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, July 31, 2012

Need to Work

                    President Bill Clinton signed a successful welfare reform law in 1996, which required able-bodied welfare recipients to either work, prepare for work, or look for work in order to receive aid.  This law ended the policies that helped generation after generation to receive handouts from the government without doing any thing to get it.  President Barack Obama gutted the law by ending the requirement for welfare recipients to work for what they receive.  He did this because he needs more people to be dependent on government in order to be re-elected!

                    Liberals predicted that the poor and needy in America would suffer dire consequences if the reform bill were passed; however, just the opposite happened.  There was a surge upward in employment and earnings among welfare recipients even as the welfare caseload dropped by 50 percent.  In addition, the rates of child poverty fell after the reform.  This reform bill from the mmid-1990s freed nearly four million adults and three million children from the government plantation and gave them the opportunity to escape poverty.

                    Robert Rector at The Heritage Foundation  reported:  "As welfare dependence fell and employment increased, child poverty among the affected groups fell dramatically.  For a quarter-century before the reform, poverty among black children and single mothers had remained frozen at high levels.  Immediately after the reform, poverty for both groups experienced dramatic and unprecedented drops, quickly reaching all-time lows."

                    Successful welfare programs help people to help themselves.  Millions of people need help at one time or another in their lives and deserve to be assisted; however, it is better to give them a "hand up" rather than a "hand out".  The old adage is still true:  It is better to teach a man to fish than to give a man a fish. 

                    The policy change by Obama was not only illegal, but it is detrimental to all welfare recipients.  Instead of being required to work, look for work, or receive training for work, recipients will go back into a welfare cycle of being dependent on the government and will never escape poverty.  They will continue to live on the plantation of the federal government.

                    Benjamin Franklin understood this principle well because he said, "I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means.   I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it."

                    The importance of working for our daily needs was instituted by Heavenly Father at the time He expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.  "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it:  cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
                    "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
                    "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, …" (Genesis 3:17-19; emphasis added).

                    Work is a valuable part of life and can bring feelings of self-worth, achievement, and happiness.  President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Without labor there is neither wealth, nor comfort, nor progress….
                    "I believe in the gospel of work.  There is no substitute under the heavens for productive labor.  It is the process by which dreams become reality.  It is the process by which idle visions become dynamic achievements.  We are all inherently lazy.  We would rather play than work.  We would rather loaf than work.  A little play and a little loafing are good - ….  But it is work that spells the difference in the life of a man or woman.  It is stretching our minds and utilizing the skills of our hands that lift us from the stagnation of mediocrity….
                    "Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.  There must be labor, incessant and constant, if there is to be a harvest….
                    "Work is the miracle by which talent is brought to the surface and dreams become reality" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, pp. 704-707)

                    Parents must teach their children the importance of work by word and example; otherwise, the rising generation will believe that they are entitled to having their needs met by others.  President Spencer W. Kimball quoted President David O. McKay as saying, "We are living in an age of gadgetry which threatens to produce a future generation of softness.  Flabbiness of character more than flabbiness of muscle lies at the root of most of the problems facing our American youth" (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p. 122).

                    Work is a valuable way to spend our time.  Youth and adults who are not required to work for their daily needs have too much time on their hands and tend to get into trouble.  I wonder how many of the people involved in the "flash mobs" of today come from homes where the principle of work was not taught or modeled.  Obama did our nation a huge disservice when he gutted the welfare reform act and took away the requirement for welfare recipients to work for their daily bread.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Richard Bassett

