Saturday, August 31, 2013

Who are the Vendeens?


A Sacred Heart insignia from one of the members of the Royal and Catholic Army that fought in the Vendee in 1793AD.
Who or what is a Vendeen?  Here is the story:
The French Revolution began in 1789AD with the Estates-General, called by his most Christian majesty, King Louis XVI of France, turning itself into a National Assembly and attempting to remake France in accord with "Enlightened" principles.  Even the Englishman, Edmund Burke, as expressed in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790, could see that from its start, this Revolution was a rejection of the traditions of France, be they good or bad.  The violent storming of the Bastille fortress in Paris on 14 July 1789 was but a prelude of what was to come.  France was to be remade, and neither altar nor throne had a place in this new order.
In July 1790, the National Assembly passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which redrew the boundaries of the diocese of France, reducing the number from 120 to 80, required bishops to be elected by local assemblies, and prohibited the bishops from seeking confirmation of their post from the pope.  That November 1790, the government required an oath of the bishops and priests of France to support the CCC.  Less than 50% complied, and devout French Catholics sought out and supported "non-juring" priests that remained loyal to the Holy Father and refused to take the oath.
The National Assembly drafted a new Constitution in 1791 that made France, officially, a constitutional monarchy, as Louis XVI, though under house arrest, remained titular head of state.  This didn't last long, as the king was deposed in August 1792 and France was declared a Republic in September 1792.  The King was tried for crimes against the people, and executed on 21 January 1793.
The persecution of Catholics and of loyal French subjects grew increasingly worse.  The execution of the king, along with a draft bill to raise 300,000 troops in France's war against Great Britain, Austria, and the Netherlands, prompted the people of the new Department of the Vendée, in the northeast of France, to rise against the Revolutionary government.  This rising came on 12 March 1793, and within two days they had a force of 12,000.  Their motto: "Long live the King, Long live the good priests!& White cockade."  Two of the more notable leaders of this spontaneous counter-Revolution were Jacques Cathelineau, a baker, and Francois-Athanase Charette, a young nobleman.
The rising in the Vendée was taking place at the very time that Jacques Robiespierre declared a kind of martial law to stamp our the enemies of the Revolution -- as on 27 July 1793, he joined the Committee of Public Safety, which began systematically crushing opposition to the ruling regime.  This was the Reign of Terror.  At least 14,000 would be put to death in the next year.
The Vendeens had a great deal of initial success, quickly growing in numbers, and taking the city of Samaur on 9 June 1793.  In an attempt to continue their momentum, Cathelieau had his Royal and Catholic Army march on the nearby port city of Nantes.  This ended in disaster and left him wounded.  The zealous commander of  the Vendee rising died the next month, in July.  The new leader of the rising would be Louis d'Elbee.  In August, however, the Committee of Public Safety dispatched an army under Jean-Baptiste Carrier to suppress the rising and "pacify" the region.
Henri de Rochejaquelein by Pierre Guerin
The Vendeens met defeat at the Battle of Cholet in October, when General d'Elbee was wounded, and Henri de Rochejaquelein, a young man of 21, was elected the new commander of the cause.  The foreign assistance that the rising so desperately needed never came, and by December the cause was crushed.
That Spring of 1794, at the command of the Committee of Public Safety, a force under General Louis Marie Turreau, completed the "pacification" of the region, engaging in what was simply genocide.  Some 20,000 to 50,000 Vendeen civilians were killed in the campaign of the "infernal columns" from January to May 1794AD.
The Reign of Terror itself would end that summer of July 1794 with the overthrow and execution of Robiespierre, but the chaos in France would continue for some years, under the coming of Napoleon.
The Vendeens, then, were devout Catholics that, when faced with government persecution of their Church, and attacks on their deeply cherished traditions, stood against such tyranny, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Friday, August 30, 2013

151st of the Second Battle of Manassas

This week we have been marking the 151st anniversary of the Second Battle of Manassas.  Last year, for the 150th observance, this blogger did a day-by-day posting of the events of the campaign.  You can review those events and details at these links:
27 August 1862: Kettle Run & Bull Run Bridge

28 August 1862: Thoroughfare Gap & Brawner Farm

29 August 1862: Unfinished Railroad

On this day, 30 August, in the year 1862, the Second Battle of Manassas would come to its dramatic conclusion.

Union Commander, General John Pope, confident of ultimate victory would launch one last massive assault on the defensive lines of Confederate Stonewall Jackson.  The honor would fall to the Union V Corps of General Fitz-John Porter.  Pope launched this assault with no consideration for the entire Corps of Confederate General Longstreet that sat poised to crush the flank of the Union Army.

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Map of the attack of the Union V Corps of Porter.  [Map by Hal Jespersen,]

After an eerily quiet morning, Porter's 3PM assault broke the silence, and the final shred of momentum behind the Union army.  Confederate artillery shredded the attacking columns, and though some of Jackson's men resorted to throwing rocks -- ammunition having run out -- Stonewall's men held the line.

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Map of Longstreet's Confederate attack.  [Map by Hal Jespersen,]

With that, Robert E. Lee unleashed the Corps of CS General James Longstreet, and the left flank of the Union army dissolved before it.  Only the stubborn resistance of scattered Union elements on Chinn Ridge gave the Union Army time to set up a defensive position along the Sudley Rd, protecting their line of retreat back to Centreville and, ultimately, Washington, DC.

Nightfall on 30 August 1862 brought the Second Battle of Manassas to a conclusion -- a great Confederate victory, but the Union Army of Virginia, with attached elements of the Army of the Potomac, had survived and held their ground.

In the end, Lee lost 1,305 killed and 7,048 wounded, while Pope endured 13,824 killed, wounded, or captured.  Virginia was saved!

You can visit the ground at Manassas National Battlefield Park -- and see the dramatic ground of the V Corps attack at Deep Cut, and the crucial ground of Chinn Ridge:

This site has a wealth of information on the battle:

This site include the official reports of the battle: Civil War Home: 2nd Bull Run (Manassas)

Here is the NPS account of the battle:

Robert E. Lee, however, was not done yet.  As the defeated Union forces slinked back to Centreville, Lee devised a plan to get around the Union host and cut off its retreat to Washington, DC.

This attempt would be the occasion of the two forces clashing again at Chantilly on 1 September.

Live well!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Have a Dream

The Reflecting Pool on the Mall, Washington, DC, 28 August 1963.

Tomorrow, 28 August, is the 50th anniversary of the speech famously known as "I Have a Dream" by the Doctor Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior, delivered on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Much is certainly being said and done to mark this anniversary, and this blogger will make a couple of observations on the occasion.  I will not get into the particulars of the whole range of Dr. King's beliefs, positions, and personal life.  These are rather complex, not uniformly edifying, and are a discussion, perhaps, for another day and another venue.

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MLK delivering his famous "I Have a Dream" Speech.

My observations today, however, will only hinge on that particularly memorable line of the speech: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character."

Two points immediately present themselves in response to that statement.

In the first place, I think the statement is so moving and memorable because there is a solid grounding in truth that underlies this "dream."  We should, indeed, be concerned with the character of a man, rather than on his particular race.  All men ought to be equal under law, insofar as reason allows and permits.  Law is, after all, "an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated."  It is incumbent on everyone, regardless of their own race, to treat others with charity, respect, and at the very least, in justice.  Certainly, public officials have a grave obligation in this regard.  In addition, we should by all means extend charity to the poor and the disadvantaged -- of any and every race!

The second thought regards the interpretation of this statement and the larger, and more difficult question, of race relations, especially in the United States.  To a great many people, equal rights seems to mean not a matter of equality under law, or in treating folks justly, but of something rather different.  Many seem to assume that equality should mean either equal societal status in terms or wealth or power on one hand, or reparation for past wrongs, on the other.  History is filled with accounts of injustice, inequality, and tragedy.  That of the United States is certainly no exception; and a single ethnic group can by no means claim a monopoly on being the object of such injustice.  An agenda of revenge, of coercive redistribution of wealth, of legal preferences -- these hardly contribute positively to society or truly right the wrongs of the past, however.

If it was wrong to benefit from the labor of the slave without paying wages, how can you take the wages of an innocent man to make restitution for something he had nothing to do with?  If it was wrong to impose segregation or legal restrictions on those of a certain race, how is it acceptable to promote quotas or race-based preferences?  If we are committed to fair and honest elections -- one man, one vote -- how can we claim it is racist to require identification of all voters, regardless of race to ensure that each eligible voter casts a single ballot?

At the same time, while the law and justice demands that we treat all equally, nature and experience tells us that folks do have cultural and ethnic differences.  As well it should be.  Equality can not and should not mean that there is no recognition of such differences in people.  Different peoples have different customs, music, foods, histories, heroes, and languages.  We should not deny to a race or ethnic group its strengths or unique characteristics.  At the same time, it makes little sense to ignore the prevailing faults of a people, especially if you are charged with the common good.  Denying someone their legal rights based on race alone is an injustice.  Ignoring statistics and failing to remain vigilant of trends within ethnic groups seems naïve.

In the end, we should dream of a "a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character."  We should treat individuals with justice, respect, and charity; we should acknowledge and appreciate the strengths and contributions of various races and ethnic groups; and, especially for those entrusted with the common good, there should be an awareness of the predominate faults of each group.  That is this bloggers two cents, anyway!

