Topics: God is good; Creation vs. Evolution; The Beginning and End of God’s Story; Three Hinges of History; Creation’s purpose.
Building America and Expanding Narrow Minds with Iron Rails – By Daniel Sheridan
#OTD, June 9, 1781, a man was born whose world-changing invention built America.
In the 1830s, the world began progressing technologically at unprecedented levels through the efforts of inventors busily applying their talents for humanity’s sake. One revolutionized travel, helped build America, and expanded narrow minds as a by-product. Here’s the story.
In 1807, Bostonians built the first American railroads, called tramways, which were temporary rail lines designed to transfer loads out of coal mines. Meanwhile, boats and factories utilized steam engines. One day, a clever inventor combined the two technologies.
George Stephenson, an English civil and mechanical engineer, was born June 9, 1781. In 1814, he invented a steam engine running on wheels grooved onto rails dragging attached cars loaded with cargo.
People mocked Stephenson’s contraption. A parliamentary committee man interrogating Stephenson sarcastically asked,
“Suppose, Mr. Stephenson, that a cow were to get in front of your engine moving at full speed, what would happen?”
George, however, unmoved by the little faith cynic, replied with his Northumberland accent,
“It wad be vera bad for the coo!”
In 1821, Stephenson engineered and oversaw the Stockton and Darlington railway construction, becoming the first pubic railway four years later.
Americans adopted Stephenson’s invention by 1830. Within a few years, Americans could travel from New York to Portland, Oregon, at the same time it previously took to go from New York to Portland, Maine, in the days of John Quincy Adams.
Before the railroad, people traveled at a snail’s pace by wagon carrying small loads, which was not easy, especially maneuvering through muddy trails and weather conditions. After Stephenson’s invention appeared in America, freight trains crossed the country through any weather carrying large loads at lightning speeds.
The railroad lowered transportation costs, encouraged travel, and added new cities and states to the American landscape. America became smaller and easier to govern, too.
Furthermore, the railroad expanded people’s minds. Mark Twain said that travel cures bigotry. Efficient transportation exposes people to new worlds and promotes expansive commercial exchanges, bringing people closer and more frequent contact and eliminating bigotry and prejudice from the hearts of the sincere.
In 1830, Americans laid 23 miles of track for horse-drawn cars. By 1840, they embedded 2,800 miles of rail powered by Stephenson’s invention and blanketed over 30,000 miles of the country by 1860. Railroads and steamboats put westward expansion on the fast track.
On this day, June 9, 1781, George Stephenson was born.
#OTD, July 8, 1889, the “Wall Street Journal” begins publishing.
“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech or of the press…” #FirstAmendment
Sir William Blackstone said, “Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public.” Freedom of speech is essential in a society, for free debate leads to the correction of public errors. But Blackstone also warned that “if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequences of his temerity.” Freedom of speech comes with responsibilities.
“The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” –Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823.
“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Jay
The First Amendment says THE freedom of the press, which was an existing right, and that is why the framers inserted the definite article. What is the press? It includes “all modes of putting facts, views, and opinions before the public.” Because of easy access to information, modern Americans are, in some measure, amateur press members. Think about that whenever you share “information.” What is your motivation? Are you doing it for truth’s sake? Or, are you motivated by party, willing to sell out your conscience for an election victory? If you’re a Christian, are you ready to toss your Bible out the window so you can bear false witness to promote your candidate and issues? When you achieve a victory through vanity, your returns will only be diminished.
Benjamin Franklin provided an example of virtuous news stewardship. He refused to print a vicious article. When the author asked why, “It is highly scurrilous and defamatory,” was Ben’s reply. “But being at a loss, on account of my poverty, whether to reject it or not, I thought I would put it to this issue. At night when my work was done, I bought a twopenny loaf, on which I supped heartily, and then, wrapping myself in my great coat, slept very soundly on the floor until morning, when another loaf and mug of water afforded a pleasant breakfast. Now, sir, since I can live very comfortably in this manner, why should I prostitute my press to personal hatred or party passion for a more luxurious living?”
King Saul: The Lovely – By Daniel W. Sheridan
“The beauty of Israel is slain…tell it not in Gath…lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice…Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no…rain, upon you…for there the shield of the mighty was vilely cast away…Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided…Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul…” 2 Samuel 1:19-23
The Apostle Paul, the famous minister to the Gentiles, was named after the first king of Israel, Saul. Many consider King Saul an infamous man and classify him among the world’s criminals. Saul did some foolish things, to be sure; he didn’t keep his word, pursued David, tried to kill him a few times, almost killed his son, disobeyed God regarding Amalek, and worst of all, consulted a medium! All bad. But his whole life wasn’t bad. In the Scriptures quoted above, King David said, “Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives.”
David praised the man who persecuted him, calling him “lovely.” Saul had some terrible moments, evil moments, but David never mentions any of those! Look at the string of verses quoted above. Notice the following points:
- David calls the man who tried to kill him “beautiful.”
- When the news arrives that Saul was KIA, David forbids its publishing lest the news causes the enemies to rejoice.
- David wanted to erase the area where Saul died from the map.
- David declares that Saul was lovely and pleasant.
- David calls upon the women to mourn with him over Saul.
How refreshing to read such an account in a world where people become eternally offended and sever friendships over the slightest offenses, real or pretended. Let us be as gracious as David. After all, he had his bad moments, too, and so do we.
Maybe Paul had David’s words concerning his namesake in mind when he said:
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Captain John Barry: An American-Irish Naval Hero and “Father of the American Navy” – By Daniel Sheridan
On June 27, 1963, President John F. Kennedy laid a wreath at the memorial to the Revolutionary War hero, John Barry, of Wexford, on the first full day of his visit to Ireland. Who is John Barry?
The British Navy dominated the seas in the 1770s. During the Revolutionary War, the American Navy was no match for them. But private ship owners bravely filled the gap. Congress granted them the authority to “distress the enemies of the United States by sea or land.” Their pay consisted of war spoils. These patriots sailed up and down the Atlantic, destroying hundreds of enemy ships. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania alone employed about five hundred ships in this service.
Historians have singled out John Paul Jones as the “Father of the American Navy.” However, thousands of other seamen fighting for American Independence were just as patriotic and accomplished as Jones, but Jones got the most press. One man’s story demands our admiration.
Outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia stands the statue of John Barry. Captain Barry, a native of Ireland, was born in Wexford in 1745. When the war for Independence broke out, he willingly offered his services to his adopted country – the new United States. Barry’s exploits were terrific. He cruised up and down both sides of the Atlantic, engaging the British in fierce battles. He lost a few ships and was wounded in action more than once, but he continued to fight and captured many prizes.
The British, unable to beat Barry, tried to seduce their former citizen to switch sides with an offer that most men wouldn’t have the virtue to refuse. They offered Barry $100,000 cash and the command of a frigate in exchange for his loyalty. Think about how much money that was in the 1770s. What would you have done? Here’s what Barry did. He replied without hesitation and indignantly:
“Not the value and command of the whole British fleet can seduce me from the cause of my country!”
Barry was a faithful and virtuous Patriot from the outbreak of the war till its glorious end; he even fought in the last naval battle. His service extended beyond the war, too. Barry helped establish the newly formed government under the Constitution when President George Washington appointed him Captain in the freshly reorganized Navy. He oversaw the construction of the famous frigate “United States” and took command of it when put to sea. Additionally, the Captain defended his country in the naval war with France from 1798 to 1801. He continued to assist his country in other capacities until he was too ill to serve, an illness that took his life.
Captain Barry died on September 13, 1803, in Philadelphia. People said, “Barry was noble in spirit, humane in discipline, discreet and fearless in battle, urbane in his manners, a splendid officer, a good citizen, a devoted Christian, and a true Patriot.”
#OTD, June 21, 1834, Cyrus McCormick, a Christian, inventor, and businessman, patents his reaper. He made a fortune, much of it going to charity. His machine saved labor, made food cheaper for everyone, and built the American West. Here’s the story: