By Bill Federer
On NOVEMBER 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, shots rang out as President John F. Kennedywas assassinated.The youngest President ever elected, being 43 years old, he was also the youngest to die, barely serving 1,000 days.
“We in this country, in this generation, are – by destiny rather than choice – the watchmen on the walls of world freedom.
We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of peace on earth, goodwill toward men…”
“That must always be our goal – and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength.
For as was written long ago, ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'”
John F. Kennedy stated in his Thanksgiving Proclamation, October 28, 1961:
“The Pilgrims, after a year of hardship and peril, humbly and
I ask the head of each family to recount to his children the story of the first New England Thanksgiving,
thus to impress upon future generations the heritage of this nation born in toil, in danger, in purpose, and in the conviction that right and justice and freedom can through man’s efforts persevere and come to fruition with the blessing of God.”
On February 9, 1961, President Kennedyremarked at a Breakfast for International Christian Leadership:
“Every President of the United States has placed special reliance upon his faith in God…
The guiding principle and prayer of this Nation has been, is now, and shall ever be ‘In God We Trust.'”
Though Kennedy was the youngest electedPresident, it was actually Theodore Roosevelt who was the youngest President, being just 42 years old when, as Vice-President, he assumed the Presidency when William McKinley was assassinated in 1901.
“In no other place and at no other time has the experiment of government of the people, by the people, for the people, been tried on so vast a scale as here in our own country in the opening years of the 20th Century.
Failure would not only be a dreadful thing for us, but a dreadful thing for all mankind, because it would mean loss of hope for all who believe in the power and the righteousness of liberty.
Therefore, in thanking God for the mercies extended to us in the past, we beseech Him that He may not withhold them in the future.”
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Spain conquered the New World in the early 1500’s and set up a system called encomienda or repartimiento, which was similar to feudal France’s Corvée “unfree labour.”
Slavery in Cuba began earlier and lasted longer than anywhere else in the Americas.
When indigenous Indians died from harsh treatment and lack of immunity to diseases, Spain replaced them with Africans bought from Muslim slave markets.
Priests like Bartolomé de las Casas, Franciscan Friars, Papal Bulls, and Christian missionaries, such as the Moravians, were a voice of conscience against slavery, but Colonial governments largely ignored them.
A notorious trade triangle developed with Havana, Cuba, at its center: SLAVES from Africa to SUGAR from the Caribbean to RUM in England.
Importation of slaves to the United States ended in 1807, but in 1839, an international incident occurred.
A Portuguese ship from Sierra Leone sold 53 slaves to Spanish Planters on the Cuban shipAmistad.
On July 1, 1839, the Africans seized the ship and demanded to be sailed back to Africa.
Instead, the captain misdirected the ship to Long Island, NY, where the slaves were arrested.
The Amistad Case went to the Supreme Court, with 74-year-old former President, John Quincy Adams, defending the Africans.
Adams stated, “By the blessing of God, I will argue the case before the Supreme Court,” and writing in his journal, October 1840:
“I implore the mercy of God to control my temper, to enlighten my soul, and to give me utterance, that I may prove myself in every respect equal to the task.”
Francis Scott Key offered Adams advice. Adams shook hands with Africans Cinque and Grabeau, saying: “God willing, we will make you free.”
Wining the case, JQA, known as “Old Man Eloquent,” had argued:
“The moment you come to the Declaration of Independence, that every man has a right to life and liberty, an inalienable right, this case is decided. I ask nothing more in behalf of these unfortunate men than this Declaration.”
In Cuba, a Creole farmer began a revolt in 1868 for racial equality, freedom of speech and freedom of association.
Spain killed thousands putting it down in the Ten Years War.
A Royal decree finally ended slavery in Cuba in 1886.
In 1895, another rebellion began and Spain sent 200,000 soldiers to Cuba.
Tens of thousands were put into concentration camps where they suffered from starvation, disease and exposure.
Yellow Press journalism excited the American public, who demanded President William McKinley intervene.
The U.S.S. Maine was sent to Havana, and on FEBRUARY 15, 1898, it blew up in the harbor under suspicious conditions, beginning the Spanish-American War.
President McKinley approved the Resolution of Congress:
“Whereas the abhorrent conditions which have existed for more than three years in the island of Cuba, so near our own borders, have shocked the moral sense of the people of the United States, have been a disgrace to Christian civilization,
culminating, as they have, in the destruction of a United States battle ship, with 266 of its officers and crew, while on a friendly visit in the harbor of Havana, and cannot longer be endured…
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives…that the people of the island of Cuba are and of right ought to be free.“
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The only U.S. President to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he had previously been appointed by President McKinley to be the first governor of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War and was later appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as Secretary of War. The largest President, weighing 300 lbs, a bathtub was installed for him in the White House big enough to hold four men. His name was William Howard Taft, and he was born SEPTEMBER 15, 1857. On Thanksgiving, November 7, 1912, President Taft proclaimed: “A God-fearing nation, like ours, owes it to its inborn and sincere sense of moral duty to testify its devout gratitude to the All-Giver for the countless benefits its has enjoyed.” Speaking at a missionary conference, 1908, William Howard Taft stated: “No man can study the movement of modern civilization from an impartial standpoint and not realize that Christianity, and the spread of Christianity, are the basis of hope of modern civilization in the growth of popular self government.” Taft concluded: “The spirit of Christianity is pure democracy. It is equality of man before God – the equality of man before the law, which is the most God-like manifestation that man has been able to make.”