Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving?

Jennie Brownscombe (1850-1936)

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

As Governor of Virginia Thomas Jefferson issued the following proclamation:

I do therefore by authority from the General Assembly issue this my proclamation, hereby appointing Thursday the 9th day of December next, a day of publick and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God, earnestly recommending to all the good people of this commonwealth, to set apart the said day for those purposes, and to the several Ministers of religion to meet their respective societies thereon, to assist them in their prayers, edify them with their discourses, and generally to perform the sacred duties of their function, proper for the occasion.

Given under my hand and the seal of the commonwealth, at Williamsburg, this 11th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779, and in the fourth of the commonwealth.

No Presidential Proclamation?

During the eight years that he was President, Thomas Jefferson refused to issue a Thanksgiving proclamation.

In his second inaugural Address in 1805 he stated:

In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the power of the General Government. I have, therefore, undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.

In a letter to the Reverend Mr. Miller 23 January 1808 he further explained his reasoning:

I consider the government of the US. as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the U. S. Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.

I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted. But I have ever believed that the example of state executives led to the assumption of that authority by the general government, without due examination, which would have discovered that what might be a right in a state government, was a violation of that right when assumed by another. Be this as it may, every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the US. and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.
The entire letter may be found here:

A Distinction between State and Federal Government

Clearly Thomas Jefferson had no issues with Thanksgiving, but he did make a distinction between permissible actions for the state and federal governments.

Lighter Fare?

Many years ago on a cold and drizzly November day I had the pleasure of attending a Thanksgiving Dinner with the Pilgrims at the Plimoth Plantation. If you are ever in New England this time of year I highly recommend it. Word of advice though, I had far more fun with the Wampanoags than with the Pilgrims.





Thersites said...

At least he didn't pardon any turkeys and later "euthanize" them right before Thanksgiving.... ;)

Always On Watch said...

At the much-touted first American Thanksgiving celebration, the women worked like dogs -- so few women doing all that cooking and serving. Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

And It is still the same to day, isn't it, AOW? No rational man would ever trade places with a woman.

FreeThinke said...

Nice painting!

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

The question mark in your title is most fitting given the recent election, division of people and the state of our economy.

Ducky's here said...

Let's take it back to our supposed biblical roots.
It was based in tribalism. The Israelis had a small tribe which set its own rules. You could do ANYTHING to someone outside the tribe and, as history taught, have it done in return.

That's the right wing states rights way. A little limiting?

I do think are future lies in trying to expand the tribe. Naturally being a leftist I see the primary barrier as economic but people seem to be happy with the current state of affairs.

Silverfiddle said...

"That's the right wing states rights way.

How cartoonish...

Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

@ Ducky:

A reminder; Only half the population is "happy with the current state of affairs".

Considering those "affairs" are not at all improving but rather in a state of deterioration you may wish to rethink what the "tribe" may look like going "forward".

Thersites said...

You are ABSOLUTELY right ducky, we must press for international "universalism", for there is only ONE right way to live, and those who think "differently" must be brought to OUR way of thinking...

One world government, of and by the "experts", for EVERYONE!

Thersites said...

we must also then chenge the biological taxonomy to reflect this new "order" as well. Phylum must be recognized for the evil it is and obliterated from vocabulary.

Finntann said...

Ducky, the 'right wing states rights way', 'tribalism'? Perhaps not cartoonish but certainly an oversimplification.

I might point out that not a leftists are advocates of centralized government control.

Given the corporatist proclivities of our central government, such a position may in fact be the antithesis of your goals.

Are you familiar with Robin Hahnel?

Ducky's here said...

@silverfiddle -- "That's the right wing states rights way.

How cartoonish...

No need to be so hard on yourself, Silverfiddle.
The right isn't so much cartoonish as it is xenophobic and uniformed.

Jumping from the idea that we try to become a more unified nation to "one world government" is an unfortunate example of hyperbole that results in the right simply not worth being taken seriously till they learn to moderate their thought.

Finntann, one of the few hopes we have for ridding ourselves of the Galtian masters is to realize that we have to find our points of agreement and join forces. Modern right wing policies allow no such agreement.

I see the right wing much like the farmer's in Ken Burns' recent Dust Bowl (great oral history).
You practice techniques that destroy the soil of the central plains and then when the government steps in to teach better methods you improve and go back and do it again.
Now in the face of drought you tap the aquifer in order to grow high fructose corn syrup and grain for protein inefficient livestock.
Part of the price for myopic selfishness (or as you call it, individualism).

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky, I don't even know what the hell you are talking about. Do you?

What has your blathering got to do with today's post?

You're a leftwing loudmouth with ADD.

Go stroke your Obama doll and play with your UN play set.

Once again, you've detracted from a fine blog post, and about your home State no less.

You're a poisonous toad.

Thersites said...

