Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Hard Times in Andrew Jackson County - III

A prior post included the transcript of an 1830 speech to Congress by President Andrew Jackson promoting the Indian Removal Act.  Although Congress eventually passed the bill, it was not without opposition.  In particular, the Honorable David (“King of the Wild Frontier”) Crockett spoke against the legislation.

Congressman Crockett had served as a scout for Andrew Jackson during the Creek War of 1813-1814.  Crockett’s own grandparents were murdered on the East Tennessee frontier in 1977.  While the elder Davy Crockett’s sons were away with the Revolutionary army at King's Mountain in 1777, he and his wife, were two of a dozen or so settlers living near present-day Rogersville who were massacred by Creek and Cherokee Indians.

The younger Crockett’s stand against the Indian Removal Act likely contributed to his loss in the next election.  He was the only member of the Tennessee delegation to vote against the Act. 


Mr. CROCKETT said, that, considering his very humble abilities, it might be expected that he should content himself with a silent vote; but, situated as he was, in relation to his colleagues, he felt it to be a duty to himself to explain the motives which governed him in the vote he should give on this bill.

Gentlemen had already discussed the treaty-making power; and had done it much more ably than he could pretend to do. He should not therefore enter on that subject, but would merely make an explanation as to the reasons of his vote. He did not know whether a [congress]man within 500 miles of his residence would give a similar vote; but he knew, at the same time, that he should give that yote with a clear conscience. He had his constituents to settle with, he was aware; and should like to please them as well as other gentlemen; but he had also a settlement to make at the bar of his God; and what his conscience dictated to be just and right he would do, be the consequences what they might.

He believed that the people who had been kind enough to give him their suffrages, supposed him to be an honest man, or they would not have chosen him. If so, they could not but expect that he should act in the way he thought honest and right. He had always viewed the native Indian tribes of this country as a sovereign people. He believed they had been recognised as such from the very foundation of this government, and the United States were bound by treaty to protect them; it was their duty to do so.

And as to giving the money of the American people for the purpose of removing them in the manner proposed, he would not do it. He would do that only for which he could answer to his God. Whether he could answer it before the people was comparatively nothing, though it was a great satisfaction to him to have the approbation of his constituents.

Mr. C. said he had served for seven years in a legislative body. But from the first hour he had entered a legislative hall, he had never known what party was in legislation; and God forbid he ever should. He went for the good of the country, and for that only. What he did as a legislator, he did conscientiously. He should love to go with his colleagues, and with the West and the South generally, if he could; but he never would let party govern him in a question of this great consequence.

He had many objections to the bill some of them of a very serious character. One was, that he did not like to put half a million of money into the hands of the Executive, to be used in a manner which nobody could foresee, and which Congress was not to control. Another objection was, he did not wish to depart from the rule which had been observed towards the Indian nations from the foundation of the government. He considered the present application as the last alternative for these poor remnants of a once powerful people. Their only chance of aid was at the hands of Congress. Should its members turn a deaf ear to their cries, misery must be their fate. That was his candid opinion.

Mr. C. said he was often forcibly reminded of the remark made by the famous Red Jacket, in the rotundo of this building, when he was shown the pannel which represented in sculpture the first landing of the Pilgrims, with an Indian chief presenting to them an ear of corn, in token of friendly welcome.  The aged Indian said “that was good.” The Indian said, he knew that they came from the Great Spirit, and he was willing to share the soil with his brothers from over the great water. But when he turned round to another pannel representing Penn's treaty, he said “Ah! all's gone now.” There was a great deal of truth in this short saying; and the present bill was a strong commentary upon it.

Mr. C. said that four counties of his district bordered on the Chickasaw country. He knew many of their tribe; and nothing should ever induce him to vote to drive them west of the Mississippi. He did not know what sort of a country it was in which they were to be settled. He would willingly appropriate money in order to send proper persons to examine the country. And when this had been done, and a fair and free treaty had been made with the tribes, if they were desirous of removing, he would yote an appropriation of any sum necessary; but till this had been done, he would not vote one cent.

He could not clearly understand the extent of this bill. It seemed to go to the removal of all the Indians, in any State east of the Mississippi river, in which the United States owned any land. Now, there was a considerable number of them still neglected; there was a considerable number of them in Tennessee, and the United States' government owned no land in that State, north and east of the congressional reservation line. No man could be more willing to see them remove than he was, if it could be done in a manner agreeable to themselves; but not otherwise. He knew personally that a part of the tribe of the Cherokees were unwilling to go. When the proposal was made to them, they said, “No: we will take death here at our homes. Let them come and tomahawk us here at home: we are willing to die, but never to remove.” He had heard them use this language.

Many different constructions might be put upon this bill. One of the first things which had set him against the bill, was the letter from the secretary of war to colonel Montgomery-from which it appeared that the Indians had been intruded upon. Orders had been issued to turn them all off except the heads of the Indian families, or such as possessed improvements. Government had taken measures to purchase land from the Indians who had gone to Arkansas. If this bill should pass, the same plan would be carried further; they would send and buy them out, and put white men upon their land. It had never been known that white men and Indians could live together; and in this case, the Indians were to have no privileges allowed them, while the white men were to have all. Now, if this was not oppression with a vengeance, he did not know what was.

It was the language of the bill, and of its friends, that the Indians were not to be driven off against their will. He knew the Indians were unwilling to go: and therefore he could not consent to place them in a situation where they would be obliged to go. He could not stand that. He knew that he stood alone, having, perhaps, none of his colleagues from his state agreeing in sentiment. He could not help that. He knew that he should return to his home glad and light in heart, if he voted against the bill. He felt that it was his wish and purpose to serve his constituents honestly, according to the light of his conscience. The moment he should exchange his conscience for mere party views, he hoped his Maker would no longer suffer him to exist. He spoke the truth in saying so. If he should be the only member of that House who voted against the bill, and the only man in the United States who disapproved it, he would still vote against it; and it would be matter of rejoicing to him till the day he died, that he had given the vote.

He had been told that he should be prostrated; but if so, he would have the consolation of conscience. He would obey that power, and gloried in the deed. He cared not for popularity, unless it could be obtained by upright means. He had seen much to disgust him here; and he did not wish to represent his fellow citizens, unless he could be permitted to act conscientiously.

He had been told that he did not understand English grammar. That was very true. He had never been six months at school in his life: he had raised himself by the labor of his hands. But he did not, on that account, yield up his privilege as the representative of freemen on this floor.  Humble as he was, he meant to exercise his privilege. He had been charged with not representing his constituents. If the fact was so, the error (said Mr. C.) is here, (touching his head) not here (laying his hand upon his heart). He never had possessed wealth or education, but he had ever been animated by an independent spirit; and he trusted to prove it on the present occasion.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Hard Times in Andrew Jackson County - II

 A couple of years ago, one wordsmith took out her frustrations on the seventh president of the United States:

Andrew Jackson is the father of Native American genocide in the Southeast…. He murdered thousands of people whose crime was that they were living in their homes and occupying space….The Trail of Tears is this monster’s legacy. Many innocent people died as a result of the Removal Act. Today’s media is not pointing this out nearly enough. This should not be ignored: There was a Native American holocaust and Jackson was the architect of it. His killed more than 30 percent of the Native population in the Southeast and forcibly removed the majority of the tribes that occupied territory there….

Blah, blah, blah….

Why let historical facts stand in the way of impassioned hyperbole?  Especially when it is so much fun to use “Andrew Jackson” and “genocidal” in the same sentence ad nauseum.

Guenter Lewy has published perhaps more works on the subject of genocide than any other scholar ever has, and in a nuanced commentary he explores the application (or misapplication) of the term “genocide” to America’s dealing with native people.  Sadly, though, nuance is in short supply these days.  Lewy writes:

The story of the encounter between European settlers and America’s native population does not make for pleasant reading. Among early accounts, perhaps the most famous is Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor (1888), a doleful recitation of forced removals, killings, and callous disregard. Jackson’s book, which clearly captured some essential elements of what happened, also set a pattern of exaggeration and one-sided indictment that has persisted to this day.

The political elements of Indian policy in the 1830s were complicated, not nearly as simplistic as today’s activists would have you believe.  President Jackson did sign into law the Indian Removal Act which had been passed by Congress.  It did set the stage for eventual removal of Cherokees to the West, after Jackson was succeeded by Martin Van Buren.  On April 24, 1830, the Senate passed the Indian Removal Act by a vote of 28 to 19. On May 26, 1830, the House of Representatives passed the Act by a vote of 101 to 97.  On May 28, 1830, the Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson.  The vast majority of votes cast against the Indian Removal Act were by legislators from the New England states.

Think about it.  If Jackson’s primary objective was “genocide” then why would he have condoned the complications of the Indian Removal Act?  Certainly he could have found some provocation for the swift and thorough extermination of native people and avoided prolonged bickering over treaty provisions.  

And had the mechanisms for relocation of native people NOT been set into motion, would they have met an even worse fate?  Possibly?  Probably? We really can’t say. 

Government exercises the power of “removal” in many circumstances.  It is often tragic. And even when compensation is made, it is not enough for some people.  Consider the people displaced for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, or for the construction of Fontana Dam.  Consider the people whose businesses are being destroyed to allow for bicycle lanes along Highway 107 in Sylva.

Before passage of the Act, Jackson addressed Congress on Indian removal.  Casting the speech in the worst possible light, one can summon up various words to describe the text.  But which one of these words does NOT belong: “patronizing,” “disingenuous,” “self-serving,” “genocidal”?

It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government‚ steadily pursued for nearly thirty years‚ in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress‚ and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages.

The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States‚ to individual States‚ and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy‚ and enable those States to advance rapidly in population‚ wealth‚ and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay‚ which is lessening their numbers‚ and perhaps cause them gradually‚ under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels‚ to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting‚ civilized‚ and Christian community.

What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic‚ studded with cities‚ towns‚ and prosperous farms embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute‚ occupied by more than 12‚000‚000 happy people‚ and filled with all the blessings of liberty‚ civilization and religion?

The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward‚ and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange‚ and‚ at the expense of the United States‚ to send them to land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual.

Doubtless it will be painful to leave the graves of their fathers; but what do they more than our ancestors did or than our children are now doing? To better their condition in an unknown land our forefathers left all that was dear in earthly objects. Our children by thousands yearly leave the land of their birth to seek new homes in distant regions. Does Humanity weep at these painful separations from everything‚ animate and inanimate‚ with which the young heart has become entwined? Far from it. It is rather a source of joy that our country affords scope where our young population may range unconstrained in body or in mind‚ developing the power and facilities of man in their highest perfection.

These remove hundreds and almost thousands of miles at their own expense‚ purchase the lands they occupy‚ and support themselves at their new homes from the moment of their arrival. Can it be cruel in this Government when‚ by events which it cannot control‚ the Indian is made discontented in his ancient home to purchase his lands‚ to give him a new and extensive territory‚ to pay the expense of his removal‚ and support him a year in his new abode? How many thousands of our own people would gladly embrace the opportunity of removing to the West on such conditions! If the offers made to the Indians were extended to them‚ they would be hailed with gratitude and joy.

And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled‚ civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered‚ the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal‚ but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative‚ or perhaps utter annihilation‚ the General Government kindly offers him a new home‚ and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Hard Times in Andrew Jackson County - I

These are troubled times, or so we are told.  But if that is true, then how can politicians devote so much energy to the “threats” posed by statues and the “harms” caused by the names applied to places and things?  Is it that all the actual problems of the world have been resolved?  Or is it that the politicians have given up on addressing anything that really matters?

Recent events here in Andrew Jackson County, North Carolina bear this out.  Concerning a statue in front of the old courthouse, county commissioners arrived at a “compromise” that was not a compromise.  And to "fix" the errant statue, they are on the verge of spending tens of thousands of dollars on actions that won’t make anybody happy.

Social justice warriors recognized that the health crisis of 2020 was an opportunity to be seized.  And so they generated ever more divisiveness among people already stressed by governmental edicts.  

Now, the politically correct mob is intent on changing the name of Jackson County to…Jackson County.  Well, that is a burning issue, isn’t it?

Jackson County was named in honor of an old white man, and we can’t have that anymore.  So, the enlightened ones insist that the county should be named after a former Cherokee chief, Walter Jackson. 

What better way to follow-up a compromise that wasn't a compromise than a renaming that isn't a renaming?

I began to wonder what qualified Chief Jackson for such an honor, other than a convenient surname.  So, I googled him and discovered that he achieved notoriety in the pages of the New York Times on January 27, 1970:

CHEROKEE N. C. Jan. 26 —The tribal council of the Eastern band of Cherokee Indians has asked the Cherokee chief to resign as leader of the 6,500‐member tribe and he has steadfastly refused.

Johnson Catolster, chairman of the Cherokee Council. said 10 of the 12 members of the council had signed a resolution requesting the chief, 47‐year‐ old Walter Jackson, to relinquish his position immediately.

The Right Stuff?  Or Just the Right Name?

Mr. Catolster said Chief Jackson had neglected his official duties and made unauthorized, out‐of‐state trips at the expense of the tribe. He said Mr. Jackson also had not accounted satisfactorily for funds spent in connection with Cherokee business.

Mr. Catolster said in an interview, “The chief has neglected his duties as an officer of the tribe. We could never catch him in the office to answer for the few things we wanted answered. There were irregularities within the administration — how he conducts the tribe's business.”

Mr. Jackson declared in a subsequent interview that he had “no idea at all” why the tribal council had asked him to resign. He said the charges against him were false and he had no intention of resigning.

Mr. Jackson was elected two years ago to serve a four‐year term as chief. His duties correspond generally to those of a mayor and business manager in a municipal form of government. Mr. Jackson was a member of the tribal council for 12 years prior to his election as chief.

Mr. Jackson also holds responsibility for the operations of the Cherokee Indian reservation, which sprawls across 56,500 acres in Swain, Jackson, Cherokee and Graham Counties in the Great Smoky Mountains. An estimated 4,500 of the 6,500 Cherokees listed on the tribe's official rolls live on the reservation here. Most of the remaining Cherokee Indians in the United States reside in Oklahoma.

Each of the six townships of the reservation elects two members to serve two ‐ year terms on the tribal council, but the chief is elected by voters in all townships. Mr. Catolster said newly elected members of the tribal council who recently took office might be partially responsible for the attempt to oust Chief Jackson.

Mr. Catolster said the council would investigate Mr. Jackson's activities as chief of the Cherokees and determine at council meeting next month whether to press for his resignation. If Mr. Jackson subsequently refuses to relinquish his post, Mr. Catolster said, the council may vote to cut off his $6,600 annual salary.

