Monday, January 16, 2006

WHAT THE FOUNDING FATHERS WANTED?


ROGER SHERMAN
1721-1793

We heard many time, "our American founding fathers had said this...and that our American founding fathers had wanted that;" but have any of these silver spoon sucking politicians actually read the writings of our founding fathers? I've read their written works, and it seems pretty clear to me that many of the politicians currently inside the Washington, D.C. beltway have absolutely no regard or respect for what the American founding fathers wanted. Because if they did understand, they would certainly be alarmed by just how far America has strayed from that road paved with the blood, sweat and tears of our Founding Fathers!

ROGER SHERMAN:

For the purpose of this post, I have chosen the most significant member of all of our American founding father. Roger Sherman was a man who risked everything that he had to form the new and independent government. He was father of fifteen (15), and his commitment to cause of democracy kept his family on the very brink of financial ruin during those forming decades.

Roger Sherman’s father died when he was just a young man of twenty, and the responsible for his siblings and mother passed to him. He worked as a cobbler, surveyor, merchant and he was accepted to the Bar of Litchfield in 1754, and represented New Milford in the General Assembly the following year. He was appointed justice of the peace, and then four years later a justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut. By the age of forty, he had become a successful landowner and businessman, while also integrating himself into the social and political fabric of the New England region. He was then appointed commissary to the Connecticut Troops at the start of the Revolutionary War; this was experience that he later put to great use when he was elected to the Continental Congress in 1774. Sherman was a very active and much respected Delegate to the Congress. He served and numerous committees, including the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. He served all through the war for Independence. As active as he was in Congress, he simultaneously fulfilled his other offices.

In 1776 these efforts began to take their toll on his health. Thus, he appealed to then his friend Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull to relieve him of his state duties, so that he could remain in US Congress through 1781. He left that office at the 1781, but returned in 1783 and 84, serving on the committee forming the "Articles of Confederation." His interests in the strength of the federation carried him through to the Constitutional Convention in 1785, where Sherman was one of the most vocal and persistent members. James Madison's notes from the convention credited Sherman with delivering one hundred and thirty-eight (138) speeches to the convention delegates.

Roger Sherman, who is now barely known to many American citizens, is the only American founding father to place his signature upon all of the great founding documents of our country; as well as aiding in the drafting of each of these documents; the Articles of Association in 1774; the Declaration of Independence in 1776; the Articles of Confederation in 1781 and the United States Constitution in 1788.

When the Constitutional Convention of 1787 became deadlocked over the matter of legislative voting, Roger Sherman put forth the proposal of "a proportion of suffrage in the first branch (the house) should be according to the respective numbers of free inhabitants, and that in the second branch (the senate) each state should have one vote," a system similar to one that he had advocated previously for; as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776. Sherman’s "Great Compromise" was adopted on July 16, 1787 by a vote of five states to four, and served to not only save the convention from ruin, but provided the stimulus to resolve additional issues that had yet to be decided.

POLITICAL & RELIGIOUS REVOLUTION:

Perhaps the most notable of Roger Sherman's personal characteristics was his strong and firm religious faith. He even opposed the appointment of his fellow Declaration signer, Gouverneur Morris, as the US Minister to France; believing that this high-living patriot was of an "irreligious nature." He even published works that demonstrated his deep interest in area of theology, including A Short Sermon on the Duty of Self-Examination Preparatory to Receiving the Lord's Supper (1789).

John Adams, himself an heir to the same tradition, described Sherman as "an old Puritan, as honest as an angel and as firm in the cause of American Independence as Mount Atlas." Thomas Jefferson once said of him: "That is Mr. Sherman of Connecticut, a man who has never said a foolish thing in his life."

Yet Sherman was one of the first to deny the supremacy of Parliament, stating that the British Parliament had no right to make laws for America. Sherman’s friends and colleagues on the Connecticut Superior Court; Chief Judge Jonathan Trumbull, Matthew Griswold and Eliphalet Dyer who all became influential members of the “Sons of Liberty” and/or the religious “New Lights” radicals that swept across Connecticut.

Sherman argued against the 3/5 provision, which recognized slaves as being only 3/5 of a person toward representation in the House. He also argued against the establishment of any one national religion, knowing that even in the late 1700s America was a country of great religious and spiritual diversity.

Roger Sherman's descendants continued in the footsteps of their famous grandfather, especially on the issues of great social change.

ABOLITIONISM:

Roger Sherman Baldwin, (Rebecca Sherman 2, Roger Sherman 1) In 1790, Simeon Baldwin, who married two of Roger Sherman’s daughters, was one of the founders of the "Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom and for the Relief of Persons unlawfully holden in Bondage . . . having with grief and abhorrence long beheld a considerable number of our fellow men groaning under the iron band of slavery . . . ."

Simeon’s son, Connecticut Governor and US Senator Roger Sherman Baldwin spoke out against the abuses of slavery from the floor of the United States Senate in denouncing the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. He reviewed the Amistad Slaves case that he won with then former US President John Quincy Adams, attacking the clause in the Fugitive Slave Act which simply accepted the word of a slave claimant without any recourse to judicial action to determine whether or not the fugitive was, in fact, a free individual. At the end of an immensely successful law career he was a Connecticut delegate to the National Peace Conference in Washington in 1861.

Source: Manchester, Mary E. "Baldwin, Roger Sherman." Dictionary of American Biography, Volume I. New York: Scribner's 1936.

WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE:

Elizabeth Selden Rogers,(Charles Atwood White 4, Martha Sherman 3, Roger Sherman, Jr. 2, Roger Sherman 1) of New York City, was the wife of a prominent thyroid specialist and was the daughter of a great-grandson of Roger Sherman. She was a civic reformer working to improve the New York public schools, and to also win suffrage for women in the state of New York first and later joining the national suffrage movement.

She was chairman of the Advisory Council of the National Women Party, and was one of the most forceful speakers in the "Prison Special" bus tour across the country; during which suffragists spoke of their experience in jail. Rogers was arrested on July 14, 1917 for picketing in front of the United States White House, and was sentenced to sixty (60) days in Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia; but she was quickly pardoned by US President Woodrow Wilson after just three (3) days.

Source: Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1920), 367.

GAY LIBERATION:

Prescott Townsend, (Kate Wendell Sherman 4, Edward Standish Sherman 3, Roger Sherman, Jr. 2, Roger Sherman 1) of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was arrested on 29 January 1943 for participating in an “unnatural and lascivious act.” He was sentenced to an eighteen (18) months jail term in the Massachusetts House of Corrections on Deer Island, although no one in his family applied pressure to shorten his jail time. The Mid-Town Journal headline of 29 January 1943 reported, "Beacon Hill 'Twilight' Man Member of Queer Love Cult Seduced Young Man" and one month later he was officially stricken from both the New York and Boston Social Registers.

Townsend is believed to have been the first individual to organize a public conversation about homosexuality, and the first acknowledged homosexual to address the Massachusetts State legislature, where he urged the lawmakers "to legalize love."

He opened the first art theater on Beacon Hill, and was a founder of the Provincetown Playhouse, where the works of Eugene O'Neil where first performed.

Townsend had for years been suffering from failing health brought on by Parkinson's Disease, and on 23 May 1973 his body was found in the Beacon Hill apartment of John Murray. Murray had been taking care of him during the final years of his life, and the police reported that "when we came in to take charge of the body, Mr. Townsend was found in a kneeling prayer position at his bedside." Of his entire family, only one sister, a nephew and a great nephew bothered to attend his memorial service at the Arlington Street Church.

Source:Randy Wicker, Early Boston gay advocate Prescott Townsend dies at 78, The Advocate, May 24, 1973, Issue 114, page 11.

GOVERNMENT REFORM & PRESIDENTIAL IMPEACHMENT:

Archibald Cox (Frances Bruen Perkins 5, Elizabeth Hoar Evarts 4, William Maxwell Evarts 3, Mehitabel Sherman 2, Roger Sherman 1) “Archibald Cox will be remembered for his uncompromising defense of the law against US President Richard M. Nixon during his impeachment trial. When his investigation revealed the existence of secret Oval Office audio tapes, he subpoenaed his boss to provide them.

