Video Podcast – Something Wrong with Tillerson – Trump Must Say No to Venezuela

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Rex Tillerson’s State Department doesn’t appear to be acting much differently than his predecessor, John F. Kerry. Like Kerry, he at least appears to also have an anti-Israel bias and worse, appears to be accepting the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate organization.

President Trump says he has not ruled military intervention regarding what is effectively a Venezuelan civil war. If not a civil war, certainly an internal conflict with which we have no business involving ourselves. read more

My WND Exclusive – For Teachers, Ideology Trumps Intelligence

Some of the wackiest places on the planet today are American schools. Literally every day of the year I have the opportunity to write about some liberal foolishness happening on a college campus or public secondary school, should I choose. There are several excellent websites devoted to nothing but leftism in education, and they are never wanting for fresh material.

But this is to be expected in the today’s world of academia. Colleges and universities pump out radical leftist activists and send them out to pose as teachers and administrators. They are the ones who teach little Johnny and Janey that students should expect to spend their formative years, and beyond, safe from conflict and controversy – and that anyone who disrupts the physical and mental safety of the delicate flowers can and should be dealt with harshly. read more

The Death of Stonewall Jackson

Astronomers have cleared up the mystery of  how Confederate general Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson was accidentally shot and  killed by his own soldiers.

General Jackson was a major figure in the  American Civil War, a genius general and second in command to Confederate  general Robert E. Lee.

He was shot by his own troops during the  Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, and died soon after, an incident  widely regarded as a turning point in the fight between North and  South.

Now a reconstruction of the Moon’s cycle at  the time of the friendly fire incident has explained how General Jackson’s own  troops could have mistaken him for the enemy.

That fateful night, General Jackson kept his  troops, who were fresh from a major victory against the Union’s Twelfth Corps,  fighting even as the Sun set – a rare move in that time.

But as the South’s soldiers fought on under  the moonlight, a Confederate officer on the left flank of the 18th North  Carolina regiment spotted a group of riders headed towards his  position.

It was General Jackson and his command unit.  But fearing the enemy was upon them, Major John Barry ordered his soldiers to  fire on the riders, riddling the group with bullets.

General Jackson was hit in his right wrist  and left arm, which had to be amputated, and died eight days later after  catching pneumonia.

Now astronomers say they have worked out why  Major Barry and his soldiers didn’t recognize their commanders, and it’s because  the position of the Moon meant they appeared only as silhouettes to the men in  their own lines.

Astronomer Don Olson of Texas State  University and Laurie Jasinski, a researcher and editor at the Texas State  Historical Association, used astronomical software to calculate the Moon’s  position on the night of the battle.

 
This map shows the positions of the Confederate (black) and Union (blue) lines during the Battle of Chancellorsville, as well as the relative position of the moon which meant the South's soldiers didn't recognise their commander 
The positions of the Confederate  (black)  and Union (blue) lines at Chancellorsville, as well as the relative position of  the moon, which meant the South’s  soldiers didn’t recognize their  commander

They also scoured historical accounts and  battle maps to work out exactly where the 18th North Carolina  regiment and  General Jackson’s party were placed at the time of the  shooting – about  9pm.

Professor Olson told SPACE.com: ‘Once we calculated the compass direction of the moon and compared that to the  detailed battle maps published by Robert Krick, it quickly  became obvious how  Stonewall Jackson would have been seen as a dark  silhouette, from the point of  view of the 18th North Carolina regiment.’

General Jackson’s death was seen as a major  blow for  the Confederacy, affecting not  only its military prospects, but also the morale of its army and of the general  public. Jackson in death became  an icon of Southern heroism and commitment,  joining Lee in the pantheon  of the ‘Lost Cause’.

Still regarded as one of U.S. history’s  greatest tacticians, historians still debate whether the outcome of the whole  Civil War might have been  altered if he had survived.

 
Illustration showing Stonewall Jackson with his troops at Bull Run, July 21, 1861
Illustration showing Stonewall Jackson with his troops  at Bull Run, July 21, 1861

His Valley Campaign and his  envelopment of  the Union Army right wing at Chancellorsville are studied worldwide even today  as examples of innovative and bold leadership.

He excelled as well in other battles; the  First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) where he received his  famous nickname  ‘Stonewall’, Second Bull Run (Second Manassas),  Antietam, and Fredericksburg.

Jackson was not universally successful as a  commander, however, as displayed by his weak and confused efforts  during the  Seven Days Battles around Richmond in 1862.

He was greatly admired and respected  throughout the South, and his death had a profound effect there on civilians and  soldiers alike.

A poem penned by one of his soldiers soon  became a very popular song, ‘Stonewall Jackson’s Way’.

 
A stone marks the spot where Stonewall Jackson was shot Guinea, Virginia
A stone marks the spot where Stonewall Jackson was shot  Guinea, Virginia

‘We are always interested in any historical event that happened at night — very often, the moon plays an important role’, Professor Don Olson, Texas State  University

On learning of his injuries, General Lee wrote to Jackson stating:  ‘Could I have directed events, I would have chosen for the good of the country  to be disabled in your stead.’

This isn’t the first time that Professor  Olson has used astronomy to clear up other historical mysteries.

He has previously calculated the direction of  moonlight on the night of  Paul Revere’s ride to warn Colonial militia of the  advance of British  forces to explain why he wasn’t spotted by sentries on a  Royal Navy  warship.

And he did the same to explain how sailors on  Japan’s I-58 submarine were able to spot and sink the USS Indianapolis in  1945.

‘We are always interested in any historical  event that happened at night – very often, the moon plays an important role, as  happened here,’ he added.

Professor Olson and Mr Jasinski reported  their findings in the May 2013 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine.

 
A painting commemorating the last meeting between General Robert Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the two confederate leaders of the U.S. Civil War
A painting commemorating the last meeting between  General Robert Lee and Stonewall Jackson, the two confederate leaders of the  U.S. Civil War

 

Arsenal Explosion

Just as Antietam would prove the costliest day in military dead, an Arsenal explosion would produce the largest civilian death tally in the Civil War.

Throughout the Union and Confederacy on Sept. 18, 1862, front-page news was the Battle of Antietam, but not in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Around 2 p.m. on September 17, 1862, a series of powerful explosions ripped through the U.S. Army Arsenal in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Residents of Allegheny and nearby Pittsburgh, many of whom had become aware of a major battle taking place that day at Antietam Creek in Maryland, believed this was a Confederate invasion.

But the explosion was not from a Confederate attack.

By 1862 the U.S. Army regularly employed women and young girls to make cartridges at a number of arsenals situ­ated in urban areas in the North. They were dubbed the “Noble Union Girls”.

The roof of the Arsenal building where young women and girls worked assembling cartridges had collapsed, and flames enveloped its remains. Powerful blasts caused by exploding barrels of gunpowder had blown out the windows and doors of surrounding buildings.

One large structure, known as the laboratory, “was laid in ruins — having been heaved up by the force of the explosion and then fallen in fragments, after which it caught fire and was consumed.”

Witness J.R. Frick had been delivering different types of powder to the various workrooms in the laboratory where armaments were assembled that afternoon. “I saw a fire [in the] powder on the ground between the wheels of the wagon and the [laboratory] porch,” he said, according to the Sept. 20 edition of the Pittsburgh Gazette. “The powder in the roadway … evidently ignited from the fore wheel of my wagon. …”

He also said he recalled seeing several barrels of powder that had been left uncovered.

The fire from the loose powder spread to one of the open barrels, Mr. Frick said. When it blew up, “the action of the air cast me out of the wagon against the palings of the fence,” but he was unburned and uninjured by debris.

Eyewitnesses described a ghastly scene. Terrified girls ran screaming from the building with their clothes on fire, their faces blackened and unrecognizable. Some jumped from the windows, while panic-stricken workers trampled others under foot. Many of the witnesses tried to help the victims, who pleaded with onlookers to tear the burning clothes from their bodies. Mary Jane Black was just returning to her post after picking up her pay when she heard screams and, turning in the direction of the sound, saw “two girls behind me; they were on fire; their faces were burning and blood running from them. I pulled the clothes off one of them; while I was doing this, the other one ran up and begged me to cover her.”