                    Richard Bassett was born on April 17, 1745, at Bohemia Ferry in Devils County, Maryland.  His father was Michael Bassett, a part-time tavern owner and farmer, who deserted his family when Richard was young.  His mother was Judith Thompson Bassett, the great-granddaughter and an heiress of Augustine Herrman (the original owner of Bohemia Manor, a massive estate in Cecil County).  Her family reared Richard, and he eventually inherited wealth and plantation.
                    Richard was described as a "stout man of medium build" and "very fashionable and influential in society."  He married Ann Ennals in 1774, and the couple became parents of three children:  Richard Ennals, Ann (known as Nancy) and Mary.  After the death of his first wife, Richard married Betsy Garnett in 1796.  They were active in the Methodist Church, and they gave much of their time and attention to the church.  Bassett's daughter, Anne, married James A. Bayard, a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator; they were the ancestors of the branch of the Bayard family prominent in Delaware politics to this day.  His niece, Rachel McCleary, married Governor Joshua Clayton, a member of another family prominent in Delaware politics.
                    Bassett studied law in Maryland and was admitted to the bar in 1770.  He moved to Dover, Delaware, to start his law practice.  He concentrated on agricultural pursuits and religious and charitable concerns.  He quickly established himself there and "developed a reputation for hospitality and philanthropy."
                    Richard was not anxious to have a revolution; however, he became a politician when he was elected in 1774 to the local Boston Relief Committee.  He served on the 1776 Delaware Council of Safety and was in the convention when the Delaware Constitution of 1776 was drafted; it was adopted on September 20, 1776.  He was a conservative and was elected to the first Legislative Council of Delaware where he served for four sessions (1776/77 - 1779/80).  He later served in the House of Assembly (1780/81 and 1781/82) and then returned to the Legislative Council (1782/83 - 1784/85).  He ended his state legislative career in the 1786/87 session in the House of Assembly.  He was a Kent County representative in the Delaware General Assembly for all but one session during the time from independence to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787.
                    Richard Bassett contributed to the American Revolution when he mobilized the state's military.  He is credited by some sources with developing the plans for raising and staffing the 1st Delaware Regiment.  This regiment was commanded by John Haslet and known as the "Delaware Continentals" or "Delaware Blues".  They were the largest battalion in the army (800 men) even though they came from the smallest state.  In his book, 1776, David McCullough describes them as "turned out in handsome red trimmed blue coats, white waistcoats, buckskin breeches, white woolen stockings, and carrying fine, `lately imported English muskets.'"  Raised in early 1776, they went into service in July and August 1776.  Richard also assisted in recruiting members of the reserve militia that served in the "Flying Camp" of 1776 and the Dover Light Infantry, led by Thomas Rodney.
                    "When the British Army marched through northern New Castle County, on the way to the Battle of Brandywine and the capture of Philadelphia, Bassett `appears to have joined his friend Rodney in the field as a volunteer.'  Once the Delaware militia returned home after the British retired from the area, Bassett continued as a part-time soldier, assuming command of the Dover Light Horse, Kent County's militia cavalry unit."
                    Bassett was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and signed the Constitution, but he apparently did not input much.  He was however active in a convention to revise the Delaware Constitution of 1792 where he joined with John Dickinson to draft the revision.
                    After Richard retired from the United States Senate in 1793, he became the first Chief of Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware, the predecessor of the present Delaware Superior Court.  He was a member of the Federalist Party by this time and was elected to the office of Governor of Delaware in 1799.
                    Bassett was appointed by President John Adams on February 18, 1801 (his last day in office) as judge of the Third Circuit and was one of the "midnight judges".  He was confirmed by the US Senate on February 20, 1801, and was commissioned the same day.  His tenure ended on July 1, 1802, after a new Congress repealed the legislation.  Bassett never again held a public office. 
                    In addition to holding high political offices, Bassett was a "devout and energetic convert to Methodism" and devoted much of his attention and wealth to promoting Methodism.
                    Richard Bassett died on August 15, 1815, at Bohemia Manor in Cecil County, Maryland, and was buried there.  His remains were moved in 1865 to a Bassett and Bayard mausoleum in the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery at Wilmington, Delaware.
                    Bassett was an American lawyer and politician, a veteran of the American Revolution, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a member of the Federalist Party, a delegate to the Delaware General Assembly, Governor of Delaware, and a U.S. Senator from Delaware.  He is holds the Senate Rank of 1, as the most senior United States Senator during the First Congress of the United States.       

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chosen by Electors

                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article I, Section 1, Clause 2:  "The … President of the United States of America … together with the Vice President [shall be] chosen … as follows:  Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress:  but no Senator or Representative, of Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector."  This constitutional provision allows each State the same power and proportion in choosing the national executives as it has in Congress.

                    "There was a long and heated debate as to the manner in which the President should be elected.  It was proposed that he be chosen by the Congress.  Others thought that `electors' should be chosen by the people in each state and the electors should then choose the President.  Still others thought it would be more appropriate if the governors of the various states made the selection.  Even the Senate was proposed as the best means of selecting the national executive.  Finally, there were a number who thought that the President should be selected by all of the voters throughout the nation" (W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 519).

                    "After struggling with numerous proposals on the election of the President, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention settled on establishing a college of electors and apportioning the number according to the total of Representatives and Senators from each state.  This method permitted the smaller states to have a somewhat greater proportionate share in the choosing of the President, though not as large an advantage as they had in the Senate.  The Framers not only rejected the direct popular election of the President, but also left it to the state legislatures to determine how the states' electors were to be appointed.
                    "This language in fact paralleled the provisions for state legislative appointment of congressional delegates in the Articles of Confederation, and of U.S. Senators under Article I of the Constitution.  With political parties widely disdained, this process was designed to pick not the candidate from the most popular political faction, but the wisest and most virtuous leader.  The Framers rejected direct popular election of the President (and of Senators), both because they believed that the populace would be ill-informed about national figures and because the Framers wanted to avoid interfering with state authority and underweighing small states.  The Framers also rejected having Congress select the President because they feared that would make the President dependent on Congress.  They hoped that the Electoral College would obviate these problems and would form a truly deliberative body on this single issue.  The delegates to the Convention disagreed about whether electors should be popularly elected or appointed by state legislatures.  They resolved that question by leaving the matter up to each state legislature" (Einer Elhauge in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution,
p. 184).