At a Saturday afternoon news conference hours before Cox was fired, Cox insisted: ‘I'm certainly not out to get the president of the United States. . . . I decided I had to try to stick by what I thought was right." In a formal statement after his dismissal, he said simply that 'whether we shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for the Congress and, ultimately, the American people to decide.’

After two appeals of the subpoenas were turned down, the president offered to give the US Senate and Cox written summaries of what was on the tapes. Cox turned down the deal. President Nixon then ordered US Attorney General Richardson to fire him. But the Richardson refused to fire his former Harvard law professor and cousin, as did Assistant Attorney General William Ruckelshaus. Nixon then turned to his solicitor general (future Supreme Court Justice candidate) Robert Bork, who was willing to carry out the President’s order. The event which will forever be known as 'the Saturday Night Massacre.'

He would later observe that ‘one of the important lessons of Watergate was that unless the government trusts the people and conducts itself in an honorable fashion, then the people won't trust the government. . . . The long-range aim of the Watergate investigation and prosecution was to show that the government could cleanse itself and be put in a shape that the people could trust."

Source: Bart Barnes, Watergate Prosecutor Faced Down the President washingtonpost.com, May 30, 2004; Page A01

ENVIRONMENTALIST:

Theodore Sherman Palmer (Henry Austin Palmer 5, Eliza Harriet Palmer 4, Maria Sherman 3, John Sherman 2, Roger Sherman 1) He was the first ornithologist within the U.S. Biological Survey of 1890 to 1896. He directs a five months forwarding in the Death Valley in 1891. He was a assistant chief 1896 to 1902, then of 1910 to 1914 attending in load of the hunting preserves of 1902 to 1910 and 1914 1916. Always in this same institution, he becomes expert for the conservation of game of 1916 to 1924, biologist of 1924 to 1928, then senior biologist of 1928 to 1933.

He was vice president of the American Society of Mammalogists since 1927, having declined, after election in 1933, to serve as president. Dr. Palmer was a corresponding member of several foreign ornithological societies, including the Ornithologische Gesellschaft, Bavaria, and the Royal Hungarian Institute of Ornithology, and is an honorary member of the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire (London), the Transvaal Game Protective Society (South Africa), and the International Association of Game, Fish and Conservation Commissioners.

He is also a member of the American Bison Society, the Society of American Foresters, the National Parks Association, and many other scientific and conservation organizations. He was also a co-founder of the National Audubon Society.

Source: Biological Survey, W. L. MCATEE , 367-377

Note: The brother of Theodore Sherman Palmer's father Henry Austin Palmer, Ira Hart Palmer, married Harriet Trumbull. She was the daughter of Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (who was the son of Roger Sherman fellow judge on the Connecticut Superior Court and also a Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.)

HOLISTIC MEDICINE

Evarts G. Loomis (Jane Herring Greene4, Mary Evarts3, Mehitabel Sherman2, Roger Sherman1) Loomis is known as the father of holistic medicine. A homeopathic physician of international renown, he was an advocate of holistic treatment of disease, natural foods, exercise, and meditation. Loomis was licensed to practice traditional medicine in 1946, but began early in his career to diverge from a quiet or dull practice. He has also been a proponent of regulated, monitored 24-36 hour fasts, touting the benefits of both the water fast and the all-juice fast.

Source: American Holistic Health Association (AHHA) - Loomis Bio

Note: Evarts Loomis' grandmother was Mary Evarts, a sister of former United States Secretary of State, Attorney General and Senator William Maxwell Evarts.

All of these descendants of our American founding father were as passionate in the own convictions, as Roger Sherman was about attaining freedom and democracy.

Would Roger Sherman have approved of, or even supported their many various causes and political pursuits? No one can truly say for sure, however, one could assume that he would have likely admired both their passion and drive.

So if you want to emulate our American Founding Fathers, get radical....stand up for the rights you have; or more importantly, the rights you deserve as American tax paying citizen and afforded to you under the United States Constitution!