Onlookers discovered remains riddled by shells, cartridges and Mini balls. Bodies as well as stray limbs, bones and scraps of clothing were found hundreds of feet from the explosion—on the streets, in the Allegheny River and suspended in the trees that lined the arsenal grounds. Newspaper reporters searched for words to describe the pitiful remains of the victims:

“In some places [bodies] lay in heaps, and burnt as rapidly as pine wood, until the flames were extinguished by the firemen. In other places nothing could be seen but the whitened and consuming bones, the intensity of the heat having consumed every particle of flesh. The steel bands remaining from the hoop skirts of the unfortunate girls marked the place where many of them had perished.”

More than a year later, it was confirmed that 78 people, mostly women and young girls, had actually died in the accident. The remains of most were never identified, but the majority of the victims were young.

Before many of the fallen could be identified—and before anyone could be sure how many had actually died—townspeople turned out to bury the victims at a cer­emony held in front of what was described as a “large deep pit” holding the remains of some of the fallen women. The Rev. Richard Lea, whose church was close to the arsenal, pleaded with them to forget the grim disaster scene and instead remember how they had come together in an effort to help the “Noble Union Girls.”

The decision to hire women at arsenals had been based on a matter-of-fact assessment of labor needs. In Indianapolis, for example, an observer visiting a factory noted with approval the arrival of women at that facility in June 1861:

“[N]inety blushing young virgins and elderly matrons are constantly employed, making Colt’s revolver cartridges, common musket, rifled musket, Mini, Enfield, ball and buckshot cartridges. It is a beautiful and patriotic sight to see the young and tender happy in the bloody work. They laugh and chat gaily…as they roll up the balls and fix the fatal charge intended to let daylight through some man’s heart.”

The Army’s decision to open munitions work to women was based on commonly held assumptions that girls and women were more obedient than men. The workers who did this kind of labor were often young, and, unlike the women who sought nursing appointments, armory workers were more motivated by wage earning than idealism. The work was simple and repetitive, but it required extreme care. Cartridge-formers placed lead balls in paper tubes, filled the tubes with gunpowder, then tied up the loose ends. Colonel Thomas B. Brown of the arsenal in Washington, D.C., where 20 women would die in a July 1864 fire, referred to the process as “choking cartridges.” Spilled gunpowder was carefully swept from workbenches and floors several times a day. Workers wore special slippers or moccasins, and movement in and out of the rooms containing gunpowder was severely restricted.

Although the U.S. Army Ordnance Department issued strict rules regarding the safe handling of gunpowder and other explosive materials, unofficial experimentation was common on arsenal grounds. Investigations at both the Allegheny and Watertown arsenals revealed that some of the men had been conducting unauthorized experiments with gunpowder. And at Watertown those experiments were conducted in close proximity to the cylinder room.

Three men were charged with being grossly negligent in the explosion, including Arsenal Commander John Symington, who went on sick leave and retired the following summer. He died before the war’s end, his sterling 45-year military career, like the Arsenal, blown to pieces.

Symington’s subordinate, Lt. John Edie, would die a decade later, in a government-run insane asylum.

Also charged was the Arsenal’s laboratory superintendent, Alexander McBride. McBride’s own daughter, 15-year-old Kate, was among those killed. McBride’s sworn testimony was heartbreaking. He had to try to take control of the mayhem. All that hadn’t blown up or burned needed to be guarded. He ran around throwing buckets of water on burning screaming people. All the while, he was a father desperately concerned for his daughter.
Alexander McBride lived a life of seclusion after the explosion.

But, in the late 1890s he met with 300 former employees to sign a petition demanding that Congress award $30,000 to be split among victims and families. Nearly 40 years had passed without compensation.

Regardless, Congress did not oblige. By that time money was needed to finance the Spanish-American War.

Attribution: Post Gazette, History.net

McSoldiers

Shortly before construction began on the Centreville McDonald’s restaurant in early 1997, the unmarked graves of six Civil War soldiers were unearthed on the site.

The astonishing discovery led to an excavation under the direction of forensic anthropologist Doug Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution. Skeletons and historic artifacts from the gravesites were measured, cataloged and removed.

Five years later, a local historian and member of the Northern Virginia Relic Hunters Association — which also participated in the dig — believed he’d unlocked the mystery to the soldiers’ identities. What’s more, he said as many as 10 Civil War soldiers may have actually been buried in that spot.

“They were found in what’s now the drive-through lane for a fast-food place,” said Dalton Rector, who presented his theory at the Centreville fire station to more than 150 people riveted by his every word.

Speaking at the quarterly meeting of the Historic Centreville Society, he said, “I can make a compelling case that they were [Union soldiers] from Massachusetts that died during the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford, halfway between Centreville and Manassas.”

He said a member of his group, Kevin Ambrose, actually discovered one of the graves in 1995, but no one investigated further until Jan. 30, 1997 — day one of the three-day archaeological excavation.

 “Digging human remains is an experience I can’t explain,” said Rector. “My friends and I started debating, right then and there, who they were and where they were from. We thought they were from the early part of the war, so I used March 10, 1862 — the date of the Confederate evacuation of Centreville — as my research cutoff date.”

The research became so fascinating to him that it took up the last five years of his life, and his conclusions — based on forensic evidence, genealogical records and extensive historical data — do seem quite plausible.

“To me, they do,” said newly elected Historic Centreville Society president Spencer Marker. “I was fascinated with what he came up with, and I haven’t heard of anyone else working in this area with these soldiers.”

With the skeletons, also found in the graves, were metal uniform buttons, glass buttons from undergarments, pieces of fabric and even musket balls. And one soldier was still wearing his shoes. Some of the buttons from the state-militia jackets had an “I” on them, signifying “infantry,” and Massachusetts used this type of button for its officers.

The fact that the soldiers had been buried in coffins also provided a clue. “That meant they were buried by their own men,” said Rector. “Therefore, they were in control of Centreville at the time.” He also noted that the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford was fought July 18, 1861 — three days before the Battle of First Manassas, which is considered to be the first battle of the Civil War.

The Smithsonian determined the soldiers’ approximate ages and heights, and Rector took it from there — eventually identifying the men by name, military unit and company. He even learned about their childhoods and family backgrounds.

Companies G and H of the 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment fought in the Battle of Blackburn’s Ford, and Rector obtained a list of those soldiers’ names and ages and discovered how each man died. From 24 names, he painstakingly concluded which ones were in the Centreville graves.

At the time of this battle, he said, “The Confederates were already waiting in Fairfax County for the Union soldiers. Ten were killed in action from the 1st Massachusetts unit and three more were mortally wounded [and died later].”

Company G was the first company on the battlefield, and these soldiers arrived in their jackets. When the 17th Virginia entered, hand-to-hand combat ensued and Company H came in as reinforcements, fighting with their jackets off. These details proved important because the men in graves No. 1, 3 and 6 all had jackets, but the others did not.

After grave 1 was uncovered, the McDonald’s developer cleared away brush from the site to discover the five other graves. A week later, said Rector, a relic hunter found another cluster of buttons — probably from a seventh grave. From his research and the type of buttons, Rector identified this soldier as Ebenezer Field, 27, of Company G.

He noted, as well, that — a week before the dig — Owsley used a steel probe on the site and reportedly stated nine to 10 graves were there. Owsley later denied the remark, but Rector said a relic hunter he’s known for years swore he heard Owsley say it. Rector also determined who these men would be.

The six soldiers’ remains are in boxes in the Smithsonian, and Rector is trying to have DNA testing done to confirm their identities. “I don’t want them buried as unknowns,” he said. “I want them to have the chance to have their identities restored and them returned to their families.”

Afterward, Ron Savage, Historic Centreville Society vice president, said he was pleasantly surprised by how many people attended Rector’s talk and how well received it was. “People sat there mesmerized,” he said. “I was impressed — it was a well-done, professional presentation.”

Savage said residents were truly interested in learning what happened after the dig. “There’s a great thirst for the history in and around Centreville,” he said. “If [Rector’s] hypothesis works out, I think he should put it in a book.”

As for Marker, he hopes to have more such programs in the future, saying, “I think people who

Flight before Wright

While Rebel and Union soldiers still fought it out with bayonets and cannons, a Confederate designer had the foresight to imagine flying machines attacking Northern armies. He couldn’t implement his vision during the war, and the plans disappeared into history, until resurfacing at a rare book dealer’s shop 150 years later.

Now those rediscovered designs have found their way to the auction block, providing a glimpse at how Victorian-era technolgy could have beaten the Wright Brothers to the punch.

The papers of Dr. R. Finley Hunt, a dentist with a passion for flight, describe scenarios where flying machines bombed Federal troops across Civil War battlefields. Hunt’s papers went up for sale at the Artifacts auction during the week of Sept. 15-22, 2011, and gave one lucky collector a piece of an alternate technological history that never came to pass.

“It’s incredible for someone who loves early aviation, because it poses the great question of ‘What if?'” said Bobby Livingston, vice president of sales and marketing with RR Auction. “What if planes had appeared above the wilderness when (Union Gen. Ulysses S.) Grant began his campaign in the Shenandoah Valley?”

The hardback collection includes pencil drawings of wings, propellers and a multicylinder steam engine. Hunt’s design drew inspiration from his love of studying any and all flying methods found in nature, despite his own lack of professional expertise.

But Hunt found it difficult to find an engineer willing to build the device, despite getting the help of Confederate President Jefferson Davis to have the proposal considered. Letters between Hunt and a Confederate review board show that other engineers had strong doubts about the “steam flying machine”.

First, the engineers said Hunt had dramatically overestimated the engine’s power and ability to keep the machine flying. They also described another error in Hunt’s reasoning as being “so obvious on reflection that no discussion is required.”

“When they turned him down, it was over the science of it,” Livingston told InnovationNewsDaily. “But they considered it, and considered it a lot.”

Hunt refused to take no for an answer. The papers include another letter to Davis, wherein Hunt tries to defend his flying theories and asks for assistance from a machinist. In the end, the Confederates decided against spending money to fund the project.

Still, the Confederates did deploy several other innovative war machines. Their ironclad steamship, the CSS Virginia, fought against the USS Monitor in the world’s first duel between ironclads. A Confederate submarine called the H.L. Hunley also made its mark in history as the first submarine to successfully sink an enemy ship.

Both the Union and Confederate sides also flew manned balloons to scout different battlefields.

As for Hunt, he went to Washington, D.C., and got patent a on his device after the Civil War ended in 1865. He also built several working models and was still attempting to get financing in 1872. Yet he never saw his vision take flight.

“It looks to me like he’s 40 years before the Wright brothers with a rotary engine driving propellers, but I don’t know how close he was,” Livingston said. “He never got the money to do it.”

Attribution: Air & Space, InnovationNewsDaily

Constitution 101 (8)

Lesson 8: “Abraham Lincoln and the Constitution”

Study Guide

Overview:

Abraham Lincoln’s fidelity to the Declaration of Independence is equally a fidelity to the Constitution. The Constitution takes its moral life from the principles of liberty and equality, and was created to serve those principles. We are divided as a nation today, as in Lincoln’s time, because we have severed the connection between these two documents.

Lincoln’s “Fragment on the Constitution and the Union” contains the central theme of Lincoln’s life and work. Drawing upon biblical language, Lincoln describes the Declaration of Independence as an “apple of gold,” and the Constitution as the “frame of silver” around it. We cannot consider the Constitution independently of the purpose which it was designed to serve.

The Constitution acts to guard the principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. As the embodiment of the Declaration’s principles, the Constitution created a frame of government with a clear objective. The Constitution is not a collection of compromises, or an empty vessel whose meaning can be redefined to meet the needs of the time; it is the embodiment of an eternal, immutable truth.

Abraham Lincoln defended the Union and sought to defeat the Confederate insurrection because he held that the principles of the Declaration and Constitution were inviolable. In his speeches and in his statecraft, Lincoln wished to demonstrate that self-government is not doomed to either be so strong that it overwhelms the rights of the people or so weak that it is incapable of surviving.