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A Short Biography of Hank Williams, Sr., Who Sang “30 pieces of silver, 30 shekels of shame”


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

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Hank Williams Sr
Hank Williams Sr

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Considered as one of the greatest American country music artist of all time, Hiram Hank Williams Sr., a singer-songwriter and musician, was country music’s first superstar. He earned fame with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank’s father, Elonzo Huble Williams worked as an engineer for the railroads of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company and was often relocated, and the family lived in many southern Alabama towns. Drafted during the First World War, he was severely injured after falling from a truck, breaking his collarbone and sustaining a severe hit to the head. He served for one year from July 1918 until June 1919.

After his return, the family’s first child, Irene, was born on August 8, 1922. His second child, a son, died shortly after birth. Hiram King Williams, the third child, was born on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama. Since Elonzo was a Free Mason, and his wife a member of Order of the Eastern Star they named him after Hiram I of Tyre, one of the three founders of the Masons according to Masonic legend.

Hank was born with spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column, which gave him lifelong pain. Due to this spinal condition he felt separated from other kids his age and the world around him. This pain he endured was the main cause for his abuse of alcohol and drugs in later years.

In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father was afflicted with facial paralysis. At a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Pensacola, Florida, doctors diagnosed the cause as brain aneurysm. They sent Elonzo to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana where he remained hospitalized for eight years. Hank saw his father rarely throughout Hank’s childhood.

Since Elonzo Williams was bedridden, his wife Lillie assumed responsibility for the family. In the fall of 1934 she moved the family to Greenville, Alabama, where she
opened a boarding house.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshine boy and selling peanuts on the street.

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Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne

In 1935, when Hank was about 12 years old, he met Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne, an African-American hillbilly blues musician in Greenville, who entertained folks on the street corners with his guitar to earn a few coins. Their relationship became a legend.

Locals called Rufus Payne by his nickname ‘Tee Tot ‘, short for teetotaler, but it more likely had to do with the ‘tea’, a blend of home-brew whiskey and tea that he always had in his flask.

Rufus worked part-time for at Peagler’s Drug Store doing odd jobs such as cleaning or delivery. He spent his spare time playing music with two others for anyone that would listen and toss a few coins. When asked, he would play at local dances.

A determined Hank approached Rufus Payne to teach him to play the guitar. Rufus taught Hank more than just the guitar. From him Hank learned how to draw a crowd and entertain them and keep them happy. Since a street singer does not have a captive audience, Rufus taught him how to grab the attention of the crowd with a style and delivery that would make them want to stop, listen to a couple of songs or three, and drop a few coins in appreciation.

Jay Caress writes that Hank Williams was “…too frail for sports, too smart for farming, too poor for politics and still a bit too young for girls, performing with Tee Tot was the challenge of his young life.”

Rufus visited Hank mom’s kitchen often. She fed him in exchange for her sons tutelage. Hank while talking to jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason said, “I learned to play the guitar from an old colored man. …I’d give him 15 cents, or whatever I could get a hold of for the lesson.”

Hank Williams and Rufus Payne were so much attached to each other, and the locals called them the “Greenville Troubadours.” The merchants of Greenville invited them to perform in front of their stores. It was during this time that Williams informally changed his name to Hank, believing it to be a better name for country music.

Colin Escott in his book “Hank Williams The Biography” cites the Montgomery Advertiser article from 1951 that said that Hank always gave credit to Rufus Payne: “All the musical training I ever had was from him.”

After some time, the Williams family moved to Georgiana, Alabama, where Lillie worked in a cannery during the day and served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital to support the family during the Great Depression.

After leaving Greenville in 1937 for Montgomery, Alabama, Hank did not keep in touch with his Rufus Payne, his mentor. Not much is known about Rufus Payne’s life after Hank left.

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Rufus Payne Epitaph
Rufus Payne Epitaph

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On March 17, 1939, Rufus Payne died in a ‘charity hospital’, and buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. No one knew and could tell Hank he had died. Rufus was about 55 at the time of his death. In his lifetime Rufus Payne remained largely unknown outside southern Alabama.

During the early 1950s it was unfashionable to acknowledge the influence of black musicians. However, in 1951 during a homecoming tribute held for him at Greenville, Hank Williams acknowledged Rufus Payne and gave him full credit for his formative years.

Hank’s music career began there in 1937 in Montgomery when WSFA radio station producers hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed his own band, the Drifting Cowboys. His mother managed the band. Hank dropped out of school to devote full-time to his career. Lilee drove her son and his band to shows throughout southern Alabama.

During World War II, when several of Hank’s band members conscripted into military service, he had trouble with their replacements. During this period Hank became an alcoholic and eventually WSFA dismissed him due to his alcoholism.

In 1943, Hank met Audrey Mae Sheppard, joined Hank’s band and under his guidance she played bass. She had got separated from her husband recently and had a young daughter. On December 15, 1944, Hank and Audrey got married. In 1949 they had a son together, Hank Williams Jr. On July 10, 1952 they finalized their divorce.

Hank traveled to Nashville in 1946 and met music publisher Fred Rose and the Acuff-Rose Publications company. Hank wrote material for singer Molly O’Day which led to a record contract with the recently created MGM label. A year later Hank Williams had his first hit, “Move It On Over.” In April 1948 he scored a second Billboard success “Honky Tonkin” with Sterling Records.

Along with this early success Hank’s behavior became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of “Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

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Hank Williams Memorial
Hank Williams Memorial

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Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. With five of the 35 songs released posthumously, he earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

As an ardent fan of Hank Williams, I used his song “30 Pieces Of Silver” to create the following video clip as a tribute to him.

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Lyrics – 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

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A Short History of Thanksgiving Day: Part 4 – Thanksgiving in New England


Myself  

By T. V. Antony Raj

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The 'Mayflower' by Donald Swan FRSA. Six days out on her voyage to America she was overtaken by a tremendous storm. The painting shows the topsail being lowered.
The ‘Mayflower’ by Donald Swan FRSA. Six days out on her voyage to America she was overtaken by a tremendous storm. The painting shows the topsail being lowered.

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At the beginning, the sailing was smooth, but later they met with strong winds and storms. One passenger, John Howland, was washed overboard in the storm. He caught a topsail halyard trailing in the water and was pulled back on board. When they were more than half the way to their destination, a storm caused a main beam to crack, and the possibility of turning back was considered. However, they managed to repair the ship and continued their voyage.

At sea, one passenger and crew member died and a child was born and named “Oceanus”.

After sixty-five days at sea, land was sighted on November 9, 1620. It was the Cape Cod within the New England territory, now called Provincetown Harbor.

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Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall, 1882 - Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall, 1882 – Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

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Captain Christopher Jones made an attempt to sail the ship around Cape Cod towards the Hudson River, also within the New England grant area, but they encountered shoals and difficult currents around Cape Malabar (the old French name for present-day Monomoy). He then decided to turn around and anchored on November 11 (Old Style) / 21 (New Style) at the harbor at Cape Cod hook, what is today known as Provincetown Harbor.

The Wincob land patent they had was from their abandoned dealings with the London Company. So, in fact, the colonists arrived without a patent because the charter of the Plymouth Council for New England was not completed by the time the colonists departed England. Some of the passengers, aware of the situation, suggested that without a patent in place, they were free to do as they chose upon landing, and ignore the contract with the investors.

