Lest we forget during this holiday season what the stakes were one Christmas that changed history

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.”

— The Crisis by Thomas Paine, Dec. 23, 1776

George Washington and his tiny band of remaining soldiers did not shrink nor shirk. On Christmas, it was Victory or Death. (OK, it is a Newt Gingrich commercial from 2011, but still.)

How many today are giving up on the concept of liberty and letting the forces of overweening socialism change this nation forever into something the Founders did not intend, but rather feared and warned repeatedly against.

The stakes were life or death in 1776.

Paine concluded:

“Once more we are again collected and collecting; our new army at both ends of the continent is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thousand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation, and who will may know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — a depopulated city — habitations without safety, and slavery without hope — our homes turned into barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtless wretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.”

Lest we forget.

First posted in 2012.

Washington crossing the Delaware.

15 comments on “Lest we forget during this holiday season what the stakes were one Christmas that changed history

  1. ronknecht says:

    Thx, Mitch.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Bill says:

    Thanks for the reminder. It is good to pause every once in a while and remember our history and reflect on the sacrifices and determination of our forefathers to live in freedom and to establish a more perfect social compact.

  3. Barbara says:

    Over the Thanksgiving Holiday, I travelled to Washington DC. I was able to visit many historical sites and monuments, but it was to Mount Vernon that I most drawn. .

    I came away with a renewed respect for George Washington. He could have been King, so loved and respected was he among the colonists. Many men stayed in the fight only because of their intense loyalty to General Washington. Only about one third of the colonist supported the fight for independence. Having lasted six long years, many were weary of fighting and only wanted to return to their farms and family. They had little supplies and had not been paid as promised. Defeat seemed more assured than victory.

    Yet, against overwhelming odds, they did win. Washington resigned his commission and went home to Mount Vernon. His desire was to stay at Mount Vernon, but again was compelled to serve at the Convention, residing over the compromises that would bring forth our Constitution and the beginning of our Republic. He could have served as President forever, but stepped down after two terms.

    Thankfully, during the Civil War, Mount Vernon was declared neutral territory by both sides. Visiting this site, one can clearly gain an appreciation of the mind of George Washington. I would highly recommend a visit. He was the reluctant leader, but so necessary for the founding of this nation. A giant of a man.

  4. Rincon says:

    Compare the humility of Washington to the winner take all mentality we have today. The great ones are quickly swept away by the unethical. He with the best propaganda rules.

  5. Bill says:

    Nice thoughts Barbara. How pleasant to hear our Nation’s early history in positive and noble terms instead of the sniping and snarky terms that we hear too much of these days. I admire your obvious depth of scholarship in your commentaries. Have a good year and please keep it up.

  6. Steve says:

    Trumplandia is going to be very surprising….probably mostly to liberals but some conservatives are in for quite the ride.
    Pretty good acting for a New York Liberal, I’d say.


  7. Barbara says:

    Bill you are too kind. Visiting the historical sites in Washington, one cannot help but come away with a greater appreciation for the courage and fortitude of the Founding Fathers and colonists that settled our nation. I had never been to D.C. Seeing the Capitol, theLibrary of Congress, the Supreme Court Building, National Archives which houses our founding documents, and other historical sites was a real treat. I always knew Thomas Jefferson was widely read, but seeing the diversity of books contained in Jefferson’s library (now housed in the Library of Congress) boggles the mind. The level of scholarship that the colonists had on most any topic is breathtaking. That this band of men could all be in the same place to craft together our founding as a nation just cannot have been happenstance.

    I plan to return, this time in the Spring (maybe 2018) to see the trees in bloom. I would like to travel to Monticello and Gettysburg and see more of the Smithsonian bldgs. I am sure I will make a 2nd trip to Mount Vernon as well. I would love to sit again on the back porch with the Potomac River rolling past in the distance. What a view!. I can imagine Washington sitting there at the end of the day, resting from his work, calm and at peace. Visiting these sites gives so much more depth and understanding versus simply reading about them.

  8. deleted says:

    Ironic that Thomas cites a man well known for his ideas that socialism is a necessity in this country, and that the country owes a form of social security to every man woman and child born in this country starting at age 21.

    “Whether that state that is proudly, perhaps erroneously, called civilization, has most promoted or most injured the general happiness of man is a question that may be strongly contested. On one side, the spectator is dazzled by splendid appearances; on the other, he is shocked by extremes of wretchedness; both of which it has erected. The most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be found in the countries that are called civilized.”

    “Every proprietor, therefore, of cultivated lands, owes to the community ground-rent (for I know of no better term to express the idea) for the land which he holds; and it is from this ground-rent that the fund prod in this plan is to issue.”

    “Cultivation is at least one of the greatest natural improvements ever made by human invention. It has given to created earth a tenfold value. But the landed monopoly that began with it has produced the greatest evil. It has dispossessed more than half the inhabitants of every nation of their natural inheritance, without providing for them, as ought to have been done, an indemnification for that loss, and has thereby created a species of poverty and wretchedness that did not exist before.

    In advocating the case of the persons thus dispossessed, it is a right, and not a charity, that I am pleading for. But it is that kind of right which, being neglected at first, could not be brought forward afterwards till heaven had opened the way by a revolution in the system of government. Let us then do honor to revolutions by justice, and give currency to their principles by blessings.

    Having thus in a few words, opened the merits of the case, I shall now proceed to the plan I have to propose, which is,

    To create a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property:

    And also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age.”


  9. Bill says:

    Well, Thomas Paine might be pleased to learn that arguably we now live in socialist society,

    I never realized that owning and farming land was such a menace. Perhaps that accounts for the hysteria concerning the Koch Brothers.

    I hope that I am not contributing to the ills of society by owing a piece of real property. But since I do not cultivate it, I would hope that under Thomas Paine’s ideal society model I would not owe more ground rent than I already pay.

    I do have two fruit trees and periodically try a few tomato plants but that hardly represents an agrarian monopoly that is taking land away from the happy and peaceful hunter gatherers.

    If it is argued that two fruit trees and a few tomato plants constitute cultivation, I would further plead that in most years, an early frost usually takes care of my agrarian endeavors.

    I own land I but do not cultivate it. Yet, still in this rapacious and greedy quasi-capitalistic society I still pay “ground rent”. The County Assessor, each year sends me a reminder that if do not pay my ground rent, then my government will come and dispossess me, by force if necessary.

    I cannot pursue the elysian life of hunting and fishing envisioned by Thomas. I cannot do so because the State has decreed that they control what I may hunt or fish for and what amounts I am permitted to take and have in my possession. The amounts are nowhere near subsistence levels except perhaps the State of

    Added to this is the vague fear that the guns that I might use to shoot game and defend my wretched abode will be taken from me at any moment by that self same government. I must confess that my fear is partly because I have made past attempts to become proficient with a bow and arrow to no avail. It is safe to say that the only way that I could hit the side of a barn with an arrow would be to be by standing in it when I shot my arrow.

    Added to all of this is the fact that PETA and various other organizations would never let us get away with subsisting by hunting and fishing for animals.

    While I like the romanticism of the machismo warrior living off the land, still, I cannot believe it was as idyllic as Thomas Paine would have us believe. Certainly, from all accounts, the women did not think it was a lark.

    I am grateful that we no longer have a hunter/gatherer society. My eyesight is shot as is my endurance. I am reaching an age where I can no longer be a proficient hunter. Thus, In the elysian society that Thomas Paine writes about, I would be in danger of my tribe might setting me out on an ice flow or out of the lodge and into the snow. If you can’t hunt or fight then you were a burden on the society.

    So much for the good old days and for dreams of Eden.

  10. Bill says:

    There is so much to see in a fairly limited geographical area. I spent a year in Virginia (compliments of the Marines) and spent considerable time in Washington D.C as a civilian. You could spend every day for the rest of your life and never see it all. While being on he banks of the Potomac can be peaceful and beautiful it can also be a cold and miserable experience. I cannot help but think that one of the reasons that our forefathers were so well read is that they were intelligent, had inquisitive minds and were not distracted by much of the volume and inane quality of TV.

  11. Steve says:

    And, during winter, once the chores were done with; reading and discussing were just about the only things available while trying to stay warm.
    This comes from being raised in Massachusetts with one TV and it would become useless once the networks turned off their transmitters.
    We had a wood burning stove in Middlesex County, hardly an unpopulated rural area of the country even then.

  12. deleted says:

    In addition to Thomas Paine many other founding fathers, including Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, on more than one occasion spoke of their socialist dreams for this country. Franklin in particular not only suggested that ANY LAND not necessary for the maintenance of the individual was actually owned in usufruct by all men and could not be denied to them in common.

    Thomas Jefferson was so distrustful of the accumulated wealth and accompanying power of corporations (like those controlled by the brothers Koch, that he beseeched the populous to destroy them.

    “In the early years of the 19th century, as banks and corporations began to flex their political muscles, he announced that: “I hope we shall crush… in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.””


    Odd that today, those very same people who mouth allegence to the founding fathers are some of the same people who would mock the very principles these men believed strongly in, and would have the country act in ways diametrically opposed to their wishes and thoughts.

  13. Barbara says:

    Satire becomes you Bill. Were it not for the harsh winters and the inability to find good cornbread dressing, I might consider moving to VA. So much to see, so little time.

  14. deleted says:

    Our socialist founding Fathers. In their own words.

    “All the Property that is necessary to a man is his natural Right, which none may justly deprive him of, but all Property superfluous to such Purposes is the property of the Public who, by their Laws have created it and who may by other Laws dispose of it whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.. –Benjamin Franklin

    Finally, there seem to be but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbours. This is Robbery. The second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture the only honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favour, as a Reward for his innocent Life, and virtuous Industry.

    Benjamin Franklin, Positions to be Examined, April 4, 1769

    “The generations of men may be considered as bodies or corporations. Each generation has the usufruct of the earth during the period of its continuance. When it ceases to exist, the usufruct passes on to the succeeding generation free and unencumbered and so on successively from one generation to another forever. We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:270

  15. deleted says:

    Another reason Thomas citation of Thomas Paine is so ironic; the man was more socialist than Obama.

    ““Since the operation of society had made possible the existence of private property, it followed that society was entitled to receive the surplus that men accumulated beyond their own labor back from them.”

    Thomas Paine

    And heck, imagine of our president had suggested as Benjamin franklin did that only that property ABSOLUTELY necessary to a mans subsistence does he own, with the rest belonging to…society?

    “““All Property except (that) absolutely necessary for Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents (inheritance) and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and Uses of it.”

    Benjamin Franklin

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