Inspirational Stories of Love, Faith & Family Set in 19th Century America

Category: American Revolution

Author Interview with Alton Fletcher and a Giveaway!

I’m so excited to introduce my friend, Alton Fletcher, to Romancing History readers today. Alton writes historical fiction and his debut novel, Find the Wind’s Eye, released earlier this month. Another exciting first for Alton, he is the first male author I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing here on Romancing History!

Find the Wind’s Eye is a Antebellum tale with a message relevant for today’s reader about equality, the evils of prejudice and discrimination, and the condition of the human heart. I personally think Alton’s novel sounds intriguing and hope to read it next month so stay tuned for a review post when I’m done.

Alton has geneoursly offered 3 print copies of Find the Wind’s Eye to 3 separate Romancing History visitors so make sure you see the Giveaway section at the bottom of the post for details on how to enter the drawing.

Before we get to the interview, let’s learn a little more about Alton and Find the Wind’s Eye.


About the Author

Alton Fletcher enjoys sailing almost as much as he enjoys writing and sometimes wishes he could do both at once. He became enamored with the sea, sailing ships, and books upon his first reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island as a boy. For the past twenty years, after retiring as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, he has made Virginia his home, where he continues to sail and write to his heart’s content.

 

 

Connect with Alton on his Website, Twitter, or his Amazon Author Page.

 


About the Book

In 1854 Boston, Third Lieutenant Andrew Gunn of the United States Revenue Cutter Service questions the President’s direct order to extradite a fugitive slave, Anthony Burns, back to Virginia aboard his ship—a lawful order that he believes is immoral and unjust.

Torn between his own reverence for freedom as an American and his sworn duty, Gunn suffers the hazards of hard choices that threaten his own life, liberty, and happiness. His first real exposure to the scourge of slavery brings chaos to his ordered life, despite his desperate attempts to control it.

Set aboard a small ship in the midst of a gathering political storm, Find The Wind’s Eye is a timely, moving story about a man of principle trying to find his way in a fast-changing, increasingly ambivalent world. He strives to do the right thing, while struggling with the ugly truth of his own complicity in the national sin of slavery.

Find the Wind’s Eye is available for purchase on Amazon.

 


Author Q&A

Fast Five

  1. Dogs or Cats? Dogs
  2. Chocolate Chip or Oatmeal Raisin? Chocolate Chocolate Chip
  3. Night Owl or Early Bird? Night Owl
  4. I Love Lucy or Get Smart? I Love Lucy
  5. Oldies or Country? Country Oldies, Sea Shanties, and Old Hymns

 

RH: Hi Alton, welcome to Romancing History. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you’ve been writing? How many books you have published and what era you write about?

AF: Thank you for having me today. I look forward to meeting your readers. I graduated in 1977 from Geneva College, a Christian liberal arts college in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. My wife, Cheryl, and I were married in 1976, while still in college. We’ve been married ever since and have made our home in Manassas for the past 20 years. We honeymooned in Williamsburg, and we’ve always held a special place in our hearts for Virginia, so we were happy to finally settle here after the upheaval of seven cross-country military moves.

I had wanted to be a writer since high school, but after college, life happened. Work, kids (three daughters), more work, house payments, career, braces, college tuition, weddings, and so on. In addition to raising a family, I served for 22 years as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard, retiring in 2003. Though gratifying and exciting, my days in the military were often long and exhausting, with extended periods of travel and temporary duty in remote places. Hard to find time to write. I retired a second time after a very busy, productive, and successful life in private industry in 2015. Actually, I drove home from work in heavy Washington Beltway traffic one day and decided I’d had enough. It was a now or never kind of thing. At age 60, I quit my day job and started writing fiction. And I haven’t stopped.

After more revisions than I can count, I’ve recently published my first historical novel, set in the 1850s. It’s a fascinating period of major transitions in technology, philosophy, religion, science, politics, and psychology that caused enormous social upheaval and personal turmoil. That turbulent period shaped the modern world as we know it today. We can’t really understand ourselves if we don’t know how we got here. That’s what I like to discover. What were people thinking back then? How did those huge changes affect them in their daily lives? How different were they from us? Have we really made progress since then? Though we are much wealthier, generally speaking, than those who lived two centuries ago, in many ways we are much poorer, especially spiritually and religiously. We live in an age of materialism and apostasy, which stems directly from its mid-nineteenth century roots. Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to think that growth in the wrong direction isn’t progress.

RH: I totally agree with you about the relevance of understanding history and learning from the past. BTW, my daughter attended Geneva College as well. Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

AF: I suppose the quirkiest thing about me is that I’m a contrarian. I suspect that’s what those who know me best would say. As I was thinking about this question today, I looked up into a gray, overcast sky to watch a large flock of seagulls pass overhead, maybe fifty or so flying eastbound. A lone gull, apart from the others, was headed west. I had to laugh. That’s me.

One of my favorite phrases is, “Yes, but.” I love a good argument. Total agreement is overrated. I find it dull and boring and somewhat fake. Such a mindset didn’t serve me well in a military career, I can tell you. Neither does it make for conciliatory book club discussions. Yes, but … it might well suit me as a writer. At least, I think so, though I may be alone in that thought.

RH: Hmmm, I kind of resemble that remark. My mother used to tell me I’d make a good lawyer because I liked to argue. I’m not sure she meant that as a compliment. Which historical figure, other than Jesus (because who wouldn’t want to meet Jesus?), would you like to meet? Why?

AF: Mark Twain. He had a contrarian point of view about most things, from which derives his humor, I believe. I’d love to have a discussion with him about Huck Finn and white suits, among many other subjects. I wore a white tuxedo for my wedding. I’d like to meet Jesus for the same reason. Talk about being a contrarian. And James, his brother. (What must that have been like?!)

RH: Hahaha! Your comment about James made me chuckle. I wonder if Mary ever had to tell James to stop arguing with Jesus? Which 3 words describe the type of fiction you write?

AF: Timeless, thoughtful, and truthful. Also, historical, nautical, and literary, if such is at all possible.

RH: From the quote below, I’d have to agree with your description of your writing. I’m looking forward to reading Find the Wind’s Eye. What is your writing kryptonite?

AF: A favorite movie and a rainy day. I can’t pass up Master and Commander, if it is on TV. Or the arrival of a new book. Equally deadly to a writing day.

RH: I saw a recent tweet of yours about Master and Commander with Russell Crowe. I’ve added it to my list of films to watch. What is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

AF: Portraying intimacy (not sex). What do women actually say when out of earshot? I’ve long lived in a family of four women and still don’t know.

RH: This answer made me chuckle as well. I’d love to fill you in on what women talk about when men aren’t around but I’ld be breaking the sisterhood code. What was the inspiration behind your debut, Find the Wind’s Eye?

