September 30, 1794: George Washington marches on tax protesters

September 30, 2015

On September 30, 1794, President George Washington mounted his horse to lead a 13,000-man all-volunteer army, against Americans who refused to pay, or threatened to not pay taxes on whiskey.

Tea Partiers and Republicans might do well to spend a few minutes refreshing their memories from history class — or getting the information they didn’t get the first time around.  Citizens in western Pennsylvania, and that part of Virginia that would be come West Virgina, and the Ohio Territory, complained that federal taxes on whiskey were “theft.”

No, taxes are not “stealing.”  Here’s an offending but explanatory poster I found on Facebook:

Who are the history-illiterates who make these offensive posters? Taxes are not

Who are the history-illiterates who make these offensive posters? Taxes are not “stolen,” at least, not according to patriots like George Washington.

I told one guy who posted it that I thought it was a crude misrepresentation of George Washington, there on the left — but that I had always suspected he didn’t like the “founders,” and was grateful to have any doubts I may have had, removed.

He said, “Huh?”

This Prominent Americans series stamp of the U...

Pay your taxes, maybe they’ll put you on a stamp. This Prominent Americans series stamp of the United States from 1968 features Oliver Wendell Holmes. Wikipedia image

One could always refer to that wonderful line from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., about how he liked to pay taxes because “with them I buy civilization.”  But I suspect most tax revolters in the U.S. don’t much like civilization (and they have the guns to prove it).

Instead I simply told the story of George Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion, the first, and mostly-forgotten, case of U.S. tax rebels.  You know the story.

I wrote:

Yeah, in 1794, a bunch of farmers out in western Pennsylvania got ticked off at taxes. They said paying taxes was like the government stealing from them. And, they had their representatives explain to President George Washington, didn’t they fight a war against paying taxes?

Washington, you may recall, was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in the great American Revolution against Great Britain. “No taxes without representation” was one of the original war cries.

Washington said, ‘It takes money to run the government, and that money is collected from the people in taxes fairly levied by their elected representatives.’

The farmers weren’t having any of that. They were way out in western Pennsylvania, near the wilderness Fort Pittsburgh. The federal government, what little bit of it there was, was in Philadelphia. ‘How are they going to make us pay taxes?’ the rebel leaders shouted to crowds.

George Washington

A more friendly portrayal of George “Pay Your Taxes or Swing” Washington – Wikipedia image (which bust is this? Library of Congress?)

Washington got a dozen nooses, and a volunteer army of 13,000 Americans, and marched to western Pennsylvania to hang anyone who wouldn’t pay the tax. Oddly, by the time Washington got there with the nooses, the rebels decided maybe it was a good idea to be patriotic about it after all.

So I assumed you just updated the pictures a little. [In the poster] There’s George Washington on the left, with his Smith and Wesson “noose,” telling the big corporate farmer to pay his taxes.I think your portrayal of Washington is a bit crude, but it’s historically accurate, with regard to taxes.

I always suspected you didn’t like George Washington. Now I know for sure you don’t.

You could have looked it up: The Whiskey Rebellion – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/duel/peopleevents/pande22.html

And it was on this day in 1794, September 30, that Washington and the army set out to put down the rebellion.

How would Washington have dealt with secession, or the Texas Republic movement?

I don’t much like crude political dysfunction and disinformation from people who don’t know U.S. history, and won’t defend American principles.  Am I being unreasonable?

More:

Gen. Washington, astride his favorite white horse, reviewing his troops at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, before the march to the western part of the state to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Image from the Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Gen. Washington, astride his favorite white horse, reviewing his troops at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, before the march to the western part of the state to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Image from the Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. (Just try to find who painted it!)

” . . . to execute the laws . . .” a painting by Donna Neary for the National Guard, on the Whiskey Rebellion. National Guard Caption: In September 1791 the western counties of Pennsylvania broke out in rebellion against a federal excise tax on the distillation of whiskey. After local and federal officials were attacked, President Washington and his advisors decided to send troops to pacify the region. It was further decided that militia troops, rather than regulars, would be sent. On August 7, 1794, under the provisions of the newly-enacted militia law, Secretary of War Henry Knox called upon the governors of Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania for 12,950 troops as a test of the President’s power to enforce the law. Numerous problems, both political and logistical, had to be overcome and by October, 1794 the militiamen were on the march. The New Jersey units marched from Trenton to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There they were reviewed by their Commander-in Chief, President George Washington, accompanied by Secretary of the Treasury and Revolutionary war veteran Alexander Hamilton. By the time troops reached Pittsburgh, the rebellion had subsided, and western Pennsylvania was quickly pacified. This first use of the Militia Law of 1792 set a precedence for the use of the militia to “execute the laws of the union, (and) suppress insurrections”. New Jersey was the only state to immediately fulfill their levy of troops to the exact number required by the President. This proud tradition of service to state and nation is carried on today by the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard.

Tip of the old scrub brush to the historians and other fine people at Mount Vernon, for the reminder:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


September 29, 1936: FDR warned Republicans would try to take away Social Security

September 29, 2015

How can this still be true, 79 years later to the day?

FDR warned us in 1936, that Republicans would try to gut federal programs that help people and make America great. It’s as if we have a haunting by Santayana‘s Ghost, on Social Security, unemployment insurance, job training, job creation and budget deficits:

Update: Shorter excerpt of speech, leaving out the parts I really wanted; the video originally featured is not available. Rats.

Our friend SBH pointed us to the text of the speech.  FDR addressed the New York State Democratic Convention, in Syracuse, on September 29, 1936  (Can you imagine — does any state have such thing still —  state party conventions so late in the year, today?).  He found it at UC-Santa Barbara‘s American Presidency Project website.  Here’s the text of the excerpt above, plus a little:

In New York and in Washington, Government which has rendered more than lip service to our Constitutional Democracy has done a work for the protection and preservation of our institutions that could not have been accomplished by repression and force.

Let me warn you and let me warn the Nation against the smooth evasion which says, “Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them — we will do more of them, we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.”

But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories. No one will forget that they had their golden opportunity—twelve long years of it.

Remember, too, that the first essential of doing a job well is to want to see the job done. Make no mistake about this: the Republican leadership today is not against the way we have done the job. The Republican leadership is against the job’s being done.

Read more at the American Presidency Project: Franklin D. Roosevelt: Address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, N.Y. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15142&st=Roosevelt&st1#ixzz1T2VHx1tx

More:

Social Security Poster: old man

Social Security Poster: old man (Photo from the Social Security Board, via Wikipedia)

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

 


EPA intervenes to clean up mystery toxic dump threatening Texas county’s water

September 29, 2015

Maybe EPA should take Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s advice, and go door to door asking who did it.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Monday the agency will work to stop a toxic plume of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) that threatens to contaminate well waters in Burnet County.

The source of the plume, and who dumped the stuff, are unknowns.

EPA’s announcement:

EPA Adds Burnet Co., TX, Groundwater Plume to National Priorities List of Superfund Sites

Five hazardous waste sites added, seven proposed nationally

(DALLAS – Sept. 28, 2015)  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added the Main Street Groundwater Plume site in Burnet Co., TX, to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites, a list of sites that pose risks to people’s health and the environment. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country and converts them into productive community resources by eliminating or reducing public health risks and environmental contamination.

The site lies about one mile south of the city of Burnet between County Road 340 and County Road 340 A. A plume of tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, was found in the groundwater in this area during monitoring of the Bertram Public Water Supply in 2010. The source of the contamination is unknown.

“Texans understand how precious water resources are for families and businesses,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Addressing contamination helps alleviate the risk to the community and return property to economic use.”

The plume released into the Ellenburger-San Saba Aquifer, and contaminated two public water supply wells and seven private wells. Monitoring indicates levels in drinking water wells are below EPA’s health-based maximum contaminant level (MCL). Two wells that exceeding the MCL are used for irrigation and livestock watering. Exposure to PCE could harm the nervous system, liver, kidneys, and reproductive system, and may lead to higher risk of some types of cancer.

EPA regularly works to identify companies or people responsible for the contamination at a site, and requires them to conduct or pay for the cleanup. For the newly listed sites without viable potentially responsible parties, EPA will investigate the extent of the contamination before assessing how best to treat it.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law establishing the Superfund program. Superfund’s passage was a giant step forward in cleaning up legacy industrial waste sites to help ensure human health and environmental protection. The Superfund law gives EPA the authority to clean up releases of hazardous substances and directs EPA to update the NPL at least annually. The NPL contains the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing both enforcement actions and long-term EPA Superfund cleanup funding; only sites on the NPL are eligible for such funding.

Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites:
http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm

Information about how a site is listed on the NPL:
http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm

Superfund sites in local communities:
http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/index.htm

More information about the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law establishing the Superfund program, can be found at:
http://epa.gov/superfund/policy/cercla.htm

More about activities in EPA Region 6 is available at http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.html

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Tetrachloroethylene is a commonly used solvent, often used in dry cleaning of fabrics and degreasing metal parts.  The chemical is also known as perchloroethane, or perc. It was first synthesized in 1821 by Michael Faraday. It is volatile, but highly stable and not flammable.

EPA documents say, “Effects resulting from acute (short term) high-level inhalation exposure of humans to tetrachloroethylene include irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, kidney dysfunction, and neurological effects such as reversible mood and behavioral changes, impairment of coordination, dizziness, headache, sleepiness, and unconsciousness.” It is classed as a Type 2A chemical for carcinogenicity, which means it is a probable human carcinogen, but not a potent one.

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Burnet County, outlined in red, covers parts of five different watersheds. EPA map

Burnet County, outlined in red, covers parts of five different watersheds. EPA map

Burnet County is in Central Texas, in red on this EPA map

Burnet County is in Central Texas, in red on this EPA map

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Gold Star Mothers Day, 2015

September 27, 2015

President Barack Obama hugs Gold Star mother Michelle DeFord following a roundtable with veterans and Gold Star mothers regarding the Iran nuclear agreement, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2015. Secretary of State John Kerry also participated. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama hugs Gold Star mother Michelle DeFord following a roundtable with veterans and Gold Star mothers regarding the Iran nuclear agreement, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2015. Secretary of State John Kerry also participated. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Ceremonies and gatherings mark Gold Star Mothers Day in cities across the United States. Gold Star Mothers Day officially is the last Sunday in September, September 27 in 2015.

The Tampa Tribune offers an article covering several meetings in the Tampa area, and the families honored and affected.

Photo and caption from the Tampa Tribune: Thea Kurz became a Gold Star mother on Aug. 20, 2014, when her son, Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Leggett, 39, was killed in Afghanistan. She says she gets helpful support from other Tampa Bay families who have lost loved ones serving in the military.

Photo and caption from the Tampa Tribune: Thea Kurz became a Gold Star mother on Aug. 20, 2014, when her son, Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Leggett, 39, was killed in Afghanistan. She says she gets helpful support from other Tampa Bay families who have lost loved ones serving in the military.

Photo and caption from the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette: Kendra Johnson/Gazette Maria Lane holds her son's dog tags on Tuesday. These were the dog tags David was wearing when he passed and Lane has since worn them everyday in memory of him.

Photo and caption from the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette:  Maria Lane holds her son’s dog tags on Tuesday. These were the dog tags David was wearing when he passed and Lane has since worn them everyday in memory of him. Photo: Kendra Johnson/Gazette


Gold Star Mothers Day 2015 – fly your flag today, September 27

September 27, 2015

Fly your U.S. flag on September 27, 2015, in honor of the Gold Star Mothers of fallen U.S. soldiers.

Gold Star mother Jennifer Owens views a photo of her daughter Spc. Ember Marie Alt at the Survivor Outreach Services Remembrance Hall in Fort Hood, Texas. Owens credits Survivor Outreach Services staff members for helping her cope with her loss of her daughter. U.S. Army photo

‘Gold Star Mothers’ become bedrocks of support for survivors of the fallen’: Gold Star mother Jennifer Owens views a photo of her daughter Spc. Ember Marie Alt at the Survivor Outreach Services Remembrance Hall in Fort Hood, Texas. Owens credits Survivor Outreach Services staff members for helping her cope with her loss of her daughter. U.S. Army photo and caption

Gold Star Mothers Day is the last Sunday in September, designated under U.S. law, 36 U.S.C. §111:

The President is requested to issue a proclamation calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag and hold appropriate meetings at homes, churches, or other suitable places, on Gold Star Mother’s Day as a public expression of the love, sorrow, and reverence of the people for Gold Star Mothers.