                    This may explain why there is a movement in our nation to do away with the Electoral College and have the President and Vice President elected on a popular vote.  We know that the Framers were correct when "they believed that the populace would be ill-informed" because Barack Obama was elected because of the color of his skin and his age rather than if he were "the wisest and most virtuous leader."  I believe strongly that we must reject this movement and keep the Electoral College.  I also think it would be good if we repealed the Seventeenth Amendment and returned to having Senators selected by state legislatures rather than by popular vote. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sabbath Day

2012-7-28 Remember the Sabbath Day
                    It is sometimes difficult for people, particularly youth, to feel gratitude for the Sabbath day.  These people associate the day with rules and restrictions rather a blessing from our loving Heavenly Father.  When we understand that Heavenly Father commanded us to keep the Sabbath day holy for our own good, we will be more able to see that honoring the Lord on the Sabbath day brings blessings to us.  Then we will be more able to enjoy the Sabbath and be grateful for it
                    The Sabbath is a day of rest and worship and is a blessing in the lives of all who remember the sacredness of the day.  Eli Herring was a football player on the Springville (Utah) High School team.  The team had just won the state championship, and Eli appeared to be headed for a college and even professional football career.  As Eli talked with his parents about the possibilities, they cautioned him to remember the values he had been taught.
                    Several universities invited Eli to play for them after high school, but he chose to attend Brigham Young University, in part because the coaches there would allow him to leave on a mission after his freshman year. After Eli returned from his mission, he rejoined the team and became one of the best college football players in the United States.
                    As Eli realized that he had a good chance at a career playing professional football, he thought about how much he would enjoy it and how much money he could make.  But he also realized that as a professional football player, he would have to play football on the Sabbath.
                    Eli knew he could do good things with the money he could earn as a professional football player.  He could pay his children's college and mission expenses; he could go on missions with his wife; he could do whatever he wanted after his football career was over without worrying about money.
                    As Eli struggled to make his decision, he remembered reading about Erroll Bennett.  When Erroll joined the Church, he decided to stop playing soccer on Sunday, even though he was a top soccer star in Tahiti and not playing on Sunday would mean he would have to quit his team.  Eli Herring was very impressed by Erroll Bennett.  Eli said, "I knew I wanted to be a man like that, with that kind of commitment and dedication to what I knew was right."
                    Eli's parents and wife let him know they would support him in whatever he decided.  Eli talked to many people and then fasted and prayed about his decision.  He also read the scriptures intensively.  It took him six months to come to a final decision.
                    Ultimately Eli decided that for him, keeping the Sabbath day holy was more important than playing professional football and making lots of money.  "I read my scriptures, and time after time I would see more and more and more reasons that I felt in my heart that I needed to observe the Sabbath more than I needed to play football," Eli said.  He turned down the offers from the professional teams and now teaches and coaches at a high school.  He does not make a lot of money, but he is happy.  He said:  "The paychecks now, in spite of being low, are more than we were making when we were students.   We're happy to have more than we had before.  Occasionally I think we could have a brand-new car or a nice house, but I have never had any serious doubts about the decision."  (See Joseph Richardson, "To Keep It Holy," New Era, Oct. 1997, 34-37.)
                    When the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments, He included a commandment about the use of the Sabbath day.  "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
                    "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
                    "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God:  in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, they manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
                    "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:  wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:9-11).
                    The Sabbath was made holy after the Lord finished the creation of the earth.  He rested on the seventh day and hallowed it or made it holy.  Until the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Sabbath was observed on the seventh day or Saturday.  Today the Sabbath is observed on Sunday in remembrance of the Savior's Resurrection on that day.
                    "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
                    "And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher.
                    "And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus" (Luke 24:1-3).
                    When we say "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" we mean that we want to honor the day, to dedicate it to righteous purposes, and to keep it sacred and deserving of reverence.  We should keep the Sabbath day holy because it helps us to do so.
                    Elder James E. Faust, who was at the time a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:  "Why has God asked us to honor the Sabbath day?  The reasons I think are at least threefold. . The first has to do with the physical need for rest and renewing.  Obviously God, who created us, would know more than we do of the limits of our physical and nervous energy and strength. 
                    "The second reason is, in my opinion, of far greater significance.  It has to do with the need for regeneration and the strengthening of our spiritual being.  God knows that left completely to our own devices without regular reminders of our spiritual needs, many would degenerate into the preoccupation of satisfying earthly desires and appetites.  This need for physical, mental, and spiritual regeneration is met in large measure by faithful observance of the Sabbath day. 
                    "The third reason [for honoring the Sabbath day] may be the most important of the three.  It has to do with obedience to commandments as an expression of our love for God.  Blessed are those who need no reasons other than their love for the Savior to keep his commandments" (Ensign, Nov. 1991, 35). 
                    According to Elder Faust, there are at least three reasons why we are asked to keep the Sabbath day holy:  1) physical renewal; 2) spiritual strength; and 3) love for God.  Our bodies are wonderful creations, but they need occasional rest and renewal.  By giving us the Sabbath day, God gave us a day each week to rejuvenate our bodies.  As important as this reason is, it is even more important for us to gain the spiritual strength to take us through another week.  By reverently observing the Sabbath day, we show that we love God - the most important reason for keeping any of His commandments.
                    The Prophet Isaiah taught the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy:  "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
