Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – and Lord Buckley’s “hip translation” . . .

On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave a brief speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania at the dedication of a cemetery for the Union soldiers who had died in that bloody Civil War battle four months earlier. Lincoln’s remarks came to be known as “The Gettysburg Address.” It’s his best known speech and includes two of … Read more

The genesis of “the Almighty Dollar” – from Genesis to Washington Irving…

The word almighty, used in connection with God, appears 57 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Starting in the Book of Genesis, God is variously referred to as “the Almighty God,” “God Almighty” and, most often, simply as “the Almighty.” The English idiom “the almighty dollar,” which is commonly used to mock … Read more

“O Liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!”

In 1781, a young French woman named Marie-Jeanne Philippon married wealthy businessman Jean-Marie Roland, thus becoming known as Madame Roland. Madame Roland and her husband were early supporters of the democratic goals of the French Revolution.  They became active leaders of the progressive but moderate pro-democracy party called the Girondists. The Girondists supported changing France’s … Read more

As Maine goes, so goes: (a) the nation (b) Vermont . . .

In the November 1936 presidential election, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reelected for a second term in a landslide victory over his Republican opponent, Kansas Governor Alf Landon. Roosevelt received more than 60% of the vote and won in all but two states – Maine and Vermont. On November 4, 1936, the day after the … Read more

“Facts are stubborn things…”

In the years leading up to the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775, the rebel-rousing Sons of Liberty used an engraving of what they called “The Boston Massacre” to encourage anti-British sentiments.   The engraving, done by Paul Revere, shows a line of British soldiers coldly firing their bayoneted muskets into a crowd of … Read more

The origins of “V for Victory!”

Almost everyone is familiar with the phrase “V for Victory” and the two-fingered V-for-victory hand gesture popularized by Winston Churchill during World War II. But few people today are aware of their origin. The use of “V” as a symbolic message of defiant resistance to tyranny was first proposed by Victor de Laveleye, a member of … Read more

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

On July 16, 1964, at the Republican National Convention in San Francisco, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater uttered his most remembered quotation in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” he said. “And…moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” Those words quickly became both famous … Read more

The stirring words of Haile Selassie that Bob Marley used for the song “War”…

On October 4, 1963, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that includes a famous quotation you almost surely know if you’re a fan of the late, great Reggae musician Bob Marley. Selassie’s speech provided the basis for one of Marley’s most popular songs, titled “War.” It’s … Read more

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

The quote “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is often mistakenly attributed to the Irish lawyer and politician John Philpot Curran and frequently to Thomas Jefferson. In fact, Curran’s line was somewhat different. What he actually said, in a speech in Dublin on July 10, 1790, was:        “The condition upon which God … Read more

“Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.”

On December 29, 1890, U.S. Seventh Cavalry troopers gunned down more than 200 Lakota Indians — including men, women and children — at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Army initially called it “The Battle of Wounded Knee.” In truth, it wasn’t a battle. Today, it’s generally called what … Read more