On my way to New Jersey this month, Jeff and I met up in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. History provokes the imagination, don’t you think? We romantically yearn for the good old days, when times seemed to be simple and virtuous.
The truth is that the colonial families existence was brutal and uncertain. The early Americans sacrificed and suffered heartaches repeatedly, again and again, time after time, day after day.
What most intrigues me about the early history of this country is the tenacity and resolution to survive and prosper of the people. Living souls who at their core are no different than us. They concealed and proclaimed the same dreads and aspirations that are basic to all men and women; undistinguished from the dreams and worries in the hearts and minds of those who are walking the grizzled streets of Harpers Ferry today.
Harpers Ferry was the site of the John Brown raid which precipitated the Civil War. John Brown, he was a man of such passion and principles that he was hanged for his stance against the horror of slavery. In our beings still, there is a creed that we would die for, though most of our lives will remain protected from the act of mortal sacrifice.
Their store houses were lined with values that don't seem to have been corroded by passing trends or popular beliefs, and their lamplight was the scriptures. It’s just who they were; that dimension of their lives was simple and quiet. Ours is complicated and noisy which arises our longings and looking back. But, the truth,.. behind these early walls lived the the brave and the cowardly, the industrious and the lazy, the virtuous and the corrupt, just like today.
Similarities aside, the period of our nation's early days was rough and the citizens were remarkable with a vision that was clear. Freedom from tyrannical rule could no longer invade their enterprises and compound their hurdles in this new land.
Currently, I am reading the John Adams biography by David McCullough. I am certainly impressed by this man who served as the 2nd President and is remembered as a founding father of our nation. He sacrificed for his country and went to battle to ensure that the rights and liberties being attained by the revolutionary war soldiers would be incorruptible and strong for the generations to follow.
I enjoyed the writing of this biography and garnered great respect for John Adams; but, I was as affected by the correspondence between he and his wife Abigail. Through her writings she exhibited impressive strength of character, intelligence, and perception equivalent to that of her famous husband.
Abigail Adams wrote in a letter to her son, the future president, John Quincy Adams, "It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed ... The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues".
We enjoyed our day so much, it's our favorite kind of day actually. The visual examples of the past and the history of this country move me. Hopefully, it teaches me the lessons and I have the strength to apply them as I pilgrimage through this interval of history granted to me.