Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Pioneer Day!

by G.Parker

I had thought to spotlight one of the early pioneers for this Pioneer Day edition, but in looking up names and information, I decided it was too difficult a proposition. Brigham Young has volumes of discourses, many of which are controversial, so I avoided those. There are many others, but it's difficult in my time frame to find writing by them. I was tempted by Ezra T. Benson, the grandfather of our own prophet, Ezra Taft Benson. The grandfather was an amazing early apostle, but I haven't been able to find anything written other than his autobiography, which was much the same things we've read of other members of the early church. He didn't elaborate on the pilgrimage west, and I wasn't able to find anything about the early days of Utah with regard to him, so I ended up with nothing to share for this great day.

So -- it ends up back to our founders. But this got me thinking. Were not our founding fathers pioneers in their own way? They pioneered free thinking and enabled our great country to get it's its start, so I feel continuing on with these great men does no disservice to our ancestors. I'm sure they would agree.

The person I ended up picking was John Jay. You have probably heard of him, there's a college named after him and he was Chief Justice on the supreme court. Amazing. But -- I hadn't heard of him before.

Though my education may be lacking, I hope yours is not, and that these writings are somewhat familiar to you. They were very interesting for me to read. This is a quote from The Federalist Papers, which he co-wrote with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.

It has often given me pleasure to observe that independent America was not composed of detached and distant territories, but that one connected, fertile, widespreading country was the portion of our western sons of liberty. Providence has in a particular manner blessed it with a variety of soils and productions, and watered it with innumerable streams, for the delight and accommodation of its inhabitants. A succession of navigable waters forms a kind of chain round its borders, as if to bind it together; while the most noble rivers in the world, running at convenient distances, present them with highways for the easy communication of friendly aids, and the mutual transportation and exchange of their various commodities.

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.

This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.

I thought this was an interesting passage, considering it's July, and we are struggling as a nation (I believe) right now. I also noted that he said this nation had common ancestors, spoke the same language, etc. That is not the America we know today, nor was it much after that time. I noticed his language is not as 'flowery' as some of the others, though it seems as educated. I get the feeling that this man was more contemporary, a 'mans man' as it were.

Regardless, I hope that you have the chance to read more about him and get to know yet another person who helped shape this nation we are privileged to live in today.

Pioneer Day is a state holiday for Utah -- in case you do not live here. We have a big parade, picnics and fireworks at night. It's a great family day and we take this time to honor those who came before.

In honoring those great men, we also honor the founders of our country and note that many people gave much for the lives we live today. Enjoy your freedom.

1 comment:

L.T. Elliot said...

That passage from John Jay was stunning to me. What better way to show the hand of God than to show us, quite literally, that our country was shaped to benefit its inhabitants? That rivers, lakes, and landmasses were constructed to their ultimate glory to best aid the lives of men? I had never before looked at my country like that. How very blessed we are to live in such a choice land.