Gun Rights Were Designed To Protect The People From Their Government

Gun Rights Were Designed To Protect The People From Their Government


The Europe that our fore fathers left back in the 15, 16 and 17 hundreds was a landscape of tyranny put upon the people of the lands by their governments. Back in those days the people were not allowed to have any fire arms. Only the Royals, Feudal Lords and the Armies were allowed to have any fire power, not the people. So, anytime you had a mad man or woman who was your Landlord or the current Prince, Duke, King or Queen (evil women do exist you know) the people had no way to fight back against their aggression. When the State has all of the power that means that the people have none. If you lived in a country like England, France or Spain and you have a (Lord) who wished to take your land, your daughters, your sons, there was nothing you could do. You have probably heard the term bringing a knife to a gun fight, that is about how much chance the people had when those with power over them decided to rape, murder or steal from them.  Then there is the issue of cases like Ruby Ridge Idaho in 1992 when federal agents from among other “policing agencies” like the FBI who murdered a 12-year-old boy by shooting him in the back and his unarmed mother in the face killing her. If the family had not had fire arms, they would have all been murdered, and yes that does mean all the children also.


Federal agents were ordered there with the order given to “if it is breathing, kill it”. This is the way to make sure that there is no other side of a story getting told, simply kill everyone. The man who was at the center of this was supposed to be a white supremacist who had contacts within a like-minded group of people. This man was told to sell an illegally altered shotgun to this group, this would then give the government the “reason” to raid this group of people. The man in question said no, the government’s response was a directive to the FBI man in charge to “if it breathes, kill it”. These illegal acts upon American citizens was directed under a Republican administration (George H.W. Bush). Just a year later in Waco TX under a Democratic administration (Bill Clinton) there was another case of the American “policing agencies” gone insane. There the American government murdered over a hundred men, women, and children. After these two horrible events nothing happened to the ones who gave the orders to murder these innocent people or to the ones who murdered them. With both of these cases the very top, and I do mean the very top of the government agencies should have been prosecuted for mass murder, possibly even to the point of both presidential administrations (both Presidents) being removed from office, nothing happened to any of them. Just how much do you personally trust that all levels of the governments around you are honest?


Our fore fathers had enough sense to know that the only way to have freedom was if the people had a way to protect themselves from internal and external aggression. No matter how much fire power a government has the human leaders of the government know that they themselves can be brought down by a single little gray pill. If those in power know that the people have no power to remove them from office as it would be if say only two political parties were allowed to share all the power between themselves and the people had no munitions to end their reigns of terror the people become nothing but slaves and cannon fodder to those in power. There are many reasons to keep fire arms in your home and one of those is self-protection from intruders who wish you and/or your family harm. No, this does not necessarily mean that all government employees are out to kill and steal from you but it is a means to try to keep you and your loved ones alive if crooked politicians or police departments do decide it is your day to die.


Guns are also a means to put food on your families table and or to rid your personal property of animals that you don’t want on your property. Just a few years back a rancher in Montana shot and killed a charging grizzly bear on his own property the result was that the feds fined him $2,000 for doing that. I guess the alternative would have been for the rancher to have stuck his head between his legs and kissed his behind goodbye. You or I as humans are not ever going to out run one so I guess that rancher should have volunteered to be bear poop. You know that is what the politicians would have done if it had been themselves out in that field with that bear, right? There are many predators in this old world, some on two legs, some on four.


There is also another reason that We The People were to be armed citizens, it is called invasions from nations or factions of people, lets say a religious culture who want to enslave or wipe out a town, city or even the whole country. If our government is really our government then they have nothing to fear from the citizens as the citizens will use their weapons to help back up and support our troops and law enforcement departments. Think about this for a moment, if you are going to raid a home, town or country it is much safer for you the aggressor if none of the above have any firearms. The nation becomes much easier to conquer if the population can’t fight back against the aggressor. I as a veteran took an oath to protect my country and my family from all threats, both foreign and domestic. Do you notice that it is the government that keeps trying to take away our ability to protect ourselves, why do you think that is?

How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution



How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution

Over time, diet causes dramatic changes to our anatomy, immune systems and maybe skin color



Human evolution is ongoing, and what we eat is a crucial part of the puzzle. (photosil / Alamy)

You aren’t what you eat, exactly. But over many generations, what we eat does shape our evolutionary path. “Diet,” says anthropologist John Hawks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “has been a fundamental story throughout our evolutionary history. Over the last million years there have been changes in human anatomy, teeth and the skull, that we think are probably related to changes in diet.”

As our evolution continues, the crucial role of diet hasn’t gone away. Genetic studies show that humans are still evolving, with evidence of natural selection pressures on genes impacting everything from Alzheimer’s disease to skin color to menstruation age. And what we eat today will influence the direction we will take tomorrow.

Got Milk?

When mammals are young, they produce an enzyme called lactase to help digest the sugary lactose found in their mothers’ milk. But once most mammals come of age, milk disappears from the menu. That means enzymes to digest it are no longer needed, so adult mammals typically stop producing them.

Thanks to recent evolution, however, some humans defy this trend.

Around two-thirds of adult humans are lactose intolerant or have reduced lactose tolerance after infancy. But tolerance varies dramatically depending on geography. Among some East Asian communities, intolerance can reach 90 percent; people of West African, Arab, Greek, Jewish and Italian descent are also especially prone to lactose intolerance.

Northern Europeans, on the other hand, seem to love their lactose—95 percent of them are tolerant, meaning they continue to produce lactase as adults. And those numbers are increasing. “In at least different five cases, populations have tweaked the gene responsible for digesting that sugar so that it remains active in adults,” Hawks says, noting it is most common among peoples in Europe, the Middle East and East Africa.

Ancient DNA shows how recent this adult lactose tolerance is, in evolutionary terms. Twenty-thousand years ago, it was non-existent. Today, about one-third of all adults have tolerance.

That lightning-fast evolutionary change suggests that direct milk consumption must have provided a serious survival advantage over peoples who had to ferment dairy into yogurt or cheese. During fermentation, bacteria break down milk sugars including lactase, turning them into acids and easing digestion for those with lactose intolerance. Gone with those sugars, however, is a good chunk of the food’s caloric content.

Hawks explains why being able to digest milk would have been such a boon in the past: “You’re in a nutrition limited environment, except you have cattle, or sheep, or goats, or camels, and that gives you access to a high energy food that infants can digest but adults can’t,” he says. “What it does is allow people to get 30 percent more calories out of milk, and you don’t have the digestive issues that come from milk consumption.”

recent genetic study found that adult lactose tolerance was less common in Roman Britain than today, meaning its evolution has continued throughout Europe’s recorded history.

These days, many humans have access to plentiful alternative foods as well as lactose-free milk or lactase pills that help them digest regular dairy. In other words, we can circumvent some impacts of natural selection. That means traits like lactose tolerance might not have the same direct impacts on survival or reproduction that they once did—at least in some parts of the world.

“As far as we know, it makes no difference to your survival and reproduction in Sweden if you can digest milk or not. If you’re eating out of a supermarket (your dairy tolerance doesn’t affect your survival). But it still makes a difference in East Africa,” Hawks says.

Wheat, Starch and Alcohol

These days, it isn’t uncommon to find an entire grocery store aisle devoted to gluten-free cookies, bread and crackers. Yet trouble digesting gluten—the main protein found in wheat—is another relatively recent snag in human evolution. Humans didn’t start storing and eating grains regularly until around 20,000 years ago, and wheat domestication didn’t begin in earnest until about 10,000 years ago.

Since wheat and rye became a staple of human diets, however, we’ve have had a relatively high frequency of celiac disease. “You look at this and say how did it happen?” asks Hawks. “That’s something that natural selection shouldn’t have done.”

The answer lies in our immune response. A system of genes known as the human leukocyte antigens take part in the fight against disease, and frequently produce new variations to battle ever-changing infections. Unfortunately, for individuals with celiac disease, this system mistakes the human digestive system for a disease and attacks the lining of the gut.

Yet despite the obvious drawbacks of celiac disease, ongoing evolution doesn’t seem to be making it less frequent. The genetic variants behind celiac disease seem to be just as common now as they’ve been since humans began eating wheat.

“This is a case where a selection that is probably about disease and parasites has a side effect that produces celiac disease in a small fraction of people. That’s a trade-off that recent evolution has left us and it wasn’t an adaptation to diet—it was an adaptation in spite of diet,” Hawks says. Unintended trade-offs are common in evolution. For example, the genetic mutation to red blood cells that helps humans survive malaria can also produce the deadly sickle cell disease.

Other examples of our continuing evolution through diet are intriguing but uncertain. For instance, Amylase is an enzyme that helps saliva digest starch. Historically, agricultural peoples from West Eurasia and Mesoamerica have more copies of the associated gene. Were they selected to digest starches better? “That makes a compelling story and it may be true. But biology is complicated and it’s not totally clear what’s at work or how important it is,” Hawks says.

More than one-third of East Asians—Japanese, Chinese and Koreans—have a flushing reaction when they metabolize alcohol, because the process creates an excess of toxic acetaldehyde enzymes. There’s strong genetic evidence that this was selected recently, during the last 20,000 years, Hawks notes.

Because its appearance in the genome may roughly coincide with rice domestication 10,000 years ago, some researchers suggest that it stopped people from over indulging in rice wine. The timelines aren’t precisely determined, however, for either the mutation or rice domestication. It has also been suggested that acetaldehyde offered protection from parasites that were unable to stomach the toxin.

“It mattered in some way, to past populations, because it wasn’t common and now it is,” says Hawks. “It’s a big change, but we really don’t know why.”

More Important Than We Think?

Even the color of human skin may be shifting, at least in part, as a response to diet (other factors, studies suggest, include sexual selection). The current diversity of human skin colors is a relatively recent development. The standard hypothesis focuses on the prevalence of UV rays at equatorial latitudes. Our bodies need vitamin D, so our skin produces it when soaked by UV rays. But too much UV can have detrimental effects, and darker skin pigments are more effective at blocking them.

As humans moved into darker, colder latitudes, the idea goes, their skin no longer needed protection from too much UV and lightened so that it could produce more beneficial vitamin D with less sunlight.

But DNA studies comparing modern Ukrainians with their prehistoric ancestors show that European skin color has been changing over the past 5,000 years. To explain this, another theory suggests that skin pigmentation could have been under the influence of diet, when early farmers suffered from a lack of vitamin D their hunter-gatherer ancestors once got from fish and animal foods.

Nina Jablonski, a skin color researcher at Penn State University, told Science that new research “provides evidence that loss of regular dietary vitamin D as a result of the transition to a more strongly agricultural lifestyle may have triggered” the evolution of lighter skin.

It’s difficult to see evolution in action. But new technologies like genome sequencing—and the computing power to crunch massive piles of data—are making it possible to spot tiny genetic tweaks that can add up over many generations to real evolutionary shifts. Increasingly, databases of genetic information are also paired with information like medical histories and environmental factors like diet, which may allow scientists to observe the ways they interact.

Hakhamanesh Mostafavi, an evolutionary biologist at Columbia University, authored one such genome study that analyzed DNA from 215,000 people to try to see how we continue to evolve over the span of just a generation or two. “Obviously our diet is radically changing today, so who knows what evolutionary effect that may have,” Mostafavi says. “It may not necessarily have a direct selection effect but it may interact with genes that control a trait.”

Mostafavi’s genetic research also revealed that some variants that actually shorten human life, like one that prompts smokers to increase their consumption above smoking norms, are still being actively selected against.

“We see a direct effect of that gene on the survival of humans today,” he explains. “And potentially you can imagine that diet might have the same kind of effect. We have so many recent dietary changes, like fast food for one example, and we just don’t know yet what effects they may or may not have.”

Fortunately, thanks to the work of scientists like Mostafavi and Hawks, it might not take 20,000 years to find out.


Agriculture Digestive System Evolution Food Food History Human Evolution

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Neanderthals And Denisovan’s Were Mixing With Homo Sapiens



Neanderthals, Denisovans and our ancestors were mixing and mingling a long time ago — and some of our genetics can be traced back to these archaic humans.

In Asians, as much as 3% of an individual’s DNA may be Neanderthal. For Europeans, it’s as much as 2%. A new study has found that our ancestors interbred with two distinct Denisovan populations, increasing the probability of the presence in modern populations of DNA inherited from this ancient and mysterious people.
The study, using a new genome-analysis method to compare whole genomes of humans with Denisovans, was published in the journal Cell on Thursday.
“It is amazing that we can look into human history via current-day human genetic data, and determine some of the events that happened in the past,” study author Sharon Browning wrote in an email. Browning is a research professor with the University of Washington’s Department of Biostatistics.
“In particular, in this study we found two distinct episodes of Denisovan admixture, which adds to what was previously known about the contribution of Neanderthals and Denisovans to our genomes today.”

Denisovans pose questions

Denisovans pose particular questions for scientists because researchers have only a few bones that even point to their existence: a finger bone, toe bone and a couple of teeth. Fossilized DNA sequenced from those bones, recovered in Siberia, has allowed us to learn more about them. But we still don’t know what these extinct hominins looked like.
Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA was sequenced completely for the first time in 2010, which led to the initial discovery that they were interbreeding with our ancestors. Studies found that the population of Oceania and Papua New Guinea received the most DNA from Denisovans, around 5%.
Fifty thousand years ago, as modern humans moved out of Africa, they encountered Neanderthals and Denisovans, and the “admixing” happened. But pinning down exactly where it happened has proved difficult.
It was especially puzzling given that the fossils were found in Siberia, but Denisovans are most strongly connected to Oceania.
Denisovan ancestry was also present in Asia, although researchers believed that this occurred through migration from Oceania.
Comparing the Denisovan genome to that of 5,600 Europeans, Asians, Americans and Oceanians painted a different picture.
The data showed that Denisovans were even more closely related to modern East Asians, specifically Han Chinese, Chinese Dai and Japanese, than those from Papua New Guinea. And this second set of Denisovan ancestry was different from Oceanians and Papuans.
“It makes it clear that there were distinct populations of Denisovans, rather than a single population,” Browning said. “The fact that these populations had diverged somewhat from each other suggests that the two populations were not mixing very often with each other, perhaps due to geographical separation.”
A possible explanation is that our Oceanian ancestors encountered a southern group of Denisovans, while East Asians met a northern group.
“(This) led people to suspect that Denisovans did not just live in Siberia, but also lived elsewhere in Asia, somewhere south along the likely routes that the ancestors of Oceanians may have taken to get to Oceania,” Browning said. “This study makes this hypothesis look very likely.”
This could also mean that there were more than two distinct episodes of Denisovans mixing with modern humans, which Browning believes future analysis could reveal.
“A major novel finding is that some populations (East Asians) have evidence of multiple introgression related to Denisovans while a few others (South Asians, Papuans) have evidence of a single Denisovan introgression,” Sriram Sankararaman said in an email. “The Denisovan ancestry in South Asians is quite diverged from the sequence Denisovan while the additional component in East Asians is quite close. This suggests a complex interaction pattern of the Denisovans and modern human populations in mainland Asia.”
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Sankararaman, who was not involved in the study, has worked on Denisovan research and is an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the department of computer science and the department of human genetics.
Going forward, Browning and her colleagues plan to study other populations to look for signatures of admixture with archaic humans besides Neanderthals and Denisovans.
“I’d love to delve further into Neanderthal ancestry, and understand why East Asians have a higher rate of Neanderthal ancestry — around 3% — compared to Europeans — around 2%,” Browning said.
“It has been hypothesized that the extra Neanderthal ancestry in East Asians is due to an additional admixture event, but we didn’t find a clear sign of that in our study. That doesn’t rule out this possibility — we might need to dig a little deeper to find it.”

Did climate change help modern humans emerge?



Did climate change help modern humans emerge?

Environment changes transformed early humans, who learned how to use lighter tools, hunt new kinds of animals and communicate with other groups

by Maggie Fox /  / Updated 

At this Olorgesailie Basin excavation site, the Smithsonian team discovered key artifacts and pigments. Fossil bones found at the site also showed that a significant change in the kinds of animals in this region occurred around the same time as the transitions in human behavior.Human Origins Program / Smithsonian

Half a million years ago, something big happened in east Africa.

It was a big enough change to transform the terrain, reshape the landscape and to alter the populations of animals living there.

And it completely transformed the early humans who lived there.

“What we are seeing is the demise of a way of life in early human ancestors that persisted for hundreds of thousands of years,” said paleoanthropologist Rick Potts, who heads the Smithsonian’s Human Origins Program.

Before the change, pre-humans such as Homo erectus had lived happily for millennia using crude, heavy stone axes. Afterwards, the early humans living in the area traded for sharp, strong obsidian and made delicate tools and spear heads. They learned to hunt new kinds of animals and they carried around a lot of raw materials for making black and red paint or ink.

 A photo of older, more archaic handaxes used by early humans in East Africa, before 320,000 years ago. Human Origins Program / Smithsonian

New studies from Potts and colleagues published Thursday paint a clear picture of a time of total disruption in what is now southwestern Kenya. Not only do they document periods of devastating earthquakes, but climate change that transformed the area from a rich, stable plain to an area ravaged by unpredictable floods, intense thunderstorms and then long droughts.

There’s not much evidence of anything between about 500,000 years ago, and 320,000 years ago. But the transformation is sweeping.

Giant ancestors of elephants, zebra and baboon-like apes disappeared, to be replaced by more modern-looking grazers such as antelope and oryx.

The humans who lived there changed — a lot. Big, clumsy stone axes known as Acheulean tools disappear and instead the archeologists found finer, lighter and more varied tools. They’re made from materials not found locally, such as obsidian and chert, which indicates they were carried and traded over distances.

 For hundreds of thousands of years, people living there made and used large stonecutting tools called handaxes (left). According to three new studies published in Science, early humans in East Africa had–by about 320,000 years ago–begun using color pigments and manufacturing more sophisticated tools (right) than those of the Early Stone Age handaxes. Human Origins Program / Smithsonian

“The large, clunky technology is gone and in its place is a smaller technology, more mobile,” said Potts. “What we are looking at is a real change from the hand ax times. Think of the same technology produced over and over again for hundreds of thousands of years. That’s not us. I can barely keep up with the latest version of Windows,” he said.

“The history of technology has been the same ever since, going from large and clunky to small and portable.”


It’s not clear which species of early humans is responsible for the artifacts. Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis both lived on the African continent. But Homo sapiens fossils from Morocco date back to 300,000 or so years ago.


“This represents a significant revision in African hominin behavior at or near the time of origin of Homo sapiens,” the teams of scientists wrote in one of the reports published in the journal Science on Thursday.

Whatever species they were, they had to adapt to the climate changes, the natural disasters and the disappearance of the foods they were used to eating; they had to learn how to communicate with other groups of hominids, how to trade information and trade tools and, possibly, food.

“All of these are fundamental aspects of our humanity that are right there at the beginning of our species,” Potts said.

“The history of technology has been the same ever since, going from large and clunky to small and portable.”

“The history of technology has been the same ever since, going from large and clunky to small and portable.”

The ancient people used dye.

The team found rocks with streaks of pigment, blocks of iron-rich minerals used to make ochre and other colors, and pretty colored stones carried from afar.

That shows people were thinking beyond the simple needs of survival.

“Color is the root of complex, symbolic behavior in humans,” said Potts. “We use it in clothing, uniforms, flags, tattoos — whatever ways we have of signaling that I am a member of this particular group.”


What were these early Africans doing with the lumps of coloring?

“We don’t know what they were applying it to but they almost certainly applying it to something; perhaps their skin or hair,” Pott said. “That is a pretty human characteristic.”

In other words, the early humans who lived in this area were becoming more like modern humans. And it sure looks like the dramatic changes were forcing it.

“All this transition, this transformation of human behavior is occurring at a time of upheaval of the landscape,” Potts said.

 A bird’s eye view of the Olorgesailie Basin in southern Kenya, which holds an archeological record of early human life spanning more than a million years. This landscape shows a shift in the environment between 500,000 years ago, which marks the last known evidence of the handaxe toolmakers in the Olorgesailie Basin, and the more recent sediments dated 320,000 years and younger, which preserve the Middle Stone Age evidence. Human Origins Program / Smithsonian

It’s not news to anyone that human beings adapt and even evolve in the face of change. As the Ice Age glaciers receded, so did Neanderthals, to be replaced by modern Homo sapiens from the Near East and Africa.


