Highlights of Declaration of Independence

The Fourth of July is upon us and I wanted to share some independent facts that many Americans may not have learned in history books or in their classrooms.*

The Declaration of Independence was first printed in a German-speaking newspaper and not an English one. The Colony of Pennsylvania had a large German population and when people of what became the Keystone State voted on which language to use, German lost by only one vote.

Thomas Jefferson finished writing the document within three weeks at the Graff House at 7th and Market streets in Philadelphia. Initially the famous phrase for “inalienable rights” included the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property. “Property” was what the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke suggested nearly a hundred years earlier in his treatise on government, but Jefferson and Philadelphia resident Ben Franklin both suggested the more upbeat term of “happiness.”

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The oldest signer of the Declaration was Franklin, who was 70 years old. He also took part in helping to frame the Constitution written more than 11 years later. The youngest was 26-year-old Edward Rutledge. A lawyer from South Carolina.

When the document was read by the commander of the Continental forces in New York City, a raucous crowd cheered George Washington and later tore down a statue of King George III which was converted into 42,000 musket balls for the army.

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In 1989, a Philadelphia man found an original Dunlap Broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden in the back of a picture frame he bought at a flea market for $4. One of only a few surviving copies from the original first printing of the Declaration, it was in excellent condition and sold for $8.1 million in the year 2000.

Only one-third of the colonies supported the rebels  Another third favored the Tories and the remaining third just didn’t give a damn, according to John Adams of Massachusetts and the first vice president. He later became the nation’s second president. That figure has been raised to nearly 40 percent support for the Revolution and only 20 percent for the British Loyalists. The others were either neutral or kept a low profile.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died within hours of each other, on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826.

Adams’s last words were ”Thomas Jefferson survives,” according to historical accounts. Jefferson had passed away hours earlier but Adams did not get the text message and he had muttered the words before typhoid overcame him. (Only kidding about the text message!)

* — Contoveros holds a master’s degree in American history

 

Change Confederate generals’ names now

As a veteran of several military bases, I would vote to change the names of all the facilities named for generals who fought for the Confederate army during our nation’s Civil War.
I offer such action with a heavy heart because of the link I still have with the facilities that helped to create the soldier I had become and the lessons learned in the US Army. Continue reading

Sign language opens my heart to neighbors

My greatest concern when I placed the political signs on my lawn was whether they would offend someone in my neighborhood. I live in a working class section of Pennsylvania, some 15 miles outside of Philadelphia. It was dependent on steel and manufacturing for many years but eventually saw a decline as jobs left the little borough of Conshohocken for elsewhere. Continue reading

’12 Angry Men’ helps presume innocence

Twelve Angry Men” influenced my decision to practice law more than any movie I can remember while growing up in a working class neighborhood of Philadelphia and being the first in my family to go to college. The movie has done more for understanding the workings of our criminal justice system than any books or school classes could possibly provide. Continue reading

Fear of the black stranger causes tragedies

I cried when I saw a woman comforting a black police officer who was helping others get hospital treatment from an assassin’s attack in the streets of Dallas last night. The cop was like many I knew in the legal profession, good guardians of the peace who laid their lives on the line every day to protect us civilians, particularly those of us in the inner cities. Continue reading

Congress protest makes me proud of USA

I’ve never been so proud of being an American as I was the past week when some forty members of the Senate held an unprecedented filibuster and it was followed up by Congressional Democrats who took the House Chamber hostage for a“sit-in” protest against our nation’s inability to halt the sale of high-powered weapons now being used for mass destruction. Continue reading

Cause of All Wars Questioned in Confederate Flag Controversy

President Barack Obama may have raised an issue on all wars when he eulogized a fallen comrade on June 26, 2015, at the funeral for the pastor of the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

While never detracting from the valor that Confederate soldiers fought with in the Civil War, he offered a plain and simple truth.

The cause they fought for was wrong. Continue reading

State of Our Spiritual Union is Flourishing

The State of Our Spiritual Union is flourishing.

Seeds planted in the 1960s have flowered, and the Age of Aquarius has finally dawned on the world, awakening many of us to a new way of living, a new way of forgiving. The first signs of this new enlightenment began in the 1990s as the Berlin Wall fell, God revealed secrets in the Celestial Prophecy and the mystical Wisdom of Kabbalah was made known to non-Jews and all women, regardless of age or religious backgrounds. Continue reading

To be or not to be gay and in love again

Deborah loved with a love that was more than a love. Cupid’s arrow struck her just as a choir of angels sang and a special cherub played the most beautiful music in all the land over an ancient lyre, the same instrument that a shepherd boy named David once played to honor the god of the psalms. Continue reading

Friar Pope champions single moms, Chastises clergy for shutting ’em out

He’s at it again. This time, the Friar Pope is championing what I call the “untouchable class” of Catholics, the single mother, also known throughout Christianity’s Dark Ages as the “UN – WED  MOTHER.”

(Funny, but those dark ages seem like only yesterday!) Continue reading

Doors are Opening for All Doing Good!

There’s a passage in Mark’s Gospel in which Jesus’ disciples complain that someone — one who is not one of them — is casting out demons in Jesus’ name. It seems that fundamentalists of all ages have held a belief that there was only one way to get to the kingdom; only one way, and that was through Jesus. Continue reading

Happy Mothers’ Day, Poor Little Thérèse

How could I – a mother of two with a 10-year drug problem – be facing a life sentence for something stupid I did at the local Rite Aid store? Continue reading

Vietnam War veteran recalls his journey

Dealing with the Vietnam War becomes a little easier each time I write about it. I “desensitize” myself. I now see my actions as separate from the emotions I felt while a young soldier, as well as the feelings of guilt many veterans like me,  imposed on ourselves while readjusting to civilian life. It’s helpful when a high school student asks questions and you try to be honest and direct. Continue reading

Where is the boy I left home for the war?

I knew a boy

Who went to war

And left his home

Behind him.

I knew him well,

That boy was me

And now I cannot

Find him.

— A Vietnam veteran’s tweak of a World War II sailor’s song about war
(Photo of this young World War I “Doughboy” courtesy of greatwar.nl/oldsoldiers/lloydcleme… )

Trayvon Martin prosecution fully justified

If I were prosecuting George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, I would charge him with murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice, adding several named officers of the Sanford. Fla., police department – as well as the state attorney – as co-conspirators. Continue reading

Rush Limbaugh should study reproduction

We should accept Rush Limbaugh’s apology for calling a woman a slut only if he agrees to take, and pass, a course on female reproduction. Then, and only then, can we be assured that someone other than locker-room juveniles has finally taught him the real facts about the birds and the bees. Continue reading

Let Catholics ‘opt out” in birth control plan

I don’t understand all the fuss that Catholic universities and hospitals are raising over providing health care for woman that includes mandatory birth control provisions. Why not let “practicing Catholics” following the teachings of their church to “opt out” for the coverage, while permitting non-Catholics what doctors and women’s groups say is a health benefit? Continue reading

We the People, not We the Corporations

“Corporations are people, my friend”

Well, if you trace the history of something called corporate “personhood,” you can blame this inglorious recognition on an unelected clerk writing a summary of a court decision that never actually decided this issue. Continue reading

Don’t ‘better’ yourself by berating another

I was seething when I saw my former US senator decry Blacks receiving food stamps from the government. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania told an Iowa audience this week that he would tackle this “race problem” if elected president, thus echoing the sentiments of his old congressional colleague, Newt Gingrich, who suggested poor students in city schools clean the bathrooms for their more affluent ones, rather than grow up to be pimps or prostitutes. Continue reading

Too afraid to say a woman scared you

“Why did you shoot her?”

“I don’t know.”

With these three words, the defendant buried himself, and no matter what I did to rehabilitate a self-defense claim before the jury, we were sunk. It showed that no matter what one plans, sometimes something can, and always will, go wrong. Continue reading

All-women jury renders “unknown” verdict

The one and only time I stood before an all-women jury, I ended up asking for a mistrial after the judge and prosecutor entered the jury deliberation room without my knowledge and in violation of the sequestration rule to safeguard against jury tampering. Continue reading

Newt, a big-headed, brain-bloated bully

Newton Le Roy Gingrich is a big-headed, brain-bloated bully who is best understood if you picture what kind of kid he might have been and remember why you disliked him and his sophomoric antics while growing up. Continue reading

Reaching Higher In Women’s Company

I love women. I’ll take them in all shapes and sizes, the old and the young, the rich and the poor.

If it wasn’t for women, I — and a lot of guys I know — wouldn’t even be here! Continue reading

My life is dependent on the rest of you

I am as dependent on you as you are on me, as we all are on the kindness and labor of others we too often take for granted.

As I look around, I see that my fortune is dependent on the cooperation and contributions of others. Continue reading

Right to work–a state of our Union

I’m a union man. Even though I held but one adult job as a dues-paying member, I will always be a union man. Why? Because I believe it’s the truly right path for the working man to walk. Continue reading

War is never the answer 11-11-11

On this Veterans Day, 11-11-11, what would you tell yourself if you could go back in time and greet that young man recently returned home from the war?

War is never the answer, but only a failure on all sides to reach an answer. Continue reading

A noble banker needs to occupy here

Is there a noble banker in the world? Only someone in the lending business who sees his calling as a “service for the people,” I believe, could correct past abuses and recommend changes for, and in the best interests of, us “99 percenters.” Continue reading

A Message to the 99 Percenters

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, Continue reading

Advice to a Wall Street operative

“We all dream of a kinder, happier world. But if we wish to make it a reality, we have to ensure that compassion inspires all our actions. This is especially true with regard to our political and economic policies. Given that probably half the world’s population lacks the basic necessities of adequate food, shelter, medical care and education, I believe we need to question whether we are really pursuing the wisest course in this regard. Continue reading

These are true signs of our times

When I read the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were unfocused and without a coherent message, I took a closer look at them in Philadelphia, and disvovered some were disheveled street persons looking for handouts, and one a graduate school political science major spouting Marxist teachings.

They represented only one percent.

The 99 percent of the other protestors were mostly young, highly educated unemployed or underemployed men and women who got tired of the debt-ceiling fiasco and took to the streets to mobilize against the Tea Party followers. Continue reading

For the signs they are a’changing

(From Part I, These are true signs of our Times/)

The greatest protest of our generation is seeking change in all shapes and sizes. You can see it in the signs the demonstrators carry, writing the letters out really big with magic markers so that passersby need not squint to get the messages.

There is not just one message, but many, which all have one thing in common: a belief that our world can do better for all and not  just the few Continue reading

End needless suffering in US debates

Tone it down America. You are cutting off your nose to despite your face. The face of the body politic, that is, and we are creating needless hurt for the countrymen we’d like to lead to our mutual goal: the pursuit of happiness. Continue reading