Thomas Jefferson and 1776

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. -Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He was the first president to be inaugurated at the new national capital-the city of Washington became the seat of government in 1800. Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence however five men were delegated to write the document. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston,Roger Sherman and Thomas Jefferson were selected after a full debate. This was the committee that drafted what is considered by many to be the greatest document ever written. In it, contains a sentence that most every American man, woman and child can recite.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

During the signing of this world changing document, the president, John Hancock, feeling the gravity of such a declaration said, “We must all hang together.” “Yes,” replied Benjamin Franklin, “or we shall assuredly all hang separately.”

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Ever wonder where the term “Man’s best friend” originated? From this dog. A black and tan hound dog named Old Drum. Old Drum was shot and killed on the night of  October 18th, 1869. Charles Burden was saddened to find his good friend, a hound dog dead and vowed that somebody would pay for the act. It was later discovered that his neighbor and brother-in-law killed the dog, ostensibly citing a number of sheep killings on his property, Leonidas Hornsby promised death to the first dog on his property and a ward of Hornsby shot and killed the animal. The case went to court and was heard three times before ending up in the Court of Common Pleas in Warrensburg,Mo. The case was appealed and went all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court where an award of $50 was upheld for the loss of the dog. At trial, legal expert George Graham Vest made what is now, his famous “Eulogy of Old Drum.” (Senator George Graham Vest – eulogy, below pic)

“Gentlemen of the Jury, the best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith.

The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

Gentleman of the Jury, a man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and the sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert he remains.

When riches take wings and reputation fall to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.”