But this change was happening 320,000 years ago. The indications are that trade was taking place 100,000 years earlier than anthropologists have believed.

What do the changes say about humans alive today in a time of climate change?


The findings in Kenya indicate people can likely survive. “I tend to be optimistic in that the adaptability of human beings tends to be pretty astonishing,” Potts said.

But he points to the profound transformation of the hominids of prehistoric Kenya.

“We certainly are running an experiment right now where humans are taking what is already a dynamic planet and messing with it,” Potts said.

“Often what people mean by survival in a modern context means whether their way of life will persist and thrive,” he added. “The moral of this story is that the status quo does not survive.”

(Philosophy Poem) When The Truth Brings Us Great Harm

When The Truth Brings Us Great Harm


The great Prophet Jeremiah dared to tell the Truth

Into a dungeon, then into a cistern he was then cast

For speaking the Truth, to his chest he sank in the mire

All the Kings Prophets spoke one thing, he spoke another

His life hanging in the balance, from Truth he didn’t waver


With a blade to our neck, would our words of truth be strong

Can Truth change because of the anger of an earthly Dictator

Is not Truth still the Truth even if we are hated by the billions

Do we still speak the Truth even at the cost of our possessions

If put into chains and cast into a latrine, Truth, will we still tell it


The world killed the Prophets and The Christ, are we any better

Will we forfeit our home, our land, our lives, to speak The Truth

Kings, Presidents and governments will rage at our very words

Culture, friends and neighbors will hate us, as they hate The Truth

Life destroyed, death in dishonor, for Truth, we will be raised in Glory


John Willis Menard, First African-American Elected to Congress



The International Vision of John Willis Menard, First African-American Elected to Congress

Although he was denied his seat in the House, Menard continued his political activism with the goal of uniting people across the Western Hemisphere


John Willis Menard

The Library of Congress recently digitized this portrait of John Willis Menard, the only known photograph of the African-American trailblazer. (Composite of Library of Congress images)

In July 1863, months after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a young African-American man from Illinois boarded a small ship in New York City and headed for Belize City, in what was then British Honduras. John Willis Menard, a college-educated political activist born to free parents of French Creole descent, made his Central American journey as a representative of Lincoln’s. His goal: to determine whether British Honduras was a suitable location for previously enslaved Americans to relocate.

Menard’s trip to Central America was undoubtedly an unusual period in his early political career—one that never came to fruition—but it set the stage for decades of internationalism. Wherever he moved and whatever position he held, Menard repeatedly considered African-American liberation in the context of the New World’s dependence on the work of enslaved laborers.

That work, and Menard’s brief foray into the world of legislation, is part of what makes his appearance in a newly digitized photo album so remarkable. The album, acquired by the Library of Congress and Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture last year, features rare portraits of dozens of other abolitionists of the 1860s, including Harriet Tubman and only known photo of Menard (shown above). While those photos offer unique insight into the community of abolitionists fighting for a better future for African-Americans, what they don’t show is the controversy that sometimes surrounded that debate.

Before the American Civil War came to its bloody end, both Lincoln and the growing community of free black Americans were looking ahead to a United States without slavery. There were around 4 million enslaved people in the United States in 1860, comprising 13 percent of the American population. What would happen when all of them were freed?

“A number of African-American leaders saw colonization to Central America, to Mexico, or to Africa as the only viable solution prior to the Civil War,” says historian Paul Ortiz, author of Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920.

For more than a year, President Lincoln had publicly expressed his support for the colonization efforts of emancipated African-Americans. He’d had discussions about colonization with representatives from the government of Liberia, as well as members of the Cabinet. He even espoused his views on colonization to leading members of the African-American community.

“You and we are different races,” Lincoln told a black delegation invited to the White House in August 1862. “Even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.”

“Lincoln was relatively devoid of personal prejudice, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t incorporate prejudice into his thinking,” writes Oxford University historian Sebastian Page. After the fall congressional elections of 1863, historians argue that Lincoln “came to appreciate the impracticality, even immorality of expatriating African-Americans who could fight for the Union.”

While some members of the free African-American community initially supported Lincoln’s colonization plan—11,000 moved to Africa between 1816 and 1860—many more were vocal in their opposition. Among the most vehement critics was Frederick Douglass. As historian Eric Foner writes in The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, “Douglass pointed out that blacks had not caused the war; slavery had. The real task of a statesmen was not to patronize blacks by deciding what was ‘best’ for them, but to allow them to be free.”

But Menard could be just as voluble in his defense of the colonization plan. “This is a white nation, white men are the engineers over its varied machinery and destiny,” Menard wrote to Douglass in 1863. “Every dollar spent, every drop of blood shed and every life lost, was a willing sacrifice for the furtherance and perpetuity of a white nationality. Sir, the inherent principle of the white majority of this nation is to refuse forever republican equality to the black minority. A government, then, founded upon heterogeneous masses in North America would prove destructive to the best interest of the white and black races within its limits.”


African American leaders.jpg

African-American leaders disagreed on the issue of colonization, with some like Menard in favor of it while others, including Frederick Douglass, denounced it. (Library of Congress)

And so Menard traveled to Central America. American companies with business interests in the region made it one possible option for colonization. While there, Menard noted the potential of the landscape for a colony of newly freed African-Americans, but also worried over the absence of housing and proper facilities. Although Menard announced his support for a colony in British Honduras and wrote a favorable report to Lincoln upon returning in the fall of 1863, he worried about lack of support for such a project. As historians Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page write in Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, “Menard, long among the most vocal supporters of Liberian migration [to Africa], conceded that he was torn between resettlement abroad and working to improve the lot of blacks at home.”

Ultimately, the Union victory in the Civil War in 1865 and the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 made the latter option more possible than it ever had been before. In 1865 Menard moved to New Orleans, where he worked among the city’s elite African-Americans to fight for political representation and equal access to education. When James Mann, a white congressman from New Orleans, died five weeks into his term in 1868, Menard successfully ran for the seat and became the first African-American elected to Congress.

Despite Menard winning the clear majority of votes in the election, his opponent, Caleb Hunt, challenged the outcome. In defending the fairness of his victory to the House of Representatives, Menard also became the first African-American to address Congress in 1869. “I have been sent here by the votes of nearly nine thousand electors, [and] I would feel myself recreant to the duty imposed upon me if I did not defend their rights on this floor,” Menard stated. But the Republican-majority House of Representatives refused to seat either Menard or Hunt, citing their inability to verify the votes in the election.

Menard refused to give up on his vision of a democratic future for African-Americans—or forget his early lessons in the importance of building international relationships. In 1871 he moved to Florida with his family, this time taking up his pen to describe the work by immigrants and African-Americans to produce representative democracies at a local level. Menard edited a series of newspapers, and moved from Jacksonville to Key West, where he could participate in an almost utopic community, says Ortiz.

“Menard had a black, internationalist vision of freedom. That’s why he ends up describing Key West with such excitement,” Ortiz says. At the period, the island community was filled with a mixture of working class white people, as well as immigrants from Cuba, the Bahamas and elsewhere in the Caribbean. “Part of his genius was that he understood the freedom of African-Americans in the United States was connected to those freedom struggles in Cuba and Central America.”

Menard wasn’t the only one interested in building a coalition across racial and linguistic lines. During the same period, multiple states passed Alien Declarant Voting laws, allowing new immigrants to register to vote as long as they promised to become naturalized citizens. Menard wrote of political events conducted in both English and Spanish, Ortiz says, adding that Menard was representative of other black leaders who saw politics in a new way—as a system of power that impacted people regardless of national borders.

But for all his work in Florida, and later in Washington, D.C., Menard eventually came up against the system of oppression that Reconstruction-era policies failed to undo. Violent white supremacist groups like the Knights of White Camellia and the White League formed to terrorize African-Americans and prevent them from voting. Deadly attacks occurred across the South, from the Colfax Massacre in New Orleans to the Ocoee Massacre in Florida.

“The tragedy is, we know the end of the story,” Ortiz says of Menard’s attempt to create lasting change for his community and others. “Those movements were defeated. White supremacist politics were premised on everything being a zero-sum game. Economic resources, jobs, the right to even claim that you were an equal person. Reconstruction was beginning to work, and what came after it didn’t work. It’s our tragedy to live with.”


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The Boston Massacre



The Boston Massacre

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

This account of the Boston Massacre, the last pin to drop escalated hostilities between colonists and “the lobster-backs” into all-out war. Published in Hawthorne’s,True Stories from History and Biography (1851).

An illustration for the story The Boston Massacre by the author Nathaniel Hawthorne
Paul Revere, Bloody Massacre on King Street, Boston, March 5, 1770

It was now the 3rd of March, 1770. The sunset music of the British regiments was heard, as usual, throughout the town. The shrill fife and rattling drum awoke the echoes in King Street, while the last ray of sunshine was lingering on the cupola of the town-house. And now, all the sentinels were posted. One of them marched up and down before the custom-house, treading a short path through the snow, and longing for the time when he would be dismissed to the warm fire-side of the guard-room. Meanwhile, Captain Preston was perhaps sitting in our great chair, before the hearth of the British Coffee House. In the course of the evening, there were two or three slight commotions, which seemed to indicate that trouble was at hand. Small parties of young men stood at the corners of the streets, or walked along the narrow pavements. Squads of soldiers, who were dismissed from duty, passed by them, shoulder to shoulder, with the regular step which they had learned at the drill. Whenever these encounters took place, it appeared to be the object of the young men to treat the soldiers with as much incivility as possible.

“Turn out, you lobster-backs!” one would say. “Crowd them off the side-walks!” another would cry. “A red-coat has no right in Boston streets.”

“Oh, you rebel rascals!” perhaps the soldiers would reply, glaring fiercely at the young men. “Some day or other, we’ll make our way through Boston streets, at the point of the bayonet!”

Once or twice, such disputes as these brought on a scuffle; which passed off, however, without attracting much notice. About eight o’clock, for some unknown cause, an alarm bell rang loudly and hurriedly.

At the sound, many people ran out of their houses, supposing it to be an alarm of fire. But there were no flames to be seen; nor was there any smell of smoke in the clear, frosty air; so that most of the townsmen went back to their own fire-sides, and sat talking with their wives and children about the calamities of the times. Others, who were younger and less prudent, remained in the streets; for there seems to have been a presentiment that some strange event was on the eve of taking place.

Later in the evening, not far from nine o’clock, several young men passed by the town-house, and walked down King Street. The sentinel was still on his post, in front of the custom-house, pacing to and fro, while, as he turned, a gleam of light, from some neighboring window, glittered on the barrel of his musket. At no great distance were the barracks and the guard-house, where his comrades were probably telling stories of battle and bloodshed.

Down towards the custom-house, as I told you, came a party of wild young men. When they drew near the sentinel, he halted on his post, and took his musket from his shoulder, ready to present the bayonet at their breasts.

“Who goes there?” he cried, in the gruff, peremptory tones of a soldier’s challenge.

The young men, being Boston boys, felt as if they had a right to walk their own streets, without being accountable to a British red-coat, even though he challenged them in King George’s name. They made some rude answer to the sentinel. There was a dispute, or, perhaps a scuffle. Other soldiers heard the noise, and ran hastily from the barracks, to assist their comrade. At the same time, many of the town’s-people rushed into King Street, by various avenues, and gathered in a crowd round about the custom-house. It seemed wonderful how such a multitude had started up, all of a sudden.

The wrongs and insults, which the people had been suffering for many months, now kindled them into a rage. They threw snow-balls and lumps of ice at the soldiers. As the tumult grew louder, it reached the ears of Captain Preston, the officer of the day. He immediately ordered eight soldiers of the main guard to take their muskets and follow him. They marched across the street, forcing their way roughly through the crowd, and pricking the town’s-people with their bayonets.

A gentleman, (it was Henry Knox, afterwards general of the American artillery,) caught Captain Preston’s arm.

“For Heaven’s sake, sir,” exclaimed he, take heed what you do, or here will be bloodshed.”

“Stand aside!” answered Captain Preston, haughtily. “Do not interfere, sir. Leave me to manage the affair.”

Arriving at the sentinel’s post, Captain Preston drew up his men in a semi-circle, with their faces to the crowd and their rear to the custom-house. “When the people saw the officer, and beheld the threatening attitude with which the soldiers fronted them, their rage became almost uncontrollable.

“Fire, you lobster-backs!” bellowed some.

“You dare not fire, you cowardly red-coats,” cried others.

“Rush upon them!” shouted many voices. “Drive the rascals to their barracks! Down with them! Down with them! Let them fire, if they dare!”

Amid the uproar, the soldiers stood glaring at the people, with the fierceness of men whose trade was to shed blood.

Oh, what a crisis had now arrived! Up to this very moment, the angry feelings between England and America might have been pacified. England had but to stretch out the hand of reconciliation, and acknowledge that she had hitherto mistaken her rights but would do so no more. Then, the ancient bonds of brotherhood would again have been knit together, as firmly as in old times. The habit of loyalty, which had grown as strong as instinct, was not utterly overcome. The perils shared, the victories won, in the Old French War, when the soldiers of the colonies fought side by side with their comrades from beyond the sea, were unforgotten yet. England was still that beloved country which the colonists called their home. King George, though he had frowned upon America, was still reverenced as a father.

But, should the king’s soldiers shed one drop of American blood, then it was a quarrel to the death. Never—never would America rest satisfied, until she had torn down the royal authority, and trampled it in the dust.

“Fire, if you dare, villains!” hoarsely shouted the people, while the muzzles of the muskets were turned upon them; “you dare not fire!”

They appeared ready to rush upon the levelled bayonets. Captain Preston waved his sword, and uttered a command which could not be distinctly heard, amid the uproar of shouts that issued from a hundred throats. But his soldiers deemed that he had spoken the fatal mandate—”fire!” The flash of their muskets lighted up the street, and the report rang loudly between the edifices. It was said, too, that the figure of a man with a cloth hanging down over his face, was seen to step into the balcony of the custom-house, and discharge a musket at the crowd.

A gush of smoke had overspread the scene. It rose heavily, as if it were loath to reveal the dreadful spectacle beneath it. Eleven of the sons of New England lay stretched upon the street. Some, sorely wounded, were struggling to rise again. Others stirred not, nor groaned, for they were past all pain. Blood was streaming upon the snow; and that purple stain, in the midst of King Street, though it melted away in the next day’s sun, was never forgotten nor forgiven by the people.

Grandfather was interrupted by the violent sobs of little Alice. In his earnestness, he had neglected to soften down the narrative, so that it might not terrify the heart of this unworldly infant. Since Grandfather began the history of our chair, little Alice had listened to many tales of war. But, probably, the idea had never really impressed itself upon her mind, that men have shed the blood of their fellow-creatures. And now that this idea was forcibly presented to her, it affected the sweet child with bewilderment and horror.

“I ought to have remembered our dear little Alice,” said Grandfather reproachfully to himself. “Oh, what a pity! Her heavenly nature has now received its first impression of earthly sin and violence. Well, Clara, take her to bed, and comfort her. Heaven grant that she may dream away the recollection of the Boston Massacre!”

“Grandfather,” said Charley, when Clara and little Alice had retired, “did not the people rush upon the soldiers, and take revenge?”

“The town drums beat to arms,” replied Grandfather, “the alarm bells rang, and an immense multitude rushed into King Street. Many of them had weapons in their hands. The British prepared to defend themselves. A whole regiment was drawn up in the street, expecting an attack; for the townsmen appeared ready to throw themselves upon the bayonets.”

“And how did it end?” asked Charley.

“Governor Hutchinson hurried to the spot,” said Grandfather, “and besought the people to have patience, promising that strict justice should be done. A day or two afterward, the British troops were withdrawn from town, and stationed at Castle William. Captain Preston and the eight soldiers were tried for murder. But none of them were found guilty. The judges told the jury that the insults and violence which had been offered to the soldiers, justified them in firing at the mob.”

“The Revolution,” observed Laurence, who had said but little during the evening, “was not such a calm, majestic movement as I supposed. I do not love to hear of mobs and broils in the street. These things were unworthy of the people, when they had such a great object to accomplish.”

“Nevertheless, the world has seen no grander movement than that of our Revolution, from first to last,” said Grandfather. “The people, to a man, were full of a great and noble sentiment. True, there may be much fault to find with their mode of expressing this sentiment; but they knew no better—the necessity was upon them to act out their feelings, in the best manner they could. We must forgive what was wrong in their actions, and look into their hearts and minds for the honorable motives that impelled them.”

“And I suppose,” said Laurence, “there were men who knew how to act worthily of what they felt.”

“There were many such,” replied Grandfather, “and we will speak of some of them, hereafter.”

Grandfather here made a pause. That night, Charley had a dream about the Boston Massacre, and thought that he himself was in the crowd, and struck down Captain Preston with a great club. Laurence dreamed that he was sitting in our great chair, at the window of the British Coffee House, and beheld the whole scene which Grandfather had described. It seemed to him, in his dream, that if the town’s-people and the soldiers would but have heard him speak a single word, all the slaughter might have been averted. But there was such an uproar that it drowned his voice.

The next morning, the two boys went together to State Street, and stood on the very spot where the first blood of the Revolution had been shed. The Old State House was still there, presenting almost the same aspect that it had worn on that memorable evening, one-and-seventy years ago. It is the sole remaining witness of the Boston Massacre.


The Garfield Assassination Altered American History



The Garfield Assassination Altered American History, But Is Woefully Forgotten Today

Why we need to have historical marker on the site where Charles Guitea shot the President in 1881

image:×600/filters:no_upscale()/ Assassination
An engraving of James A. Garfield’s assassination, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper(Wikimedia Commons)

When President James A. Garfield was shot in the back by an assassin on July 2, 1881, the news electrified the country. Garfield was entering the Washington, D.C. train station, headed for summer vacation, when the attack came. Charles Guiteau, the 40-year old assassin—a lawyer, former bill collector, salesman, preacher, divorcee and political hanger-on who’d failed at most things in his life—had stalked the president for weeks. On this morning, he waited inside the train station until President Garfield entered the room, walking in arm-in-arm with his friend, Secretary of State James G. Blaine. Guiteau stepped behind the president and fired two bullets. One grazed Garfield’s arm, and the other hit him square in the back, knocking him to the ground.

As police grabbed Guiteau and started dragging him away, Guiteau declared: “I am a Stalwart and [Vice President Chester Alan] Arthur is now president.”

Telegraph wires instantly flashed the news across the country. Newspapers flooded city streets with extra editions, copies carried by high-speed trains and horseback to every rural hamlet. For the 79 days between Guiteau’s shots and the president’s death, Americans waited breathlessly for medical bulletins from the White House. They followed every change in Garfield’s condition, praying against the worst. During this time, a team of self-serving doctors probed Garfield’s wounds with unwashed fingers and instruments, allowing the President to contract an infection that would ultimately kill him.

More than 100,000 people came to see Garfield’s body lying in state in the Capitol Building Rotunda, and another 150,000 attended his funeral in Cleveland, Ohio. The new president, Chester A. Arthur, declared days of national mourning.

Americans who experienced these events in 1881 had no trouble appreciating the tragedy of Garfield’s death and the importance of his life. Many considered him perhaps the most promising president of their era, despite his having served only four months in office before the shooting. That generation would be shocked to learn that today, in 2018, just 137 years later, Garfield and his story are largely forgotten. Even the spot where the shooting took place, the old Baltimore and Potomac train station, is long gone.

Garfield was the third youngest president when he took office, just 49 when elected in 1880. His five young children, four sons and a daughter, made the White House a happy, playful home, despite his wife Lucretia’s serious fever (probably typhoid) that spring. The morning of the shooting, Garfield himself, at 6 feet tall and 210 pounds, performed handstands for his young sons in their bedroom and tossed them in the air while playing and saying goodbye.

The last president born in a log cabin, Garfield was raised in poverty on the Ohio Western Reserve, worked his way through Williams College, and taught at and became president of Ohio’s Eclectic University (now Hiram College). A lifelong abolitionist, he enlisted in the Union Army, became a captain, and participated in the Civil War battles of Shiloh and Chickamauga.

Elected to Congress in 1863, Garfield played leading roles in almost every major issue of the day. He helped win passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution to guarantee equal rights for freed slaves.

Garfield never actually ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1880—he attended the party’s convention that year to support another candidate, fellow-Ohioan John Sherman (brother of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman). But after the convention stalemated for 35 ballots, delegates stampeded to an alternative all knew as a competent and intelligent candidate, Garfield himself.

When finally elected president, Garfield had little time to enjoy it. In office, he quickly became embroiled in a signature fight of the era, the struggle against political bosses who strangled the works of government through patronage and spoils. Ultimately, he forced the Senate to abandon its practice called Senatorial Courtesy and confirm a reform-minded Collector of the Port of New York over staunch opposition from New York’s own powerful Senator Roscoe Conkling, who in turn resigned over the conflict.

By winning this fight, James Garfield cleared the way for what he hoped would be a highly productive presidency focused on civil rights, education and economic growth. But this was not to be.

The fight over patronage was the spark that prompted Charles Guiteau, the “disappointed office seeker” as he was called, to decide that James Garfield must be “removed” from office. Guiteau was likely mentally ill, but his insanity was informed by the politics of the day. The shooting of Garfield resulted in adoption of the 1883 Pendleton Civil Service Act, which mandated that government jobs be awarded on merit rather than political affiliation, and was one of the most important political reforms of the late 19th Century.

Garfield is one of just four presidents killed in office, and the sites of the other three attacks are rightly treated as a having major historic importance: Ford’s Theatre in Washington, Dealey Plaza in Dallas, and William McKinley’s assassination site in Buffalo, New York. Each has a maker and displays explaining the history and significant of the event. Garfield deserves the same treatment.

The site, however, presents some challenges. The old Baltimore and Potomac train station, located at 6th and B Streets NW, today’s Constitution Avenue, was long considered an eyesore even before the assassination. Built in the 1870s on landfill over the infested old Washington City Canal, its tracks extended south, splitting the National Mall, shooting soot into the air and causing pedestrian accidents. When Washington’s new Union Station opened nearby in 1907, city officials quickly closed the old depot and had it demolished.

Today, the spot where President Garfield was shot straddles Constitution Avenue between the National Gallery of Art and the Federal Trade Commission across the street, one of the busiest spots in the city. Thousands of locals and tourists alike pass by every day, having no idea of the shocking history that occurred here. On the Mall itself, walkways come within a few feet of the exact spot of the shooting with nothing to mark the spot.

It’s time for Garfield to have his marker too. It’s why I have joined the James Garfield National Historic Site’s initiative to memorialize the spot where an American president’s tenure was cut tragically short. History is too important to let it be forgotten.

About Kenneth D. Ackerman

Kenneth D. Ackerman is an author and lawyer in Washington, D.C., whose books include DARK HORSE: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield. For more on his writing, see

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Archaeologists discover burial ground for Egyptian high priests



Archaeologists discover burial ground for Egyptian high priests

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered mummified remains and thousands of well-preserved artifacts at a burial site of more than a dozen Egyptian priests.

Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Saturday the discovery of a necropolis near the city of Minya, south of Cairo in an area known to house ancient catacombs. The burial grounds date back to the late pharaonic period, which spans from 664 to 332 B.C.

“We will need at least five years to work on the necropolis,” Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said, “This is only the beginning of a new discovery.”

Image: Four canopic jars, made of alabaster with lids bearing the faces of the four sons of god Horus, that were unearthed are displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 24, 2018.

Four canopic jars, made of alabaster with lids bearing the faces of the four sons of god Horus, that were unearthed are displayed at the site of an ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 24, 2018. Ibrahim Youssef / EPA

The tombs discovered “belong to priests of the ancient Egyptian god Toth,” according to a press statement from the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry. Toth, according to Egyptian historians, was revered as the god of knowledge and wisdom.

Related: Archaeologists uncover 4,000-year-old tomb in Egypt

Archaeologists discovered the mummified remains of a high priest, which was covered in beads of ivory and crystal and decorated with a bronze collar as well as amulets of semi-precious stones.

They also found 13 other burial tombs, 40 limestone sarcophagi, a collection of more than 1,000 well-preserved figurines, and four canopic jars made of alabaster and inscribed with hieroglyphs.

Image: Skulls sit at a recently found ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 24, 2018.

Skulls sit at a recently found ancient Egyptian cemetery, in Minya province, 245 km south of Cairo, Egypt, on Feb. 24, 2018. Ibrahim Youssef / EPA

Mostafa Waziri, head of the archaeological mission, says eight tombs have been uncovered so far and he expects more will be discovered soon.

Earlier in February, archaeologists discovered a tomb of an ancient royal official buried more than 4,000 years ago during the period known as the “Age of the Pyramids.”

In 2017, the ministry found a necropolis holding at least 17 mummies in the area of Tuna al-Gabal, which is also known as the site of tombs, a funerary building and a large necropolis for thousands of mummified ibis and baboon birds, as well as other animals.

Egypt hopes that recent discoveries across the country will help spur the vital tourism sector, partially driven by antiquities sightseeing, which was hit hard by political turmoil following the 2011 uprising.

Seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem




In find of biblical proportions, seal of Prophet Isaiah said found in Jerusalem

Chanced upon near a seal identified with King Hezekiah, a tiny clay piece may be the first-ever proof of the prophet, though a missing letter leaves room for doubt

  • Isaiah bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which may have belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
    Isaiah bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which may have belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
  • Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)
    Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)
  • Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
    Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)
  • The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)
    The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)

The hand of the Prophet Isaiah himself may have created an 8th century BCE seal impression discovered in First Temple remains near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, according to Hebrew University archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar.

“We appear to have discovered a seal impression, which may have belonged to the prophet Isaiah, in a scientific, archaeological excavation,” said Mazar this week in a press release announcing the breathtaking discovery.

Mazar’s team uncovered the minuscule bulla, or seal impression, during renewed excavations at the Ophel, located at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The discovery was published on Wednesday in an article, “Is This the Prophet Isaiah’s Signature?” as part of a massive March-June issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review dedicated to its recently retired founding editor, Hershel Shanks.

The clay impression is inscribed with letters and what appears to be a grazing doe, “a motif of blessing and protection found in Judah, particularly in Jerusalem,” according to the BAR article.

Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

The oval-shaped bulla, however, is not intact. On its legible portion, there is an inscription with First Temple Hebrew letters that seem to spell out the name l’Yesha’yah[u] (Belonging to Isaiah). On a line below, there is the partial word nvy, which presumably spells out “prophet.”

“Because the bulla has been slightly damaged at the end of the word nvy, it is not known if it originally ended with the Hebrew letter aleph, which would have resulted in the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ and would have definitively identified the seal as the signature of the prophet Isaiah,” Mazar said.

Archaeologist Eilat Mazar in the 2018 winter Ophel Excavations in Jerusalem. (YouTube screenshot)

In the BAR article, Mazar leaves room for the possibility that the inscription on the Isaiah bulla does not refer to the biblical prophet. “Without an aleph at the end, the word nvy is most likely just a personal name. Although it does not appear in the Bible, it does appear on seals and a seal impression on a jar handle, all from unprovenanced, private collections.”

“The name of Isaiah, however, is clear,” she said.

Millennia-old connections between a prophet and his king

The most well-known of the biblical prophets, Isaiah is thought by scholars to have been active circa in the late 8th century and early 7th century BCE.

The Isaiah bulla was discovered in wet-sifted material that was taken from an Iron Age layer close to bedrock that was near a foundation trench cut for a wall of a Herodian vault. The material was found close to a structure that was first discovered in 1986-87 and is today thought to have been a “royal bakery.”

The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (courtesy of Andrew Shiva)

It was found only 10 feet away from where in 2015 Mazar’s team discovered an important, intact bulla with the inscription “of King Hezekiah of Judah.” The 12th king of the Kingdom of Judah, King Hezekiah ruled from circa 727 BCE-698 BCE, during the period in which the northern Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians in 721 BCE. Some 20 years later, Hezekiah successfully fought off the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, in part due to fortifications and a water channel which can still be seen today.

A seal impression of King Hezekiah unearthed in the Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology (ourtesy of Eilat Mazar; photo by Ouria Tadmor)

Upon the discovery of the Hezekiah bulla in 2015, Mazar called the artifact “the closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself.”

This week Mazar said in a press release released by BAR that it is logical that the Isaiah and Hezekiah bullae would be discovered in such close proximity.

“If it is the case that this bulla is indeed that of the prophet Isaiah, then it should not come as a surprise to discover this bulla next to one bearing King Hezekiah’s name given the symbiotic relationship of the prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah described in the Bible,” said Mazar.

There are several biblical instances of interactions between Isaiah and Hezekiah which indicate the prophet was a spiritual advisor to the king. He consoled the ruler that the Israelites would survive the siege. In the BAR article, Mazar writes, “The names of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah are mentioned in one breath 14 of the 29 times the name of Isaiah is recalled (2 Kings 19–20Isaiah 37–39). No other figure was closer to King Hezekiah than the prophet Isaiah.”

Dara Horn walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem, August 2017. (Brendan Schulman)

The Hezekiah and Isaiah bullae join other similar finds from previous excavations. Digging in 2005-2008 at the summit of the City of David in a large structure which may have been the palace of biblical King David, she discovered a clay impression with a First Temple Hebrew inscription bearing the name of a high-ranking Israelite official who is recorded by the biblical Jeremiah, “Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shovi.” Years later, a few meters from the Jehucal bulla, she found a seal impression belonging to a second high-ranking official, “Gedaliah, son of Pashur,” who is also found in Jeremiah. Dozens more bullae have been discovered.

Mazar recently reopened the Ophel excavation and is currently digging in the House of the Medallion, which she excavated in 2013, and a rare untouched Second Temple-period cave.

The find has not been peer reviewed and some have already begun to push back against Mazar’s hypothesis, noting that the lack of an aleph after the nvy leaves room for doubt.

“The critically important letter that would be needed to confirm that the second word is the title ‘prophet’ is an aleph. But no aleph is legible on this bulla, and so that reading cannot be confirmed at all,” Semitic languages professor Christopher Rollston told National Geographic.

Isaiah, in an illustration from the Providence Lithograph Company (Wikipedia)

“The assumption that this is a [seal] of Isaiah the prophet is scintillating, but it is certainly not something that we should assume is at all certain,” he added. “It’s not.”

Israeli epigrapher Dr. Haggai Misgav took to Facebook to express his skepticism over the possibility of this bulla having belonged to the Prophet Isaiah. Echoing Rollston’s concerns over the missing “aleph,” the Hebrew University lecturer wrote that since the impression would have been tied to a sack of goods, it is highly unlikely the title “prophet” would have been used at all.

“But as always there is no shortage of those who jump on the finds with cries of, ‘Hurray, we have proven the Bible,’” writes Misgav.

While Mazar herself admits that the missing aleph can be problematic, she says the discovery is important nonetheless.

“Whether or not the bulla we found in the Ophel excavations is the bulla of the prophet Isaiah, it remains, nevertheless, a unique and fantastic discovery,” writes Mazar in the BAR article.

“Finding this bulla leads us to consider the personality and the proximity of the prophet Isaiah as one of the closest advisers to King Hezekiah — not only with regard to the events of his time, but also in assessing them from an informed perspective and foreseeing their influence over future events,” she writes.

A gift fit for a true friend to archaeologists

On his way to catch a plane, the new editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, Dr. Robert Cargill, told The Times of Israel that the publication of the exciting new find in his magazine “came about by very fortunate timing.”

Dr. Robert Cargill, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review. (courtesy)

As Cargill was preparing the double issue of BAR in honor of founding editor Shanks, he approached Mazar to ask her for a contribution.

“She said, ‘Your timing couldn’t be better,’” related Cargill. Mazar was getting ready to publish this new discovery. “She allowed us to publish it as a gift to Hershel [Shanks] to say thank you for his support of archaeology and Israel,” said Cargill.

The magazine was first published in 1975 and has focused, sometimes controversially, on finds that claim to offer insights into the ancient workings of the Holy Land — often in approachable articles written by top scholars.

Shanks, not an archaeologist himself, is a lawyer by training. But in the past four decades, he has written innumerable articles and several books about ancient Israel and biblical archaeology.

Standing in front of the Ophel excavation are (from left) Suzanne Singer, the former BAR Managing Editor; Israeli archaeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay; Hershel Shanks, BAR Editor Emeritus who recently retired as Editor; and Israeli archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar. (Eilat Mazar)

In part of her “gift” to Shanks, Mazar wrote: “Like the prophet Isaiah, Hershel is very caring and enthusiastic about current events pertaining to Israel and the greater Near East, in this case those relating to excavations, discoveries, and studies of Biblical archaeology… Creating this valuable link between scholars and the public in the sphere of Biblical archaeology was his ‘prophetic’ vision.”

Cargill, a religious studies assistant professor at University of Iowa, said he respected Mazar’s “careful, responsible treatment” of the bulla in the BAR article.

“She didn’t rush to conclusively say she had found the seal of Isaiah… In our article she gives the possible alternatives,” said Cargill, who called himself “a natural skeptic.”

Drawing by Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie of the Isaiah Bulla, a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which potentially belonged to the biblical prophet Isaiah. (Illustration: Reut Livyatan Ben-Arie/© Eilat Mazar; Photo by Ouria Tadmor/© Eilat Mazar)

“But if you’re asking me, I think she’s got it. You’re looking at the first archaeological reference of the prophet Isaiah outside of the Bible,” said Cargill. “It’s amazing.”

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