Voluntarily Giving Up Power – America’s Second Declaration of Independence

Voluntarily giving up power is such a rarity, we name cities after those who do.  Such men make independence and liberty possible.

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (519 – 43o BC) was a Roman Senator who wanted to retire from public life.  But the Roman people wouldn’t let him.  So he came up with a plan.  He ran for Consul, the highest office in the Roman Republic.  This was a one-year, term-limited position.  Cincinnatus was elected easily, and served out his year.  At the end of his term, he retires to his estate, and manages his farm in the Patrician tradition.

Cincinnatus would have otherwise been a mere footnote in history.  However, the Aequians, a tribe to the northwest of Rome, declared war on the Republic in 457 BC.


Minucius, one of the Consuls that year, raised a legion, and marched into Alban Hills whereupon the Aequians promptly laid siege to his fortified camp, trapping him.  At least one rider managed to get through enemy lines to deliver the news back to the Senate in Rome.

The Senate calls and emergency session, and appoints Cincinnatus dictator.  A few short days later, a Senate delegation arrives at Cincinnatus’ Estate to congratulate him. According to legend, the delegation came upon him out in the fields with his hand on the plow.

Ordering his servants to unhitch the oxen, he calls for his toga.  One servant makes to take the plow into the barn.  Cincinnatus waves him off.  “Don’t touch it.  I’ll be back.”

Independence And The Birth Of A Legend.

Cincinnatus goes back to Rome, raises another legion, marches out to the Alban Hills, rescues Minucius, and beats the stuffing out of the Aequians.

The Romans make a yoke out of spear shafts and compel every surviving Aequian male walk to beneath it as a declaration of fealty.  The Aequians take an oath never to raise arms against Rome again.   Thus, another tribe on the Italian peninsula is brought under the dominion of Rome.

The Aquinas agree to submit to Rome. @manningthewall.com

The Aequians agree to submit to Rome.

Cincinnatus  goes back to Rome, rejects the offer of a triumph (a parade in his honor), and hands back the writ of dictatorship.

The Senate had voted him emergency powers for 180 days.  Cincinnatus gave up those powers on day 16.  Wrap your brain around that.

2,240 years later…

At the close of the War For Independence, officers of the Continental Army at the Headquarters in Newburgh, NY met to discuss certain grievances and to consider a possible insurrection against the United States Congress.

The national legislature had failed to honor its promises regarding salary, bonuses, and pensions for the Army.  Who would have thought?  Congress failing to honor its promises, but yes, even back then.  The officers had heard from Philadelphia that the new government was broke, and they may never be compensated.

On March 15th 1783, Washington’s officers gathered in a church building in Newburgh effectively holding the fate of the fledgling republic in their hands.  They discuss seizure of the reigns of government and making Washington the king.  Unexpectedly, Washington enters.  He is not entirely welcome.  Never-the-less, he addresses them and makes the case for the new congress, and counsels patience.  His reasoning is not very well received.  He carries with him a letter from a member of the congressional finance committee, explaining in detail the challenges of the new government.  He begins to read.  

After struggling for a couple of paragraphs with the hand-written script, Washington stops.  Then, something amazing happens.  Reaching into his coat pocket he produces his glasses.  Few of them knew he wore reading glasses.  This display of frailty from such a larger-than-life figure served to hush the restless room.  Washington spoke, “Gentlemen,  you will permit me to put on my spectacles.  For I have not only grown gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.”

A God Becomes Mortal…

In that moment of vulnerability, Washington’s men were deeply moved, even shamed.  Some accounts written afterwards said that many were moved to tears.  Now all of them looked with great affection upon this aging man who had led them through so much.

Washington read the remainder of the letter then left without saying another word.  His officers preceded to cast a unanimous vote validating the authority of Congress, thus quelling the first serious sedition within the United States.  Not through force of arms, or by U.S. Marshals kicking down the doors, but through reason a group of men – competent experienced, battle hardened leaders – inspired by a giant among them, found their moral compass and the republic survived.

Washington @manningthewall.com

Depiction of Washington handing his commission back to Congress by John Trumble.

To paraphrase Eric Cartman…

Washington announced that he would resign his commission to a powerless congress.  When word of his intentions reached George III, the monarch said, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”  On December 23, Washington did indeed resign, and like Cincinnatus, retired to his estate.

Posted in History, Liberty | 7 Comments

Happy Fathers Day!

Division of Labor.

I enjoy car trips with my wife. To be candid, she’s good company.  Now, do I wish she would take the wheel once in a while? Of course, I do.  But for the last 30 years, the pay-off has been huge.

