everlasting covenant with him, and this covenant was renewed with Isaac and with Joseph and his children. God promised the Israelites that they would be His covenant people for as long as they would keep His commandments (see Deuteronomy 28:9-10). God also told them that they would be a blessing to all the nations of the world by taking the gospel and the priesthood to them (see Abraham 2:9-11). Through taking the blessings of the gospel and the priesthood to the world, the Israelites would keep their covenants with Heavenly Father, and He would keep His covenant with them.

Prophets counseled the Israelites to keep their part of the covenant and warned time after time what would happen if they were wicked. Moses told them, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deuteronomy 28:64). For some reason, the Israelites could not keep the commandments of God. They fought among themselves and eventually split into two kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom was called the kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom was called the kingdom of Judah.

The Northern Kingdom consisted of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Northern Kingdom was conquered by enemies and taken into captivity, but some of them later escaped into the lands of the north to become lost to the rest of the world.

The Southern Kingdom survived for another 100 years before they were also conquered. Many members of the remaining two tribes were taken into captivity when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C. Some members of these two tribes were later able to return and rebuild Jerusalem. Lehi and his family, who were of the house of Israel, left Jerusalem just before it was destroyed and then settled on the American continents.

Jerusalem was destroyed once again after the time of Jesus Christ, and the Jews were scattered over much of the world. Jews are found in all nations today, but some of them do not even know that they are descendants of the house of Israel.

The Lord promised to gather His covenant people some day: “I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them” (Jeremiah 23:3).

God explained that the gathering of the house of Israel would take place through missionary work. When people are taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, receive the ordinances of salvation, and keep the associated covenants, they become “children of the covenant” (3 Nephi 20:26). God gathers His children for a number of important reasons. One reason for the gathering is so they can learn the teachings of the gospel and be prepared to meet Jesus Christ when He returns to earth. Another reason why God gathers His children is so they can build temples where they can perform the sacred temple ordinances for ancestors who died without that opportunity. God also gathers His children in order that they can strengthen each other, find protection from the wicked influences of the world, and become unified in the gospel. Another reason why God gathers His children is so they can learn to share the gospel with other people.

Moses, under direction from God, bestowed the power and authority to direct the gathering of the house of Israel upon Joseph Smith when he appeared in the Kirtland Temple in 1836 (see Doctrine and Covenants 110:11). Each prophet in succession has held the keys for the gathering of the house of Israel. This gathering is an important part of the work performed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God is currently gathering His covenant people as they accept the restored gospel and serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Deuteronomy 30:1-5).

The Israelites will be gathered spiritually before they are gathered physically. They are gathered spiritually when they join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and make and keep sacred covenants. This spiritual gathering started during the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith and continues all over the world today. Converts to the Church are Israelites by either blood or adoption, and they belong to the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Abraham 2:9-11; Galatians 3:26-29).

President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “There are many nations represented in the … Church. … They have come because the Spirit of the Lord rested upon them; … receiving the spirit of gathering, they left everything for the sake of the gospel” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954-56], 3:256; italics in original).

The physical gathering takes place when the covenant people are “gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise” (2 Nephi 9:2). The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh will receive the Americas as their inheritance and be gathered there. The tribe of Judah will return to the city of Jerusalem and the area surrounding it. The ten lost tribes will receive their promised blessings from the tribe of Ephraim (see Doctrine and Covenants 133:26-34).

In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, converts were instructed to gather to where the Church was located – first in Ohio, then Missouri, and then the Salt Lake Valley. Prophets today tell Church members to build up the kingdom of God in their own lands. Elder Russell M. Nelson stated: “The choice to come unto Christ is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual commitment. People can be `brought to the knowledge of the Lord’ [3 Nephi 20:13] without leaving their homelands. True, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration as well. But now the gathering takes place in each nation…. The place of gathering for Brazilian Saints is in Brazil; the place of gathering for Nigerian Saints is in Nigeria; the place of gathering for Korean Saints is in Korea; and so forth. Zion is `the pure in heart.’ [Doctrine and Covenants 97:21.] Zion is wherever righteous Saints are” (Ensign, Nov. 2006, 81).

