Today’s Keyhole to History explores the Glorious Revolution of 1688. When James II became King of England in 1685, his overt Catholicism and policies alienated the majority Protestant population. Dismayed by his leadership, a group of leading Englishmen invited William of Orange, a Protestant, to England and soon after James was deposed from the throne. William and his wife Mary, who was James’s daughter, were offered the throne of England but with key changes. Parliament would become the source of English power, granting new rights to the governed. Celebrated as the Glorious Revolution, English subjects at home and in the American colonies saw it as a victory for their rights and a rejection of absolute monarchy. 100 years later, the United States Constitution would draw inspiration from laws established by the Glorious Revolution.

Today’s Keyhole to History takes us to 1689 when philosopher John Locke published Two Treatises of Government following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in Great Britain. The so-called Glorious Revolution replaced the unpopular King James II with William and Mary, permanently shifting power toward Parliament. While published nearly 100 years earlier, Locke’s book was instrumental for the Founding Fathers.  In the document, Locke introduces his theory of the “state of nature” in which all people are born in and have equal rights to “life, liberty, and estate.” However, people in a state of nature eventually fall into a “state of war.”  Therefore, Locke argued, it is rational to form a social contract or government in which the citizens give up some individual rights for the common good. Locke also outlines the legislative and executive branches of government, allowing for a separation of powers and advocates for religious tolerance. These Lockean ideas were foundational in the crafting of America’s founding documents.

Today’s Keyhole to History October 28, 1701, William Penn’s Charter of Privileges, becomes effective. Pennsylvania’s new colonial government endorsed religious tolerance and established procedures for the protection of property and personal freedoms. Penn emphasized local governance and law-making using the democratic process. With the support of colonial leaders, these important concepts were arranged into the Charter of Privileges. Some say the charter was a forerunner to the Declaration of Independence, written more than seventy years later. The French philosopher Voltaire said that in writing this document, Penn may have “brought down upon Earth the Golden Age, which in all probability, never had any real existence but in [Penn’s] dominions.”

Today’s Keyhole to History looks at the Bedford Flag, the oldest flag in the United States. This original crimson banner depicts an armored arm holding a sword and emerging from clouds with the Latin phrase “Vince Aut Morire” , or “Conquer or Die.” Originating in Bedford between 1704 and 1720, this flag was passed down through the Page family, several of whose members served in cavalry units of the Massachusetts Bay colonial militia. At the battle at Concord on April 19, 1775, Minuteman Nathaniel Page carried the flag at the North Bridge. In 1885, the Page family donated the historical Bedford Flag to the Bedford Free Public Library, where it can be viewed today.”

Today’s Keyhole to History investigates Benjamin Franklin’s history as a printer. While Franklin enjoyed professional success in fields from science to politics, he began as a printer. Franklin apprenticed in his brother James’ Boston print shop, helping him print the New England Courant. After learning printing skills in London and working for printers in Philadelphia, at the young age of 22 he opened a printing house with partner Hugh Meredith and in 1729 purchased the Philadelphia Gazette. In the 1730s he franchised his printing shop to other cities, founding the first franchise system in the United States. Franklin retired from printing in 1748 to concentrate on other professional ventures and left his printing business to his partner David Hall.

Keyhole to History: April 8, 1732. That’s the date David Rittenhouse was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania. When Sir Isaac Newton and others were making giant scientific strides in Europe, Rittenhouse was making his own discoveries right here in America. While in his thirties and still unknown, he produced America’s first planetarium. It was a mechanical reproduction of our solar system that ran like a huge clock. Today, that planetarium is housed at Princeton University. Rittenhouse’s prediction that Venus would move across the sun was looked forward to with much interest and a lot of skepticism. It is said that when the exact moment came on June 3, 1769, and his prediction was proven correct, Rittenhouse fainted.

Today’s Keyhole to History takes us to December 24, 1737, when lawyer, merchant, and statesman Silas Deane was born. After starting his career in law, he became a member of the Colonial Assembly of Connecticut and in 1774 became one of Connecticut’s representatives to the First Continental Congress. Deane is most famous for his inclusion in a group with Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee that secured support for the American Revolution from France in 1776. In 1778 Deane was called back to the United States and was accused of mismanaging funds. Because the French government would not admit to being involved in the war prior to 1778, and Deane had left his accounting records in France, he had difficulty proving his innocence. In 1780, he was forced to return to France to defend his name, although he was unsuccessful. He eventually moved to London and mysteriously died in 1789 while on a ship bound for Connecticut.

Today’s Keyhole to History June 4, 1738, King George III of Great Britain was born. During his reign, he was a powerful force in British politics. Though he did not develop the policies which led to the American Revolution, King George supported the conflict. After the surrender at Yorktown, the British monarch continued to gain support and popularity. His ministers tried to strip him of influence, but George III used his skill as a statesman to overcome their political opposition. Family quarrels and illness eventually led to his declining ability to reign in 1801. George’s failing mental health forced him to step aside for his son, Prince George, to rule from 1810 until George III’s death in 1820.

Keyhole to History: June 26, 1739. That’s the day when Captain Hubbard Burrows was born in Groton, Connecticut. On a chilly September morning, as Hubbard was plowing in his field, he was told that Fort Griswold was coming under attack. He left his oxen hooked to the plow and ran back to the house for his musket and horse. He had his twelve-year-old son John ride along with him to bring his horse home while he defended the fort. When the British sailed into the Thames River from Long Island Sound, Fort Griswold was not much more than a pile of dirt situated on a high bluff. The following day, young John found his father’s lifeless body among twenty-seven others at the fort. Captain Hubbard’s grave, along with the other brave men who died that day, is marked with a simple monument.

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