Gold Star Mothers grew out of the grief and charity of mothers of soldiers who died in World War I, gaining formal organization in 1928.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was formed in the United States shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the United States Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. Gold Star Mothers are often socially active but are non-political. Today, membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States. On the last Sunday in September, Gold Star Mother’s Day is observed in the U.S. in their honor.[1] The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.

Proclamation from President Obama for Gold Star Mothers Day, 2015:

Presidential Proclamation — Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, 2015

GOLD STAR MOTHER’S AND FAMILY’S DAY, 2015

– – – – – – –

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, A PROCLAMATION

At every crossroads in the American story, courageous individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs have answered our Nation’s call to serve.  Today, the sacrifices of our fallen heroes echo in safer towns and cities, countries and continents — resonating throughout a world they forever made freer.  Their legacies are solemnly enshrined in the history of our eternally grateful Nation, as well as in the hearts of all who loved them.  Today, we honor the Gold Star Mothers and Families who carry forward the memories of those willing to lay down their lives for the United States and the liberties for which we stand.

The proud patriots of our Armed Forces never serve alone.  Standing with each service member are parents, spouses, children, siblings, and friends, providing support and love and helping uphold the ideals that bind our Nation together.  While most Americans may never fully comprehend the price paid by those who gave their last full measure of devotion, families of the fallen know it intimately and without end.  Their sleepless nights allow for our peaceful rest, and the folded flags they hold dear are what enable ours to wave.  The depth of their sorrow is immeasurable, and we are forever indebted to them for all they have given for us.

Despite their broken hearts, the families of these warriors are full of love and they continue to serve their communities and comfort our troops, veterans, and other military families. Our country is constantly inspired by their incredible resilience, and in their example we see the very best of America.  On this day of remembrance, we honor our Gold Star Mothers and Families by living fully the freedom for which they have given so much, and by rededicating ourselves to our enduring obligation to serve them as well as they have served us.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 of June 23, 1936 (49 Stat. 1985 as amended), has designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mother’s Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 27, 2015, as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.  I call upon all Government officials to display the flag of the United States over Government buildings on this special day.  I also encourage the American people to display the flag and hold appropriate ceremonies as a public expression of our Nation’s gratitude and respect for our Gold Star Mothers and Families.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

Here is a series of short videos on Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Parents, and even notes on Veterans Benefits available to survivors of soldiers lost in conflict.

From Montana's Daily Interlake: Sgt. Chuck Lewis, U.S. Marine Corps, of Ronan folds the American Flag at the Gold Star Mother's Day event at Brockman Park in Ronan on Sunday, September 28 (2013). (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

From Montana’s Daily Interlake: Sgt. Chuck Lewis, U.S. Marine Corps, of Ronan [Montana] folds the American Flag at the Gold Star Mother’s Day event at Brockman Park in Ronan on Sunday, September 28 (2013). (Photo by Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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Windows on art: Happy birthday, Mark Rothko, wherever you are

September 25, 2015

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City:

“Silence is so accurate.” —Mark Rothko, born on this day in 1903. http://met.org/1Wjh0gO

From a Tweet by the Met: “Silence is so accurate.” —Mark Rothko, born on this day in 1903. http://met.org/1Wjh0gO

So many take satisfaction in claiming Rothko simple. My experience is museums buzz with alertness wherever his paintings are displayed. Good conversation starters for modern-eras in history, and not just art history.

Mark Rothko was born September 25, 1903, in Daugavpils, Latvia.  He defied categorization, but is usually regarded as an abstract expressionist, a member of the New York School.

In the photo:

Who is the woman in the photo?

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Geography from space: Nile at night, a river of light

September 25, 2015

Geography teachers love the Nile Delta because it so well epitomizes what a river delta is — clear demonstration of the delta form, in real photos.

From the International Space Station, the model gets ramped up a bit:

A stunning pic taken by @StationCDRKelly while on @Space_Station shows the Nile River at night http://go.nasa.gov/1iAE3EV

Twitter caption: A stunning pic taken by @StationCDRKelly while on @Space_Station shows the Nile River at night http://go.nasa.gov/1iAE3EV

The Nile becomes a river of light, showing the advance of electrified human settlement along the banks, and providing stark contrast to the unlighted desert on either side of the river.

What other cities, landmarks, or geographical features can you identify in the photo?


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