The physical gathering of the house of Israel will continue until the Second Coming of the Savior and on into the Millennium (see Joseph Smith – Matthew 1:37). At that time the Lord’s promise will be fulfilled: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
“But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:14-15).

I am blessed to be a part of the gathering of the house of Israel. I look forward with excitement to see how the Lord orchestrates the gathering of His covenant people.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Great Battle

Families are strengthened when individuals in them accept that we are all involved in a great battle and must take proper action to be on the right side. This intense battle is between good and evil, and it includes arguments and fights in homes, misunderstandings and problems between religious groups, and skirmishes among conservatives, liberals and progressives as well as wars between nations.

According to Gordon B. Hinckley, the late prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “We are involved in an intense battle. It is a battle between right and wrong, between truth and error, between the design of the Almighty on the one hand and that of Lucifer on the other. For that reason, we desperately need moral men and women who stand on principle, to be involved in the political process. Otherwise, we abdicate power to those whose designs are almost entirely selfish” (Stand A Little Taller, 15).

We must get involved in the political affairs of our nation. We must be among the groups that choose those who will represent us in our state legislatures, in Congress, and in the White House. We must find those moral men and women who will stand on principle, and then we must support them and protect their backs.

The Apostle Paul explained how to fight this battle: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11-12).

Paul also explains that there are four parts of our bodies that are the most vulnerable to the powers of darkness: our loins, our heart, our feet, and our head. He told us that we should have our loins “girt about with truth.” The loins typify virtue and chastity. When we know the truth about the importance of living the law of chastity, we will be proactive about protecting our virtue. We must understand that the ability to procreate is a power of gods given to mankind for a few short years in order for us to learn to use those powers wisely.

Paul tells us that we should protect our heart with a “breastplate of righteousness.” The heart typifies our conduct. When we know the truth we have a measure to judge between right and wrong. We best protect our conduct by guarding our feelings and attitudes.

Paul also tells us to make sure that our feet are “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Feet typify our goals and objectives of life; therefore, we can understand that we must guard our goals and the direction we head. By learning the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can set better goals and head in the right direction.

Paul then tells us that we should “take the helmet of salvation” to protect our head, which typifies our thoughts. We can guard our thoughts better when we have a good understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, keep an eternal point of view, and look at the big picture.

Paul recommends that we carry “the shield of faith” to “ quench the fiery darts of the wicked” because faith in God will protect us even if part of our armor fails. He also tells us to carry “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

I find it very interesting that the only weapon is the word of God, which is found in the scriptures and in revelation. Without the word of God, our faith will grow weak. I also find it interesting that there is no armor to protect us from the rear. Evidently, this is a battle that must be fought face to face and cannot be won by running from it.

Jesus Christ spent forty days in the wilderness while He put on His armor. He used the scriptures and prayer to protect Himself against Satan. Families are strengthened when they prepare for this intense battle by putting on the whole armor of God.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Freedom to Work

The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the freedom to work. Unemployment has hovered around ten percent for too long. Millions of Americans continue to look for work, and their unemployment checks are nearing their end. The recession that was officially over in June 2009 continues to plague our nation because businesses are not hiring.

The Obama Administration and Congress have over-regulated our business community to the point that they don’t dare to hire or increase their business spending. Labor unions have become too powerful and demanding. People who are receiving unemployment checks for not working do not want to take jobs that would pay less money than they get from the government. Entitlement programs are depleting government funds. This all describes the conditions in our nation during the Carter Administration as well as at the present time.

Ronald Reagan was a ray of light after a very dark time. He said, “We hear much of special interest groups. Our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and our factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we are sick – professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are in short, `We the people,’ this breed called Americans. Well, this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunity for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. …All must share in the productive work of this `new beginning’ and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America at peace with itself and the world.”

Improvement in our economy and the freedom to work must be a “top down” condition. Until the leaders of our nation start running our nation as a successful business is run, the economy will continue to stagger, unemployment will remain high, and workers will not have the freedom to work.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mary Bartlett

Mary Bartlett was the wife of Josiah Bartlett, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. [See my post on November 8, 2010 for information on Josiah.] There is not much known about her youth. Her father was Joseph Bartlett; he was a soldier at Haverhill in 1707 when he was captured in the French and Indian War, carried into Canada, and held for four years.

Mary was one of ten children born to her parents. She was 24 years old when she married her cousin, Josiah Bartlett, in January, 1754. She was described as being “an amiable girl, well grown and, for the times, well educated.” She was later described as being “a lady of excellent character and an ornament to society” (Wives of the Signers – The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. pp 10-11).

Josiah was a “rising young physician” in Kingston, New Hampshire, when Mary and he were married. He was already quite famous for his success in treating a throat distemper called “black canker” that spread rapidly. Mary spent the first ten years of her married life as the wife of a popular and prosperous young country doctor. He was a man of strict integrity and sound judgment who was also democratic, kind, and well thought of by his fellow citizens.

Josiah and Mary were parents of twelve children, eight of whom grew to maturity. Three of their sons became physicians and were interested in public affairs, and four of their daughters left descendants.

Josiah took an early interest in public affairs and soon was appointed to several positions of honor and profit He became the head of a “Committee of Correspondence” and was in constant communication with Samuel Adams and other patriots of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Dr. Bartlett was elected as a delegate to attend a general congress in Philadelphia. He received warning that he should stop his “pernicious activity.” When he didn’t cease, his house was set on fire and burned to the ground.

Mary Bartlett was described as being “the closest friend and counselor of her husband,” and “the true helpmeet, always the ready and sympathetic friend and judicious adviser” (p 12). She supporter her husband in his patriotism. When their home was burned, she took her children to their farm, which she took care of in order to set him free to devote himself to public duties. Josiah was able to build a new home on the site of their burned home, and it was described as “a fine old-style New England mansion, that still stands” (p 13). Mary gave loving and helpful support to her husband and wrote many letters. None of the letters to her husband or her children included any word of regret, complaint, or pity for herself.

Mary died in their new home in Kingston in July, 1789, when she was approximately 59 years old. Josiah died at age 66 in 1795 soon after leaving the office of governor of New Hampshire.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Veteran’s Day is a legal federal holiday in the United States and a special day set apart to honor the men and women who serve in the United States Armed Services. Veteran’s Day is always celebrated on November 11. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day in 1919 because he wanted Americans to remember the horrors of war. A law was passed in 1938 making the day a federal holiday, and in 1954 Congress changed the holiday’s name to honor all United States veterans.

We can honor the veterans of all the wars by remembering that they sacrificed to preserve our liberties. We can honor them by embracing the type of values and principles that are worth fighting to protect. We can make our veterans proud of us by our own personal commitment, courage and compassion. We can live our lives with honor and good behavior. We can verbally express our gratitude for their service to our country. A simple “thank you” to our service men and women helps them to know that their service and sacrifices have not been in vain.

I send a special “thank you” to all the men and women who are serving in the military or have served in the military of our great nation. Thank you for standing between us and those who want to destroy liberty. Thank you for being willing to endure hardships and make sacrifices to protect us.

Dr. Sam Bierstock wrote the lyrics to a song called “Before You Go,” and his band provided the music. This song pays tribute to the veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, but it applies to all our veterans. You can find the song and information about Dr. Sam here

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! To all the military veterans of any war or peace time activity, thank you so much for your service and your sacrifice!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Josiah Bartlett

To begin my study of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, I chose to start with Josiah Bartlett for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that Bartlett was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. He had this honor because he represented New Hampshire, the first state to sign because it was the furthest northern state. The second reason I chose Bartlett is because he is an ancestor of one of my sons-in-law.

Josiah Bartlett was born in November 1729 in Amesbury in Massachusetts. His ancestors were originally from Normandy but immigrated to England. A branch of the family immigrated to America late in the seventeenth century and settled in the town of Beverley in Massachusetts. His mother’s maiden name was Webster, and she was a relative of Daniel Webster.

Josiah did not have the advantage of a college education, but he was taught Greek and Latin by Dr. Webster. Josiah chose a profession in medicine and started studying science at age sixteen. Even though he did not have many opportunities to learn from books or teachers, he was able to pass an examination with honor. He started his practice of medicine in Kingston, New Hampshire, where he became a skillful and successful doctor.

Bartlett was stern and unbending in his republican principles, but he was highly esteemed by the royal Governor Wentworth. Wentworth bestowed on Bartlett a magistrate’s commission and the command of a regiment of militia. He was elected in 1765to be a member of the provincial legislature in New Hampshire. About that same time, he became a prominent leader of a party that opposed the Stamp Act and various other oppressive laws made in England. He was bribed through Wentworth, but he remained patriotic.

Josiah became a member of the Committee of Safety for his state in 1776. Governor Wentworth was so alarmed at the appointment of this committee that he dissolved the Assembly. The rebellious members re-assembled with Dr. Bartlett at the head of the movement. When he was elected a member of the Continental Congress, Wentworth withdrew both the commission of magistrate and the military commission. When Wentworth realized that there would be no reconciliation, he fled from the province for his own safety. The provincial Congress – forerunner to state legislature – re-appointed Dr. Bartlett to be a colonel in the militia.

Bartlett was chosen as a delegate to the Continental Congress in August 1775 and again in 1776. He was part of the committee that planned for the confederation of the states as suggested by Benjamin Franklin. He strongly supported the proposed independence.

Bartlett took a leave from Congress in 1778 to visit his family and to take care of his private affairs and did not return. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas of New Hampshire in 1779 as well as the muster master of its troops. He was later promoted to the Supreme Court.

Josiah took an active role in his state’s convention to ratify the Constitution in 1787. After the Constitution was adopted, he was elected to represent New Hampshire as a member of the first Senate, which was to be held in New York. He declined the honor and was not seated there. He had previously been elected President of New Hampshire and continued to hold that office until 1793. At that time he was elected to be the first governor of New Hampshire. After being governor for one year, he resigned the office to retire to private life after serving his state and nation well for many years.

Bartlett passed away on May 19, 1795, at the age of 66. He did not live long enough to spend much time with his family, to see his country entirely free from the perils that threatened its existence, nor to see that the new experiment in government worked.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sole Judge

The principle for discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I.5.1: “Each House shall be the sole judge of whether or not an elected Senator or Representative has the required qualifications.” This principle provides both the Senate and the House the right and the responsibility to question the qualifications of the people who go to Washington to represent the states.

It is not a common occurrence for either the Senate or the House to refuse to seat elected representatives, but there have been a few instances. A Wisconsin socialist named Victor L. Berger was refused a seat in the House in 1919 because he had agitated against the United States participating in World War I. The House also refused to seat Adam Clayton Powell in 1967 because of “gross misconduct,” but the House was later overruled by the Supreme Court on this action. Frank Smith of Illinois was refused a seat in 1928 because part of the donations for his campaign came from a questionable source.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life After Death

What happens when our mortal bodies die? Heavenly Father has not left us in the dark about the post-mortal spirit world. Heavenly Father has a plan for the salvation of all His children. His plan covers our pre-mortal life, our mortal life, and our post-mortal life. While we lived with our Heavenly Father, He helped us prepare for our life on earth. Then He sent us to live on earth in order to receive mortal bodies of flesh and blood and to prepare for our post-earth life.

When our mortal bodies die, our spirits will go to the spirit world – a place of waiting, working, and learning. Those who have lived righteous lives will have an opportunity to rest from all their cares and sorrows. The spirits of all mankind will live in the spirit world until we are ready for our resurrection. Our resurrection will unite our mortal bodies with our spirits, never to be separated again. Each of us will then receive the degree of glory we have earned.

We have received much instruction about the spirit world. According to latter-day prophets, the spirits of those who have passed away are not far from us. “Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, June 1971, 33). Brigham Young taught that the post-mortal spirit world is on the earth, around us (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 279).

Spirits and mortals have the same bodily form except the spirit body is in perfect form (see Ether 3:16). When people die, their spirits take with them the same attitudes of devotion or antagonism toward righteousness (see Alma 34:34). They also take with them the same appetites and desires as they had during their mortal lives. All spirits are in adult form – before and after mortal life, even if they die as infants or children (see Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 131-32).

According to a prophet named Alma in the Book of Mormon, there are two divisions or states in the spirit world: "The spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest form all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.
"And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil – for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house – and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
"Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful,fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection" (Alma 40:12-14).

The spirits are classified as to how they lived their lives in mortality – the purity of their lives and their obedience to God. There is a division between the righteous and the wicked spirits (see 1 Nephi 15:28-30); however, the spirits may progress as fast as they learn the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and learn to be obedient to them. Those spirits who reside in paradise are allowed to teach the spirits in prison (see Doctrine and Covenants 138).

The prophet Alma also taught that the righteous spirits are given rest from earthly care and sorrow while they are occupied in furthering the work of the Lord. Joseph F. Smith saw in a vision that Jesus Christ visited the righteous spirits in paradise immediately after He was crucified. While He was there, He appointed messengers and commissioned them with the necessary power and authority to “carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:30).

Jesus Christ organized His Church in the spirit world. There priesthood holders continue to carry on their duties and responsibilities (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:30). Wilford Woodruff taught: “The same Priesthood exists on the other side of the veil…. Every Apostle, every Seventy, every Elder, etc., who has died in the faith as soon as he passes to the other side of the veil, enters into the work of the ministry” (Deseret News, Jan. 25, 1882, 818).

Family relationships are also important in the spirit world. Jedediah M. Grant, a counselor to Brigham Young, saw the spirit world in a vision and described the organization that exists there to Heber C. Kimball: “He said that the people he there saw were organized in family capacities…. He said, `When I looked at families, there was a deficiency in some, … for I saw families that would not be permitted to come and dwell together, because they had not honored their calling here’” (Deseret News, Dec. 10, 1856, 316-17).

Ancient scriptures also tell us about the spirit world. The Apostle Peter said that the post-mortal spirit world was like a prison for some (see 1 Peter 3:18-20). The spirits who are in spirit prison are those who have not yet received the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have agency and can be tempted by either good or evil. Those who accept the gospel and the ordinances performed for them in the temples are allowed to leave the spirit prison and live in paradise.

Some of the spirits in spirit prison rejected the gospel after it was preached to them either in mortal life or in spirit prison. They suffer a condition that is known as hell. They have rejected the mercy offered by Jesus Christ, who said, “Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-18). They must suffer for their own sins but then will be allowed – because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ – to inherit the telestial kingdom or the lowest degree of glory.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Positive Attitudes

Families grow stronger as individuals in them develop positive attitudes. People with positive outlooks on life draw others to them while negative attitudes push people away. Attitude is important because it affects us spiritually, mentally, physically and socially. The good thing is that we can change our outlook by changing our thoughts and actions.

“Do you feel gloomy? Lift your eyes. Stand on your feet. Say a few words of appreciation and love to the Lord. Be positive…. Walk in righteousness and the Lord will bless you and prosper you and you will be a happy and wonderful [person]” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand A Little Taller, p 366).

We must look for the silver lining behind every dark cloud or we will miss seeing many hidden blessings. A couple of months ago my son’s wife fell while picking blueberries at Hatchers Pass. Because she hit a rock with her head and lost consciousness, an ambulance was called. After an $8000 ride to a hospital plus x-rays and other tests, she was informed that she had a baseball-size tumor growing in her brain. Without the fall and the bump on the head, the tests would not have been done and the tumor would not have been found. We consider it a miracle – a hidden blessing - that the tumor was found before it manifested itself in other ways or became more serious. The tumor was declared to be non-malignant, but there is still a chance that it will come back more aggressive.

