The Faces of Terror – Chapter 1

In Gander I speak of the revolving door through which terrorist move in and out of our judicial system to continue carrying out acts of unspeakable horror.

Part of the problem lies in treating these soldiers of National Socialism as if they were common criminals instead of prisoners of war.

This is the first of a series where I intend to bring to your attention the consequences of that misguided policy, if not the criminality of those who engage in it.

I warn you:

There are hundreds of examples, not all of them Muslim. This is going to be disquieting.


The Faces of Terror

Chapter 1

Lahsen Ikassrian

In 2001, a Moroccan man was captured in Afghanistan by US troops and was transported to the brand new facility at Guantanamo Bay.[1] One of the early arrivals, his number there was ISN 72 —although some say 64, what do I know?

When he was captured he was NOT stealing chickens, and gave his name as Reswan Abdesalam, but his fingerprints said otherwise.

Meet Lahsen Ikassrian, born in Targist, Morocco in 1972.

A close associate of Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, AKA Abu Dadah, the head of al-Qa’ida in Spain, mastermind of the Madrid bombings in 2004 (known in Spain simply as 11-M); and a close associate of Abu Mussab al-Suri, of whom we have already spoken at some length, and will again.

At the Combatant Status Review Tribunal[2], the following was charged:

  • Detainee is associated with al-Qaida and the Taliban.
  1. The detainee admits being a member of the Taliban.
  2. Detainee was taken to Mazer e-Sharif by Taliban forces.
  3. Detainee admits to associating with Yunnus Shokuri and Radwan Shokuri, both members of al-Qaida affiliated terrorist groups
  • Detainee engaged in hostilities against the US or its coalition partners.
  1. Detainee admits purchasing a Kalashnikov rifle in Kabul in May or June 2001.
  2. Detainee was observed on the front line and during the retreat in Afghanistan and at Qala-I Junghi prison.
  3. Detainee was injured during the U.S. bombing of Konduz.
  4. Detainee took refuge in an underground hiding area with Taliban forces during the U.S. bombing of Mazar e-Sharif
  5. Detainee was captured by U.S. forces with other Taliban members in Mazar e-Sharif. How do you like the fella so far?

And idiots in the US where bringing suit against the government for what they deemed the “illegal detention: of non-combatants. On what evidence? None whatsoever.[3]

On July 3rd, 2005, this fine gentleman was extradited to Spain for trial, mostly because of bullshit like that spewed by UC Davis’ Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas:

Guess what!

On October 11th, 2006, the Spanish Court acquitted him…because he had been interrogated in Jul 2002 by Spaniards!

One can’t make this stuff up.

Lahsen Ikassrian, convinced more than ever that he could do what he wanted, moved on to loftier activities while leftards rejoiced in their triumph against the evil West:

And off he went to enjoy hookah bars and recruit for A’-Qa’ida and ISIS. A leftard and radical celebrity.

Ten years after the bombing in Madrid with hundreds of victims, a singular idiot. Jordi Evole, had no better idea than to interview this poor fellow painting him as a poor victim of Western islamophobia.

Here’s the link, the interview shows in 33:27 to 46:46. “One day they will pay” — the terrorist said — “but how I do not know.”

He did have a pretty good idea, though, for as he was playing the victim on Spanish TV courtesy of an imbecile, somebody woke up for fifteen minutes, and Spanish Police busted an IS cell in Madrid and Melilla nabbing a bunch of asswipes.

Guess who was the leader? OK. I’ll show you:

But wait! There’s more! In 2009 Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzón opened an investigation into “torture” suffered by this hapless witness caught in the insidious Guantanamo web. The SOB declared to AFP that he would probe “the perpetrators, the instigators, the necessary collaborators and accomplices” to crimes of torture at the prison at Guantanamo Bay.[4]

An investigation triggered by hand-picked documents released by… This jewel:

Adding insult to injury, Judge Garzón then launched an investigation into…The Bush administration! That’ll teach those evil Americans to play fast and loose with innocent folk like Lahsen Ikassrian! The Telegraph went so far as to speculate: “Even if the worst that happens is that former President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and all those who served in their administrations find it advisable not to visit Spain or take international flights that stop off there…”[5]

Beautiful. While the “victim of discrimination” was busy preparing a reign of terror in Spain, the “criminals” were the President and Vice-President of the United States. Imbecility on an industrial scale. Or is it really? One must, of necessity consider the possibility that the sympathies of the European Social Democrats lie squarely to the perpetrators of terror and are thus offended not by the terrorists perpetrating wholesale murder on their streets as they bit like rats on anyone who actually tries to fight them off.

So, let’s recap:

  1. 2001: Asswipe Lahsen Ikassrian is captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan and taken as a prisoner of war. (2001)
  2. 2002: Spanish authorities question him in Guantanamo.
  3. 2005: Based on his association to the Spain’s AQ, extradited to Spain.
  4. 2006: Spanish courts acquit him because, God forbid, he was interrogated by Spaniards in foreign soil (Guantanamo)
  5. 2009: Ikassrian recruits for Al-Qa’ida and organizes a cell of terrorists in Madrid and Melilla, while suing the Spanish government for damages over his earlier detention and living off of Spain’s welfare system!
  6. 2009: Spanish Courts launch investigation of alleged torture on the basis of declarations of this so very credible witness, and on partial documents released by Barak Obama as a political stunt.
  7. 2009: Spanish Courts launch investigation of the possible role played by the US administration in those dreadful activities. None of these last two pay any attention to the terrorist activities being conducted by this soldier of Al-Qa’ida under their very noses.
  8. 2014: Asswipe Lahsen Ikassrian nabbed by Madrid cops as leader of a terrorist group planning to blow up half of Spain, with tentacles throughout the country. A massacre is narrowly averted.

I’m sure there is a lesson here. And in HUNDREDS of cases like this.

But am currently too furious to state it.

Where are those imbeciles who wanted Guantanamo closed and the vermin released?

The folks at UC Davis, Jordi Evole, Baltazar Garzón and so many others have a lot of questions to answer. Like why they inevitably side with and enable the worst of criminals. Is it political expediency, sympathy, or plain old idiocy?

It is up to them to respond.






The 2008 Crisis Canard

This originated as a twitter thread, which some have requested I make available. It is not a scholarly paper, but a factual relation of events I witnessed from my perch in the financial industry.

The credit crisis of 2008 is one of the most dreadful events in recent memory. It’s effects, nearly a decade later, are painfully obvious around the world. And yet, the wrong conclusions are touted daily in the face of unemployment and weeks markets from Spain to China.

After the government screwed things up, as usual, it was time to lay it heavy on some scapegoat. Since blaming the Jews is no longer fashionable, the usual opportunists focused on financiers, banks and investors.

Those were, in fact, the first victims of the crisis, not the cause. And the financial products usually targeted for blame were also casualties of the crisis, not its origin. There is nothing wrong with ABSs, MBSs or CMOs. In fact, they are a good thing.

Banks, by definition, cannot make long term loans. Deposits are on demand, and nobody wants to be told upon presenting a check for payment: “sorry, we lent that money out last week and won’t get it back for three years. Come back then.”

Mortgages are long term loans. So several enterprises were created in the US over the years to create a secondary market and make those long term loans viable and more widely available.

These enterprises were:

  • Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association), created in 1938, as essencialy a Government corporation until 1968, when it became public;
  • Freddie Mack (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation), created as a “government sponsored enterprise” or GSE) in 1970; and
  • Ginnie Mae (Government National Mortgage Association), also a GSE, created in 1968.

The purpose of all of these was to “promote home ownership” by providing a secondary market for mortgage securities. That is, the packaging of mortgages into marketable securities that would serve a double purpose:

  • To provide reliable income for investors, mostly retirees, and
  • To provide funds banks could loan long term for real estate purchases.

Sallie Mae (Student Loan Marketing Association), also a GSE, was later established in 1973, originally designed to do the same for higher education loans. It has now branched into consumer loans as well, and it is a public corporation. Go figure.

Because of its status as a government  corporation, Fannie Mae bonds enjoyed a US government guarantee, making it a top quality investment. While the GSEs were not outright government entities but “government sponsored entities” that guarantee was not explicit, but assumed. Hence, their bonds enjoyed an implicit government guarantee, making the also relatively safe investments.

The purpose of the first three was to enable long term loans for home purchasing, so that more people would be able to afford a home as opposed to cash purchases or short term loans. This process is called “securitization” or the bundling of loans into sellable securities. And it worked.

Here’s a good explanation of how:

Banks that followed the underwriting rules were able to “endorse” mortgage loans to these entities and continue lending without compromising their capital positions. The availability of long term loans fueled an unprecedented expansion of the US housing market through the 50s and 60s without parallel anywhere else in the world.

Non-conforming loans, where not accepted. Thus, if the purchaser’s income was too low, no dice. Likewise, if the purchasers income was OK but the value of the property too high for the program, other solutions had to be devised. No government guarantees for mansions. Other, private investments wre used for that purpose.

Then the Democrats discovered that these institutions, which had grown to become some of the largest financial enterprises in the world, were both cash cows and political rams to assist them in their incessant pandering.

This is the kind of crooked thinking that went into it:

In other words, not loaning to people who cannot afford repayment is racist and wrong! Vote for us and you will not be denied!

In 1968, the purveyors of this kind of nonsense came up with the “Fair Housing Act.” — whenever a social democrat uses the word “Fair” hit the deck; someone is about to be robbed.

This legislative nonsense was enacted as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and codified at 42 U.S.C. 3601-3619.[1]

The original prohibited “financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” Opening a can of whoop in litigation: you better watch out who’s loan you don’t approve. And later, it was amended to made it illegal to: “refuse to make a residential real estate loan in a particular area based upon the neighborhood in which the property is physically located;” making “redlining” illegal. And what was redlining? “The illegal practice of a lending institution denying loans or restricting their number for certain areas of a community.” Say, Watts on the day of the riots…

But the real mess really started in the Carter administration, as the carping on the left against “redlining” produced this abomination:

In other words, if you, banks, do not  lend to those who cannot afford to repay, we will roast you!

It was amended in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2005, 2007 and, yes, 2008, every time lowering the standards further and forcing banks to ignore common sense in exchange for transferring the risk to Fanny Mae and the GSEs. Indeed, all but the last amendment demanded more and more loans, and forced the GSEs to swallow them while offering investors an “implied government guarantee” to assuage their well founded fears.

Banks did not do this. Congress forced them to. Banks who refused to relax their standards were in violation of the law and could not only be sued, but harassed with an increasing number of administrative tools.

Chief among the proponents of this idiocies in the 1990s was… Barney Frank (D-MA)

And when the shit hit the fan…Barney blamed the banks, those greedy bastards, without batting an eyelash. Sadly, even people who claim to be conservatives dance to this idiot’s tune to this day.

The Boston Globe, that nest of alt-right nutcases, had this to say in 2008:

Yet, even today, geniuses to the left and right of the political spectrum are still going at it. They learnt NOTHING.[2]

Ironically, even after all of this, the number of actual non-performance of CMO’s remained low and most paid interest and capital as expected. For all the dismal news from SW Florida and Las Vegas, 95% of prime mortgages ware paid, and defaults peaked at less than 5%. Admittedly, double the 2.5% average at any time.[3]

Even including “sub-prime” loans[4], that had nothing to do with the institutions mentioned above, and that represent an always riskier market where no guarantees apply, the total number of defaults barely topped 10%.

So, if the performance of mortgage securities did not justify the massive collapse that we all witnessed, what did?

Two words: Sabannes-Oxley.

In 2001, ENRON, a behemoth in the energy sector, collapsed[5]. They were not producers of energy. They were mostly speculators, and their business was primarily in the energy futures market. They had California by the nuts. But they weren’t as good as people thought, so they lost money hand over fist by making the wrong bets… which they hid by playing three-card-monty with a network of off-the-books partnerships where they parked their losses, keeping their shares up with the help of Arthur Andersen, so that their value would not tank while they looked to get out.

This was illegal, of course, but laws never stopped crooks. When the brown stuff hit the fan, the press blame fest began.

It so happens ENRON’s Chairman, Ken Lay, was an acquaintance of George W. Bush, so the press immediately speculated that he would skit. He didn’t. On May 25, 2006, he was convicted of a number of felonies (10 counts of securities fraud).

Lay’s sentencing was scheduled for September 11, 2006. He didn’t make it. On July 5th he keeled over and died, broke, of a heart attack.

The CEO, Jeff Skilling, was also convicted on 25 May 2006. This is his mug shot:

So, contrary to public speculation, “W” did not help either of them, and they landed in the pokey or died on their way there.[6]

Still, there was wild speculation that GWB would pardon them. He never did. He hanged them out to dry, as he should have. But the Democrat narrative still makes a point to remind everyone “the Bushes knew them”![7]

Yet, nobody talks about Jon Corzine. I guess Lay and Skilling should have been friends with Obama.[8]

In any case, the bean counters that helped create the house of cards, Arthur Andersen, folded like a cheap suit. Or so it appeared. In fact, they just moved headquarters, changed their name to just Andersen…[9] shed off their consulting branch, were found guilty of obstruction of justice, and are now back hoping that nobody remembers.[10]

In response to this, Congress decided to change the accounting rules. The problem was not that criminals had disregarded the law. No! The problem was that we needed new laws! We all need to be protected from the people who ignore the law…by making more laws!

And they came up with this obscenity. That’ll teach the crooks!:

The most destructive aspect of this abomination was a provision that came to be known as “mark to market,” a small change that yielded catastrophic results. Find it here, if you can:

Essentially, the accounting change required public companies, including financial ones, to use the market value of assets in balance sheets, rather than their nominal value as has been customary, taking gains or losses if and when they occurred.

Why is this absurd? Because huge numbers of bond issues never quote in markets. They’re bought as packages at discount, and are never offered for sale at any exchange.

How must you then mark in your balance sheet a bond that does not quote in the markets?


Thus, good performing assets were restated to zero value causing enormous paper losses that had nothing to do with the value of those assets or the financial situation of their owners.

Some saw the stuff coming our way. It was big, nasty and brown. I sold everything I owned.[11]

The adjustment caused companies to lose BILLIONS in assets…on paper. Lehman was the first casualty, but ALL financial institutions were reporting huge losses; and so were pension funds, industries, endowments… An equal opportunity mess.

Accounting profits inflated by reserve releases; FDIC insured banks: Pre-tax profits, loss provisions and economic profit (in $millions)

So interbank lending instantly ground to a halt. Nobody wanted to loan anybody any amount for two reasons:

  1. I don’t know if you are going to be here tomorrow to repay.
  2. I don’t know how much I need to keep my own requirements above water.

And as all lending halted,  California could not get a 7 day loan to pay salaries. Neither could Caterpillar.

People started selling those bonds to get them out of their books. It killed the carry trade business. By some estimates, 30 TRILLION were wiped off of the M3. So the hedge funds tanked. And all hell broke loose.

By March of 2009, it was clear that Sarbannes-Oxley was to blame. So Congress finally moved to repeal the requirement, and banks had the largest profit in a quarter in history…in spite of losing money. All on paper. But the damage was done.

To add insult to injury, Congress then came up with a brand new knee-jerk reaction to the crisis it created with Sarbannes-Oxley:

Obamination No 2: Dodd-Frank (No 1 was Obamacare, of course) The product of the efforts of two of the most corrupt politicians ever: “Friend of Angelo” (Countrywide) Chris Dodd, and intellectual eunuch “Freddy Mac is God” Barney Frank.

This obscenity:

Long, cumbersome, arbitrary and vague as it is, it gets worse. It spawned dozens of thousands of new regulations, causing the largest number of bank failures in the history of this country. It pulverized community banks, and if the number of failures did not set a record, it is because a majority were absorbed into larger banks and kept out of the stats.[12]

As a consequence, “too big to fail” are now bigger and meaner than ever before. Thank Pocahontas, too. Her consumer chapter of the law made it much worse, creating obligations smaller banks could not meet.[13]

Just to spice things up, at this time the FED offered banks unlimited amounts of money at 0% interest, which the Treasury then took paying 3%. A 3% spread, risk free, lending to the government the government’s own money. Kafkian! Billions upon billions of risk free profit!

And that is why most people reading this could not get a mortgage if they sold their souls. Or a business loan.

Community banks were leaving the marketplace and big banks were making a mint with no risk. Why would anyone lend a dime to you?

As the repeal of mark to market heralded the end of the credit crisis…a repeal of Dodd-Frank will make this country’s economy boom like at no other time before. Fasten seatbelts. Trump’s 3% growth & more

The House is already acted.[14] Now it’s the Senate’s turn. Let’s hope they get to it. Soon.

In the end, those who held on to their mortgage bonds in ’08, got paid their interest and eventually got their money back. Those who either panicked and sold or were forced to sell at the wrong time, got fleeced. As it always happens. That’s why one should not invest without understanding the risks, out of greed, or following the advice of a used car salesman turned into an advisor after a two week “training” course at a brokerage house (or bank).

As for the rest of us, we can still see problems out there. The sluggish pace of the recovery, made all the worst by absurd regulations and the destruction of the secondary markets guarantee that most people cannot get a long term loan regardless of their ability to pay.

















The Danelaw Origins of the American Revolution

The Danelaw Origins of the American Revolution,

or how the Norse Started it All.

By Saul M. Montes-Bradley, II


A few years ago, I wrote an article on the American Revolution of 1689[1], in which I underlined the role it played in laying the foundations of that of 1775, and traced its origins to East Anglia in the 16th Century.

I stated then that the reasons which led our forbears to rebel against the authority of King and Parliament could be traced to the liberties won during the Reformation and then threatened by the royal prerogatives that Charles I was attempting to reassert.

I was on the right track but, as further scrutiny would have it, I was completely wrong in giving all the credit for those liberties to the Reformation.

The reader will recall that most of the folk who came thither during the Great Migration hailed mostly from the Five Boroughs and Yorkshire. That was the area were non-conformists were most prevalent, where opposition to the king’s taxation policies was most active, where resistance to the church of England was most virulent, and where most of our ancestors came to the realization that it was worth the while to face untold uncertainties across the Atlantic, that they may preserve that which they held dear.

It also happened to be a very singular and distinct area of England from the time of the Danish invaders turned to farming, and remains so to our days. And I believe it is precisely this singular heritage that shaped what would one day become the American Revolution and that it begun to take shape in the 9th Century.

The Danelaw

The Danelaw, c. 878

While a full account of the settlement of the Danes in Yorkshire and East Anglia is well beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say that, beginning in the IXth Century, bands of Danish and Norwegian raiders led by Guthrum, most likely a son of Horda-Knut Sigurdsson, begun to ravage the lands north and east of England followed, as became custom, by settlers. Eventually, these bands controlled an area extending from Chester, down Watling Street (an old Roman road) to the Lea and then along the Thames to the sea. Slowly and painstakingly recovered by Ælfred the Great, this area was restored as an independent political body under Æthelred “the counsel-less” and again during the reign of Knut, thus preserving its own traditions, laws, forms of land ownership and language, and came to be known as the area in which those laws held sway: the Danelaw. A state of affairs that remained mostly unchallenged to the day of our immigrant ancestors and, in some degree, to our own days.

Ælfred, king of Wessex

It is this set of laws and traditions that our ancestors applied to their settlements immediately upon arrival in New England.[2]

While most of the histories of the Danelaw deal mostly with military matters and that almost universally from a Saxon perspective, R. H. Hodgekings gives us a unique perspective into the legal system and customs of the Danes as opposed to those of the Saxons. And a clear idea of the area they occupied at the time. According to a treaty signed by Ælfred and Guthrum to prevent quarrels among Danes and Saxons that could lead to war, the Danish area was defined as those encompassing the lands comprised between the Thames, then up to the Lea and along the lea to its source, then straight to Bedford, and then up the Ouse. The treaty — and Guthrums defeat by Ælfred at the battle of Edington — led to the Peace of Wedmore in 878. By its terms, Guthrum accepted baptism, Ælfred adopted him as a son, and Guthrum returned to East Anglia as king of the Danes. Later, Ælfred and his successors, Edward I “the Elder” and Æthelstan, reconquered the land, but the Danelaw remained as a distinct cultural and legal area.

Æthelstan presenting a book to St. Cuthbert, National Portrait Gallery, London
Parker Chronicles, oldest of the surviving manuscripts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, c. 890
Baptism of Guthrum at Aller, near Athelney, by Ælfred, 878. He took the name Æthelred, same as Ælfred’s brother, above.

Sir Frank Stenton provides more insight into the land and social structures. He goes further in explaining some of the Danelaw’s institutions, comparing them with those of Wessex. A case in point would be the wapentake, the classic land division of the Danelaw, which Stenton compares to the hundred of Wessex. He ventures that the word wapentake itself derives from vapnatak, wherefrom the Old English wapentac, noticing the symbolic flourishing of weapons by which a public assembly confirmed its decisions. A singular precursor to New England’s Town Meetings’s practice of raising the sword hand to the same purpose.

This wapentake was divided into carucates (land ploughed by one team in one year), and bovates (same as the ox-gang). There was a further subdivision, the manslot, or land allotted to one free settler.

The Wapentake also lent its name to periodic meetings, a precursor to the Town Meetings of Massachusetts Bay, a kind of Parliament and Court. The freemen that labored in the division voted by show of weapons, which were then counted.

There are still some Wapentakes in existence in East Anglia for certain administrative functions.

A key difference to note here is that while the English Parliament could only meet when summoned by the king at his will, the Wapentake met of its own authority and can be said, on this basis alone, to be the real precursor of the Massachusetts Bay’s Meetings and Courts, and not its English counterpart.

Some of the differences he finds in law are most telling; including that of the wergild for a man’s slaying which in the Danelaw was determined by the man’s rank, while in Mercia it was determined by the man’s Lord’s rank. Not quite a technicality.

According to Stenton, the Wantage Code of Æthelred was not a rewriting of the legal code of the Five Boroughs, but rather the King’s assent that the customary laws of the area should remain in force, in itself, and admission that the codes developed from Scandinavian sources and that they were already a part of the polity in the area. Even the terms used are of a Scandinavian rather than Saxon origin.

An example of this is the ploughland, split into eight ox-gangs, which made the standard land unit. Each ox-gang was assigned to a man who could contribute one ox to an eight-ox team. The Saxons, instead, used the system of hideage, based on the amount of land needed to feed a peasant’s household. We can already begin to see the difference between the freeman-farmer in the Danelaw and the peasant-serf in Saxon lands.

But, perhaps more relevant to us was the soke. That is, property owned by peasants which, according to Stenton: “while owing service and taxes to the lord of the area, were not under his direct ownership, allowing the peasants some degree of autonomy, and freedom from the rents of the lord given to those tenants on his personal land.”

Indeed, William the Conqueror’s survey of all property in his new realm, ordered in 1085 and started in 1086, which is known to us as the Doomsday Book — a clear reference to Tax Day —, perhaps the most complete work of its kind to this day[3], reveals that in England about 14% of the population owned their land, as opposed to a meager 7% average in the rest of feudal Europe. But closer scrutiny reveals that most of England was not that far from their counterparts in the continent. The numbers are skewed by land ownership in the Danelaw where it approached 65%! An island of yeoman farmers in an ocean of feudal serfs.

Doomsday Book, National Archives, London

According to Dr. Cyril Hart, these singular laws and customs extended to five main areas: the Northern Danelaw (that area around York that constituted the old kingdom of Deira); the Five Boroughs of Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham, Stamford and Derby; the Southern Danelaw in Buckinghamshire, Herfordshire, Middlessex and Essex, briefly under Danish control; the Eastern Danelaw in Norfolk and Suffolk; and the Outer Danelaw, in those lands between the Southern Danelaw and the Five Boroughs.

Any student of the Great Migration will not fail to see a most striking coincidence between these places and the points were the vast majority of our Puritan and Pilgrim ancestors originated.

But the similarities do not end in the division of lands or the condition of freemen of the yeomen farmers. One of the codes of Edgar permitted the Danes to exercise their rights “according to the good laws they can best decide on,” including those in matters of religion. A practice our ancestors imported into the Town Meetings and General Courts, and a right they strenuously defended against any encroachment from king or Parliament from the moment they landed in America.

Even the architecture in early New England bears a striking resemblance to that of East Anglia at the time — no surprise there, since most of the early carpenters hailed from East Alglia — and the Yankee twang to this day carries the musical tones of East Anglian accents, most especially the somewhat harsh, high-pitched, nasal “Norfolk whine.”

East Anglia wood-frame house
1630 house in New England, built by East Anglian carpenters

It was then their condition as freemen and freeholders that our ancestors were defending against the encroaching of Charles I. It was their freedom from taxes; it was their parliaments’ independence from the whim of the king and their independence in matters of religion. It was, indeed, long held liberties that they were defending — those consented to by Alfred and Æthelred — not any newly acquired privilege; and that was the reason why some of them rose against the crown and others came to America after the Crown was no more. The Reformation must then be seen not as their source of inspiration, but as the inevitable consequence of their strenuous defense of their polity.  Non-conformism might have been a sin in the eyes of the Church, treason in those of the Crown, and a political nuisance to the Lord Protector, but for the yeoman farmers of the Danelaw it was their ancestral right, their way of life, and the essence of their world.

Death of Wat Tyler, who led the 1381 Peasant Revolt in East Anglia and the sougheastern counties, as Richard II addresses the crowd.

Thus, for eight centuries the Danelaw folks rose in successful peasant revolts, tax revolts, civil wars and revolutions on both sides of the Atlantic, against every monarch that attempted to impose his prerogative over their ancient rights, defending the principles and privileges they had enjoyed  since the times of Alfred and Guthrum:

The very principles and privileges that were finally enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and that we now hold as our most cherished heritage.


[1] Tell King Charles We’ll Pay No Taxes, Flintlock and Powderhorn, Vol. 19, Number 2, Fall 2001, p. 20; also posted in this blog:

[2] Massachusetts Body of Laws and Plymouth Compact

[3] “there was no single hide nor a yard of land, nor indeed (it is a shame to relate but it seemed no shame to him to do) one ox nor one cow nor one pig which was there left out, and not put down in his record.” [Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed., D. Whitelock, pp.161-62] As stated above, a hide refers to the standard unit of assessment used for tax purposes. It was meant to represent the amount of land that could support a household, roughly 120 acres.



The author is a 35th great-grandson of Ælfred the Great, king of Wessex through his son, Edward I “the Elder”; and a 42nd great-grand nephew of Guthrum, king of the Danelaw Danes by virtue of descent from Horda-Knut Sigurdsson.

Abandonment Theology

It has been nearly 20 years now since I delivered this lecture in Orlando, Florida. It is perhaps a testament to the immutability of nonsense that today I can publish it without changing a single word:

Abandonment Theology and the Wall of Separation

by Saul M. Montes-Bradley

Lecture delivered at the Annual Meeting of the

Sons of the Revolution in the State of Florida

19 April 1999


One of the purposes of our organization is “to underscore the wisdom which devised the system of checks and balances that provides opportunity and freedom for all.”

I entertain the notion that we, both individually and as a group, take that mission seriously.

Recently, a Compatriot, sincerely worried about the events in Littleton, Colorado, presented me with chapter II of a book entitled “Abandonment Theology.”  The tract purported to state the reason for the “moral decline” that “affects our country” and leads it down the path to tragic events such as the one in the Colorado school.  Citing rising crime rates as proof of “God’s anger” towards America, and in support of these theses it cites alarming statistics provided by a certain “David Borton of Wallbuilders, Inc.,”[1] while claiming that falling SAT scores are the inevitable consequence of having “outlawed God in our schools.” It then rails against this alleged outrage which, it claims, was based on “a single decision in 1947 by Justice Black in Everton vs. Board of Education[2]” while stating this decision was in clear contraposition to the idea of a wall between Church and State that the Founding Fathers intended to be “one way” only[3], based solely — the author claims — on “a letter from Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association.” The author goes on to further claim that this letter was “out of the context” of the debates on the Constitution.

While I am a Doctor in Theology, I do not consider myself a theologian, nor do I intend to bring you into so convoluted territory at this point.  And I do not believe that I am uniquely qualified in constitutional matters. However, the author of this libello makes some claims that are not just patently untrue, but dangerous to those freedoms and liberties that I, and we, hold dear, and those must be addressed.

In writing his opinion in Engle vs. Vitale, Justice Black did, I am sure, consider “Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association” (it was, in fact, addressed to “Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and others” of the said Association). Its contents can hardly be considered out of the context of the debates on the Constitution, in spite of having been written “years after the First Amendment had been ratified” — not that many years as it turns out. The letter was written on 01 January 1802, while events were still fresh in Jefferson’s mind.

Justice Hugo Black

In any case, I cannot believe that Justice Black’s considerations ended in this single letter, and it is to be assumed that many other legal, historical and moral issues were heavily weighted by such a conscientious man of Law. In the end, it was not just Justice Black, but a majority of the Court, on several occasions, that upheld the issue of separation, their opinion being, as of this date, still the Law of the Land. The independence of the Court’s decisions in these matters is one of the principles we are sworn to uphold.

The Supreme Court’s decision notwithstanding, the author goes on to affirm that, “in Jefferson’s mind,” the “wall of separation” was really a “one-way wall,” and that “Justice Black, without precedent, made it a two-way between Church and State.” At no time does he let us know by what mysterious device he is in knowledge of the intimate thoughts of Jefferson’s mind.[4] Nor does he give any reasoning in support of his statements, preposterous as they may be. It would have been hard indeed to do so, because all evidence points to their falsehood.

Unlike the author of “Abandonment Theology,” I do not claim to know what was on Thomas Jefferson’s mind; this was known but to him and the Almighty.

Thomas Jefferson

But Jefferson did give more than one statement referring to the “wall of separation,” which, together with those of other Founding Fathers, will present a clearer picture:


“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural rights in opposition to his social duties.”[5]

He then continues his idea on another occasion:

“In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken, on occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State and Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.”[6]

And again,

“The eastern states will be the last to come over, on account of the dominion of the clergy, who have got a smell of union between church and State, and begun to indulge reveries which can never be realized in the present state of science. If, indeed, they could have been prevailed on us to view all advances in sciences as dangereous innovation, and to look back to the opinions and practices of our forefathers; instead of looking forward, for improvement, a promising groundwork would have been laid. But I am in hopes their good sense will dictate to them, that since the mountain will not come to them, they shall better go to the mountain:  that they will find their interest in acquiescing in the liberty and science of their country, and that the Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity of its benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expression of the human mind.”[7]

In a letter to John Adams, Jefferson expands on his observations to the members of the Danbury Baptist Association:

“In coupling Connecticut with you [those of Massachusetts], I mean it politically only, not morally.  For having made the Bible the common law of their land they seem to have modeled their morality on the story of Jacob and Laban. But altho’ this hereditary succession to office with you may in some degree be founded in real family merit, yet in a much higher degree it has proceeded from your strict alliance of church and state. These people are canonized in the eyes of the people on the common principle ‘you tickle me, and I will tickle you.’ In Virginia we have nothing of this.”[8]

As if his alleged intention of protecting the church from the state and not the other way around were not made clear in the paragraphs above, he yet returns to the question:

“In truth, the alliance between Church and State in England has never made their judges accomplices in the frauds of the clergy; and even bolder than they are. For instead of being contented with these four surreptitious chapters of Exodus, they have taken the full leap, and declared at once that the whole Bible and Testament in a Lump, make a part of the common law. ante 873: the first judicial declaration of which was by this same Sir Matthew Hale. And thus incorporate into the English code laws made for the Jews alone, and the precepts of the Gospel, intended by their benevolent author as obligatory only in foro concienciæ; and they own the whole with the coercion of municipal law. In doing this, too, they have not even used the Connecticut caution of declaring, as is done in their blue laws, that the laws of God shall be the laws of their land, except where their own contradict them; but they swallow the yea and the nay together. Finally, in answer to Fortescue Alland’s question Why the ten commandments shall not now be a part of the common law of England? We say they are not because they never were made so by legislative authority, the document that has imposed that doubt on him being a manifest forgery.”[9]

On occasion, what Jefferson does not say is equally telling. On 4 August 1818, in a report of the commissions of the University of Virginia, perhaps his dearest institution after the forging of the nation, he says:

“Encouraged, therefore, by the sentiments of the Legislature, manifested in this statute, we present the following tabular statements of the branches of learning which we think should be taught in the University, forming them into groups, each of which are within the powers of a single professo

I. Languages, Ancient: Latin, Greek, Hebrew.

II. Languages, Modern: French, Spanish, Italian, German, Anglo-Saxon.

III. Mathematics, Pure: Algebra, Fluxions, Geometry, elemental, transcendental, Architecture, military, naval.

IV. Physico-Mathematics: Mechanics, Statics, Dynamics, Pneumatics, Accoustics, Optics, Astronomy, Geography.

V. Physics, or Natural Philosophy: Chemistry, Mineralogy.

VI. Botany, Zoology.

VII.       Anatomy, Medicine.

VIII.    Government, Political Economy, Law of Nature and Nations, History – being interwoven with politics and law.

IX. Law, Municipal.

X. Ideology, General Grammar, Ethics, Rhetoric, Belles Letres, and the fine Arts.”[10]

Nowhere to be seen are religious subjects. Perhaps because Jefferson believed that these were to be taught in religious institutions and had no business in the state’s schools. That was the position that a number of great theologians like Dr. Samuel Lunt Caldwell D.D., LL.D. continued to espouse during the rest of the 1800s.

So much for Jefferson and the one-way wall.  Indeed, if the thought ever crossed Jefferson’s mind, it must have been in relation to his stated fear and loathing of church encroachment in the affairs of state.  He was, in this respect, in the most impressive company, like that of Dr. Benjamin Franklin:

Dr. Benjamin Franklin

There is no doubt but the Claim of Parliament of Authority to make Laws binding on the Colonists in all Cases whatsoever, includes an Authority to change our Religious Constitution, and establish Popery or Mahomedanism if they please in its Stead: but, as you intimate Power does not make Right; and as the Right is nothing and the Power (by our Increase) continually diminishing, the one will soon be as insignificant as the other.”[11]

 “I am fully of your Opinion respecting religious Tests; but, tho’ the People of Massachusetts have not in their Constitution kept quite clear of them, yet, if we consider what the people were 100 years ago, we must allow they have gone great Lengths in Liberality of Sentiment on religious Subjects; and we may hope for greater Degrees of Perfection, when their Constitution, some years hence, shall be revised. If Christian Preachers had continued to teach as Christ and his Apostles did, without Salaries, and as the Quakers now do, I imagine Tests would never have existed; for I think they were invented, not so much to secure religion itself, as the Emoluments of it. When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig’d to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”[12]

The issue was, as it was to be expected, amply debated in 1787-89. In speeches, the press, correspondence and the ratification of the Constitution in the States. Again, a picture quite different from that espoused by the “Abandonment Theology” appears:

… all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding; and that no man ought, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to or against his own free will and consent; and that no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control, the right of conscience in the free exercise of worship…[13]

 “Tyranny is the exercise of some power over a man, which is not warranted by law, or necessary for the public safety . . . In some nations, legislators have derived much of their power from the influence of religion, or from that implicit belief which an ignorant and superstitious people entertain of the Gods, and their interposition in every transaction of life.  The Roman Senate sometimes availed themselves of this engine to carry their decrees and maintain their authority. This was particularly the case, under the aristocracy which succeeded the abolition of the monarchy. The augurs and priests were taken wholly from patrician families. They constituted a distinct order of men — had power to negative any law of the people, by declaring that it was passed during the taking of the auspices. This influence derived from the authority of opinion, was less perceptible, but as tyrannical as a military force. The same influence constitutes, at this day, a principal support of several Governments on the Eastern continent, and perhaps in South America.  But in North America, by a singular concurrence of circumstances, the possibility of establishing this influence, as a pillar of Government, is totally precluded.”[14]

 Indeed, as of this very day, more than two centuries after Noah Webster’s words, the backward and theocratic institutions of South American nations clearly prove him right.  May the Good Lord deliver us from those who would like to see us sink in the barbarian hold of a state church!

And what about the claim that religion in our public schools will serve to “tame the beast” and “restrain” the dark impulses of our students? Again, the debates on the Constitution provide some insight as to the Founders’ opinions:

Religion. The inefficacy of this restraint on individuals is well known. The conduct of every popular Assembly, acting on oath, the strongest of religious ties, shows that individuals join without remorse in acts against which their consciences would revolt, if proposed to them separately in their closets… Even in its coolest state, it [religion] has been much oftener a native to oppression than a restraint from it… The same security seems requisite for the civil as for the religious rights of individuals. If the same sect forms a majority and have the power, other sects will be sure to be depressed. DIVIDE ET IMPERA, the reprobated axiom of tyranny, is under certain qualifications the only policy by which a republic can be administered on just principles.”[15]

I will therefore make up the deficiency by adding a few words on the Constitution proposed by our Convention. . . . I will now add what I do not like. First, the omission of a Bill of rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the press… Let me add that a bill of rights is what people are entitled to against every government on earth, General or particular, and that no just government should refuse or rest on inference.”[16]

 “It is true, we are not disposed to differ much, at present, about religion; but when we are making a constitution, it is to be hoped, for ages and millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of religion, as part of the national compact?”[17]

 “But in this state, we have never thought it expedient to adopt a test-law; and yet I sincerely believe we have as great a proportion of religion and morality, as they have in England, where every person who holds public office, must either be a Saint by law, or a hypocrite by practice. A test-law is the parent of hypocrisy, and the offspring of error, and the spirit of persecution. Legislators have no right to set up an inquisition, and examine into the private opinions of men. Test-laws are useless and ineffectual, unjust and tyrannical; therefore the convention have done wisely in excluding this engine of persecution, and providing that no religious test shall ever be required.”[18]

 “The Right of conscience shall be held inviolable; and neither the legislative, executive nor judicial powers of the United States shall have authority to alter, abrogate or infringe any part of the constitutions of the several States, which provide for the preservation of liberty in matters of religion.”[19]

 This last paragraph was presented, nearly verbatim, as a proposed amendment to the Convention before the final vote, on 12 December 1787, by Mr. Robert Whitehill, of Pennsylvania, but it was not noted upon and read, so that the articles might eventually be taken collectively as a bill of rights, or separately as an amendment, at a later vote.

This later vote came and, as a bill of rights, the articles were adopted; albeit with some stronger language:

Article I: Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”[20]

 That the intent of the Founding Fathers, by their own pen, was to protect the church from undue state intervention as a guarantee of freedom of religion, as well as to protect the state from encroachment at the hands of the clergy is sufficiently clear. That by this device they intended, ultimately, to protect religion from the vagaries of a democratic system’s political seasons may not be so clear. Alexis de Toqueville, in that outstanding study of American political and social institutions, “Democracy in America,” thus summarized the issue:

Religions intimately united with the governments of the earth have been known to exercise sovereign power founded on terror and faith; but when religion contracts an alliance of this nature, I do not hesitate to affirm that it commits the same error as the man who would sacrifice his future to his present welfare; and that in obtaining a power to which it has no claim, it risks the authority which is rightfully its own. When a religion founds its empire only upon the desire of immortality that lives in every human heart, it may aspire to universal dominion; but when it connects itself with a government, it must adopt maxims which are applicable only to certain nations. Thus, in forming an alliance with a political power, religion augments its authority over a few and forfeits the hope of reigning over all. . . . In proportion as a nation assumes a democratic condition of society and as communities display democratic propensities, it becomes more and more dangerous to connect religion with political institutions; for the time is coming when authority will be bandied from hand to hand, when political theories will succeed one another, and when men, laws, and constitutions will disappear or be modified from day to day, and this not for a season only, but increasingly. Agitation and mutability are inherent in the nature of democratic republics, just as stagnation and sleepiness are the law of absolute monarchies.

If the Americans…who have given up the political world to the attempts of innovators, had not placed religion beyond their reach, where could it take hold in the ebb and flow of human opinions? Where would be that respect that belongs to it? Amid the struggles of faction? And what would become of its immortality, in the midst of universal decay?

The American clergy were the first to perceive this truth and to act in conformity with it. They saw that they must renounce their religious influence if they were to strive for political power, and they chose to give up the support of the state rather than to share its vicissitudes. In America religion is perhaps less powerful than it has been at certain periods among certain nations; but its influence is more lasting.”[21]

Having, I believe, helped to clarify the matter of the Founding Fathers’ position as it relates to the “Wall of Separation” between church and state, we can return to the “Abandonment Theology.”

The chapter then goes on to claim that falling SAT scores are a consequence of “outlawing God in Public Schools.” This is doubly preposterous.

  • First, because God has not been outlawed in Public Schools, as it has been clarified ad nauseam. Organized prayer in public schools was justly found to be unconstitutional and that is the extent of the Court’s decisions.
  • Second, because to assume that organized prayer is the one thing responsible for our children’s success in standardized tests does not bear argument. Were it to be so, I must respectfully submit that we send our teachers home, do away with the educational system altogether and pray instead for knowledge to be given our children by divine intervention. We will all save enormous amounts in property taxes.

This same absolute lack of sense is the cause of the alarmist and ill-founded analysis of dubious statistics taken out of any meaningful context. It does absolutely nothing to improve the lot of our students but, rather, increases the level of confusion and angst in which they must already develop.  What the author continually does is assume that two things happening together, one must be the cause of the other. In logic, this kind of reasoning is called a post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) falacy – The cock crows, and the sun comes up, but the cock does not make the rise. When this kind of analysis is used to “explain” horrific events such as Littleton’s as a consequence of our society’s “moral decline” and of the general corruption of values throughout our educational system, it does a disservice to the great majority of the people in the system and to the victims of these events.

To point a finger at all students for “lack of morals and corrupted ways,” because of the actions of an isolated psychopath or a handful of deranged characters is utterly unjust, hurtful to those involved in real incidents, and better left unsaid.

The truth is that millions of children attend school uneventfully every day of every year. That violence, where it exists as more than an isolated event, is the province of those schools located in already violent areas of society, the solution to which lies without rather than within the school system; and that knee-jerk reactions to events while lacking the most rudimentary bit of information about the facts themselves contribute to the problem and do absolutely nothing to help.

Which will not stop those who wallowing in their own sense of compassion cannot give themselves time to think and reason.  Nor will it stop those who will opportunistically take advantage of every unguarded moment that offers the lure of Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame, and an opportunity to indulge in that most godly American activity: to make a buck.

Thus, when events such as Littleton take place, some will blame the availability of handguns although none were used. Others will blame the “outlawing of God in Schools” as if the Creator were of such vile disposition as to visit punishment on the innocent for the transgressions of the sinful, and as if such banishment could in fact be implemented (read my lips: there is no such thing), and vociferously rave for mandatory prayer conducted in some sort of hand-holding ceremony by someone, anyone, but all together! Paraphrasing H. L. Mencken, balderdash, and poppycock!

No law ever prevented criminals from getting whatever weapons they set their minds in obtaining, and those in Littleton were no exception. In securing their weapons, these kids violated several state and federal laws. A few more would have made no difference.

And no amount of preaching and praying and Hosannas to Heaven will prevent a psychopath from performing his ghastly deeds, as every mass suicide or murder with religious overtones from Waco to Jonestown to Uganda has proved one sickening time after another.

Both sides are consistently disingenuous. Neither are weapons so readily available to teenagers, nor is God “banned” from school or, for that matter, from anywhere else. Nor, I would argue, can the Father of us all be so banned.

That said, it is only in the passionate defense of the separation of church and state that we will guarantee the ultimate survival of both church and state. And it is by an equally passionate defense of the rest of the covenants of the Bill of Rights that we will guarantee our own survival.

Having been born in Argentina, where I lived through most of my early years, I know what it is to live in a slightly veiled theocracy. My American ancestors, who migrated there in the early XIXth Century, were not free to practice their faith, were not allowed to marry, were not allowed to register the birth of their children and were not allowed to be buried in local cemeteries unless they converted to the local church.

  • In 1976, we had to endure unspeakable harassment to be able to cremate my grand undle Richard as the practice was condemned by the Church.
  • As late as 1989, legislators were being publicly threatened with excommunion should they vote favorably for a law allowing divorce.
  • Until 1997, the elected President had to make a public profession of faith, in accordance with the mandate of the local church, before being allowed to take office.

I was, then, for many years, as my family was before me, deprived of the enjoyment of civil religious rights, and can apodictally state that no task before us is more imperative, nor duty more sacred, than their upholding.

Even when the savagery of isolated events may make us waver in our determination or, perhaps, then more so.

Whether it be the intolerance of the Argentine Catholic Church, or the stranglehold effected by orthodox sects over the Israeli Knesset, or the abuses of the Mullahs in Iran, or the tests imposed by the Anglican Church, it makes no difference. Whenever and wherever religious institutions were allowed to exert direct influence into the affairs of the state, people suffered and, in the end, the system failed.

The admonitions of our Founding Fathers as to the fleeting nature of religious homogeneity in our country were, as usual, quite correct.  Within our lifetime, we will see the Protestant denominations become a minority in America (Protestants are already in a minority in the Supreme Court). I wonder if these advocates of religion in the affairs of state are prepared to see their children being forced into religious services not their own. While it would serve them right, I cannot rejoice in the prospect.

And thus, for those who insist in bringing religion into the realm of politics, let Thomas Paine answer from our collective past:

Here ends the examination of your testimony; (which I call upon no man to abhor, as you have done, but only to read and judge fairly;) to which I subjoin the following remark: “That the setting up and putting down of kings,” most certainly mean, the making of a king, who is not yet so, and the making him no king who is already one. And pray what hath this to do in the present case? We neither mean to set up not to put down, neither to make nor to unmake, but to have nothing to do with them. Wherefore your testimony in whatever light is viewed serves only to dishonor your judgement and for many other reasons had better had been let alone than published. First, because it tends to the decrease and reproach of all religion whatever, and it is of the utmost danger to society, to make it a party in political disputes. Secondly, because it exhibits a body of men, numbers of whom disavow the publishing political testimonies, as being concerned therein and approved thereof. Thirdly, because it hath a tendency to undo that Continental harmony and friendship which yourselves by your late liberal and charitable donations hath lent a hand to establish and the preservation of which, is of the utmost consequence to us all. And here without anger or resentment I bid you farewell. Sincerely wishing, that as men and Christians, ye may always fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil religious right; and be, in your turn, the means of securing it for others; but that example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed and reprobated by every inhabitant of America.”[22]


[1] Actually, crime rates in all categories, as reported by legitimate sources (FBI, National Sheriff’s Association, etc.) have fallen to their lowest level in decades. More than 35% in 1998 alone!  By the Abandonment Theology’s reckoning, we would be lead to believe that God must have been particularly pleased with our current state of affairs.

[2] In Everton vs. Board of Education (1947), in fact, the Court upheld bus subsidies granted by the state of New Jersey. The issue at hand was whether the states could subsidize children’s bus fares to public and parochial schools.  In the majority opinion, Justice Black noted that the State of New Jersey had, in its subsidies, “aided all its citizens without regard to their religious beliefs.”  And he further wrote that the Establishment clause “requires the state to be neutral in its relations with groups of religious believers and non-believers; it does not require the state to be their adversary.” Perhaps in anticipation of a ruling expected in a later case (McCollum vs. Illinois, 1948), Justice Black stressed that, while the state must “accommodate” religion, it cannot “pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.” States cannot “support any religious activities… [or] teach or practice religion.” It was in this context that Justice Black then quoted Jefferson’s letter of 1802 to some members of the Baptist Convention of Danbury. In 1962, Justice Black wrote the decision of Engle vs. Vitale, striking down the practice of reciting a prescribed prayer in a New Hyde Park, New York, school. Citing the same Jefferson letter, he stated that the Establishment clause: “must at least mean that in this country it is no part of the official business of government to compose official prayers for any group of American people to recite as part of a religious program carried out by the government.”  Again in 1963, and in the face of a demand from some groups for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court decisions, the court took Abington Township v. Schempp; a case it could have refused referring to a school in which the Bible was used to “bring lessons in morality to children.”  Justice Tom Clark, a southern conservative, wrote the decision striking down this practice and reaffirming the Court’s position in the earlier decisions.

There are other Supreme Court decisions on the separation of Church and State.  The author seems to confuse and reverse the meaning of those he quotes.

[3] Implying that the separation was to prevent the State from meddling in church affairs, but not the other way around!

[4] Perhaps, the author, so that he may become informed of Jefferson’s state of mind, resorted to the ancient practice of haruspication, and by carefully reading into chicken livers came to a better understanding of his inner thoughts.  Or, perchance, he practiced instead scapulamancy and, by careful study of that chicken’s spealbone or shoulder blade, came to an understanding that eludes us.

[5] Thomas Jefferson.  Letter to Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and others, a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in the State of Connecticut, 01 January 1802.

[6] Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 04 March 1805.

[7] Thomas Jefferson, letter to Moses Robinson, Washington, 23 March 1801

[8] Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, Monticello, Virginia, 12 October 1813.

[9] Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, Monticello, Virginia, 10 February 1814.

[10] Thomas Jefferson, Report of the Commissioners of the University of Virginia, Monticello, Virginia, 04 August 1818.

[11] Benjamin Franklin, letter to Samuel Mather, London, 07 July 1773. Note the early analysis of the decreasing power of England over the Colonies, as well as the pun on Increase Mather, an ancestor of Samuel’s.

[12] Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, Passy, 09 October 1780.

[13] Samuel Bryan, Reply to Wilson’s Speech, Centinel, Freeman’s Journal, Philadelphia, 24 October 1787.

[14] Noah Webster, A Citizen of America, Philadelphia, 17 October 1787.

[15] James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, New York, 24 October 1787

[16] Thomas Jefferson, reply to Madison, Paris, 20 December 1787

[17] Letter IV, Federal Farmer, 12 October 1787

[18] Lawrence Taliaferro to James Madison, Rose Hill, Orange Co., Virginia, 16 December 1787

[19] Dissent of the Minority of the Pennsylvania Convention. Pennsylvania Packet, Philadelphia, 18 December 1787.

[20] Bill of Rights. Articles in addition to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

[21] Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1993, Vol. I, p. 308-312.

[22] Thomas Paine, Common Sense, Dover Publications, 1997, Epistle to the Representatives of the Religious Society of the People called Quakers &tc., p. 57, 58


(to Gila)

Eleanor of Aquitaine was good looking. Very good looking. Perpulchra, said of her Geraldus Cambrensis, who knew how to say very good looking in Latin and that is why they published his books. And when she turned fifteen, she became an orphan. Very orphaned. With an inheritance left by daddy that included some land from the Mediterranean to the British Channel.

Filthy rich, orphaned and perpulchra.

Louis VII, King of France by the Grace of God, who sometimes is inclined to test us thus, lifted up his ears when the sages in his Privy Council enumerated the reasons for him to marry Eleanor. That was not the only part of his anatomy that suffered a lift. And since he was a chaste Christian king, he immediately ordered a cold bath and submerged himself in it until his ears returned to a normal size. In this he spent a few days after which, with Franc determination, ordered his Council to start preparations for the wedding.

When Eleanor found out that the King had determined to make her his bride, she had a tantrum. Now, just now that she was finally free, that damn frog comes here wanting to end the fun before it could even start! But, a royal order is a royal order and Eleanor, who had many idiosyncrasies but was no fool, prepared for the nuptials.

As soon as they said “I do” in front of the Bishop, Louis took her to his palace across from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. And as she first beheld her new abode…she had another tantrum.

Louis VIII and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Cheap, stingy bastard frog! — Some claim she screamed at Louis as she surveyed room after room with no curtains, carpets or any of the comforts of her home in Aquitaine. It was not an auspicious beginning to their married life.

It didn’t get any better.

Following the wise counsel of his priest, who claimed to know a lot about these things, Louis informed Eleanor that they would only share a bed to make heirs and to sleep. No hanky panky. That’s why they called him “the Chaste.” Eleanor called him a number of things, but chaste was not one of them.

Soon, while Louis spent his time between kingly business and cold baths, many of his friends, allies, nobles, visitors, servants, neighbors and a couple of Japanese tourists made their way to greet the Queen in her quarters, which she had duly appointed with the curtains and carpets she missed and all the necessary furniture, including a very large round bed and an emergency exit.

Among the most frequent visitors was Geoffrey of Anjou who, in spite of his name, was quite a handsome lad. Over the following four years, Louis and Eleanor had one daughter, Marie, corresponding to an equal number of conjugal visits. During that same time, Louis sent into exile some 50 noblemen, poets and diverse Court attendants for displaying excessive familiarity with the chief Courtesan.

More or less at this stage of the soirée, suitcase in hand arrived in Paris Eleanor’s younger sister who, for reasons that history does not tell us, had been burdened with the name of Petronilla. Name aside, it seems some qualities run in the family. Petronilla was way more beautiful than her name suggested.

The sisters got to doing what sisters do after a prolonged separation, and spent several days and their nights gossiping nonstop and telling each other their troubles. Both had them in spades. Those of Eleanor, of course, we already know. Petronilla’s problem was that she had fallen head over heels for Raoul de Vermandois. He was a dashing young man of good family, playful and loving like no other, but with a problem. Well, not really a problem: a wife. He was married to Eleanor, daughter of Stephen, Count of Blois and Champagne, and it appears that he had to drink several cases of her father’s famous bubbly to come anywhere close to the missus. To get close to Petronilla he didn’t even need a glass of water.

Thus Eleanor began her intrigues in favor of her sister. Soon, they convinced the Bishop of Noyes, coincidentally Raoul’s brother, and the bishops of Senlis and Laon — perhaps because Louis vaguely referred to the integrity of the one thing that differentiated them from nuns— to annul the marriage of Raoul with the Champagne gal alluding to a heretofore unknown state of consanguinity. Nobody even mentioned that their family relation was nowhere near as close as, say, that between Louis and Eleanor. That subject would come up later.

A day after the annulment, the same three bishops married Raoul and Petronilla, giving the new union the requisite Divine blessings. As the bride and groom retired to consummate what under no circumstances could be called hymenæus, Louis and Eleanor returned to Paris for the relief of all, especially of Louis who could not stand his sister in law and craved some peace.

That peace was not to last long.

A few days later, when the Count of Champagne open the castle door to find his daughter, former Countess of Vermandois, deflowered, disgraced and sent packing, he went berserk. He spent several days mouthing all kinds of obscenities in French, which sounds so much better. The Count of Champagne was a very polished fellow and everything he said he said it in French. When he run out of obscenities, he went to see Bernard de Clairvaux —a cousin who was launching a new religious order, the Cistercians, while the town gossips where betting that anything with such a name could not possibly take off. Then as now, town gossips never understand a thing. Bernardo, naturally, depended on his cousin the Count for financial support down to the purchase of underwear, if he had used any. For at that time nobody did.

Bernard de Clairvaux

As monks go, Bernardo was a fairly decent writer, so he wrote a letter to Pope Innocent —he really wasn’t— in terms so eloquent, that Innocent could not but take quick and firm action. And very firmly he excommunicated the Bishop of Noyes, suspended the bishops of Senlis and Laon, annulled the annulment of the marriage between Raoul and the daughter of the Count of Champagne, annulled the marriage of Raoul with Petronilla and sent a letter to Raoul demanding that he return to his wife and throw the whore of Aquitaine out of his house.

Innocent was not nearly as sophisticated as the Count of Champagne, but we can overlook that because he was neither French nor a count. The fact that Innocent was counting on the munificence of the Count of Champagne and the assistance of Bernard de Clairvaux in the preparation of a little crusading enterprise played no role in his decision. Those are fallacies planted by people with bad intentions.

Pope Innocent

It is hard to describe Eleanor’s reaction when word got to her in Paris. Louis’ is even harder.

A whore?—Eleanor was heard screaming— a fricking whore? Who the crap does that dress wearing SOB think he is! And you! —now looking at Louis— Damn Parisian sissy! You are going to let that impotent fool say that about your wife’s sister!

Louis didn’t say anything but moved closer to his guards, just in case.

And so it went, day after long day. Until Louis could no longer hide and called his army and marched towards Champagne to have a few words with the count. In a very friendly manner he began to lay waste to anything he encountered on a road that, coincidentally, led to Clairvaux.

Bernardo did not like the way things were looking. And even less the direction things were taking. So he did what he did best, and wrote another letter to Innocent begging for a Papal intervention.

What do you want me to do now? — wrote back the Pope — didn’t you want me to annul that which we have annulled and disallow the annulment that we have disallowed? So? It’s done!

Bernard took some time to figure that one out. Innocent didn’t write nearly as well as Bernard and tended to get into complicated sentences for no reason. That is precisely the reason Innocent was Pope and Bernard wasn’t. After some thinking, he wrote the Pope with a proposed solution: If Louis is laying waste to my lands because you annulled the marriage of Raoul and Petronilla and disallowed the annulment of that between Raoul and the Champagne girl, well, now you annul the disallowment of the annulment and disallow the annulment of the disallowment and done! Let’s see if Louis wants to spend more money in the war without the raison d’etre!

Ma che catzo! — exclaimed the Pope — The French are crazy! And was absolutely convinced that the bubbly in the Count of Champagne’s cellars had something to do with Bernardo’s prose.

Bernardino, caro figlio! — He replied — What the crap are you talking about? If I disallow the disallowment of the annulment and annul the annulment of the disallowment we go back to square one and then what? The wine guy comes after me like a Berber, closes your monastery and we’re toast!

No problem — wrote Bernardo — As soon as the Chaste goes home and releases his army, you disallow the annulment of the disallowment of the annulment and confirm the disallowment of the annulment and let’s see if he can find the copper to raise another army.

Madonna! — said the Pope wondering why the heck wasn’t he a Buddhist, surely the Dalai Lama didn’t have to deal with this kind of crap.

However, Bernardo’s letter did contain an absolute truth, and anyone who didn’t get it could be told that it was a Mystery of the Church and presto! So off to write he went. And after a month, Petronilla was back with Raoul, Louis with Eleanor, the count’s daughter pouting in her room, and the Count of Champagne saying all the obscenities he had said before but in French, which always sounds so much more sophisticated, n’es pas?

But no sooner had they all settled in that the new Papal letter arrived, believe it or not. But this time Innocent did not call Petronilla a whore, just in case.

Louis was so happy and relaxed after months of defending his sister-in-law’s honor, and was so well received by Eleanor, that later they had to name it Alix, a new Princess. And soon after, he received the new letter from Innocent.

A pox on that bleeding bastard! — said Louis, who could say anything he wanted because he was King and no one dared question him (except for Eleanor, who could but didn’t). And without wasting time, off he went again to Champagne, where he intended to have a friendly conversation with Bernard de Clairvaux.

The results of Louis’ expedition to Champagne never made it to Innocent for, curiously enough, just at that very moment he decided to croak. Louis helped a new guy, Clement, to mount the throne of Rome — other mounts he mounted without Louis’ help. And since one favor deserves another, Clement disallowed the annulment of the disallowment of the annulment…well, you know what I mean.

Thus, Raoul of Vermandois and Petronilla of Aquitaine lived happily ever after and engendered a whole tribe.

Happiness is not what followed the return of Louis’ to Paris as Alix was born.

What? Another wench? — He exclaimed — That won’t do! The guys at the coffee shop are giving me tutus and dolls and call me mama! — He did not know they called him a number of other things, too. Eight years, for crying out loud! Eight years, no heir and all I have to show for them are two girlies!

Eleanor of Aquitaine and Alix, playing “The Court of Love.”

What he didn’t say is that besides the lack of a male heir, he was getting tired of getting the horns every time he went out for a walk, and if he kept sending lovers into exile soon there was going to be no one left in France to make him a cup of coffee. So, taking advantage of his new friend in Rome, he got himself an annulment on the grounds of…You guessed it: consanguinity! It took him eight years to remember Eleanor was his cousin! Could happen to anyone.

Clement, who had no inclination to pick up a fight with Louis and who wanted to finally launch that bloody Crusade to the Holy Land to evict from Jerusalem those ignorant barbarians who ate with a fork, used perfume, and God knows with what evil intent took daily baths (no end to their perversity!), signed the annulment without delay and left Eleanor out to dry.

Eleanor was not amused and, as we have come to expect, had the mother of all tantrums. Per the annulment, Louis remained in charge of HER lands until she married again, what he had no intention to allow. And so Eleanor went to visit her old friend and playmate Geoffrey of Anjou to whom, in between bouts of horizontal exercises, she told her problems.

Geoffrey the Plantagenet, Count of Anjou

No problem! — said Geoffrey, who was married to the Empress of England because at that time the English did not even think of crowning a woman. — You marry my son, Henry, and let’s see if that fruit has the nuts to come against us.

With your son? — said Eleanor unable to hide her disappointment. — But I thought…

Henry II “Curtmantle”

No, darling — said Geoffrey, the one with the plant on his head. — Matilda is the one with the mullah here. And if I let Shorty go (Matilda was 4.2) we all end up in the poorhouse and there’s no way I’m starting over. Plus, without metal, the frog will trounce us.

So, six weeks later Eleanor married Henry of Anjou before Louis could even find out. When Louis did find out, this time the tantrum was his. And I cannot repeat what he said, French or not.

Eleanor had a slew of children with Henry who, not for nothing was called “fornicatur excelsus” by the same gossip, Geraldus Cambrensis, who called Eleanor “perpulchra.”

In time, Henry became Henry II of England, because somebody beat him to the name and he could not be Henry I. And besides the slew of children he had with Eleanor, he sired a great deal more with others in miraculous numbers that, somehow, did not make it to the Annals of the Saints.

The children inherited the vigor and temperament of their parents and became players in the greatest dust-ups of their times. Richard and John, in particular, received a lot of attention although neither could bed Lady Marion.

As this things go, Eleanor eventually separated from Henry and spent a lot of time in the north of France jumping from one bedroom to another until, tired, old, arthritic and wasted in a general state of decay, she entered the convent of Fontrevault — not without an impressive if surely disinterested donation — where he gave up the ghost, vox Papam, a Saint!

Louis remarried. This time, he fired the spiritual counselor and made out like a rabbit until the awaited heir was produced after which he went to the Holy Land to get away from his wife.

Henry II Curt mantle (because he wore short skirts to facilitate you-know-what, did not spend a single moment of his life by himself and, missing Eleanor — apparently the other few hundred did not measure up to her beauty or prowess — eventually leaving his kingdom to Richard and then John who continued the family tradition albeit with some colorful variations.

But that is another story.



Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine are the author’s 24th-35th great-grandparents, several dozen times, through John “Lackland” and Isabell Taillefer, and through Eleanor of England and Alfonse VIII of Castile. Talk about inbreeding!

A Saint’s Life

A Saint’s Life

Vladimir the Great, Prince of Kiev

Vladimir Svyatoslavich, Prince of Kiev


The family had grown in importance. It seemed like yesterday that Roric of Jutland had come down the Volga with his band of Rus with the sole purpose —instinctive capitalist that he was—of controlling the Silk Route that run through there from Asia to the north of Europe.

By the time his grandson, Svyatoslav, made his debut into the world, the Rus controlled most f the lands of the Slavs, and had settled in their ever more important base of Novgorod. The control extended especially to the Slavic women, the Rus’ favorite pastime.

Svyatoslav was the son of Igor and Olga, who upon receiving the holy oils took the name of Helena and who, at the death of her husband was left the burden of their irksome children, reason enough to have passed into history as St. Helena.

Olga of Kiev, the saint who buried people alive

One fine day Olga went to Constantinople to pay a visit to Emperor Constantine VII, Basileus of Byzantium. With the growing fortunes of the Rus, it was time to butter the bread of the Great Kahuna. But Constantine didn’t give a damn if these barbarians had made a dime or two, and did not receive her. Instead, he sent a minister of low rank, leaving Olga fuming at the snub. The effeminate Greek had made an enemy.

To make matters worse, at her return to Novgorod she found that Svyatoslav, free from the controlling glance of his mother, had been fooling around with the housemaid, Malusha, all the more evident considering the notable increase in Malusha’s waist.

Every attempt to convince the recently converted Olga that divine intervention by the Holy Spirit had a hand in the miraculous conception was for naught. And Malusha was sent packing, rather hurriedly, to the house of her brother, Dobrynia some 500 miles away.

Olga’s calm and collected admonitions to Svyatoslav must have been heard, for he never again admitted responsibility nor recognized any of his numerous bastards, nor did he ever again brought the objects of his desire home.

In due time, Malusha gave birth to a cute baby boy, Vladimir. Not even Olga would disown the recognized Prince of Novgorod, so Malusha and her offspring were allowed to return and join Svyatoslav and his new wife, by now in her 7th month, awaiting the arrival of the second son and first heir to the throne, Yaropolk.

And people ask where do the Russians come up with stories like the Brothers Karamazov!

To further complete this lovely picture of a Christian home, cousin Astrid arrived with her son Olaf, escaping a little dustoff in which her husband, Trygvar, had managed to lose his head and his kingdom at the same time.

As the children grew up to manhood, Svyatoslav gave Yaropolk the kingdom of Kiev, and the bastard Vladimir got the consolation prize of Novgorod, displaying an absolute lack of geopolitical sense, or of the character of his offspring.

Olaf, of course, didn’t get anything.

The first thing Yaropolk did as King was to depose Vladimir and send him packing. Which he did, in company of cousin Olaf, and the two of them spent a few years doing tourism, splitting heads and spreading bastards from the Volga to the Danube and from the Dardanelles to Sicily.

Having thus acquired some experience in the art of negotiation by head-butt, they returned to Novgorod. It appears Vladimir was itching to negotiate with Yaropolk.

And that he did. Soon after arriving, he shoved a few choice arguments down his half-brother’s throat and took the now widowed wife of Yaropolk as his concubine, adopting their child, who seemed to be a good boy.

Back in Novgorod, and with Kiev also in his pocket, Vlad started looking around for ways to expand his dominions. He was never satisfied.

He found the way in the form of Rogneda, darling daugter of the Count of Polotsk who, in spite of her name, was one good looking lass.

Rogneda of Polotsk

Vladimir sent emissaries to Polotsk to request Rogneda’s hand in marriage. Uncle Dobrynia, Malusha’s forgotten brother led the team. When Dobrynia relayed the request to the Count, he laughed to the point of needing an oxygen tent. Alas, those were not yet available.

—  Rogneda, boys, come over here! He called his household to witness the event. Look! HAHAHAHA! What an interesting Bwahahaha proposal these folks bring us! Awhahahaha!!!!!!

Come here, Dobrynia, please share the proposal with us.

—    Sire, my nephew Vladimir, the Great Count of Novgorod and Prince of Kiev requests the hand of your daughter Rogneda in marriage.

—    Hiiiiiiii…..the hand of…..haaaa. Rogneda, darling, what do you think about marrying the “Prince” –he said while trying to catch his breath.

—    The heck if anybody thinks I am going to clean the boots of a housemaid bastard! –said Rogneda who was very class conscious and had never read Gorky.

—    You see—the count said to Dobrynia—if the girl doesn’t want to….hehehe.

—    I’d respectfully suggest you reconsider—said Dobrynia—Vladimir is not the understanding kind. A little bugsy, even.

—     Bugsy?—piped in Rogneda’s brother—The way he carries on crabs and fleas are the least of his problems!

The Count of Polotsk, obviously, did not know about Vladimir’s temperament. Dobrynia was right. So was Rogneda’s brother. And when the bugsy prince got the reply, his reaction didn’t take long.

—What the crap! Nobody talks that way about my mamuschka!—he exclaimed—and off to Polotsk went the Rus, looking for trouble.

After a single day of sword swinging, skull cracking and other forms of effective communication, Vladimir made it to the Count’s palace, where he found him in the company of Rogneda and her brothers. But this time nobody was laughing.

Then Dobrynia, who besides being the uncle was Vladimir’s Chief Brownose, said:

—Hey, Vlad, that one there is the one who said she’s not going to clean the boots of a housemaid’s bastard. Why don’t you make her now the whore of a housemaid’s bastard?

Vladimir, never one to recuse such an invitation, after all the Chronicles of the Rus describe him as a fornicatur inmensus et cruelis, right there proceeded to oblige his uncle while his minions held the count and his entourage forcing them to witness the event.

Immediately after, the Count of Polotsk and his family lost their heads. Well, they didn’t actually lose them, they were taken away by the Rus. All, of course, except for Rogneda’s.

It seems Rogneda had some qualities, for soon after Vladimir married her.

And it seems fornicator inmensus did, too, for this time she voiced no opposition.

In the year of our Lord 978, curiously 9 months after the fall of Polotsk, young Izyaslav (St. Isaac) was born. Just at about the same time as his half-brother Yaroslav. Vladimir wasted no time in the making of heirs.

A few years passed in domestic bliss in the house of Vladimir, Rogneda, their children and the mothers of some of them until, finally, Vlad decided it was time again to expand his dominions. This time, by marrying the Basilissa Anna Porphyrogenita, daughter of Romanus II Porphyrogenitus, Emperor of the East, and sister of Basileus II and Constantine VIII. These Greeks loved numbers in their names.

Basil (Basileus) II, Emperor of the East

But it was not to be easy. Basileus Basilius wasn’t a lowly Count, and he couldn’t be simply coaxed. Or perhaps he was. Sorrounded by Greeks, Bulgarians and a few thousand extras, he asked for Vladimir’s assistance in the form of 6,000 soldiers he needed urgently.

Vladimir and Dobrynia came up with a plan. Dobrynia then went to Constantinople and relayed the following message: Moral support, all you want. But troops, any number of troops, Vladimir can only spare for a member of the family. Now, if he were to marry the Basilissa…

—WTF!—exclaimed the Basileus Basilius, turning into a basilisk at the notion of that barbarian vacillating with the Basilissa.—Go tell that son of a whore he can stick his troops up his…

—Just a moment, brother!—interrupted the Basileus Constantine, who knew of Vladimir’s reputation and did not want to mess with him—I think we can find a solution.

—Solution my foot, replied the Basileus Basilius. If Anna finds out we’ve been keeping her pure this many years to deliver her to fornicatur inmensus

—That’s it!— said Constantine, not a bad…

Et cruelis, you moron! If Anna does find out she’ll make eunuchs of us. The nervousness in Basileus’ voice meant he was quite serious about the possible ramifications.

—Not so fast, replied Constantine, you need to get out more. Tell the palooka that we have no problem…provided he converts to Christianity, and let him be happy we are not Jews, at least he gets to keep his foreskin intact.

—I see, said Basileus, if he does not convert, we are off the hook. If he does, his own people will stew him…

—Yep, and they can send us a doggie bag.—Finished Constantine.

—Visir! — called Basileus — tell that idiot messenger to come back.

And so they sent their reply to Vladimir.

Kac? Khto eta? Said Vladimir, who spoke Russian. Is the Basileus vacillating with me? You mean if they put a little water on my forehead they deliver their sister? Tell them to send the priest and let us not waste time.

—Wait! What if the boys don’t like it? — asked Dobrynia, his worry showing in his voice. —They kind of like Thor, the forest fairies, Odin…nobody rams guilt down their throats…

—Whoever does not like it can come and see me. I’ll show them who’s boss and why they call me fornicatur inmensus.

Et cruelis, added another brown nose that happened to walk by and overheard the conversation.

Et cruelissimus, added Vladimir, never to be outdone. Every single one of you schmucks gets baptized, and I don’t want to hear a single Nyet!

Yet, Vladimir was not able to relax. —What if these effeminate morons make me baptize and then whistle Dixie? The chroniclers will change my name to Moronius Inconmensurabilis, and I won’t be able to scare a Greek maiden!

So he finally set off to Constantinople with the 6,000 soldiers the Basileus requested…and 6,000 more in case he vacillated.

Indeed, the Basileus tried to get off the agreement by every means possible. Was the water really holy water? Was the priest sanctioned by the Patriarch or was he one of those Romish fools that we don’t care for? How about we get the soldiers now and argue the point later?

And they had good reason to play around. Anna was making the palace rounds, sharp knife in hand, making gestures that left no doubt as to her intentions if her brothers didn’t stand up for her virtue.

Finally, Vladimir had enough. And with the backing of 12,000 Rus that hadn’t even had a personal visit in months, he camped in front of the gates of Constantinople, after duly kicking the bejesus out of Bulgars and Greeks so that no distractions remained.

“I am going to have the Basilissa’s heinie nice and calmly. Or all three of yours my way,” said the note he sent to the palace.

—OK, the Basilissa’s nice and calmly, said Basileus Basilius, no longer vacillating.

—That’s it, brother — said Constantine, covering his parts as he glanced at the approaching Basilissa.

—What? Said the Basilissa, you value mine less than yours? As she continued to sharpen the knife.

The brothers looked to each other, exclaiming simultaneously: You bet! And, dear Anna, yours is lost one way or the other. Think of mama, think of papa, the purple, the Empire!

—Ok, said the Basilissa. I’m sold. Tell the Barbarian I’ll marry him.

—Great! — Exclaimed the Basileus Basilius, who could not hide his relief.

—Wonderful, we have a wedding! — echoed Constantine, still holding his crutch, just in case. — And what made you change your mind sister?

Inmensus, of course—said the Basilissa as she left the room.

And thus, in 989 A.D., Vladimir married Anna at the very gates of the besieged city and was baptized, converting the Rus because he could. At the ceremony he took the name George, or perhaps the Patriarch just gave it to him, unable to escape the image of the warrior, sword in hand, receiving the oils.

Anna Porphyrogenita

Over time, Vladimir became Basileus, reigning over a vas Empire and thousands of his own bastards.

As soon as he keeled over, efforts began to make him a Saint. Sure, he’d been a Barbarian, but after his conversion he behaved rather well, was the position of the Patriarch of the Orient. Forty bastards? Nah, that’s just gossip. In any case, I can’t believe it was that many… Ok, yes, he sired them, but at least he brought Christianity to the Rus!

But every time, his sanctification failed at the last minute. Look away all you want, they could pave over his “sins” but there was no way to even invent him a miracle. And Saints must have miracles. So there.

Several generations later,  on 15 July 1240, Tzar Alexandr, a descendant of Vladimir, was camped on the shores of the River Neva facing an enemy several times smaller and weaker than his army, the last obstacle to a unified Russia.

—What do we do Boss? Asked his Field Marshall, who was always asking questions just to show he wasn’t brain dead.

—Well, we are gonna have us some fun, replied Alexandr.

—Do I give the attack command, then?

—No. Not yet. Call me a few witnesses. I have to do something first.

The witnesses assembled, Alexandr, struggling to keep a straight face, exclaimed: “Vladimir Svyatoslavich, Little Father! Help us win this battle for the greatness of Russia and the Glory of God!”

In a matter of minutes, Alexandr crossed the Neva and decimated the enemy. Some of the usual sycophants swore to have seen Vladimir leading Alexandr’s charges during the battle.

What can I say, give a Russian soldier a bottle of vodka and he’ll see three Suns, four Moons and a corpse leading a charge.

“You welcome, Little Father.” Is all that Alexandr said after the battle, while winking an eye to the sky.

From that day on, Alexandr became Alexandr Nevsky, and was duly sainted; and Vladimir, son of Svyatoslav and the maid, fornicatur inmensus et cruelis, became St. Vladimir (St. George), a cross replacing his sword in the icons of the Eastern Church to this day.

Nobody knows why, when they take his icons in procession, thousands of women flock to his image to touch him and ask him for who knows what. It may have something to do with swords and fertility, but what do I know.

St. Vladimir


Vladimir Svyatoslavich was the author’s 37th great-grandfather through his daughter with Anna Porphyrogenita, Dobronegra Mariya Vladivorovna v’Kieva and Kaszimierz Odnowieciel “the Restorer,” Duke of Poland.

Tell King Charles We’ll Pay No Taxes

Tell King George, Charles We’ll Pay No Taxes!


Rally, Mohawks! Bring your axes,

And tell King George we’ll pay no taxes!

A few years ago, as I was driving through Ipswich, Massachusetts, I saw one of those historical markers that so abound in the northeast and, having an interest in the town, I naturally stopped to read it.  Placed a few years ago near the Choate Bridge, the sign read:

“23 August 1689. Citizens of Ipswich led by Rev. John Wise denounced the levy of taxes by the arbitrary government of Sir Edmund Andros and from their protest sprung the American Revolution of 1689.”

The sign appeared to explain the town’s advertising billing itself as “The birthplace of the American Revolution,” but surely there was a mistake. For, as we all know, no event of particular importance took place in Ipswich during the Revolutionary War.

Lexington has a firm claim on the first shot fired in the Revolution, thanks to H. W. Longfellow; and Salem may well have a claim to first blood. Boston has the committees of correspondence, John Hancock, the Adamses, the tea party, and a score of events leading to and through the revolution. And so does Philadelphia, Trenton, Yorktown, New York, Brooklyn, Valley Forge, and a list of places long enough to fill a good-sized book. But, Ipswich?  What could Ipswich possibly claim in connection to the revolution other than the participation of her militiamen from the march of 19 April 1775 onwards?

Then, as I was pondering the place names and events, the date struck me. The American Revolution, we all know, has sufficient precedents going back to the French and Indian War: the protests over the Stamp Act; Benjamin Franklin passing the contents of Governor Hutchinson’s letters to Sam Adams and he, doing what he did best, publishing them and raising a raucous over their content; Joyce Jr. escapades, etc. However, the sign was pretty clear. There could be no mistake. Twice it mentions 1689 as the date of occurrence of an “American Revolution.” That was the time of Governor Andros, not Hutchinson; the time just a few years before the Salem witch trials, long before most of our revolutionary patriots were even born; and yet, it sounded eerily familiar. The issue at hand, just as it would be eighty years later, was taxes levied without consent of the taxed.

I was soon to learn that, indeed, the events in Ipswich played an important part in a continuous struggle over the attainment and preservation of the same liberties that Jefferson so aptly described in the Declaration of Independence.  And that this struggle started in East Anglia in the late 16th Century and led, inexorably, to American independence.


The Immigrants

Every schoolboy in the country knows that our ancestors left England in fear of persecution and came to America in search of religious freedom.  While that may have been true for some isolated individuals, I dare say that every schoolboy in America is wrong.

While earlier settlements, starting in the first years of the 17th Century had been going on, particularly in Virginia and what is now North Carolina, it is the arrival of the Pilgrims and the Puritans that is more often associated with the settling of America. Never mind that, by 1620, the Pilgrims were coming to an existing colony on the Chesapeake Bay (or, perhaps, New York), and only due to a storm, some poor navigation and an impending lack of beer did they land on Plymouth Bay. Never mind that their reason for leaving Leyden had nothing to do with any search for religious freedom, but because: “Of all sorrows most heavily to be borne, was that many of the children…were drawn by evil examples into extravagant and dangerous courses, getting the reign off their necks and departing from their parents.” In other words, the kids were having a ball in Holland, which many attractions lead many into temptation to this very day, were growing too independent, and did not think that father knew best. If the Pilgrims were in New York today they would probably volunteer to be the first settlers in Mars, or some such other destination, freedom from religious persecution notwithstanding!  And, lest we forget, never mind that the first Puritans arrived in 1630, a full 24 years after the establishment of Jamestown, to an existing colony in Massachusetts where John Endicott had already been elected Governor and was preparing to bid them welcome.

However, it is also a fact the Massachusetts Bay Company would bring tens of thousands of new immigrants into a rapidly expanding population in what was the greatest mass migration over the Atlantic until the 19th century, followed by the greatest in-grown demographic explosion ever recorded. The sheer numbers and industry of the northern settlers soon obscured the earlier settlements to the point that we associate their arrival with the beginnings of colonization in English America.

What possessed these many people to cross the Atlantic? Why would they live the safety of familiar places and venture over a perilous journey to an unknown land?

A case could be made that some fled persecution.  However, contrary to present-day fairytales, religious persecution was not generally visited upon the general public. Some dissenting ministers, in particular, were removed from their parishes and forfeited their revenues if their preaching did not conform to the church’s policy.  In other words, the state was simply not willing to provide for the sustenance of dissenting clergy and, these ministers being apparently unable to engage in any other trade; they were left with migration or starvation as their sole remaining options.  But in 1642, the New Model Army ended the reign of Charles I. A Puritan Parliament placed a Puritan leader, Oliver Cromwell, as Lord Protector of the realm, proceeded to cut-off the deposed king’s head, and sent every opposing faction into hiding or exile. And yet, the Puritans kept on coming to Massachusetts.  Thus were are led to believe, as it were, that our ancestors successfully waged a civil war, destroyed the established polity, engaged in regicide and the bloody persecution of every opponent, and then merrily jumped on ships to brave the crossing of the Atlantic fearing persecution from themselves.  I think not.

I fancy that their motives laid elsewhere and, paraphrasing JFK, that what caused them to embark in their perilous journey was not what England was doing to them, but what they could not do to England.  Brownists, Independentists and nonconformists of every color, our ancestors were disgusted with the way things had turned out in England and were determined to start from scratch building a “New” England at home or, for that matter, anywhere else. Their talk of universal voting rights extending to every freeman in the kingdom and of the illegitimacy of any taxes levied without representation of the taxed. Their notion of the common property of grazing lands and of government by elected representatives of the freemen. Their radical ideas about the separation of Church and State and the independence of local parishes led by pastors answerable only to the flock were surely as alien and sounded just as dangerous to Cromwell as they had to Charles I.

Most of the Puritans were yeomen, and most came from East Anglia. They were but one generation removed from serfdom and, after having acquired a measure of property and liberty, both physical and spiritual, during the Reformation, they were seeing their rights disappear due to Charles I’s extreme views on Royal Prerogative. The extravagance of the king’s court and his imposition of taxes without Parliament’s authority led to sometimes-violent reactions from all classes. Large and small freeholders were victims of illegal taxation imposed on their holdings, and the small ones could well see their return to life as tenants of the nobility or landed gentry. As there was no distinction between Church and State, conformist priests were busy preaching resignation, while non-conformist priests were busy condemning covertly and overtly the King’s policies. A spirit of opposition, then, to the Established Church began to take shape. Nowhere in England was this spirit of hostility to the Established Church more prevalent than in East Anglia, and the region became an early nursery of dissenters and a consistent supporter of clandestine congregations.

And so came our ancestors to America: a land without the pervasive “corruption” that so alarmed the Pilgrims and other Puritans. In America they would establish a “New” England, and build their Church into a “New Jerusalem.” They started without delay: as soon as they landed, the Pilgrims established their own Compact, constituting themselves into a “civil body politick” without so much as a courtesy reference to the King’s sovereignty beyond the requisite salutation. And further went the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay, establishing the first democratic system of government in the Americas: “Our civil Government is mixt: the freemen choose the magistrate every year…and at four courts in the year 3 out of each town (there being eight in all) do assist the magistrates in making laws, imposing taxes, and disposing of lands: our Juries are chosen by the freemen of everye town. Our Churches are governed by Pastors, Teachers, ruling Elders and Deacons, yet the power lyes in the whole Congregation and not in the Presbytery further than for order and precedence.”

In the process, they set some precedents that to this day make the fabric of our nation and that help define the American concept of Liberty: “…the other kind of liberty I call civil or federal (sic). This liberty is the proper end and object of authority, and cannot subsist without it; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just and honest. This liberty you are to stand for with the hazard (not only of your good but) of your lives, if need be. Whatsoever crosseth this is not authority but a distemper thereof.”

And defend it they did. From that moment on, the story of the Puritans in America is one of a permanent tug-of-war between Royal Prerogative and the colony’s freedoms. While nominally under the King’s jurisdiction, they in fact thumbed their noses at any attempt to impose royal authority this side of the Atlantic, and the example spread:

  • In 1631, barely one year after the landing of the Winthrop fleet, Watertown refused to pay their part in a tax assessed to build a palisade inland from the Charles River, because they were not represented in the body that imposed the tax.
  • In 1653, New Amsterdam refused to pay taxes arbitrarily levied by Stuyvesant, the Dutch Governor.
  • In 1667, after the English took possession of the Dutch colonies, Governor Lovelace imposed a tax for the common defense. Eight villages remonstrated. Southold, Southampton and Easthampton consented, provided that they have the privileges of New England towns. Huntington replied: “we do not have the rights of Englishmen.” Jamaica declared it a “disenfranchisement, contrary to the laws of the English Nation.
  • In 1676, in Virginia, conflict between the prerogative and popular rights lead to the Great Rebellion led by Nathaniel Bacon. English troops (regulars) were introduced to quell the rebellion, and twenty-two people were hanged.
  • In 1678, Massachusetts denied the authority of Parliament, they “not being represented in Parliament.”
  • Between 1678 and 1680, the Quakers in Western New Jersey refused to pay taxes enacted by the Duke of York on vessels ascending the Delaware, because “by this we are assessed without law and excluded from our right of consent to taxes.”
  • In 1684, in Exeter, NH, after the council ordered a tax, the farmers drove off the Sheriff with clubs while their wives stood by with buckets of scalding water to prevent any attachment of property. And at Hampton, the Sheriff was beaten, his sword stolen, and he was then seated on a horse with a rope around his head and driven out of town. Live Free or Die!


The Revolutionists

It is then with plenty of precedent that we arrive at the end of the 17th Century. Governor Leverett, a former captain of Horse under Cromwell, had an ill-disguised dislike of royalty, and he seems to have represented the feelings of the colony well.

The sturdy independence of Massachusetts was taking shape and as ships were built, goods were sent to many foreign ports, and the navigation laws routinely ignored. In 1666, the General Court simply “neglected” to reply to a letter from the King. It should come as no surprise, then, that King and court would equally resent their unruly subjects across the Atlantic, and that they should favor policies with the purpose of undermining their independence. A perfect occasion presented itself in the form of the claim of Sir Ferdinando Gorges’ to Maine. This claim was based on a charter granted to his grandfather of the same name in 1639.  The elder Ferdinando had sponsored some settlements there, but Massachusetts annexed these between 1652 and 1658 by the settlements’ choice.  In 1675, the Attorney general of England determined that Gorges had a good title to the Province and also confirmed another claim of Robert Mason’s to New Hampshire. Thus, on 10 June 1676, Edward Randolph, a special envoy from the King, arrived in Massachusetts with a letter from Charles II acquainting the magistrates of Massachusetts of the claims of Gorges and Mason.  The fact that Randolph was a relative of Robert Mason must have sent a clear message to the colony.  The letter listed the “wrongs and usurpations” of Massachusetts, and demanded that agents be sent over to answer the charges.

Randolph was not too well received by some.  In a report he published of his two months of observations in New England, he wrote: “Among the Magistrates some are good men and well affected to his Majesty, and would be well satisfied to have his Majesty’s authority in a better manner established; but the major part are of different principles, having been in the government from the time they established themselves into a Commonwealth.”  He particularly disliked Gov. Leverett, Deputy Gov. Symonds, Mr. Danforth, Mr. Tyng, Major Clarke and Major Hathorne, as sturdy and uncompromising colonials, too inclined to be advocates of liberty and independence (!).

Agents were sent to England, but it was not easy to allay Charles II’s displeasure.  For good measure, he ordered that an oath of allegiance to the King be taken at once and, to ensure that the Navigation Laws were observed, he appointed Randolph himself as Collector of the Port of Boston.  However, in a pattern that would become familiar, Randolph’s efforts to enforce the tax met with resistance and no small measure of personal abuse. He wrote to the King of the disloyal sentiments prevalent in Massachusetts, recommended a writ of quo warranto against the Charter, and left for England within two years of his arrival. Once in England, he bitterly attacked the colonists, reiterated his advice against the Charter and expressed his view that a Governor General ought to be appointed by the King. He then returned to Boston with enlarged powers, bringing a letter from the King upbraiding the colonists for their “many misdeeds.”  In this letter, Charles II recalled the independent spirit manifest in the Colony from its beginnings and blamed them, among other things, for the shelter afforded the regicide judges, their evasion of the Navigation Laws and, quite naturally, of hindering his own efforts. He then declared his intention to annul the Charter.  The tone and explicit threat contained in the letter alarmed the colonists into sending representatives to England to plead their case. The General Court chose Joseph Dudley and John Richards to be such agents. The laws were revised, naval officers were appointed and the promise was made that, this time, the Navigation Laws would be enforced, cross my heart and hope to die. The agents were also instructed to expose the injustice of the claims of Mason and Gorges but, in spite of the general humble tone of the instructions, the agents were instructed to consent to nothing that would infringe upon the liberties and privileges granted by the Charter.

Meanwhile, Mason had presented a letter to the General Court, and the Court then ordained that a copy be sent to the magistrates Essex County, and that all landholders there convene at Ipswich or Newbury as soon as possible.  The meeting took place in Ipswich on the second Wednesday in February, 1680/81. Not surprisingly, the landholders declared that they had held their lands for fifty years, and had lately defended it against the Indians at the cost of twelve lives and several hundred pounds. They also pointed out that Robert Mason had never spent a penny, and pleaded that the claim be vented in a Massachusetts court and not in England. Perhaps more interestingly, the “Inhabitants of Glocester, alias Cape Ann, and other places adjacent,” presented a letter to the General Court where they claimed rightful title to their lands upon grant of the General Court, under the Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and their purchase from the natives. There were signers from Gloucester, Rowley, Newbury, Ipswich and other towns.

The matter was no joke. Should Mason’s claim be accepted, every man’s title to his land would be in question and they all would be at the mercy of a new landlord, paying rent for the field they and their fathers had cleared and for the houses they had built and defended at great cost. At this point, Thomas Lovell, one of the Selectmen, had a personal meeting with Mason after which he recommended that Mason’s demands be recognized. There was an immediate call to a Town Meeting, from the records of which we read that: “The town generally voted to lay the sd. Thomas Lovell asyd & exclud him from being a Selectman and Capt. John Appleton was chosen to be a Selectman his room for the rest of the year.” Given the feelings of the town, it should then come as no surprise that while there are some records that preparations were made to present the claims of Mason to a County Court in Essex Co., no positive record exists that the case was ever called for trial.

At the same time, in Boston, Randolph was drawing Articles of high Misdemeanor against “Thomas Danforth, Daniel Gookin, Mr. Saltonstsall, Samuel Novell, Mr. Richards, Mr. Davy, Mr. Gidney, Mr. Appleton, magistrates, and against John Fisher,” and fourteen other deputies. The charges were “to refuse to admit the royal letters patent erecting the office of elector, refusal to repeal laws contrary to the laws of England, continuing to coin money,” etc. In this case, Randolph specified eight magistrates, including the Deputy Governor and fifteen deputies, as “factious and seditious.”

Finally, a decree of the Court of Chancery dated 21 June 1864 ended the arguments by vacating the Charter of Massachusetts. The institutions of the colony, civil and religious, erected upon that Charter, were no more.  As far as English law was concerned, the whole of those territories were what they had been before James I’s grant to Roswell and his associates: a property of the king of England by virtue of its discovery by the Cabots.

When news reached the colony, the General Court decreed the 12th of March as a day of solemn humiliation, and a request was sent for the towns to express their minds as to giving up the Charter.  The record of the meeting in Ipswich speaks for itself:

1685: Feb. 11th … It was also voted that all those that are desirous to retaine the privileges granted in the Charter & confermed by his Royall Majesty now reigning should manifest the same by holding up their hands, which vote was unanimous in the affirmative. None when tried appeared in the Negative.” Other towns voted along the same lines.

In 1664, an appeal to arms had been proposed when the Charter seemed endangered, but the Colonies were not now in good shape. The King Phillip’s war had left a depleted treasury and fresh memories of loss. And the colonists could expect no help from England, where the Constitutional party was on the run and Charles II was submitting the towns to his pleasure. They then took a different course of action and voted upon sending the king “an humble petition” to secure an abatement of some of his measures. Charles II died before reaching any decision on the fate of the Colonies. He was succeeded on 6 February 1684/5 by his brother, James II. James II’s accession to the throne was greeted less warmly then the demise of Charles I, but in a far less somber mood than the Restoration. On 24 July, a new petition was adopted, where the colonists implored pardon for their faults and a “gracious continuance of their liberties according to the Charter.” James II was as accommodating as his brother Charles II had been and, nothing being thereby accomplished, the General court was dissolved and members were appointed to the Council of Eighteen that replaced it. Gov. Simon Bradstreet, Nathaniel Saltonstall and Dudley Bradstreet declined membership in the new body. There was soon evidence of popular discontent.  The charges vary from “refusing to observe the publique fast appointed by the President of the Councill” to “speaking treasonable words.” Topsfield, Rowley and Ipswich were soon recognized as hostile to the new government, as they went from non-observance of fast days, to refusing to pay taxes, in the levying of which they had no voice.

On December 12th, 1686, arrived in Boston the new appointed governor, Sir Edmund Andros, landing with a detachment of 60 redcoats to ensure his safety.  Almost immediately, he ordered a tax of a penny on a pound, to afford a revenue.  In March, the council abrogated the old method by which the towns had decided the local rates on taxes levied by the General Court. The reaction was what we must by now expect from our forebears. In Taunton, the Town Clerk was bound to answer for a “scandalous, factious and seditious writeing” sent from the town to the Treasurer in answer to the tax warrant. Justice Thomas Leonard was suspended for being present and not preventing the actions of the Town meeting, and the Constables were bound over for not obeying the Treasurer’s warrant. In Ipswich, the Town meeting took place on 23 August 1687. However, the night before there was a meeting of the Selectmen and other leading citizens in the house of John Appleton, Jr., the Town Clerk, where they discussed what action to take at the town meeting the following day. Present were the Selectmen, Lieut. John Andrews, Moderator, Lieut. Thomas Burnam, Mr. John Whipple, Quart. Thomas Kinsman, Serg. Thomas Harte, Mr. John Appleton, Jr. and Nathaniel Treadwell; Rev. William Hubbard, Pastor of Ipswich church and Rev. John Wise, Pastor of the church at Chebacco (now Essex); Constable Thomas French, Nehemiah Jewett, William Goodhue, Jr., William Howlett, Simon Stace and some fourteen others.  After Constable French read the warrant, they all agreed that this “warrant-act” for raising a revenue, abridged their rights as Englishmen, and “did Discourse & Conclude yt it was not ye town’s Dutie any wayes to Assist yt ill Methode of Raising mony wtout a Generall Assembly, wch was apparently intended by above said Sr Edmund Andros & his Councill.”

Needless to say, the next day the town meeting was held and, after much discourse against the warrant, the town refused to choose a commissioner. To add insult to injury, delegates from Ipswich were sent to meetings in neighboring towns to promote opposition to the act.  This last action seems to have been the most obnoxious to the Council when formal proceedings began against the refractory towns. Warrants of arrest were issued against the Constable, Moderator and Clerk of Ipswich, though not against the other “Disaffected & evil Desposed persons within ye sd town as yet unknown who … met and assembled together att Ipswich aforesaid Did in a most factious & Seditious & Contemptuous manner then & there vote & agree that they were not willing nor would Choose a Commissioner as by a Warrant from Jno. Usher Esq. His Majesties Treasurer…the sd Jno. Appleton as Clerk of ye said Town put into writing and published Contrary to and in high Contempt of his majesties Laws & Government here established…” The following day, a warrant for the arrest of Rev. John Wise and of William Howlett was issued because they “Did particularly Excite and Stir up his Majesties Subjects to Refractoryness and Disobedience.”

The special grievance against Ipswich was not just that the town refused to elect a Tax Commissioner, but the drawing of the results of that meeting into a document that was then published and used as an incentive to similar action in other towns. This is especially made clear in the Council documents related to the arraignment of the Ipswich men, which states that these men were “committed for refusing to pay their rates…and making and publishing factious and seditious votes and writeings.” From later depositions, we gather that many of these men did not quietly submit to pressure and had complaints of their own. John Wise declared that “Mr. West, the Deputy Secretary declared to some of us that we were a factious People & had no Previlege left us. The Govrnr Sr Ed Andros said to some of us By way of Ridicule, Whether we though if Jac & Tom should tell the king wt moneyes he must have for ye use of his Govmt Implying that ye People of the Countree were but a parcell of Ignorant Jack & Toms.” Rev. Wise replied to these officials with a familiar claim to Revolutionary War historians: that, as Englishmen, the colonists had privileges according to Magna Charta.  This claim would form part of nearly every petition forwarded to the courts by imprisoned town officers and leading men of the towns of Essex County. Particularly harsh treatment was reserved for Maj. Samuel Appleton, whose refusal to admit any wrongdoing earned him a long stay at the stone jail of Boston. “In dark and damp quarters, treated as a common felon, the old veteran of King Philip’s war suffered every indignity for conscience sake, and made his protests against the usurpation.”  By October of 1687, Connecticut had given up her Charter, and Plymouth had surrendered as well.  All seemed lost.

However, on April 4th, 1689, a ship arrived in Boston bringing news of the Prince of Orange’s landing in England. By April 18th, the citizens of Boston were summoned by the drum’s beat. The mob seized Governor Andros and Randolph and hauled them to the same jail they had used to house opponents of their rule. The militia marched up King’s Street escorting Governor Bradstreet and Deputy Governor Danforth, replaced in their positions under the old Charter.  This done, a declaration believed to have been composed by Cotton Mather was read. This “Declaration of Gentlemen, Merchants and Inhabitants of Boston and the Country Adjacent” charged Governor Andros with malicious oppression of the people, with extortionate fees for probate and “what laws they made it was as impossible for us to know, as dangerous for us to break; but we shall leave the men of Ipswich and Plimouth (among others) to tell the story of the kindness which has been shown them on this account.” The declaration continued “Accordingly, we have been treated with multiplied contradictions to Magna Charta, the rights of which we laid claims unto. Persons who did but peacefully object against the raising of Taxes without an Assembly have for it been fined, some twenty, some thirty, and others fifty pounds.”

Before night, eighty-six years to the day before the Lexington Alarm, the revolution had succeeded and the Andros government was no longer. Articles of impeachment were immediately drawn against Andros, Dudley and Randolph, the first of which was that “Mr. John Wise, Minister, John Andrews, Sen., Robt. Kinsman, Wm. Goodhue, Junr., Tho. French. These prove their damage for their being unwilling for Sir Edmund Andros rayseing money on the people without the consent of the people, but Improved Contrary to Magna Charta.”

That this was, indeed, a successful revolution seems to have been clear in the minds of its contemporaries. Within months of the uprising, in June of 1689, Nathaniel Byfield’s published “An Account of the Late Revolution in New England, together with the Declaration of the Gentlemen, Merchants and Inhabitants of Boston, and the Country Adjacent, April 18: 1869.”

It is important to note that these events took place after news of the arrival of William of Orange in England, but before his victory there.  Had the Prince of Orange failed at his attempt to wrestle the crown from James II, New England would have, in fact, seceded from England. Faced with a fait accompli, and lacking either the will or the resources to reestablish the crown’s stranglehold in New England, William of Orange accepted the restoration of the Charter and left the colonists pretty much to themselves in exchange for a nominal recognition of his suzerainty.

A brief period of relative calm in these issues ensued, a period marked by the Salem witch trials and the Indian wars spanning from 1690 to 1745, but as soon as calm was restored to the Province, attempts were made to reassert the king’s right to taxation, and the grandchildren of our heroes raised with equal determination and finished their forebears work. But as we hail the men who fought for American Independence in the 1700’s, we must not forget their grandparents, who planted those ideas in their young minds. As Rufus Choate put it in his oration on the 200th anniversary of the town of Ipswich in 1834, “These men…may justly claim a distinguished rank among the patriots of America. You, their townsmen, their children, may well be proud of them. Prouder still, but more grateful than proud, that a full town-meeting of the free-men of Ipswich adopted, unanimously, that declaration of right, and refused to collect or pay the tax, which would have made them slaves. The principle of that vote was precisely the same on which Hampden resisted an imposition of Charles I, and on which Samuel Adams and John Hancock and resisted the Stamp Act, the principle that if any power but the people can tax the people, there is an end of liberty.




Bailyn, Bernard, “The Peopling of British North America,” The University of Wisconsin, 1985

Banks, Charles Edward, “The Winthrop Fleet of 1630,” Boston, 1930 Reprinted Baltimore, 1994

Boorstin, Daniel, “The Americans: The Colonial Experience,” Vintage Books, 1958

Bradford, William, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” A. Knopf, New York, 1993

Breen, T.H., “Puritans and Adventurers,” Oxford University Press, 1980

Bruun, Erik & Crosby, Jay, editors, “Our Nation’s Archive, The History of the United States in Documents,” New York, 1999

Davis, David Brion & Mintz, Steve, “The Boisterous Sea of Liberty,” Oxford University

Press, 1998

Dow, George Francis, “Everyday Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony,” Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, 1935, reprinted New York, 1988

Fischer, David Hackett, “Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in America,” Oxford University Press, 1989

Fleming, Thomas, “Liberty! The American Revolution,” Viking Penguin, 1997

Forbes, Esther, “Paul Revere and the World He Lived In,” Book of the Month Club, Inc, New York 1983with a foreword by Daniel J. Boorstin

Heimert, Alan & Delbanco, Andrew, “The Puritans in America, A Narrative Anthology,” Harvard University Press, 1985

Mcmanus, Edgar J., “Law and Liberty in Early New England,” The University of Massachusetts Press, 1993

Tagney, Rinald N., “The World Turned Upside Down,” Essex County History, 1989

Waters, Thomas Franklin, “Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony,” The Ipswich Historical Society, Ipswich, Mass., 1905

Wolf, Stephanie Grauman, “As Various as Their Land,” Harper Perennial, 1994


Among the signers of the many petitions and declarations were the following ancestor’s of the author: John Osgood of Andover, and Robert Kinsman, Nathaniel Treadwell, William Goodhue George Wainwright and Moses Pengry of Ipswich. Their grandchildren and great grandchildren, to a man, would participate in the American Revolution, with most marching on the Alarm of 19th April 1775. Others, with similar results among their progeny included Samuel Appleton, Thomas Knowlton, Daniel Epps, Thomas Burnam, Francis Wainwright, John Appleton, John Wipple, Dudley Bradstreet, Christopher Osgood and Nathaniel Saltonstall


The New Jihad

Al-Jihad 1.0

In the early 1950s, the National Socialist leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt created a commando unit, the Fedayeen,[1] to attack Israel within its borders in hopes of destabilizing the fledging nation.

This group, organized under the direction of SS-Gruppenführer Hajj Amin al-Husseini, and  Amin Omar (Johannes) von Leers, was recruited from among young Muslim Brotherhood  members in the Egyptian Army and in Cairo University, and was trained by Nazi SS officers like SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny,  SS-Untersturmführer Wilhelm Boerner (Willy Berner), and Kreishauptmann  Erich Altern.[2]

This collaboration between Amin el-Husseini and Omar Amin von Leers produced the first of the Jihadist organizations as we know them today. It was, in fact, an advanced version of the Mufti’s pro-Nazi organization Al’Jihad al’muqqadas, commanded in 1947 by Ali Salameh, a Wehrmacht major that had arrived in Palestine in 1944 as part of Hitler’s aid package to the Mufti,[3] and the Arab League’s Jaysh al-Inqadh al-Arabi (Arab Liberation Army), also led by a Werhrmacht officer, Fawzi al-Quawuqji, made up of a coterie of carryovers from Rommel’s Afrikakorps, escapees from war prisoner camps and Albanian and Bosnian Muslims recruited by the Mufti during the war to wage guerrilla warfare on the British forces in Palestine. No one seemed to be troubled that this “Arab nationalists” were no more than “German volunteers [who], as in the old days, have adopted ‘Die Fahne Hoch’ as their marching song.”[4]


Fawzi al-Quawuqji, 1948


The fourth leg of this table was the Muslim Brotherhood. It was, after all, a leader of the German financed Brotherhood that in 1944 had called for a Jihad against Jews, “who needed to be destroyed like sick dogs.”[5] With German financing, the Muslim Brotherhood was at the end of WWII an impressive organization with more than a half a million members in Egypt, organized in over 1,500 chapters. And they now embraced Amin el-Husseini as their spiritual leader. It was this support that led the Arab League to appoint the Mufti as the Palestinian Leader, if in name only, in 1946. Upon the Mufti’s returned from Paris, he was extolled by the Muslim Brotherhood as a “hero [who] fought Zionism with the help of Hitler and Germany. Hitler and Germany are gone, but Amin Al-Husseini will continue the struggle.”[6]

The efforts of this band of commandoes were, in spite of continuing low-level attacks starting in 1951, largely ineffective. Neither did the Muslim population join them, nor where they able to inflict more damage than the random killing of civilians, mostly in isolated areas.


Israeli policemen at a site where 5 Fedayeen were killed, 1956


In the end, the Egyptian Army was soundly defeated in 1973, and the Fedayeen melted into the PLO and other terrorist organizations.

Al-Jihad 2.0

By the late 1970s, as Egypt moved into a peace process that culminated in 1979 with the signing of the Camp David accords, what was left of these trained commandoes steeped into the ideology of Husseini and von Leers went into the second stage of their development.

Their target now was not just Israel, but the Arab leaders that had “betrayed” them. The spectacular introduction of this new phase was the assassination of Anwar el-Sadat in 1981, by al-Jihad, formed by Muslim Brotherhood members, some trained as Fedayeen, and who later became one of the founding groups of al-Qa’ida.


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Assassination of Anwar el-Sadat, 6 October 1981


Alas, the Muslims masses failed, yet again, to join them. Despite an intense campaign of terrorist attacks in the 80s and early 90s, and serious attempts to provoke the Muslim population into following Iran’s example to establish theocracies in place of what they described as corrupt regimes too accommodating to the West, their efforts fizzled into little more than bands of marauders.

Al Jihad 3.0

In the mid-1990s, the leaders of al-Jihad struck a deal with Osama bin-Laden and changed their strategy again. Now the enemy were no longer the governments of Arab and Muslim countries but Western “crusaders”.

Saudi collaboration in the first Gulf War, allowing the establishment of military bases on its soil to contain Iraq, provided the excuse. In 1996, Al Quds al-Arabi, a London newspaper, published the first of a series of Fatwas by bin-Laden:

“Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.” In it, bin-Laden, now associated with Aymann al-Zawahiri, declared (in a long and rambling tirade as difficult to read as it is to comprehend):

“The people of Islam awakened and realized that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance…The latest and the greatest of these aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet (ALLAH’S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places -the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka’ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims- by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies… Our Lord, the people of the cross had come with their horses (soldiers) and occupied the land of the two Holy places. And the Zionist Jews fiddling as they wish with the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the route of the ascendance of the messenger of Allah (ALLAH’S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM). Our Lord, shatter their gathering, divide them among themselves, shaken the earth under their feet and give us control over them; Our Lord, we take refuge in you from their deeds and take you as a shield between us and them.”


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Bin Laden’s declaration of War’s first effect


But the Muslim masses did not join them. On the contrary, as events in Afghanistan and Iraq later were to show, most Muslims regarded the ramblings of bin-Laden as no more that those of a lunatic and, with the notable exemption of Iran, were perfectly happy to join with efforts to eradicate them from their lands.

Al-Jihad 4.0In 2008 two things happened.

First the US government adopted a policy of appeasement and abandoned its allies in the Middle East and, second, al-Qa’ida adopted a new strategy based in the also rambling and endless tract (1,600 pages!) of Abu Musab al-Suri, a veteran of 30 years of Jihad, close collaborator of bin-Laden and al-Zawahiri and beneficiary of Western largess. The strategy is carefully laid out in “The Global Islamic Resistance Call.”[7]

Al-Suri called for hundreds of attacks by small cells and individuals using all sorts of mundane weapons: cars, trucks, axes, knives, homemade explosive devises in the “underbelly” of the West. That is, From Paris and Brussels to Orlando and San Bernardino.


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Al-Suri (left, and bin Laden, c. 1994


Since Jihad has been unable to motivate Muslims to join a holy war, the object of the new strategy is to provoke westerners to do it, by reacting against the Muslim communities in the West in hopes that that will, in turn, finally cause a rising of Muslims worldwide in defense of their brethren.

So far, it has not happened. But the increasing virulence of anti-Muslim discourse in the West is not a good sign.

Let’s hope our “Holy Warriors” do not prove to be the tool the terrorists need to escape what will otherwise be total defeat at the hands of the largest Arab-Muslim-Western coalition ever assembled.

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Demonstrators playing into the hands of al-Qa’ida

Image result for anti muslim protests in europe



[1] Fedayeen from “fedai” one who gives his life for a cause had been used in the 19th century to denote an Ismaili assassin.

[2] One of the earliest trainees was Yasser Arafat, a Lieutenant in the Egyptian Army and, he claimed, a nephew of Hajj Amin al-Husseini.

[3] Gershon Avner to HIS-AD, 13 April 1948, HA 105/31 as quoted by Benny Morris, 1948, 121, and Joseph Nevo, The Arabs of Palestine, 1947-48: Military and Political Activity, published in  Middle Eastern Studies, 23, No. 1 (Jan. 1987), p. 35.

[4] Der Spiegel, 13 March 1948, p. 11.

[5] Thomas Mayer, Egypt and the Palestine Question: 1936-1945, Berlin, 1983, p. 191.

[6] Jeffrey Herf, Nazi Propaganda in the Arab World , Yale University Press, 2009, p. 244: Hassan Al-Banna and the Mufti of Palestine, in Contents of Secret Bulletin of Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin dated 11 June 1946, Cairo, July 23rd, 1946, NACP RG 226 (Office of Strategic Services), Washington Registry SI Intelligence, Field Files, entry 108A, box 15, folder 2.

[7] The full text can be found here:ührerSS-Sturmbannführer

The Black Shirt Pope

The Black Shirt Pope

On November 30th, 1979, Fr. José Bergoglio ordained a not-so-distant cousin of mine, Fr. Raul Bradley, SJ.

At the time, I was in Brazil, having fled Argentina earlier that year, upon being released from a Navy brig in Ezeiza.

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F. José Bergoglio & F. Raúl Bradley

Father Bergoglio was already a relatively well-known figure in Argentine politics. All of us who had some activity during the 1970s knew about him.

That notoriety begun with his association with Guardia de Hierro.[1]

Guardia de Hierro

A Fascist group founded in 1961 by Alejandro Alvarez, aka “el Gallego’; Hector Tristán, former associate of Fascist propagandist John William Cook; and Peronist “resistance” leader César Marcos. They took their name, meaning Iron Guard, in honor of Cornelio Codreanu’s Fascist movement of the same name that savaged Romania from 1927 to 1938.

By the late 60s, Guardia de Hierro formed an association with FEN (National Student Front), a self proclaimed Marxist-Nationalist organization, and by 1972 established the oddly named Organización Unificada del Trasvasamiento Generacional (Unified Organization for Generational Trasfer), whatever the heck it means.

The following year, Bergoglio was made Provincial of the Jesuits of Argentina at the same time that Perón returned to power (viewed as a way to curry favor with the Peronists by advancing one of their own) and, as such, also took control of El Salvador University.

Based on a loose series of Marxist and proto Marxist thinkers, Guardia de Hierro claimed an ideological line from Hegel to Mao Zedong to Juan D. Perón (hard to fathom, but it’s no joke), and published their Manifesto: La Comunidad Organizada (The Organized Community), espousing much of Mussolini’s Fascism while crediting Juan D. Perón with the loot[2].  The brand of Populist Nationalism thus proposed consisted in no more than a rehash of Mussolini’s Fascio, to wit:

Social Peace in Social Justice, a rejection of American Imperialism and suppression of Communism–a system deemed “too materialistic” for the fanatical Catholicism of Guardia’s members, including Bergoglio–and participation in the “non-aligned movement”, with luminaries such as Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia, Cnel. Muammar Ghadafi of the “Socialist People’s Lybian Arab Jamahiria”, Nicolae Ceaucescu of Romania, Salvador Allende of Chile, Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and Fidel Castro.[3]

Starting in 1973, the proud members of this illustrious organization adopted a light brown martial uniform, with arm bands that read “here we learn to love Perón”. The depredations caused by these Sturmabteilugns in collaboration with José López Rega[4] are a sad memory to many.


Guardia de hierro saludo
Guardia de Hierro militants, c. 1973


When a military Junta replaced the widow of Perón in 1976, Guardia de Hierro kept working under Admiral Emilio E. Massera[5], a fellow of López Rega’s in the pseudo-Masonic Lodge P2, controlled by the Vatican through Mons. Paul Marcinckus (an American Archbishop infamous for his dealings at the Vatican Bank), and responsible for a laundry list of terrorism related crimes until mysteriously dissolving once the Italian government capitulated and signed the 2nd Concordat with the Vatican in 1984, guaranteeing the Holy See its sovereign status and control of public education in Italy.[6]

Repairing the Façade

After the fall of the military dictatorship in the early 80s, Bergoglio went to work in repairing his image. Much was made of his supposed interventions to “save” people from the military dictatorship,[7] and very little of his association to Guardia de Hierro and the genocidal Admiral Massera.

Under Bergoglio’s guidance, the old brown shirts of Guardia de Hierro were incorporated into the Catholic Church as the Order of Mary of the Rosary of St. Nicholas (Orden de María del Rosario de San Nicolás), where to this day they continue to promote Fascism and the Church’s Social Doctrine, still in association with the Peronist party. Many prominent Peronists have been “guardians” of the Order, such as José Octavio Bordón, José Luis Manzano, Julio Bárbaro and Guillermo Moreno.

Vicar of Christ

Bergoglio’s ascension to the Papacy brought with him his abject Fascist ideology. Not that his Hitlerjugend predecessor was much better, but that is another story.

The echoes of Guardia de Hierro’s Fascist Manifesto, The Organized Community, can be discerned in his social and economic pronouncements:

On free markets and Capitalism:

“And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.”[8]

“What the Church criticizes is the spirit that capitalism has encouraged, utilizing capital to subject and oppress the man.”[9]

“Capitalism has been the cause of many sufferings of injustice and fratricidal fights.”[10]

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”[11]

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”[12]

“Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. … To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption.”[13]

“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment.”[14]

On income inequality:

“While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”[15]

“I think so-called unrestrained liberalism only makes the strong stronger and the weak weaker and excludes the most excluded. We need great freedom, no discrimination, no demagoguery and a lot of love. We need rules of conduct and also, if necessary, direct intervention from the state to correct the more intolerable inequalities.[16]

On technological advances:

“Although no conclusive proof exists that GM cereals may be harmful to human beings, and in some regions their use has brought about economic growth which has helped to resolve problems, there remain a number of significant difficulties which should not be underestimated. In many places, following the introduction of these crops, productive land is concentrated in the hands of a few owners due to “the progressive disappearance of small producers, who, as a consequence of the loss of the exploited lands, are obliged to withdraw from direct production.”[17]

On American immigration policies:

‘Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our ‘neighbors’ and everything around us.”[18]

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian.”[19]

On Terrorism:

“Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”[20]


And thus, we come to see sitting on the chair of St. Peter the most virulent anti capitalist–not that his predecessors were ever too much for individual freedoms.

Yet, Bergoglio’s unique brand of Fascism combined with the training for obfuscation at which Jesuits have traditionally excelled, gives us the most dangerous combination of propaganda skills and hatred of a free society that we have had to confront in generations.



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Pope Francis blessing Venezuela dictator Nicolás Maduro, 2016


[1] Alejandro Panda, one of the leaders of Guardia de Hierro in the early 70s recalls: “A group of comrades with whom I was associated at the time, even though I was not working at the [University of ] El Salvador, but with the Dean, Francisco Piñón, who is today the Dean of the Catholic University of Cuyo. He was in charge of USAL [University of El Salvador, a Jesuit college under the office of Bergoglio], and we had a very close relationship with the Jesuits in general and with Bergoglio in particular.”

“After the death of Perón, Bergoglio became close to the members and later protected them during the dictatorship of General Videla. “More, Bergoglio was close to Piñón and some members of Guardia de Hierro. Alvarez does not mention him [in his memoirs], because he was not in that cell.”

(Alejandro C. Tarruela, Guardia de Hierro, de Perón a Bergoglio, Buenos Aires, 2016)

[2] Still available in later editions. See Juan D. Perón, La Comunidad Organizada, Buenos Aires, 2010.

[3] All but Tito and Castro (although Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado came in his representation) eventually made it to Buenos Aires. I still have the “Green Book” that Ghadaffi’s entourage presented to the students in my school. Allende and Dorticós signed as witnesses at the inauguration of Héctor Cámpora, a Perón stand-in that lasted 49 days.

[4] There was at a time a confrontation between López Rega, then the boss of paramilitary groups chasing the government’s opposition, and Guardia de Hierro, as he considered them “Trotskyites”, but the issue was eventually resolved. In fact, of course, they were not Trostkytes at all…

[5] In 1977, Massera placed retired Navy Capt. Carlos Brussone as head of Guardia de Hierro. That same year, the University of El Salvador, under Bergoglio’s stewardship, granted the genocidal Admiral an Honorary PhD.

Massera was condemned to life imprisonment for “crimes against humanity” in 1985. He was however pardoned only five years later by President Saul Menem, a Syrian-Argentine, and died in 2010. His funeral was kept in secret and was attended by 10 people. []


[7] In fact, he did very little or nothing, except protect Guardia de Hierro militants which are now touted as “persecuted” by the dictatorship they served!

[8] Speech at the World Meeting of Popular Movements, La Paz, Bolivia 10 July 2015. I strongly recommend reading the entire speech:

[9] Jorge Mario Bergoglio, ed., Diálogos entre Juan Pablo II y Fidel Castro, Buenos Aires, 1998

[10] Idem

[11] 2013 Apostolic Exhortation. (a fallacy of the false premise, a Jesuit’s favorite)

[12] Evangelii Gaudium, Sec. 54

[13] Laudato si. 2015, Sec. 50

[14] Laudato Si, Sec. 56

[15] Idem, Sec. 56

[16] La repubblica, 1 October 2013. Italics are mine. Note: by liberalism he means not “liberals” in the US political sense of the word, but in the traditional sense, i.e. Capitalism. This is, incidentally, the best synthesis of Mussolini’s Carta di Lavoro that I have seen.

[17] Laudato si, Sec. 134.  Lovely Jesuitism: Nonsequitur. Technological advances in quality of grains cause small farmers to lose their lands? How?

[18] Address to US Congress, 24 September 2015. Another bad syllogism. Conqueror’s relations to natives, whatever they may have been, bear no relation to US-Mexico relations.

[19] CBS News, 18 February 2016, Rebecca Kaplan

[20] La Croix, 17 May 2016. Classic Jesuitism: ISIS is not Islam, but we’re going to call it Islam. Conquest is an objective of Islam and Christianity, but we’re going to say it’s an objective of Islam.

The Barbary Wars and the Treaties with Tripoli

The Barbary Wars and the Treaties with Tripoli

by Saul Montes-Bradley II, edited by Larry Nathan Burns

Originally published in Flintlock & Powderhorn, Vol. 24, No 2, May 2006 [1]

Sailing the Mediterranean may be quite a pleasurable experience nowadays, a fact readily attested to by the thousands who cruise its blue waters every year and by the rich and famous who make it their playground. But while it has always been a busy commercial seaway, it was not always as safe as today. A merchant’s rich cargo was viewed as treasure or booty by avaricious pirates, and from Roman times marauders roamed the waters from the strait of Bosporus to Gibraltar plundering cargoes and enslaving crews. By the end of the 18th Century, things had not improved much. Pirates from North African countries from Libya to Algeria (Barbary Coast) would regularly attack ships of any nation with the consequent loss of treasure and liberty for their owners and crews. The usual way of dealing with such practices was to pay ransom for the hostages. Alternatively, protection could be purchased to prevent attacks altogether, and the great powers of that time found it generally more convenient to pay for protection (tribute) than to engage in a war of uncertain results. Perhaps a weightier consideration was the fact that paid-off pirates would leave British and French ships unmolested while continuing to prey on all of their competitors, thus not so unwittingly contributing to the perpetuation of Franco-British dominance over Mediterranean trade.

On the other hand, defeating the pirate states in war would have freed commerce for all nations and thus represented the loss of a clear advantage. American ships fell within the protection afforded British vessels until the break of hostilities in the Revolutionary War, and later under that afforded the French until the treaty of Paris made them wholly independent of any power. They then entered the wider category of “pay or become prey,” an unwelcome state of affairs that took a heavy toll on American merchant endeavors in the area. It appears that the American independence brought more to the world than just a new address, for the US ambassador to France, who would later become George Washington’s Secretary of State, was the first to propose what at the time was a revolutionary solution to the quandary: go to war if necessary, but pay no tribute. It was easier said than done. When Thomas Jefferson became that Secretary of State, he sent Joel Barlow, a known and able diplomat, to negotiate with the Bey of Tripoli. After long and tedious negotiations, Barlow managed to work out a treaty with two unique characteristics: It clearly stated the United States’ impartiality in matters of religion, and it consented to pay tribute in exchange for protection. It appears that Jefferson’s convincing arguments notwithstanding, the US Navy was in no position to wage a full-scale war across the Atlantic. The Treaty with Tripoli was eventually remitted to the Senate by Washington’s successor:

“Gentlemen of the Senate: I lay before you, for your consideration and advice, a treaty of perpetual peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary, concluded at Tripoli, on the 4th day of November, 1796. John Adams”

 The Senate, after due consideration and a report from committee decided:

“Wednesday, June 7, 1797. Mr. Bloodworth, from the Committee to whom was referred the consideration of the treaty of peace and friendship, between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary, made report, that it be adopted; and the report being amended, On the question to agree to the report as amended, It was determined in the affirmative, Yeas 23 [a unanimous vote]. The yeas and nays being required by one-fifth of the Senators present, Those who voted in the affirmative, are—Bingham, Bloodworth, Blount, Bradford, Brown, Cocke, Foster, Goodhue, Hillhouse, Howard, Langdon, Latimer, Laurance, Livermore, Martin, Paine , Read, Rutherfurd, Sedgwick, Stockton, Tattnall, Tichenor, and Tracy.”

And therefore, it was “RESOLVED, (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring therein,) That the Senate do advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary. ORDERED, That the Secretary lay this resolution before the President of the United States.”

Indeed, only three days later, President Adams proclaimed:

“Saturday June 10, 1797. Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice consent [sic]of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all others citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.”

These transactions and the full text of the Treaty were published in The Journal of the Senate, including the Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (John Adams Administration), and several newspapers in New York and Philadelphia.

It came as a surprise then that 134 years later the Treaty became subject of a controversy that lasts to our days. At issue was Article XI, which reads: “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [SIC],—and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan [SIC] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

It appears that in 1930, a Dutch scholar—Dr. C. Snouk Hurgronje—purportedly located the only surviving Arabic copy of the treaty and found that when translated, Article XI was actually a letter, mostly gibberish, from the Bey of Algiers to the ruler of Tripoli. No explanation was advanced for the obvious lapse of context between articles X and XII, nor of the provenance of the alleged copy. That sufficed to have numerous claims put forward as to the illegitimacy of Article XI and its “surreptitious” inclusion in the treaty itself. The fact, however, is that from 1796 until 1930 Article XI was cited numerous times in legal decisions, and successfully used at least once to further our diplomatic interests—during the American takeover of the Philippines. In fact, Hurgronje’s “discovery” was that of an alleged copy in Arabic, the authenticity of which was guaranteed by a Knight of the Order of Christ at the service of the Most Catholic Majesty of Spain that had been used for a translation into Italian widely circulated in the Papal States.

The reader will forgive the authors for sounding a bit facetious; as one cannot help but believe that an obviously flawed foreign-language copy of unknown origin, certified by a Portuguese warrior-monk at the service of a Spanish “Very Catholic” monarch to be used by a third foreign power has—as well it should have—no bearing on discussions regarding the value of a treaty affecting US law. Gibe at it—as one will— the evidence suggests that there was an Article XI, and that the gibberish contained in the Arabic and Italian translations was not it. Precedence should and must be given to the version studied by and advised and consented to by the Senate (unanimously at that), promulgated by the President and published in every compilation of Law since that promulgation for more than a century.

Ironically, and for all this 20th Century hullabaloo, the treaty was short lived on account of the second characteristic described above, and its real deficiency: contrary to Jefferson’s desires, the Treaty with Tripoli stipulated the payment of tribute to allow for the protection of American merchant vessels and, as he feared, tribute only begat more tribute and soon new hostile acts and demands of payment made the situation untenable for American shipping. To make matters worse, and expressing his discontent for lateness in American payments, the Bey of Tripoli exacted a penalty by resuming harassment of US ships. Jefferson, now President, ordered the US Navy to blockade Tripoli and to protect shipping lines for American merchants. After a series of successful encounters, on 31 October 1803 the Philadelphia, a 36-gun frigate under the command of Capt. William Bainbridge ran aground on an uncharted reef off the port of Tripoli, was quickly surrounded by Tripolitan gunboats, and surrendered—its crew yielding 300 prisoners to the Bey. There was no recourse but war. Later, on 15 February 1804, in what Admiral Horatio Nelson would call one of the most bold and daring acts of his age, Lt. Stephen Decatur, Jr. and a small party boarded and destroyed the grounded frigate.

After two years of war, Tripoli, Tunisia and Algeria agreed to the terms negotiated by US envoy Tobias Lear and signed a second Treaty with Tripoli in 1806. As if to answer critics of a later century, the Treaty of 1806 also contained a declaration of US impartiality towards religion, this time Article XVI: “AS the government of the United States of America has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Mussulmen, and as the said States never have entered into any voluntary war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [SIC] except in defense of their just rights to freely navigate the high seas, it is declared by the contracting parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two nations. And the consuls and agents of both nations respectively shall have liberty to exercise his religion in his own house. All slaves of the same religion shall not be impeded in going to said consul’s house at hours of prayer.”

The conflict with the Barbary States and its resolution strangely do not figure prominently in American studies and yet, they marked the first foreign challenge to Revolutionary America: the first war the US fought outside its own borders, the first time that the US flag flew victorious across the Atlantic—at the capture of Derna, under the able direction of William Eaton, who is well worth another article—and the first time that the American Navy was successfully used to protect shipping lines in the high seas. It also marked a qualitative change in the way nations faced extortion from outlawed countries and, while it would take one more war in 1815 to consolidate the notion, tribute was never again exacted for free passage of goods and people in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean. In the end, the Barbary Wars proved Jefferson right: whatever the cost of war, no course of action is more damaging to nations than submitting to demands imposed by terror. Indeed, a concept that has lost none of its value, and rings especially true today.