                    "Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father:  for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it" (Isaiah 5:13-14).
                    When Isaiah wrote "Turn away… not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words," he was not saying that we should not enjoy the Sabbath; he was saying that the Sabbath is a day to forget our own desires and follow God's will)
                    We can make the Sabbath day a delight by observing it as the Lord commands.  President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency said, "The Lord has given the Sabbath day for your benefit and has commanded you to keep it holy.  Many activities are appropriate for the Sabbath.  Bear in mind, however, that Sunday is not a holiday.  Sunday is a holy day" (in Ensign, Nov. 1990, 47).
                    Some of our most "holy days" have been turned into "holidays" by much of the world (particularly Christmas and Easter), but those who understand the significance of those holy days observe them more appropriately.  The Lord obviously considers a holiday differently than he does His holy day.  Elder James E. Faust related the following story:
                    "A … miracle occurred at the Wells Stake Welfare Tannery some years ago where hides of animals were tanned into leather.  On regular work days, the hides were removed from the vats and fresh lime placed in the vats, after which the hides were returned to the lime solution.  If the hides were not turned on holidays, they would spoil.  But the change was never made on Sunday, and there were no spoiled hides on Monday.  Explained J. Lowell Fox, the supervisor of the tannery at the time:
                    "`This brought a strange fact to our minds:  holidays are determined by man, and on these days just as on every week day, the hides need to have special care every twelve hours.  Sunday is the day set aside by the Lord as a day of rest, and He makes it possible for us to rest from our labors as He has commanded.  The hides at the tannery never spoil on Sundays.  This is a modern-day miracle, a miracle that happens every weekend!'" (in Ensign, Nov. 1991, 35).
                    There are numerous ways that we can make the Sabbath a holy day and a delight for us.  One important way is to attend Church and partake of the Spirit there.  "An almost totally deaf sister was once asked how she managed to come to sacrament meeting each week [and remain] genuinely interested in what was being said….  [She said]:  `I look forward to being in the physical presence of those whom I love and who love the gospel.  I can share in their spirit without hearing a word, and if I am really in tune, the Lord whispers to me'" (Robert K. Thomas, "Listening with the Spirit," Ensign, Jan. 1978, 40).
                    Another important way is to use the day to "re-create" ourselves.  President Spencer W. Kimball explained how we can use the Sabbath day to make ourselves better:  "The Sabbath is a day on which to take inventory - to analyze our weaknesses, to confess our sins to our associates and our Lord.  It is a day on which to fast….  It is a day on which to read good books, a day to contemplate and ponder, a day to study lessons for priesthood and auxiliary organizations, a day to study the scriptures and to prepare sermons, a day to nap and rest and relax, a day to visit the sick, a day to preach the gospel, a day to proselyte, a day to visit quietly with the family…, a day for proper courting, a day to do good, a day to drink at the fountain of knowledge and of instruction, a day to seek forgiveness of our sins, a day for the enrichment of our spirit and our soul, a day to restore us to our spiritual stature, a day to partake of the emblems of [Jesus'] sacrifice and atonement, a day to contemplate the glories of the gospel and of the eternal realms, a day to climb high on the upward path toward our Heavenly Father" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 216).
                    Another valuable thing we can do to better observe the Sabbath is to eliminate all those activities that are not conducive to bringing us closer to our Heavenly Father.  Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:
                    "It seems to me that the following should be avoided on the Sabbath:
                    "Overworking and staying up late Saturday so that you are exhausted the next day.
                    "Filling the Sabbath so full of extra meetings that there is no time for prayer, meditation, family fellowship, and counseling.
                    "Doing gardening and odd jobs around the house.
                    "Taking trips to canyons or resorts, visiting friends socially, joy riding, wasting time, and engaging in other amusements….
                    "Playing vigorously and going to movies.
                    "Engaging in sports and hunting `wild animals' which God made for the use of man only `in times of famine and excess of hunger.'  (See D&C 89:15.) …
                    "Reading material that does not contribute to your spiritual uplift.
                    "Shopping or supporting with your patronage businesses that operate on Sunday, such as grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and service stations" ("Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy," Ensign, May 1971, 6-7).
                    Even though our leaders encourage us to put aside as much work as possible, they understand that some businesses are "essential" and must be prepared to act at a moment's notice; however, even those who have to work on Sunday can keep the Sabbath day holy by reading their scriptures during breaks at work and by attending Church meetings either before or after working.  Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Seventy said:  "We know that there are essential businesses that must be open on Sunday.  These are emergency, medical, transportation, and some forms of protective services, such as police and fire" (Ensign, May 1996, 10-11).
                    We can determine our own attitudes toward the Sabbath by asking questions such as the following:  1) Which purposes and blessings of the Sabbath are important to me?  2) What activities seem to take away from the purpose of the Sabbath for me?  3) What activities help me feel the Spirit on the Sabbath?  4) What could I do before Sunday to make the Sabbath a more delightful day? 
5) What will I do to keep the Sabbath day holy and enjoy it more?
                    The value of the Sabbath cannot be overstated, particularly for helping us to prepare to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.  A modern-day scripture says:  "And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
                    "For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High" (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-10).
                    My parents taught me to keep the Sabbath day holy by their examples.  I grew up on a farm where work was done every day of the week.  On the Sabbath, our parents taught us to do the necessary work - milk the cows and feed the animals - but to generally rest from our labors.  There have been a few Sabbaths that I did not keep holy.  I quickly learned that I needed that "day of rest" every week.  If I did not "rest" on Sunday, I needed to use another day to rejuvenate and renew my body and spirit.  I know that blessings and joy come through proper observance of the Sabbath day.  I encourage all my readers to make each Sunday delightful by putting into practice those activities that will bring you closer to the Savior.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Family Reunions

