Spring History & Heritage — #5 (April 16)

We continue our study ofAmerica & the West (having just taken a test on Spring H&H posts1-4) with the following entries and the sources indicated:

 TheApostlesʼCreed — (Tabletalk magazine, March 6 & 29)

A product of early church history originating perhaps as early as the 100s AD, this classic creed may be subdivided into three articles related to the Trinity?The articles, according to the Heidelberg Catechism, may be titled “God the Father and our creation; God the Son and our deliverance; God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.” The creed summarizes aptly, both in what it says and what it does not say, the biblical gospelʼs insistence that “Salvation is of the LORD” (Ps. 3:8).

 Samuel Johnson — (Almanac,April 3)

“The chief glory of every people arises from its authors; whether I shall add anything by my own writings to the reputation of England must be left to time.”  So said this English man of letters (1709–1784), a devout Anglican and a brilliant stylist whose wit and wisdom were recorded for all time by biographer James Boswell. In his famed Dictionary of the English Language (1755), 40,000 words are defined succinctly and illustrated with selections from classic prose and poetry.

 Booker T. Washington — (Almanac,April 5)

Author of Up From Slavery, this American educator (1856–1915) led the way for emancipated Negroes to participate more fully inAmerican trades and professions? For such a purpose he was called in 1881 to directAlabamaʼs Tuskegee Institute, a mere dream for state officials with no money, nor land, nor buildings, nor students, nor faculty. By the time he died, however, the institute could boast of over 100 buildings, about 200 teachers, 1,500 students, and a $2-million endowment fund.

 Booker T. Washington and Race Relations inAmerica — (teacherʼs commentary) Unlike many civil rights leaders who came after him, Booker T. Washington (d. 1915) didnʼt urge his brethren to join a mass movement to agitate for their rights, nor did he press for U.S. laws forcing states and localities to honor such rights. An example of his rhetorical substance and style, as quoted by philosopher Claude Polin in the March 2012 issue of Chronicles, follows below: 

We are to be tested in our patience, our forbearance, our perseverance, our power to endure wrong, to withstand temptation, to economize, to acquire a new skill. . . . [T]his country demands that every race measure itself by theAmerican standard. . . .This is a passport to all that is best in life, and the Negro must possess it or be debarred.  No race that has anything to contribute to the markets of the world is long in any degree ostracized.

 Seems like itʼs an appeal, as old as the hills, to faith, character, and community. In so many words:  attend to duty, to industry, to education, to your souls, and to service to your neighbors wherever you happen to be.  It may not be the quickest or easiest way to gain the respect of the white majority, but itʼs the surest.  (One might add that itʼs the only way to please the One whose judgment outweighs that of any human tribunal.)

 Doubts about such a strategy, however, and increasing frustration with it plagued the 20th-century. Many liberals, both black and white, dismissed Booker T.ʼs ways as, at best, an exercise in futility, painfully gradual and helplessly meek, and at worst a sellout to the dominant white power structure. African-American leaders like W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963) and, later, Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) would opt for a more confrontational and forthrightly political means of overcoming racial injustice.

 “A Splendid Misery” — (America, Vol. 1, pp. 195-198)

Jefferson used this paradoxical phrase to describe the U.S. presidency when he saw the toll the office had taken on George Washingtonʼs health? As chief executive Jefferson himself didnʼt fare too well, particularly in his 2nd term, as both England and France challenged American shipping with seeming impunity. When leaving the Executive Mansion for good (1809), Jefferson wrote, “Never did a prisoner, released from his chains, feel such relief as I shall on shaking off the shackles of power.”

 Tecumseh — (America, Vol. 1, pp. 198-199)

“Where today are the Pequot?  Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and oppression of the white man, as snow before a summer sun.” The message was delivered by this Shawnee chieftain (1768–1813), the inspiration for an Indian confederacy to resist white expansion into the Ohio valley?  He was killed by William Henry Harrisonʼs forces in the Battle of theThames (1813).

 the “War Hawks” — (America, Vol. 1, p. 199)

The midterm election of 1810 rewarded a new generation of Republicans in Congress who wanted to pay back the British for offenses, or perceived offenses, on the seas and on the western frontier (stirring up Indian hostility). Known to history by this name, their number included John C. Calhoun of South Carolina?  Older Republicans like John Randolph of Roanoke, however, found fault with their belligerency, their covetous gaze upon Canada, and their obsession with “Free Trade and Sailorʼs Rights.”

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