American Revolution


Today those of us who live in the United States celebrate our political freedom. It is ours simply because we are Americans. We don’t have to do anything to get it. Political freedom was obtained for us by individuals who paid very high prices to obtain it, such as:

Cost of the American Revolution:
• Total American military casualties were approximately 50,000 men.
• Of these 50,000, approximately 8000 died in battle; 17,000 died from disease.
• Of the 17,000 that died from disease 8-12 thousand of these contracted diseases while living in the deplorable conditions of rotting prison ships in NY harbor.
• Another 2500 Americans died while encamped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778.

Cost of the Civil War:
• Casualties were approximately 750,000 soldier deaths.
• Of those 750,000 soldiers, 56,000 died in prisons.
• Another 60,000 men lost limbs.

Spiritual freedom is also available to those who want it. The price that was paid for spiritual freedom was also very high. It was bought and paid for by one man. Jesus Christ obtained spiritual freedom for us at Calvary. Spiritual freedom, however, is not automatic like political freedom. We have to do 3 things to obtain our spiritual freedom. Those 3 things are: 1. Accept Jesus’s work on the cross as a personal gift; 2. Give our lives to him to do with as he pleases; 3. Lay our hurts, habits & hang-ups at the foot of the cross & LEAVE THEM THERE!

Political freedom and spiritual freedom are very different and do not necessarily coexist. It is possible to be politically free and be in spiritual bondage. It is also possible to be spiritually free and be in political bondage. Political freedom is being released from the bonds of others. Spiritual freedom is being released from the bonds of self.

The Apostle Paul discusses spiritual freedom in his various letters. Paul’s calling, the assignment God gave him, was to travel throughout the known world preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and planting churches. He would stay in a certain location for a period of time, plant a church and move on. He stayed connected to the churches he planted by writing letters to them.

Toward the end of his ministry Paul spent approximately 2 years in a Roman prison. While there, he wrote letters to the churches in Phillippi, in Colosse, and in Ephesus. Excerpts from these letters:
• “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1: 6-7).
• “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 7).
• “… you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
• “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
• “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church” (Colossians 1:24).

To me, there is no clearer example of spiritual freedom than the image of Paul sitting in a foul Roman prison chained to a Roman guard writing these words.

To summarize:
We obtained political freedom by winning.
We obtain spiritual freedom by surrendering.
When we are politically free we do what we want.
When we are spiritually free we do what God wants.

When we are obedient to God he rewards us by infusing us with an internal peace that the world cannot give and cannot understand. It surpasses human understanding because it can only come from God.

On 2/14/16 I wrote a post titled Whose problem is it? I have been thinking about that post the last few days following a rather heated discussion I had with someone re: how women are perceived and the rigid roles women are expected to assume in marriages, families and churches here in Lancaster County PA.

Here is an excerpt from that post: “At different times in my life I have verbalized the presence of serious dysfunctions in my family of origin, extended family and family by marriage. These dysfunctions have included various addictions, a serious medical problem, and an incestuous relationship. Each time my motive for saying something was hope that the person or persons involved would acknowledge the problem and get help. Each time, however, my statements were followed by much uproar and anger, I was labeled as the problem, and no help was sought. My question is: Who has the problem? Am I the problem for stating the obvious or are those who want to hold on to denial the problem?”

As I’ve been thinking about that post the question that keeps rolling around in my mind is “Who has the problem?” I will agree to disagree regarding many, many issues. There are, however, some issues that I refuse to agree to disagree about. Those issues all have the equality of people as their common denominator.

Racial equality:
Though slaves were legally set free at the end of the Civil War with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, they were not able to actually exercise their political freedom and civil rights for another century. Jim Crow laws kept segregation in place by banning black people from schools, public restrooms, lunch counters, theaters, trains, just about anywhere. Civil rights workers challenged this in the 1950’s & 1960’s stating that segregation was not only illegal, it was morally and ethically wrong.

They challenged this through civil disobedience (direct action with nonviolent resistance). Some strategies they used were boycotts, sit-ins, and marches. Many acts of civil disobedience resulted in violent episodes due to law enforcement officers (many of whom were members of the Ku Klux Klan) routinely using night sticks, attack dogs, city fire hoses, billy clubs, & tear gas to force nonviolent, unarmed protesters into submission. This resulted in the deaths of MANY MANY southern black men, women and children. In addition, northerners who traveled to the south to help blacks register to vote were murdered by the segregationists. White supremacists also bombed black schools, churches, businesses and residences.

Who was wrong in these scenarios? Who was the problem? The people who said there is something very wrong going on in this culture and tried to right it, or the people who used very violent methods to avoid changing segregationist practices in their culture?

In spite of all the violent opposition, civil rights workers were successful in integrating public facilities and getting blacks the right to vote. The Civil Rights Act, which banned discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in employment practices and in public facilities was passed in 1964. The Voting Rights Act, which gave blacks the right to vote, was passed in 1965.

Though segregation was outlawed on paper, this did not automatically mean that it disappeared. One group of people who put the law to the test were freedom riders. Freedom riders were interracial groups of people who boarded buses in the North heading for the South. The whites would sit in the back of the bus and the blacks in the front. At rest stops, the whites would go into black-only areas and blacks would go into white only areas. Freedom riders were treated very harshly by Southern law enforcement officers. In Birmingham Alabama the Public Safety commissioner gave KKK members 15 minutes to attack an incoming group of freedom riders before allowing police to protect them. The riders were severely beaten and one man (a white civil rights activist) required 50 stitches in his head. All over the South hundreds of freedom riders were jailed and were then treated very harshly in jail, crammed into tiny, filthy cells and sporadically beaten.

Who was wrong in these situations? Were the people trying to right a perceived wrong the problem or were the people who used violence to maintain the status quo the problem?

Gender equality:
As a result of the 13 American colonies winning the War for Independence from England WHITE MEN were able to exercise political freedom. White women were not. White women had no voice in the formation and subsequent governing of their county.

Women’s suffrage in the US was achieved gradually at state and local levels during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. It culminated in 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution which gave women (white women) the right to vote.

Suffragists promoted swimming competitions, scaled mountains, piloted airplanes and staged large-scale parades to gain publicity. In New York in 1912 they organized a 12-day, 170-mile “Hike to Albany’. In 1913 the suffragist “Army of the Hudson” marched 225 miles from Newark to Washington in 16 days, with numerous photo and press opportunities along the way that gained a national audience. In 1917 they formed The National Woman’s Party, an organization that fought for women’s right to vote on the same terms as men by lobbying for a constitutional amendment ensuring women’s suffrage.

World War I provided the final push for women’s suffrage in America. After President Woodrow Wilson announced that World War I was a war for democracy, women were up in arms. The National Women’s Party picketed outside the White House and engaged in a series of protests against the Wilson Administration in Washington. Wilson ignored the protests for six months, but on June 20, 1917, as a Russian delegation drove up to the White House, suffragettes unfurled a banner which stated; “We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote”. Another banner on August 14, 1917, referred to “Kaiser Wilson” and compared the plight of the German people with that of American women. As a result of these actions many women were arrested and many were jailed. In October one of the women in jail began a hunger strike. President Wilson then finally changed his position and began to advocate for women’s suffrage. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution giving white women the right to vote was finally passed in 1920. Black women were not allowed to vote until 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. As far as I’m concerned, it is absolutely criminal that black women had to wait 45 years after white women to vote.

In closing, I am absolutely incapable and unwilling to agree to disagree regarding racial and gender equality. I believe it is morally and ethically wrong to deny someone rights and opportunities because of the color of their skin or their gender, two things over which people have no control. AND, don’t get me started on refusing to allow someone to operate in their spiritual gifts and fulfill their God-given purpose because of their gender. That’s for another day.

As we are coming up on the 4th of July holiday I am thinking about the political freedoms we enjoy in this country and the prices that were paid to obtain those freedoms for us. I am also thinking about numerous posts I have seen on various social media sites condemning people who burn or stomp on the American flag. Those posts greatly disturb me. I believe that one of the wonderful things about this country is that individuals can burn or stomp on the American flag without fear that they will be shot or imprisoned. As far as I’m concerned that is freedom worth celebrating!

I also believe that this in no way minimizes what the flag stands for or insults those who have served in the armed forces. As a matter of fact, I think that it honors those who have served and sacrificed much, if not all, for our freedoms. Fighting for the freedom of ALL Americans, not just the Americans one happens to agree with, is indeed something to be honored.

Finished reading The Quartet by Joseph Ellis which tells the story of how George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison took the lead in uniting 13 independent states into one nation. I had no idea how hard and how long they had to swim upstream to do this. As much as they are to be congratulated and respected for doing what they did, I think it is important to keep in mind that the War for Independence and the establishment of the Constitution for a united nation obtained political freedom for WHITE MEN ONLY. Black men were not granted freedom by law until after the Civil War almost a century later. White women did not obtain the right to vote, a basic political freedom, until 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution and black women were not allowed to vote until 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

MANY people had to swim upstream and pay huge prices, including the ultimate sacrifice, to obtain political freedom for black men, white women and black women.

Though slaves were legally set free at the end of the Civil War with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, they were not able to actually exercise their political freedom and civil rights. Local & state laws known as Jim Crow laws banned blacks from schools, public restrooms, lunch counters, theaters, trains, etc. The civil rights movement in the 1950’s & 1960’s changed this by facilitating the integration of public facilities and getting black men the right to vote. Civil rights workers achieved this through civil disobedience (direct action with nonviolent resistance).

Many acts of civil disobedience resulted in violent episodes due to law enforcement officers (many of whom were members of the KKK) routinely using night sticks, attack dogs, city fire hoses, billy clubs, & tear gas to force nonviolent, unarmed protesters into submission. This resulted in the deaths of MANY MANY southern black men, women and children. In addition, northerners who traveled to the south to help blacks register to vote were murdered by the segregationists. White supremacists also bombed black schools, churches, businesses and residences.

The Civil Rights Act (1964) banned discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in employment practices and in public facilities.

Once again, though segregation was outlawed on paper it didn’t mean it was no longer happening in reality. One group of people who put the law to the test were freedom riders. Freedom riders were interracial groups of people from the North who boarded buses heading for the South. The whites would sit in the back of the bus and the blacks in the front. At rest stops, the whites would go into blacks-only areas and blacks would go into white only areas. Freedom riders were treated very harshly by Southern law enforcement officers. In Birmingham the Public Safety commissioner gave KKK members 15 minutes to attack an incoming group of freedom riders before having police protect them. The riders were severely beaten and one man (a white civil rights activist) required 50 stitches in his head. All over the South hundreds of freedom riders were jailed and were then treated very harshly in jail, crammed into tiny, filthy cells and sporadically beaten.

Obtaining the right to vote for white women was achieved gradually at state and local levels during the late 19th century and the early 20th century.

In 1848 Elizabeth Stanton emerged as a women’s suffrage leader. Her father and husband did not support her women’s rights work. Rather than letting this stop her though she went underground, writing newspaper articles and letters to the editor under the pen name of Sunflower. Elizabeth Stanton’s strong opinions not only made her unpopular with men, they also made her unpopular with many women. In 1851 she met Susan B. Anthony and the two women formed a strong & formidable partnership in the effort to secure the right to vote for women.

Suffragists promoted swimming competitions, scaled mountains, piloted airplanes and staged large-scale parades to gain publicity. In New York in 1912 they organized a 12-day, 170-mile “Hike to Albany’. In 1913 the suffragist “Army of the Hudson” marched 225 miles from Newark to Washington in 16 days, with numerous photo opportunities and press availabilities along the way that gained a national audience. In 1917 they formed The National Woman’s Party, an organization that fought for women’s right to vote on the same terms as men by lobbying for a constitutional amendment ensuring women’s suffrage.

World War I provided the final push for women’s suffrage in America. Women were outraged when President Woodrow Wilson announced that World War I was a war for democracy. The National Women’s Party picketed outside the White House and engaged in a series of protests against the Wilson Administration in Washington. Wilson ignored the protests for six months, but on June 20, 1917, as a Russian delegation drove up to the White House, suffragettes unfurled a banner which stated; “We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote”. Another banner on August 14, 1917, referred to “Kaiser Wilson” and compared the plight of the German people with that of American women. As a result of these actions many women were arrested and many were jailed. In October one of the women in jail began a hunger strike. President Wilson then finally changed his position and began to advocate for women’s suffrage. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution giving white women the right to vote was finally passed in 1920.

Opposition to the women’s suffrage movement came from: National Organization Against Women’s Suffrage which was LED BY WOMEN; southern white men who were afraid that black women would vote; ethnic politicians (especially Catholics whose women were not allowed a political voice); and drinking men who were afraid (rightfully so) that women would use their right to vote to enact prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

Opposition to black women’s suffrage came from white suffragists. African-American women dealt not only with the sexism of being denied the right to the vote but also the racism of white suffragists. From the end of the Civil War onwards, some white suffragists argued that enfranchising women would serve to cancel out the “Negro” vote, as there would be more white women voters than black men and black women voters combined.

Many African American women were active in the women’s suffrage movement. Sojourner Truth, a former slave, became famous as both an abolitionist and an advocate of women’s suffrage. In 1851, she made her famous speech, “Ain’t I A Woman,” at a convention in Akron, Ohio. Other black women suffragists from this time period include Margaretta Forten, Harriet Forten Purvis, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary.

In 1890 two rival organizations, the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association, merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). As NAWSA began gaining support for its cause, its members realized the exclusion of African-American women would gain greater support, resulting in the adoption of a more narrow view of women’s suffrage than had been previously asserted. The main push of NAWSA then became to marginalize as many African-American women as possible. Through this effort the idea of the “educated suffragist” came into being. This was the notion that being educated was an important pre-requisite for being allowed the right to vote. Since many African-American women were uneducated, this notion meant exclusion from the right to vote. This movement was prevalent in the South but eventually gained momentum in the North as well. African-American women were not deterred by the rising opposition and became even more aggressive in their campaign to find equality with men and other women. African-American women, particularly those living in the South, found themselves targeted by a number of disenfranchisement methods. These included having to wait in line for up to twelve hours to register to vote, pay head taxes, and undergo new tests. One of the new tests required that African-American women read and interpret the Constitution before being deemed eligible to vote. In the South, African-American women faced even more severe obstacles to voting. These obstacles included bodily harm and fabricated charges designed to land them in jail if they attempted to vote. This treatment of African-American women in the South continued until 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

As I’m reading The Quartet I am reminded that political and social events which have changed the course of human history have always been orchestrated by individuals with a clear vision, a consuming passion, the courage to swim upstream against the status quo and the perseverance to keep going no matter what.

Further, I have been reminded of the following quote by Martin Luther Ling, Jr: “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Ever since I went to the White House Book Fair and experienced first-hand some individuals’ fervent belief that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, I have been curious as to how some people arrived at this conclusion. Due to this, I have started to do some research into the founding of our nation. I am starting with The Quartet, Orchestrating the Second American Revolution 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis.

Here is an excerpt from the preface: “In 1776, 13 American colonies declared themselves independent states that only temporarily joined forces in order to defeat the British. Once victorious, they planned to go their separate ways… The resolution declaring independence clearly states that the former colonies were leaving the British Empire not as a single collective but rather as ‘Free & Independent States.’… creating a national government was the last thing on the minds of the American revolutionaries, since such a distant source of political power embodied all the tyrannical tendencies they were rebelling against.”