                    Families grow stronger as they meet together often in family reunions.  A family reunion is any occasion when members of an extended family gather.  Some families plan regular family reunions; other families get together for impromptu gatherings.  Some families gather for a few hours while other families gather for days or even weeks. 

                    A typical family reunion will include several generations and will usually include at least one meal, some games or other recreation, and some type of discussion.  Some family reunions are organized by family organizations and are centered around a common ancestor from the distant past.

                    This is the season for family reunions, and I will be attending several reunions between July and September.  At this time I am in the midst of a family reunion for the posterity of my parents.  Since my parents have twelve children and seventy grand-children, there are several hundred of us that could attend, but there are usually just over one hundred of us in attendance at any annual reunion.  We have been holding family reunions for many years, but the first time that all twelve of my parents' children were together was just a few months before my mother passed away.  Think of it:  my mother had all twelve of her children together only once during her life time!  That was maybe our first reunion - about 1975, and we have united every year since that day even though both of our parents and two brothers are now gone to a better place.  We have also lost two brothers-in-law in recent years.

Our annual reunions are held around the end of July and take place over a period of several days.  One of the first events of most of our reunions is a family temple session attended by those who are so inclined.  Our temple session this year was followed by a "sibling dinner" or a dinner meeting of the twelve children and their spouses.  My siblings and I are the board of directors for our family organization, and we take turns being the chairman of the reunion.  We usually meet in a home, but for convenience this year we met at a restaurant.

In recent years we added a "cousins' night" to our reunion for the adult cousins.  This year my son and his wife planned and hosted the event; they provided the hot dogs and hamburgers while guests brought side dishes or desserts.  The group spent the evening playing games and getting to know each other better.

Our entire group meets on Saturday at a park for five or six hours.   We bring a planned pot luck lunch after which we enjoy games, activities, crafts, and visiting.  Our lunch this year consisted of chicken purchased at Chick-Filet with side dishes provided by the attendees.  At most of our reunions we enjoy corn on the cob and homemade root beer as well as many other yummy dishes.

Our reunions are enjoyable because this is the only time of year when we see some members of our family; reunions are a time when we are able to catch up with what is happening in everyone's lives.  My children as well as my nieces and nephews are all adults with children of their own; some even have grandchildren.  The reunions are fun for adults, but they are extra fun for the children and youth as they meet and/or renew acquaintances with many cousins.

In connection with the annual reunion for my parents' posterity, my branch of the family planned a gathering also.  We started gathering a few days before the big reunion, broke for the events of the larger reunion, and then continued our extended time together.  Since we travel long distances from Alaska to the Mid-West in order to be together, we decided to hold our small family reunion near the time of the larger reunion in order to save on transportation costs.  The gathering of my branch of the family was planned when we learned that the family of a son-in-law was gathering in the same area about the same time, and some of us could combine a trip and attend three reunions.

In September my husband and I with a few of our children will join his cousins from multiple generations for an even larger reunion.  The occasion is to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the time two brothers joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrated to the United States from Norway.  My husband is the great-grandson of one of the brothers, and the reunion is for the posterity of both brothers.  Since each brother had two wives and two large families, they have many descendents.  This reunion will take place over a period of two days and should be very interesting. 

When the government of the United States declared polygamy to be illegal, it forced men to either flee to another country (Mexico or Canada) with all their families or to live separately from some of their wives and families.  My husband's great-grandfather left his first wife and older children and took his second wife and younger children to another state.  The first wife was left with a home and an established farm and business while the second wife had a husband but no home.  There were "feelings" between the two families for many years, and this reunion marks the first time that descendents of the two wives will be together in over one hundred years.  I have great hopes that this reunion will lead into much better relationships between all concerned.

When families gather together - whether for hours, days or weeks - something good can happen that will strengthen relationships.  When children learn that they are loved by many people besides their own parents, grandparents and siblings, they understand that they are part of something big and wonderful and they feel more loved and more secure about life.  Family reunions
really do strengthen families!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stand for Marriage

                    Families are stronger when there is a traditional marriage as the basis for the family.  Prophets have declared that marriage is ordained of God.  The scriptures tell us that the first marriage on this earth took place when Heavenly Father performed the wedding ceremony for Adam and Eve.  Traditional marriage between man and woman has been the norm for more than 6,000 years.

                    One difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is their attitudes about traditional marriage.  Romney is for traditional marriage, and Obama is not.  This difference may cost Obama some votes in the African-American communities.
We all know that Barack Obama was for traditional marriage - until he needed campaign cash.  When his coffers did not fill as rapidly as he needed, he declared that he had "evolved" from being for traditional marriage to being for gay marriage. 

When Mitt Romney spoke at the 103rd national convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), he spoke to them like adults and equals.  Mitt basically walked into hostile territory that day because the vast majority of African-Americans strongly support Democrats and their liberal economic plans. 

The crowd booed when Romney declared that he would repeal Obamacare; however, they loudly and strongly applauded when he shared his strong stance on marriage.  "A study by the Brookings Institution has shown that for those that graduate from high school, who get a full-time job, and wait until 21 before they marry and then have their first child, the probability of becoming poor is two percent.  And if those factors are absent, the probability of being poor is 76%....  Here at the NAACP you understand the deep and lasting difference that family makes.  […] Any policy that lifts up and honors the family is going to be good for the country and that must be our goal.  As President I will promote strong families and I will defend traditional marriage."

About the same period of time Texas Governor Rick Perry was interviewed by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution for the Uncommon Knowledge series at National Review Online and reaffirmed his strong support for marriage.  "If you are going to base your public service upon your values then you are going to get criticized by those who don't agree with those values.  I don't back away from my positions on traditional marriage, on abortion.  Those are values, and actually they are values from my perspective, they can't be equivocated.  You are either for traditional marriage or you are not.  You are either for protecting innocent life or you are not….  The issue of traditional marriage is one that continues to bubble forward and I happen to believe that if you are going to have a society that is successful, economically or otherwise, you are going to have to have values that you attach that society to.
"For 2000 years we have had marriage between a man and a woman….  I suspect that issue is not going to go away, but just because you share a different view, or you are flexible on the issue does not mean that God has changed his mind about it."

Just because a small percentage of the citizens of this nation want to change the definition of marriage, the majority do not have to accept that change.  Like Romney and Perry, we must be willing to stand firm on our principles and promote strong families by defending traditional marriage.  We must keep traditional marriage as the norm if we want the family to remain the core unit of society.  We must do our part to stand for marriage.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mary "Polly" Norris Dickinson

                    I could not find much information about Mary "Polly" Norris Dickinson.   Her parents were wealthy land owners, and her husband was another wealthy land owner as well as "a major figure in colonial Delaware and Pennsylvania governments and during the early national period."  I am sorry for the lack of information on this noble lady.

                    Mary "Polly" Norris was the daughter of Isaac Norris II (1701-1766) and Sarah Logan Norris (1715-1744).  Isaac Norris was a former speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly and a powerful Quaker politician.  Sarah Logan Norris was the eldest daughter of William Penn's secretary, James Logan (1674-1751).

                    Mary Norris married John Dickinson, Jr. on July 19, 1770, and the couple set up housekeeping at Fairhill, the Norris estate near Germantown, Pennsylvania.  They became the parents of five children with only two daughters living past infancy:  Maria (1783-1860) and Sally (1771-1855).  Maria Dickinson must have married a relative because she married Albanus Logan (1783-1854), who was the son of George Logan and Deborah Norris Logan.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

War against Success

                    Barack Obama is either a complete idiot or an outright liar!  I do not believe that he is an idiot although he does make some idiotic statements.  I believe that he lies, and I find it impossible to believe anything that he says.  In fact, I believe that he lies so much that he has lost the ability to discern truth.  I know that some of you are saying, "He is a politician, and politicians lie."   This politician is a liar of a different source.  I do not believe everything that politicians say, but I know that I can believe some of the things they say.  I do not feel this way about Obama:  I truly believe that if his mouth is open, he is most likely lying!

                    Obama has told several lies about Mitt Romney and his Bain Capital experience, and his lies have been exposed.  In his effort to make Romney look bad, Obama waging war against success and using more lies to do so.  Obama recently said, "if you are successful, you cannot take credit for it" or something similar.  He says that any successful person owes his/her success to the government for building roads, etc.  The Heritage Foundation has an interesting article about this subject here.  

                    Obama fails to realize or at least say that the roads are built, military provided, etc. - all by the taxes collected from the people of the nation.  When approximately 50% of Americans are exempted from paying any income taxes because they are too "poor" to pay their fair share, we know that 100% of the taxes are being paid by "successful" Americans.  So we can thank the successful people for our roads, for our sidewalks, for the military that maintains our freedom, etc.

                    Another lie being told by Democrats is that "corporations are not people."  This is absolute nonsense!  When my husband wanted to open a business as a spotter pilot for fishermen, our attorney advised us to incorporate in order to keep our personal assets (such as our home) separate from the business - just in case something happened.  My husband and I own the Supercub airplane used in the corporation, but it is legally owned by the corporation.   All business is kept completely separate - separate bank accounts, separate taxes, etc.  Yet we are the corporation even though we have no employees!

                    My husband was also successful as an electrical engineering consultant.  This business was not incorporated because doing the business did not involve the same dangers and the actual work was covered by insurance.

                    My husband was successful as a fish spotting pilot because he used all his vacation time from his regular job to spot fish.  The only people who helped him to be successful were the fishing industry and our family.  He was successful as an engineering consultant because he worked eighty-hour weeks and lived a life of stress.  No one else - not even his family - was making that kind of sacrifice for him to be successful!

                    The lies being told about successful people and corporations are all an attempt to make Mitt Romney look bad because he is/was a successful businessman.  The clown in the White House has never been successful in any way and cannot run on his record.  He has nothing to campaign on so he runs on an attempt to destroy his rival - a successful businessman, governor, Olympics, family man, etc.  I hope that my fellow Americans will open their eyes wide enough to recognize what Obama is doing to our nation.  We must get him out of the White House before he completely destroys the United States!  

Monday, July 23, 2012

John Dickinson

                    John Dickinson had an interesting life.  He was an attorney and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware.  He served as a militia officer during the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of Delaware and President of Pennsylvania.  He was among the wealthiest men in the Colonies.  He is known as the "Penman of the Revolution" for his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania.  
John Dickinson was born on November 8, 1732, on Croisadore, his family's tobacco plantation near the village of Trappe in Talbot County, Maryland.  His great-grandfather, Walter Dickinson, immigrated to Virginia from England in 1654.  Walter was a Quaker or a member of Society of Friends and settled with other Quakers on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in 1659.  He began his plantation there with 400 acres and named it Croisadore, which means "cross of gold."  He purchased 800 acres on St. Jones Neck in what became Kent County, Delaware.

                    "Croisadore passed through Walter's son, William, to his grandson, Samuel, the father of John Dickinson.  Each generation increased the landholdings, so that Samuel inherited 2,500 acres … on five farms in three Maryland counties and over his lifetime increased that to 9,000 acres …, stretching along the St. Jones River from Dover to the Delaware Bay.  There he began another plantation and called it Poplar Hall.  These plantations were large, profitable agricultural enterprises worked by slave labor - until 1777 when John Dickinson freed the enslaved of Poplar Hall."

                    Samuel married twice.  He married Judith Troth (1689-1729) on April 22, 1710 and had nine children with her - William, Walter, Samuel, Elizabeth, Henry, Elizabeth "Betsy," Rebecca and Rachel.  William, Walter, and Samuel all died of smallpox while they were attending school in London, and other children apparently died before their mother.  Samuel was a widower with two young children, Henry and Betsy, when he married Mary Cadwalader in 1731 and had two sons with her - John Thomas and Philemon.  (Mary was the daughter of Martha Jones and John Cadwalader and the granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Wynne.)

                    Samuel left Croisadore to his eldest living son, Henry Dickinson, and moved Poplar Hall, placing his wife Mary closer to her relatives in Philadelphia.  Samuel served for some time as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Kent County.
                    John Dickinson was educated at home by his parents and by others who were employed for that purpose, including Presbyterian minister Francis Alison who later established New London Academy in Chester County, Pennsylvania and William Killen, who became a lifelong friend and had a distinguished career as Delaware's first Chief Justice and Chancellor.

                    John was "precocious and energetic" and loved Poplar Hall, but he was drawn to Philadelphia where he began studying law at age 18.  There he became friends with George Read and Samuel Wharton.  By 1753 John was in London for a three-year course of study at the Middle Temple where he studied the works of Edward Coke and Francis Bacon at the Inns of Court.  He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1757 and began his career as a "barrister and solicitor."

                    Dickinson married Mary "Polly" Norris on July 19, 1770; Mary was the daughter of Isaac Norris, a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker and Speaker of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  John and Mary Dickinson became the parents of five children with only two of them surviving to adulthood:  Sarah Norris "Sally" Dickinson and Maria Mary Dickinson.  John did not formally join the Quaker Meeting because he believed in the "lawfulness of defensive war."

                    John was already a wealthy man when he married Mary and increased his wealth by his marriage.  John and his family lived at Mary's family estate called Fairhill, near Germantown, while in Philadelphia.  While living there he built an "elegant mansion" in which he never lived because it was confiscated and turned into a hospital while he was in Delaware in the 1776-1777 time period.  This mansion became the residence of the French ambassador and later became the home of John's brother Philemon Dickinson.  Fairhill was burned by the British during the Battle of Germantown.  While John served as State President, he lived at the confiscated mansion of Joseph Galloway in Philadelphia, and this mansion was established as the State President mansion. John lived at Poplar Hall" for extended periods of time in 1776-77 and in 1781-82.  It was sacked in August 1781 by Loyalists and badly burned in 1804.  The home is now owned by the State of Delaware and is open to the public.  After John served as President of Pennsylvania, he returned to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1785 and built a mansion there.

                    Dickinson was a delegate for Pennsylvania to the First Continental Congress in 1774 and the Second Continental Congress in 1775 and 1776.  He supported the cause by contributing declarations in the name of the Congress.  One of his most famous was co-authored by Thomas Jefferson entitled a Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms.  In it Dickinson concluded that Americans were "resolved to die free men rather than live slaves."  Another was the Olive Branch Petition, a final appeal to King George to resolve the dispute.  Dickinson preferred reconciliation with Great Britain rather than revolution and independence and felt that the dispute was with Parliament. 

                    On July 1, 1776, when the Continental Congress began the debate on the Declaration of Independence, John expressed his opposition to declaring independence at that time.  He felt that Congress should complete the Articles of Confederation and make a foreign alliance before issuing a declaration.  He either absented himself or abstained from voting for independence on July 2; he absented himself when voting took place on the formal wording of the Declaration on July 4.  He said, "My conduct this day, I expect will give the finishing blow to my once too great and, my integrity considered, now too diminished popularity."  He refused to sign the Declaration and voluntarily left Congress after a proposal was made "for our mutual security and protection," no man could remain in Congress without signing. 

Dickinson joined the Pennsylvania militia and was given the rank of brigadier general.  He led 10,000 soldiers to Elizabeth, New Jersey, to protect that area against British attack from Staten Island.  Two junior officers were promoted above him because of his unpopular opinion on independence.

John resigned his commission in December 1776 and went home to Poplar Hall for the next two years.  While there he learned that his home in Philadelphia had been confiscated and turned into a hospital.  The Delaware General Assembly tried to appoint him to be a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1777, but he refused.  In August 1777 he served as a private in the county militia under General Caesar Rodney at Middletown, Delaware, to help delay General William Howe's march to Philadelphia.  In October 1777, Dickinson's friend, Thomas McKean, appointed him Brigadier General of the Delaware Militia, but Dickinson declined the appointment.  Not long after declining this office, Dickinson learned that the British had burned his Fairhall property during the Battle of Germantown.

Dickinson was Delaware's wealthiest farmer and largest slaveholder in 1777 when he made the decision to free his slaves.  Even though he had only 37 slaves, this action took much courage.  His courage was probably bolstered by the effects of the Quaker abolitionist influences around him, but the action was probably easier because his property had replaced their tobacco fields with crops that needed less intensive care like wheat and barley.  The freeing of his slaves - manumission process - was a multi-year process, causing many of the workers to remain obligated to service.

John was again appointed on January 18, 1779, to be a Delaware delegate to the Continental Congress.  During this term he signed the Articles of Confederation - after writing the first draft of it as a delegate from Pennsylvania in 1776.  He was still in Philadelphia in August 1781 when he learned that Poplar Hall had been raided by a Loyalist and severely damaged.  He returned to his property to investigate the damages and stayed for several months.

In October 1781 Dickinson was elected to represent King County in the State Senate and shortly afterwards was elected to be President of Delaware by the General Assembly.  He took office on November 13, 1781, and served until November 7, 1782.  During his time in office he sought to bring "an end to the disorder of the days of the Revolution.  It was a popular position and enhanced his reputation both in Delaware and Pennsylvania."  While in office he introduced the first census.

John was lured back to Pennsylvania and was elected to the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania on October 10, 1782.  On November 7, 1782, he was elected President of Pennsylvania.  Having not resigned from being the President of Delaware, he was actually President of the two states at the same time.  "Even though Pennsylvania and Delaware had shared the same governor until very recently, attitudes had changed, and many in Delaware were upset at seemingly being cast aside so readily…."  John's constitutional successor was John Cook who "was considered too weak in his support of the Revolution;" Dickinson formally resigned on January 12, 1783, when Cook called for a new election to choose his replacement.  Dickinson resigned from the office of President of Pennsylvania on October 18, 1785, and returned to Wilmington, Delaware, to live.

Dickinson was promptly elected as a Delaware delegate to the Annapolis Convention where he served as president.  Delaware sent him as one of its delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787.  He supported the movement for a strong central government after the Great Compromise assured him that each state would have equal vote regardless of size.  Following the Convention, he promoted the new Constitution by writing a series of nine essays under the pen name, Fabius.

Delaware convened a convention in 1791 for the purpose of revising its existing Constitution drafted in 1776.  Dickinson was elected president of this convention but resigned after most of the work was completed; however, he remained highly influential in the content of the final document.  He remained neutral in an attempt to include a prohibition of slavery because he felt it was a matter to be taken up by the General Assembly.

 Dickinson returned to the State Senate for the 1793 session but resigned after one year due to declining health.  In his final years he was involved with abolition movement, donated a "considerable amount of his wealth" to the "relief of the unhappy", and published two volumes of his collected works on politics (1801).

                    John Dickinson died on February 14, 1808, at age 75 in Wilmington, Delaware, and was buried in the Friends Burial Ground.  An original letter from Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Bringhurst (Dickinson's caretaker in his later years) was discovered in November 2009.  In this letter, Jefferson wrote, "A more estimable man, or truer patriot, could not have left us.  Among the first of the advocates for the rights of his country when assailed by Great Britain, he continued to the last the orthodox advocate of the true principles of our new government and his name will be consecrated in history as one of the great worthies of the revolution."

                    Dickinson shares with Thomas McKean the distinction of serving as Chief Executive of both Delaware and Pennsylvania after the Declaration of Independence.  Dickinson College (for which he donated 500 acres) and Dickinson School of Law (separate institutions located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania), Dickinson Street in Madison, Wisconsin, and John Dickinson High School in Milltown, Delaware, were all named in his honor.  In addition to his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, Dickinson wrote The Liberty Song.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Same Term for VP

                    The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article II, Section 1, Clause 1:  "… President … and the Vice President chosen for the same Term, be elected …."  This clause clearly shows that the President and Vice President will be in office for the same period of time, thus making a smooth transition if anything happens to the President.

                    "With the passing of time, the office of Vice President has become increasingly important.  1) He must have all of the same qualifications as the President in order to meet the requirements of the Twelfth Amendment.  2) He often represents a segment of the population where the President is not as politically strong as he would wish to be.  3) The Vice President is one of the President's most prestigious ambassadors of goodwill as he travels among foreign nations.  4) As presiding officer in the Senate, he is the only member of the executive branch who is allowed to officially function as part of the legislative branch" (W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 518).

                    "The primary constitutional role of the Vice President was to be available to become President (or Acting President) should the office become vacant, or should a contingent election of a President fail in the House of Representatives….
                    "The other constitutional duty of the Vice President (see Article I, Section 3, Clause 4), [is] to be President of the Senate….
                    "Nine Vice Presidents have filled the presidency upon the death or resignation of the President:  John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Gerald R. Ford (Roosevelt, Coolidge, Truman, and Lyndon Johnson were subsequently reelected as President).  Five other Vice Presidents have attained the presidency by election in their own right:  John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Richard M. Nixon, and George H. W. Bush.  Thus, although a candidate for President often chooses a running mate for electoral reasons, the person elected as Vice President has a significant chance to become President" (David F. Forte in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 183-184