I taught a lesson last Sunday. The assigned source for the discussion was a talk given by Pres. Henry B. Eyring entitled, “Help Them Aim High”. From the title of his talk you might be wondering how I jumped to gifts, I’ll ask for an indulgence as I review, what was for me, a great lesson; not because of anything I said but rather for where the class took the lesson.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Do you want to motivate others to change behavior? Are you frustrated that your children, students, employees … aren’t moved to action by your crystal clear messages. Perhaps there is a lesson in the following 80-20 story found in “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”, by Chip and Dan Heath:
Friday, November 30, 2012
There are Supreme court rulings that support as well as oppose allowing Congress to delegate a broad range of its law-making power to bureaucracies within the Executive branch. The Supreme Court stated in US v. Shreveport Grain and Elevator Co., “That the legislative power of Congress cannot be delegated is, of course, clear. But Congress may declare its will, and, after fixing a primary standard, devolve upon administrative officers the "power to fill up the details" by prescribing administrative rules and regulations.” In 1825 Chief Justice John Marshall stated in his opinion in Wayman v. Southard, that Congress may not delegate powers that “are strictly and exclusively legislative.”
Monday, November 26, 2012
William George Jordan created a lecture series entitled Mental Training: By Analysis, Law, & Analogy in the early 1890’s. The objective of these was to improve the ability of students to digest and utilize information.
In 1907 he published a pamphlet entitled Mental Training: A Remedy for “Education” which included a list of his twelve lectures along with a short summary of each. His view on education can be summed up in one short sentence; rather than simply feed children facts we should focus on teaching them how to think. In Mental Training shares his proposed methods for giving students the tools the need to digest and use information.
I’ve always been amazed by Jordan’s ability to teach using analogies drawn from a vast array of historical events, everyday objects, machinery … . He shares the “secret” to developing this skill as he describes an experience with a student of his lectures:
Thursday, November 22, 2012
We read in the Old Testament of the many times God intervened in the affairs of man. From the escape of the Israelites from Egypt to the fall of Jericho, miracles seem to have been almost a daily occurrence. Why then did the Israelites repeatedly turn their back on the Lord? Good question, perhaps they simply forgot or were able to rationalize the miracles away. Many were the miracles associated with the founding of our country. These have been largely lost and are no longer to be found in today’s history books. On a day which we celebrate gratitude I would like to share one of my favorite “miracles”. One that that was celebrated for years and for which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a ballad about over 130 years after the incident.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
One of my favorite authors is William George Jordan. What I love about his writing is his ability to paint pictures with words and then use them to teach principles. You can find a quotable quote in nearly every paragraph he writes. Below are some of my favorites (I’ll be adding to this list over time). If you are preparing a speech and are looking for insightful quotes on human nature Jordan has some great ones. Links to all of WGJ’s books can be found in my post “Books by William George Jordan.”
"Let us conceive of gratitude in its largest, most beautiful sense, that if we receive any kindness we are debtor, not merely to one man, but to the whole world. As we are each day indebted to thousands for the comforts, joys, consolations, and blessings of life, let us realize that it is only by kindness to all that we can begin to repay the debt to one [and] begin to make gratitude the atmosphere of all our living and a constant expression in outward acts, rather than in mere thoughts."
—The Power of Truth
Friday, November 16, 2012
First of all I want to thank those of my friends who supported changing our Sunday closing policy, because it challenged me to research my initial position. I would also like to thank those who referred to me and other supporters as “idiotic fairy tale worshippers”, “blatant hypocrites”, “tyrants”, “religious bullies”, “liars”, having “libido dominandi” [the will to power, the desire to dominate, the lust for government] … for providing the ongoing motivation to continue my research and study the issue.
The result of my research and study (see my earlier posts on Sunday closing for detailed information and sources) led me to the conclusion that while cities, counties and states may enact legislation that supports either side of the question, choosing to support as a common day of rest a great decision. Here’s why:
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
In Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, authors Chip and Dan Heath share the story of Jerry Sternin (1938-2008) who in 1990, while working for Save the Children, was asked to open an office in Vietnam and fight malnutrition. He was told by the Vietnamese government that he had six months to make a difference. Note, in 1990 about 65 percent of all Vietnamese children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition.
Jerry had researched malnutrition in Vietnam. The conventional wisdom was that the causes were poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water, and ignorance of the rural villagers. From Jerry's point of view this information was “True But Useless”, as there was little he could do in six months to remedy those issues, especially with almost no budget.
Monday, November 12, 2012
We covered Christ’s teaching of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Sunday School last week. As I was preparing the lesson I kept being drawn to two verses in particular—Matt 5:23-24 which read:
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Here are the results as Tuesday night November 6, 2012:
- For 2,993 (45.94%)
- Against 3,522 (54.06%)
Although there may be additional adjustments due to absentee and/or provisional ballots we can be fairly sure that the end result will stand.
Note, here’s the final count dated 20 November 2012. To see a signed copy of the Official Certification of the Highland City Municipal Election of November 8, 2012 click here.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Here’s an email that was sent last night by a resident of Cedar Hills who shops in Highland because of our Sunday closing policy and she is evidently not the only one.
I cannot vote on Prop 6 because I do not live in Highland but I wish that I could because I am certainly in favor of SUNDAY CLOSURE and would vote AGAINST proposition 6. Whenever possible I drive past the McDonalds, Harts and Wal-Mart in Cedar Hills to shop in Highland because I love to support stores that are closed on Sundays. I also go to Highland instead of American Fork or Pleasant Grove. I would rather have my money go to your city even more than my own. I also know that I am not the only one who feels this way. So this is another issue to consider when thinking about your tax dollars--mine and others will stay in Cedar Hills/AF/PG if your stores open on Sundays.
Thank you for your consideration. Feel free to forward onto others,
Monday, November 5, 2012
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time since March of this year researching “Blue Laws”, dialoging with supporters and detractors. I’ve found clear and overwhelming support for Sunday closure laws from any virtually any perspective you wish do choose. No need for logical gymnastics, no need to parse words and stretch points, simple clear common sense support from many, many sources.
Residents of Highland can freely choose to support or oppose the change to Sunday opening based on what they feel will be best for the community. We have the freedom to make that choice. Business rights do not trump the rights of residents. The claim if you don’t support Sunday opening you oppose “liberty” is not supported well by the Constitution, the Founders, or the sources they used in framing the Constitution.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
The other side notes that Smith's Marketplace generates over $400K in annual sales tax revenue, Wal-Mart produces over $300K. What they choose NOT to mention is that Lehi and Cedar Hills only receive 50% of that revenue. The rest is redistributed by the state to municipalities based on each municipality's population.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Mark Beesley submitted the a letter to the SL Tribune and then recorded a message regarding proposition 6. Mark is one of many non-LDS members of our community who share the view that we should maintain our current Sunday closing policy. He said in an email that “changing the policy is simply bad economics for the vast majority of residents. If Highland homogenizes itself into another Lehi, American Fork or Orem our community will be less attractive and property values will decrease. The introduction of more tired national chains that can only survive on a 7-day model will eliminate the diversity, charm and value of locally-owned businesses that truly cater to local tastes. I believe it makes sense to reject Proposition 6.”
Here is his recording and a copy of the letter he submitted to the Tribune:
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I thought Ben Austin’s summary on Sunday Closure laws from a moral perspective was excellent. He agreed to allow me to post it on my site. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to read. Thanks Ben.
I wish to warn you that the following essay is somewhat lengthy. Many of you will feel that I could have covered each point much more quickly. I acknowledge this, but I chose to develop the ideas slowly and carefully because I wanted to be sure I was thorough. You will also find that Sunday closure is not even mentioned until the very end, but the earlier portions are necessary because they set up the framework for understanding blue laws. These sections are also valuable because they set the stage for discussing other political debates as well, such as the definition of marriage (a topic which I plan to address with my next treatise). I know that the first part of this paper is very philosophical and rather abstract. I do not consider myself an expert in philosophy, but I've tried to model my arguments using C.S. Lewis' writings as an example, so hopefully it will all make sense.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Some thoughts on Sunday closure (please share this with your friends in Highland):
I do not see the push to abolish Sunday closing laws as a push toward freedom. I see it as just another attempt to homogenize and to stifle the ability of a community to set its own standards.
Please consider the following:
Here’s a great tongue in cheek solution (at least I think it is:) to Highland’s revenue problems that could even be “better” than eliminating the common day of rest which has always been part of Highland but is now viewed by some as limiting our freedom. Thank you TJ for this brilliant proposal.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Don wrote the following open letter to Highland residents regarding Prop 6 which is on the ballot this election cycle. I thought I’d share it with you.
For many years Highland has had an ordinance that does not allow businesses to be open on Sunday. With a few exceptions the vast majority of businesses everywhere already close on Sunday simply because they too need a day of rest and because of the reality that comparatively little shopping occurs on Sunday. Other businesses came to operate here and serve us knowing they could not be open on Sunday. As a result Highland has uniquely enjoyed a very peaceful and relaxed atmosphere on Sundays which has always been an important part of its charm and desirability. It’s nice to be able to take a leisurely drive to visit relatives or friends or just enjoy the abundant beauty that we are surrounded by in Highland without having to contend with the congestion and frenetic pace of every other day. It is truly one of the most beautiful and desirable places to live anywhere. IT’S WHY MOST OF US CHOSE TO LIVE HERE!
I teach a Sunday School class for 17 and 18 year olds. Each Sunday I bring a random object and ask the class members to find a lesson in it. I reserve time at the end of the lesson to let the class share their thoughts.
Last Sunday I brought in a sea shell I picked up on a recent business trip to India. I showed them the shell at the beginning of the lesson and asked them to guess where I got it. Of course, no one guessed and they were surprised to learn it was from India. I then proceeded with my lesson.
Friday, August 17, 2012
A more than sufficient number of signatures have been affixed to a referendum that will put a recent Highland City ordinance, lifting a restrictions on Sunday business operations, on the ballot this November (1,893 were validated versus the required 889). So now let the debate begin. See Part I for background info or click here to see a list of all posts on this subject from multiple Highland residents. If you want a good chuckle read “An Alternative Solution For Highland’s Revenue Problem that Increases Freedom”.
Well actually is has already begun. Local newspapers have published several articles, Facebook and blog posts have been written with a number of comments and replies (1). I’ve found that opponents to Sunday restrictions fit one or more of the following categories:
Sunday, July 29, 2012
An issue that has come up in our community, Highland, Utah, regarding the a city ordinance that precluded businesses being open on Sunday (these types of laws and ordinances are often referred to as Blue Laws). The issue arose because of a challenge with the city budget. The rationale for removing the restriction was it would help the city attract new businesses thus raising additional sales tax revenues. The city council, after much discussion with the residents, passed an ordinance which eliminates the community day of rest.
Personally, I am opposed to the change but I have respected friends who are supportive of it. While the concept of a shared community day of rest coincides with one of the 10 Commandments, the adoption of Sunday business restrictions is no more “enforced religion” than laws that prohibit stealing, lying (perjury), or killing, each of which are also one of the 10 Commandments.
Before we get into a lengthy discussion on the matter (see Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances – Part II?) let’s get some facts on the table:
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Taylor Caldwell (1900-1984) was prolific writer whose works include Pillar of Iron, The Listener, and Captains and the Kings. The following “speech” given by a disabled veteran is found in her book The Sound of Thunder. It is an excellent reminder of what we really celebrate on the 4th.
“It’s very good to celebrate the Fourth of July with firecrackers and the shooting off of cannon and bonfires and picnics and speeches. It’s nice to go out in rowboats and canoes on the lake, here in the park, and have a holiday. A holiday. I know you people work very hard, most of you twelve hours a day, six days a week. My dad does, too. You deserve a holiday, and pleasure, and the banging of firecrackers. But it shouldn’t be on the Fourth of July. Independence Day.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Mike Bready, a neighbor and fellow state delegate, shared with me his thoughts on the race between Senator Orrin Hatch and Dan Liljenquist. He sent me the write-up allowed me to share it on my blog. His insights have value well beyond tomorrow’s primary.. Here it is:
Sunday, June 17, 2012
In 2006 Scott Bradley ran as the Constitution party’s nominee against Senator Hatch for the U.S. Senator. Note, prior to joining the Constitution Party, Scott was a long-time active member of the Republican party. During his campaign is produced the following short list of votes by Senator Hatch that expand the power of the Federal government beyond its Constitutional bounds. Scott graciously gave me permission to share this with you.
Friday, June 15, 2012
I’m adding Jim Matheson to the list of current Utah federal representatives who’s donations I’m analyzing. Below are charts & tables that summarize 2006-2012 campaign contribution data from MapLight (a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that seeks to show the impact of money on politics). I downloaded the data June 14, 2012.
Individual donors are required to provide addresses to campaigns so it is easy to show the source of funds from a location perspective. For PACs it is difficult because if a PAC is set up by a company with a national or global presence then it is hard to identify a specific location. If on the other hand it is a PAC that represents an industry or cause then donors can come from anywhere in the US. For the PACs I went through the list and identified the ones that I determined had a significant presence in Utah (for corporations I looked up where they had offices or plants) then added a small fudge factor to this total to err on the side of donations from Utah. Note, similar to Hatch donations I did not take the time to research all of them but I did look for those that I thought would have a Utah presence first. Also, I generalized the industries for the PAC contributions (e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Hospitals, Doctors, and Medical Devices are categorized as Healthcare) and added a pie chart to the sources PAC donations by Industry.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Sunday, June 10, 2012
One of the items opponents of Senator Hatch point to is the % of funds to his campaign that come from out of state. As should be expected, supporters of Senator Hatch cry foul and say that the number is not accurate for a variety of reasons. The number I’ve most often seen is 91% of campaign donations to Senator Hatch come from out of state. I thought I’d do my own research this weekend and find out as best I could what the numbers really are. I’m sharing the results with you. I tried to err on the side of contributions coming from Utah when there was subjectivity involved.
Below are charts & Tables that summarize campaign contribution data I downloaded from from MapLight (a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that seeks to show the impact of money on politics). The data contains all donations for election cycles 2006-2012 as of June 8, 2012.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Having listened to and read many claims regarding Senator Hatch’s record I thought I would organize a summary of a number of them so interested parties can easily find the information. I used Project Vote Smart to find those groups with the most recent ratings in the Conservative and Family Issues categories and then recorded the Senator’s ratings as far back as they provided them. Note, the Eagle Forum did not have a rating available for 1999 which is why there is a gap in their rating.
Each organization that rates congress identifies key votes on issues that they care about and uses them to rate members of congress. The rating then reflects how a member of congress performed against a limited set of votes. You can go to each group to find out which votes they considered (I’ve put links to them at the bottom of the post).
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Bear with me for just one minute and we’ll get to the story. Thanks.
I find it curious that during a decade when when we’ve gone through one crisis after another (the Internet bubble, the real-estate crash, Katrina, 9/11, the financial melt-down of 2008 …) that while a lot of time and money has been spent trying to prevent similar problems in the future, society as a whole hasn’t taken an inward look to see if there are areas where we are off-track that contributed to these problems.
What! you say. How did we contribute to 9/11? We can see from the information that came out following 9/11 that there were a number of warning signs that were missed, not passed on to the right people, or ignored. Why? Could part of the issue be related to pride, an unwillingness to cooperate, and poor legislation which was crafted to protect the power of various departments but restricted cooperation that would have benefited all. The dots were there but no one connected them. We lacked the inspiration to put it all together.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Locally, there have been a lot of discussions lately regarding whether or not the two primary candidates for one of Utah’s two Senate seats should have multiple debates prior to the primary election. The sitting Senator has agreed to one radio debate sometime the week before the election sometime between 9 AM and 12 PM. There has been a lot of energetic discussion on Facebook and in other online forums. I think much of the dialog misses the major point entirely.
I sent a short letter to the editor of Deseret News today on the subject. Not sure if it will be published so I thought I’d share it with you. But before that let me share a sampling of the online commentary so you can get a feel for the passion on both sides.:
Monday, May 14, 2012
General Krulak (former Commandant of the Marine Corps) was the keynote speaker at the Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics (JSCOPE) 2000. JSCOPE is now known as the International Society for Military Ethics (ISME). They have met annually since 1979 to discuss ethics, values, leadership … .
General Krulak’s January 27, 2000 keynote address is timeless and an ever needed reminder of the importance of integrity. This characteristic is essential for those we select to serve as leaders, whether in business, government, or private organizations. It is vital that those who serve maintain their integrity or like Rome our nation, business, or group will rot from within and fall prey to those who seek its demise.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
I wrote the the following poem for my wife years ago and rededicate it to my wonderful companion this Mother’s Day. A better mother for our children does not exist. I hope everyone I know thinks the same about their companion.
As it touches the edge of the world
the sun explodes
sending thousands of glowing particles through the air
Clouds burst into flame
and then slowly fade away.
The sea flickers as if covered with golden sequins.
Men cry because beauty is gone,
yearn for days gone by,
doubt God’s existence
and seek for a miracle.
Happiness lies not in the past,
nor is it hidden in the future.
Look, and miracles blossom all around.
Listen and God speaks.
.Be thankful and blessings abound.
You are my miracle!
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The following short speech on freedom and liberty by my father, Ron Mann, is appropriate for today’s world, although it was written over 10 years ago.
Patrick Henry gave his most famous speech on March 23, 1775, in Richmond, Virginia, where he argued to mobilize for military action against the British – at the time the members of the 2nd Virginia Convention were undecided on this matter. Thomas Marshall, who was present at this speech, gave utterance to the unanimous verdict of all who heard it, when he described it “as one of the most bold, vehement, and animated pieces of eloquence that had ever been delivered.” Indeed it was so powerful that it consolidated all the forces in attendance to military resistance against the Crown.
Friday, May 4, 2012
I recently started re-reading The Power of Positive Thinking, which should be on everyone’s must read. In the foreword of the 2008 edition Pastor Robert Schuller shares a story from 1957 when he introduced its author, Norman Vincent Peale, a guest speaker to his congregation.
Dr. Schuller relates the following story:
It was time to introduce our guest. Before I knew what I was saying, I heard the following words come out of my mouth. “We have with us today the greatest positive thinker who has ever lived. His words have been heard and read by millions of people all over the world. He has changed more lives than can be counted. The greatest positive thinker who ever lived is here—with us—today!. In person! His name is … Jesus Christ! and here to tell us all about him is Dr. Norman Vincent Peale.’”
Dr. Peale was surprised, I could see.
With his arms moving in sync, Dr. Peale boomed out, “If Jesus Christ were here today, would He tell you what a lost sinner you are?”
I nodded my head.
He continued, “Would He tell you how bad you are, how you’ve failed?”
Again I nodded in agreement.
Then he shocked me by shouting, “I don’t think so! Deep down in your heart you already know that: you already know just what your most grievous sins are!”
Then he peered out across this great multitude, made the most of a dramatic pause. “Jesus Christ never told anyone he was a sinner.”
After Dr. Peale’s sermon Dr. Schuller rushed home and grabbed his Bible looking to prove that this statement was incorrect. However he states:
I found that Dr. Peale had been right! What I didn’t find was a single place where Jesus had called any person a sinner!
As I reread the words of Jesus, I discovered that He focused not on people’s weaknesses but on their strengths, not on their short-comings but on their possibilities, not on their failures but on their successes!
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we emulated that example. If you haven’t read Dr. Peale’s book I would encourage you do so. You’ll find it inspiring and especially appropriate for the world in which we live today.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
hon·or [on-er]: honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions.
Is it possible for people on different sides of an issue to both have honor or share integrity in their beliefs? The answer is yes! You or I may not agree with the beliefs of people who stand on the other side of an issue but their belief may nonetheless be sincere.
Alexander Hamilton offer’s a great dissertation on this principle in a single paragraph (Federalist #1):
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
This campaign season I worked on Tim Aalders campaign to become the Republican nominee for the U.S Senate. Many of you will know that Tim did not make it through convention and finished 4th on the 1st ballot at convention with about 2% of the delegate’s votes. So was the time spent on my part worth it? If success is measured solely by the votes Tim received the answer would clearly be no. However, let me review with you some of what I experienced as a result of helping and then let me answer the question.
I got to meet and spend time with a number of truly wonderful people whom I otherwise would not have gotten to know:
Friday, April 20, 2012
I’ve thought long and hard on the subject. But before we go there I would like to talk about the circumstances we find ourselves in today. I find it ironic that at a time when so much information is available to us that so many of us our blinded by preconceived notions, “common” knowledge, and complacency.
If we just step back and do are our own research using the documents that defined our nation; the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers. Then with fresh eyes look at our nation today I think we may get a shock.
With just a little time invested we find that:
Sunday, February 12, 2012
William George Jordan (1864-1928) was a noted author and editor but he was perhaps best known in the early 1900s for his contribution to national politics which began with the publication of a pamphlet entitled The House of Governors in 1907.
In the latter part of 1906 and early 1907 President Roosevelt and his Secretary of State Elihu Root advanced the notion that the Federal government needed to be given more power to deal with issues of national concern that the states were unable to resolve. It was this threat that prompted Jordan to action.
Jordan came up with the idea of creating an entity composed of the governors of the states that would provide a forum for the states to resolve issues between themselves and push back on the Federal government. He shared the concept in February of 1907 with President Theodore Roosevelt, his cabinet and the governors of all 46 states when he sent them copies of his pamphlet. By May of 1908 thirty governors had endorsed Jordan’s plan.
The opening of The House of Governors reads as follows:
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
William George Jordan, was a strong advocate of changing the focus of education. In an article entitled “What’s the Matter with Education”, published in the March 1923 issue of The Forum, he argues that “there is not one single power, faculty, process or quality of the mind that is trained and developed by our present system of education. Our powers are not merely untrained—they are positively mistrained.” He continues “the theory of education, not as we get it from the ideals of educators but as it is evidenced in every detail of the system as it actually exists today, can be given in a single sentence: Education believes that by forcing a certain amount of knowledge, principally by means of textbooks, into the minds of children, that somehow in the divine mystery of mental processes this knowledge will not only be retained, but the mind of the individual will be exercised, trained and developed.” He advocated for a system whose “final aim … is to teach thinking, exercising the individual not in what to think, but in how to think … .”
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
My father sent this story to family members as a Christmas gift and invited us to share it with others. It is the tale of a pivotal event early in the Revolutionary War performed by a man, Colonel Knox, whose faith and indomitable spirit made this journey possible. Similar faith and determination will be needed to return our nation to the federated republic established by its founding fathers.
Note, a PDF version is available if you want to print a copy of this story. Enjoy …
“With respect to General Knox, I can say with truth, there is no man in the United States with whom I have been in habits of greater intimacy; no one who I have loved more sincerely, nor any for whom I have had a greater friendship.”—G. Washington.
As a result of the battles at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill, the Continental Congress decided it was necessary to put a general in charge, one that represented all of the colonies. George Washington was unanimously selected and immediately sent to Boston. On arrival he discovered 20,000 colonial forces, not organized, equipped or trained. Confronting this force were 10,000 well trained and equipped British troops stationed in Boston. They were protected by a small fleet of British frigates. His first efforts were dedicated to organizing and equipping his troops. This proved difficult since most of the colonies were not prepared to support his forces to the extent needed. After a thorough inventory, Washington discovered what he needed to launch an attack or to defend against an attack from the British; 10,000 muskets, flints, powder horns, black powder, swords, cannons and many personal items(i). The British also lacked sufficient troops to launch an all out attack on the Americans.
The British's experience at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill had taught King George III, that he would have to substantially increase the number of his troops if he wanted to end to the insurrection of the American Colonies, as he called it. General Washington recognized that he needed to prepare quickly or face a sure defeat. What he needed most were cannons, large enough to threaten the British warships. One option was to encourage the citizens to become privateers – experienced seamen who equipped their fishing boats with cannons and armed men. Washington agreed to allow the privateers to keep half of all the contraband they captured – a great incentive for men who were out of work. Almost immediately the privateer ships started producing results.
In Mid-November 1775,Washington held his regular General Staff meeting. The agenda of the meeting was how to get the equipment needed before the British re-enforcements arrived. The most critical items large bore cannons. Almost a week earlier, he had appointed a new Artillery Commander, a young 25 year old book seller – Henry Knox who had already demonstrated his abilities by building a fort. Knox's immediate challenge was artillery, he had been made commander of the artillery without any artillery. Since the day of his appointment, Colonel Knox had worried about how and where to get cannons and the other material he needed. Finally he developed a plan. However, his concern was now whether or not he would be authorized to use it. He was now about to get his answer as he had been invited to attend the general's staff meeting and present his plan.
The first item on Knox's plan was to go to Fort Ticonderoga. It had been captured last spring, and supposedly had many cannons that were available for taking. The response to his proposal was not what he had expected. The attendees were unanimous in their opinions: “Impractical, absurd, and foolhardy. Don't waste time, effort and money on this crazy and impossible scheme. You have obviously overlooked certain facts, you would be traveling in mid-winter, in an area where there are few roads and trails, snow covered mountain ranges, dense forests, rivers and lakes that would have to be crossed. You would need wagons, sleds, boats, oxen, horses and men willing to risk their lives in sub-zero temperatures. Impossible!”
General Washington had just sat quietly listening to the arguments, when his staff was finished, he addressed himself to Col Knox he said: “I believe you can do it, go and get the cannons. I will provide you with whatever you need.” That said, the meeting adjourned. Those opposed to it filed out, as silent as an open tomb.
On December 4th, barely two weeks after they had left Cambridge, Col Knox, his brother Will and a friend were standing in Fort Ticonderoga starring at a large inventory of cannons. There were Large and small, iron and brass ones, barrels of powder and flints. He was right! There were indeed cannons here. Although it had taken considerable time and effort to get here, they had proved it was possible and there were cannons here - for the taking! Admittedly the return trip would be more difficult, but he believed it could be done. Fifty eight of the best cannons were selected, they weighed more than 160,000 lbs. Next they had to find oxen, horses, boats and men to remove them from the fort, transport them to the waters edge and then load them on 42 boats. It proved difficult, but they did it. They loaded the ships and then started their 36 mile trip down Lake George to Fort Edwards. Complicating their task of traveling down Lake George were contrary winds, rain, sleet and snow and in addition the lake was in the process of freezing over. At present there was only a narrow channel between the ice. Concerned that the open water was closing fast, Col Knox encourage the men to constantly move faster. Failure to do so could jeopardize the mission, once the lake was frozen over travel on the lake would be impossible.
It wasn't too long after Colonel Knox's troops pushed off that the large scow (see illustration above) got high centered. Since it contained the most of the cannons it was extremely critical to the mission – it had to be saved! Luckily they were close to shore, making it somewhat easier to re-float. Nevertheless several men were required to get in the cold icy water and work. First they had to transfer all the cannons to other ships, then hook several boats on to the scow and have men row, while the men in the water pushed. Finally after considerable effort the scow floated off the rocks. Now they had to repair any damage done by the rocks. Several hours later they had repaired, re-floated and reloaded the cannons. Exhausted, they built a large bonfire and were finally able to get warm and rest (ii). This entire endeavor was executed during a rain/snow storm.
After their brief rest they again shoved off, however, the contrary winds continued to pummel them,again forcing them to row most of the way. As the rain and wind increased the old scow started taking on water. As the wind and rain became more violent the scow started to fill with water, eventually causing it to sink. Once more all the boats had to halt while men worked in the icy cold water bailing out the scow. As luck would have it, it was close to the shore, making it possible to save it and its cargo. Since the men were chilled to the bone, from standing up to their thighs in the icy water, it was decided to take a rest. In order to get to the shore it was necessary to bust a path through the ice. As they approached the shore they were startled by a group of Indians watching them. Concerned that they were about to attack they began prepare for a fight. To their surprise the Indians were friendly and invited them to their camp to get warm and eat a warm meal of venison. After a pleasant dinner and rest they decided it was time to leave for Fort Edwards. They thanked the Indians for the hospitality, and reluctantly returned to their boats. As they rowed down the lake they couldn’t help thinking about the experiences of the past several days. They were impressed with the miracles they had witnessed. The scow had sunk twice and each time it had gone down in shallow water, where they were able to quickly repair it or bail it out. And it just happened that where the scow had sunk, the last time, friendly Indians had invited them to share the warmth of their homes and warm meal. In addition to all these serendipitous events not a single man had been injured or frozen. Which was indeed Incredible.
The crews had spent nearly a miserable week rowing in extremely cold weather, but finally arrived safely at Fort Edwards, exhausted but cheerful about their accomplishments. Their journey had been an incredible experience, one, that none of them would soon forget. They were happy that they had helped to provide George Washington with the cannons he badly needed. Once at Fort Edwards they could now eat a warm meal and get some badly needed rest, discussed their recent experiences and prepare to return home for Christmas. Rested, they helped their replacements move the cannons into the safety of the fort.
In order to make the necessary arrangements for the rest of the trip, Colonel Knox had left his brother, Will, in charge several days out of Fort Ticonderoga. He had then rushed ahead to Fort Edwards were he had started making the necessary arrangements for the rest of the trip. What he needed was sleds, wagons (more than forty), 200 oxen and horses, 3,000 feet of three inch rope and teamsters to the drive them. After several days at Fort Edwards, Col Knox became concerned that the fleet had not arrived on schedule. So that morning he sent out a search party, just a few before the fleet arrived – exhausted but safe.
