Capturing the Vibe… July 4th…

January 5, 2024 by · Leave a Comment 

Welcome back to our ongoing series “Capturing the Vibe” where we try to imagine what the world felt like to a newspaper reader from the past by immersing ourselves in their … “vibe of the day”. This month I was drawn to a paper which was around the celebration of Independence Day 1895. It certainly gives Summer Vibes which is greatly appreciated as Winter is in full swing!

So, on we go with this month’s issue…


The Helena Herald is out of Montana … Big Sky Country.


Summer is a time for weddings and in Helena, they warranted front page attention.


Celebrations will cover the whole state but the fireworks in Helena will “Excell Anything in the State”.



Full pages of old-fashioned ads delight the eyes.


The Wool Shearing has gone slower than normal however, The Yellowstone Valley is selling their wool for 8.5 cents – 10 cents.


Not much $ to use for gambling but no need to worry as “The Law Prohibiting Gambling is now in Force in Montana”.


The Declaration of Independence – Jefferson’s Original Draft…

July 14, 2023 by · Leave a Comment 

Question of the day… Who recognizes the following quote?

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. The opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain, determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this excusable commerce and that this assemblage of might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also intrude them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

If you had asked me a week ago (on July 4th), I would have had no idea. However, as of noon the following day I’ll never forget it. The above quote is from the original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson had penned these passionate words denouncing slavery in the original draft. Sadly, delegates from 2 of the 13 colonies would not sign the “declaration” if they were included. Playing the long-game, Jefferson removed them from the first draft with the hope of fighting another day. As I searched the internet for the exact wording, I became distressed when I could not easily find the text from this brilliantly written outcry against evil. What if these exact words were lost to we the people… the common folk? Then, as if by a miracle (albeit with a small “m”), as I was looking through a Harper’s Weekly dated July 8, 1876, I discovered: “FAC-SIMILE OF THE ORIGINAL DRAUGHT BY JEFFERSON OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE” within the rarely-included Supplement. I immediately scanned for what I knew to be the opening line of this “missing” portion… “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself…”, and voilà, there it was! History preserved in a Harper’s Weekly for all to see. I breathed a sigh, slid it into a protective folder, and laid it gently on my desk. Yet another reason why I love this job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS  Based upon what is known about Jefferson’s personal “ownership” of slaves, some may argue his thoughts were hypocritical (or at least blatantly insincere). Perhaps they are right… or, perhaps such an assessment is a bit more complicated. Regardless, it is nice to know many of our Founders wanted to end this inhumane institution.

Summer Vibes full of Patriotic Celebrations…

July 3, 2023 by · 2 Comments 

Trendy words come and go as the decades slip by but some words have more staying power. I would submit “vibes” is one of these words. In today’s culture, according to my kiddos, “feels” is an alternative option, but in my humble-but-20th-century-tainted-opinon, not a full replacement. “Summer Vibes” is what I experienced today while paging through a Life Magazine from July 3, 1913. Patriotism flows through the vibe of Summer beginning on Memorial Day with the gratitude we all feel for the fallen heroic patriots from the past, continues through Independence Day as we reflect upon our ancestors who “brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”, and culminates on Labor Day where we honor those who have put their shoulder to the grindstone to build this great country and solidify her strength among nations. So, as we flow through the Summer with its peaceful spirit-lifting aura while soaking in all the “feels” we get from each firework, laughing child, and chirping cricket, let’s also pause now and again with grateful hearts for those who did and continue to do the hard work which allows us the lazy “vibes” of summer.

Happy Independence Day – Contrasting Celebrations…

July 4, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

The July 11, 1868 issue of Harper’s Weekly contained prints by two notable illustrators – intentionally included to contrast typical 4th of July celebrations in the rural south (Thomas Worth) with those held in northern cities (Winslow Homer). Their diversity reminded me that we can have profound differences while maintaining our bonds of common citizenry. The Revolutionary War was fought for freedom. Today we fight to maintain that freedom. While our diversity in many ways has widened over the past few decades, this new battle is no less noble – and one which calls for unity of purpose. Hopefully we will heed the call. Happy 4th!