Mr. Catolster said, “The chief has made some statements contrary to the best judgment of the tribe. There were some questions about un authorized travel. Chief Jackson flew to Atlanta for the funeral of a tribesman and a lot of people felt like a telephone call would have been enough.”

Chief Jackson has also made a trip to Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. Catolster said. “I wouldn't know why. We're just interested in how he carries out his business,” he said.

Mr. Catolster said, “We're going to study this further. It's up to the voting members of the council. As of now, everything is at a standstill. The chief is still in office.”

OK, so there you have it from the newspaper of record. Be honest with me. Would we be naming our county in his honor if his name had been “Walter SMITH”?  

But if we're stuck on (the blatant exploitation of somebody named) Jackson, isn’t it premature to rename the county without considering a host of other worthy candidates, including, but not limited to:

Michael Jackson

Shoeless Joe Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson

Stonewall Jackson (the country singer)

Janet Jackson

Bo Jackson 

Jackson Pollock

Mahalia Jackson 

Maynard Jackson 

Jackson Browne 

Jermaine Jackson 

Kate Jackson

Jesse Jackson

Reggie Jackson

Stonewall Jackson (the general)

Peter Jackson

Scoop Jackson

La Toya Jackson

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

A Monumental Botanist

The French botanist Andre Michaux spent more time in the Carolinas his better known contemporary, William Bartram.  Had Michaux been as scintillating and prolific a writer as Bartram, maybe he would be better known today. Michaux's life, from beginning to end, was a colorful adventure and it is a shame that nobody has turned it into a movie.  

-Carolina Lily, Lilium Michauxii, Walter Hood Fitch (1817 - 1892) 

Whereas, North Carolina is blessed with an abundance of wildflowers from the mountains to the coast; and 

Whereas, the Carolina Lily is a scarce and beautiful flower that is found throughout North Carolina in upland pine-oak woods and pocosins; and 

Whereas, the Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) is one of many plants named for the distinguished French botanist Andre Michaux who traveled widely in the southeastern United States; and 

Whereas, Andre Michaux (1747-1802), a genuine hero of science and exploration, referred to the North Carolina mountains as "the great botanical laboratory and paradise of North America"; and 

Whereas, the Carolina Lily, sometimes referred to as Michaux's Lily, bears up to six reddish-yellow, spotted flowers with petals that bend backwards; and 

Whereas, each nodding flower grows to about three inches in diameter; and 

Whereas, this magnificent flower bears the name of our great State; and 

Whereas, the State of North Carolina does not have an official wildflower; Now, therefore, 

The Carolina Lily (Lilium michauxii) is adopted as the official wildflower of the State of North Carolina. 

 And so it was that the General Assembly made Michaux’s Lily the state wildflower in 2003. 


Upon a quick look, you might confuse it with the Turk’s Cap Lily (Lilium superbum). As easy as it is to mistake one for the other, though, it is just as easy to tell them apart. The Carolina Lily tends to be smaller, while the Turk’s Cap is distinguished by a green star in the middle of the flower.  And while politically correct botanists will call you a "racist" for referring to L. superbum as a "Turk's Cap" Lily (as I found out the hard way), I suppose you are safe (for now) if you apply "Michaux's" Lily to L. michauxii.

To commemorate his life and travels, the state also maintains six highway historical markers devoted to Andre Michaux.  

N20 NC 226 in Bakersville, Mitchell Co.


N21 NC 181 (Green Street) at NC 126 in Morganton, Burke Co.


N22 US 221 northeast of Linville at Grandfather Mountain, Avery Co.


O28 West Main Street in Lincolnton, Lincoln Co.


P21 US 70 (State Street) in Black Mountain, Buncombe Co.

Q17 Main Street, Highlands, Macon Co.

Enjoy them while you can.  It won't be long before vigilant Social Justice Warriors will determine that Monsieur Michaux said or did something objectionable, and any tributes to the man will be terminated.
For all stories on Andre Michaux

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Counterculture - Then and Now

 When the late Walker Percy was asked what concerned him most about America’s future, he answered: “Probably the fear of seeing America, with all its great strength and beauty and freedom…gradually subside into decay through default and be defeated, not by the Communist movement, demonstrably a bankrupt system, but from within by weariness, boredom, cynicism, greed and in the end helplessness before its great problems.”

“The West…has been undergoing an erosion and obscuring of high moral and ethical ideals. The spiritual axis of life has grown dim.” - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“The fact that, compared to the inhabitants of Africa and Russia, we still live well cannot ease the pain of feeling we no longer live nobly.” – John Updike


I grew up in a small Carolina town that I’ll call “Mayberry.”  (And, no, it wasn’t Mount Airy.)  Even as a young kid, I was not oblivious to the flaws of that town: the snobbishness and hypocrisies were hard to avoid.  That I now recall the town and its people so fondly is not entirely the result of a nostalgia that blinds me to Mayberry’s deficits.  No, the town shines brightly by comparison with the dark decay of American culture ca. 2020.

Coming from an unhappy home and possessing a restless sense of curiosity, I was an easy target for the “Counterculture Movement” that metastasized throughout the country starting in the late 1960s.  Growing out my hair until it was down past my shoulders was sure to trigger disapproval and insults from Mayberry’s residents, and only accelerated my tendency toward alienation.  Like all the other emotional gestures that were the hallmarks of Leftism, it was utterly meaningless and accomplished nothing of value…notwithstanding all the rock songs celebrating long hair.   And unless people grow tired of utterly meaningless emotional gestures, it seems they remain on the Leftist bandwagon.  It took me way too long, but I finally red-pilled after I could no longer sustain the willing suspension of common sense.

Having overcome my prolonged youthful rebellion, I’m thankful that I was around when American culture was, arguably, at its peak.   And I am grieved to see how far it has fallen.  Back in 1970, Christianity was integral to the community.  To picture our town without its churches would have been unimaginable.  How different it is in 2020, when politicians and petty bureaucrats gleefully seize the opportunity to shut down as many churches as they can.

Nevertheless, a strong case can be made that the best place for the Church is somewhere other than the mainstream.  Back in Mayberry, it was easy to take our faith for granted, to practice a lukewarm and superficial form of Christianity.  As the quip goes, "He was charged with being a Christian, but at the trial there was not enough evidence to convict."

Way back when, the early church survived centuries of persecution by the civil authorities.  It was in 313 A.D. that the emperor Constantine I issued the Edict of Milan to establish religious toleration for Christianity within the Roman Empire.  But did this set the stage for the Church to be co-opted by the State?  After 1700 years, those two institutions have seldom, if ever, achieved a healthy equilibrium. 

Today, in many parts of the world, to be a Christian is to risk martyrdom.  And even though America’s Christians face relatively minor threats in 2020, things could change, and change rapidly.  With good cause, contemporary believers could think of themselves as “countercultural.”  It is time for believers to be conscious of their response to hostilities against Christianity.  If we cannot bear the offhand insults appropriately, then what is the hope for our bearing the harsher persecutions that might be in our future?

Stephen Mattson has given much thought to the place of Christianity in an increasingly secular culture.  The title of his 2018 book is “The Great Reckoning: Surviving a Christianity That Looks Nothing Like Christ.”  Back in 2016, Mattson discussed “five Christian virtues that continue to be radically countercultural.”


“If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25 ).

In a world obsessed with real-time data, fast-developing news stories, viral momentum and constant movement, it’s become increasingly hard to wait—simply to be still.  Being patient is a countercultural act of trusting in God and accepting the fact that some things are beyond our control…


“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 ).

We live in a noisy culture that rewards those who are the loudest, most flamboyant and noticeable. Rants, arguments, yelling and splashy disruptiveness are the new norm.  Even the Christian message has been co-opted by arguing factions fighting to become the most powerful, influential and visible, but through this process they prove themselves to be an ordinary and mediocre variation of the world around them….

Being gentle and quiet within a frenzied civilization that’s quick to judge, accuse, worry and destroy allows us to center ourselves upon God. Meekness proves itself by working and serving without seeking personal recognition while simultaneously glorifying God—a profoundly extraordinary act of worship.


“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11 ).

Technology and social media have enabled us to present a gilded mirage of ourselves, consisting of edited photos, perfect quotes, fun experiences and opinionated posts….

Humility remains a remarkable trait within a celebrity culture that reveres fame and continually stresses the value of exalting our own ego.


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13 ).

After relationships have failed us, communities have hurt us, institutions have betrayed us, organizations have manipulated us, governments have disappointed us and religions have damaged us, it’s hard not to be cynical and pessimistic about pretty much everything.

But for those who have an attitude of hope inspired by Jesus, there’s a sense of meaning, purpose and optimism toward life. This hope, despite the chaos of an ever-changing world around us, anchors us to Christ—allowing us to navigate through life even though it’s filled with uncertainty.


“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith doesn’t mean there’s an absence of doubt, mystery, or complexity, but it allows you to have confidence in something—a relationship with someone. To invest your trust and hope in any one thing is notable enough, but to have faith in an unseen, unquantifiable, supernatural God is one of the most countercultural acts imaginable.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Walter E. Williams - March 31, 1936 – December 2, 2020

The wise words of Walter E. Williams have appeared on this blog before.  

The American economist passed away yesterday.  Back in 2016, the Acton Institute celebrated Williams’ 80th birthday by featuring these quotes:

At the beginning of each semester, I tell students that my economic theory course will deal with positive, non-normative economic theory. I also tell them that if they hear me making a normative statement without first saying, “In my opinion,” they are to raise their hands and say, “Professor Williams, we didn’t take this class to be indoctrinated with your personal opinions passed off as economic theory; that’s academic dishonesty.” I also tell them that as soon as they hear me say, “In my opinion,” they can stop taking notes because my opinion is irrelevant to the subject of the class — economic theory. Another part of this particular lecture to my students is that by no means do I suggest that they purge their vocabulary of normative or subjective statements. Such statements are useful tools for tricking people into doing what you want them to do. You tell your father that you need a cell phone and he should buy you one. There’s no evidence whatsoever that you need a cell phone. After all, George Washington managed to lead our nation to defeat Great Britain, the mightiest nation on Earth at the time, without owning a cell phone.

Democracy and liberty are not the same. Democracy is little more than mob rule, while liberty refers to the sovereignty of the individual.

How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively? Furthermore, does legality establish morality? Slavery was legal; apartheid is legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of moral people.

Market capitalism is the best thing that ever happened to the common man. The rich have always had access to entertainment, often in the comfort of their palaces and mansions. The rich have never had to experience the drudgery of having to beat out carpets, iron their clothing or slave over a hot stove all day in order to have a decent dinner. They could afford to hire people. Capitalism’s mass production and marketing have made radios and televisions, vacuum cleaners, wash-and-wear clothing and microwave ovens available and well within the means of the common man; thus, sparing him of the boredom and drudgery of the past. Today, the common man has the power to enjoy much (and more) of what only the rich could afford yesteryear.

Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.

The rise of capitalism brought greater morality into our relationships. There is the biblical passage, “It is as difficult for a rich man to get into Heaven as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” That biblical phrase was quite appropriate for the time because wealth was most often acquired through capturing, plundering and looting your fellow man. But, with the rise of capitalism, people like Bill Gates are rich because they have served their fellow man. Gates has made his fellow man very happy by building Microsoft computers and software. Fred Smith with Federal Express serves his fellow man, too. The morality of the free market should be stressed because it is far superior to any other method of allocating resources.

We are becoming a nation of thieves by trying to live at everyone else’s expense. We have lost our moral mooring and the Church is partially responsible by failing to uphold its beliefs. One of the 10 Commandments says, “Thou shall not steal.” Now I am fairly confident that God did not mean, “Thou shall not steal–unless you get a majority vote.”

We’re all grossly ignorant about most things that we use and encounter in our daily lives, but each of us is knowledgeable about tiny, relatively inconsequential things. For example, a baker might be the best baker in town, but he’s grossly ignorant about virtually all the inputs that allow him to be the best baker. What is he likely to know about what goes into the processing of the natural gas that fuels his oven? For that matter, what does he know about oven manufacture? Then, there are all the ingredients he uses — flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla and milk. Is he likely to know how to grow wheat and sugar and how to protect the crop from diseases and pests? What is he likely to know about vanilla extraction and yeast production? Just as important is the question of how all the people who produce and deliver all these items know what he needs and when he needs them. There are literally millions of people cooperating with one another to ensure that the baker has all the necessary inputs. It’s the miracle of the market and prices that gets the job done so efficiently. What’s called the market is simply a collection of millions upon millions of independent decision makers not only in America but around the world. Who or what coordinates the activities all of these people? Rest assuredly it’s not a bakery czar.

What human motivation is responsible for getting the most wonderful things done? I would say greed. When I use the term greed, I do not mean cheating, stealing, fraud and other acts of dishonesty, I mean people seeking to get the most for themselves. One might be tempted to use “enlightened self interest” but I like greed better. Unfortunately, many people are naive enough to believe that it is compassion, concern, and “feeling another’s pain” that’s the superior human motivation. As such we fall easy prey to charlatans, quacks and hustlers.

What our nation needs is a separation of “business and state” as it has a separation of “church and state.” That would mean crony capitalism and crony socialism could not survive.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thank God for America

America Wasn’t Founded on Slavery in 1619 — but on Pilgrims’ Ideals Written in 1620

-          By Peter Wood

In August 1619, a pirate ship, the White Lion, stopped at Jamestown and traded 20-some captive Africans for food. The Africans were treated as indentured servants and soon released.

Fifteen months later, in November 1620, an English ship blown off course on its way to Virginia ended up off the barren coast of Massachusetts. It landed more than 100 men, women and children. Those voyagers founded Plymouth Colony.

"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe

Which event mattered more?

Last year, the New York Times declared that the arrival of the captives in Virginia was the “true beginning” of America — an America that the Times characterized as a “slavocracy.” The Times calls its campaign to promote this story “The 1619 Project.” In my new book, “1620,” I argue that the arrival of the Pilgrims along with dozens of non-Pilgrims (“strangers” as the Pilgrims called them) aboard the Mayflower is the real beginning of America.

Why? Because before this mixed group stepped ashore, they signed an agreement, which we now call the Mayflower Compact. In that document, they set aside their deep divisions and voluntarily joined together to govern themselves with “just and equal laws.” This was the very beginning of principled self-government among European settlers in the New World. The Mayflower Compact is not quite 200 words long, but those words pack almost as much meaning as Thomas Jefferson distilled into the Declaration of Independence 156 years later, or Abraham Lincoln in 1863 condensed into the Gettysburg Address.

The Mayflower Compact is a much humbler document than those two, but it has the advantage of being the first: the first time a mutually suspicious collection of settlers decided, without compulsion, to respect one another’s rights. Plymouth enacted its own laws, elected its own leaders, and after a winter of severe hardship, thrived as a peaceful self-governing community.