Early the next morning the new team left for Glens Falls, about 10 miles distant. They were forced to use mostly wagons because there was little snow on the ground for the sleds. It had taken an inordinate amount time to travel the ten miles to Glens Falls. The men and animals were extremely exhausted by the time they finally arrived Glens Falls. Because of this Colonel Knox decided to stay at Glens Falls and and wait for the snow. A man of incredible faith, Knox had total faith that it would snow – and soon. Several days passed, then it was Christmas Eve. Many hoped because it was Christmas Eve, they would get snow by morning - as a Christmas present. That night as they fell asleep, many of their thoughts were focused on General Washington's need of the cannons. If they didn't arrive on time it could cause Washington's forces to be defeated by the British and they would loose their freedoms. Early the next morning snow began to quietly fall, so by the time they awoke there was already two feet, and it was still snowing. They were like excited as children on Christmas morning when the saw the snow – two Feet of it. Their prayers had been answered! There was hardly a dry eye on that Christmas morning. Thank heavens they could now resume their journey. By the time they were all dressed and the sled ready to leave it had already snowed another foot. Perhaps they had prayed just a little too hard! They had received their Christmas present, and now they would attempt to bring Washington his.
At Glens Falls, the exhausted team was replaced with a new crews, and they still had more than 250 miles to travel. To succeed they would be challenged every mile, by cold, snow and rain, thawing, rivers, dense forests, steep hills and roads to be cleared. In spite of these challenges, they succeed. As a result of this success, they walked right into our history as one of the truly greatest achievements in the revolutionary war. On January 25th the “Noble Train”, as it was then called, arrived in Cambridge, having taken 56 days. Colonel Knox and his men's dedication made it possible for Washington to force the British to evacuate Boston. They had conquered what most men thought was impossible. It was this type of indomitable spirit that made possible the winning of the Revolutionary War and the freedoms we now enjoy. Their success was in part made possible by the constant interposition of Providence, as had been prophesied in the scriptures (III Nephi 21 and I Nephi 13:17-19.) Note: I have counted more than a dozen times during this event when Providence's interposition made their success possible.
This experience in addition to many others, made it possible for George Washington to express in his inaugural address, on April 30, 1789 the following:
“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency …”
After many years of research I too can bear my testimony that God did in fact make possible the freedoms we now enjoy, even as His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ had prophesied (III Nephi 21:4).
Ronald M. Mann, December 2011
i. Shortly after Washington made this inventory of his needs, and “Finding we were not likely to do much in the land way, I fitted out several privateers, or rather armed vessels, in behalf of the continent.” (GW to Benedict Arnold, December 5, 1775, NDAR, Vol. II, page 1283) Then on the 29th of November a British ordinance ship, the Nancy was captured off Cape Ann, by the privateer Lee. The captured Nancy was immediately taken to Cape Ann were it was discovered that they had hit it the jackpot. To Washington’s utter amazement the Nancy contained almost 100% of the items he badly needed. It included some of the types of cannon balls, used by the cannons being carried to Washington by Col Knox’s Noble Train. “... The brig Nancy an ordinance vessel from Woolwich, containing a large brass mortar, several pieces of brass cannon, a large quantity of arms and ammunition, with all manner of tools, utensils and machines, necessary for camps and artillery. Had Congress sent an order for supplies they could not have made out a list of articles more suitable to Washington's situation than what was thus providentially thrown into his hands.” (Life & Times of Washington, Schroeder-Lossing,1903, Vol II, page 830) To any reasonable minded person this represent a miracle and an answer to Washington's prayers, which he himself quickly acknowledged.
ii. According to all the research done on this incredible journey, there is no record of any person dying, being serious injured, frost bitten, or seriously sick. When it is remembered the trials; constant freezing weather, the number of times men were required to work in icy water and the constant wind and rain, as well as having to row their boats in these weather extremes, it is truly miraculous.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
As I contemplated the upcoming year today I reviewed a talk I gave in church on December 29, 2002. Its’ challenge was to develop a charitable attitude during the course of the next year. For me this is as important a goal for the coming year as it was then. Perhaps even more as there seems to be a never ending series of crisis where charity can make a difference; war is ever present, economic woes seem never ending; natural disasters of one form or another; the almost uncountable lives impacted in the wake of substance abuse … . Of course one of the biggest blessings associated with true charity is the impact on the individual practicing it. You’ll find the talk below.
Savior may I learn to love thee, walk the path that thou hast shown.
Pause to help and lift another, finding strength beyond my own.
Who am I to judge another, when I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see.
I would be my brothers’ keeper; I would learn the healer’s art.
To the wounded and the weary I would show a gentle heart.
Savior may I love my brother, as I know thou lovest me.
Find in thee my strength, my beacon, for thy servant I would be.
What a wonderful message! These words express the desire of a heart in tune with the Spirit. A message which, if internalized by a relative few, could truly change the world. I am reminded of King Benjamin’s sermon from which this song could well have been distilled: