Those are the words that might have been used on the “wanted posters” for some of my more infamous ancestors. The chances are good that some of your family members might have been on the local bulletin board with them. I have yet to meet anyone who was descended from saints.
However, some people today seem to have the impression that our founding fathers WERE saints. We were certainly taught in school that the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the early presidents and the inventors of modern life were all loyal, honest, hard-working souls who had the best interests of the nation as their primary goal. Perhaps the fact that most of us never read anything else beyond our textbooks is the basis for their implied sainthood. If they were around today, most of them would not fare any better with the media than our current leaders.
Andrew Jackson’s political opponents accused him of being married to a bigamist and adulteress, which was technically true. He and Rachel were married before her divorce was final. She died of a heart attack before he took office, and he blamed her death on the vicious attacks upon her character.
Thomas Jefferson believed that blacks were an inferior race that needed protection. A major element of his emancipation plan was their removal from the United States.
Benjamin Franklin had so many mistresses it would be difficult to compile an accurate list of them.
President Martin Van Buren was also known as “Blue Whiskey Van” for his heavy drinking habit.
Gen. Thomas Nelson, Jr. signer of the Declaration of Independence, was also a plantation owner and at one time had over 400 slaves.
And in case you think all that is ancient history and doesn’t have an impact on anything today, here is some history that is a little more current and closer to home:
On Monday, August 14, 1911 a notice was posted in Caddo informing all Negroes that they had until Saturday night to leave town, permanently. It was signed by the KADDO KLAN, but supported by a majority of businessmen.
Rev. John A. Tabor spoke to a rapt audience at the Baptist Church in Caddo in 1922. He spoke of correcting some of the great evils of our country, among them the “ignorant immigration from other countries which compels free American labor to compete pauper labor.” He favored closing the door of immigration until the immigrant could “speak our language and understand and approve our institutions. “
In 1922 the KKK visited the Methodist Church in Caddo, Oklahoma and gave the minister a note, which read in part: “We believe in upholding the American Flag, the Constitution of the United States, the tenets of the Christian Religion and the strict enforcement of law and order.” They also gave the church an American flag which the minister said would “always (be) displayed so that those who come to meetings may know that the church reverences the flag that protects it.”
At a Bryan County KKK meeting in 1924 “Sixty men were inducted into citizenship of the Klan, and forty ladies were initiated into the Ladies Klan.”
Many of the founding fathers of Caddo were criminals either before, during, or after their years in public office and/or business. Many were also Confederates, immigrants, or Klan members. The same could be said about most of the early leaders of any Bryan County community.
If we choose to ignore, delete, erase, or whitewash any objectionable aspect of our history it might prove quite challenging and quickly get very personal. And once begun it is a task that can never be completed.
We need to acknowledge the past and learn from it, not hide from its dirty little secrets.