Romancing History

Category: 17th & 18th Century America

Puritans verses Pilgrims, What’s the Difference?

Dear Reader,

My apologies for the previous sloppy, unfinished version of this post. I accidentally hit publish and thought I’d taken the appropriate steps to prevent that unpolished version of Pilgrims verses Puritans from reaching you. Below is the final copy. I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving!

As Thanksgiving draws near, I’ve been thinking about the Pilgrims and Puritans who traversed the Atlantic Ocean with the hope of practicing their religion without the fear of persecution. For the longest time I didn’t realize that these two groups while similar, were different. The Pilgrims were Puritans, or at least a distinct group of Puritans.

Let me see if I can make any sense of it for you.

The Puritans, also known as Dissenters, were Protestants who followed the teachings of John Calvin, a reformed preacher who was greatly influenced by the ministry of Martin Luther. They believed the Church of England should be purified of the ceremony, liturgy and practices that weren’t mentioned in Scripture and they rejected the ecclesiastical offices of Cardinal, Bishop, Archbishop, and Priest, but they did embrace church offices mentioned in the Bible–pastors, deacons, elders and teachers. The Bible was their sole authority in all areas of life and worship.

Depiction of an English Puritan family, 16th century. The Granger Collection, New York

Depiction of an English Puritan family, 16th century.
The Granger Collection, New York

Some common beliefs of the Puritans:

  • Predestination: The Puritans believed that before the foundation of the world, God had determined who would be saved and who would be damned. There was nothing an individual could do during their life that could change that outcome.
  • Prayer: They rejected the Catholic and Anglican Book of Common Prayer, believing that prayer should be spontaneous and not scripted. They also believed that you could beseech God directly on your behalf and rejected the idea of a priest as their intercessor.
  • The Church Building: The building itself had no significance to the Puritans and was kept intentionally plain with no religious art, crosses, windows, fancy architecture or icons to avoid the sin of idolatry.
  • Sacraments: They rejected all but two of the holy sacraments–baptism and communion. All the rest (confession, ordination, marriage, annointing the sick and confirmation) they believed were inventions of man and therefore heretical or idolatrous.

As time passed and few reforms were enacted withing the Church of England, some Puritans felt the church was so corrupt the only course of action for true Christians was to break free from its authority altogether. Those Puritans who left the Anglican Church and established their own houses of worship were labeled Separatists. Rejecting the Church of England was considered a slap in the face to the monarch who was its head. This was a crime punishable by jail or death.

In 1607-08, about one hundred Separatists sought religious freedom in Holland. They settled in the Dutch industrial city of Leiden. While there they established churches which held to strict observance of the Sabbath by not performing any labor on Sunday. They studied the writings of earlier Protestants and Separatists, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, and they even established a printing press to illegally distribute new Separatist and Puritan books in England.

Henry A. Bacon - "The Landing of the Pilgrims"

Henry A. Bacon – “The Landing of the Pilgrims”

The Pilgrims’ church flourished in the Netherlands as additional Separatists fled from England. Over time, many became concerned that they might lose their English cultural identity if they remained in Holland permanently so they arranged with English investors to establish a new colony in North America. Members of this group later migrated to America in 1620 aboard the Mayflower. Their journey to find a safe place to practice their faith without fear of retribution made them known to us today as the Pilgrims.

The Puritans who remained behind in England sought to reform the Anglican Church from within. This group, who reluctantly remained within the Church of England, is who history refers to as the Puritans. Many Puritans gained seats in Parliament and tried to influence the king to make reforms within the church. Their attempts failed and further angered the king. In 1630, John Winthrop lead 1,000 Puritans to settle in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. alongside the Pilgrims who by now had a flourishing community.

A 19th century bronze statue of Puritan John Winthrop, by sculptor Richard Saltonstall (Steven Senne, AP)

A 19th century bronze statue of Puritan John Winthrop, by sculptor Richard Saltonstall (Steven Senne, AP)

Although the Pilgrims and the Puritans now lived side-by-side in the Massachusetts colony, the outward expression of their faith in daily life was very different. The Pilgrims had left England to practice their faith in peace and solitude. Mercy, compassion and forgiveness became distinctives of their faith. The Pilgrims established peaceful relations with the natives who had taught them how to plant corn and to add fish heads to the soil to boost plant production.

The Puritans came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony believing they were to establish “a new Jerusalem” and sought both individual and corporate conformity to the teaching of the Bible, with moral purity pursued down to the smallest detail. They believed that man existed for the glory of God, that his first concern in life was to do God’s will. Although they sought religious freedom in the new world, the Puritans exhibited intolerance to the religious views of other immigrants and often hanged dissenters like Quakers, Anglicans and Baptists.

scarletletterThe Celebration of Christmas was banned in Puritan communities within the colony and punishment was dolled out for public drunkenness and adultery. The Puritan life was one of moderation. While they did dress according to their social classes and drank alcoholic beverages, they condemned those who would take these things to excess. Puritan Richard Baxter is quoted as saying, “Overdoing is the most ordinary way to undoing.” Undoing meaning your condemnation to hell. They also encouraged education of both males and females so the Bible could be read and understood by the masses.

The beliefs of both the Pilgrims and the Puritans were passed on to their descendants, many of whom pushed west and pioneered the American frontier, cementing their values in American culture. Both have left a legacy of courage and conviction on the American psyche.

Listen Up, Y’All and Learn Some Southern Slang!

southerngrammarchartIf you think y’all is a contraction for ‘you all’ you’d be partially correct. Y’all is always plural referring to more than one other person. Modern English doesn’t have a word for the plural form of you. During the middle ages, thou was the singular from of you and ye was the plural. Over time “ye all” evolved into “y’all.” To further complicate things, if you’re talking to a group of more than three people in the south, you say “all y’all”.

So who put the “y’all” in the Southern slang?

The Scotch-Irish immigrants that journeyed to America in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Although the first known reference of the term was from Queen Elizabeth I in 1573, today it is almost exclusively an Americanism. As it turns out, the Scotch-Irish (also know as  Scots-Irish) weren’t very Scottish. While some had fled Scotland following an unsuccessful rebellion to Ulster in Ireland, the majority were Irish. The rest were religious refugees who settled in Ulster from the English counties of Cumberland and Northumberland. Others were  from Flanders, Germania or France (the French Huguenots like Paul Revere).  What bound them together was their embrace of reformed Christianity and their rejection of established state religion. By the time they emigrated to America, by and large they considered themselves Irish. It wasn’t until the mass immigration during the Great Famine of the 1840s that the term resurfaced as a means of distinguishing themselves from the new Roman Catholic immigrants.

The Sctoch-Irish settled primarily in the south, especially in the areas of the Appalachian mountains. Their unique history and cultural identity is evident in many words that have seeped into the American vernacular.

Rednecks Despite what you may think, the term didn’t arise from the sunburned necks of these early farmers. During the 1600s, protestant insurgents wore a red scarf around their necks to signify their allegiance  to the rebellion against the state churches of Scotland and Ireland.

Backwooods When they arrived in America, they weren’t necessarily greeted with open arms. The English considered them dirty, rebellious, poor and uneducated. In order to avoid the crowded conditions along the eastern seaboard and the discrimination they encountered in the cities and small towns in the colonies, they settled further west. Because they inhabited the areas behind civilization pushing the English colonial frontier, the English settlers said they lived in the backwoods.

hillbillyHillbilly Although following the Civil War the term took on a derogatory stereotype of being backward, prone to violence, and ignorant of modern customs, the term is believed to have originated from the Scotch-Irish themselves. “Hill-folk” referred to people that preferred isolation from the greater society and lived in the Scottish highlands while “billy” meant “comrade” or “companion.”

Some other phrases we can trace to America’s frontier busting Scotch-Irish ancestors:

Barking Up the Wrong TreeMistaken/Picked a fight with the wrong person. When hunting dogs chased raccoons up a tree and didn’t notice the critters jumped into another, they were said to be barking up the wrong tree.

Fly off the HandleLose your temper unexpectedly, overreact. As the Scotch Irish settled the frontier, they felled the dense forests of the eastern woodlands. A sturdy ax was essential to their success. Men carved their own handles and then attached them to ax heads shipped from the East. Because they were crudely fitted together, ax heads were known to fly off the handle, posing the possibility of serious injury to those nearby.

Davy Crockett was a frontier trailblazer of Scotch-Irish ancestry.

Davy Crockett was a frontier trailblazer of Scotch-Irish ancestry.

Ax to GrindPersonal grievance with someone, usually a strong selfish motivation. On the frontier, an ax was sharpened on a sandstone grinding wheel powered by a foot pump. When you were angry enough at someone, sharpening your ax meant you were ready for a fight.

TrailblazerThe first person to do something. This phrase came into being as the Scotch-Irish pushed their way deeper and deeper into the American frontier. Since they were exploring uncharted territory and didn’t want to get lost, they marked a trail by hacking bark off the trees. This method of marking trees was known as “blazing” since the mark resembled the white blaze on a horse’s nose.

The South today is known for its colorful style of self-expression. Although they can leave a Yankee scratching their head, there is a unique charm to these down-to-earth phrases for stating exactly what’s on the speaker’s mind.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite Southern phrases and their translations. If these don’t just dill your pickle, I don’t know what will.

“That possum’s on the stump!” Translation: That’s as good as it gets!

“His knickers are in a knot.” Translation: Look out, someone’s angry!

hissyfit“About to pop!” Translation: You’re full after eating a lot

“A mind to!” Translation: You are thinking about doing something.

“His heart is a thumpin’ gizzard.” Translation: You’re cold-hearted and cruel

“She could start an argument in an empty house.” Translation: You’re cantankerous!

“Cain’t never could.” Translation: You’ll never do it if you don’t try

“He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.” Translation: You’re conceited or vain.

“Hit the bushes!” Translation: Go to the bathroom!

“Huzzy” Translation: a bad woman like the kind that will steal your man!

jerk-a-knot“He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams.” Translation: You’re cheap.

“Cattywampus.” Translation: askew or awry; cockeyed

“Too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash.” Translation: You’re broke.

“That woman is talking with her tongue out of her shoe.” She’s lyin’.

“He’s only got one oar in the water.” Translation: He’s not too bright.”

“Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit.” Translation: Who would’ve known?

chickenhead“You don’t watch out, I’m gonna cream yo’ corn.” Translation: Somebody’s in real trouble!

“He fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.” Translation: You’re not too good lookin’.

“Fat as a tick.” Translation: Full and well-fed.

The richness of Southern speech goes far beyond one or two-word expressions and as you’ve seen, there’s a Southern expression for every occasion.

I’m just happier than a dead pig in sunshine that all y’all stopped by the blog today!

What is your favorite Southern expression? Feel free to share it in the comments below!


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!


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.


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?



Researching History with Author, Sarah Monzon

I’m thrilled to offer you my first guest post by my friend, author Sarah Monzon.  I enjoyed Sarah’s new release Finders Keepers (A Carrington Family Novel) (Volume 1)so much, I asked her to stop by today and share how she did the research for this dual timeline story. (Click here to see Kelly’s review of Finders Keepers)

Yay! I’m so excited to be here with you all at Romancing History. Kelly asked me to share with you all a bit about the research I did for Finders Keepers. If you aren’t familiar with my new release, here is the blurb.

Three lives. Three hundred years. One ship that ties them together.


young romantic couple kissing in front of sunset in santa monicaSpain, 1689
The same evil that stole her mother’s life stalks Isabella Castellano. Afraid for her safety, Isabella disguises herself as a cabin boy and hires on to one of His Majesty’s treasure fleet vessels. But has her flight from a known threat only led her to be ensnared in a sea of dangers?

Florida, Present Day
Summer Arnet will go anywhere to capture the perfect shot that will get her marine photography noticed by the prestigious nature magazine, Our World—even diving in waters haunted by great white sharks. When a treasure hunter with a ladies’-man reputation approaches her about a sunken ship at one of her dive locations, it may be the chance she’s been looking for to launch her career…if his charming smile doesn’t derail her first. A past tragedy has left a hole in Trent Carrington’s life—a hole he’s tried to fill with women, money, and adventure. Could the feisty marine photographer be the missing piece, or will Trent finally accept that the treasure he seeks can’t be found where rust and moths destroy?

1689 Spain. Yeah, don’t ask me how I came up with that one. Maybe it had something to do with learning about Ponce de Leon in elementary school. Besides that rudimentary knowledge and a hazy memory, I didn’t have a lot of upfront knowledge about the setting and time period I was about to plunk my historical heroine in. How could I write vivid descriptions and transport readers without knowing how a 17th century galleon operated or what the people in that era wore?

I’m sure you’re all thinking the same thing—Google. Yep. I used Google. A. Lot. But you know what came even more in handy? Pinterest. I’m serious! I love Pinterest. Yes, I’ve had some epic crafting failure from there, but it really is a great research tool. Take for instance this schematic I found of a galleon. I referenced this picture to death! It was simply perfect because it showed me each level of the ship and its name. Then I could search deeper about what the uses were for each level.

Pinterest is also where I found the inspiration for my characters. Meet Isabella Constellano and Captain Montoya.

isabella (002) capt montoya (002)

Now that I had my characters and setting, I needed to add authentic layers. What exactly did sailors in the 17th century wear? Apparently their clothes were called slops and made from sturdy loose-fitting linen. Grease often coated the fronts from hauling the thick ropes across the deck.

But what about my heroic captain? Surely he wore something a bit more appealing than slops. Ah, yes. The leather jerkin and cavalier hat. Add to that a sword hanging from his waist and a commanding presence, and he soon has his female stowaway (and us readers!) swooning.

For the less visual details I needed, Google did come in handy. I learned a lot about the history of the treasure fleet, including the routes the ships sailed, the types of cargo they shipped to and from, and how the exports affected both Hispanolia and Spain.


biophoto (002)If you want to learn more about my research, be sure to check out the Finders Keepers board on my Pinterest page.

To order a copy of Finders Keepers for yourself, click on the cover!

Sarah Monzon is a pastor’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow creating her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in a small desert town in central Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

What’s Napoleon Hiding in There?

Napoleon in His Study, by Jacques Louis David, 1812

Napoleon in His Study, by Jacques Louis David, 1812

Have you ever wondered what men are hiding inside their waist coats in all those classical portraits?

You know what I’m talking about, right? All those stately portraits from the 18th and 19th century where men are posed with their right hand tucked inside their clothing. It seems rather odd to me. Who really stands that way? What could they be hiding? Perhaps a snack in case the portrait session lasted too long? Maybe a weapon in case the artist didn’t portray them in a favorable manner? Some have suggested that the portrait’s subject had an ulcer or other stomach ailment, or perhaps he is winding his watch or scratching an itch.

It seems the real reason is quite simple.

Early in the 18th century, English portrait artists began looking to classical orators and the postures used in ancient Greek and Roman statuary for their inspiration.  The hidden-hand pose, according to the Greeks, conveyed calm assurance and became popular among the nation’s statesmen. In fact, many Greeks considered it rude to speak with your hands outside of your clothing especially when discussing matters of state.

Statue of Aeschines, Greek Orator

Statue of Aeschines, Greek Orator

By the time of Aeschines, a famous Greek statesman and orator, the tradition had gone out of vogue. But in his speech, Against Timarchus (346 B.C.), Aeschines challenges Timarchus and all Greek statesmen to reinstate the custom:

“And so decorous were those public men of old, Pericles [495-429 B.C.], Themistocles [524-459 B.C.], and Aristeides [530-468 B.C.] (who was called by a name most unlike that by which Timarchus here is called), that to speak with the arm outside the cloak, as we all do nowadays as a matter of course, was regarded then as an ill-mannered thing, and they carefully refrained from doing it. And I can point to a piece of evidence which seems to me very weighty and tangible. I am sure you have all sailed over to Salamis, and have seen the statue of Solon [638-558 B.C.] there. You can therefore yourselves bear witness that in the statue that is set up in the Salaminian market-place Solon stands with his arm inside his cloak. Now this is a reminiscence, fellow citizens, and an imitation of the posture of Solon, showing his customary bearing as he used to address the people of Athens.”

Marquis de Layfayette, portrait by Charles Wilson Peale

Marquis de Lafayette, portrait by Charles Wilson Peale

While Napoleon’s portrait by Jacques Louis David may be the most iconic depiction of a “hidden hand” portrait, the fad had been revived nearly a hundred years earlier. Francois Nivelon’s A Book Of Genteel Behavior of 1738 states the hand-inside-vest pose denoted “manly boldness tempered with modesty.” It seems the English elite liked this portrayal of themselves and began commissioning artists to paint them in the revived Greek pose. In her essay,”Re-Dressing Classical Statuary: The Eighteenth-Century ‘Hand-in-Waistcoat’ Portrait,” Arline Meyer notes the pose being used in eighteenth century British portraiture as a sign of the sitter’s breeding. The gesture became used so frequently that people questioned whether or not the artists were even capable of painting hands.

Photograph by Mathew Brady

Photograph by Mathew Brady

Even with the advent of photography, the stance continued to remain popular. Although usually photographed in a seated position, “hand-in-pocket” images can be found of American weapons inventor Samuel Colt, author of The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx, and many civil war general including Major Generals George B. McClellan, Ambrose Burnside and William Tecumseh Sherman. The practice fell out of favor by the end of the 19th century, although it was still occasionally used in the 20th century, most famously by  Joseph Stalin.

With the introduction of smart phones and their ability to take photos anywhere at anytime, do you think we’ve lost an ere of respectability in the way we represent ourselves in photos today?


What do April 1, a sundial and Benjamin Franklin all have in common?

What do April 1, a sundial and Benjamin Franklin all have in common?

Answer: The Penny

April first is not just April Fools day, its also National One Cent Day and the penny can trace its lineage to one of America’s favorite founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Franklin designed the first United States one cent coin minted in 1787.

Fugio One Cent Coin

Fugio One Cent Coin

Franklin’s coin was much larger than today’s penny, nearly the size of a half-dollar.  At that time, people expected coins to contain close to their face value in metal. The first official one cent coin has become known as the Fugio Cent to coin collector’s in reference to the Latin phrase “Fugio” (Latin: I flee/fly) engraved on the reverse side of the coin along with the images of a sun shining down on a sun dial. Beneath the sundial appeared the phrase, “Mind Your Business.” The image and the words form a rebus meaning that “time flies, do your work.”

The reverse side of the coin featured a chain of 13 links, each representing one of the original thirteen colonies. Inside the circle chain was engraved the motto “We Are One”. Gold and silver coins transitioned to the motto “E pluribus unum” (Latin: Out of Many, One) from the Great Seal of the United States.

Flying Eagle Penny

Flying Eagle Penny

By the 1850s, the United States Treasury was looking to reduce the size and composition of the one-cent coin to make it easier to handle and more economical to mint. In 1857 the United States Government introduced the Flying Eagle cent. This was the first one cent coin minted in the exact diameter of the modern penny you have in your pocket. Although somewhat thicker and heavier, the Flying Eagle was also the first penny composed of copper and nickel.

Indian Head Penny

Indian Head Penny

The design changed again in 1859 portraying the Goddess of Liberty wearing an Indian headdress. The Indian head penny remained in circulation until 1909 when it was replaced by the image of President Lincoln issued for the 100th anniversary of the assassinated president’s birth and still graces the face of the one cent coin. Today’s penny is made of copper and zinc and the Union Shield is engraved on the reverse side replacing the Lincoln Memorial which had been there since 1959.

Although pennies may be the smallest denomination of United States currency, they’ve had a huge impact on American expressions concerning both saving and spending money. Some of the oldest sayings use the word “penny” as a way of identifying a minimal amount, low-cost  or limited value.

saving penniesThe proverb “a penny spar’d is twice got” encourages frugality. By declining to spend a penny and to save one’s money instead, you are a penny up rather than a penny down, hence ‘twice got’. “A penny saved is a penny earned” is another thrifty axiom often falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin. First published in Pall Mall magazine in 1899, the maxim implies that even small bits of money are important though many people don’t think a penny is really worth saving.

If you’re experiencing a bad turn of events, then you might find yourself “without two pennies to rub together.” This expression is often muttered by those who tend to spend their money as soon as they get it. Thus, they never seem to have any cash in their pocket.


Here are some other common English phrases using the word penny:

Penny Pincher: a bargain hunter or someone who is always trying to get a good deal

Pretty Penny: an expression used to describe an expensive or extravagant item

Penny wise and pound foolish: someone who watches small expenditures while making unwise investments or squanders money on frivolous expensive purchases

In for a penny, in for a pound: when a good opportunity finally comes your way  you’re willing to risk whatever you have in the venture

Penny Dreadfuls: serial stories printed on cheap pulp paper selling for one cent per issue

Penny ante poker: a poker game between players not willing to risk much cash

Although I can’t afford to give each of you “a penny for your thoughts,” I hope you have a little more respect for the smallest coin in your wallet.

Peculiar Courting Customs

Long before the automobile, telephone and the Friday night football game defined modern dating, there was courtship. A serious, exclusive commitment usually sanctioned by both sets of parents, that often implied the couple was intending to marry. But in times when the opposite sex didn’t mingle in public unless chaperoned, how did perspective beaus let a lady know she had captured his affections? Here’s some fun and quite unusual customs from the past that helped pave the wave to romance for our ancestors.

Antique Welsh Love Spoons

Antique Welsh Love Spoons

Carved from the Heart

In Wales, when a young man wanted to court, he carved his special lady a love spoon. Intricate in detail, these love offerings took hours to craft thereby demonstrating his devotion to his intended. If the young woman accepted the spoon, they were considered courting. Although this ritual has faded in modern Wales, love spoons are still given as gifts for weddings, anniversaries and Valentine’s day.

FAN-tastic Flirting

With all their rules about the opposite sex mingling, those stodgy upper-class Victorians made the art of wooing a woman tricky indeed. Since a gentleman was not allowed to speak to a woman to whom he hadn’t been properly introduced, he needed some clue a lady was open to his attention. Thus the language of the fan was born.  When a lady caught a man staring from across the room, her swift moving fan indicated she was unattached while a slow flapping one signaled she was engaged. If she laid the fan against her right cheek, she was available and open to an introduction. However, if the lady rested the fan against her left cheek, the unlucky fellow learned of her disinterest and spared himself an awkward introduction.

Speak Up, I Can’t Hear You

Couple using a courting stick

Couple using a courting stick

In 17th century America, a young man had little opportunity to woo his love in private. How was he to convince the lady he fancied of his unending devotion when in cramped quarters with her father hovering closeby? The answer, the courting trumpet (also know as a whispering stick or courting tube). By placing one end of a hollow wooden tube in her ear while her beau whispered sweet nothings from the other side, the couple ensured their privacy no matter how many listening ears were nearby.

Seal the Deal with Fruit

If you thought a carved wooden spoon was practical, how about a slice of apple? In rural Austria, available young ladies would shove an apple wedge in their armpit during dances. At the conclusion of festivities, she offered it to the lucky young man she most admired. Now if you’re like me you’re already wrinkling your nose. But wait it gets even better. If he returns her affections, he eats the fruit!

If my hubby were required to eat this putrid offering, I can nearly guarantee I’d still be single! While this old-fashioned gal loves to keep old traditions alive, eating the apple wedge is one courting ritual that should stay buried in the past!

Another old-fashioned way lovers kept the romance alive in the not-so-distant past was letter writing. While living on opposite sides of the country, in the dark ages before email and texting, my hubby wooed me the old-fashioned way– hand-written letters. We kept the post office in business, often exchanging 3-5 letters every week. I still have them in a box in my mother’s hope chest at the foot of my bed.

How did your sweetie woo you?

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