December 31, 1775: General Montgomery falls at the Battle of Quebec

ROUND Quebec’s embattled walls
Moodily the patriots lay;
Dread disease within its thralls
Drew them closer day by day;
Till from suffering man to man,
Mutinous, a murmur ran.


Footsore, they had wandered far,
They had fasted, they had bled;
They had slept beneath the star
With no pillow for the head;
Was it but to freeze to stone
In this cruel icy zone?

Yet their leader held his heart,
Naught discouraged, naught dismayed;
Quelled with unobtrusive art
Those that muttered; unafraid
Waited, watchful, for the hour
When his golden chance should flower.

‘T was the death-tide of the year;
Night had passed its murky noon;
Through the bitter atmosphere
Pierced nor ray of star nor moon;
But upon the bleak earth beat
Blinding arrows of the sleet.

While the trumpets of the storm
Pealed the bastioned heights around,
Did the dauntless heroes form,
Did the low, sharp order sound.
“Be the watchword Liberty!”
Cried the brave Montgomery.

Here, where he had won applause,
When Wolfe faced the Gallic foe,
For a nobler, grander cause
Would he strike the fearless blow, —
Smite at Wrong upon the throne,
At Injustice giant grown.

“Men, you will not fear to tread
Where your general dares to lead!
On, my valiant boys!” he said,
And his foot was first to speed;
Swiftly up the beetling steep,
Lion-hearted, did he leap.

Flashed a sudden blinding glare;
Roared a fearsome battle-peal;
Rang the gloomy vasts of air;
Seemed the earth to rock and reel;
While adown that fiery breath
Rode the hurtling bolts of death.

Woe for him, the valorous one,
Now a silent clod of clay!
Nevermore for him the sun
Would make glad the paths of day;
Yet’t were better thus to die
Than to cringe to tyranny! —

Better thus the life to yield,
Striking for the right and God,
Upon Freedom’s gory field,
Than to kiss Oppression’s rod!
Honor, then, for all time be
To the brave Montgomery!

– Clinton Scollard

December 30, 1722: Jonathan Edwards makes his New Year’s Resolutions

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake (Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week).Jonathan-Edwards

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the forementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

December 29, 1890: Massacre at Wounded Knee

Philip Wells was a mixed-blood Sioux who served as an interpreter for the Army. He was there that Monday morning:

“I was interpreting for General Forsyth… The captured Indians had been ordered to give up their arms, but Big Foot Wounded Kneereplied that his people had no arms. Forsyth said to me, ‘Tell Big Foot he says the Indians have no arms, yet yesterday they were well armed when they surrendered. He is deceiving me. Tell him he need have no fear in giving up his arms, as I wish to treat him kindly.’

Big Foot replied, ‘They have no guns, except such as you have found.’

Forsyth declared, ‘You are lying to me in return for my kindness.’

During this time a medicine man, gaudily dressed and fantastically painted, executed the maneuvers of the ghost dance, raising and throwing dust into the air. He exclaimed ‘Ha! Ha!’ as he did so, meaning he was about to do something terrible, and said, ‘I have lived long enough,’ meaning he would fight until he died. Turning to the young warriors who were squatted together, he said ‘Do not fear, but let your hearts be strong. Many soldiers are about us and have many bullets, but I am assured their bullets cannot penetrate us. The prairie is large, and their bullets will fly over the prairies and will not come toward us. If they do come toward us, they will float away like dust in the air.’

I turned to Major Whitside and said, ‘That man is making mischief,’ and repeated what he had said.

Whitside replied, ‘Go direct to Colonel Forsyth and tell him about it,’ which I did.

Forsyth and I went to the circle of warriors where he told me to tell the medicine man to sit down and keep quiet, but he paid no attention to the order. Forsyth repeated the order.

Big Foot’s brother-in-law answered, ‘He will sit down when he gets around the circle.’ When the medicine man came to the end of the circle, he squatted down.

A cavalry sergeant exclaimed, ‘There goes an Indian with a gun under his blanket!’ Forsyth ordered him to take the gun from the Indian, which he did.

Whitside then said to me, ‘Tell the Indians it is necessary that they be searched one at a time.’ The young warriors paid no attention to what I told them.

I heard someone on my left exclaim, ‘Look out! Look out!’ I saw five or six young warriors cast off their blankets and pull guns out from under them and brandish them in the air. One of the warriors shot into the soldiers, who were ordered to fire into the Indians.

I looked in the direction of the medicine man. He or some other medicine man approached to within three or four feet of me with a long cheese knife, ground to a sharp point and raised to stab me. He stabbed me during the melee and nearly cut off my nose. I held him off until I could swing my rifle to hit him, which I did. I shot and killed him in self-defense.

Troop ‘K’ was drawn up between the tents of the women and children and the main body of the Indians, who had been summoned to deliver their arms. The Indians began firing into ‘Troop K’ to gain the canyon of Wounded Knee creek. In doing so they exposed their women and children to their own fire. Captain Wallace was killed at this time while standing in front of his troops. A bullet, striking him in the forehead, plowed away the top of his head.

I started to pull off my nose, which was hung by the skin, but Lieutenant Guy Preston shouted, ‘My God Man! Don’t do that! That can be saved.’ He then led me away from the scene of the trouble.”

December 28, 1856: Birth of Thomas Woodrow Wilson

As recent events at Princeton have shown, President Woodrow Wilson’s character continues to provoke controversy today, one hundred and fifty-nine years after his birth.

What made Woodrow Wilson so difficult? Sigmund Freud and William Bullitt tried to analyze the President in the nineteen thirties, and this is what they found:woodrow-wilson-2

“Little Tommy” Wilson was raised in the South during and after the Civil War by a father who adored him, and a mother who was an “under-vitalized woman.”  He “never had a fist-fight in his life” and he developed the “ego of a little boy who has no sister.”

In his childhood Wilson became infatuated with William Gladstone, the liberal prime minister of England. Freud and Bullitt reckoned the British liberal became “the incomparable father of his early childhood” and so “adolescent Tommy” then “destroyed Mr. Gladstone by the cannibalistic method of identification and announced: ‘That is Gladstone, the greatest statesman that ever lived. I intend to be a statesman, too.’”

sigmund-freudHe ended up with a complex: The God whom Thomas Woodrow Wilson went on to worship to the end of his days, was his own father, Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson.  And “If his father was God, he himself was God’s Only Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.”
His tyrannical superego could never be satisfied with any success. No rung up the ladder was high enough, not even the presidency of the United States; he had to become Savior of the World …

“Wilson,” Freud wrote, “repeatedly declared that mere facts had no significance for him.” “Noble intentions” were what counted. Thus, while Wilson came to France intent on bringing a “just and lasting peace” to Europe, he “put himself in the deplorable position of the benefactor who wishes to restore the eyesight of a patient but does not know the construction of the eye and has neglected to learn the necessary methods of operation.”

“The outlets employed by Wilson’s Ego for his passivity to his father were all outlets approved by his Super-Ego. His chief outlet was through direct submission to the will of his father. He did what his father wanted him to do and did not do what his father did not want him to do. He accepted his father’s thoughts without question and his father’s leadership with adoration. He submitted every problem of his life to his father…”

“His (Wilson’s) mental life from April to September 1919, when he collapsed completely and permanently, was a wild flight from fact. The mental disintegration is an additional indication that in the second week of April 1919 he could not face his femininity and fear but merely embraced with finality the rationalizations which enabled him to avoid looking at the truth. At the crisis of his life he was in fact overwhelmed once more by his passivity to his father and by fear.

In short, President Woodrow Wilson was a neurotic who was dominated by his father, overprotected by his mother, and who lacked the masculine will to carry out his policies.

December 25, 1903: Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
Christmas in lands of the fir-tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm-tree and vine,
Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright.Nativity
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!

Christmas where children are hopeful and gay,
Christmas where old men are patient and gray,
Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
Broods o’re brave men in the thick of the fight;
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all;
No palace too great, no cottage too small.

-Phillips Brooks

December 24, 1741: First Christmas in Bethlehem, PA

Jesus, call Thou me
   from the world to Thee;
      Speed me ever, stay me never;
         Jesus, Call Thou me.

Not Jerusalem –
   lowly Bethlehem
beth2       ‘Twas that gave us Christ to save us;
          Not Jerusalem.

Favored Bethlehem!
   honored is that name;
      Thence came Jesus to release us;
         Favored Bethlehem!

In 1741 a small group of the “Unitas Fratrum” settled on the banks of the Monocacy Creek near the Lehigh River in Eastern Pennsylvania.

The German speaking settlers had been sent out from their homeland in Moravia to bring the good news of salvation and hope to the heathens. They had reached out to slaves in the Caribbean, the Inuit in Labrador, to natives in Surinam, Guyana, and South Africa, and here in Pennsylvania they would reach out to the Delaware and Mohicans.

The Moravians promoted the “theology of the heart” which focussed on the essential relationship between Christ and the believer, rather than the doctrinal differences between churches. Christianity was defined as faith in Christ, love for one another and the world, and hope for the future.

Their communities were above all to be joyful. Daily life should be marked by joy in the presence of Christ in every activity. They lived communally, the “brothers” in one house and the “sisters” in another. They placed their trust in God to help them, and picked their leaders and even their marriages by lot, and shared a simple meal, a lovefeast, during worship remembering that Jesus ate his meals not only with his disciples but also with sinners.

On Christmas Eve of 1741, their patron, Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf arrived from Saxony to visit the new settlement. The brothers and sisters gathered in the two-room log home that they had just built to welcome the Count and to worship and give thanks, while their cattle and horses and pigs and chickens settled in the stable side of the house.

“Their humble sanctuary, with beasts of the stall sharing its roof, brought the circumstances of the Saviour’s birth vividly before their imagination. With the forest about them, stretching away to where heathen multitudes lived in ignorance of Immanuel, the relation between the subject of that holy night and their purpose towards those dwellers in the forest possessed their minds. It stirred the quick fancy of the Count, always keenly responsive to such impressions.

Acting upon an impulse, he rose and led the way into the part of the building in which the cattle were kept, while he began to sing the quaintly pretty words of a German Epiphany hymn which combined Christmas thoughts and missionary thoughts, as suggested by the homage of heathen sages before the infant Jesus, and made conspicuous in the character given the observance of Epiphany among the Brethren in those days of first missionary zeal. Its language expressed well the feeling of that hour, and the place in which it was sung made the vision of the manger seem very real.

The little town of Bethlehem was hailed, its boon to mankind was lauded, the star that guided the magi to the spot and the light of the gentiles there beaming forth were sought, humble supplication at the Redeemer’s feet was uttered in successive stanzas, and then the song ended.

No name had yet been given to the settlement, but that vigil service and that hymn suggested one. By general consent the name of the ancient town of David was adopted and the place was called Bethlehem.”


December 23, 1875: Louisa May Alcott sends her Christmas Greetings

In the rush of early morning,
When the red burns through the gray,
And the wintry world lies waiting
For the glory of the day, Alcott.1
Then we hear a fitful rustling
Just without upon the stair,
See two small white phantoms coming,
Catch the gleam of sunny hair.

Are they Christmas fairies stealing
Rows of little socks to fill?
Are they angels floating hither
With their message of good-will?
What sweet spell are these elves weaving,
As like larks they chirp and sing?
Are these palms of peace from heaven
That these lovely spirits bring?

Rosy feet upon the threshold,
Eager faces peeping through,
With the first red ray of sunshine,
Chanting cherubs come in view:
Mistletoe and gleaming holly,
Symbols of a blessed day,
In their chubby hands they carry,
Streaming all along the way.

Well we know them, never weary
Of this innocent surprise;
Waiting, watching, listening always
With full hearts and tender eyes,
While our little household angels,
White and golden in the sun,
Greet us with the sweet old welcome,—
“Merry Christmas, every one!”

December 22, 1777: A “Choice of Difficulties” at Valley Forge

It is with infinite pain and concern, that I transmit Congress the Inclosed Copies of Sundry Letters respecting the State of the Commissary’s department. If these matters are not exaggerated, I do not know from what cause, this alarming deficiency or rather total failure of Supplies arises; But unless more Vigorous exertions and better regulations take place in that line, and immediately, this Army must dissolve.Valley Forge

I have done all in my power, by remonstrating, by writing to, by ordering the Commissaries on this Head, from time to time; but without any good effect, or obtaining more than a present scanty relief. Owing to this, the march of the Army has been delayed upon more than one interesting occasion, in the course of the present Campaign, and had a Body of the Enemy crossed Schuylkill this Morning, as I had reason to expect from the intelligence I received at Four O’Clock last night, the Divisions which I ordered to be in readiness to march and meet them, could not have moved. It is unnecessary for me to add more upon the subject. I refer Congress to the Copies, by one of which they will perceive how very unfavorable also our prospect is, of having any considerable supplies of Salt Provisions for the ensuing Year. . . .

It would give me infinite pleasure to afford protection to every individual and to every Spot of Ground in the whole of the United States. Nothing is more my wish. But this is not possible with our present force. In all wars, from the nature of things, Individuals and particular places must be exposed. It has ever been and ever will be the case, and we have only to pity and to regret the misfortune of those, who from their situation are subject to ravage and depredation. These facts are evident and obvious to all, and if that system of conduct is pursued by an Army, which is most likely to give the most general and extensive security, it is all that can be done or expected from it. I assure you, Sir, no circumstance in the course of the present contest, or in my whole life, has employed more of my reflection or consideration than in what manner to effect this and to dispose of the Army during the present Winter.

Viewing the Subject in any point of light, there was choice of difficulties. If keeping the Field was thought of, the naked condition of the Troops and the feelings of Humanity opposed the measure: If retiring to the Towns in the interior parts of the State, which consistently with the preservation of the Troops, from their necessitous circumstances, might have been justifiable, the measure was found inexpedient because it would have exposed and left uncovered, a large extent of Country. If cantoning the Troops in several places, divided and distant from each other, then there was a probability of their being cut off, and but little prospect of their giving security to any part.

Under these Embarrassments, I determined to take post near this place, as the best calculated, in my Judgement to secure the Army, to protect our Stores and cover the Country; and for this purpose we are beginning to hut, and shall endeavour to accomplish it, as expeditiously as possible. …

I cannot divide the Army, not superior (from sickness and other causes equally painful when collected) to the Enemy’s force, into detachments contrary to every Military principle and to our own experience of the dangers that would attend it. If this is done, I cannot be answerable for the consequences.

My feelings lead strongly to Universal relief, but I have not the power to afford it. Nevertheless it has been and is still my intention, as soon as I have formed and secured this Camp to detach a small force to aid and countenance their Militia.

This is all it appears to me that can be done, and I hope their apprehensions for the greater part will prove rather imaginary than well grounded; tho’ I confess there are strong reasons to conclude the Enemy will not be remiss, in their acts of violence and injury there or any where else.

– George Washington

December 21, 1888: Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. Defines Americanism

The Pilgrim and the Puritan… were men who did a great deal of work in the world. They had their faults and their – shortcomings, but they were not slothful in business and they were most fervent in spirit. They formed prosperous Henry Cabot Lodgecommonwealths and built on government by law and not of men. They carried the light of learning undimmed through the early years of settlement. They planted a school-house in every village, and fought always a good fight for ordered liberty and for human rights. Their memories shall not perish, for
“the actions of the just
              smell sweet and blossom in the dust …”

The war for the Union and the issues springing from it have been settled. But all the time other questions have been growing up with the growth of the nation and are now coming to the front for decision. It is our duty to settle them, not only in the right way, but in a thorough American fashion.

By American I do not mean that which had a brief political existence more than 30 years ago. That movement was based on race and sect, and was therefore thoroughly un-American, and failed, as all un-American movements have failed in this country. True Americanism is opposed utterly to any political divisions resting on race and religion. To the race or to the sect, which as such attempts to take possession of the politics or the public education of the country, true Americanism says, Hands off!

The American idea is a free church in a free state, and a free and un-sectarian public school in every ward and in every village, with its doors wide open to the children of all races and of every creed. It goes still further, and frowns upon the constant attempt to divide our people according to origin or extraction. Let every man honor and love the land of his birth and the race from which he springs and keep their memory green. It is a pious and honorable duty.

But let us have done with British-Americans and Irish-Americans and so on, and all be Americans – nothing more and nothing less. If a man is going to be an American at all let him be so without any qualifying adjectives, and if he is going to be something else, let him drop the word American from his personal description.

As there are sentiments and beliefs like these to be cherished, so there are policies which must be purely and wholly American and to the “manner born” if we would have them right and successful.

True Americanism recognizes the enormous gravity of the social and labor problems which confront us. It believes that the safety of the republic depends upon well paid labor and the highest possible average of individual well-being. It believes that the right solution of this problem should be sought without rest and without stay, and that no device public or private of legislation or of individual effort, which can tend to benefit and elevate the condition of the great wage-earning masses of the country, should be left untried.

It sets its face rightfully against the doctrines of the Anarchist and the Communist, who seek to solve the social problems not by patient endeavor, but by brutal destruction. “That way madness lies,” – and such attempts and such teachings, barbarous and un-American as they are, must and will be put down with a strong and unflinching hand, in the name of the home and the church and the school and all that makes up civilization and the possibility of human progress.

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December 18, 1936: The First Giant Panda Arrives in the America

President Theodore Roosevelt’s sons Theodore and Kermit had hunted and killed Panda bears in China, but no American had ever brought one back alive. The globe-trotting adventurer Bill Harkness, a Harvard man with a private income who had captured Komodo dragons in the Dutch East Indies, thought he would give it a try.Panda

Two weeks after his marriage to socialite Ruth McCombs, Harkness headed off to China on a “panda” expedition. Unfortunately, before his expedition could get into the wilds, he died in Shanghai of throat cancer. He never saw a panda bear.

Upon hearing the news of her husband’s death, Ruth Harkness declared that she had “inherited an expedition.” She set sail from New York City in April of 1936, hosting a cocktail party in her stateroom as she set sail, with dozens of swells juggling highball glasses and cigarettes and teasing her about her far-fetched mission.

From New York, Ruth Harkness sailed through the Red Sea to ports in Ceylon, Singapore and Hong Kong before finally reaching Shanghai. In Shanghai she retrieved the equipment Bill had left behind in storage. She ordered that her husband’s sportswear, from woolen underwear to a fur-hooded army parka to hobnail boots, be tailored to fit her.

By November 9, she was camping high on a mountains near Tibet.
In the dense fog on the mountain, Harkness heard more than she could see. She heard a shout from ahead, then a musket. Her guide was yelling. Harkness caught up and gasped, “What is it?”

Harkness was afraid that a panda had been shot, but her guide reassured her. They stumbled on. From an old rotting tree, a baby panda whimpered. Her guide ran forward and retrieved a tiny panda cub and handed it to Harkness. As the three-pound black-and-white ball nuzzled her breast, she and Young realized they had to race back to base camp for milk and baby bottles.

On December 18, 1936, Ruth Harkness carried the first live panda onto U.S. soil. She had told the Chinese authorities she was transporting a small dog but, in fact, sh brought ashore a three-pound panda cub.

“Panda-monium” soon broke out. Throngs of reporters, photographers and cameramen recorded her arrival in San Francisco.

Ruth brought the panda back to New York. She named the cub “Su Lin”, which means “a little bit of something precious.” She kept her hotel windows kept wide open to the chilly air as she travelled “to preserve the native Tibetan climate” for the cub’s comfort.

Su Lin lived for a few months in Harkness’ New York apartment, was honored at the New York Explorers Club before eventually being sold to Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, where he became its star attraction.

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