William J. Federer is one of the leading historians in the United States and every morning I am among thousands of people who get an entertaining email from him called the “American Minute.” I adore it because Bill takes a significant event in American history that happened long ago – but he remembers on the very anniversary of when it occurred.
A great example is that last Thursday was July 24 and on that very day back in 1866, the state of Tennessee was the first “Confederate state” to be readmitted to the Union and Bill used the occasion last week to write about “The Great State of Tennessee” and how President Andrew Johnson – who had been Tennessee Governor just the year before -- soon issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon to Confederates.
But, first, let’s go back to Mr. Federer. He’s written countless books and stories that leave no doubt the United States was founded on Christian principles. I’ve read a lot of them but in the “American Minutes” each day there is keen research on how prayer and miracles have saved our nation time and time again. So as I share last Thursday’s tribute to Tennessee, you’ll see what a strong influence religion played in our state’s early history. You’ll also note what President Andrew Jackson thought about national debt!
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THE GREAT STATE OF TENNESSEE
By William Federer, St. Louis, Mo.
Spanish Explorers Hernando de Soto, in 1540, and Juan Pardo, in 1567, traveled inland from North America's eastern coast and passed through a Native American village named "Tanasqui." A century and a half later, British traders encountered a Cherokee town named Tanasi.
After the Revolutionary War, attempts were made to turn the area (in upper east Tennessee) into the "State of Franklin" in honor of Ben Franklin. At the State's Constitutional Convention, it is said General Andrew Jackson suggested the Indian name "Tennessee."
In 1796, President George Washington signed Congress' bill accepting Tennessee as the 16th State, which is significant as the Tennessee Constitution acknowledged God: "Article XI, Section III...All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences."
Tennessee's Constitution also stated in Article XI, Section IV: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this State..." yet it also stated in Article VIII, Section II: "No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State." (Evidently, acknowledging God was not a 'religious test.')
Tennessee was birthplace of Congressman Davy Crockett, who died at the Alamo; Sam Houston, who helped Texas gain its independence; Admiral David Farragut, who won the Battle of Mobile Bay; Matthew Fontaine Maury, U.S. Navy oceanographer; and Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee written language.
General Andrew Jackson served from Tennessee as a U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator, as well as a Tennessee State Supreme Court Judge. Andrew Jackson was elected the 7th U.S. President (1829-1837.) Considered the founder of the Democrat Party, Andrew Jackson was the only President to completely pay off the national debt, stating on December 5, 1836:
"The experience of other nations admonished us to hasten the extinguishment of the public debt... An improvident expenditure of money is the parent of profligacy, and that no people can hope to perpetuate their liberties who long acquiesce in a policy which taxes them for objects not necessary to the legitimate and real wants of their Government..."
Andrew Jackson continued: "To require the people to pay taxes to the Government merely that they may be paid back again ... Nothing could be gained by it even if each individual who contributed a portion of the tax could receive back promptly the same portion..."
Jackson added: "Congress is only authorized to levy taxes 'to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.' There is no such provision as would authorize Congress to collect together the property of the country, under the name of revenue, for the purpose of dividing it equally or unequally among the States or the people.
“Indeed, it is not probable that such an idea ever occurred to the States when they adopted the Constitution ... There would soon be but one taxing power, and that vested in a body of men far removed from the people, in which the farming and mechanic interests would scarcely be represented."
President Jackson warned further: “The States would gradually lose their purity as well as their independence; they would not dare to murmur at the proceedings of the General Government, lest they should lose their supplies; all would be merged in a practical consolidation, cemented by widespread corruption, which could only be eradicated by one of those bloody revolutions which occasionally overthrow the despotic systems of the Old World."
President James K. Polk, who had been Governor of Tennessee (1839-41), issued General Order No. 27, June 16, 1845: "The President...with heartfelt sorrow announces...the death of Andrew Jackson... He resigned his spirit to his Heavenly Father ... Heaven gave him length of days and he filled them with deeds of greatness ... He believed the liberties of his country imperishable ... “
Polk added, “Andrew Jackson departed from this life in a full hope of a blessed immortality through the merits and atonement of the Redeemer. Officers of the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps will wear crape on the left arm and on their swords, and the colors of the several regiments will be put in mourning for the period of six months."
On June 24, 1861, Tennessee became the last State to join the Confederacy. During the Civil War, more battles were fought in Tennessee than any other State except Virginia.
Among them were:
* - Capture of Fort Donelson, Feb. 11-16, 1862 - 16,537 casualties;
* - Capture of Memphis, Jun. 6, 1862 - 181 casualties;
* - Battle of Shiloh, Apr. 6-7, 1862 - 23,656 casualties;
* - Battle of Murfreesboro, Dec. 31, 1862-Jan. 1863 - 23,515 casualties;
* - Chickamauga Campaign & Battle, Sept. 19-20, 1863 - 34,624 casualties, highest number of casualties behind Battle of Gettysburg;
* - Chattanooga Campaign with Battles of Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Rossville * - Gap, Ringgold Gap, Oct.-Nov., 1863 - 12,491 casualties;
* - Battle of Franklin, Nov. 30, 1864 - 9,578 casualties; and
* - Battle of Nashville, Dec. 15-16, 1864 - 9,061 casualties.
After the Civil War, Tennessee was the first State readmitted to the Union, July 24 24, 1866. President Andrew Johnson, who had served as Tennessee's Governor (1853-57; 1862-65), issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon to Confederates, September 7, 1867, which included an acknowledgement of God in the oath to be restored to U.S. citizenship:
"I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do hereby...declare that the full pardon...shall henceforth be...extended to all persons who, directly or indirectly, participated in the late rebellion, with the restoration of all privileges, immunities, and rights of property, except as to property with regard to slaves...
“Every person who shall seek to avail himself of this proclamation shall take and subscribe the following oath:
'I, ____ , do solemnly swear (or affirm), in the presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the late rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves. So help me God.’”
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