Are Presidential proclamations for thanksgiving and prayer unconstitutional?

June 26, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

Over the years we have written multiple posts featuring noteworthy Presidential proclamations for days of thanksgiving, humiliation, and prayer, and have listed quite a few on the Rare & Early Newspapers website. Not too long ago we came across an issue of The Boston Investigator for November 10, 1880 which contained an article focused on a view that such proclamations are/were unconstitutional. So, although we passionately disagree with this opinion, in an effort to be fair and balanced, we present the article below. Feel free to respond with your thoughts.

It’s amazing what one often finds buried in old newspapers…

June 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Flowers, leaves, photos, clumps of hair, historic trinkets… The list of what might be found buried within and among the inside pages of historic newspapers continues to foster our love for the collectible. The latest discovery? As we were scanning a September 22, 1880 issue of The Boston Investigator hoping to find a mention of Thomas Edison (which turned out to be successful), we noticed an article titled: “Strange Tribe Of Jews Discovered In The Caucasus”, which turned out to be quite interesting:

Separation of Church and State conflict, or good advice?

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

While the last few decades have bestowed upon us considerable discussion in regards to the intended meaning of the separation of Church and State, one cannot deny the abundance of religious references which have peppered the language of Presidents, regardless of their personal faith (or lack thereof), from the onset of the Union through the present. One such example is found in the June 15, 1845 issue of The New York Times, which prints the text (see below) of the letter President Ulysses S. Grant wrote to the children and youth of America at the request of the editor of The Sunday School Times for insertion into their Centennial Edition. The letter emphasizes the importance of the Bible in regards to life and liberty: “My advice to Sunday Schools, no matter what their denomination, is: Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your heart, and PRACTICE THEM IN YOUR LIVES. To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.’ Yours respectfully, U. S. Grant”.

Mere religious blather, or good advice rooted in truth? Thoughts?

The slippery slope of deteriorating morality… a reminder from 1929…

February 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Through much of time certain behaviors have been universally accepted as immoral – the exploitation of women (in particular) through pornography being among them. However, perhaps it’s my age showing, but when did “Since legislating morality rarely changes behavior, let’s eliminate such legislation” become the modus operandi? As a former teacher I knew some of my students would likely cheat, but I still had rules and consequences regarding cheating. As a parent I understood my children might decide that hitting one another was a good way of handling disputes, but I still taught proper means of dealing with conflict and used my parental platform to legislate against hostile behavior. The recent (albeit well intended?) legalization of child prostitution in California in order to “protect” them from the consequences of being caught just doesn’t seem to make sense, and continues our slide down the slippery slope of immorality. I could be a bit off, but my gut tells me something is horribly wrong.

It is with these thoughts in mind I was struck by the front page of The Reform Bulletin from March 1, 1929 (see below), which focused on an effort in the State of New York to pull back on the decade old legalization of “obscene literature.” What’s “obscene literature”? Should morality be legislated, and if so, who makes the call as to which behaviors are moral and which are not? Should government take a role in the personal affairs of its citizens? Has the government overreached in this area in the past? While the answers to these questions and similar are quite complex, I think most would agree we’re not headed in the right direction – and the consequences are guaranteed to be non-partisan.

The Traveler… interesting information on the Mormons…

June 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-6-20-2016-MormonismToday I traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts, by the way of the Worcester Evening Gazette dated June 20, 1866. There I found a very interesting article titled “Utah and the Mormons.”  The article is over a full column in length and provides great details of the life-styles of the Mormon life, including the pros and cons of polygamy; how some of the wives get along and where others do not; a polygamist that needs to do all of his own cooking, cleaning, washing and even sleeps on the floor because his wives don’t get alone.

Also mentioned is a description of Brigham Young, “…He is six feet high, portly, weighing about two hundred, in his sixty-fifth year, and wonderfully preserved… His face is fresh and unwrinkled, his step agile and elastic, his curling auburn hair and whiskers untinged with gray. He has grayish-blue, secretive eyes, eagle nose, and a mouth that shuts like a vice, indicating tremendous firmness. His manner is cold and egotistical. He uses neither tea nor coffee, spirits nor tobacco, speaks ungrammatically, is very rich and universally popular among the saints…” and also states “… Brigham is the favorite speaker, though he does not preach more than once a month. His sermons which I heard were very incoherent and illiterate…”.

An interesting life? You make that call!

~The Traveler

A simple reflection on Memorial Day…

May 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Memorial Day – a day/weekend set aside in the United States to remember and give thanks for those who gave life and limb so we might have the freedom to enjoy what our Founding Fathers called “self evident inalienable rights” which had been bestowed on us by The Creator. In times of peace and abundance it is easy to forget the great cost that was paid by so many – that others might be free. It is with thin in mind I was struck by a March 20, 1861 issue of the Western Christian Advocate from Cincinnati, Ohio which provided details of General George Washington’s famous “Prayer at Valley Forge” (see below). The link above provides access to the full text of the article. Please enjoy (and appreciate) a blessed Memorial Day Weekend.Blog-5-26-2016-Washington's-Valley-Forge-Prayer

The worst kind of “ism”…

March 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Isms” can be found everywhere – in politics, medicine, psychology, religion, etc.. If you suffer from something, believe something, or think something, or have a habit of doing something, there is likely an “ism” to cover it. A March 17, 1862 issue of the Kansas State Journal included a humorous item with a religious flare poking fun at “isms” while at the same time softly admonishing the common practice of assuming the worst in others (antithesisofloveism?). What initially caught my attention was the term “socinianism” -an “ism” which until now was unbeknownst to me. Enjoy (or ponder):Blog-3-31-2015-ISMS

Peace on earth, good will toward men… The Year of Jubilee…

January 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

While I am certainly not an expert on Jewish sacred days, festivals, and special/holy celebrations, one significant event has always captured my imagination: The Year of Jubilee – referred to by some as The Golden Jubilee. It was such a celebration which led President Warren Harding to write a letter to the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in response to their invitation for him to attend the Golden Jubilee Dinner in 1923. This letter was printed in The New York Times, January 25, 1923. While we often quote the phrase “Peace on earth, good will toward men”, few are aware of its roots (Luke 2:14) or its significance and/or relationship to the Year of Jubilee. While President Harding (a non-Jew) was certainly not a popular president, this is one instance where his “good will toward men” was well-received. His letter is as follows:Blog-1-21-2016-Year-of-Jubilee

How things have changed…

December 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Blog-12-28-2015-Blue-LawsIn today’s society when Sunday has become no different than any other day of the week in terms of work, play, and daily behavior, it can be difficult to realize that “blue laws” once existed which prevented–legally–many activities from happening on Sunday.

This article from the October 15, 1883 issue of the “Norristown Register, Pennsylvania, reports a particularly harsh enforcement of the blue laws near New Haven, Connecticut, noting in part: “A score of people …were arrested on the Old Foxon Road….Sabbath breaking was their crime, and the form of their offending was traveling on the Sabbath…” with details of the law and how the offenders were nabbed, including: “…Many of the people out for a ride stopped under the trees & gathered up the scattered nuts. Each person that stopped was arrested. the nuts lay as a trap…” (see images).

The peaceful transfer of power…

March 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As we approach President’s Day, there is a part of me which is somewhat sentimental about my childhood memories surrounding Washington’s Birthday. I sure do miss it as a stand alone national celebration. I fondly remember my father bringing home a cardboard version of an ax (with a chocolate-covered cherry hidden within) to present to each of us to commemorate the holiday, and without fail, reminding us to be just like George Washington – that is, to never tell a lie. Was there a bit of lore surrounding this sacred event? Sure. Did it teach us a valuable lesson? Absolutely. Somehow we’ve lost the innocence and value of oral tradition, and I wonder if we are the better for it.

Perhaps Washington never chopped down a cherry tree… and my guess is he probably told a lie at some point, but I challenge anyone to name another political leader who, in the face of such power, tradition, and popularity, was willing to hand over the reigns of power with such humility and grace.  The Massachusetts Spy, Or Worcester Gazette for March 15, 1797 records much of the proceedings of this momentous event. The link provides access to considerable details. Of particular note is his response to the Massachusetts’ Representatives of Congress who basically asked him, “What now?”  His response is precious (see below). Please enjoy!

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