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The Rights of Man and Two Old Ladies

As Easter approaches, the stuff is about to hit the fan. By law, the clergy MUST take an oath supporting the French Constitution or they are forbidden to say mass. This law also nationalizes much of Catholic property in France. ("Nationalize" means "confiscate".) Only a few bishops and about half the priests recite the oath. Non-oath-takers are threatened with violence. The King's two elderly aunts are traditional Catholics and decide to travel to Rome to attend Easter services, but the people are out of control, so the two aunts require an escort of mounted infantry to travel. Nevertheless, they are waylaid and held for ten days as their legal defense explains that the new Constitution guarantees the freedom of travel. The National Assembly actually debates the issue of whether "two old ladies" can travel to Rome to attend church services! They arrive in Rome and decide to take a world tour. They have escaped. In June, the King and Queen make a run for it too, dressed in plain clothes and traveling as commoners. They are caught and imprisoned. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
First, the justification used for arresting the King's aunts was the enforcement of the separation of church and state. Apparently forcing people to attend a state-approved church was required for a better democracy. If you think that a democracy cannot possibly interfere with your right to practice your religion, think again. I'm Jewish (Alex Shrugged) and I KNOW the state is trying to interfere with my religious practice, and it is NOT due to crazy Christians nor wild-eyed Muslims, but SECULAR people who think my religious practices are primitive and cruel. All I have to say to them is... F. U. (Forget You) Secondly, the French nobility was fleeing France because of the building threat. Thomas Paine had just published his famous "Rights of Man" in response to criticism of the violence of the French Revolution. Technically speaking, it was a brilliant piece of logic, but reality interfered. (Thomas Jefferson was similarly embarrassed.) [9]

The Indians' Victory and St. Clair's Defeat

Along the Wabash River in the Northwest Territory, General St. Clair and his 1,000 men set up camp. President George Washington has sent him to quell Indian violence. Treaties have been signed with the Indians, but immigrants continue to pour into the area, running roughshod over any territorial promises. The US government is not directing these new immigrants to harass the Indians, but they are hoping that the Indians will eventually leave. Instead, the Indians have decided to fight. The Indians have been shadowing the General's troops and they have noticed that as the watch changes at breakfast time, the troops set down their weapons. That is when they strike. They hit hard. St. Clair pulls back to reorder his troops. They need a break out, so they fix bayonets and charge. They are beaten back so they charge again. The dead and wounded are piling up. Finally, another bayonet charge clears the way for a few to escape, including General St. Clair. He will answer to Congress for the deaths of over 600 of his men and he will be found not guilty. President George Washington will claim Executive Privilege when Congress demands information on the expedition. The battle between the President and Congress has begun. [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. I know what you are thinking. How could the General possibly be found not guilty? Well, as Donald Rumsfeld once said, (paraphrasing) you don't go to war with the forces you would like, but with the forces you have. General St. Clair's troops were near the end of their short enlistment, poorly equipped and unprepared for the mission. In the modern day they would have NEVER been sent out that way, but this was the early days of organizing an army. Washington asked the General to resign, and he did. A couple of years later a well-prepared force was sent and it was no contest. I take no joy is saying that. The general plan, as Washington saw it, was to sign treaties and allow weaker forces to occupy the land (such as the Indians or the Spanish near the Mississippi) and then let new immigrants overwhelm them as they moved west. He knew he couldn't stop the immigrants anyway, so he used them in his policy for the expansion of the USA. [15]

In Other News

  • Here comes the ATF! (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) Congress imposes a tax on distilled spirits. The Whiskey Rebellion is a few years away. [16]
  • Vermont is admitted as the 14th state. It separated itself from New York 14 years ago thanks to Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys. [17]
  • The United States Bill of Rights is ratified. 12 Articles are voted upon. 10 are accepted, becoming the Bill of Rights. [18] [19]
  • The Brandenburg Gate is completed as a symbol of peace. In modern times it will serve as a checkpoint between West and East Germany and as a symbol for the Berlin Wall. [20]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1791, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Le Chapelier Law 1791 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  2. Combination Act 1799 - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  3. Luddite - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  4. Luddism. carbon.ucdenver.edu (2014). Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  5. Pynchon - Essays: 'Is it OK to be a Luddite?'. (28 October 1984). Retrieved on 22 January 2015. “Historically, Luddites flourished In Britain from about 1811 to 1816. They were bands of men, organized, masked, anonymous, whose object was to destroy machinery used mostly in the textile industry. They swore allegiance not to any British king but to their own King Ludd.”
  6. Fraser, Antonia. Marie Antoinette. N.A. Talese/Doubleday. ISBN 038548948X. “It was unthinkable for the two surviving Mesdames Tantes, Adélaïde and Victoire (the nun Louise had died in 1787), to make their Easter Communion at a Mass said by a juror. No conception of their nephew's good, nor that of the royal family as a whole, troubled these royal ladies.” 
  7. Princess Marie Adélaïde of France - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “Revolutionary laws against the Catholic Church caused them to leave France for Italy on 20 February 1791. On their way, they were arrested and detained for several days at Arnay-le-Duc before they were allowed to continue their journey. They visited their niece Clotilde, sister of Louis XVI, in Turin, and arrived in Rome on 16 April 1791. As a result of the increasing influence of Revolutionary France, they traveled farther afield, moving to Naples in 1796, where Marie Antoinette's sister, Marie Caroline, was queen.”
  8. Flight to Varennes - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “The royal Flight to Varennes during the night of 20–21 June 1791 was a significant episode in the French Revolution in which King Louis XVI of France, his queen Marie Antoinette, and their immediate family attempted unsuccessfully to escape from Paris in order to initiate a counter-revolution at the head of loyal troops under royalist officers concentrated at Montmédy near the frontier. They escaped only as far as the small town of Varennes, where they were arrested after having been recognized at their previous stop in Sainte-Menehould.”
  9. The Writings of Thomas Paine — Volume 2 (1779-1792): The Rights of Man by Paine. Gutenberg.org (2016). Retrieved on 20 May 2016.
  10. The Victory with No Name: The Native American Defeat of the First American Army. Amazon.com (2015). Retrieved on 22 November 2015. “From the publisher's description: In 1791, General Arthur St. Clair led the United States army in a campaign to destroy a complex of Indian villages at the Maumee River in northwestern Ohio. Almost within reach of their objective, St. Clair's 1,400 men were attacked by about one thousand Indians. The U.S. force was decimated, suffering nearly one thousand casualties in killed and wounded, while Indian casualties numbered only a few dozen. But despite the lopsided result, it wouldn't appear to carry much significance; it involved only a few thousand people, lasted less than three hours, and the outcome, which was never in doubt, was permanently reversed a mere three years later. Neither an epic struggle nor a clash that changed the course of history, the battle doesn't even have a name.”
  11. Arthur St. Clair - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 19 May 2016. “He personally led a punitive expedition involving two Regular Army regiments and some militia. In October 1791 as an advance post for his campaign, Fort Jefferson (Ohio) was built under the direction of General Arthur St. Clair. Located in present-day Darke County in far western Ohio, the fort was built of wood and intended primarily as a supply depot; accordingly, it was originally named Fort Deposit. One month later, near modern-day Fort Recovery, his force advanced to the location of Indian settlements near the headwaters of the Wabash River, but on November 4 they were routed in battle by a tribal confederation led by Miami Chief Little Turtle and Shawnee chief Blue Jacket. More than 600 soldiers and scores of women and children were killed in the battle, which has since borne the name 'St. Clair's Defeat', also known as the 'Battle of the Wabash', the 'Columbia Massacre,' or the 'Battle of a Thousand Slain'. It remains the greatest defeat of a US Army by Native Americans in history, with about 623 American soldiers killed in action and about 50 Native Americans killed. Although an investigation exonerated him, St. Clair resigned his army commission in March 1792 at the request of President Washington, but he continued to serve as Governor of the Northwest Territory.”
  12. St. Clair's Defeat - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 19 May 2016. “Colonel William Darke ordered his battalion to fix bayonets and charge the main Indian position. Little Turtle's forces gave way and retreated to the woods, only to encircle Darke's battalion and destroy it.[14] The bayonet charge was tried numerous times with similar results and the U.S. forces eventually collapsed into disorder. St. Clair had three horses shot out from under him as he tried in vain to rally his men.”
  13. The Biggest Forgotten American Indian Victory. What It Means to Be American (June 9, 2015). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “In less than three hours on November 4, 1791, American Indians destroyed the United States Army, inflicting more than 900 casualties on a force of some 1,400 men. Proportionately it was the biggest military disaster the United States ever suffered. It was also the biggest victory American Indians ever won. Yet it was quickly consigned to the footnotes of history.”
  14. The Battle of a Thousand Slain. Frontier Partisans (November 4, 2012). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “Pushed out of their Kentucky hunting lands and away from the Ohio River line, the Shawnees led by Blue Jacket formed a coalition with the Miami chief Little Turtle to resist further incursions into the Northwest Territories. In 1791, President Washington entrusted St. Clair, Governor of the Northwest Territory, with essentially the entire U.S. Army to break the coalition.”
  15. Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege: History, Law, Practice and Recent Developments (PDF) (August 21, 2008). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “Presidential claims of a right to preserve the confidentiality of information and documents in the face of legislative demands have figured prominently, though intermittently, in executive-congressional relations since at least 1792, when President Washington discussed with his cabinet how to respond to a congressional inquiry into the military debacle that befell General St. Clair's expedition.”
  16. Larson, Erik. Lethal Passage: The Story of a Gun. Vintage Books. ISBN 0679759271. “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms became the nation's enforcer of federal firearms laws largely by default. ATF traces its roots as far back as 1791, when Congress imposed the first federal tax on distilled spirits, an act that promptly led to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794.” 
  17. Vermont - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the eastern town of Windsor for 14 years. The independent state of Vermont issued its own coinage from 1785 to 1788 and operated a statewide postal service. Thomas Chittenden was the Governor in 1778–89 and in 1790–91. Because the state of New York continued to assert a disputed claim that Vermont was a part of New York, Vermont could not be admitted to the Union under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution until the legislature of New York consented.”
  18. Congressional Apportionment Amendment - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “The Congressional Apportionment Amendment (originally titled Article the First) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution, one of twelve articles of amendment to the United States Constitution approved by the 1st Congress on September 25, 1789, and sent to the legislatures of the several states for ratification. If adopted, it would establish a formula for determining the appropriate size of the House of Representatives following each constitutionally mandated decennial census. It is the only one of the twelve that has not been adopted, as it has not been ratified by enough states for it to become part of the Constitution.”
  19. Twenty-seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “The Twenty-seventh Amendment (Amendment XXVII) to the United States Constitution prohibits any law that increases or decreases the salary of members of Congress from taking effect until the start of the next set of terms of office for Representatives. It is the most recent amendment. It was submitted by Congress to the states for ratification on September 25, 1789, along with eleven other proposed amendments. While ten of these twelve proposals were ratified in 1791 to become the Bill of Rights, what would become the Twenty-seventh Amendment and the proposed Congressional Apportionment Amendment did not get ratified by enough states for them to also come into force with the first ten amendments.”
  20. Brandenburg Gate - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 20 May 2016. “It was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace and built by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. Having suffered considerable damage in World War II, the Brandenburg Gate was restored from 2000 to 2002 by the Stiftung Denkmalschutz Berlin (Berlin Monument Conservation Foundation).”

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