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Datebook: February 22 – George Washington Turns 280

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George Washington was born on February 22, 1732 (and died December 14, 1799). We all know him as the 1st U.S. President (1789-1797), and as a great military leader. He was elected unanimously and oversaw the creation of a strong, well-financed government that maintained neutrality in the wars raging in Europe. He was born into a wealthy Colonial Virginia family, who owned tobacco plantations and slaves. He was mentored by William Fairfax, who promoted his career into the military. He quickly became a senior officer in the colonial forces during the French and Indian War. As  Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army, he forced the British out of Boston in 1776, but lost New York City. After crossing the Delaware River, he defeated the British in two battles, and retook New Jersey. Washintgon strategized the capture of Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. As President, he supported Alexander Hamilton’s programs to pay off the debt, to implement a tax system, and to create a national bank. He was outspoken against partisanship, sectoinalism, and involvement in foreign wars. He retired from presidency in 1797 and returned to his home, Mount Vernon. He freed his slaves in his will. At his death, Washington was hailed as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen”.

It’s Wednesday, February 22

The American Red Cross holds a blood drive at First Presbyterian Church in Murray tomorrow from 12:30 to 5:30.  Donors must be healthy, at least seventeen years old, and at least 110 pounds.  Schedule an appointment by calling 800-RED-CROSS.

The Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park hosts an Oil Painting Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.  Learn the wet-on-wet method of oil painting by creating your own 16×20 landscape painting.  The fees are $65 for one class or $120 for both classes and the Friday night program.  For more information, call Rebecca Clark at 797-3421.

The Murray State University Department of Theater presents Suddenly Last Summer, by Tennessee Williams, tomorrow night at 7:30 in the Actor’s Studio Theater.  The play tells the story of a young woman who seems to go insane after her cousin dies under mysterious circumstances. Admission is $8, or free for MSU students.

Tomorrow at noon, hear Swinging into the 21st Century with Wynton Marsalis.  Find details at wkms.org.

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Good Read – His Excellency: George Washington

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His Excellency: George Washington
by Joseph J. Ellis

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(Your purchase supports WKMS!)

Product Description:
Here is the impetuous young officer whose miraculous survival in combat half-convinced him that he could not be killed. Here is the free-spending landowner whose debts to English merchants instilled him with a prickly resentment of imperial power. We see the general who lost more battles than he won and the reluctant president who tried to float above the partisan feuding of his cabinet. His Excellency is a magnificent work, indispensable to an understanding not only of its subject but also of the nation he brought into being.

Todd Hill says:

“An unvarnished and unsentimental look at our first president. Fine history and a must for those who need a better understanding of the separation of powers and why the Articles of Confederation were destined to fail. Applicable today? Yes. People waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags need to read this history and reflect.”

Check out our Good Reads page for more recommended books.

Written by Matt Markgraf

January 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

Our Peculiar History of Religious Tolerance

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by Todd Hatton

The vote has been taken and Mayfield, Kentucky will have no mosque, at least not yet, and certainly not in any location with so little parking.  What should have been decided in a formality was rejected on a technicality, but I can’t say that the lack of transparency with which Mayfield’s zoning board first decided to approve the mosque’s conditional use permit is ever a good thing.  On the other hand, it’s difficult to see how anyone can vote their dissenting conscience under the reproving glare of a roomful of one’s neighbors.

Whether or not the results of the zoning board’s vote surprised anyone, or whether or not we approve of the result, it is of a piece with our history of dealing with religious minorities.  I’m a big fan of the notion that we can’t understand our present without understanding our past, and when the controversy over a mosque in Mayfield began to appear, I went back to a book I’d read over a year ago after hearing an interview with the author on Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith program.

Steven Waldman is the author of Founding Faith: How Our Founding Fathers Forged a Radical New Approach to Religious Liberty and the CEO of Beliefnet.com, the largest faith and spirituality website.  The book, in the main, is about the development of the First Amendment, religious freedom, and today’s contention over the separation of church and state.  Waldman, however, begins his book by painting a picture of religion in early America.  It is at once alien to our modern sensibilities and a little too familiar.

For instance, government officials in one state blocked the building of place of worship for one religious minority.  They were responding to what was perceived as an existential threat by a sect that had, in the past, committed atrocities, fought them in wars, and, it was believed, behind the actions of foreign governments against them.

This wasn’t New York or Mayfield in 2010, it was Maryland in 1700.   Read the rest of this entry »