For a nation steeped in adherence to the prohibition of enforced religious belief and impenetrable separation of church and state, as Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black: affirmed in 1947: “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable……” (Everson v Bd of Ed’n). Political paladins of various organized religions seem to have been bent on subverting and rescinding it, in favor of one or another preferred religious belief, ever since. That bent seems more prevalent today, than at any time since its adoption.
Spurred by the seeming contradiction, this unwavering supporter of Justice Black’s position did some digging, over the past few days and was rewarded with some interesting information which should give those inclined to lean toward a hidebound hankering for religious and political mastery of one ‘color/order/or belief’’ over others, something otherwise to think about.
The first casualty of the Revolutionary War, killed in the so-called ‘Boston Massacre’ was Crispus Attucks, an escaped Negro slave who became a self-ordained minister. Attucks was shot by British Troops who responded to an uprising which denied them quarters in the homes of Boston citizens.
Contrary to the ‘Gospel according to the NRA’s Wayne LaPiere,’ that Colonial Militiamen came to fight the British, bringing their own muskets to do the job, it was a New York City Jewish businessman, named Haym Salomon, who General George Washington credited in a letter to a delinquent Congress. The letter noted: “Providence or some good honest fellow, did more for us than we were disposed to do for ourselves.” Salomon used his own funds and those donated by friends, to provide muskets and ammunition for Washington’s troops. He continued to support the Revolutionary cause, with an intelligence network to report British movements and also supplied necessary equipment sorely needed by Washington’s troops. When twenty thousand dollars for munitions and supplies for the battle of Yorktown were needed and Washington was told the treasury was broke, he replied: “Send for Salomon!” Salomon complied and the battle was won. He was never repaid. Salomon’s personal help in the Revolution wasn’t officially recognized until it was officially recorded in the Congressional record, in 1926.
In 1804, when President Jefferson organized a small flotilla of ships to oppose the Barbary Pirates, it became the United States Navy. The small flotilla organized a daring raid against the Tripolitan ‘Bashaw’ and the Barbary Coast Pirates. In this first U.S. Naval battle, in the wake of Commandant Richard Somers, the battle’s first casualty, was his protégé, Midshipman (made Acting Lt., for the raid) a young Joseph Israel, who went full speed ahead, regardless. He’s among the six others buried at Annapolis.
The events reported here are meant to show what our founders always believed: that true American patriots include citizens of all races, nationalities and religious beliefs. Our constitution, from the first, asserted their equality. It still does and it’s time we accepted the inevitable, that makes us the very special nation we have yet to become.
The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.