My daughter-in-law now knows that her time on earth may be limited, and she is making those choices that will help to prolong her life and health. Her positive attitude is helping her to heal quicker and move forward with her life. She considers that she was given a gift of time.

I am convinced that Heavenly Father sends many hidden blessings into our lives. He shows His great love for His children through His tender mercies. It is easier for us to see those hidden blessings and express gratitude for them when we have positive attitudes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Economic Freedom

The topic for this Freedom Friday is economic freedom. The Index of Economic Freedom - The Link Between Economic Opportunity and Prosperity has ranked the nations of the world on their economic freedom for the past sixteen years. The Index uses ten criteria to judge each nation: freedoms related to business, trade, fiscal matters, monetary matters, investment, finance, labor, government spending, property rights, and freedom from corruption.

The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom covers 183 countries but ranks only 179 across the 10 specific areas of freedom. The United States ranked sixth in 2009, but it dropped to number eight in 2010. The top ten nations in 2010 are: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, United States, Denmark, and Chili. (Just for your information, the bottom ten are: North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Eritrea, Burma, Venezuela, Libya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkmenistan, and Solomon Islands.)

John Stossel pointed out that this Index covers the last six months of the Bush Administration as well as the first six months of the Obama Administration; therefore, the problem belongs to both Democrats and Republicans.

“The index demonstrates…: Economic freedom leads to prosperity. Also, the best places to live and the fastest growing economies are among the freest, and vice versa. A society will be materially well off to the extent its people have the liberty to acquire property, start businesses, and trade in a secure legal and political environment.”

Stossel quoted Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundations Center for Data Analysis, which compiles the index with The Wall Street Journal, as saying that the index defines “economic freedom” to mean: “You can follow your dreams, express yourself, create a business, do whatever job you want. Government doesn’t run labor markets, or plan what business you can open, or over-regulate you…. For the first time in 16 years, the United States fell from the `totally free’ group to the ‘mostly free’ group.”

It appears to me that Thomas Jefferson was correct once again when he said, “I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty.” Our government is spending too much money and hitting businesses with too many regulations. The figures from the index show that the United States must make government smaller and free businesses to do what the private sector does best – make money. If the oppression of businesses continues to increase, we can expect more companies to move to countries that offer them more freedoms. Economic freedom is a necessity if the United States is to move back to the “totally free” group of nations.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence is a statement defining the reasons why the thirteen American colonies declared independence from the British Empire. The Continental Congress voted on July 2 to declare independence and adopted the statement on July 4, 1776, about a year after the Revolutionary War began. Thomas Jefferson was the primary writer of the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration listed the colonial grievances against King George III and asserted certain natural rights – including the right of revolution. The Declaration was extremely important at the time it was signed but was initially ignored when the War for Independence was over. It grew in stature over the years, particularly for its statement of individual human rights: “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.”

After the text was finalized on July 4, the Declaration of Independence was issued in several forms. Many copies were printed, distributed and read to the public. The copy that is considered to be the Declaration of Independence is a signed copy on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The wording of the Declaration was approved on July 4, but the actual signing took place later – probably on August 2, 1776.

Abraham Lincoln considered the Declaration of Independence to be a statement of principles to be used when interpreting the United States Constitution.

Facts are from

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Post Election Plans

Pollsters have told us for weeks that a great conservative wave of new lawmakers with fresh ideas was about to hit the United States. If the polls prove to be correct – through all the counts, recounts and legal challenges, I hope that the conservatives are ready to meet the challenges facing our nation.

The experts at the Heritage Foundation prepared a list of twenty-three areas of policy that are of concern to Americans. Among their concerns are the following policy areas along with recommendations to solve the problems.

"Federal Spending. Government spending is out of control—so much so that a new political movement, the tea party, has sprung up to rein it in. America has a spending problem, and Heritage has a solution. The majority of our spending growth is on entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid —to say nothing of Obamacare—and Heritage has created a series of recommendations that the new Congress should enact in order to correct the out of control spending that will tack on an additional trillion dollars to our national debt in the next decade.

