Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot
Today is Guy Fawkes Day.
On November 5, Britain remembers Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. Fawkes, an ensign, had taken the lead in a 1605 plot to blow up the houses of parliament at Westminster as part of a Catholic effort to bring down the protestant monarchy in England. He was apprehended, allegedly in the act itself, taken to the Tower and subjected to torture. For centuries, Guy Fawkes Day marked the event. Englishmen were taught of the need to be vigilant in the defense of the realm, and particularly to remember the threat from within, from the disloyal Catholics.
Despite being a country founded primarily out of British traditions, we don’t celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. Why not?
But why did Guy Fawkes fall out of favor in America? After all, George W. Bush seems to love the policies that Guy Fawkes Day marks.
The original George W. saw things quite differently. For him, America was involved in a struggle for its liberty, and the commemoration of Guy Fawkes stood for the opposite: government by fear, oppression of a minority, a celebration of arbitrary power. Guy Fawkes Day was the abnegation of the essential values of the Revolution. So the original George W. put it in an order: no more Guy Fawkes Day.
Order in Quarters issued by General George Washington, November 5, 1775:
As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form?d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope?He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain?d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.
America, it was settled, would mark the old Guy Fawkes Day with a new tradition: the exercise of the Democratic Franchise. It was to be the day on which the rulers are held accountable to the people.
Read the entire article for lessons from the Gunpowder Plot that our current Administration has failed to learn. And remember Guy Fawkes when you go to the polls tomorrow, and hold our elected officials to account.
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