History for the Rest of Us

Fatherly Advice From George Washington

Fatherly Advice From George Washington

Apr 25, 2013

The following relates to a letter written by George Washington to his adopted daughter, Nelly Custis, on the subject of love: When Nelly was about sixteen years of age she attended her first ball, at Georgetown, and wrote a description of it to her foster-father at the seat of government. His response presents the Father of his Country in the attitude of an essayist on the “Art of Love,” and in delightful epistolary undress – an attitude in which he was rarely seen. After alluding to some remarks of hers about her indifference to young men, and her “determination never to give herself a moment’s uneasiness on the account of any of them,” he warned her not to be too sure of her control of the passions. “In the composition of the human frame,” he wrote, “there is a good deal of inflammable matter, which, when the torch is put to it, may burst into a flame.” He continued: “Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is therefore contended that it cannot be resisted. This is true in part only, for like all things else, when nourished and supplied plentifully with aliment it is rapid in progress; but let these be withdrawn and it may be stifled in its birth or much stunted in its growth. For example: a woman (the same may be said of the other sex) all beautiful and accomplished, will, while her hand and heart are undisposed of, turn the heads and set the circle in which she moves on fire. Let her marry, and what is the consequence? The madness ceases and all is quiet again. Why? Not because there is any diminution in the charm of the lady, but because there (p. 251) is an end of hope. Hence it follows that love may, and therefore ought to be, under the guidance of reason, for although we cannot avoid first impressions, we may assuredly place them under guard; and my motives for treating on this subject are to show you, while you remain Eleanor Parke Custis, spinster, and retain the resolution to love with moderation, the propriety of adhering to the latter resolution, at least...

Hernando Cortes

Hernando Cortes

Apr 23, 2013

(1485-1547) Among the millions that from age to age are born into this world there arise in every generation one or two pre-eminent men and women who are objects of the wonder and the envy, the admiration and the hatred of their contemporaries, and whose names, after their deaths, stand out as landmarks by which we shape a course across the dark and doubtful seas of history. Cæsar and Cromwell, Mahomet and Napoleon, to mention no others, were such men, and such a man was Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico. They have been called, and well called, Men of Destiny, since it is impossible in studying their lives and tracing their vast influence upon human affairs, to avoid the conclusion that they were raised up and endowed with great talents and opportunities in order that by their agency the ends of Providence might be shaped. Hernando Cortes was born of a good family, at the town of Medellin in Spain, in 1485, and educated at the college of Salamanca. At the age of nineteen having proved himself unfit to follow the profession of the law to which his parents had destined him, he emigrated to the Indian Island of Hispaniola where he was appointed notary of the town of Acua, and in 1511 assisted in the conquest of Cuba under the command of Velasquez. Here after many curious adventures and vacillations he married a lady named Catalina Xuarez, and being created alcade of the settlement of St. Jago realized a moderate fortune by the practice of agriculture and mining. In 1518 there came to Cuba news of the discoveries made by Grijalva in Yucatan on the coast of the country now known as Mexico, and the Governor, Velasquez, determined to despatch a force to explore this new land. After much intriguing and in consideration of the payment of a considerable sum of money toward the expenses, Cortes whose ambitious spirit had already wearied of a life of peace and indolence, contrived to persuade Velasquez to appoint him Captain General of the expedition. Before the ships sailed, however, Velasquez repented him of the appointment, for in Cortes he recognized a servant who might well...

Was the Examination of Jesus Illegal?

Was the Examination of Jesus Illegal?

Apr 22, 2013

SOURCE: THE TRIAL OF JESUS FROM A LAWYER’S STANDPOINT by WALTER M. CHANDLER OF THE NEW YORK BAR LAW “Now the Jewish law prohibited all proceedings by night.”—Dupin, “Jesus Devant Caïphe et Pilate.” “Be not a sole judge, for there is no sole judge but One.”—Mishna, Pirke Aboth IV. 8. “A principle perpetually reproduced in the Hebrew scriptures relates to the two conditions of publicity and liberty. An accused man was never subjected to private or secret examination, lest, in his perplexity, he furnish damaging testimony against himself.”—Salvador, “Institutions de Moïse,” pp. 365, 366. FACT AND ARGUMENT The private examination before Annas (or Caiaphas) was illegal for the following reasons: (1) The examination was conducted at night in violation of Hebrew law; (2) no judge or magistrate, sitting alone, could interrogate an accused judicially or sit in judgment upon his legal rights; (3) private preliminary examinations of accused persons were not allowed by Hebrew law. The general order of events following the arrest in the garden was this: (1) Jesus was first taken to the house of Annas; (2) after a brief delay He was sent by Annas to Caiaphas, the high priest, in whose palace the Sanhedrin, or a part thereof, had already assembled; (3) He was then brought before this body, tried and condemned; (4) He remained, during the rest of the night, in the high priest’s palace, exposed to the insults and outrages of His keepers; and was finally and formally sentenced to death by the Sanhedrin which reconvened at the break of day. That Jesus was privately examined before His regular trial by the Sanhedrin is quite clear. But whether this preliminary examination took place before Annas or Caiaphas is not certainly known. John alone records the private interrogation of Jesus and he alone refers to Annas in a way to connect him with it. This Evangelist mentions that they “led him away to Annas first.” Matthew says that after the arrest of Jesus, they “led him away to Caiaphas the high priest,” without mentioning the name of Annas. Mark tells us that “they led Jesus away to the high priest”; but he does not mention either Annas or Caiaphas....