Laurens’ son John was also a patriot and an abolitionist who urged his father to free the 260 slaves on his South Carolina plantation. John was killed in a skirmish near the end of the war. Lauren freed his slaves in tribute to him.
In the mid-19th century, John Philip Sousa was one of America’s biggest “base ball” bugs, as fans were then called. In his autobiography, “Marching Along,” Sousa, born in 1854, described the joy baseball had imparted to him since way back to the Civil War. Abner Doubleday, the sport’s mythical inventor, was a Union general in the war who fought at the decisive Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
Throughout the war, when soldiers on either side weren’t marching or engaged in battle, they played “base ball” to break up camp life’s monotony. Commanders and army doctors encouraged “base ball” believing that it kept the soldiers fit, healthy and out of trouble. While soldiers frequently took part in foot races, wrestling and boxing matches, and occasionally even cricket or football, “base ball” was the most popular of all competitive sports in both army camps. Historians noted that baseball came of age during the Civil War, and entered mainstream American culture during those years. Note: in 1884, The New York Times style guide changed base ball to baseball, and it has been written that way ever since.
As a Washington, D.C. youth, Sousa watched the game evolve from its earliest days through the Dead Ball era that showcased baseball’s first inductees: Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner. Starting in 1857, the 21-run endpoint was eliminated, with games instead ending after nine innings. Foreshadowing modern-day baseball, other rule changes were introduced, including called strikes — previously, strikes were only the result of missed swings. Also, cricket-style flat bats were banned, and a white line marked the boundary between fair and foul territory; the umpire no longer had to guess where the ball landed.
Sousa was more than a fan. Through his years as a bandmaster, Sousa often pitched in games which pitted his band members against local nines. Eventually, his band grew large enough so that intra-squad games between the brass and woodwind sections were played. Whenever the opportunity arose to promote the band in front of a large audience, Sousa, often called “The American March King,” would pitch an inning or two. His band members referred to Sousa as “Ace,” and he pitched until age 62.
In the February 1909 issue of “Baseball Magazine,” Sousa, in his essay titled “The Greatest Game in the World,” wrote effusively about playing the American Guards on Independence Day, 1900 at the Paris, France, Exposition Universelle, the World’s Fair. “What,” asked Sousa, “could have been more appropriate for two American organizations in a foreign land to do [play baseball] on the glorious Fourth?” The All-American game that Sousa loved was one of the first baseball games played in Europe.
At the behest of Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and to celebrate the National League’s 50th anniversary, Sousa in 1925 wrote “The National Game” that combined his two greatest passions, baseball and marches. The original performances featured four baseball bat solos.
As rousing as “The National Game” march is, Sousa’s classic, “Stars and Stripes Forever,” is more uplifting. Written in 1896, and congressionally approved as the nation’s official march in 1987, Sousa’s lyrics have inspired patriotism in generations of Americans:
“Red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and home.
“Other nations may deem their flags the best And cheer them with fervid elation
“But the flag of the North and South and West Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation.
“Hurrah for the flag of the free! May it wave as our standard forever, The gem of the land and the sea, The banner of the right.”
Joe Guzzardi is a Society for American Baseball Research and Internet Baseball Writers’ Association member. Contact him at email@example.com.
The Unanimous Declaration– A good way to start today is to remember what it is all about. If you haven’t read this in a while take a few minutes an do so
.IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1 Georgia: Button Gwinnett Lyman Hall George Walton
Column 2 North Carolina: William Hooper Joseph Hewes John Penn South Carolina: Edward Rutledge Thomas Heyward, Jr. Thomas Lynch, Jr. Arthur Middleton
Column 3 Massachusetts: John Hancock Maryland: Samuel Chase William Paca Thomas Stone Charles Carroll of Carrollton Virginia: George Wythe Richard Henry Lee Thomas Jefferson Benjamin Harrison Thomas Nelson, Jr. Francis Lightfoot Lee Carter Braxton
Column 4 Pennsylvania: Robert Morris Benjamin Rush Benjamin Franklin John Morton George Clymer James Smith George Taylor James Wilson George Ross Delaware: Caesar Rodney George Read Thomas McKean
Column 5 New York: William Floyd Philip Livingston Francis Lewis Lewis Morris New Jersey: Richard Stockton John Witherspoon Francis Hopkinson John Hart Abraham Clark
Column 6 New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett William Whipple Massachusetts: Samuel Adams John Adams Robert Treat Paine Elbridge Gerry Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins William Ellery Connecticut: Roger Sherman Samuel Huntington William Williams Oliver Wolcott New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton