About Corazon

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jaxson's Birthday

This week was a big deal for our family. Jaxson turned 6!!! Here are a few pics and videos of the big day:

Eating Jaxson's favorite food for his birthday: spaghetti!

And here are a couple of videos:

Cooking with Corazon: Episode XXVI

Grilled Chicken and
Vegetable Yakitori

Sorry for my brief absence from blogging. Sometimes it is just nice to unplug for a while. Anyway, I thought this might be a good way to get back into the swing of things. Last week I made the following dish:

Asian food (along with Mexican) has always been my favorite, and yakitori is a simple and delicious meal that captures the superiority of Asian cuisine. Here's the recipe:

- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 6 tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 4 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- a little bit of honey (to taste)

1.) Mix the soy sauce, mirin, sugar and honey and heat until completely mixed.
2.) Marinate chopped chicken breasts (one inch cubes) in sauce along with desired veggies.
3.) Put on bamboo skewers and cook for approx. 15 minutes.
4.) SCARF!!!!

The sweetness of the sugar and the honey really do offset the saltiness of the soy sauce. It was grrrrreat!

旺盛な食欲 A.K.A. "Buen Provecho!"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Depth with Gordon Wood

This past weekend, renowned historian Gordon Wood (in my opinion the best historian of early America) was on In Depth, a program where he talked about his career, research, books and even answered several questions from viewers. For those who don't know Wood, he is the author of several books including the highly successful The Radicalism of the American Revolution for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, Empire of Liberty is perhaps his most thorough and best of all.

The reason I post this video here is because I know that the history of early America can sometimes be tough to understand, especially when you have voices on both the left and the right hijacking the legacy of the founders to support their respective agendas. For this reason I HIGHLY RECOMMEND listening to or reading Gordon Wood instead of the nonsense you hear out there from the Glenn Beck's of the world.

You can watch the broadcast by clicking here. Enjoy!

"Mr. Jefferson I Know You are a Deist...Right?"

Bill Baker of Colonial Williamsburg is well known for his portrayal of President Thomas Jefferson. As can be expected of any person portraying Jefferson, Baker is well-acquainted with questions regarding Jefferson's religious beliefs. In the following video, Baker (Jefferson) is posed a question by an audience member who asks, "Mr. Jefferson, I know that you are a Deist. I'm wondering if this was the reason for your editing the Bible as we know it into your own version of the Bible?"

Mr. Jefferson's (Baker's) response is quite interesting. See for yourself:

The question is asked at 1:33 seconds.

For the most part, I agree with Bill Baker's depiction of Jefferson. However, I think that he oversimplified things just a bit (probably due to time constraints as he couldn't rant for hours on one single question). For me personally, Jefferson has always been a bit of an enigma. When I first started studying early American history years ago I hated Jefferson. Now he is my favorite founder of them all. And when it comes to his religious beliefs I believe that one cannot understand the man by simply skimming the surface. You must dive deep into the man to truly understand what he was all about.

And when it comes to his religion, I believe that Jefferson can be best understood and appreciated with the following four points:

1.) Jefferson loved Jesus but not Christianity.

2.) Jefferson loved scripture but despised its priestly/pastoral interpretation.

3.) Jefferson believed in reason and not faith.

4.) Jefferson embraced the internal benefits of religious devotion but detested the outward demonstrations of Christian zealots.

In short, I believe that in addition to his Christian and deist leanings, Jefferson was deeply influenced by his belief in CHRISTIAN RESTORATIONISM, which caused Jefferson to accept what he believed were the true doctrines of Christ and to reject the distorted orthodoxy of his day.

Point #1: Jefferson loved Jesus, but not Christianity:
For Jefferson, the religion of Jesus Christ was simple. In its purest form it represented (to Jefferson) the greatest philosphical strategy for acheiving harmony in one's life. However, Jefferson did not believe that organized Christianity was the vehicle by which Christ's teachings were to be taught to the mases. Quite the contrary. In fact, Jefferson believed that organized Christianity had actually distorted and ruined the teachings of Jesus. As he stated in an 1818 letter to Wells and Lilly of the Classical Press:

"I make you my acknowledgement for the sermon on the Unity of God, and am glad to see our countrymen looking that question in the face. it must end in a return to primitive Christianity" [my emphasis].

Jefferson's desire to return to the roots of "primitive Christianity" were the result of his conviction that the Christian religion had strayed from the true doctrine of Jesus Christ. As Jefferson stated on another occasion:
"The religion-builders have so distorted and deformed the doctrines of Jesus, so muffled them in mysticisms, fancies and falsehoods, have caricatured them into forms so monstrous and inconceivable, as to shock reasonable thinkers...Happy in the prospect of a restoration of primitive Christianity, I must leave to younger athletes to encounter and lop off the false branches which have been engrafted into it by the mythologists of the middle and modern ages." [my emphasis]. (Thomas Jefferson, The writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 7, H.A. Washington, ed., pp210, 257).
Later in his life, in a letter to Francis van der Kemp, Jefferson stated:
"I trust with you that the genuine and simple religion of Jesus will one day be restored: such as it was preached and practised by himself. very soon after his death it became muffled up in mysteries, and has been ever since kept in concealment from the vulgar eye" [my emphasis].
For Jefferson, true Christianity was not to be had in the ceremonial rituals of communion or the Calvinist doctrine of grace. Instead good works and moral behavior were the TRUE doctrine of a Christian:
"My fundamental principle would be the reverse of Calvin's, that we are to be saved by our good works which are within our power, and not by our faith which is not within our power."
(Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Parker, May 15, 1819).
As evidenced above, Jefferson's love for Jesus came not from a pious devotion to orthodoxy, but from a sincere appreciation of his life philosophy. Jefferson believed that Christ's teachings were to be admired and emulated, not wrapped up in ceremonial liturgy. With regards to the morals of Jesus, Jefferson stated:
"It is the innocence of his character, the purity and sublimity of his moral precepts, the eloquences of his inculcations, the beauty of the apologues in which he conveys them, that I so much admire."
It was in his admiration of the example and doctrine of Jesus, not his devotion to pious orthodoxy, that Jefferson developed a love for Jesus. Perhaps Steven Waldman, author of the book, Founding Faith, points to Jefferson's love of Jesus best when he writes:

"Jefferson was driven to edit the Bible the way a parent whose child has been kidnapped is driven to find the culprit. Jefferson loved Jesus and was attempting to rescue him" (Founding Faith, 73).

Point #2: Jefferson loved scripture but despised its priestly/pastoral interpretation:

In my opinion, there can be little doubt that Thomas Jefferson was a supporter of scripture. The simple fact that Jefferson spent so many years tediously dissecting the Bible to fit his personal beliefs is evidence of this fact. While there is no doubt that Jefferson's "tinkering" with the Bible has caused Christians to take an antagonistic stance against Jefferson, it is still worth analyzing the motives behind Jefferson's Bible editing.

As Steven Waldman stated in the quotation noted above, Jefferson's intentions behind altering the Bible were based on his belief that Christianity had strayed from the original teachings of Christ. As Jefferson stated in a letter to Samuel Kercheval in 1810:
"But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State: that the purest system of morals ever before preached to man has been adulterated and sophisticated by artificial constructions, into a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves: that rational men, not being able to swallow their impious heresies, in order to force them down their throats, they raise the hue and cry of infidelity, while themselves are the greatest obstacles to the advancement of the real doctrines of Jesus, and do, in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ."
And to John Adams in 1813, Jefferson wrote:
"It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticisms that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three, and the three are not one . . . But this constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of factitious religion, and they would catch no more flies. We should all then, like the Quakers, live without an order of priests, moralize for ourselves, follow the oracle of conscience, and say nothing about what no man can understand, nor therefore believe."
It is clear that the reasons behind Jefferson's desire to "edit" the Bible were motivated out of his distrust for pious Christian leaders and from his sincere belief that Christianity had fallen from its true course.

When it comes to the Jefferson Bible, it is interesting to note just what kind of changes he chose to make. Clearly Jefferson did not intend to write his own version of the Bible, but instead hoped to recover some of the "missing" or "altered" truths that had been lost over time. Again, Jefferson hoped to RESTORE the true nature of Christ's religion as it was once contained in the Bible of old. A good example of Jefferson's passion to "correct" the Bible can be found in his 1823 letter to John Adams, in which he states:
"[A]nd his doctrine of the Cosmogony of the world is very clearly laid down in the 3 first verses of the 1st. chapter of John, in these words, `{en arche en o logos, kai o logos en pros ton Theon kai Theos en o logos. `otos en en arche pros ton Theon. Panta de ayto egeneto, kai choris ayto egeneto ode en, o gegonen}. Which truly translated means `in the beginning God existed, and reason (or mind) was with God, and that mind was God. This was in the beginning with God. All things were created by it, and without it was made not one thing which was made'. Yet this text, so plainly declaring the doctrine of Jesus that the world was created by the supreme, intelligent being, has been perverted by modern Christians to build up a second person of their tritheism by a mistranslation of the word {logos}. One of it's legitimate meanings indeed is `a word.' But, in that sense, it makes an unmeaning jargon: while the other meaning `reason', equally legitimate, explains rationally the eternal preexistence of God, and his creation of the world. Knowing how incomprehensible it was that `a word,' the mere action or articulation of the voice and organs of speech could create a world, they undertake to make of this articulation a second preexisting being, and ascribe to him, and not to God, the creation of the universe."
In addition to pointing out where he believed the original translation of the Bible had gone wrong, Jefferson often took the liberty of changing certain parts of the Bible's text in an effort to make it sound more "Christ-like." For example, instead of keeping the biblical verse found in Matthew 5: 48, which states, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," Jefferson removed the verse completely and then added what was a twist of Luke 6: 36 when he wrote "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Clearly Jefferson felt that a number of biblical texts had been changed to pollute or subjugate the minds of mankind.

When it comes to the Jefferson Bible, it is also important to note the fact that all of Jesus' miracles -- i.e. raising Lazarus from the dead, turning water into wine, walking on water, etc. -- were removed from Jefferson's final draft. This helps to clearly illustrate the fact that Jefferson, despite his devotion to the example and doctrine of Christ, never acknowledged him as divine or as the savior of mankind. In fact, Jefferson even stated to his friend, John Adams, that:
“The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.” (Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, April 11, 1823).
For all of his praise and devotion to Jesus and his teachings, Jefferson never publicly recognized him as the Son of God.

Point #3: Jefferson believed in reason and not faith:

As one of the quintessential Enlightenment thinkers of early America, it should come as no surprise that Thomas Jefferson favored reason to faith. As mentioned above, Jefferson's removal of all miracles from his draft of the Bible suggests that he put little to no stock in faith-based stories, which he undoubtedly considered to be fables. In addition, Jefferson admonished his family and friends to put their trust in reason, not faith. As he wrote to Peter Carr in 1787:

"Your reason is now mature enough to examine this object. In the first place divest yourself of all bias in favour of novelty & singularity of opinion. Indulge them in any other subject rather than that of religion. It is too important, & the consequences of error may be too serious. On the other hand shake off all the fears & servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear...Read the bible then, as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The facts which are within the ordinary course of nature you will believe on the authority of the writer, as you do those of the same kind in Livy & Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature does not weigh against them. But those facts in the bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from god." [My emphasis].

Point #4: Jefferson embraced the internal benefits of religious devotion but detested the outward demonstrations of Christian zealots:

This final point was perhaps the biggest pet-peeve of all for Thomas Jefferson. For a man that fought for religious freedom and equality, Jefferson could also not help but notice how overly-pious expressions of religion had caused the world a great deal of harm. As he states in his Notes on the State of Virginia:
“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.”
For Jefferson, religion best served mankind when it was left to the individual and not the clergy:
"Say nothing of my religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evidence before the world is to be sought in my life" (Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, January 11, 1817).
In Jefferson's mind, this was the only true way to be a Christian. As Jesus himself had admonished to, "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men" (Matthew 6:1). With this in mind, it is understandable why Thomas Jefferson would refer to himself as a "true Christian." As he stated in a letter to Benjamin Rush:
"I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other."
In conclusion, Thomas Jefferson's religion was anything but simple. Defining him exclusively as a deist or any other label is both counterproductive and incomplete. Clearly Jefferson was influenced to a degree by deism, Christianity, U(u)nitarianism, etc. With that said, it is essential that we recognize the passionate devotion to RESTORATIONISM that literally guided Jefferson's walk through his personal labyrinth of religious devotion. Jefferson's love and admiration for the doctrines of Jesus, along with his appreciation of scripture, devotion to reason, and his appeal to private communion with God, all helped to shape Jefferson's religious perspective. By advocating a return to the original doctrines of Christ, Jefferson's Christian RESTORATIONISM is as important to his overall religious DNA as were deism and Christianity.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Trip to Buckskin Joe's

Today our family took a trip up to the Royal Gorge area to visit the famous old west town, Buckskin Joe's. To be honest, this visit was a little bitter/sweet because it was revealed just a couple of weeks ago that Buckskin Joe's will be closing its doors forever on September 12 (tomorrow), after 52 years of business. Needless to say, we were sure glad that we got to be a part of this unique tourist attraction before it went the way of the Dodo bird. Here are a few pics:

The first part of our trip was the train ride out to the Royal Gorge. The train is small but it takes you right out to the edge of the Gorge. Here's the family out at the viewing area. Pretty impressive view.

And here is a short video of our train ride out to the edge of the Royal Gorge:

As you can tell from the video, the Royal Gorge is quite impressive. However, the place we stopped was NOT part of the Royal Gorge tour. That's a trip we are saving for next summer. You may not be able to see it in the video but off in the distance is a large bridge that crosses the gorge. In addition, there is a tram that goes across and DOWN the side of the gorge. It should be a lot of fun to visit!

And after the train ride it was off to Buckskin Joe.
The buildings at Buckskin Joe are almost all originals from the time period. Some have been preserved for over 100 years now and stand as a beautiful monument to a time now extinct. Those who have cared for this "city" for over 50 years have done a magnificent job of recreating the era, not to mention their efforts to preserve the buildings, carriages, etc. Kudos to them all for their diligent work. One can only hope that the new owner will show half as much care.
The "Main Street" of Buckskin Joe where all of the gunfights and hangings are held.
Mom and Zakary in jail.
The Gold Nugget Restaurant, where we ate some DELCICIOUS buffalo burgers. If you've never had buffalo then you've never really lived. It's far more delicious (and nutritious) than cow.
One of the things that has always fascinated me about 19th century America is the "Cult of Domesticity" that many women were expected to follow. Most of the magazines, broadsides, etc. of this time often demonstrated and encouraged women on how they were to carry themselves. Needless to say, many of these social "graces" were less-than-comfortable, especially in the emerging west.
Another shot of Main Street.
Off we go on the horse ride!
Jaxson and Zakary shooting guns at the indoor range.
Here is an old school house with the original books, desks, etc.
In addition to serving as a tourist site, Buckskin Joe has also been used as a movie set on many different occasions. Here is a list of some of the actors/actresses who have taken to the stage at Buckskin Joe.

This trip was an absolute blast! What a fantastic way to close out a summer! Thanks to everyone at Buckskin Joe's for your years of dedication to preserving something that is truly unique. Even after the buildings are gone the memories will remain forever. To close it out, here's a clip of one of Buckskin Joe's final public "hangings." Enjoy:

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Well Do You Know The History of the American Revolution?

And Why You Should Care

A recent poll commissioned by the American Revolution Center (a group of historians and researchers dedicated to securing and preserving the history of America's founding) revealed that 90% of all Americans believe that the history of the American Revolution is an important and essential topic that should be understood by all its citizens. Over 87% agreed that to truly be able to understand American politics, even today, one should have a grasp of our nation's founding heritage.

HOWEVER, the same survey revealed that an alarming 83 percent of Americans failed a basic test on knowledge of the American Revolution and the basic principles of America's founding. And while 89% of those tested claimed to have a "strong working knowledge" of early American history and expected to do well on the test, only 17% actually left with a passing grade. Sadly, the average score for the group was a dismal 44%.

In light of these atrocious findings from the American Revolution Center, I thought it might be appropriate to provide the exact same test questions so that you too can see where you stand. I will put the answers in the comments section so you can check your score. Remember, the average national score on this test was a 44%, which means that most Americans only got 12 out of 27 questions right (pathetic). To get a passing grade you must get at least 20 of the 27 questions right. Anyway, here we go:

1.) The Bill of Rights is a part of which document?

b.)Declaration of Independence
c.)Gettysburg Address
d.)Don't know

2.) The most important consequence of the Boston Tea Party was:

a.)Repeal of the tax on tea
b.)Failure of the other colonies to support Boston's actions
c.)Opening negotiations between Britain and Massachusetts
d.)Enactment of Parliament of the Coercive Acts
e.)Don't know

3.) Which document outlines the divisions of power between the states and the federal government?

a.)Declaration of Independence
b.)Marshall Plan
c.) U.S. Constitution
d.)Homestead Act
e.)Don't know

4.) The last major military action of the American Revolution was:

a.)Bunker Hill
e.)Don't know

5.) Which of the following rights is NOT protected by the Bill of Rights?

a.)Freedom of speech
b.)Trial by jury
c.)The right to bear arms
d.)The right to vote
e.)Don't know

6.) Which of the following events most directly encouraged the states to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787?

a.)The Whiskey Rebellion
b.)The Boston Massacre
c.)Bacon's Rebellion
d.)Shays' Rebellion
e.)Don't know

7.) Which of the following was responsible for declaring America's independence from Great Britain?

a.)The Albany Congress
b.)The Stamp Act Congress
c.)The House of Commons
d.)The Second Continental Congress

8.) Which of the following conflicts most directly led to the Stamp Act?

a.)The War of the Roses
b.)The War of 1812
c.)The Mexican-American War
d.)The French and Indian War

9.) Benjamin Franklin epitomized which movement in America:

a.)The Enlightenment
b.)The Great Awakening
c.)The Loyalist Movement
d.)The Glorious Revolution

10.) Who wrote the influential pamphlet called "Common Sense" which advocated independence from Britain?

a.)Patrick Henry
b.)Edmund Burke
c.)Paul Revere
d.)Thomas Paine

11.) Who took detailed notes at the Constitutional Convention and is widely regarded as the "Father of the Constitution?"

a.)Abraham Lincoln
b.)James Madison
c.)Winston Churchill
d.)George Washington

12.) Who was the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court?

a.)Alexander Hamilton
b.)John Marshall
c.)Charles Evans Hughes
d.)John Jay

13.) Which of the following are the inalienable rights stated in the Declaration of Independence?

a.)Life, liberty and property
b.)Honor, liberty and peace
c.)Life, respect and equal protection
d.)Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

14.) The Constitution establishes which of the following forms of government:

a.)A direct democracy
b.)A Republic
c.)A confederacy
d.)An oligarchy

15.) John Locked developed the concept of the "consent of the governed," an important concept underlying the war of independence, in a theory known as:

a.)Natural Law
b.)Law of Relativity
c.)Common Law
d.)Statutory Law

16.) Which of the following nations played an important role in helping the colonies defeat the British?


17.) Which of the following phrases are the opening words to the constitution:

a.)When in the course of human events
b.)We the People
c.)Fourscore and seven years ago
d.)I have a dream

18.) Which of the following events came BEFORE the Declaration of Independence:

a.)Founding of Jamestown
b.)The Civil War
c.)The Emancipation Proclamation
d.)The War of 1812

19.) How many states were there after the United States won its independence?


20.) Who said the following: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."?

a.)George Washington
b.)Barack Obama
c.)Karl Marx
d.)Thomas Paine

21.) What river did George Washington cross on Christmas Eve of 1776 in a surprise attack on Hessian troops?


22.) Who was the first Secretary of the Treasury?

a.)James Monroe
b.)Alexander Hamilton
c.)Larry Summers
d.)John Seward

23.) In which state did the Valley Forge winter camp occur?

a.)New York

24.) When did the American Revolution begin? Was it in the...


25.) Which side of the war of independence did the Indians support?


26.) The westernmost city where military action of the American Revolution took place was:

a.)St. Louis

27.) Who famously implored her husband to "remember the ladies" in drafting laws for the newly independent United States?

a.)Martha Washington
b.)Abigail Adams
c.)Molly Pitcher
d.)Phyllis Wheatley

Washington Wouldn't Burn the Qur'an

Over at the Religion in American History blog, historian Chris Beneke points out how the current drama over the scheduled burning of the Qur'an on 9/11 by nut-job idiots is invoking a powerful rebuking from General David Petraeus. General Petraeus has urged Americans to abstain from such hate-filled activities not only because of their obvious prejudice but because they also, "put our troops in harm's way."