We get to the hotel. I unload the car, piling the contents onto the luggage cart. The family helps as much as they can but mostly get in the way.  I push the cart into the lobby.  One of the kids, usually the boy, wants to come with me to park the car.   The wife steps forward to restrain him.  I raise my hand, palm out.  Let him come with me.

The Christensen Men @manningthewall.com

The Christensen Men.  Why must they grow up?

We exit the hotel, leaving the girls to check in.  When we come back to the lobby, usually she has the key-cards in hand.   I take them both, look at the room number and hand her back one of the cards.  Let’s go.

I’m slightly irritated.  It’s been a long drive.  The kids behave pretty well through the hallways and in the lobby.  The boy does have a rambunctious second or two.  She catches the eye of the offending party, ‘not now.’ Continue reading

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ROTC – Taking Their Turn On The Wall…

Cadet Summer Training, the annual capstone event for the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) is the largest training event on the U.S. Army’s calendar.  This year, over 5,000  Millennials will descend on Fort Knox, straining the logistical limits of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, an  organization who’s complexity rivals that of a Fortune 100 company.

A Tradition Of Leadership.

The ROTC officially began with the National Defense Act of 1916.  Civilian universities featured military education programs since the early 19th century.  The National Defense standardized the various programs. Continue reading

Posted in Current Events and Politics, Defining Western Civilization, Liberty | 1 Comment

Useful Ramblings

For the past few weeks, I’ve been knee-deep doing my part as a very-functional cog in the machinery of what is billed as the “largest annual training event in the U.S. Army.”  To no one’s surprise, Fort Knox is right where I left it last year.  ROTC Cadet Summer Training doesn’t leave much time to come up for air, but you make time for one’s priorities.

No, my twitter account has not been hacked, but some “Nigerian prince” has been using my profile photo. My thanks to those who alerted me.  I in turn have alerted Twitter, and hopefully that will be enough. Continue reading

Posted in Current Events and Politics, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Zombie Apocalypse And The Walking Dead. What Would It Take To Start Over?

Between Darwin and God, bet on God.

The Zombie Apocalypse – during my 2nd Afghanistan tour, my son introduced his mother to AMC’s The Walking Dead.  Upon my return, I too received an introduction to the program.

Continue reading

Posted in Science & Technology, Television | 1 Comment

Is Jeanine Pirro Right? Does Paul Ryan Have To Go?

Nothing is so fractious as the right side of the political spectrum in victory.  So, what do you think?  Is Jeanine Pirro right?  Does Paul Ryan have to go and step down as Speaker of the House?   Continue reading

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Equilibrium – Immutable Laws – Part 1

Equilibrium Is Everything.

What is Equilibrium?  It’s more than balance, though balance plays it’s part.  Equilibrium is the law.  It’s the universal distribution of Matter and Energy, bound by the fact that neither can be destroyed, only changed in form.

Meet Auggie.  equilibrium @manningthewall,.comAuggie just got here, and you’ve probably already guessed that he made points just for showing up.  Auggie will exhale about 686,200,000 times over 80 the next years.  That’s a lot of nitrogen and oxygen converted to carbon dioxide.




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If 10% Is Good Enough For The Almighty God…

Alex: Because it’s small enough not to impact one’s life style, yet just big enough for one to miss it.                                                                                                                                 Contestant: Why did God pick 10%?                                                                                           Alex: Correct!

10% for a reason.

The metric of 10% – the tithe – has been around for a while.  Intuitively, we all know it’s the way to go.  It’s time to apply this standard to our secular governments.  And for good reason.  When the leviathan assumes an endless pool of resources from which it can draw, then, it has no incentive to prioritize. Continue reading

Posted in Current Events and Politics, Socialism, Taxes | 1 Comment

Over The Top And Out Of Their Minds.

April, 46 B.C.

Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, known to history has Cato The Younger, lay awake in the pre-dawn hours.  The legions of Julius Caesar, flushed with victories over the armies of Pompey, Ptolemy XIII, and Metellus Scipi bore down on the African provincial city of Utica.  The civil war which had torn the Roman Republic apart was rapidly drawing to a close.

Schumer & Cato The Younger @manningthewall.com

The contrast could not be more stark.

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Posted in Current Events and Politics, History | 3 Comments

Revisiting The Classics I – Selections From The Colonel’s Library

Every library should have at least some classical literature on the shelves.  Here is a little of what is on mine.

Dracula – Bram Stoker, 1897.

DraculaEvery wish you had enough juice to make your real estate agent pay you a house call?

The original bad boy, if Dracula ever ran into Edward Cullen, he would have cut his head off and emptied his bladder down his neck. Continue reading

Posted in Books | 2 Comments