Posted by: Dr Churchill | December 23, 2019

MERRY CHRISTMAS to the GLORIOUS REVOLUTION, that freed the Future from the Past, to the thinking woman who fashioned our first flag, and to the people that it spawn…

This Christmas time, we ought to remember Mercy…

Mercy is what ultimately causes us to love each other, even though we can be hard to love, because we all are a bit broken…

And yet if we find a measure of Mercy and Love for ourselves — we can surely find that measure of Mercy and Love for all others as well, and that as it turns out, is the last resort of what is a pivotal quality of all decent Human Beings.

Especially during this season of reflection, renewal and rebirth, that we call Christmas and the birth time of our Saviour Jesus Christ, let us remember one special woman who rightfully could claim to be one of the Mothers of our Glorious American Revolution.

Mercy then, is a “real thing” this Christmas, as it has been in Christmases past, and at all times of reflection, hope & renewal, throughout our History as sentient soulful human beings.

Hence, I am not just speaking of just the kind of Christian Mercy and it’s multitude of beautiful outcomes I am talking here about the simple acts of kindness towards ourselves and others that are able to motivate us, in order to engage in further acts of kindness and compassion, towards all and sundry, so that we might someday bring about Peace on Earth…

But also to be able to bring about another kind of Mercy as well…

The kind of Mercy personified in human attributes, and living out a Life of value…

Such as Mercy — an American revolutionary, who lived her life as a simple human being, with the greatest aspirations and ideals and who is to be remembered as a real being of divine mercy and goodwill, that has activated not only her own personal history, but it has also shaped our national story as well in ways great and small.

Because this person whose name was “Mercy” and who happened to live at the very beginning of our Revolution, and throughout the war of Independence and the birth of or Republic, and indeed wrote the story that chronicles the birth of this nation, better than anyone else.

And here I am now, at Christmas time, hoping that through the merciful nature of our God and through the mercurial actions of our brethren, we can live in the Sunny Uplands of Freedom and Democracy, that the Mercy of our Father destined us to live into, through the abundant Faith & Free Will he has endowed us with.

Yet, this other “Mercy” person was also necessary for our history to evolve, as she happened to be the younger sister of James Otis, who was Boston’s leading advocate for colonists’ rights in the 1760s, before the Revolutionary war of Independence…

This girl was Mercy Otis Warren, who was a rather keen git, a geek for her time, or what would then be considered a “bookish” girl — because Mercy was a voracious reader and a serious writer, at a time when girls never obtained basic literacy, and therefore, could not even read or write.

However, Mercy’s father, James Otis Sr — had encouraged her education, and her insatiable curiosity, and thus Mercy demanded to join-in when her brothers read aloud, and she took the place of her second oldest brother during lessons with their uncle, a local Presbyterian Minister. And while James Otis Jr was a student at Harvard, he’d come home and tell her about his studies, especially the political theories of John Locke, and she would listen attentively, and then she would go in search of continuing her self-education by reading voraciously the works of John Locke, Shakespeare, Milton, Greek and Roman literature, Moliere’s plays, Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World, and everything else that she could lay her hands on, on subjects that interested her, amongst the rest of the great works in her family’s overlarge library, and in the Boston libraries, as well as that of Harvard and beyond…

She was such a precocious child that at age 14, when she met her future husband at her brother’s Harvard graduation, she wouldn’t let go and insisted on the relationship, until they got married in 1754, at ages 26 and 28, respectively. Talk about a clinging woman … but hey made a good match and raised a great family, and while she was raising five children — Mercy also began writing some articles under a pen-name, as well as many private poems about her family and the nature of being.

Back in the turbulent 1760s, the Warrens’ Plymouth home became a meeting-place for like minded patriots, mainly because of Mercy’s brilliant light and abundant hospitality. And as her husband had joined her brother in the Massachusetts legislature, where together, they opposed colonial governor Thomas Hutchinson, Mercy joined the chorus of voices for Liberty. Sadly, James Otis’ career was cut short in 1769, when a British customs officer bashed his head with a cane in a bar brawl and the cranial trauma incapacitated him, and that inexorably pushed him into debilitating illness.

So after Otis went sadly quiet, mercifully for us, his sister “Mercy” began writing his articles, answering his correspondence, including letters from radical British historian Catharine Macaulay, and as also encouraged by her husband, who praised her “genius” and “brilliant and busy imagination” Mercy, also began writing satirical plays that attacked Colonial Governor Hutchinson, who was originally her brother’s nemesis.

Her first play, “The Adulateur” published in Boston’s Massachusetts Spy newspaper in March and April 1772, portrayed a thinly disguised Governor Hutchinson as Rapatio, the dictatorial leader of the mythical kingdom of Servia. Warren pitted Brutus, a hero based on her brother, against Rapatio. “The man who boasts his freedom — feels solid joy” Brutus declared, “tho’ poor and low his state.” Three years before the Revolution, Mercy’s play warned that a day might come when “murders, blood and carnage — shall crimson all these streets.”

That is how Mercy became the one early American woman whose speech and mere words inflamed the American revolution and the war for Independence, because Mercy Otis Warren actually used her wit to write, and always raised her voice in order to activate & agitate for the cause of Liberty, as it is perhaps best known that she brought about the idea that the “Cause” of the American Quest for Rights, Liberty and Independence, was nothing less that an “Appeal to Heaven” up above grant us LIBERTY and RIGHTS that we can use to propel ourselves into the Future unfettered by the shackles of the past…

And thus the “APPEAL TO HEAVEN” became the first flag of the Sons of Liberty on land and the first flag of the fledgling navy of the United States convened by George Washington at his expense and comprised off all of six schooners, and of the Massachusetts early navy as well, but it all got started during Christmas time of 1760, when Mercy Otis Warren conceived of bundling the traditional Evergreen flag of Massachusetts vessels with the revolutionary idea that only God can save the Rights of the American people, and as such, the flag was carried about during the early years of the seething rebellion that had culminated in the tea party of Boston and the war of Independence…

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An “Appeal to Heaven” was indeed what we today call a “Hail Mary” or a last ditch effort to bring about a sea-change and a prospective progress that were essential for the American story of Liberation & Independence, but it was also an effort to distinguish this all-too-human pursuit, and endow it with a divine cloak, as the cause of eternal justice brings it in the long arc of the Universe.

And indeed it was this flag of an “Appeal To Heaven” that was carried about Boston and all the New England territories — as it was spawn from one of Mercy’s writings, and it was interwoven with the Christmas Spirit having the green Christmas Tree woven in the center of an off-white sail-cloth, and thus it became an easy to fabricate flag, being produced in all the sail lofts of Boston and the New England sea faring towns, and consequently became the pivotal “American Journey flag” of all the sea going vessels, and of all the rallying patriots at the New England and Massachusetts meetings, rallies and conferences, during the early formative days of our Glorious Revolution of 1776.

The​ ​year​ ​was​ ​1775​ ​and​ ​our​ ​country​ ​was​ ​just​ ​about​ ​to​ ​face​ ​their​ ​greatest​ ​battle on​ ​American​ ​soil. It was the​ ​beginning​ ​of​ ​the​ ​American​ ​Revolution.​ ​At​ ​that​ ​time​, ​the British​ ​(the​ ​most​ ​powerful​ ​military​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world)​, ​were ​occupying​ ​Boston​ ​and​ ​problems in​ ​the​ ​colonies​ ​were​ ​rising.​ ​George​ ​Washington​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​intercept​ ​incoming​ ​British ships​ ​with​ ​supplies,​ ​however​ ​the​ ​popular​ ​vote​ ​in​ ​Philadelphia​ ​disagreed​ ​with​ ​anything to​ ​do​ ​with​ ​upsetting​ ​the​ ​king,​ ​especially​ ​after​ ​the​ ​Boston​ ​Tea​ ​Party.​ ​Our​ ​General decided​ ​to​ ​take​ ​it​ ​upon​ ​himself​, behind​ ​closed​ ​doors,​ ​to​ ​commission​ ​six privately​ ​owned schooners​ ​and​ ​start​ ​his​ ​own​ ​navy ​(rumored​ ​to​ ​have been done at his own​ ​expense.)​ It​ ​was​ ​to​ ​be called​ ​”​Washington’s​ ​Secret​ ​Navy”​​ ​and​ ​all​ ​boats​ ​were​ ​to​ ​have​ ​”​An​ ​Appeal​ ​to​ ​Heaven” flag ​upon​ ​them.​ ​Also​ ​known​ ​as​ ​​”​Washington’s​ ​cruiser​ ​flag”​,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​a white​ ​flag​ ​with an​ ​evergreen​ ​tree​ ​in​ ​the​ ​middle​ ​with ​the​ ​words​ ​“​An​ ​Appeal​ ​to​ ​Heaven​”​ ​stitched​ ​across.

​Just​ ​a​ ​few​ ​months​ ​after​ ​the​ ​first​ ​voyage,​ ​a​ ​British​ ​Brigantine​ ​named​ ​the “Nancy”​ ​was​ ​captured​ ​by​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​schooners​ ​the​ ​”Lee”.​ ​On​ ​board​ ​were​ ​muskets,​ ​flint, gun​ ​powder,​ ​and​ ​other​ ​supplies​ ​in​ ​abundance.​ ​The​ ​prize​ ​was​ ​so​ ​great​ that ​it​ ​was​ ​said our​ ​country​ ​would​ ​have​ ​taken​ ​well​ ​over​ ​a​ ​year​ ​to​ ​produce these items.​ ​Not​ ​only​ ​was​ ​this​ ​the greatest​ ​capture​ ​of​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​Revolution,​ ​it​ ​also​ ​inspired​ ​all​ ​the​ ​founding​ ​fathers​ ​and the​ ​birth​ ​of​ ​our​ ​country’s​ ​United​ ​States​ ​Navy​ ​as​ ​we​ ​know​ ​it​ ​today.​ ​The​ ​original schooners​ ​bearing​ ​the​ ​”​Appeal​ ​to​ ​Heaven”​​ ​flags​ ​continued​ ​capturing​ ​British​ ​ships​ ​and performing​ ​special​ ​services​ ​for​ ​the​ ​remainder​ ​of​ ​the​ ​war​ ​as​ ​our​ ​new​ ​Navy​ ​was​ ​being formed.​ ​In​ ​April​ ​1776,​ ​The​ ​state​ ​of​ ​Massachusetts​ ​adopted​ ​this​ ​flag​ ​for​ ​its​ ​own​ ​navy.​ ​It’s resolution​ ​for​ ​operations …​ ​”Resolved,​ ​that​ ​the​ ​uniform​ ​of​ ​the​ ​officers​ ​be​ ​green​ ​and white,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​the​ ​colors​ ​be​ ​a​ ​white​ ​flag,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​green​ ​pine​ ​tree,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​inscription, ‘​An​ ​Appeal​ ​to​ ​Heaven​.'”​ ​The​ ​Massachusetts​ ​Navy​ ​sailed​ ​twenty-five ​ships​ ​during​ ​the​ ​war​ ​to defend​ ​the​ ​coast​ ​from​ ​the​ ​British​ ​and​ ​then​ ​eventually​ ​absorbed​ ​into​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States Navy.

The​​ pine ​​tree​​ had ​​long​​ been ​​a ​​New ​​England​​ symbol ​​being​​ depicted ​​on​​ the ​F​​lag​​ of​​ New England,​​ ​flown​ ​by​ ​colonial​ ​merchant ships​ ​dating​ ​back​ ​to​ ​1686.​ ​Leading​ ​up to​ ​the​ ​Revolutionary​ ​War,​ ​it​ ​became​ ​a symbol​ ​​of​ ​Colonial​ ​ire​ ​and​ ​resistance.

Thus at a time when few women could or would — Mercy Otis Warren contributed her own XL voice to the cause for freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with none other than our own first journey flag, when we were making our first forays into the unknown and vast ocean, that was the “unknowable future” of our National Story, who is still unfolding in our times as we are engaged in the pursuit of Liberation, Liberty, and Self Governance.

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The idea of “not resting idle upon our laurels” is personified by Mercy Otis Warren, who built upon this Christmas season’s Revolutionary flag successful adoption by none other than George Washington and his tiny navy, and by the patriots of Boston — as she continued publishing her liberty laden merciful articles for the patriots, & her piercing polemical satires and rants for the Colonial Governing administration, and the British authorities and customs officers. As it turns out, her writings had indeed a great effect by preparing the American colonists for the final break with England, the mother country — elevating the Quest for Liberty and Rights as an Appeal to Heaven up above…

As indeed, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and all other key leaders of the American Revolution knew that behind Mercy’s “Nom de Guerre” and Mercy’s other various pseudonyms, was indeed Mercy Otis Warren of Boston Massachusetts — they called her, the “most accomplished woman in America.”

And although John Adams, and many of them, would later feel the sting of her pen — all the Founding Fathers who read & celebrated Mercy’s writings, were always respectful and admiring and paid tribute to her personally, in many laudatory reviews when she first began publishing under her own name in 1790, because as a poet, playwright and historian, she was the first American woman who eventually wrote openly & unashamed under her own name for printing, for publication and for wide circulation.

As such, Mercy’s play, “The Adulateur” caught on with Boston’s Independence minded patriots, and with the Tea party patriots, who began to substitute its characters’ names for actual political figures in their own private correspondence, in order to confound and confuse the British censors and interceptors of the Royal Mail, and thus effect their own communications.

When, in 1773, Boston newspapers in their WikiLeaks moment, published the private letters of Colonial Governor Hutchinson’s that confirmed American patriots’ worst suspicions about him, because in one letter to the Crown, Governor Hutchinson called for “an abridgement of ‘English liberties’ in colonial administration,” Mercy Otis Warren responded with her new play “The Defeat” a sequel to “The Adulateur” which cast Rapatio (Governor Hutchinson) as the “dangerous foe of Liberty, of truth, and of mankind.”

At that time, all the leading Americans patriots of the day, knew that Mercy Otis Warren was the play’s anonymous author.

And thus after the Boston Tea Party, John Adams asked her to write a mythical poem about it, as “a frolic among the sea-nymphs and goddesses.” Warren obliged, quickly writing “The Squabble of the Sea-Nymphs,” in which two of Neptune’s wives debate the quality of several teas, until intruders poured “delicious teas” into the water, thus “bidding defiance to the servile train, the pimps and sycophants of George’s reign.”

In early 1775, as Bostonians chafed at Britain’s “Intolerable Acts” — Mercy Otis Warren published poems that encouraged women to boycott British goods, and in another of her plays, she mocked loyalists, royalists, and remainers. Indeed her play, “The Group” was published two weeks before the battles of Lexington and Concord.

Like other patriot writers, she insisted on anonymity in order to avoid British retaliation, telling one publisher not to name her “so long as the spirit of party runs so high.” Anonymity may have also helped her as a female writer, by insuring that readers judge her work on its merits, not dismiss it because of her being considered a member of the weaker sex…

During the war, Mercy Warren worked as her husband’s personal secretary and managed their Plymouth farm while he was away governing as president of the Massachusetts provincial congress. She kept up a frequent correspondence with John Adams — a protégé of her brother — as well as with his wife, Abigail Adams.

In November 1775, as the British held Boston under siege and cannon bombed it through their gun boats, James Warren wrote to John Adams, a friend and delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, urging him to give up on trying to reconcile with George III. “Your Congress can be no longer in any doubts, and hesitancy,” he wrote in his lawyerly style, “about taking capital and effectual strokes.”

Mercy Warren insisted on adding a paragraph of her own: “You should no longer piddle at the threshold,” she dictated. “It is time to leap into the theatre to unlock the bars, and open every gate that impedes the rise and growth of the American Republic.”

As the newly minted American Statesmen debated the proposed new Constitution in 1787, Warren and her husband came to be with the camp of Jeffersonian purists and Madisonian advocates who came to be called Anti-Federalists in later years, because as part of the older generation of revolutionaries that had emerged from provincial governments, they were expected to be far more loyal to their states than to the federal government that seemed remote and resolute as the old British colonial administration had been in the past. Therefore, both Mercy and her brother James penned arguments against the evolving Federalist nature of government – published anonymously. These arguments were very much in the spirit of the Federalist Papers penned by Jefferson, Madison and few other purist adherents of Liberty…

Unsurprisingly Mercy Warren’s anti-federalist essay, published in 1788 under her “Nom de Guerre” pseudonym “A Columbian Patriot” warned that the engorged Federal government under the Constitution, would lead to “an aristocratic tyranny” and an “uncontrolled despotism.”

Presciently, she also warned, that the Constitution (without its amendments) lacked a bill of rights, offered no guarantees of a free press, freedom of conscience, or trial by jury, all prescient thoughts that over the years came to be included and thus corrected the Constitution — our living document — with the necessary amendments as additions to the founding DNA document of our country.

Indeed as Mercy Otis Warren wrote that the Constitution didn’t protect citizens from arbitrary warrants giving officials power to “enter our houses, search, insult, and seize at pleasure” her florid and all sweeping essay proved more popular than her husband’s narrow, precise legal arguments and as such, her article created such outrage towards the new Congress, that it became the pivotal complaint which in turn contributed to the populist & popular pressure that led Congress to pass the Bill of Rights in 1789.

Such pivotal actions were taking place, in her name, that people came to view Mercy’s work, as “Democracy in Action” and many correct actions were moved to the forefront under her guiding light…

As fitting and proper, in due time, Mercy Otis Warren finally shed her anonymity in 1790, by publishing her book Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous under her own name. In it, she had collected two decades of her work, including Revolutionary-era satires, and two new plays with prominent female characters.

Both John Adams and George Washington sent congratulations, and Alexander Hamilton proclaimed her a “genius” of “dramatic composition.”

Yet that successful artistic compilation of her writings, was just a prelude to her masterwork, because in 1805, Mercy Otis Warren published a three-volume, 1,200 page history of the American Revolution.

Titled “History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution” it made her the first female historian of these United States of America, and the only one of her era to write about the nations’ founding days, from an Anti-Federalist and pure Jeffersonian Republican perspective, and although her book sold poorly — it still provoked a vicious series of letters from John Adams, who apparently was the one who had encouraged her to start writing the history in the first place…

And maybe because John Adams’ Federalist politics clearly clashed with Mercy’s anti-federalist and State Rights positions — he didn’t come off terribly well in her telling of this pivotal moment in our long and varied history of internal political debates.

Indeed John Adams quipped: “History is not the province of the ladies.”

And here, anyone who has read Mercy Otis Warren’s account of our Glorious Revolution — would agree that in this matter, John Adams, was again quite wrong…

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Because as it turns out, Mercy Otis Warren’s history is filled with clear eyed revolutionary perspective, unsullied by zeal and fervor of the times, and her character insights, primary sources, and footnotes, are brilliant gems of history, as they are not to be found anywhere else.

Indeed, Mercy Otis Warren’s history is a very useful and extremely insightful tool, for all students of our Republic’s history, as well as it offers an aphorism for all politicians, and a keen lens full of light for all Americans patriots, laymen & modern readers, because it is the largest early and most accurate history of this peculiar American movement for Liberty & Independence.

And it is the emphasis on Natural Rights, Human Rights and Civil Rights, that was made possible by these new types of men and women, all peculiarly American specimens, collectively toiling, thrilling, and risking it all — treasure, family & life — in the work of building a tomorrow free of yesterday, as they fought in unity, with a sense of greatness, striving for personal intellectual & practical achievements, full of moral integrity.

And as it turns out, these are all easily Americsn traits of character, that ought to educate and even impress in all current Americans, a sense of shame for the way we live and bicker, as we conduct our political affairs today.

Please remember: “E Pluribus Unum.”

As for me, Mercy’s writing are an extremely useful primer, and therefore — methinks that it ought to be required reading for all American patriots, because it shows clearly the quality of human beings who liberated the New World from the tyrannical clutches of the old world, and thus affected the biggest revolution to have ever taken place in the History of this Earth…

Because that was the REVOLUTION THAT FREED THE FUTURE FROM THE PAST.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

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