Ducky NOW feigns a disdain for Internationalism.... so much for all that talk of " expanding the tribe", eh? Are we to NOW believe that "One America" is his call?? And so then what of the economic migrants from the South, East, and West? Shall we be so cold hearted as to turn them away at the border?? Please, oh wise and benevolent web foot, tell us, what is the proper path to our future enlightenment? Do we embrace these immigrants or turn them away?? And if we embrace them, must we insist that THEY, too, embrace the ONE true American way of living??

Thersites said...

Lord, pray let the duck explain to us all the "meaning" of moderated thought...

Personally, I think he means the kind given by Poi Pot to the city dwellers.

Thersites said...

Methinkes that the duck would as soon trade the many small person vanities of consumerist individuals for the much larger scale excesses and vanities of more enlightened "socialized" societies... ala Pyramids at Giza or Towers of Babel.

Les Carpenter said...

Smiling a wry and bemused smile. :-)

The future is waiting, as it always has. Fleeting as it were.

Finntann said...

Ah, don't be so hard on the Duck SF... the core of the argument is one of centralized power and control vs the diffuse dissemination of power to the lowest possible level. Jefferson was indeed a 'states rights' advocate and issuing proclamations as governor but not as president illustrates that point quite well.

The failure of Marxism has always been the central collective and the attempts at the forced cooperative. Humans are individuals, not hive or even pack animals.

"the people seem to be happy with the current state of affairs". That is because they perceive themselves to be at liberty and relatively free, believe me... as the yoke tightens they shall resist.


Les Carpenter said...

Philosophy, Who Needs It?

A great book by Ayn Rand. Ranks just ahead of The Virtue of Selfishness by the same author.

Philosophy, Who Needs it? For that matter who needs a proper and ethical moral code based on reason?

Soon those who cannot answer these questions rationally will discover the answer. The hard way.

FreeThinke said...

And again, I say, "It's a good painting." I like the austerity in the color palate and the sense of isolation on a barren shore the figures -- almost huddled together -- must have felt upon their arrival at an unplanned, unexpected, unwelcoming destination, in the "New World."

What motivated them really?

Genuine idealism?

A lust for adventure?



Fulfillment of religious principles and scruples denied them at home?

Mere curiosity?

Sheer idiocy?

Or a combination of any and all of the above?

At any rate, their courage has rarely been equalled, and my never have been excelled.

We owe them a great deal no matter what their true motives in boarding The Mayflower might have been.

Who among us today could equal their feat in planting a colony in the wilderness and persevering, despite incredible hardship and a fifty-percent mortality rate their first winter, and ultimately making a durable success of their venture?

I shudder to think what what these brave souls -- and John and Abigail Adams -- would think of Assachusetts as it is today!

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

the core of the argument is one of centralized power

Mayflower Compact.

Finntann said...

@Who among us today could equal their feat in planting a colony in the wilderness and persevering

Yes, that is a good question F.T.

Or, who would even try if the opportunity were present?

As for the painting, I liked the interplay of light and shadow, and atmosphere... and they do seem 'huddled', don't they? Her style is standard Americana, colonial and revolutionary war paintings, but she does have a way with light.


Ducky's here said...

@FT -- And again, I say, "It's a good painting."

It's mawkishly sentimental. Notice how the natives are marginalized in the composition?
But you probably enjoy that.

She was much much more important as the founder of the Art Students League.

Finntann said...

Mayflower Compact?

Try the age of enlightenment?

Puritanism is hardly our founding principle.

Finntann said...

Notice how the natives are marginalized in the composition?

Help, Help... I'm being repressed!

Ducky, there are natives at the head of the table also... Bloody Peasant!

Ducky's here said...

Puritanism is hardly our founding principle.
Then why did the two earliest settlements develop into Commonwealths.
My guess is you aren't aware of the purpose of the Compact. It established a government for the COMMON GOOD.

Probably why the colony was able to prosper.

Now since Silverfiddle doesn't get the point of government for the common good let's fast forward to the Dust Bowl.
Here we have a bunch of Randian actors all doing there own thing and trashing the place. As Randians have a habit of doing.
The federal government acting for the common good in the form of the Farm Security Agency gets the farmers in several states to adopt preventative agricultural methods.
Everything improves.

Then about twenty years later the little Randian rascals start doing there own thing again and the dust storms return. They learn their lesson.

Now we have the problem of the aquifer being tapped, not knowing how long it will last and facing even more severe depletion with the drought.
Should we allow the individual actors to risk trashing the place? The states are not going to buck the pressure from corporations extracting big profits and utilizing the resource inefficiently (but profitable like good Randoids).

Serious problem and one that cannot be solve by a bunch of actors in it for profit.

Ducky's here said...

Ducky, there are natives at the head of the table also... Bloody Peasant!

Nothing draws your attention to them.
The focus is clearly the infant in the cradle and mother and the supplicant.
The painting is pure propaganda.

As for her handling of light. It would have been something in the early 17th century but even then she's sure no LaTour.

viburnum said...


You're probably nearer the truth with 'sentimental' as several of Ms. Brownscome's ancestors were sitting at the table.

Silverfiddle said...

Here we have a bunch of Randian actors all doing there own thing and trashing the place. As Randians have a habit of doing.

Randian actors... back when no one had even heard of Ayn... Or were you talking about the forces of nature?

Ooooh! Someone's tapping the aquifer! They'll feel the wrath of Gaia for that!

Your discredited marxist bullshit is getting stale, Quackster...

Meanwhile, in the southwest, the French and Spanish had already set up schools when the pilgrims had their dinner with the Indians...

Finntann said...

"It established a government for the COMMON GOOD."

No, it established a government similar to that found in Iran today!

The Mayflower compact led to a bloody theocracy... "unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."

The reign of Puritan terror in Massachusetts led directly to the founding and settlement of colonies elsewhere, such as the settlement of Rhode Island by Roger Williams.

I hate to disappoint you but Commonwealth is not Communist. The Commonwealth of England under the Cromwells was a Republic and in colonial times meant pretty much the same thing to the colonists. Since the Puritans were on the losing side of the English Civil War, it strikes you as significant that they used the term 'commonwealth'?

I suppose anything short of the minister rubbing smallpox infected blankets on the natives would strike you as 'propaganda'.

Ducky's here said...

You're probably nearer the truth with 'sentimental' as several of Ms. Brownscome's ancestors were sitting at the table.

So are mine. I'm related to William Bradford on my mother's side.


Shaw Kenawe said...

"I shudder to think what what these brave souls -- and John and Abigail Adams -- would think of Assachusetts as it is today!"

I imagine they'd be very proud.

Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the country, among the lowest out-of-wedlock pregnancy rates, is number one in science and math scores in the nation, has one of the lowest unemployment rates, according to CNBC, is in the top 5 states for business, and has the highest number of post graduates as a percentage of its population in the country. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Massachusetts has the nation’s highest level of first-trimester prenatal care, and the third-lowest infant mortality rate. It also has the second-highest rate of child access to both medical and dental care, the nation’s lowest child mortality rate, and the lowest teen death rate.

We're not perfect, that's for sure, but there's much to make one happy to live in Massachusetts.

To refer to the state as "Assachusetts" shows a deep and appalling ignorance of the achievements this state has realized and the quality of life we enjoy here in the Bay State.

Holding onto out-of-date and uninformed prejudices about Massachusetts can be forgive if one is interested in researching the facts.

Thersites said...

What are the "demographics" of Massachusetts?

It's lily white...

Silverfiddle said...

Good catch, Thersites. Massachusetts is embarrassingly white and bourgeois and affluent.

How can we correct this, Ducky and Shaw?

Are you both ashamed? If not, you should be.

FreeThinke said...

Sorry, Ms. Shaw. It's only a quip not meant to be taken too seriously, but a place that persisted in keeeping the likes of Teddy Kennedy in permanent incumbency, and continues to support a pompous, pouter pigeon with a decidedly mediocre intellect like John Kerry, and who enthusiastically endorsed an aggressive, loud-mouthed creep like BONNIE FWANK till he chose to retire shows a high degree of collective poor judgment.

The Pilgrim Fathers must be spinning in their graves like so many whirling dervishes at what these rascals, scallawags and dunderheads have made of the Puritan Legacy.


Be of good cheer, Ms Shaw. I loved your post on Eric Whitacre's virtual chorus, and wrote unreservedly about it at your blog, which I always enjoy when it departs from the [very] sore subject of politics.

~ FreeThinke

FreeThinke said...

Were you aware, Canardo, -- or have you just conveniently forgotten -- that original settlers who stepped on the legendary rock at "Plimouth" did, indeed, start out with a system of communal ownership of land and all that was built or produced on it, but that system soon proved to be an abysmal failure. The settlers nearly starved to death, and, apparently, were at each other's throats much of the time.

After a season or two of this failed attempt at communal living William Bradford decided to encourage PRIVATE OWNERSHIP of LAND and COMPETITION.

Once this rudimentary form of Free Market Capitalism was established, the colony took of like a rocket, grew. prospered, and proved an enduring success -- for a time.

Roger Williams did, indeed, found what-became Rhode Island after leaving the Massachusetts Bay Colony in a something of a huff.

Roger may have been far more liberal in the sense of being open-minded and eager to try new ideas than the Puritan elders in Massachusetts, but for all we know he may also have been a neurotic malcontent with a big ego who just didn't like taking orders from his immediate superiors.

I honestly don't know, but I'm sure there's a lot more to it than the simple story most of us were given in high school American history classes.

Does anyone know a good book on the subject -- one preferably written before 1965 when the taint of political correctness started to poison academia?

~ FreeThinke

viburnum said...


I honestly can't think of a more horrid fate than being indoctrinated into a political world view that precludes the possibility of taking anything at face value. I can't imagine the time wasted searching for hidden meanings, ulterior motives, and nefarious schemes.

Even Freud is reported to have admitted that; "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"

Thersites said...

I'm much happier living in Maryland. We have a 29% African American population and we CHOSE to bring them here. No one ASKED Massachusetts if they wanted the Irish...