As Dr. Beneke points out, General Petraeus' admonition is not without its historical precedent. In 1775, General George Washington also had to shoot down a similar act of religious hatred within the ranks of his own army. Dr. Beneke writes:
Amid the siege of British-occupied Boston in 1775, the recently appointed commander of the Continental Army, General George Washington issued an order that must have resulted in some grumbling in the ranks. For decades, English and American Protestants had burned effigies of the Pope to celebrate the thwarting of (the Catholic) Guy Fawkes' attempt to blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605. Bostonians marked the anniversary in a particularly lively way that featured fireworks, two flammable "Popes," and one grand fistfight. But in November 1775, with Catholic support for the American war effort desperately needed, an irritated Washington ordered his soldiers to forgo their beloved Pope's Day festivities.
These Pope Night activities are something I have written about before on this blog (click here and here to read the articles). For the General, these activities represented a clear breach of morality and discipline. Washington's General Order of November 5, 1775 illustrate this fact:
As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form'd for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope -- He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain'd, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.
One can only hope that the admonitions of both generals (Washington and Petraeus) will not go ignored by the masses.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Damned Lobsterbacks" and the Boston Massacre

The evening of March 5, 1770 was like any other evening in colonial America...well...almost. As young Private Hugh White of the British Colonial 14th Regiment took his post in front of Boston's custom house, one wonders if he sensed the impending doom that would shortly come. As the evening progressed, young Private White was met by his superior, Captain John Goldfinch, and the two men "exchanged in pleasant conversation." The conversation was to be interrupted, however, by the intrusion of a young local apprentice named Edward Garrick. Garrick accused the soldiers of several misdeeds, all of which were ignored by the British soldiers. Angry that his accusations were being swept aside, Garrick attacked the men through obscenity, calling the British soldiers, "a bunch of damned lobsterbacks." This insult was apparently sufficient provocation to cause Private White to strike Garrick on his head with the stock of his musket.

Upon seeing and hearing this altercation, scores of Boston citizens rallied to defend the young Garrick. As we all know, tensions were high to begin with, and the people of Boston did not need much provocation to start a riot. In literally minutes, the crowd gathered to roughly 300. Seeing the possibility of a riot, Captain Thomas Preston sent reinforcements to help support Private White and the other soldiers present. The crowd had already surrounded white, backing him up all the way to the customs door. As the other British soldiers arrived to help White, several were knocked down by the crowd, which caused the British soldiers to fix bayonets.

As the crowd continued to grow, more and more Bostonians joined in the chorus of obscenity that was directed to the British. Chants of "damned lobsterbelly" and "fight you wretched, damned lobsterbacks" brought the level of tension to its ultimate crescendo. As the snowballs, oysters, and insults continued to be hurled at the British (who were, quite frankly, having a very difficult time getting organized), several soldiers began to point their muskets at the crowd. This new sign of force caused even more snowballs to fly, and harsher insults to be shouted. Seventeen-year-old Samuel Maverick dared the soldiers to do their worst. "Come on and fire you damned lobsterback!" The rest of the crowd also joined in, yelling "Fire, Fire, FIRE!!!"

As we all know (even though the specifics are greatly debated), the British fired into the crowd, striking 11 random people. Young Samuel Maverick was instantly killed, along with four other Bostonians.

In the weeks after the Boston Massacre several of young Samuel Maverick's closest friends decided to join the movement for revolution. Many of them joined the army as soon as possible (most of them were under the age of 16). When asked why he had joined, the young William Greenwood (a friend of Samuel Maverick), stated "to kill those damned lobsterbacks."

But is the legacy of the "lobsterbacks" accurate? Were British soldiers really made fun of in this manner? For the longest time I thought so. I've read and heard numerous stories of how colonial rebels heckled British Red Coats with chants of "lobsterbacks" ever since I was a puny little undergrad. For the longest time I accepted these stories as factual simply because it sounded like something that an 18th century colonist would do. Truth, however, is sometimes not as dramatic

Over at his excellent blog, historian J.L. Bell points out that the phrase "lobsterback" appears to be more the stuff of myth than actual history. Quoting author Christopher Lenny, J.L. Bell points out that:
“Lobsterback” has been repeated so often by historians that the term has taken on a life of its own. I learned it in school, and if you Google it you’ll find it still is a standard Revolutionary War vocabulary word. But is it really a Revolutionary-era taunt?

If you go to the standard references, such as the Oxford English Dictionary, you find that “lobster” has been used since 1643 as a slang term for English soldiers, originally said of Roundhead cuirassiers on account of their armor, not the color of their uniforms. Later it was transferred to other British soldiers with red uniforms.

“Lobsterback” is not in the OED, Webster’s Second, The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia, The Dictionary of American English, or The Dictionary of Americanisms. It is in Webster’s Third (1961).

Partridge’s Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English lists the first example of “lobster-back” in 1822, and says it is a variant on “lobster (soldier).” The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang lists the first example as “lobster-backed” in 1809 in a non-North American source, and gives the first American usage as Crockett’s Almanac in 1840
(You can read Mr. Bell's entire post by clicking here).
So it looks like British soldiers may not have been provoked over the heckles of "lobsterback" after all. With that said, we can still rest assured that colonists were probably less-than-civil on the night of the Boston "Massacre" regardless of whether or not "lobsterback" was a part of their repertoire.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cooking with Corazon: Episode XXV

Banana Crepes w/
Caramel Sauce

In today's installment in my quest for culinary excellence I chose to take on one of my all-time favorite desserts: CREPES! Take a look:

As you can see, the main ingredient for my crepes was bananas. Usually people like to have raspberry, strawberry or some other berry with their crepes, which is why I thought this would be a little different. Here is the recipe:

-1 cup flour
-3 bananas (peeled, cut in half, and then cut down the middle lengthwise)
-1 container whipped topping
-1/4 cup powdered sugar
-2 eggs
-1 cup milk
-2 Tbs. butter (melted)
-1 tsp. vanilla
-1/4 tsp. salt
-Some Nuttella

And for the caramel drizzle:
-1/4 cup butter
-1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
-1/4 cup milk
-1/4 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1.) Mix flour, powdered sugar in mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla, salt and mix until smooth.
2.) Heat a small pan with the 1/4 cup butter, brown sugar, milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together and allow to simmer until it forms into a melted caramel-like state.
3.) On a skillet, add 1/3 cup of the batter. Spread the batter to make it as thin as possible on the skillet by tilting it in a circular fashion. Cook until browned and repeat on the other side.
4.) Remove the crepe and add the 1/2 banana and a dollop of whipped topping. Spread some nuttella over crepe to desired amount. Roll crepe around banana and whipped topping. Drizzle the hot caramel sauce on the top of the crepe.
5.) SCARF!!!

Pretty easy, fun and delicious little dessert!

Buen Provecho!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why do we Celebrate Labor Day?

"Labor Day differs in every essential from the other holidays of the year in any country...All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."
These words, spoken by Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of labor, help to sum up why Labor Day is a unique celebration in the American canon of federal holidays. And though in our current era Labor Day tends to signify the unofficial end of summer, the origins of this unique holiday are quite complex to say the least.

The first official Labor Day celebration in the United States was held on September 5, 1882, primarily in New York City. During its first few years, Labor Day was not recognized as a national holiday but was held as a local day of celebration to honor the labors of the common workers in various urban areas throughout the country. In fact, the idea for a day to honor laborers had been tossed around during the Civil War, as a way for the Union to pay homage to the superiority of the free labor system v. that of slave labor. For this reason, many northern urban centers began holding unofficial labor days, but nothing on a national scale ever came to fruition.

Over the next decade, however, a number of public uprisings resulting from labor disputes and economic crises caused the federal government to rethink its position. For example, on May 4, 1886, striking workers and other supporters gathered at the Haymarket Square in Chicago to protest the efforts being made by big business to block the implementation of the standard eight-hour work day. Just four days earlier, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions had unanimously voted to accept and support the eight-hour work week as a standard practice. However, several large businesses including the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. challenged the decision and refused to cave in. Both sides grew impatient and several protests irrupted into violence. As a result, protesters to the May 4th gathering at Haymarket Square were urged to, "Arm Yourselves and Appear in Full Force!", which they did. As the crowds grew, police responded to prevent and violence. In the midst of the excitement, an overzealous member of the crowd threw a large bomb at police, killing at least three officers and several protesters. What became known as the Haymarket Affair sent shock waves throughout the country and furthered the divide between common laborers and big business.

A few years later, economic depression took tensions to an even higher level than ever. The Panic of 1893, which was the result of th over expansion of the nation's railroads and questionable bank financing, caused tensions between workers and big business to reach a boiling point. In the same way that hosing expansion and foolish bank practices have caused much of our economic troubles today, the over expansion of railroads caused the industry to come to a screeching halt. As a result, jobs were lost and wages decreased.

In the wake of the Panic of 1893 came the Pullman Strike of 1894. As the Pullman Palace Car Company (a railroad company) began cutting jobs, decreasing wages, and increasing the daily work hours of its workers, more laborers began organizing. Eventually they began to strike in Pullman, Illinois. Initially there were only 3,000 workers who refused to work, however, that number soon increased to over 200,000 and spead to over 27 states, thus effectively causing the nation's railroad system (and much of its economy) to become stuck in the mud. In response, President Grover Cleveland dispatched the U.S. Marshals and over 12,000 U.S. soldiers under the command of Lt. General Nelson Miles, to break up the strike and return the laborers to their work. Long story short, General Miles' efforts were effective, but over 50 people were killed and over $300,000 dollars in damage was caused.

In response to this event, which was obviously received in a negative fashion by the American public, legislation was quickly created to make Labor Day a national holiday. Only a mere six days after the end of the Pullman Strike, President Cleveland asked Congress to pass a bill that officially recognized Labor Day throughout the nation, which they did on June 28, 1894. Obviously this was done in an effort to appease the masses who were already infuriated over the dwindling American economy and the president's decision to sent troops to break up a lawful strike. Sadly for Cleveland, his efforts were in vain, as he was easily beaten by William McKinley in the election of 1896, thanks in part to his handling of the Panic of 1893 and the Pullman Strike.

So here we are in the 21st century, and like our predecessors we too face an economy that is on the skids (though let's not be dramatic here. The Panic of 1893 was MUCH worse). But unlike our forefathers, we live in a time when the rights of the working class are in a far better state...


...At least in some respects.

Yes, we too have many who work for low wages, endure long hours, receive terrible benefits, etc., etc., etc. Yes, like the J.P. Morgans of the 19th century, we too have corrupt corporations who suck the wealth from the people, use their money irresponsibly, fall on hard times, ask and receive a bailout from the government and then turn around and create jobs in China so that their stock goes up a few points. I guess greed knows no limits, no matter the era.

I guess I can't help but wonder if Labor Day is just like those peasant holidays from the Medieval era. Are the nobles of society simply appeasing us rabble peasants by giving us a free day from the fields where we can indulge ourselves in various forms of entertainment? Sure smells like it.

All hail Caesar!

Here's a brief video on the history of Labor Day from the History Channel:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cooking with Corazon: Episode XXIV

Grilled Maple Dijon
Chicken Skewers

For dinner today I got to use our family's new grill for the first time! On on the menu was the following. Take a look:

I made grilled maple Dijon chicken skewers. To be honest, I didn't initially know how the maple syrup would work with the Dijon mustard, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Here is the recipe:

-4 or 5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
-1/3 cup maple syrup
-1/3 cup Dijon mustard
-2 Tbs. olive oil
-Salt and pepper to taste
-Assorted veggies of your liking (I used a zucchini, mushrooms and a red pepper)
-Italian dressing

1.) Chop chicken breasts into one inch cubes.
2.) Marinade the chicken cubes for at least one hour in the olive oil, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper.
3.) Chop up the veggies of your choice to desired size and marinade in Italian dressing.
4.) Place chicken cubes and vegetables on wooden skewers and grill until cooked (roughly 20 minutes should do it).
5.) SCARF!!!

We all enjoyed this meal, which was really easy to cook. You'll love the maple syrup and Dijon mustard combination. They go together quite well. And the Italian dressing veggies are a nice addition as well.

Buen provecho!

The "Sexual" American Revolution

The American Revolution can, at times, be characterized as a collection of smaller revolutions, all of which contributed and eventually led to the larger revolution -- i.e. the literal split from Great Britain. For example, the Great Awakening is often considered a revolution in and of itself, since it completely changed the way American colonists understood religion. The Market Revolution, which followed the actual American Revolution, can also be seen as another "mini-revolution," in which capitalism made its debut on the American stage.

In addition to these and numerous other "mini-revolutions" a sexual revolution of sorts also took place in early America. Richard Godbeer, a historian with the University of Miami and author of the book, Sexual Revolution in Early America has put together an excellent piece of work on how sex and gender relations underwent a tremendous transition in colonial America.

Here is a brief introduction and review of the book by John Hopkins University Press:
In 1695, John Miller, a clergyman traveling through New York, found it appalling that so many couples lived together without ever being married and that no one viewed "ante-nuptial fornication" as anything scandalous or sinful. Charles Woodmason, an Anglican minister in South Carolina in 1766, described the region as a "stage of debauchery" in which polygamy was "very common," "concubinage general," and "bastardy no disrepute." These depictions of colonial North America's sexual culture sharply contradict the stereotype of Puritanical abstinence that persists in the popular imagination. In Sexual Revolution in Early America, Richard Godbeer boldly overturns conventional wisdom about the sexual values and customs of colonial Americans. His eye-opening historical account spans two centuries and most of British North America, from New England to the Caribbean, exploring the social, political, and legal dynamics that shaped a diverse sexual culture. Drawing on exhaustive research into diaries, letters, and other private papers, as well as legal records and official documents, Godbeer's absorbing narrative uncovers a persistent struggle between the moral authorities and the widespread expression of popular customs and individual urges. Godbeer begins with a discussion of the complex attitude that the Puritans had toward sexuality. For example, although believing that sex could be morally corrupting, they also considered it to be such an essential element of a healthy marriage that they excommunicated those who denied "conjugal fellowship" to their spouses. He next examines the ways in which race and class affected the debate about sexual mores, from anxieties about Anglo-Indian sexual relations to the sense of sexual entitlement that planters held over their African slaves. He concludes by detailing the fundamental shift in sexual culture during the eighteenth century towards the acceptance of a more individualistic concept of sexual desire and fulfillment. Today's moral critics, in their attempts to convince Americans of the social and spiritual consequences of unregulated sexual behavior, often hearken back to a more innocent age; as this groundbreaking work makes clear, America's sexual culture has always been rich, vibrant, and contentious.
In addition, colonial historian Alan Taylor gives the following critique of Godbeer's book:
Previous scholars also balked at examining colonial sex as its own subject, largely from a fear that the historical sources were insufficient. Godbeer forged ahead, "astonished by the richness of the material that survives on the subject." The problem is not that Godbeer lacks sources, but that they are trickier than he recognizes. Few diaries and letters survive from the colonial era, and fewer still offer frank admission to sexual thoughts and acts. Generalizing from those scatological few to the larger colonial population is problematic, to say the least. More often Godbeer must rely on hearsay accounts recorded by travelers who were keen to gather scandal at the expense of locales they disliked; and most often he depends on the recorded testimony in court cases brought by authorities or by aggrieved spouses seeking divorces. The travelers' accounts and court cases provide plenty of seamy and steamy quotations, but taking them at face value skews our picture of colonial sexuality toward the sensational. Finding what he seeks, Godbeer proves reluctant to doubt any of his sources. That he discovers more conflict than consensus, more deviance than conformity, seems inevitable given the nature of his sources -- and his disinterest in challenging them. Reading today's police log or tabloid newspaper certainly conveys a gritty reality denied in other genres, but it is a reality that needs to be kept in proportion when characterizing an entire society....

...A specialist in the cultural history of seventeenth-century New England, Godbeer appears most comfortable and persuasive when analyzing particular episodes and texts drawn from that region and that century. In an especially impressive passage, Godbeer examines the case of Nicholas Sension of Windsor, Connecticut in 1677. Sension's prosecution for sodomy seems to confirm Puritan rigidity and intolerance, but Godbeer shows that for more than twenty preceding years Sension's neighbors had recognized and reproved his behavior without involving the court. Since Sension was otherwise a good neighbor and a prosperous farmer who acted only upon young men of lower status, his townsmen balked at prosecuting him for a crime that carried the death penalty. Despite abundant evidence for multiple acts, the jury convicted Sension only of the lesser charge of attempted sodomy, which brought a public whipping and shaming instead of hanging. His Puritan neighbors persistently saw Sension as a wayward but redeemable sinner no different from any other soul, rather than as a distinctive sodomite. Throughout the century, only two men suffered execution for sodomy in New England.

In addition to softening our image of Puritan moral enforcement, Godbeer ameliorates the Puritans' cold image by recovering their sexual passion within both marriage and spirituality. In this emphasis, he follows the lead of Edmund S. Morgan, who made a similar case in 1942. Puritan sermons, poetry, and love letters celebrated marital and procreative sex in part to discourage all sexuality before or outside marriage. Never people to do things by halves, the Puritans extolled foreplay and orgasm by husband and wife. In a guide to marriage, Reverend William Gouge preached that sex "must be performed with good will and delight, willingly, readily, and cheerfully." Believing that conception depended upon a female orgasm, ministers urged every husband to attend to his wife's needs. Another marital guide instructed that "when the husband cometh into the wife's chamber, he must entertain her with all kind of dalliance, wanton behavior, and allurements to venery."

More striking still, the Puritans expressed their spirituality in erotic terms that transcended gender. Ministers exhorted Puritans, male and female, to submit to "an eternal love affair with Jesus Christ." One young man asked in his diary, "Will the Lord now again return and embrace me in the arms of his dearest love? Will he fall upon my neck and kiss me?" Since souls were equal and either without gender or vaguely female, Puritan men comfortably spoke of submitting as brides to ravishment by Christ as their spiritual bridegroom. Godbeer concludes that "Puritan sensibility offered a way to spiritualize sex and sexualize the spirit in a glorious and torrid symbiosis."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cooking with Corazon: Episode XXIII

A Very "Peachy" Dinner

Today's installment in my quest for culinary excellence takes on a unique twist. Instead of making a meal using several different ingredients I decided to adopt a theme: PEACHES!

Being that I grew up in western Colorado my family had the fortune of enjoying the world famous Palisade Peaches, which are some of the best peaches to be found on God's green earth (second only, in my opinion, to the AMAZING peaches of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile). So naturally, peaches have been one of those things that I have enjoyed since childhood, which made today's meal a lot of fun to prepare. Take a look:

For tonight's dinner I made a peach pork chop, a coconut/peach soup and a peach cobbler. In all honesty this meal was a touchdown for everyone. How do I know? Because my five and three-year-old ate it up. Here are the recipes:

Peach Pork Chop
-Pork Chops (whatever cut you want)
-3 peaches
-1/2 cup red onion (chopped)
-1 Tbs. basil seasoning
-1 Tbs. thyme
-1 tsp. chipotle powder (careful, she bites back!).
-1 Tbs. lemon pepper seasoning
-1/2 Tbs olive oil

1.) Heat olive oil in pan.
2.) Add peaches and chopped onions to oil and heat, smashing the peaches to desired texture.
3.) Season pork shops with seasonings and grill for 15-20 minutes.
4.) Top pork chop with peach/onion mixture.
5.) SCARF!

Coconut/Peach Soup
-4 cloves garlic
-1 Tbs. olive oil
-2 1/2 cups fresh peaches (peeled, pitted and chopped)
-1/2 cup diced red onion
-1 Tbs. curry powder
-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1 cup vegetable stock
-1/2 cup coconut milk
-1 tsp. chipotle seasoning
-1/2 Tbs. coconut flakes
-Salt and pepper to taste

1.) Heat oil in pan at medium heat.
2.) Add garlic, onions, and peaches until softened.
3.) Season with sugar, chipotle seasoning, and curry. Mix together for a few minutes and then deglaze the pan with vegetable stock.
4.) Remove from heat and puree the soup mixture (very briefly) in blender for just a second or two. Return to heat and stir in coconut milk.
5.) Serve soup and garnish with coconut flakes (optional).
6.) SCARF!!!

Peach Cobbler (Warning: this one ain't healthy).
-1 stick butter
-1 cup sugar
-1 cup all purpose flour
-1 cup milk
-1 Tbs. baking powder
-1 LARGE can of peaches (I like lots of peaches in my cobbler and don't worry, they will all fit).

1.) Mix together the flower, sugar and baking powder and then add milk. Mix everything together thoroughly.
2.) Melt butter in 8 X 8 baking dish.
3.) Thoroughly drain and rinse peaches.
4.) Add peaches to the butter, arranging them so they all fit.
5.) Top peaches with the flower, sugar, milk mixture **DO NOT STIR**.
6.) Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.
7.) SCARF!!!

Again, this meal was FANTASTIC! A wonderful Autumn recipe that is (except for the cobbler) healthy and easy. Oh, and the soup is vegetarian/vegan friendly!

And for your listening pleasure, here's a tribute song to today's key ingredient. If you grew up in the 90s you'll recognize this cheesy tune: