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Father's Day and a Founding Father

Signature of Samuel ChaseSignature of Samuel Chase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first formal “Father’s Day” was celebrated June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington.

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd heard a church sermon on the newly established Mother’s Day and wanted to honor her father, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, who had raised six children by himself after his wife died in childbirth.

Sonora Louise Smart Dodd drew up a petition supported by the Young Men’s Christian Association and the ministers of Spokane to celebrate Fathers’ Day.

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson spoke at a Spokane Fathers’ Day service. President Nixon, in 1972, established Father’s Day as a permanent national observance.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, 1904, in his fourth annual message to Congress, President Theodore Roosevelt stated: “No Christian and civilized community can afford to show a happy-go-lucky lack of concern for the youth of to-day; for, if so, the community will have to pay a terrible penalty of financial burden and social degradation in the to-morrow. … The prime duty of the man is to work, to be the breadwinner; the prime duty of the woman is to be the mother, the housewife. All questions of tariff and finance sink into utter insignificance when compared with the tremendous, the vital importance of trying to shape conditions so that these two duties of the man and of the woman can be fulfilled under reasonably favorable circumstances.”

On May 20, 1981, in a proclamation of Father’s Day, President Ronald Reagan stated: “‘Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,’ Solomon tells us. Clearly, the future is in the care of our parents. Such is the responsibility, promise, and hope of fatherhood. Such is the gift that our fathers give us.”

On Father’s Day, 1988, Ronald Reagan said: “Children, vulnerable and dependent, desperately need security, and it has ever been a duty and a joy of fatherhood to offer it. Being a father requires strength … and more than a little courage … to persevere, to fight discouragement, and to keep working for the family.”

Reagan continued: “With God’s grace, fathers find the patience to teach, the fortitude to provide, the compassion to comfort, and the mercy to forgive. All of this is to say that they find the strength to love their wives and children selflessly.”

President Reagan ended: “Let us … express our thanks and affection to our fathers, whether we can do so in person or in prayer.”

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Williams Jennings Bryan gave over 600 public speeches during his presidential campaigns, with his most famous being “The Prince of Peace,” which was printed in The New York Times, Sept. 7, 1913: “Christ promoted peace by giving us assurance that a line of communication can be established between the Father above and the child below.”

A forgotten Founding Father

One of the forgotten founding fathers was Samuel Chase, who signed the Declaration of Independence and was appointed by President George Washington as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Samuel Chase was born April 17, 1741, the son of Anglican clergyman Rev. Thomas Chase, and was homeschooled till age 18. He traveled to Annapolis, Maryland, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1761. In 1764, Samuel Chase was elected to the Maryland General Assembly.

With a reputation as a firebrand, he founded a Maryland chapter of the Sons of Liberty to protest the Stamp Act of 1765 and the British Government’s usurpation of citizen’s rights.

At the age of 24, Samuel Chase challenged the authority of the English Parliament to tax the Colonists without their consent and forcibly opened the public offices in Annapolis, seized the hated stamps and destroyed them.

When Maryland learned that Boston’s harbor had been closed in 1774 to punish the Tea Party colonists, Samuel Chase and four other Marylanders were appointed as delegates to the Continental Congress for “agreeing on a general plan of conduct, operating on the commercial connection of the colonies with the mother country, for the relief of Boston and preservation of American liberty.”

Samuel Chase served on dozens of committees, and in the spring of 1776, even traveled to Canada with Ben Franklin, Charles Carroll and Rev. John Carroll in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Canadians to join in the Revolution.

Samuel Chase, more than any other, was responsible for persuading Maryland to vote for independence.

On August 2, 1776, Samuel Chase was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, along with other Maryland delegates, William Paca, Thomas Stone and Charles Carroll of Carrollton.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, political intrigues arose to remove George Washington from being Commander-in-Chief. Samuel Chase staunchly supported Washington.

After the War, at Maryland’s 1788 Convention to decide whether to accept the new United States Constitution, Samuel Chase initially voted against it, as he thought the states were relinquishing too much control. In a letter he signed “Caution,” (Maryland Journal, October 12, 1787), Samuel Chase warned of the rush to adopt the Constitution: “Suspicion should take the alarm. … Questions of consequence … ought not to be hastily decided. … The decision, for or against the plan … involves no less than the happiness or miser of you and all your posterity forever.”

In 1788, Samuel Chase was appointed chief justice of Baltimore’s District Criminal Court, and in 1791, he became chief justice of the Maryland General Court. In 1796, President George Washington appointed Samuel Chase as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court met in the basement of the U.S. Capitol until it was given its own building in 1935.

A controversial personality, Samuel Chase had articles of impeachment filed against him in 1804, but he was acquitted of all charges. Samuel Chase was one of the most influential Justices on the early Supreme Court, following Chief Justice John Marshall. Samuel Chase served on the U.S. Supreme Court till his death, June 19, 1811.

As was the practice at the time, U.S. Supreme Court Justices also served on lower courts. The Massachusetts Court of Appeals, which was Maryland’s Supreme Court, heard the case of M’Creey’s Lessee v. Allender, 4 H. & Mett. 259, 1799. Justice Samuel Chase was decisive in determining if Irish emigrant Thomas M’Creery had indeed become a naturalized United States citizen and therefore able to leave an estate to a relative. John M’Creey, in Ireland.

“Thomas M’Creery, in order to become … naturalized according to the Act of Assembly … on the 30th of September, 1795, took the oath … before the Honorable Samuel Chase, Esquire, then being the Chief Judge of the State of Maryland … and did then and there receive from the said Chief Judge, a certificate thereof … ‘Maryland; I, Samuel Chase, Chief Judge of the State of Maryland, do hereby certify all whom it may concern, that … personally appeared before me Thomas M’Creery, and did repeat and subscribe a declaration of his belief in the Christian Religion, and take the oath required by the Act of Assembly of this State, entitled, An Act for Naturalization.'”

Justice Samuel Chase rendered the court’s decision in the Maryland Court of Appeals (Maryland Supreme Court) case of Runkel v. Winemiller, (began in 1796; decided in 1799): “Religion is of general and public concern, and on its support depend, in great measure, the peace and good order of government, the safety and happiness of the people. By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.”

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