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Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899.
Signing the Mayflower Compact 1620, a painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris 1899.

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To address this issue, a brief contract, known later as the Mayflower Compact, was drafted. This contract in which they agreed to join together in a “civil body politic” that promised cooperation among the settlers “for the general good of the Colony unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.”

This contract was ratified by majority rule, with 41 adult male passengers signing for the 102 passengers.

At this time, John Carver, the most respected and affluent member of the group who was instrumental in chartering the Mayflower, was chosen as the colony’s first governor. Carver’s signature appears first on the Mayflower Compact, the seed of American democracy and the world’s first written constitution.

Landing of the passengers postponed because of the delay in exploring the area. The shallop or pinnace, a smaller sailing vessel, partly dismantled to fit aboard the Mayflower for the voyage was damaged in transit. However, the male passengers waded to the beach in small parties to fetch firewood and attend to long-deferred personal hygiene.

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Captain Miles Standish

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While the shallop was being repaired, exploratory was undertaken by parties led by Myles Standish, an English soldier the colonists had met while in Leiden, and Captain Christopher Jones.

Up to this time, William Bradford, aged 30, who would soon be elected governor, had yet to assume any significant leadership role among the colonists. Bradford volunteered to be a member of the exploration parties.

In November and December, these parties made three separate ventures from the Mayflower on foot and by boat, finally locating what is now Plymouth Harbor in mid-December and selecting that site for settlement.

During one of the exploratory jaunts, the parties came across an old European-built house and an iron kettle, left behind by some other ship’s crew, and a few recently cultivated fields, showing corn stubble of the previous month.

They partially uncovered an artificial mound near the dunes and found it to be a Native grave. On venturing further they came across a similar more recently made grave. The colonists fearing that they might starve, removed the baskets of maize and other provisions placed in the grave. They placed some of the maize into an iron kettle they found nearby, and reburied the rest.

William Bradford later recorded in his book, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” that after the shallop had been repaired,

They also found two of the Indian’s houses covered with mats, and some of their implements in them; but the people had run away and could not be seen. They also found more corn, and beans of various colours. These they brought away, intending to give them full satisfaction (repayment) when they should meet with any of them, as about six months afterwards they did.

And it is to be noted as a special providence of God, and a great mercy to this poor people, that they thus got seed to plant corn the next year, or they might have starved; for they had none, nor any likelihood of getting any, till too late for the planting season.

They explored the bay and found a suitable place for settlement, now the site of downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts. The location featured a prominent hill (now known as Burial Hill) that was ideal for a defensive fort. There were numerous brooks providing fresh water.

When the exploring party made their way back on board, Bradford learned of the death of his wife, Dorothy. The day after he had embarked with the exploring party, Dorothy had slipped over the side of the Mayflower and drowned.

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Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers (Engraved by W.H. Simmons after a picture by Charles Lucey)
Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers by Charles Lucey.

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The Mayflower arrived in Plymouth Bay on December 20, 1620 and the colonists set their foot on New England.

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'The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth' (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe
‘The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth’  by Jennie A. Brownscombe (1914).

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William Brewster led them in prayer with Psalm 100:

A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.

Know that the LORD is God,
he made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the flock he shepherds.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him, bless his name;
good indeed is the LORD,
His mercy endures forever,
his faithfulness lasts through every generation.

During the next several months, the settlers lived mostly on the Mayflower and ferried back and forth from shore to build their living quarters. The settlement’s first fort and watchtower were built on Burial Hill.

The entire crew of the Mayflower stayed in Plymouth through the winter of 1620-1621. During that time, about half of them died. The crewmen that survived returned on the Mayflower which sailed for London on April 5 1621.

The first colony of the English was founded in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.

The colony established in 1620 by the Separatists was the second successful English settlement and is considered the oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in what was to become the United States of America.

During that first winter of 1620-21, more than half of the colonists died as a result of poor nutrition and inadequate housing that proved fatal in the harsh weather. Leaders such as William Brewster, William Bradford, John Carver, Edward Winslow, and Miles Standish, kept the remaining settlers together.

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William Bradford (Courtesy of Pilgrim Hall Museum)
William Bradford (Courtesy of Pilgrim Hall Museum)

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Upon the death of John Carver in 1621, William Bradford was unanimously chosen as governor. Brewster became the senior elder of the colony, serving as its religious leader and as an advisor to Governor William Bradford who served for eleven consecutive years, and was elected to various other terms until his death in 1657.

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Grave of Governor William Bradford on Burial Hill
Grave of Governor William Bradford on Burial Hill

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It was William Bradford who first used the word ‘pilgrims’ for the Mayflower passengers years later in his Of Plymouth Plantation. After he finished recounting his group’s July 1620 departure from Leiden, Bradford used the imagery of Hebrews 11:13–16 about Old Testament “strangers and pilgrims” who had the opportunity to return to their old country, but instead longed for a better, heavenly country. Bradford wrote:

So they lefte [that] goodly&pleasante citie, which had been ther resting place, nere 12 years; but they knew they were ,pilgrimes&looked not much on these things; but lift up their eyes to ye heavens, their dearest ,cuntrie and quieted their spirits.

For over 150 years after Bradford wrote this passage, no one had used the word ‘Pilgrimes’ to describe Plymouth’s founders, except when quoting Bradford. In 1669, historian Nathaniel Morton retold Mayflower’s story, and likewise did historian Cotton Mather in 1702. Both paraphrased Bradford’s passage and used Bradford’s word pilgrims. At Plymouth’s Forefathers’ Day observance in 1793, Rev. Chandler Robbins recited this passage from Bradford.

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Cover of the book The Times of Their Lives - Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony by written by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz
Cover of the book The Times of Their Lives – Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony by written by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz

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The following passage from book “The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony” co-authored by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz provides food for thought to the perennial question “who were the Pilgrims?

So who were the Pilgrims? This question has been a vexing one for modern historians, and depending on the source consulted, different definitions emerge. Were they all of the Mayflower’s passengers, or were they only the minority of religious dissenters among the group? Does the term refer to those who came on four other ships, the Fortune, Anne, Little James and Charity which arrived during the first seven years of the Colony? Might the term apply to all of the residents of Plymouth Colony during its existence as a separate colony until 1691? There is no modern consensus regarding this matter, and little wonder, for the people of Plymouth never perceived themselves as a group who would at the end of the eighteenth century come to be known as Pilgrims. However, if we change the tense of the verb in the question from were to are, a reasonably concise definition can be offered. The Pilgrims are a quasi-mythic group of people who are looked upon today as the founders of America, and whose dedication to hard work and noble purposes gave rise to our nation as we know it. What most of us know about them we learned as early as grade school, especially around Thanksgiving time. Stern and godfearing, possessed of the loftiest motives, the women dressed in somber attire with white collars, and the men also dressed in grey and black, with buckles on their hats, belts, shoes, and for all we know, even on their undergarments. Some modern Plymouth residents refer to them as the “Grim Pills.” This is the image with which we are all so familiar, but its origins lie more in early nineteenth century America than in the reality of a time two hundred years earlier.

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Black Friday and the United Stupids of America (USA)!


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Last year when I was in the United States, a friend from India called me over the phone a week before Thanksgiving Day. He requested me to buy a laptop for him on Black Friday. He said that he had heard that on Black Friday electronic goods could be bought at bargain prices. Little did he know about the madness that inundates the United Stupids of America (USA) on Black Friday.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. Also, traditionally, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season starts in the United States on Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving Day.Most major retailers open their sales outlets extremely early on Black Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season and offer promotional sales.

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States and people celebrate the day with religious fervor.

Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner.
Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner.

People get together with their loved ones, invariably devour large amounts of food centered around an enormous roasted turkey, and like angels and saints praise and thank God for all that they have.

Black Friday - People waiting outside a mall.
Black Friday – People waiting outside a mall.

But on the following day, the Black Friday, they become United Stupids of America by transmogrifying from angels to demons. They stubbornly gather outside malls, some from midnight on. They while away their time chattering and shivering, undaunted by the bitter winter cold, and wait for the shops to open.

As soon as the doors open, the stampede begins.

Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall (isource)
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall (isource)
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.
Black Friday Shoppers rushing into the mall.

People behave like crazed animals. They barge into the malls like raging bulls. They trample and maul one another to buy more stuff that they already have or absolutely do not need; just 24 hours after offering thanks for how much they have.

That is Black Friday for you in the United States of America. No other country in the world can boast of such a frenzied day.

Though Black Friday is not an official holiday, many non-retail employers give their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.

Earlier, retailers opened shop on Black Friday at 6 am. However, in the late 2000s, many retailers opened their retail outlets at 5 am, and some opened at 4 am. Big names including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc. open at midnight. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, broke the Black Friday tradition in 2011 by opening its store on Thanksgiving evening.

Here is a video clip depicting the madness of the United Stupids of America for you to decide whether you too want to join these berserk folks and avail bargains on Black Friday.

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A Short History of Thanksgiving Day: Part 3 – Preparing to Sail to New England


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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John Robinson's House, Leyden, where the Pilgrim Fathers worshipped

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Around 1617, the group of Separatists living Leiden, afraid of losing their cultural identity decided to set up colonies elsewhere, in some other country. Discussions were held as to where the group should go. The decided not to settle near England since that might closely duplicate the political environment back in England.

Candidate destinations included Guiana, where the Dutch had already established in 1616, Essequibo, a colony on the Essequibo River in the Guiana region on the north coast of South America; or somewhere near the existing Virginia settlements. Virginia was an attractive destination because the presence of the older colony might offer better security and trade opportunities.

At the same time, there were many uncertainties about moving to far-off places such as America because of the stories they heard about failed colonies over there. Also, there were fears of violent natives; scarcity of food and water; the possibility of exposure to unknown diseases; and hazards of distant travel by sea.

The London Company, also called the Charter of the Virginia Company of London, was an English joint stock company established by royal charter by King James I, for the purpose of establishing colonial settlements in North America. It administered a territory of considerable size in the region.

The territory granted to the London Company included the coast of North America from the 34th parallel (Cape Fear) north to the 41st parallel (Long Island Sound), but being part of the Virginia Company and Colony, the London Company owned a large part of Atlantic and Inland Canada. The company was permitted by its charter to establish a 100-square-mile (260 square km) settlement within this area. The company shared the territory, north of the 38th parallel  with the Plymouth Company, with the stipulation that neither company should establish a colony within 100 miles (161 km) of each other.

The London Company administered a territory of considerable size in the region. The Leiden Separatists made arrangements with the London Company to establish a new colony in North America. The intended settlement site was at the mouth of the Hudson River, at a distance that allayed concerns of social, political and religious conflicts, but still provided the military and economic benefits of relative closeness to an established colony.

Robert Cushman, a well-to-do wool comber, was the Chief Agent for the Leiden congregation.

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John Carver (Illustration from 1800s M & E Cigar label. The picture is an unknown artist's conception that was supposedly based on contemporary descriptions)
John Carver (Illustration from 1800s M & E Cigar label. The picture is an unknown artist’s conception that was supposedly based on contemporary descriptions)

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John Carver, a successful London merchant, and brother-in-law of John Robinson’s wife, had joined the Pilgrims around 1610.

The New World seemed to offer the opportunity the Leiden congregation needed, but the group had no means for getting across the Atlantic Ocean and establishing a colony. In 1617, the Leiden congregation sent Robert Cushman and John Carver to England to seek financial backing for crossing the Atlantic and to obtain a land patent. But the negotiations delayed because of internal conflicts in the London Company, but ultimately the duo secured a patent in the name of John Wincob on June 9 (Old Style) / June 19 (New Style), 1619.

The charter granted by the king stipulated that the Leiden group’s religion would not receive official recognition.

When the preparations for the voyage stalled because of the continued problems within the London Company, competing Dutch companies approached, and discussed settling in the Hudson River area.

Thomas Weston (born 1584) persuaded Edward Pickering, in 1615, to become his agent in Holland. Together they began to import a variety of nonconformist religious tracts that were seditious. In 1619, he left England and traveled to Leiden, Holland, where his agent Pickering had married a woman belonging to the exiled Separatists, who were then hoping to gain passage to America.

Negotiations with the Dutch broke off when Thomas Weston, the agent for Merchant Adventurer investment group, assured them that he could resolve the delays of the London Company who intended to claim the area explored by Hudson before the Dutch could become fully established. However, the first Dutch settlers did not arrive in the area until 1624.

Thomas Weston  told the Leiden group that parties in England had obtained a land grant north of the existing Virginia territory, to be called New England.

Elder William Brewster

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While these negotiations were on, William Brewster ran afoul of the English government by involving in the religious unrest emerging in Scotland.

In 1618, King James had promulgated the Five Articles of Perth, which were seen in Scotland as an attempt to encroach on their Presbyterian tradition. Pamphlets critical of this law, King James I and his bishop were published by Brewster and smuggled into Scotland.

By April 1619, these pamphlets were traced back to Leiden. This was at a critical time for the Leideners, as the preparations for their voyage to America had entered a critical phase and William Brewster’s guidance was badly needed. Brewster’s whereabouts between then and the departure of the congregation to New England remained unknown.

Supplies and a small ship Speedwell, originally named Swiftsure, built in 1577 and took part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the English fleet , was procured to take some passengers from Holland to England; and from there cross the Atlantic to Virginia where it would be deployed for fishing, with its crew hired for support services during the first year.

Thomas Weston helped them to lease a second larger ship, Mayflower, for transport and exploration services.

There was not enough berths for the whole congregation to depart on the first trip. Many members were not able to settle their affairs within the time for departure. Also, there were constraints such as the budget for travel and supplies. As such, it was decided that the younger and stronger members of the congregation make the first voyage and settlement and the remainder agreed to follow if and when they could.

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Departure of the Pilgrim Fathers from Delftshaven for New England (Engraved by T.W.Knight after a picture by Charles West Cope). Pastor John Robinson blessing the Separatists leaving for New England.
Departure of the Pilgrim Fathers from Delftshaven for New England by Charles West Cope. Pastor John Robinson blessing the Separatists leaving for New England.

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Robinson opted to remain in Leiden with the rest of the congregation. He intended to make the Atlantic crossing with the rest of his flock as soon as it was financially possible. It was not to be. Robinson died in 1624 in Leiden.

In July 1620, Speedwell set out from Delfshaven with some members of the Leiden congregation. On reaching Southampton, Hampshire, they met with Mayflower and the other colonists hired by the investors. William Brewster joined the first group of Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower and was appointed to lead the voyagers.

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Sailing of the Mayflower - 1620 (From Southampton, Hampshire) Anonymous engraver after a picture by A.Forestier.
Sailing of the Mayflower – 1620 from Southampton, Hampshire by A.Forestier.

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After making final arrangements, the two vessels set out of Southampton, Hampshire on August 5 (Old Style) / August 15 (New Style).

Soon afterwards, the crew of Speedwell reported that their ship was taking in water. So, both ships were diverted to Dartmouth in the English county of Devon. There Speedwell was inspected for leaks and sealed, and a second attempt to leave also failed, bringing them only so far as Plymouth, Devon.

Since Speedwell was untrustworthy for the long voyage, they sold it. Speedwell’s master and some of the crew transferred to the Mayflower for the trip.

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Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Walter Weir (1857) in Brooklyn Museum
Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert Walter Weir (1857) in Brooklyn Museum

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Again due to limited berths, out of the 121 combined passengers, only 102, seventy-three males and twenty-nine females were chosen to travel on the Mayflower with the consolidated supplies, and a crew led by Captain Christopher Jones.

Half of the passengers had come by way of Leiden. Of these 37 were members of the Separatist Leiden congregation that included about 28 adults. This article “List of Mayflower passengers” mentions the names and details of the passengers on board the Mayflower during its trans-Atlantic voyage.

Mayflower finally set sail from Plymouth, Devon, England on September 6 (Old Style) / September 16 (New Style), 1620.

 

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← Previous – Part 2 – Life in Holland

Next → Part 4 –  Thanksgiving in New England

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A Short History of Thanksgiving Day: Part 2 – Life in Holland


Myself . 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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A canal in amsterdam - Oil painting by Johannes Frederik Hulk sr. (1829–1911)
A canal in Amsterdam – Oil painting by Johannes Frederik Hulk sr. (1829–1911)

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Shortly afterwards, in 1607, John Smyth and the members of the Gainsborough group moved on to Amsterdam. Brewster was fined £20 (about £3.66 thousand today) in absentia for his non-compliance with the Church of England, and he resigned from the position of postmaster.

Of the lay preachers among the Scrooby congregation, William Bradford was the most prominent next to William Brewster.  The members of the Scrooby congregation decided to follow John Smyth’s group to Amsterdam. On arrival in Amsterdam a congregation of English dissenters living and worshiping in Amsterdam for over 10 years greeted them. This group, the earliest to arrive in Amsterdam, was officially titled the “Brethren of the Separation of the First English Church at Amsterdam,” and were known, informally, as the “Ancient Brethren.” By 1607, the members of the Ancient Brethren having attained economic stability constructed of a new church.

Francis Johnson (1562–1618), was the leader of the Ancient Brethren at that time. He was an English Presbyterian minister educated in Cambridge like Richard Clyfton and John Smyth. He first came to Holland in 1590 to serve as pastor of an English-speaking church in Middelburg. Though Johnson was a strong believer in reform, he tenaciously opposed Separatism. He confiscated Separatist books and was about to burn them. However, his intellectual curiosity impelled him to read some of those books. On reading the books, he changed his beliefs. Johnson then left his non-Separating Middelburg congregation and returned in 1591 to London where he was elected the pastor of the separatist congregation later to be named the Ancient Church.

In 1593, Francis Johnson and about 50 of his London congregation were jailed for their religious views. Around this time, two other radical reforming Separatists, Henry Barrow and John Greenwood, the authors of the books that had originally converted Francis Johnson to Separatism, were hanged at Tyburn.

Johnson’s congregation except Francis Johnson himself was gradually freed from jail, and they started to migrate to Amsterdam where, leaderless, they struggled to stay as a community. In 1597, after a failed attempt to establish a colony in Canada, Johnson joined his congregation of exiled separatists who had migrated to the Netherlands to avoid persecution, and resumed his pastorate with Henry Ainsworth as their teacher.

Several years before the arrival of the Scrooby group in 1608, Francis Johnson, had excommunicated his own father and brother for criticizing his wife.

In 1608, the newly arrived Separatists did not officially join the Ancient Brethren. The three congregations: Gainsborough, Scrooby and Ancient Brethren, maintained their independence and for a very short while worshiped peacefully together in the new church building.

By late summer of 1608, the two Separatist congregations – Gainsborough, led by John Smyth, and Scrooby, led by Richard Clyfton – were well settled in Amsterdam.

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John Smyth ((born ~ 1570, died August 28, 1612) (Source - Wikipedia)
John Smyth ((born ~ 1570, died August 28, 1612) (Source – Wikipedia)

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John Smyth disrupted  the unity among the congregations by his disposition and constantly evolving religious views. Henry Ainsworth described Smyth as having published “three sundry books wherein he hath shewed himselfe of 3 several [different] religions.

William Bradford described John Smyth as:

an eminent man in his time, and a good preacher, and of other good parts; but his inconstancy, and unstabble judgment, and being so suddenly carried away with things, did soon overthrow him.

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John Robinson ( No actual portrait of Robinson exists; this substitute appears online.)
John Robinson ( No actual portrait of Robinson exists; this substitute appears online.)

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While Richard Clyfton was battling away with John Smyth, the rest of the Scrooby congregation was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the controversies and disruptions. They quietly reconstituted around John Robinson, their more tranquil teacher and minister.

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Leiden, Holland
Leiden, Holland

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Soon, Robinson and the more peaceful elements of the Scrooby group began to look for another place to live. It may have been William Brewster, who had visited The Netherlands in the 1580s, who suggested the Dutch city of Leiden.

In February of 1609, Robinson asked the Leiden City Council for permission to move to that city. He described his group as:

“… members of the Christian Reformed Religion, born in the Kingdom of Great Britain, to the number of one hundred persons or thereabouts, men and women.”

The answer came back:

The Court… declare that they refuse no honest persons ingress to come and have their residence in this city, provided that such persons behave themselves honestly, and submit to all the laws and ordinances here.

On May 1, 1609, John Robinson and most of the Scrooby congregation arrived in Leiden without Richard Clyfton who remained behind in Amsterdam and joined with the Ancient Brethren. William Bradford wrote:

Mr. Richard Clifton was a good and fatherly old man when he came first into Holland, having a great white beard; and pity it was that such a reverend old man should be forced to leave his country, and at those years to go into exile. But it was his lot, and he bore it patiently. Much good had he done in the country where he lived, and converted many to God by his faithful and painful ministry, both in preaching and catechising. Sound and orthodox he always was, and so continued to his end. He belonged to the church at Leyden; but being settled at Amsterdam and then aged, he was loath to remove any more; and so when they removed he was dismissed to them there, and there remained [in Amsterdam] until he died.”

Richard Clyfton, lived in Amsterdam until his death on May 20, 1616. He was buried in the Zuiderkerk or “South Church,” beside his wife Ann who had died three years earlier.

At that time, Leiden, a city in the Dutch province of South Holland, was a thriving industrial center with about 100,000 inhabitants. On arrival there, the congregation lived in small houses. Many members were well able to support themselves working at Leiden University or in the textile, printing and brewing trades, while others, hampered by their rural backgrounds and the language barrier, were less able to bring in enough income.

Of their life in Leiden, William Bradford wrote:

For these & other reasons they removed to Leyden, a fair & bewtifull citie, and of a sweete situation, but made more famous by ye universitie wherwith it is adorned, in which of late had been so many learned man. But wanting that traffike by sea which Amerstdam injoyes, it was not so beneficiall for their outward means of living & estats. But being now hear pitchet they fell to such trads & imployments as they best could; valewing peace & their spirituall comforte above any other riches whatsoever. And at length they came to raise a competente & comforteable living, but with hard and continuall labor.

By 1617, although the congregation was stable and relatively secure in the Netherlands, there were ongoing issues that needed to be resolved.

Bradford noted that the congregation was aging, compounding the difficulties some had in supporting themselves. Some, having spent their savings, gave up and returned to England.

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Edward Winslow (October 18, 1595 – May 8, 1655)
Edward Winslow (October 18, 1595 – May 8, 1655)

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Edward Winslow (October 18, 1595 – May 8, 1655) was a Separatist. In 1617 Winslow traveled to Leiden, Holland and worked with William Brewster as a printer. Winslow’s list of the issues faced by the congregation living in Leiden was similar to that of Bradford. In addition to the economic worries and missionary possibilities, Winslow stressed that it was important for the people to keep their English identity, culture and language. They also believed that the English Church in Leiden could do little to help the larger community there.

The Scrooby congregation found the Dutch morals much too lascivious. Their children were becoming more and more inclined towards the Dutch way of living, “drawn away by evil examples into extravagance and dangerous courses.” The elders of the congregation realized that they faced eventual extinction if they remained there.

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← Previous – Part 1 – Separatists in England 

Next → Part 3 – Preparing to Sail to New England

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A Short History of Thanksgiving Day: Part 1 – Separatists in England


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States and many people celebrate the day with religious significance. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November.

Several instances of Thanksgiving that were held in early New England have been identified as the “First Thanksgiving.”

The modern Thanksgiving Day celebration is traced to the autumn celebration held in late 1621 at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The feast known as “The First Thanksgiving” was not known as such to the Pilgrims. “Harvest festival” would be a more proper term because a bountiful harvest prompted the 1621 Plymouth feast.

Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s carried the tradition of Thanksgiving with them to New England – a solemn ceremony of praise and thanks to God for the congregation’s good fortune.

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The first Thanksgiving likely included wildfowl, corn, porridge and venison. (Bettmann / Corbis)
The first Thanksgiving likely included wildfowl, corn, porridge and venison. (Bettmann / Corbis)

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The Pilgrim holidays celebrated in Plymouth in 1621 for a plentiful harvest, was probably held in early October 1621. It was celebrated by the 53 surviving Pilgrims, along with Massasoit Sachem the leader of the Wampanoag, and “Massasoit” of the Wampanoag Confederacy and 90 of his men. The celebration lasted three days and featured a feast that included waterfowl, wild turkey and fish brought by the colonists, and five deer brought by the natives.

Three contemporary accounts of the event survive: Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, Mourt’s Relation probably written by Edward Winslow, and New England’s Memorial by Capt. Nathaniel Morton, Plymouth Colony Secretary and William Bradford’s nephew.

The Thanksgiving in 1623 was held in response to the good news of the arrival of additional colonists and supplies. The latter event probably occurred in July 1623 and consisted of a full day of prayer and worship and probably very little revelry.

The Pilgrims

The story of the Pilgrims seeking religious freedom has become the central theme of the history and culture of the United States and the Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims were the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States. Their leadership came from the religious congregations of Brownists” (named after Robert Browne), a common designation for early English Dissenters, and Separatists from the Church of England before 1620.

The Puritans were a significant group of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, including English Calvinists. Puritanism was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England and maintained their membership in and allegiance to the Church of England. The term “Puritan” was coined in the 1560s, as a term of abuse for those who found the Elizabethan Religious Settlement of 1559. Puritans did not originally use the term for themselves.

From the late 16th century onwards, the word “Puritan” was applied to a number of Protestant churches, and religious groups within the Anglican Church. However, the
members of churches that did not agree with the Puritans knew themselves as members of particular churches or movements.

In this essay, I use the term “Brownists” and “Separatists” for the English Dissenters who separated from the Church of England in the 16th and 17th century who were not “Puritans”.

Robert Browne of Lilford

Robert Browne of Lilford
Robert Browne of Lilford

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Robert Browne (1550 – 1633) considered ‘The Father of the Pilgrims‘ is important in American history because his concept of separation of the Church from the State initiated the first step in American democracy. Hence, he is also known as ‘The Grandfather of the Nation‘.

He was born at Tolethorpe Hall in Rutland, England, into a wealthy, prominent Northamptonshire family, the Brownes (Elmes) of Lilford.

By 1580, Browne became a leader in the movement for a congregational form of organization for the Church of England. He rejected the puritan view of reform from within the Church and started to look outside the established Church. In 1581, Browne attempted to set up a separate Congregational Church in Norwich, outside the Church of England. In April 1581, while preaching in the Bury St. Edmund, Suffolk area, authorities arrested Browne for unlicensed preaching and imprisoned him by the order of Bishop Freake of Norwich. William Cecil, Baron Burghley, his kinsmen, interceded for his release.

Between May and August 1582, due to hostility from the local church authorities most of the congregation moved from the politically volatile England to the relatively calm and tolerant Middelburgh in Zeeland, Holland. On arriving in Holland, members of the congregation suffered from illness. There they formed a church on what they conceived to be the New Testament model. However, within two years the community in Holland broke up due to internal dissensions.

Robert Browne published at Middelburgh two of his most important works: “A Treatise of Reformation without Tarying for Anie” in which he asserted the right of the church to affect necessary reforms without the civil magistrate’s authorisation; and “A Booke which sheweth the life and manners of all True Christians” which set out the theory of Congregational independency.

Both books were immediately banned in England by the English authorities. By the middle of 1583, they issued a Proclamation against buying, selling or possession of the works of Robert Browne. At Bury St Edmunds, the authorities arrested, tried, and hanged John Copping and Elias Thacker, former members of Browne’s Norwich congregation, for selling Browne’s seditious writings.

Browne was an active Separatist from 1579 to 1585 only. He returned to England and to the Church of England and got employed as a schoolmaster and parish priest. Browne’s companions and followers who hung on to his earlier separatist concepts now looked upon him as a renegade.

However, the term “Brownists” became a common designation for early Separatists from the Church of England before 1620. The Brownists are briefly mentioned in Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night written around 1600–02, where Sir Andrew Aguecheek says: “I had as lief be a Brownist as a politician‘ (III, ii). The Browne family seat, Tolethorpe Hall, is now home to the Stamford Shakespeare Company.

Richard Clyfton

Richard Clyfton was born around 1553 near the Nottinghamshire village of Babworth. Ordained as a minister in 1586, he was named pastor of All Saints’ Parish Church in Babworth, near East Retford, Nottinghamshire, England. He held this position from 1586 to1605.

In the 1590s, Clyfton started to preach dissenting religious views and conducted services using prayers that were not in the officially authorized Book of Prayers. He soon gathered followers from the surrounding towns and villages. His congregation held Separatist beliefs comparable to nonconforming movements led by Robert Browne, John Greenwood, and Henry Barrowe. In 1593, Barrowe and Greenwood were hung at Tyburn for sedition.

William Brewster of Scrooby and William Bradford of Austerfield who later launched the “Pilgrim adventure” were inspired by the preaching of Richard Clyfton.

Unlike the Puritan group who maintained their membership in and allegiance to the Church of England, Separatists held that their differences with the Church of England were irreconcilable and that their worship organized independently of the trappings, traditions and organization of a central church such as the Church of England.

In 1593, Barrowe and Greenwood were hung at Tyburn for sedition.

William Brewster

William Brewster

Scrooby is a small village, on the River Ryton and near Bawtry, in the northern part of the English county of Nottinghamshire. At the end of the sixteenth century, William Brewster, the Archbishop’s bailiff, who was also the postmaster of the village occupied the Manor House at Scrooby belonging to the Archbishops of York.

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Part of William Brewster’s home, Scrooby Manor, still exists today
Part of William Brewster’s home, Scrooby Manor, still exists today

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William Brewster, heard Clyfton preach. Impressed by Clyfton’s services, Brewster joined Clyfton’s Babworth congregation and participated in Separatist services.

Around 1602, young William Bradford, living in the Yorkshire village of Austerfield some ten miles from Babworth joined Brewster “to enjoy Mr. Richard Clifton’s illuminating ministry.”

From 1595 to 1606 Brewster served Archbishop Matthew Hutton who was sympathetic towards Puritans but not to the Separatists.

In 1604, the Hampton Court Conference denied substantially all the concessions requested by Puritans, save for an English translation of the Bible. In 1605, following the Conference, Clyfton declared a “nonconformist and nonsubscriber” was deprived of his position at Babworth. Brewster invited Clyfton to live at his home.

Services were held with Richard Clyfton as pastor, John Robinson as teacher and William Brewster as the presiding elder.

In 1606, Brewster arranged for a congregation of Separatists, led by John Smyth in Gainsborough, to meet privately at the Scrooby manor house. John Smyth, about 20 years younger than Richard Clyfton was an ordained minister and graduate of Cambridge University. In 1600, appointed as a preacher of the city of Lincoln, he lost the position soon afterwards because of his unorthodox views. Even though both the Scrooby group and the Gainsborough group were Separatists, their views were not entirely and necessarily the same.

Around this time in 1606, after Archbishop Matthew Hutton’s death, Tobias Matthew, one of King James’ chief supporters at the 1604 conference was elected as his replacement. Mathew promptly started a campaign to purge the archdiocese of nonconforming influences, both Separatists and those wishing to return to the Catholic faith.He replaced disobedient clergymen and confronted, fined, and imprisoned prominent Separatists.

Scrooby member William Bradford, who kept a journal of the congregation’s events that was later published as Of Plymouth Plantation wrote:

But after these things they could not long continue in any peaceable condition, but were hunted & persecuted on every side, so as their former afflictions were but as flea-bitings in comparison of these which now came upon them. For some were taken & clapt up in prison, others had their houses besett & watcht night and day, & hardly escaped their hands; and ye most were faine to flie & leave their howses & habitations, and the means of their livelehood.

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Next → Part 2 – Life in Holland

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RELATED ARTICLE

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Did Samsung Pay the Fine of One Billion Dollars to Apple in Nickels?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Samsung vs Apple
Samsung vs Apple

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The various litigation filed by Apple Inc. worldwide over technology patents are now known as “Smartphone patent wars.”

In 2011, while Apple Inc., and Motorola Mobility were already involved in a patent war on many fronts, Apple filed lawsuits against Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., in patent infringement suits over the style and design of smartphones and tablet computing devices. By July 2012,  Apple and Samsung manufactured over fifty percent of smartphones sold worldwide.

By August 2011, there were 19 ongoing suits in nine countries around the world between Apple and Samsung. In October, the number of legal disputes extended to 10 countries, and in July 2012, the two companies were involved in over 50 lawsuits worldwide, with billions of US dollars claimed as damages between these. Apple received a verdict in its favor in the US and Samsung won rulings in South Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

In the United States, on August 24, 2012, the jury returned a verdict essentially favorable to Apple in the ground-breaking Apple-Samsung trial. It found that Samsung had flagrantly infringed on Apple’s design and utility patents. The jury awarded Apple $1,049,343,540 billion in damages and zero to Samsung in its counter suit. Apple’s equities rose over 6%, traded at $675 a share, an all-time high for Apple.

Americn Five Cents (Image Courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com)
Americn Five Cents (Image Courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries, Ha.com)

A story posted on August 27, 2012 in the spanish website ELDERFORMA.COM was titled: “Samsung paga multa de 1 billón de dólares a Apple en monedas de 5 centavos” (“Samsung pays fine of $1 billion to Apple in coins of 5 cents”).

Samsung pays fine of $ 1 billion to Apple in 5 cent coins. (Source - elderforma.com)
Samsung pays fine of $ 1 billion to Apple in 5 cent coins. (Source – elderforma.com)

Here is the translation:

This morning more than 30 trucks filled with 5-cent coins arrived at Apple’s headquarters in California. Initially, the security company that protects the facility said the trucks were in the wrong place, but minutes later, Tim Cook (Apple CEO) received a call from Samsung CEO explaining that they will pay $1 billion dollars for the fine recently ruled against the South Korean company in this way.

The funny part is that the signed document does not specify a single payment method, so Samsung is entitled to send the creators of the iPhone their billion dollars in the way they deem best.

This dirty but genius geek troll play is a new headache to Apple executives as they will need to put in long hours counting all that money, to check if it is all there and to try to deposit it crossing fingers to hope a bank will accept all the coins.

Lee Kun-hee, Chairman of Samsung Electronics, told the media that his company is not going to be intimidated by a group of “geeks with style” and that if they want to play dirty, they also know how to do it.

You can use your coins to buy refreshments at the little machine for life or melt the coins to make computers, that’s not my problem, I already paid them and fulfilled the law.

A total of 20 billion coins, delivery hope to finish this week.

Let’s see how Apple will respond to this.

Samsung pays Apple $1 Billion sending 30 trucks full of 5 cent coins
Samsung pays Apple $1 Billion sending 30 trucks full of 5 cent coins

The original article in Spanish and translations of it in other languages spread virally. Many readers, including me, who read the article online fell for it and mistook it for real news. However, certain aspects of the article roused suspicion.

To pay Apple $1,049,343,540 billion in five-cents coins Samsung would need almost 21 billion coins, 20,986,870,800 nickels to be exact. According to the U.S. Mint’s website, only 1.02 billion nickels were minted in 2012.

So, if Samsung had paid Apple in nickels, it would have collected all the nickels minted in the last 21 years in a couple of days. But did anyone in the United States knew about it or noticed the dearth of nickels in circulation?

Let us now look at the weight of the colossal amount of nickels. Weighing five grams each, the weight of 21 billion nickels amounts to 104,934,354 kilograms or 104,934.354 metric tonnes. So, each of the 30 trucks would have carried a gargantuan amount of nickels – about 3,500 metric tonnes.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

All the above happened last year. But now, the long debunked myth of “truck load of nickels” is making the rounds once again.

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Add this anywhere

Hats off to the owner of this house!


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Tree house

I proudly shared the above photograph of a house I came across on facebook.

The owner of the house, I presume, must be a lover of nature and a “Save the Trees” activist because he has built the house including the tree that was obstructing the frontage of his house.

Clever thinking, isn’t it?

Impressed by this builder’s feat, I chipped in and wrote: “Hats off to the owner of this house.”

However, my friend Joe Croos from Germantown, Maryland, USA, cut my ego down to size with his wise quip:

If I were the local thief the owner would be my sweetheart.

I realized my folly for not thinking about the security and safety of the people living in that house and so, I acknowledged Joe’s shrewdness:

Joe, I did not think from your angle. You are indeed a genius …

The Tree house

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Spoof: Part 2 – Rape Festival In Assam, India


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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The American news satire website NATIONAL REPORT claim and labels itself as “America’s #1 Independent News Team”. But it is better known for pushing the boundaries of good taste than making its readers laugh. On November 2, 2013, it published a post titled “The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week.

Earlier on January 8, 2013, the SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS posted the article titled “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week“. The NATIONAL REPORT just copied that article word-for-word. The only change was in the title – the Indian state “Assam” was substituted in lieu of “Punjab” to read: “The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week.

The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week

The article claiming a non-existent, wishful (in the mind of the author) vulgar event taking place in India was a spoof by a person writing under the pseudonym Jimmy Rustling.

Jimmy Rustling

The social media was abuzz with reactions to the article. So far, it has been shared more than 312,000 times on Facebook and around 3,000 times on Twitter. It has besmirched the image of Assam and has sparked widespread protests in the state.

The article does not display any disclaimer saying it is a spoof. However, there is a general Disclaimer page on the NATIONAL REPORT website:

DISCLAIMER: National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental . The views expressed by writers on this site are theirs alone and are not reflective of the fine journalistic and editorial integrity of National Report. Advice given is NOT to be construed as professional. If you are in need of professional help (and you may be if you are on this page), please consult a professional. National Report is intended for a mature audience and not for children under the age of 18.

Linked to the “Rape Festival” articles in SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS and NATIONAL REPORT is a common website Giveindia.org that looks like a genuine Indian website seeking donations for the welfare of Indian women.

At the end of the article there is the following statement:

For more information about the festival or if you would like to participate, please call the 24-hour India Rape Festival hotline at (785) 273-0325.

Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr.
Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr.

I googled and found that the given hot line number (785) 273-0325 belongs to Fred W. Phelps Sr., an American pastor heading the Westboro Baptist Church, an independent Baptist church based in Topeka, Kansas in 1955. Address: Westboro Baptist Church, Address: 3701 SW 12th St, Topeka, KS 66604, United States.

According to Phelps, basically everyone, who isn’t a part of their “religion” and “church” is doomed and will go to hell.

 

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Phelps’ group protests all over the United States at Gay funerals and Soldiers funerals. The first Amendment under the U.S. Constitution protects them to do these despicable hate acts.

Although the  “church” started as only hating “fags” they have now moved on to hate Australians, Canadians, Jews, Swedish, and even the Amish. To picket hey use signs such as: “God Hates Fags“, “Fags Hate God“, “America Is Doomed“, “Soldiers Die God Laughs“, “Thank God for 9/11“, etc.

Many people in USA, India and other countries believed the contents of the article as a true fact even though no such festival exists or existed in any part of India. And the article was widely shared even now via social media. It has been blindly copied and posted in sundry websites around the world without verifying the facts, thereby tarnishing the image of India.

Here is an example of this spurious, apocryphal copying:

The Assam Rape Festival In India Begins This Week - news.ugo.co.ug

On November 6, 2013, Patricia Kahill, posted the article verbatim without verifying facts in UGOnews with the following introduction:

Reports from National Report say that this week in Indian men readied themselves to begin celebrating the annual Assam Rape festival. This festival sees that every unmarried girl between the age of 7-16 who has not been hidden is raped. (sic)

This article published in UGOnews evoked many scathing comments. I have reproduced some of them here:

Prashant Moni · Textiles
It is very sad that some mentally sick peoples are publishing the scenario of a region in a very bad manner. To be make clear that there is NO ANY SUCH FESTIVAL in Assam or even in any other region in India. This is nothing but an output of mentally sick person (s). (sic)

Rajeev Gohain · J.B College, Jorhat
What a rubbish story. The picture is from a festival from Uttar Pradesh, Tamilnadu is lakhs km far. The names are not Assamese. The creator of this story is that the psychic who is dreaming about this type of festival , so that he also can go and participate it.. I am requesting to whole the world not to believe this type of fake story, but come and enjoy a beautiful green Assam famous for One horned Rhino and Tea.

Ashish Das · Online Entrepreneur and Blogger
Stupid website… research before publishing.

Manashwi Sharma · Student
This is absolutely NOT TRUE. There is no such freaking festival celebrated in Assam or in any part of India. I Request everyone NOT TO BELIEVE whatever is written on this website. This is totally a FALSE NEWS.

Prasanta Dutta · Guwahati College
I am from Assam and 33 year’s old, Its a is totally a Stupid news. Women is always respected in Assam more than other part of the world. (sic)

Sukanya Goswami · Dibrugarh University
this is unacceptable!!! shame on your mentality!!! u people published such a wrong thing about a region without knowing any thing!!! shame on u!!!! go and research before doing such stupid things!!!! u people dont knw any thing ,never heard about assam and but ready to publish nonsense about it!!! stupid website!!!! (sic)

Shreeja V Shetty · Software Tester at GlowTouch Technologies
Well this news is surely not true. India is a lovely country. But action should be taken on the one who wrote this! So that nobody repeats such nonsense again!

Lekha Borah · Works at Working as a Freelance Photographer
Want to make it clear that there is no this kind of \\”DIRTY FESTIVAL IN ASSAM”// or in INDIA. This is nothing but a fake RUMOUR of some mentally sick persons.Very sad and very shameful thing happened made by psycho people. (sic)

Slickèr Qalie Ndlovu · Member, Organisation of African Youth (Zimbabwe)
people stop lying please (sic)

On November 12, 2013, Patricia Kahill posted another article in UGOnews titled “The Controversial Assam Rape Festival” in which she says:

Last week we reported about the Assam rape festival a controversial and satire story that was first published by National Report a USA based website, lead to a number of comments on our site from the Indian community.

According to Lets Gist the point of the story was activism, to educate people about what is going on  in India on a daily basis, because a lot of people don’t know.

Hindustan Times received a statement from Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam immediately that said:

“the fraudulent and extremely unethical article about the completely fictitious festival is an act of serious disrespect and total disregard shown towards the humble and unsuspecting people of our beautiful state of Assam. The writer of such a piece of pure evil is not fit for human society.”

Bharat Narah, press adviser to Gogoi, told Gulf News:

The Assam Rape Festival article is not at all humorous. It is distasteful, unethical, abominable, despicable and must be abhorred by all sections of society. We have taken up a suo moto case against the website and the author of the piece. It is a highly sensitive matter which cannot be ignored. We are assessing all our options and are in touch with the Cyber Cell of the Police Department.

Regardless of race, culture, or nationality, any decent and moral person should be offended by this filth. Media plays a very critical role in forming opinions. If media will start acting so naively, then the responsibility of spreading information through media should be taken away. We Indians know that this news is totally fake, but people in other parts of the world are getting the wrong message about our nation. This mischief by the media should be dealt with very strictly.

The comment by Nancy Powell, US ambassador to India, when she addressed the students of Xavier Institute of Social Science (XISS) in Ranchi, on November 19, 2013, is an epiphany for the state of affairs now prevailing in India.

When a student asked: “Why aren’t American students coming to India for studies?

She replied: “The concern for personal security and perceived increased danger to women as a result of the rape cases was perhaps a factor in US students’ decision regarding study in India.”

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← Previous post – Spoof: Part 1 – Rape Festival In Punjab, India

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← Previous Spoof: Part 1 – Rape Festival In Punjab, India

Spoof: Part 1 – Rape Festival In Punjab, India


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On January 8, 2013, an American website SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS posted an article titled: “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week,” written by a person using the pseudonym ‘Jimmy Rustling‘.

The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week

Since January 2013, this article, camouflaged as a news item, circulated through blogs, email, and social media. Its claim that the tradition of the Punjab Rape Festival dates back to 43 BC is utter nonsense. Factually, there is no such event as the Punjab Rape Festival. The story was simply concocted by the psychotic Jimmy Rustling.

This obviously false story caused a great deal of apprehension and dismay after it spread through the media. Not realizing that there is no such event and never ever was, many decried the imaginary event and wanted it stopped.

Here is an example of one such silly call titled “HELP ME STOP’The Punjabi Rape Festival in India by Neil Padayachee posted on January 16, 2013.

'HELP ME STOP'The Punjabi Rape Festival in India

The comments for the post “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week”  show that the average follower of SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS  is an ignoramus who could be manipulated to believe any unauthenticated absurd news, as he would when he reads the religious scriptures, mainly because it is in print.

As usual, pranksters too joined in and added fuel by defending the festival and stating they were looking forward to participating in the hypothetical event.

Sarab H:
This is so messed up! I demand justice!

M ShelatI agree. Something needs to be done to stop this!

Mark Dauglas ZnenitzI would go to this festival. Probably not participate but I would go

Eva Monreli: They are not even considering that one can get viral diseases (Like AIDS)from these people. This should be stopped!

Holly Marys: I have many many many MANY demons in me that need uncorking. May I, as an American and not Punjabi, participate so that I may perhaps be rid of my demons once and for all?

Catherine: Sick people! This is 2013 for God’s sake. Stop these archaic Men form doing injustice to the girl child.

Naga sadhus who had gathered at the Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela 2013.
Naga sadhus who had gathered at the Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela 2013.

The above photo of Naga sadhus at the Kumbh mela was used along with the ‘rape festival’ story. This photo of Naga sadhus gathered at the Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela 2013, deceives readers into believing that the Hindu sadhus were rushing to rape unmarried girls in the age group 7 to 16 years.

Sharell Cook
Sharell Cook

Sharell Cook, an Australian traveller researching distinctive cultures from her early 20s, initially visited India in the year 2000 and found it a total assault on her senses, confronting, but then oddly inspiring and captivating. Even today, this impression about India has not changed. Even now, Sharell is residing in cosmopolitan Mumbai where she writes full-time while learning Hindi. This is her impression about the Allahabad Maha Kumbh Mela:

The Kumbh Mela in India is as mesmerizing as it is spiritual.  This ancient northern Indian festival is a meeting of mystical minds. The largest religious gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela brings Hindu holy men together to discuss their faith and disseminate information about their religion. It’s attended by millions of people each day.

Many Indians living in the United States called for the removal of the article from the website and wanted authorities to take punitive action against the author and the website that published it.

In late January 2013, the writer responding to the angry calls posted the following message on his Facebook Page:

Paul Horner alias Jimmy Rustling
Paul Horner alias Jimmy Rustling

I’ve been getting emails from people saying that I should remove my story entitled, “The Punjab Rape Festival In India Begins This Week.”

The point of the story was an activism piece to educate people about what is going on over there on a daily basis, because a lot of people don’t know. I read everything I can get my hands on and every day there’s another story about another horrible rape or murder of a young girl in India…. usually where the guy gets off, not being punished, or worse, where the victim is forced to marry her attacker.

So I wrote up the most exaggerated, ridiculous thing I could think of… it gets people to pass around the story and then question what’s going on over there if they didn’t already know. A simple Google search of “Punjab rape” brings up 100+ different stories of young girls getting raped, murdered, forced to marry the man who raped them… it’s disgusting.

Anyway, that’s the point of the story and I’m not pulling the article.

In an email to hoax-slayer.com the author wrote:

One of the other MAJOR factors for doing the story was collecting money for the women of India for schooling, clothes, help in leaving abusive situations. So, a few months ago I added this to the bottom of the story:

WANT TO HELP THE WOMEN IN INDIA? THEN DO SOMETHING!
Click here to learn more.

I checked out that charity thoroughly. They are 100% legit giving 90-95% of collected funds to the cause.

To keep the controversial “Rape Festival” spark alive, SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS on May 7, 2013, posted yet another spoof story in bad taste written by Jimmy Rustling titled: “Surprise Winner At This Years Punjab Rape Festival.

Surprise Winner At This Years Punjab Rape Festival

Once again the stupid readers of this post came out with absurdities:

Sarah H: They give awards to men in India for raping woman? WOW.

Samantha: This is just disgusting! They don’t arrest them for rape but they give them awards??? SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE ABOUT THIS!

Lena: Govt must come forward to support RAPE FESTIVAL. This is the only world class entertainment ,where every one love to participate. Tourist visits to India ,will generate collosal amount for the nation. Allow everyone to participate,give them FREE CHANCE to win award. GOVT must provide FREE VISA Access. Let people of the world to enjoy and feel free to taste of RAPE. RAPE reduces heat,its good for health and for the growth of man kind. C.M needs to be changed,since he wants to snatch this freedom from people of punjab, which is against the will of the nation. Democracy in India should not tarnished at any cost.

Readers of SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS made these comments despite the following image posted proudly on its site on the page “Super Official Awards.”

Fox News Called Super Official News A 'Fake News Site'

The name Jim Rustling is the pseudonym of an author named Paul Horner, a Staff Writer for NATIONAL REPORT who claims to have won numerous awards for journalism including a Peabody Award and a Pulitzer Prize.

How authentic are the writings of Jimmy Rustling a.k.a. Paul Horner?

You will find the answer if you read the article titled “President Obama Presents Paul Horner With Super Universe Ultimate Award For Excellence In Winning The Game” posted on November 5, 2012 in SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS.

I understand that  “Fred Dursk” is another pseudonym of Paul Horner. Now, I wonder how many other pseudonyms this person has, and whether the name “Paul Horner” itself is real, or is it another pseudonym of some other person hiding behind these names.

A disclaimer right at the bottom of the posts in SUPER OFFICIAL NEWS reads as follows:

Disclaimer: Lulz killing of any kind will not be tolerated. If you are being a buzzkill, your comment can be altered or deleted. This entire site is pretty much just a resume containing a collection of my writings and such for the off chance that someone like The Onion or The Daily Show ever happens to stop by. Until then just remember, if it’s on the internet it must be true.

Next → Spoof: Part 2 – Rape Festival In Assam, India

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