Meanwhile, Virginia was run by a private company in England that allowed the settlers some limited choices. Jamestown’s place in American history is secure, but it never became the model for American independence or a template for self-government.

Americans have so long cherished the story of the Pilgrims surviving in the wilderness with the help of Native Americans that we sometimes forget why this tiny colony was so important to our history. It is because they invented a prototype of our republic. The New England town became the very model of American self-reliance and ordered liberty. Plymouth also lived in peace with its neighbors, the Wampanoags, in a treaty that was unbroken for more than 50 years.

As pioneers of later generations carved new towns out of the wilderness, they looked back to Plymouth as the ideal of how to form a moral community based on equality. The signers of the Mayflower Compact were both Pilgrims and Strangers, young and old, prosperous and poor. Hierarchy was ignored. Masters and servants both signed. We can see this now in the seeds of the egalitarian America that would eventually shake off British rule and the yoke of Old Europe’s class system.

By contrast, the arrival of those pirates in Jamestown with their twice-stolen African captives laid no foundation at all. Slavery was already present in the Americas but it wouldn’t take root in the English colonies until more than half a century later.

The New York Times portrays slavery as starting in Jamestown in 1619 and spreading from there to become the bedrock of American society. That’s a false history, a myth.

The Pilgrims have also been mythologized from time to time, but the difference is the Mayflower Compact truly is the precursor to 1776, and Plymouth the archetype of American self-government.

[This article was originally published by The New York Post on November 7, 2020.]

Friday, November 20, 2020

Dillsboro's Very Own Mastodon

Long, long ago mastodons frequented the banks of the Tuckasegee River.  Or so suggests one old newspaper clipping.  But this discussion requires some background before we investigate the evidence found in Dillsboro, North Carolina.

First off, mastodons and mammoths were two distinct creatures.  Mammoths originated in Africa and migrated through Eurasia and North America.  The woolly mammoth, which went extinct about 10,000 years ago, was closely related to the elephant.

Mastodons lived in Central and North America before their extinction, also about 10,000 years ago.  Compared to mammoths, they were slightly smaller, with shorter legs and flatter heads.  They were anywhere from seven to fourteen feet tall and covered in long, shaggy hair.  Both animals were herbivores.

During the Pleistocene Era, 12,000 years ago, humans and megafauna (including mastodons) quite possibly encountered one another on the Great Smoky Mountains.  Though glaciers did not reach this far south, the climate was much colder than today.  The highest peaks must have been tundra-like environments with permafrost and few trees.  The fossil record reveals many large mammals inhabiting the park region prior to the Quaternary Extinction: Jefferson’s ground sloth, Harlan’s ground sloth, tapir, horse, half-ass, long-nosed peccary, flat-headed peccary, stout-legged llama, helmeted musk-ox, bison, white-tailed deer, caribou, elk, giant beaver, black bear, Florida spectacled bear, giant short-faced bear, cougar, jaguar, saber-toothed cat, scimitar-toothed cat, coyote, dire wolf and mastodon.

Spear-points found in this area indicate that migratory hunters came to this area in search of mastodons and other large prey.  A paleontological site near Nashville, Tennessee has provided abundant information about mastodon-hunting in the Southeast.  The Coats-Hines-Litchy site has yielded portions of four mastodon skeletons, one of which was directly associated with Paleoindian stone tools such as blades and scrapers, signs of a successful hunt on one day 10,000 to 14,000 years ago.

This brings us back to Dillsboro and the year 1882.  Construction of the Western North Carolina Railroad was underway and the “Cowee Tunnel” adjacent to the Tuckasegee River was posing many challenges for the convict laborers digging their way through the mountains.

An ominous note from “Sojourner” appeared in the September 18, 1882 issue of the Asheville Weekly Citizen:

I did not intend to convey the impression in my last letter that the entire Cowee tunnel had fallen in.  The workmen on the west end of the tunnel came to dirt, and it has fallen in several times. Mr. Dick Wilson says they are having much trouble in bracing it up, the dirt falls in so fast.  Many thousand yards of rock and dirt have been taken out, and some think the trees from the top will come through soon.  It is a serious drawback in the work on the tunnel, and there is some talk of having to make it a cut, but that seems impracticable.   If the dirt can be removed, and the hole walled in safely, the work will proceed on the tunnel as usual. 

The ”big” story coming less than six weeks later, was reported in North Carolina newspapers and reprinted in papers across the country:

The skeleton of a full grown mastodon has been found in the Cowee tunnel on the Ducktown branch of the Western North Carolina railroad.  When the monster was discovered the convicts fled in terror, and it was by hard work that they could be induced to return to their picks.  It was found six feet below the surface of the earth.  It was in a perfect state of preservation, and crumbled to dust as soon as exposed to the air.  The mastodon is the Russian term of fossil elephant, and is extensively found in Russia and all over Europe.  It became extinct, according to geology, near 10,000 years ago, died on the Pleistocene beds.  In 1799, one was found in the icy districts of Russia, the hide of which was in a fair state of preservation, and was of such weight that it took ten men to support it a distance of 150 feet.  The one found in the Cowee tunnel was stretched out a distance of forty feet – supposed to have been devoured by carniverous animals, and the bones disengaged from their original position.  The largest mastodons range from fourteen to twenty-four feet in length, and from nine to twelve feet in height.  - The Greensboro Patriot, Oct. 27, 1882  

The temptation is to dismiss the story as fake news, something too preposterous to be believed. 

Maybe so. 

On the other hand, as the earlier story reported, the tunnel was not cut through solid rock.  Is it plausible that an unfortunate mastodon, grazing alongside the Tuckasegee River on a chilly day 12,000 years ago, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was buried by a landslide? 


Steam locomotive emerging from Cowee Tunnel, ca. 1892

But isn’t it almost too convenient that the bones of the Dillsboro mastodon practically vanished into thin air before the discovery could be verified?  It turns out that long-buried bones can crumble fairly quickly when exposed to the air.  That issue was broached in a 2017 newspaper report of mastodon bones unearthed at a Michigan construction site:

Eagle Creek Homes, the developer behind the Railview Ridge housing project, reached out to University of Michigan Museum of Paleontology Director Dan Fisher. Fisher has 40 years of experience investigating claims of prehistoric remains found in the region….

Most remains of mastodons and mammoths found in Michigan, Fisher said, are somewhere in the range of 11,000 to 15,000 years old.

"That was at a time that humans had found their way to North America," Fisher said. "These were some of the animals that they were sometimes lucky enough to bring down or otherwise get access to. So people butchered them, ate them and stored their meat."

As glaciers moved through Michigan several thousand years ago, they created lakes, ponds and swamps that became surrounded by vegetation attractive to the American mastodon and Jefferson woolly mammoth. Fossils of both are prevalent in the southern two-thirds of the state.

The age of the bones means they are often very fragile, and can sometimes disintegrate when exposed from the sediment that has been preserving them all that time.

"They dry, shrink, crack and sometimes they literally fall to pieces," Fisher said.

Those words from Dan Fisher go a long way toward erasing my doubts about the veracity of the Dillsboro mastodon story. 

But not completely. 

If workers actually found a mastodon skeleton in Dillsboro, why haven’t I heard about it until now?

One reason could be that the event was overshadowed by a tragedy that occurred two months later, on December 30, 1882.  As convict laborers were crossing the river to start another day’s work on the Cowee Tunnel, their barge capsized.  Nineteen men, shackled together, drowned in the Tuckasegee.

Is it any wonder that some crumbling bones of an ancient animals were soon forgotten?   On January 3, 1883, the News and Observer in Raleigh reported on the accident:

"A few days since we published an account of the trip of Governor Jarvis to the Western North Carolina Railroad, and gave an account of the operations at the Cowee tunnel, which is near the bank of Tuckaseegee River, in Jackson county. On that section of the road are employed about 200 convicts. Yesterday Lieutenant-Governor James L. Robinson, who came down from his home in Macon county, brought the news of a horrible disaster at the crossing of the Tuckaseegee River, the news of which he received from Mr. W.B. Troy, the officer in charge of convicts on the Western North Carolina Railroad.

" It appears that the camp of the convicts, that is, the stockade in which they are quartered, is on the bank of the Tuckaseegee river, opposite the Cowee tunnel. The river is at that particular point deep, with a current somewhat sluggish as compared with parts immediately above and below, where it breaks into rapids and rushes with the swiftness peculiar to those mountain torrents. The means of ferriage across the stream has been a large barge or flat boat, capable of containing fifty convicts, a rope stretched across being grasped by the hands and the boat then pulled over.

On Saturday, while thirty convicts were being thus transferred, they became alarmed on seeing some water and ice in the boat, and despite the fact that there was no danger, rushed panic-stricken to one end of the boat, which was at once capsized and all the men thrown into the cold river, there deep, though not more than fifty yards wide. A white guard who was on the boat went down with the rest.

A terrible scene followed, as the men struggled to get out, each man looking only after his personal safety. Many of the convicts swam ashore, or after being washed down a short distance reached the bank ere they came to the swift water. Twelve thus saved themselves, but eighteen clasped each other so closely that they became a struggling mass and were all drowned. The guard was taken from the water to all appearance dead, and it was only by dint of great and long continued efforts that his life was saved.

" The gang of convicts at this particular place, or rather section of the road was in charge of Mr. J.M. McMurray. Yesterday afternoon Capt. E.R. Stamps, chairman of the board of Penitentiary directors, left for the scene to make investigation of the disaster, which as, he state to a reporter, fairly appalled him. It was one of those accidents which seem to be unavoidable, and due to the sudden panic which seized the convicts in the boat, which it is said was in no danger of sinking, the water having fallen in it from the rains. Some of the drowned men were found some distance below, locked together in a last and fatal embrace. Many who could swim were hampered by others, who clutched them in a death grip.

"This is the greatest disaster that has happened on the road. A portion of the Cowee tunnel was of so treacherous a character that it caved in on a number of convicts, and they narrowly escaped death. The utmost precautions were used to prevent a repetition of the occurrence, an immense “cut” being made and arched over. The dirt was replaced, and all made secure. The tunnel is eighteen miles from the Balsam mountains, and thirty-four miles from Pigeon River, and is on what is known as the Ducktown branch of the Western North Carolina Railroad.

- News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), January 3, 1883

[Endnote - Though this is the first time I have written about the mastodon of Cowee Tunnel, I have posted several stories about the tunnel, including this one: ]

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Performance Art for the Pandemania Era

 To get the full effect, this video should be maximized so that the Orwellian English subtitles are legible.

To let die alone is charity

Freedom takes place in isolation

Thinking for yourself endangers the common good

Vaccination is charity

Avoid closeness forever

Sacrifice everything for hygiene

Protect your loved ones

Leave them alone

Separate yourself from the threatening ones

Protect the unborns – renounce their procreation

Betray your neighbours

Rule breakers against the wall

Offenders in solitary confinement

Mask obligation for a lifetime

Disenfranchise vaccination opponents

Submit to normality

Banish mask opponents

This is solidarity

Avoid contamination

Absolute sterility

Body contract creates suffering

Only loneliness is safe

Mask requirement for newborns

Our breath kills

Assured you are just in isolation

Be always obedient

Monday, November 16, 2020

"Crying Out in the Desert"

 “No one, up until last February, would ever have thought that, in all of our cities, citizens would be arrested simply for wanting to walk down the street, to breathe, to want to keep their business open, to want to go to church on Sunday. Yet now it is happening all over the world…” – Archbishop Vigano

I had seen short excerpts from Archbishop Viganò’s recent letter to the President, but that did not prepare me for the entire letter.  In clear language, Vigano outlines the “terrible plans” being carried out by “the forces of Evil.”  And he also delivers a message of hope for “the children of Light.”  This is a remarkable document.




Sunday, October 25, 2020

Solemnity of Christ the King

Mister President,

Allow me to address you at this hour in which the fate of the whole world is being threatened by a global conspiracy against God and humanity. I write to you as an Archbishop, as a Successor of the Apostles, as the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America. I am writing to you in the midst of the silence of both civil and religious authorities. May you accept these words of mine as the “voice of one crying out in the desert” (Jn 1:23).

As I said when I wrote my letter to you in June, this historical moment sees the forces of Evil aligned in a battle without quarter against the forces of Good; forces of Evil that appear powerful and organized as they oppose the children of Light, who are disoriented and disorganized, abandoned by their temporal and spiritual leaders.

Daily we sense the attacks multiplying of those who want to destroy the very basis of society: the natural family, respect for human life, love of country, freedom of education and business. We see heads of nations and religious leaders pandering to this suicide of Western culture and its Christian soul, while the fundamental rights of citizens and believers are denied in the name of a health emergency that is revealing itself more and more fully as instrumental to the establishment of an inhuman faceless tyranny.

A global plan called the Great Reset is underway. Its architect is a global élite that wants to subdue all of humanity, imposing coercive measures with which to drastically limit individual freedoms and those of entire populations. In several nations this plan has already been approved and financed; in others it is still in an early stage. Behind the world leaders who are the accomplices and executors of this infernal project, there are unscrupulous characters who finance the World Economic Forum and Event 201, promoting their agenda.

The purpose of the Great Reset is the imposition of a health dictatorship aiming at the imposition of liberticidal measures, hidden behind tempting promises of ensuring a universal income and canceling individual debt. The price of these concessions from the International Monetary Fund will be the renunciation of private property and adherence to a program of vaccination against Covid-19 and Covid-21 promoted by Bill Gates with the collaboration of the main pharmaceutical groups. Beyond the enormous economic interests that motivate the promoters of the Great Reset, the imposition of the vaccination will be accompanied by the requirement of a health passport and a digital ID, with the consequent contact tracing of the population of the entire world. Those who do not accept these measures will be confined in detention camps or placed under house arrest, and all their assets will be confiscated.

Mr. President, I imagine that you are already aware that in some countries the Great Reset will be activated between the end of this year and the first trimester of 2021. For this purpose, further lockdowns are planned, which will be officially justified by a supposed second and third wave of the pandemic. You are well aware of the means that have been deployed to sow panic and legitimize draconian limitations on individual liberties, artfully provoking a world-wide economic crisis. In the intentions of its architects, this crisis will serve to make the recourse of nations to the Great Reset irreversible, thereby giving the final blow to a world whose existence and very memory they want to completely cancel. But this world, Mr. President, includes people, affections, institutions, faith, culture, traditions, and ideals: people and values that do not act like automatons, who do not obey like machines, because they are endowed with a soul and a heart, because they are tied together by a spiritual bond that draws its strength from above, from that God that our adversaries want to challenge, just as Lucifer did at the beginning of time with his “non serviam.”

Many people – as we well know – are annoyed by this reference to the clash between Good and Evil and the use of “apocalyptic” overtones, which according to them exasperates spirits and sharpens divisions. It is not surprising that the enemy is angered at being discovered just when he believes he has reached the citadel he seeks to conquer undisturbed. What is surprising, however, is that there is no one to sound the alarm. The reaction of the deep state to those who denounce its plan is broken and incoherent, but understandable. Just when the complicity of the mainstream media had succeeded in making the transition to the New World Order almost painless and unnoticed, all sorts of deceptions, scandals and crimes are coming to light.

Until a few months ago, it was easy to smear as “conspiracy theorists” those who denounced these terrible plans, which we now see being carried out down to the smallest detail. No one, up until last February, would ever have thought that, in all of our cities, citizens would be arrested simply for wanting to walk down the street, to breathe, to want to keep their business open, to want to go to church on Sunday. Yet now it is happening all over the world, even in picture-postcard Italy that many Americans consider to be a small enchanted country, with its ancient monuments, its churches, its charming cities, its characteristic villages. And while the politicians are barricaded inside their palaces promulgating decrees like Persian satraps, businesses are failing, shops are closing, and people are prevented from living, traveling, working, and praying. The disastrous psychological consequences of this operation are already being seen, beginning with the suicides of desperate entrepreneurs and of our children, segregated from friends and classmates, told to follow their classes while sitting at home alone in front of a computer.

In Sacred Scripture, Saint Paul speaks to us of “the one who opposes” the manifestation of the mystery of iniquity, the kathèkon (2 Thess 2:6-7). In the religious sphere, this obstacle to evil is the Church, and in particular the papacy; in the political sphere, it is those who impede the establishment of the New World Order.

As is now clear, the one who occupies the Chair of Peter has betrayed his role from the very beginning in order to defend and promote the globalist ideology, supporting the agenda of the deep church, who chose him from its ranks.

Mr. President, you have clearly stated that you want to defend the nation – One Nation under God, fundamental liberties, and non-negotiable values that are denied and fought against today. It is you, dear President, who are “the one who opposes” the deep state, the final assault of the children of darkness.

For this reason, it is necessary that all people of goodwill be persuaded of the epochal importance of the imminent election: not so much for the sake of this or that political program, but because of the general inspiration of your action that best embodies – in this particular historical context – that world, our world, which they want to cancel by means of the lockdown. Your adversary is also our adversary: it is the Enemy of the human race, He who is “a murderer from the beginning” (Jn 8:44).

Around you are gathered with faith and courage those who consider you the final garrison against the world dictatorship. The alternative is to vote for a person who is manipulated by the deep state, gravely compromised by scandals and corruption, who will do to the United States what Jorge Mario Bergoglio is doing to the Church, Prime Minister Conte to Italy, President Macron to France, Prime Minster Sanchez to Spain, and so on. The blackmailable nature of Joe Biden – just like that of the prelates of the Vatican’s “magic circle” – will expose him to be used unscrupulously, allowing illegitimate powers to interfere in both domestic politics as well as international balances. It is obvious that those who manipulate him already have someone worse than him ready, with whom they will replace him as soon as the opportunity arises.

And yet, in the midst of this bleak picture, this apparently unstoppable advance of the “Invisible Enemy,” an element of hope emerges. The adversary does not know how to love, and it does not understand that it is not enough to assure a universal income or to cancel mortgages in order to subjugate the masses and convince them to be branded like cattle. This people, which for too long has endured the abuses of a hateful and tyrannical power, is rediscovering that it has a soul; it is understanding that it is not willing to exchange its freedom for the homogenization and cancellation of its identity; it is beginning to understand the value of familial and social ties, of the bonds of faith and culture that unite honest people. This Great Reset is destined to fail because those who planned it do not understand that there are still people ready to take to the streets to defend their rights, to protect their loved ones, to give a future to their children and grandchildren. The leveling inhumanity of the globalist project will shatter miserably in the face of the firm and courageous opposition of the children of Light. The enemy has Satan on its side, He who only knows how to hate. But on our side, we have the Lord Almighty, the God of armies arrayed for battle, and the Most Holy Virgin, who will crush the head of the ancient Serpent. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

Mr. President, you are well aware that, in this crucial hour, the United States of America is considered the defending wall against which the war declared by the advocates of globalism has been unleashed. Place your trust in the Lord, strengthened by the words of the Apostle Paul: “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). To be an instrument of Divine Providence is a great responsibility, for which you will certainly receive all the graces of state that you need, since they are being fervently implored for you by the many people who support you with their prayers.

With this heavenly hope and the assurance of my prayer for you, for the First Lady, and for your collaborators, with all my heart I send you my blessing.

God bless the United States of America!

+ Carlo Maria Viganò

Tit. Archbishop of Ulpiana

Former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Cumorah Revisited

Charles Augustus Shook (1876 – 1939) was raised in the LDS church, and he was fascinated by the elaborate stories of America’s ancient inhabitants, as depicted in the “Book of Mormon.”

Serpent Mound in Ohio

By the age of 24, his interest in archaeology and ethnology had only grown.  But Shook had a problem:  the stories in the Book of Mormon did not square with what he was learning about America’s distant past:

As I entered deeper and deeper into the study… and as discrepancy after discrepancy between the claims of the Book of Mormon and the facts of science were discovered, I became more and more surprised that this ground had not been more thoroughly worked by the anti-Mormon polemic before, while I became more and more convinced that in the data acquired by archæological and ethnological research the opponent of this system has a mass of evidence which, if rightly used, will completely demolish the claim of the historical credibility of the Book of Mormon.

For the last half century, at least, the Mormons have put out works on American archæology, but most of these have been mere collations of passages from scientific writers, taken here and there without a consideration of the context and often so arranged as to give an entirely different impression to the reader than their authors sought to convey. My plan has been to state fairly the Book of Mormon, or the Mormon, position on a certain point, and then to refute it by bringing to bear against it the latest and best authority obtainable….

His investigation resulted in the 1910 book, Cumorah Revisited: Or, "The Book of Mormon" and the Claims of the Mormons Re-examined from the Viewpoint of American Archeology and Ethnology.

Shook begins with a review of the controversial authorship of the Book of Mormon and summarizes the book’s account of America’s earliest inhabitants.  (Regarding “Cumorah” in the title of Shook’s book, the name as used in the Book of Mormon refers to a hill and surrounding area where the final battle between the Nephites and Lamanites took place, resulting in the annihilation of the Nephite people.  A common assumption among the faithful is that the angel Moroni buried the plates of Mormon in the same hill where his father had buried other plates, equating Cumorah Hill near Palmyra, New York with the Book of Mormon Cumorah.)

Cumorah Hill in New York

Shook proceeds with what is a very readable and engaging synthesis of the archeological evidence and interpretations of his day, which uniformly contradicted the stories found in the Book of Mormon.

Of particular note is discussion of the Cherokees’ origins and their possible involvement in mound construction in the Ohio Valley.   While the Southeast contained some reminders of mysterious long-ago times (most notably the Etowah Mounds near Cartersville, GA) the Ohio Valley was generously peppered with earthworks and burial sites that continue to raise more questions than answers.

Shook describes a prevalent theory that the Tallegewi Indians were predecessors to the Cherokees and engaged in building mounds and effigies in the Ohio Valley until an invasion by the Lenape people (also known as Delawares).  The Lenapes prevailed and sent the Tallegewi southward to the region of North American where their descendants would eventually be identified as “Cherokees.”

We come now to the State of Ohio, which bears evidence of supporting a denser Mound Builder population than any other State, perhaps, in the Union….   

Professor Thomas is of the opinion that the earthworks of that State were the joint work of the Cherokees, Shawnees and some few other Indian tribes, and this seems to agree best with the facts as they have been brought out by traditional, historical and archæological researches.

Then, as now, the shapes of skulls found among ancient human remains provided clues to the migration of people from continent to continent:

It has been ascertained that the State was anciently inhabited by two hostile, savage tribes, the dolicocephali of the Muskingum Valley and the brachycephali of the valleys of the Miami and the Scioto. These tribes were the Ohio Mound Builders. The attempt has been made to trace a connection between them and historic tribes, and a few clues have been found which seem to indicate that the long-heads were the Cherokees and the shortheads the Lenapes and Hurons. The stock which formerly inhabited the valleys of the Miami and the Scioto bore unmistakable osteological affinities to the stonegrave people of Tennessee, and, as the Shawnees who inhabited that State buried their dead in stone graves, it is inferred that they were one with its ancient inhabitants and also of the same race with the ancient inhabitants of the Miami and Scioto Valleys, as they, too, buried their dead in the same kind of sepulchres. Therefore Professor Thomas concludes that both Fort Ancient and Fort Hill were erected by this tribe.   -“Cherokees in Pre-Columbian Times,” p. 79.

The evidence connecting the Cherokees with the other stock is very strong. According to the Delaware tradition, obtained by Heckewelder, the Delawares (who were originally one with the Shawnees and Mohicans) came from the far western part of the continent. After a very long journey they arrived at the river called the Naemaesi Sipu, where they met the Mengwe, or Hurons, who had also left their old country for a new. The Lenape spies, who had been sent ahead, returned from the land beyond the river and reported that the country was inhabited by a very powerful and industrious people called by themselves Talligeu, or Tallegwi, who had regular fortifications and intrenchments. The Lenape, after hearing this report, sent a messenger to the Tallegwi requesting permission to settle in their country. This was promptly refused, but they were given permission to pass through and seek a home to the eastward. After the messenger returned, the Lenape made preparations and began to cross the river, when the Tallegwi treacherously fell upon them, slew a great number and drove the rest back. Fired at this treachery, they called a council of their chief men to decide upon what was best to be done, to retreat as cowards or to fight it out as men. At this juncture the Mengwe, who had heretofore taken no part in the matter, offered to join them, upon condition that they would divide the country with them after it had been conquered. The proposal was gladly accepted, and  the two joined forces against the original inhabitants. The war, which was long and bloody, resulted favorably to the allies, and the Tallegwi were driven from the land and were forced to flee toward the south, while the victors divided the land between them, the Mengwe taking the northern part along the lakes and the Lenape the southern part along the Ohio River.

That the Tallegwi were the Mound Builders there seems to be no reasonable doubt, and some have seen in them, at their expulsion, the migrating Toltecan hordes pouring down from the regions of the north into Mexico. But later students have generally given up this theory, and many, for several reasons, identify them with the Cherokees, who at the time of the early settlement of the country were living in Tennessee, North Carolina and adjacent territory.

One of the most weighty reasons for connecting the Tallegwi with the Cherokees is their name. The former are variously called in the traditions Allegewi, Tallegewi, Tallegwi, Tallegeu and Tallike. The Cherokees were first called "Chelaques” and “Achelaques" by the historians of De Soto's expedition. The French called them “Cheraqui.” And the name as we have it was first used in 1708. The name that they give themselves is “Tsalagi” in their Middle and Western dialects and “Tsaragi” in their Eastern. The reader will observe that there is close agreement in sound between Tallike, the name of the ancient Mound Builders of Ohio, and Tsalagi, the name that the Cherokees give themselves. "Name, location and legends,” says Brinton, "combine to identify the Cherokees or Tsalaki with the Tallike; and this is as much evidence as we can expect to produce in such researches.”—Walam Olum, p. 231.

Another reason for identifying the Tallike with the Cherokees is that their language points to the north for its derivation; it is an offshoot of the language of the Huron-Iroquois stock. “Linguistically,” says Mooney, "the Cherokee belong to the Iroquoian stock, the relationship having been suspected by Barton over a century ago, and by Gallatin and Hale at a later period, and definitely established by Hewitt in 1887. While there can now be no question of the connection, the marked lexical and grammatical differences indicate that the separation must have occurred at a very early period.”— Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, p. 16.

We have already seen that the Cherokees were Mound Builders and that they claimed to have built the mounds on Grave Creek, West Virginia, which include one of the largest burial-mounds in the country, whose dimensions are one thousand feet in circumference by seventy-five feet high. The traditions of other tribes sustain this tradition. Mooney says of the Wyandots: "The Wyandot confirm the Delaware story and fix the identification of the expelled tribe. According to their tradition, as narrated in 1802, the ancient fortifications in the Ohio Valley had been erected in the course of a long war between themselves and the Cherokees, which resulted finally in the defeat of the latter.”—Ibid, p. 19.

And Prof. John Fiske writes: “The Cherokees were formerly classed in the Muskoki group, along with the Creeks and Choctaws, but a closer study of their language seems to show that they were a somewhat remote offshoot of the Huron-Iroquois stock. For a long time they occupied the country between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes, and probably built the mounds that are still to be seen there. Somewhere about the thirteenth or fourteenth century they were gradually pushed southward into the Muskoki region by repeated attacks from the Lenape and Hurons. The Cherokees were probably also the builders of the mounds of castern Tennessee and western North Carolina. They retained their moundbuilding habits sometime after the white man came upon the scene.”—The Discovery of America, Vol. I., p. 145.

From the foregoing facts it seems highly probable that the Cherokees were the Tallegwi, and that they, with the Lenapes and Hurons, were the Mound Builders of Ohio.

Thomas attributes the mounds of the various sections of the United States to the Indian tribes as follows: “The proof is apparently conclusive that the Cherokee were mound builders, and that to them are to be attributed most of the mounds of east Tennessee and western North Carolina; it also renders' it probable that they were the authors of the ancient works of the Kanawha Valley in West Virginia. There are also strong indications that the Tallegwi of tradition were Cherokee and the authors of some of the principal works of Ohio. The proof is equally conclusive that to the Shawnee are to be attributed the box-shaped stone graves, and the mounds and other works directly connected with them, in the region south of the Ohio, especially those of Kentucky, Tennessee and northern Georgia, and possibly also some of the mounds and stone graves in the vicinity of Cincinnati. The stone graves in the valley of the Delaware and most of those in Ohio are attributable to the Delaware Indians. There are sufficient reasons for believing that the ancient works in northern Mississippi were built chiefly by the Chickasaw; those in the region of Flint River, southern Georgia, by the Uchee; and that a large portion of those of the Gulf States were built by the Muskokee tribes. The evidence obtained is rendering it quite probable that the Winnebago were formerly mound builders and the authors not only of burial tumuli, but also of some of those strange works known as “effigy mounds,' so common in Wisconsin. That most of the ancient works of New York must be attributed to the Iroquois tribes is now generally conceded.”—Work in Mound Exploration, p. 13.

Now, to sum up: The Mound Builders were not the Jaredites and Nephites, because they were one people, were divided into numerous independent tribes, came from the north or northwest, began and ended their work too late, were of an inferior culture, and are identified with existing tribes by traditional, historical and archæological evidences. The theory of the Book of Mormon, then, that the United States was the seat, in ancient times, of a “wonderful civilization” which “had its base and origin in Central America and Mexico," is wholly a creation of the fancy and unsupported by the facts.