To close, I will note to you a couple sites that commemorate the life and achievements of Dr. King:
In Washington, DC: NPS: MLK Memorial
and in Atlanta, Georgia: NPS: MLK National Historic Site

Also, for reference, here is a link to the full text of the speech: "I Have A Dream," 28 August 1963.

Stamp of Booker T. Washington.

Finally, here is a link to the historic site that commemorates this blogger's favorite "Civil Rights" leader of US History: NPS: Booker T. Washington National Monument

Live well!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Who is Thomas Cole?

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Thomas Cole in 1846AD.

Many of those reading this blog may have heard of a fellow named Thomas Cole.  Certainly, with such a splendid name, this painter of the Hudson River School should be much better known.

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The Oxbow, 1836, at the Met.

Thomas Cole was born in England in 1801, and came to the United States with his family in 1818.  The first settled in Steubenville, Ohio, where young Cole first learned the rudiments of painting.  By the mid 1820s, he would be in New York and would settle on the landscape as his primary artistic focus.

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Home in the Woods, 1847, at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem.

Cole ended up living and maintaining a studio at Cedar Grover in Catskill, NY, which is the site of the modern Thomas Cole National Historic Site.  Thomas Cole was married and had five children.  He would die in 1848AD.

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A view of Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning, ca. 1844, Brooklyn Museum.

One of the peaks of the Catskill Mountains would be named for Thomas Cole:

For more on this notable 19th-century American painter, you might note these sites:
Cedar Grove Official Website

NPS Thomas Cole NHS Website

"Explore Thomas Cole" Website

Thomas Cole at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Works of Thomas Cole at the National Gallery in Washington, DC

Live well!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Maps of Three, You should See!

Maps are one of this bloggers favorite resources, tools, and hobbies.  What a splendid way in which to learn about the world about us!

This brief post simply intends to provide posts to three webpages with excellent map resources.

The first is a great compilations of historical maps of locations all around the world.  If you are looking for antique maps of a specific location, this is an excellent resource:
Old Maps Online

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A USGS Topographic Map featuring the area around Stowe, Vermont.  The site below has these maps for free by download!

This second page, to the website of the USGS, is specific to the United States, but provides not only free downloads of USGS topo maps (including maps and charts going back to the 19th century), but a Google map that has not only map and satellite options, but a topo option.  Check it out:
USGS Map Locator and Downloader

Map of the Washington, DC area -- The color conforms to ethnic groups: blue, White; green, Black; orange, Hispanic; red, Asian.  View the full map of the USA at the link below.

Finally, this map page is rather specific United States map that represents the census information on the distribution of ethnic groups in the Republic at the time of the last (2010AD) census.  There are, they claim, 300 million colored-coded dotes.  This tells so very much about the society and history of the country in a few quick glances:

Never be lost, read your map books, and never consent to be bossed around by a talking machine!

Live well!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Truth = Sin? Sometimes.

Allegory of Truth and Time, by Carracci, 1585AD.

"2 We are betrayed, all of us, into many faults; and a man who is not betrayed into faults of the tongue must be a man perfect at every point, who knows how to curb his whole body."  St. James 3:2

On occasion, this blogger has heard folks make remarks to the effect that, if one speaks the truth, that is always permissible, or even, the charitable course of action.

At the outset, of course, we would note that lying, or the direct intentional telling of falsehood, is always wrong and a perversion of the power of communication; we are able to communicate for the purpose of transmitting and conveying the truth.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, regarding the commandment against bearing false witness that: "2464 The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant."

Since we are to be committed to the truth, does that mean that telling what is true is always charitable, or at least permissible?  Put the other way, then: can telling the truth be sinful?  The answer is, without question in the perspective of Christian moral theology, no and yes.  We can violate charity in speaking the truth, and sin by saying what is, so far as we know, accurate.

Whispering Angel by Carracci.

How can this be?  I would note two ways.

The first is the great sin of detraction.  The Catechism: "2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty... of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them.279 [278: Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 220; 279: Cf. Sir 21:28.]

It has always been understood in Catholic moral theology that revealing the faults and failings of another without "objectively valid reason" is sinful.  This is detraction.  When revealing the faults of another, it is understood that there needs to be a "need to know" before it can be morally acceptable.  A desire to help the one with the faults, thus bringing them to the attention of one who can help, or a desire to protect others, thus revealing knowledge of crimes, are certainly legitimate reasons to disclose another's faults.  Indeed, there is a duty to disclose such faults when ignorance of the faults could be harmful to anyone.  If someone has a harmless, but embarrassing, fault, it is simply not acceptable to reveal it to others for the sake of conversation.  If the fault was of a serious and dangerous character, however, it should be revealed to those who have the need to know -- whether the authorities, parents, family, or associates of the person at fault.

In this first consideration, we are determined to tell the truth, but we don't tell what would damage a reputation without "objectively valid reason" even if what was told was true.  The adage, "if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" is often a good bit of advice.  The "need to know" in serious cases would be the obvious exception, where the common good demands that the truth be known, even if it damages someone's reputation, and this to protect folks from real harm.

Fraternal Correction.

A second way in which the truth can be told, but to harmful effect, would be when it is told without any consideration for the one receiving it.  Consider the truthful fraternal correction given to one who either committed a fault, or held a erroneous position, but delivered in such a harsh and direct fashion that it did nothing to encourage repentance or introspection in the one rebuked.  When someone is admonished, that must be done with their good firmly in mind -- and must be delivered in a way, if at all possible, that will be helpful to them.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologiae, II-II, Q. 33, deals with the question of Fraternal Correction, and when and how it should be administered.  In article three, he makes a distinction:
"...correction is twofold. One is an act of charity, which seeks in a special way the recovery of an erring brother by means of a simple warning: such like correction belongs to anyone who has charity, be he subject or prelate."

"But there is another correction which is an act of justice purposing the common good, which is procured not only by warning one's brother, but also, sometimes, by punishing him, that others may, through fear, desist from sin. Such a correction belongs only to prelates, whose business it is not only to admonish, but also to correct by means of punishments."

For us layfolk, then, admonishment and correction of our brothers should be an act of charity.  In that very context, St. Thomas Aquinas doesn't argue that "as long as what you say is true, go for it," but he notes in article six, regarding this type of correction in charity proper to prelate and lay alike: "when it is deemed probable that the sinner will not take the warning, and will become worse, such fraternal correction should be foregone, because the means should be regulated according to the requirements of the end."

Such direction implies that, even if what was said was the truth, it must be said with the good of the individual in mind.  Our fraternal correction of the faults or erroneous beliefs of others must be given with a consideration of its impact, of its likely result, and how, then it would be received.  A great many particulars might be considered: perhaps the correction would be better received if delivered by someone else;  perhaps the correction should be given in a different context or at a different time.  Indeed, there might be cases when "such fraternal correction should be foregone," even when the correction was nothing but a statement of the truth.  Truth in content, then, is not the only measure when it comes to determining if fraternal correction is necessary or delivered well.

Of course, if one is asked to affirm as good what is evil, or if one's opinion is sought, you certainly can't deny the truth or support evil -- though you can still deliver it with tact and a charitable concern for the particular soul of the person to whom you speak.

Charity demands that we speak the truth, but that we speak it with the good of souls in mind.  It is simply incorrect to think that speaking what you believe to be true, regardless of circumstances, is always charitable.

More than ever, the admonition to think before you speak, is good advice; so, too, the golden rule!

Live well!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

National Park Stamps & Cancellations


The National Park Service, a part of the United States Department of the Interior, maintains some 400 or so units across this rather sizable Republic.  This blogger has very much enjoyed visiting these parks, battlefields, and monuments, from the Everglades and Mount Rainier, to Gettysburg and Shiloh.

For more on the National Park Service, in general, you might note their webpage, and see what is in your area, if you are in the states:

A page out of my book.

Recently, I had the opportunity to note and discover the "Passport to your National Parks" booklet that can be found in most National Park gift shops.  Of course, the books is designed to encourage you to collect stamps -- both those similar to postage stamps, and cancellation ink stamps like those given at a customs station on a border.  The likeness of page 33 in my book gives you an example of both.

You can find the books and stamps sold on this page:

This link provides a list of which parks were featured in the adhesive stamps for each of the years:

This site presents an impressive personal collection that gives one an excellent idea of how many stamps there are out there (Manassas Battlefield, for instance, has at least 4 if you visit the various buildings!):

Finally, these folks have made collecting the stamps a kind of treasure hunt: NPS Passport Cancellation Stations, A-Z

Often a park will have but one or two stamps.  A few locations -- especially in the Washington, DC area -- will reward you with a massive number in one place.  For my own part, I might note that the headquarters of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, located in Turkey Run Park, in McLean, Virginia, has 34 stamps, including the Parkway itself, but also Great Falls, Roosevelt Island, the Arlington House, and the USMC War Memorial.  The bookstore at the Washington Monument has stamps for all of the major monuments on the Mall, along with Ford's Theatre and Pennsylvania Ave NHS.

The next time you are in a NPS visitor center, you might ask about the stamps...

I found this one on line, and need to find the time to get up there for my own:

Live well!