Health Care. Heritage urges a total and immediate repeal of Obamacare, and this needs to be a top priority for the new Congress. But Congress shouldn’t stop there: Heritage supports free market solutions (link in PDF) as opposed to a big government takeover of one-sixth of the nation’s economy.

Government Regulations. The amount of government regulation in the past year has been unprecedented, costing taxpayers an additional $26.5 billion in 2010 alone. These costs will affect Americans in many ways. It will raise the price of the cars they buy and the food they eat, for example, while destroying an untold number of jobs. Worse, the amount of red tape is set to rise in the coming year. Congress must keep in mind that the more regulations placed on Americans, the more they are restricting their freedoms.

These United States have some definite problems that need solutions. What has been done over the past months and years is not working. The biggest need is to reduce the amount of control that the government has in the lives of individuals. Heritage Foundation is a Washington think tank with the object of preserving the founding principles in the United States. It favors no party, but it works with both parties to solve problems in our nation. I hope our newly elected members of Congress pay attention to the recommendations of the Heritage Foundation.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence in the summer of 1776. Those fifty-six men are among about two hundred men who are considered to be Founders of our nation. I want to know more about these brave men and the women who shared their lives and will be sharing what I learn with you in future weeks. This post will be an overview of them as a group.

The Revolutionary War began more than a year before the Declaration of Independence was written. Revolutionary events such as the Battle of Lexington, the Battle of Concord, the seizure of Fort Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen and his “Green Mountain Boys,” and the Battle of Bunker Hill all took place in 1775. Why did these men feel the need to declare independence when they did? The colonists were all British subjects who were trying to be loyal to their king while at the same time petitioning Great Britain to ease their taxes. When the king continued to increase taxes and brought more and more troops to insure payment, the signers declared they had had enough of being British subjects and wanted independence.

Who were these men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor when they signed the Declaration of Independence? They were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing trouble makers. They were well educated men of means who were leaders in their communities. They had security, but they wanted liberty. Twenty-four of them were lawyers and jurists. Eleven of them were farmers and large plantation owners. Some of them had backgrounds in Bible study and teaching. They all wanted liberty and independence.

Five signers of the Declaration of Independence were captured by the British during the Revolutionary War, but none of them died while a prisoner. Four of them were captured as prisoners of war while in active military actions against the British. George Walton was captured after being wounded in the Battle of Savannah in December 1778. Thomas Heyward, Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge were captured at the Siege of Charleston in May 1780. None of them were tortured or treated different as prisoners because they were signers, and all of them were eventually exchanged or released. If the British considered them to be traitors, they would have been hanged.

Richard Stockton was the only signer imprisoned simply because he signed the Declaration of Independence. He was also the only signer to violate his pledge when he secured a pardon and his release from prison by recanting his signature on the Declaration and signing an oath pledging allegiance to King George III.

Several of the signers saw their homes and properties occupied, ransacked, looted, and vandalized by the British and in some cases by the Americans. The signers’ homes were not targeted for destruction, but their property was seized because it was located along the path of a war.

Abraham Clark saw two of his sons captured by the British and imprisoned on the prison ship Jersey. John Witherspoon saw his eldest son, James, killed in the Battle of Germantown in October 1777.

Nine signers died during the Revolutionary War but not from wounds or hardships inflicted on them by the British. Button Gwinnett died of wounds received in a duel in May 1777.

During the Battle of Yorktown, British General Cornwallis used the home of signer Thomas Nelson, Jr., for his headquarters. There are numerous stories behind the fact that cannon balls – either American or French – were fired on Nelson’s home at his request. The cannon balls are still embedded in the walls of the home, which is now part of Colonial National Historical Park.

You can see pictures of the signers and/or dramatizations here (Fate of Our Fathers) and here (Signers of the Declaration of Independence)
Facts in this post were checked by