AF: I found the facts of the true story of the rendition of Anthony Burns both compelling and incredible upon reading James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, a remarkable history of the events leading up to the Civil War. McPherson features this event as being so volatile as to almost touch off a civil war in 1854. Our country was terribly divided over social and political issues. I was absolutely astounded to learn that the United States government was complicit in returning a fugitive slave to the horrible life from which he had recently escaped. It might have been lawful, but was it just? The story spoke to me, because I had experienced similar moral conflicts while serving on active duty in the Coast Guard. I wondered what I would have done in those circumstances and at that time. I had to find out.

RH: That is an intriguing answer. So now I”m wondering if your character’s response would have been the same as your own? That will be a question to follow up on after I finish your novel.When and where is your story set? (Any pictures you can provide would be nice for this question.)

AF: Find The Wind’s Eye is set in antebellum Boston in June of 1854. However, most of it takes place at sea aboard the government vessel that was ordered to return Anthony Burns to Virginia, sending him as a prisoner back to a life of slavery.

RH: Are you at liberty to share with Romancing History readers something that didn’t make it into the final copy like a deleted scene.

AF: I wanted to depict the courtroom trial of Anthony Burns, in which he was represented pro bono by Richard Henry Dana, a famous writer and civil rights attorney in Boston at the time. The outcome of the trial, which was all but pre-determined, depended entirely on the answers to two questions: (1) Was the man on trial Anthony Burns; and (2) Was Anthony Burns an escaped slave? Nothing else really mattered. Dana’s arguments for Burns to be set free during the week-long trial were eloquent and evocative, although he lost the hard-fought case. As I said, I’m enthralled by a good argument. However, I sensed that the opening chapters of my book required more dramatic action, which meant that it had to begin with the riots in the streets outside the courthouse after the judge passed the verdict that sent Burns back. So, I was forced to cut the first several chapters from the book. They were pretty good, though. It hurt to cut them.

As it turns out, the opening chapters depicting the riot outside the courthouse draw some interesting parallels to what happened on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol, even though they were written five years ago.

RH: Those scenes sound intriguing and might make a great giveaway for newsletter subscribers. Do you have a favorite quote from Find the Wind’s Eye you’d like to share?

AF: My favorite passage, I suppose, is the opening to Chapter 28, as the ship carrying Anthony Burns approaches the coast of Virginia after eight days at sea, headed to Norfolk. It speaks of arriving in this beautiful place with a purpose that wasn’t so pretty.

“As would any sailor worth his salt, [Third Lieutenant Andrew] Gunn sensed the nearness of land, like detecting the perfume of an alluring woman in the next room. Virginia beguiled them all, however, and kept them waiting just out of reach, her seductive scent borne on the light and variable breezes of late spring.”

“Meanwhile, the Morris labored on, her progress steady, but slow, standing up from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay under the expert guidance of the pilot. Both wind and current had conspired against the ship nearly the whole way, as though the entire natural world opposed her mission.”

RH: Those quotes gave me goosies. You are an excellent writer. What do you hope readers will take away after reading Find the Wind’s Eye?

AF: My book depicts the ageless conflicts between mind and heart, duty and conscience, self-interest and sacrifice that lie at the center of the quest for freedom, justice, and equality in American society. Many elements of the story are relevant to current events in our nation today. I hope it raises timeless questions that the audience is compelled to answer for themselves.

RH: I think that is our job as writers of  historical fiction and historical romance—to bring those questions to the forefront through an examination of the past. What are you working on now?

AF: Currently, I’m writing the sequel to Find The Wind’s Eye, which doesn’t yet have a title. I hope to complete a series of five novels, taking the same MC through the Civil War, depicting the devastating effects of divisive social conflict and war on him, his family, and friends over a period of ten years.

I’m told by agents and publishers that historical fiction doesn’t sell very well these days. Yes, but … we as a people have a lot to learn from our past. Those vital lessons could save us from a horrible future, if we will heed them.

RH: Unfortunately, I’ve been told the same but we must write what the Lord lays on heart. It is not our place to worry about the size of the audience because truly, we write for an audience of One.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Alton. I hope and pray that audiences will find your book. It definitely sounds like a wonderful read.


Giveaway**

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winners — Vivian Furbay, Emily Sellers, and Lori Altebaumer!

Alton has gracioulsy offered 3 print copies of Find the Wind’s Eye to three separate Romancing History winners. To enter please share your thoughts on current trends to either “whitewash” history or revise to fit better with today’s social narrative. Do you think we do ourselves a disservice to hide historical truths because they make us uncomfortable?

**Giveaway ends at midnight, March 3rd, 2021.

Pastors, Patriots, & the Black Robe Regiment

Reverend George Whitfield

Unlike today, the church in colonial and Revolutionary America served as the hub for political debate, as well as for disseminating and discussing current events. And when it came to British oppression, they didn’t hesitate to call for independence. These fiery orators were dubbed by the British as The Black Robed Regiment in reference to their black clerical robes.

Defenders of the British crown found preachers’ support of the Patriot cause particularly detrimental to their efforts to maintain loyalty among the colonists. In the 1770s, most colonists still considered themselves aligned with England. Many parishioners questioned the legitimacy of revolution. From their pulpits, members of The Black Robed Regiment reassured their congregations that their revolution was justified in the eyes of God.

In fact, the British believed so strongly that it was the preaching from colonial pulpits that pushed its citizens into rebellion that many ministers had bounties put on their heads. Loyalists burned the homes and churches of the pastors who preached against British rule. Hatred by the British for the clergy ran so deep that on the battlefield wounded ministers were frequently executed rather than taken prisoner.

One such member of The Black Robed Regiment was the Reverend Samuel West, pastor of the Congregationalist Church of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. West was invited to give the prestigious Election Day sermon in Boston in 1776. In his message he proclaimed that the colonies were already independent and constituted a new nation. “Any people, when cruelly oppressed has the right to throw the yoke, and be free.” Reverend West  further declared, “To save our country from the hands of our oppressors ought to be dearer to us even than our own lives, and, next the eternal salvation of our own souls, is the thing of greatest importance–a duty so sacred that it cannot justly be dispensed with for the sake of our secular concerns.”

But the Patriot Pastors of the Revolutionary era didn’t just preach about liberty while encouraging their congregations to fight against tyranny, they led the way!

Reverend Peter Muhlenberg reveals his uniform to inspire his congregation to enlist.

Pastor Peter Muhlenberg, A Lutheran minister, ascended the pulpit on a cold Sunday morning in 1776 and preached from Ecclesiastes 3, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…” Muhlenberg continued, laying the foundation for the point of his sermon. “In the language of the holy writ, there was a time for all things, a time preach and a time pray, but those times have passed away.” Imagine him standing before his congregation, his voice gaining intensity as he continued. “There is a time to fight, and that time has now come!”

Then, in dramatic fashion, Pastor Muhlenberg removed his clerical robe revealing his military uniform. He challenged his parishioners asking, “Who is with me?” Over 300 men from his church alone joined him in the fight for liberty, volunteering for what eventually became the 8th Virginia Brigade. Pastor Muhlenberg and his men fought in every major engagement of the Revolutionary War and wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge. A native Pennsylvanian, his statue, stands in the U.S. Capitol Building’s Statuary Hall–clerical robes draped over his right arm, sword firmly in his left hand.

The Reverend James Caldwell, minister of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, instructed his congregation that “there are times when it is as righteous to fight as it is to pray.” After the British put a bounty on his head, Caldwell went to the pulpit with two loaded flintlock pistols.

Like Muhlenberg, Caldwell also fought alongside his congregants. When the British captured Elizabethtown, Caldwell’s men were short wadding necessary to pack ammunition in their weapons. Without it they would surely be overrun. Caldwell rode to a nearby church and gathered as many hymnals as he could carry. Returning to his men, he instructed them to rip out the pages and use them as wadding in their muskets. Having stuffed the hymns of such classic writers as Isaac Watts down the barrels of their guns, he yelled “Give ’em Watts boys, put Watts into them!” The British referred to Caldwell as the “Fighting Chaplain” and his brave leadership was immortalized in verse.

“Who’s that riding in on horse-back?
Parson Caldwell, boys; Hooray!
Red-coats call him “Fighting Chaplain,”
How they hate him! Well they may!”

According to David Barton of Wall Builders, “modern historians have noted that not one single right asserted in the Declaration of Independence hadn’t been preached from colonial pulpits prior to 1763.” It wasn’t only the British who gave great attribution to the clergy but Founders like John Adams exalted the clergy’s role in stirring the hearts of the people to fight when he said, “the pulpits  have thundered.”

The call to educate the church on political and social issues didn’t end with American victory at Yorktown. The Black Robed Regiment of the Revolutionary era set a precedence that inspired pastors throughout American history to instruct their parishioners on what the Bible said about issues ranging from slavery to civil rights. Patriotic pastors have led troops into battle, ministered to the wounded, written laws and public policy, lobbied our government, founded universities and have been elected to local, state and federal government offices across the nation.

Sadly, today many pulpits are quiet when it comes to instructing the church on what the Bible has to say about the social and political issues of our day. According to Pastor Dan Fisher, author of Bringing Back the Black Robed Regiment,”Today the church has become marginalized almost to the point of cultural impotency and spiritual irrelevance.”

Pastor Gary Hamrick, of Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, Virginia, said in a recent Election Day sermon, “The church of Jesus Christ is God’s restraining force in the world today against evil. If we abdicate our responsibility as ambassadors for Christ and as agents of truth, then evil will prevail.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the movement underway challenging America’s pastors to speak up in this ever-increasing politically correct, cancel culture we live in or to obtain a Christian voter’s guide for your state, please visit the  National Black Robed Regiment and view the short video.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can pray for America, our political leaders, and important social issues facing our nation, visit Intercessors for America and click on their resource tab.

Join the Conversation: Do you think the church has abdicated its role in teaching and encouraging their congregations about the important social issues of our day?

The Forgotten History Behind Patriot’s Courage & a Giveaway by Penelope Marzec

As you all know, I love learning about history. I’ve been known to drag my children and husband to museums and battlefields so I can soak in as many little historical details as possible. I especially enjoy learning about historical events through the settings and events I read in historical fiction and romance, even when those events are unpleasant.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to a new friend, fellow Pelican Book Group author Penelope Marzec. Penny’s book, Patriot’s Courage, is the third book in her Patriot Historical Romance series.

In her guest post, she shares one of those events that at least our generation, Penny’s and mine, wasn’t taught in school. I’m a firm believer that history should not be white-washed nor should it be reinterpreted to satisfy ever changing political narratives, but unfortunately sometimes in our past, we’ve looked the other way when history didn’t shed a favorable light on the “good guys.”

Before we get to Penny’s post on one such historical event, we’re going to learn a little more about Patriot’s Courage.

Oh, and be sure to read her excerpt and enter the drawing to win an eBook copy of Patriot’s Courage. The details are in the Giveaway section at the bottom of the post.


Patriot’s Courage

Ryan McGowan vows to kill every Indian in Ohio territory in retaliation for his brother’s death. At the Battle of Fallen Timbers, he breaks his ribs and finds a white woman sobbing over a dead warrior. When the captain assigns him to teach the woman English, he resents the task, but the woman melts his vengeance away. He begins to understand the way to peace is forgiveness. Then he learns the woman carries the child of her Indian husband in her womb.

Màxkchulëns, a white woman adopted by the Lenape at the age of four, is confined at the fort and longs to return to her people. Though Ryan leads her to recall part of the faith her biological parents held dear, she struggles to understand it and the power of grace.

Can she rely on that grace in desperate times? And will faith protect her unborn child as well?

Patriot’s Courage is available for purchase on:

Amazon     Pelican Book Group     B&N     Kobo     Google Play Books     Apple Books


A Peek into the Forgotten History Behind Patriot’s Courage

Guest Post by Penelope Marzec

In delving into the research for PATRIOT’S COURAGE, I learned a great deal more about the culture of the Native Americans, none of which was ever mentioned in history books when I was a child in elementary school. The history of the indigenous people in North America is not a happy one. Still, love can win even under the most difficult circumstances.

For my story, I focused on the Lenape, since the heroine of my story was raised by that tribe, but some things applied to other tribes as well. In general, the Native Americans believed that if someone was wronged, retribution should be given, which on the surface appears to be a good way to handle matters. It is not unlike what we do today when someone wrecks our car. Their insurance policy should pay for the damages—including the deductible.

The problem with a policy of retribution is that it can easily turn into revenge. The lands of the Native Americans were gradually swallowed up by the whites. When they fought back, the whites—despite their Christian upbringing–dealt vengeance against the Native Americans. This became a vicious cycle with no hope.

Some particular cruelties stand out and explain the spiraling hatred of the Indians towards the whites. One historical incident, which I mention in my book, is the sad story of the Gnadenhutten Massacre. Moravian missionaries, who were pacifists, converted Delaware Indians to Christianity. But during the Revolutionary War, one hundred and sixty militiamen attacked the Indians. The militiamen believed the Indians had killed and kidnapped several white Pennsylvanians, but the Christian Indians were not involved in that raid. Still the militiamen did not search for the actual perpetrators of the raid in Pennsylvania. Instead, they held a mock trial, convicted the Indians of murder, and sentenced them to death. The Indians were put into two buildings where they spent all night praying and singing hymns. In the morning, the militiamen killed them and burned the buildings. Ninety-six Indians were murdered—men, women, and children. Half of those killed were children.

The result of the massacre was mounting distrust between the whites and the Indians. The news spread to all the tribes and the tragedy ended any hope of bringing whites and Native Americans together in Christian community.

George Washington warned soldiers in the Continental army not to get caught by the Indians after they killed William Crawford, an American soldier and surveyor who worked as a western land agent for George Washington. Mr. Crawford was burned at the stake by American Indians in retaliation for the Gnadenhutten massacre.

Two decades later, the Shawnee chief Tecumseh said to William Henry Harrison, “You recall the time when the Jesus Indians of the Delawares lived near the Americans, and had confidence in their promises of friendship, and thought they were secure, yet the Americans murdered all the men, women, and children, even as they prayed to Jesus?”

Even one hundred years later, Theodore Roosevelt called the massacre “a stain on frontier character that the lapse of time cannot wash away”.

In PATRIOT’S COURAGE, the hero realizes he has little hope of convincing the heroine to embrace Christianity. Yet, he tries.

Revenge did not heal the atrocities that occurred during those times. The propensity of humankind to wreak vengeance caused nothing but more hatred. I pray that in the future, love will always win.


Excerpt from Patriot’s Courage

Màxkchulëns, also known as Red Bird, stopped grinding corn and listened. Her proud husband, Running Beaver, felt confident the white men would be defeated as they had been three years ago. But now an eerie silence hovered in the air as the distant drums ceased pounding. The repeated sounds of gunfire ended. The birds resumed their songs. The river gurgled along the banks. “

It is too soon.” Her aunt frowned.

Fear wound through Red Bird. Last night’s strange dream seemed to be a warning, frightening her so badly she mentioned it to no one.

The other women quit working and gathered together on the outskirts of their village. They waited, for the calm did not bode well. Red Bird took out a smooth, round white stone from her medicine bag and rubbed it. Running Beaver gave it to her when they were both children. He was a strong, brave warrior who did not fear death. Yet, Red Bird trembled. She loved Running Beaver. When she first came to the village, he coaxed her out of her fright. His gentle, kind manner and patience eased her misery.

Sudden shouts alerted her and the other women as the young boys returned with news of the rout and the failure of their British allies to open their fort and give aid in the fight. The boys claimed many warriors lay dead on the field of battle.

Màxkchulëns, haunted by her alarming dream, started toward the battlefield. Other women followed.

Her aunt tried to drag her back. “There may still be white soldiers there. It is dangerous!”

Red Bird refused to listen. She shoved her aunt’s arm away and walked onward until she came upon the appalling site of the brief battle. Dead and dying men with ghastly wounds littered the area. Blood coated the earth. The sound of wailing women rent the air with grief. The sharp smell of gunpowder mingled with a putrid stench in the heavy, humid air. The odor turned her stomach.

Red Bird drew a cloth over her nose. Her heart thundered as she stared into the faces of dead men, hoping to find the one that mattered most to her.

The yellow hide soldiers went about the task of picking up their wounded and dying. She stayed as far away from them as she could, but the task proved difficult for huge fallen trees covered the area and men lay in between the many trunks.

After some time, she found Running Beaver. She reeled at the sight of the grievous wound in his back. His face lay in the dirt while his body pressed against a huge, felled tree. She knelt beside him and reached for his still, cold hand. Last night in her dream, he walked along the white road of stars on his journey to the village of the Great Creator, Kishelemukong.

She could not tell her husband of her fears, for he would have scoffed at her. No brave warrior would refuse to fight in a battle simply because his woman asked him to do so.

She glanced around, uneasy. In her nightmare, another warrior, Dancing Squirrel, pulled her from Running Beaver. She’d woken from her dream shaking and in a cold sweat. She never trusted Dancing Squirrel. Once, he wanted her to be his woman, but she refused him as was her right. Since that time, he sneered at her in a threatening manner whenever he saw her.

Now that Running Beaver was dead, would Dancing Squirrel ask to have her as his woman once more? Tears gathered in her eyes, but she tried to hold them back as she caressed her husband’s shoulder and sang the death song to him. Sorrow welled up and choked her words. Her shattered hopes raked her soul until it was raw.

A soldier approached. He laughed at her. She scooted back against the bark of the fallen tree. The tall man stood over her. His hulking, muscular build rivaled that of any of the strongest warriors. He muttered something, reached down, grabbed her arm, hauled her upright, and squeezed her bosom.

Red Bird screamed and struggled to get away, but his strength overwhelmed her. He pulled at her braided hair and gave a raucous laugh.

She tugged the braid out of his hand.

Another solider, carrying his bright, woolen jacket on his arm hobbled toward them. With his face creased in pain, he leaned on a sturdy branch. He spoke to Màxkchulëns’s abuser in a low tone layered with harsh severity. The abuser stopped fondling her but continued to hold her arm so tightly she thought he would break it. She screamed until her voice grew hoarse. The man leaning on the branch spat out sharp words, winced, and turned ashen. Other men hurried to drag her abuser away.

The man with the sturdy branch offered his jacket to her. She did not want it, but she assumed wearing it would mark her in some way as protected. She accepted the woolen coat.

As she donned the garment, another wave of fear and grief consumed her. She collapsed over her husband’s body and wept, well aware she remained at the mercy of the horrible soldiers. She didn’t care. Running Beaver no longer breathed and would no longer smile. He must leave her behind as he went on his long journey to Kishelemukong’s village. Mired in her misery, she wished for death to come soon. Perhaps one of the soldiers who killed Running Beaver would kill her as well.

After a while, she lay exhausted and spent from her weeping. The flow of tears ended, leaving her hollow. The rumble of a heavy wagon sounded nearby. She glanced to the side and watched as the yellow hides lifted their wounded into the back of the vehicle. The man who gave her his jacket spoke to several other soldiers. He plainly suffered from the effort of speaking but the other men scurried about in obvious obedience. She wondered if he was a chief.

Two soldiers lifted her off her feet. Red Bird did not struggle or scream this time. If they were to kill her, she would die as courageous a death as any warrior. The men placed her in the wagon beside the man who must be their chief. He drew her hand in his. She did not pull hers away. He spoke to her in a whisper, but she did not understand his language. Perhaps he was telling her how she was to die.

The other women of her tribe stood with their heads bowed as the wagon lumbered by them. None of them came to her aid, and she did not expect them to put themselves in danger. A brief swell of panic nearly consumed her, but she fought against it. She would be strong, she would be courageous, and she would soon join her husband on the white road of stars.


About Penelope

Penelope Marzec grew up along the Jersey shore, heard stories about Captain Kidd, and dug for his buried treasure. Her adventure resulted in a bad case of poison ivy. Deciding books were better than buried treasure, she discovered romance novels and was soon hooked on happy endings. She became an early childhood educator and found her own hero in an electrical engineer who grew up in Brooklyn, played the accordion, and was immune to poison ivy. Now retired, Penelope either writes her stories or paints seascapes in oils. Sometimes she sings while her husband plays the accordion.

Penelope writes in several subgenres of romance. You can find her online at www.penelopemarzec.com read her blog at http://penelopemarzec.blogspot.com, become a fan at www.facebook.com/penelopemarzecbooks, or follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/marzecpenelope/


Giveaway**

**This giveaway is now closed**

Congratulations to our winner, Rory Lemond!!

Penny has graciously offered to giveaway an eBook copy of Patriot’s Courage. To enter the drawing, share with us a little known historical event or detail you’ve learned about in the comments below.

**Giveaway ends at midnight, Wednesday, October 7th, 2020**

Author Interview with Heidi Chiavaroli & a Giveaway

I’m so thrilled to welcome women’s fiction/split time author, Heidi Chiavaroli, to Romancing History today. I had the pleasure of getting to know Heidi when I snagged a coveted position on the launch team for her third novel, The Edge of Mercy.

Heidi’s most recent novel, The Tea Chest, released earlier this month and is a stand alone split time story. I’m sure my Romancing History readers won’t be surprised to learn that the historical thread is my favorite. I really enjoyed this book (see my review) and was tickled when Heidi said she’d do an interview with us.

Heidi has graciously offered a signed copy of The Tea Chest to one lucky Romancing History reader. To enter, see the details in the Giveaway section at the bottom of this post.

Before we chat with Heidi, here’s a little bit about her and her new book.


About Heidi

DSC_0282Heidi Chiavaroli (pronounced shev-uh-roli…like Chevrolet and ravioli mushed together!) wrote her first story in third grade, titled I’d Cross the Desert for Milk. It wasn’t until years later that she revisited writing, using her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since!

Heidi writes women’s fiction, combining her love of history and literature to write split time stories. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut.

Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of sixteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Heidi

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About the Book

Boston, 1773
Emma Malcolm’s father is staunchly loyal to the crown, but Emma’s heart belongs to Noah Winslow, a lowly printer’s assistant and Patriot. But her father has promised her hand to Samuel Clarke, a rapacious and sadistic man. As his fiancée, she would have to give up Noah and the friends who have become like family to her―as well as the beliefs she has come to embrace.

After Emma is drawn into the treasonous Boston Tea Party, Samuel blackmails her with evidence that condemns each participant, including Noah. Emma realizes she must do whatever it takes to protect those she loves, even if it means giving up the life she desires and becoming Samuel’s wife.

Present Day
Lieutenant Hayley Ashworth is determined to be the first woman inducted into the elite Navy SEALs. But before her dream can be realized, she must return to Boston in order to put the abuse and neglect of her childhood behind her. When an unexpected encounter with the man she once loved leads to the discovery of a tea chest and the document hidden within, she wonders if perhaps true strength and freedom are buried deeper than she first realized.

Two women, separated by centuries, must find the strength to fight for love and freedom. . . and discover a heritage of courage and faith.

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Interview with Heidi

Fast Five

  • Dogs or Cats? Dogs most definitely.
  • Coffee or Tea? Tea all the way.
  • Bookmark or Dog Ear Pages? And hurt the book?! Bookmark!
  • Kindle or Paperback? Paperback. I tried to get into digital reading but for me, there’s just something about the experience of holding a book with pages.
  • Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird. I’m usually ready for bed by 9!

Q & A

RH: Heidi it’s been fun getting to know you through your launch team. Can you share something unusual about yourself with my Romancing History readers? Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

HC: I’m a bit obsessive compulsive about a clean house. I have one day a week that I set aside for cleaning and groceries, and I have trouble ignoring this day even when I’m on deadline. I simply can’t concentrate if it’s not done!

RH: I like a tidy house, too, but if I’m cleaning toilets either company is coming over, or I’m avoiding edits or writing a tough scene. Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your significant other meet?

HC: The first time I saw my husband we were freshmen in high school. I will always remember that day because he looked just like a boy I dreamed about the year before. (Not kidding!) But we didn’t hang out much. He was a vocational kid and I was busy with my honors classes. It wasn’t until senior year that he came up to me at lunch and asked me out. The rest is history!

RH: Aww, that’s so cute. I love hearing how people meet their spouse. What do you like to do when you’re not reading or writing?

HC: I love to hike. I also love to quilt, cross-stitch, watch movies with my family, bake, dance in my kitchen, and sing.

RH: Wow! You have such a wide variety of hobbies and talents! I love to sing around the house as well but I “can’t carry a tune with a handle on it” as my mama always said (and my hubby would whole-heartedly agree). When did you know you wanted to write?

HC: Ever since early elementary school, when I discovered the library and the power of a story, I wanted to write. In third grade, I attempted my first novel, I’d Cross the Desert for Milk. A masterpiece! 😉

RH: I love that you still remember the title of a story you wrote in third grade! That’s adorable! What unpublished story do you have in your stash that you really hope sees the light of day someday? 

HC: The second story I wrote, which actually won ACFW’s Genesis contest in 2014, is a historical novel based on a leper colony off the coast of Massachusetts in the early 20th century. For so many reasons, that’s the story of my heart. It needs a bit of work, and I’m not really sure how many readers want to spend time in a leper colony (I would, but that’s another one of my quirks!), so who knows if it will ever actually see the light of day.

RH: Wow, what a unique idea. As a lover of history, I think that would be a fascinating read!What was the inspiration behind your recent novel?

HC: This inspiration definitely came slowly for me! Since I knew I wanted to write about the events of the Boston Tea Party, I dove into researching everything I could about the circumstances surrounding it. My historical heroine, Emma Malcolm, was birthed when I read an account of the brutal tarring and feathering of customs official John Malcolm. This servant of the crown was quite a character in his own right—very outspoken and stubborn with no patience for the antics of the Patriots. And yet I found myself feeling compassion for him. He was treated cruelly and inhumanely by those we find ourselves lauding as heroes today.

I imagined what it’d be like if he had a daughter—one who sympathized with the Sons of Liberty…one who sympathized with the very political side her father was intent on squelching. What if his daughter befriended those plotting to dump the tea? What if she aided them? What if she were even in love with one of them?

Once I had the historical story line down, I thought it might be fun to explore a contemporary woman who also longs to fight for her country and prove herself the best way she knows how. In my research about women in the military, I learned that in July 2017, it was announced that for the first time, a woman would enter the training pipeline to become a Navy SEAL. I imagined what this unidentified woman had gone through and what propelled her to enter such rigorous training. I decided to explore her story in fiction.

Emma and Hayley, my contemporary heroine, both long to serve their country despite broken families. They both long to prove themselves and seek a greater worth and identity.

RH: I really like the aspect that your heroines, though separated by nearly 250  years, were both seeking to belong and found that new identity in Christ. If you were to pick a particular Scripture verse as the theme of your novel, what would it be? Why?

HC: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

The Tea Chest explores what it means to find our worth not in our past, not in what we do or how well we do it, but in whose we are, and in who we trust in.

RH: Amen. When and where is your story set?

HC: Colonial Boston/1770s

RH: My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in Boston a few years ago. They’ve done such a fantastic job preserving our heritage. Fans of historical fiction & romance love the details that your research provides. Was there anything particularly interesting that you learned while researching your book that you were able to use or not use in your story that you’d like to share?

HC: Before I did the research for this book, I really didn’t understand the concept of tarring and feathering. All the colonial cartoon pictures depicted it as an almost funny event—a full grown man with a coat of feathers being paraded through the streets. Sounded silly to me! Not until I dove into my research did I really begin to understand how humiliating and dangerously painful this experience was. Those Patriots could certainly be brutal!

RH: I had no idea either until I read The Tea Chest. That was the first time I actually thought about how painful tarring & feathering must have been. I thought you portrayed that very well. Which secondary character do you think will resonate with readers? Why?

HC: Sarah Bradlee Fulton was a real historical person, but in The Tea Chest she is a friend and mentor to my historical heroine, Emma. Sarah is given credit for coming up with the idea of Mohawk disguises the night of the Boston Tea Party. She also did some other pretty courageous things to help the cause of the Patriots. Her bold courage inspired me, and I hope she will inspire readers!

RH: I did love Sarah’s strength of character and commitment to help the cause of Independence. Her determination was definitely inspiring. What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

HC: I hope readers are touched by the ultimate hope the characters find. I hope they feel it is possible to break away from a troubled past, to make peace with it, and to find renewed hope in a God who loves them.

RH: Yes, I loved the theme that you are not defined by your past or your family, but by the choices you make. The most important being where you place your hope and trust. What are you working on now?

HC: I just finished edits for my next book with Tyndale, scheduled for release next year and tentatively titled The Orchard House. So I’m in the wonderfully beautiful place of dreaming up a new book!

RH: I’ve really enjoyed your stories, Heidi, and look forward to your next release. I’m just not sure I’ll be able to wait an entire year! I had so much fun chatting with you today. Thanks for visiting with my readers.


Giveaway**

 

This Giveaway is now CLOSED! Congratulations to Connie Porter Saunders, the winner of the signed copy of The Tea Chest!!!

In The Tea Chest, Heidi’s historical heroine, makes a choice to leave her loyalist family and join the Patriot cause defying not only her strict father, but societal expectations. But not all men and women of that day agreed with cause of liberty. Many identified as English subjects and chose to remain loyal to the crown. If you lived in Boston on the eve of the American Revolution, would you fancy yourself a Patriot and risk being labeled a traitor? Or would you feel the moral road led to working with the crown to resolve your problems and remain a Loyalist? Tell us why in the comments below to be entered to win the signed copy of The Tea Chest.

**Giveaway ends midnight, March 4th, 2020.

Romance in the Mowhawk Valley

For a little Valentine’s Day treat, I thought I’d host my dear friend and fellow author, Angela Couch, on my blog today. Angela writes historical romance and her latest release, The Tory’s Daughter, is a wonderful story set in Revolutionary War New York. Angela has a lovely storytelling voice. Her stories flow beautifully and are filled with lovely descriptions, vivid action scenes, and yes, swoon-worthy heroes! Click here to read my 5 star review on Amazon.


Series Info: Hearts at War, Book #3

Publisher: Pelican Book Group

About the Book: Burying his wife is the hardest thing Joseph Garnet has ever done—until he’s called to leave his young son and baby daughter to fight Iroquois raiders. When one of the marauders tries to steal his horse, the last thing he expects is to end up tussling with a female. The girl is wounded, leaving Joseph little choice but to haul her home to heal—an act that seems all too familiar. Though Joseph doesn’t appear to remember her,

Hannah Cunningham could never forget him. He rode with the mob that forced her two brothers into the Continental Army and drove her family from their home—all because of her father’s loyalties to The Crown. After five years with her mother’s tribe, the rebels and starvation have left her nothing but the driving need to find her brothers.

Compelled by a secret he’s held for far too long, Joseph agrees to help Hannah find what remains of her family. Though she begins to steal into his aching heart, he knows the truth will forever stand between them.

Some things cannot be forgiven.

The Tory’s Daughter is on sale now for $1.99 and is available on Amazon



Happy Valentines Day!

What better time to talk about romance…especially in a historical setting? At the beginning of my latest release, The Tory’s Daughter, romance isn’t on anyone’s mind as Joseph Garnet stands over his wife’s grave with his two young children, one less than a year old. Yet, within twenty-four hours, he’ll find himself contemplating a future with the last woman he expected to re-enter his life, the daughter of his enemy.

Hannah Cunningham doesn’t have much for pleasant memories when it comes to Joseph Garnet. He rode with the mob that burned home and sent her brothers to fight for the Continental Army.

Sparks fly when these two find themselves in compelled into a marriage!

Here are some fun facts for you I discovered while researching this story set in 1781:

Mohawk women chose their husbands. In an era denoted by arranged or convenient marriages, this gave a girl much more freedom than often enjoyed by her European counterparts.

The man leaves his clan and joins his wife’s. Reminds me of a certain scripture at the beginning of the Bible that many Europeans and early Americans didn’t fully embrace.

Marriage was to be a partnership between husband and wife, with no one domineering the other.

So happy valentines. I hope you enjoy this story, on sale this week!


About the Author: Angela K Couch is an award-winning author for her short stories, and a semi-finalist in ACFW’s 2015 Genesis Contest. Her childhood was spent listening to her father read chapters from his novels, and Angela decided young to follow his path. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. Angela lives in Alberta, Canada with her “hero” and three munchkins. Visit her at www.angelakcouch.com, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

A Revolutionary Romance

Angela and I at the ACFW conference in Nashville, August 2016

I’m so excited to introduce fellow author Angela Couch to all of you. Angela’s debut novel, The Scarlet Coat, releases today for E-readers with the paperback version to follow on February 1. Angela and I met shortly after I joined American Christian Fiction Writers in 2014. Over the years, we have become not only critique partners, but very close friends. I had the privilege of reading an advanced copy of The Scarlet Coat and I can highly recommend it to you, my faithful readers. Click here to read my review on Amazon. But just in case you think I’m bias, The Scarlet Coat also made book blog Rachel’s Reads list of the most anticipated new releases of 2017. I hope you enjoy Angela’s post today where she shares the true history that inspired the first book in her Revolutionary War series, Hearts at War.

Leave a comment or ask a question by February 1 and be entered to win a paperback copy of The Scarlet Coat!

I am so honored to be invited to share some history behind my newly released novel, The Scarlet Coat. The story is set during the American Revolution and begins just after one of the bloodiest battles the war knew. Oriskany.

In August of 1777, one year and one month after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the British decided to use the Mohawk Valley as a spike into the heart of New England. Barry St. Leger was promoted to Brigadier General for the campaign and took with him eight hundred British, German, Loyalist, and Canadian troops, and almost one thousand allied Iroquois.

One of their first stops was Fort Stanwix (for a time renamed Fort Schuyler by the Continental forces, and near present day Rome, New York).

Aerial view of Fort Stanwix

The British laid siege, but the Fort’s commander, Colonel Peter Gansevoort, with his almost eight hundred men, refused to surrender.

Reenactment at Fort Stanwix

Thankfully, help was on the way.

General Nicholas Herkimer with his own troops and the local militia, tallying to about 800 men, were hurrying up along the Mohawk River to bring relief. Unfortunately, Molly Brant, sister of Joseph Brant, a Mohawk military and political leader, and one of the most feared Tories in the area, sent runners to inform the British of the American force.

St. Leger sent an intercept force totaling at least four hundred and fifty men. They ambushed the Continental troops in a ravine near the settlement of Oriskany.

General Herkimer at the Battle of Oriskany

Caught off guard and in a death trap, the Patriots lost over half of their men. Over four hundred men, including Herkimer himself who was wounded and died a few days later. On the British side, the Iroquois war party lost around sixty-five, while the British tallied only seven dead and twenty-one wounded, missing or captured.

But it wasn’t a victory for the British.

While they succeeded in turning back the American relief column, the Continental force held the battlefield after the ambushers had withdrawn back toward Fort Stanwix. The Americans also succeeded in crumbling the moral of the Iroquois warriors which led to internal conflict and contributed the eventual failure of St. Leger’s strike.

Back at Fort Stanwix the British siege only lasted a couple more weeks before news arrived that Benedict Arnold (yes, that one, but when he was still on the side of the Americans) was approaching with a large force (though his actual force was much smaller than rumor suggested). The unhappy Iroquois insisted the British withdraw…and so they did.

Major General Benedict Arnold

When Arnold and his column passed by Oriskany two weeks after the battle, many of the dead Americans still remained where they had fallen. By then the stench was horrific, as was the grisly scene.

Ten miles down the Mohawk River, The Scarlet Coat unfolds.

A Woman Compelled by Christian Charity
Surrounded by the musket fire of the American Revolution, Rachel Garnet prays for her family to be safe. When the British invade the Mohawk Valley, and her father and brother don’t return from the battle, she goes in pursuit of them. She finds her brother alive but her father has been killed at the hand of the enemy. Amidst the death, how can she ignore a cry for help…? Rachel reluctantly takes in a badly wounded British officer. But how long can her sense of Christian duty repress her hatred for his scarlet coat?

A Man Lost to the Devastation of War
Passages of Scripture and fleeting images of society are all Andrew Wyndham recalls after he awakens to the log walls of his gentle prison. Even his name eludes him. Rachel Garnet insists he is a captain in the British army. He mourns the loss of his memory, but how can he hope to remember war when his “enemy” is capturing his heart?

A Scarlet Uniform Holds the Power to Unite or Divide
Andrew’s injuries are severe, his memory slow to return, and the secret of his existence too perilous to ignore. As Rachel nurses him back to health, his hidden scarlet coat threatens to expose the deeds of her merciful heart, and Andrew is forced to face a harrowing decision—Stay hidden and risk losing the woman he loves or turn himself in and risk losing his life.

Angela K Couch is an award-winning author for her short stories, and a semi-finalist in ACFW’s 2015 Genesis Contest for her Revolutionary War novel that will be published by Pelican Book Group. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. Angela lives in Alberta, Canada with her “hero” and three munchkins.

To connect with Angela, or to learn more about her award winning fiction, you can visit her at www.angelakcouch.com.

Remember, leave a comment or ask a question in the comments below by February 1 to be entered in a drawing for a FREE copy of The Scarlet Coat

OR

Get your own copy of The Scarlet Coat!

Pastors & Patriots, The Black Robed Regiment

Evangelist, George Whitefield (1714-1770) preaching to colonial Americans.

Unlike today, the church in colonial and Revolutionary America served as the hub for political debate, as well as for disseminating and discussing current events. And when it came to British oppression, they didn’t hesitate to call for independence. These fiery orators were dubbed by the British as The Black Robed Regiment in reference to their black clerical robes.

Defenders of the British crown found preachers’ support of the Patriot cause particularly detrimental to their efforts to maintain loyalty among the colonists. In the 1770s, most colonists still considered themselves aligned with England. Many parishioners questioned the legitimacy of revolution. From their pulpits, members of The Black Robed Regiment reassured their congregations that their revolution was justified in the eyes of God.

In fact, the British believed so strongly that it was the preaching from colonial pulpits that pushed its citizens into rebellion that many ministers had bounties put on their heads. Loyalists burned the homes and churches of the pastors who preached against British rule. Hatred by the British for the clergy ran so deep that on the battlefield wounded ministers were frequently executed rather than taken prisoner.

One such member of The Black Robed Regiment was the Reverend Samuel West, pastor of the Congregationalist Church of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. West was invited to give the prestigious Election Day sermon in Boston in 1776. In his message he proclaimed that the colonies were already independent and constituted a new nation. “Any people, when cruelly oppressed has the right to throw the yoke, and be free.” Reverend West  further declared, “To save our country from the hands of our oppressors ought to be dearer to us even than our own lives, and, next the eternal salvation of our own souls, is the thing of greatest importance–a duty so sacred that it cannot justly be dispensed with for the sake of our secular concerns.”

But the Patriot Pastors of the Revolutionary era didn’t just preach about liberty while encouraging their congregations to fight against tyranny, they led the way!

muhlenberg

Pastor Muhlenberg revealing his Continental Army uniform.

Pastor Peter Muhlenberg, A Lutheran minister, ascended the pulpit on a cold Sunday morning in 1776 and preached from Ecclesiastes 3, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted…” Muhlenberg continued, laying the foundation for the point of his sermon. “In the language of the holy writ, there was a time for all things, a time preach and a time pray, but those times have passed away.” Imagine him standing before his congregation, his voice gaining intensity as he continued. “There is a time to fight, and that time has now come!”

Then, in dramatic fashion, Pastor Muhlenberg removed his clerical robe revealing his military uniform. He challenged his parishioners asking, “Who is with me?” Over 300 men from his church alone joined him in the fight for liberty, volunteering for what eventually became the 8th Virginia Brigade. Pastor Muhlenberg and his men fought in every major engagement of the Revolutionary War and wintered with George Washington at Valley Forge. A native Pennsylvanian, his statue, stands in the U.S. Capitol Building’s Statuary Hall–clerical robes draped over his right arm, sword firmly in his left hand.

caldwell

James Caldwell instructing his men to “Give ’em Watts, boys!”

The Reverend James Caldwell, minister of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, instructed his congregation that “there are times when it is as righteous to fight as it is to pray.” After the British put a bounty on his head, Caldwell went to the pulpit with two loaded flintlock pistols.

Like Muhlenberg, Caldwell also fought alongside his congregants. When the British captured Elizabethtown, Caldwell’s men were short wadding necessary to pack ammunition in their weapons. Without it they would surely be overrun. Caldwell rode to a nearby church and gathered as many hymnals as he could carry. Returning to his men, he instructed them to rip out the pages and use them as wadding in their muskets. Having stuffed the hymns of such classic writers as Isaac Watts down the barrels of their guns, he yelled “Give ’em Watts boys, put Watts into them!” The British referred to Caldwell as the “Fighting Chaplain” and his brave leadership was immortalized in verse.

“Who’s that riding in on horse-back?
Parson Caldwell, boys; Hooray!
Red-coats call him “Fighting Chaplain,”
How they hate him! Well they may!”

According to David Barton of Wall Builders, “modern historians have noted that not one single right asserted in the Declaration of Independence hadn’t been preached from colonial pulpits prior to 1763.” It wasn’t only the British who gave great attribution to the clergy but Founders like John Adams exalted the clergy’s role in stirring the hearts of the people to fight when he said, “the pulpits  have thundered.”

The call to educate the church on political and social issues didn’t end with American victory at Yorktown. The Black Robed Regiment of the Revolutionary era set a precedence that inspired pastors throughout American history to instruct their parishioners on what the Bible said about issues ranging from slavery to civil rights. Patriotic pastors have led troops into battle, ministered to the wounded, written laws and public policy, lobbied our government, founded universities and have been elected to local, state and federal government offices across the nation.

fisherbookSadly, today many pulpits are quiet when it comes to instructing the church on what the Bible has to say about the social and political issues of our day. According to Pastor Dan Fisher, author of Bringing Back the Black Robed Regiment,”Today the church has become marginalized almost to the point of cultural impotency and spiritual irrelevance.”

I’m proud to belong to a church where the pastor does apply Biblical principles to the events shaping the world we live and who challenges us to use our vote to impact our culture. In fact, it was from him I learned of The Black Robed Regiment when he gave his annual Election Day sermon last Sunday.

If you’re interested in learning more about the movement underway challenging America’s pastors to speak up in this ever-increasing politically correct world we live in or to obtain a Christian voter’s guide for your state, please visit the  National Black Robed Regiment and view the short video.

How a Snake Inspired the American Revolution

Don't Tread on Me Flag courtesy C. WhittenIf you’re anything like me, snakes give you the heebie-jeebies. And like me, you’ve probably seen that “Don’t Tread on Me” rattlesnake plastered on license plates, bumper stickers, hats and t-shirts. I’ve even seen it waived at political rallies on the news but I never understood what it meant…until now. And I’ve learned a snake may be the most frequently occurring symbol used to rally the colonists to unite and break the oppressive rule of the British crown.

Today we know it as the Gadsden Flag with its bright yellow background. But how did it come to represent the liberty sought by our forefathers?

Like so many things, it all began with Benjamin Franklin.

Join_or_DieIn 1751, Franklin wrote a humorous editorial in the Pennsylvania Gazette suggesting that in cordial response to Britain’s policy of sending convicts to America, America should return the favor by sending rattlesnakes to Britain. Years later during the French & Indian War, he resurrected his idea and created this first American political cartoon, a wood carving, using the image of a segmented snake. Urging the thirteen colonies to unite in common defense,  Franklin played on a myth common at the time that a dismembered snake could grow back together if the pieces were realigned before sunset. Each segment is labeled with the initial of one of the thirteen colonies however he lumped all of New England together (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) under the notation N.E. as the head of the snake, ready to strike.

revere-join-or-dieThis image was reprinted in newspapers throughout the colonies, and was often adapted by the publisher. Left is Paul Revere’s modified “Join or Die” serpent from the masthead of the Boston Journal, July 7, 1774.

Historians believe it was Franklin who wrote anonymously to the Pennsylvania Journal as “An American Guesser”, expounding on his use of the snake and advocating for its use as a national symbol:

  • No eye-lids so she is always on the watch, always vigilant.
  • Doesn’t begin an attack, but once in battle, she doesn’t surrender.
  • Her defenses are hidden (in her mouth) so she appears weak. And though the bite is small, it’s deadly.
  • She doesn’t attack until after she gives warning.

Franklin’s reptile resurfaced years later, once again as a symbol to unite Americans against the oppressive Stamp Act. This time the previously segmented viper had transformed into the coiled rattlesnake we recognize today.

Navy-Jack-clip-artAccording to historian Christopher Whitten, in 1775  the Continental Congress got word that two ships would be arriving in America laden with arms and powder to resupply British troops. The Congress authorized the building of  four ships to form the first American Navy and undertook a secret mission to capture those ships and their precious cargo. Colonel Christopher Gadsden, a member of the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress, appointed Commodore Esek Hopkins as the Commodore of the Navy. Believing the Commodore needed his own personal standard, Gadsden presented Hopkins with the yellow, snake-coiled “Don’t Tread on Me” flag . Many speculate that John Paul Jones, first lieutenant aboard the Alfred, most likely ran the standard up the gaff before the mission commenced. The snake even appeared across the red stripes of the first Navy jack.

CMMFlagOnce again, the coiled reptile was reprinted in publications throughout the colonies. Since there was no distinctive American symbol at the time, the “Don’t Tread on Me” image appeared on uniform buttons, banners, and flags. The Culpeper County Virginia Minute Men adopted the iconic coiled rattlesnake on their flag but added the words of Virginia Minute Men Organizer Patrick Henry, “Liberty or Death.” Also seen on currency, the Georgia-snakeseal from a 1778 $20 bill from Georgia (right), Gadsden’s home state, proudly displayed a serpent ready to strike. The new currency was financed by property seized from loyalists. The motto reads “Nemo me impune lacesset,” or “No one will provoke me with impunity.”

Its odd to think that if Franklin had his way, we might revere the snake instead of the bald eagle. While I take great pride in my heritage and the history behind the Gadsden flag, I’m glad this reptilian image remains a symbol of government oppression and not my national identity.

Do you think the snake would have made a good icon for America?

 

 

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