I came across a news article the other day (early January, 2016) announcing the partial demolition of an old stone house in Pennsylvania. The place was called Silver Spring and the building which had evidently been recently used as a truck dealership, turned out to be the very tavern which used to be called The James Bell Tavern. This tavern is the reputed meeting place of some of America's founding fathers, the place where they gave final shape to the Constitution by way of a Bill of Rights, which was a set of amendments insisted upon by some fellows at the meeting. That meeting took place on July 3, 1788.
A backhoe had taken down about a third of the building when work was stopped pending an investigation as to why the site had not been registered as a heritage site. The development firm had a permit but stopped work on its own volition to allow the locals to sort out how they would like to proceed. Nearby are some farmers fields and a trailer park, not unlike where I currently live. The noble pursuit of real estate temporarily halted in a place sacred to some and unknown to many.
I didn't see or hear any news relating to this occurrence on any major news channels or by word of mouth. The news of the week was dominated rather by the deaths of musicians David Bowie and Glen Frey. As I pondered the men who sat with their tankards of ale 228 years ago finessing the blueprint for the republic to be known as America; I started to hum the 1974 Eagles hit song, Already Gone. This may seem pessimistic to many a patriotic soul but I beg to differ.
There once was a house in London called the Apple Tree Tavern and there men from four separate masonic lodges convened and united to become the Grand Mother Lodge of English Freemasonry on June 24,1717. Further organization of this lodge was conducted at the Goose And Gridiron Tavern, also in London. These meetings were of much importance and the business conducted there and then has affected all who live today in my opinion. The attendees, each according to their own lights and knowledge were carrying a very ancient torch that appeared to each individual as what that individual desired to see.
Six hundred years earlier in a place called Gisors, France there was a battle at the end of which a massive elm tree was ceremoniously cut down. This action signified a parting of ways of the two combatants under the conditions of an uneasy truce. One side went to England and the other to France. There were many meetings, ceremonies, organizations and re-organizations. Both sides infiltrated each other and were also infiltrated and influenced by yet other agents with other agendas or other beliefs on how best to accomplish things they all agreed upon.
Thus the men in the Goose And Gridiron were not alone in making practical plans for guiding the world in the directions they believed it needed to go. One major difference was between those that wanted to make rapid violent changes and those who preferred a slower, gentler pace of change. None of these men were the top cats. Rather they were the brains and brawn of politics, philosophy, science, mathematics and the human intellect in general. Most dedicated their lives to their work and did not seek the limelight. None, in my estimation had a full understanding of whom or what they served when engaged in their work.
Masonic lodges had been established in America long before the fellows met at the James Bell Tavern. Most of the founding fathers were members of one or another of these organizations. Some of these men suspected infiltration of their lodges by other organized occult forces (secret societies) and issued warnings to others just at the time the Constitution was being conceived and drafted. When I consider the amendment prohibiting alcohol, attached to the Bill of Rights but not ratified for over 100 years and then repealed a short time later; I understand the concern.
Its a footprint of sorts and I believe that some of the brilliant minds and fearless spirits who strove to make the finest political system ever crafted by man were also taken aback when they pondered what nature of beast made those particular kind of prints. Prohibition in the USA created a new huge underground economy which went on to fund many nefarious projects. If you were a big-shot in this business about the only way you could see any jail time would be the unforgivable sin of tax evasion. This is a very old scam indeed and still blithely practiced down to our own day with different substances.
I remember coming to a house on my postal route in Vancouver one morning to find the door crashed in and the place swarming with cops. There was a notice pasted on the new plywood door forbidding entry until a future date. Presently, the young couple who lived there drove up and we spoke. They told me they had been running a grow op for marijuana out of the house for several years. At three am the door had been breached and they had been busted. As I listened, I expected to hear some reference to being clapped in irons and was shocked to hear that rather, they had been politely told to dress and go to a Starbucks for a few hours while the product was removed. I expressed my condolences to them for their ill luck and said something to the effect of looking forward to the day when it was no longer illegal. The young man surprised me again when he expressed an opposite wish. He said the fine was just a cost of doing an extremely lucrative business and he hoped with all his heart that it was never legalized.
From getting taken off the gold standard, fighting fruitless wars, losing their manufacturing base, being flooded with narcotics, illegal aliens, having the Patriot Act imposed, enduring the terror of 9/11 just to mention a very tiny list of woes, there are many Americans who would see their current state of affairs mirrored in the partially collapsed James Bell Tavern. Their Constitution is already rendered moot and ghostly voices of the original inhabitants whose home they have occupied these past two and a half centuries still whisper on the wind.
They tell of treaties broken. They warn that those who broke treaties with them then will of course break treaties with others now. The elected fly around the globe like paper wasps making larger international treaties which bind whole countries to rules which the citizens are never properly consulted about. These treaties will likely decorate future battlefields. You cannot lose what you do not own. The concept that a piece of paper with scratch marks on it constitutes ownership is an illusion. This is the basis of real estate and by extension politics. This is the gulf between the primitive and the civilized.
The primitive have been forced to sit and watch the civilized destroy what they revered. Those who for two hundred plus years were busy living the dream will awaken to find that they were living in a paradigm not of their own design and not for their own considered benefit except where that happened to coincide with the overall plans of other people who care not a fig for them or their aboriginal neighbors. These dramas are on such a scale as to be practically indiscernible except in hindsight. Serendipity can and does render whole generations into the lap of seeming luxury or peaceful oblivion.
When Beethoven was about ten years old and forced by his alcoholic father to play music in the middle of the night for the entertainment of drinking buddies he had brought home from the beer hall; a company in England created a brand of breath mints called Altoids, "The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Mints.” This company was later bought by Messrs. Callard and Bowser of Maryhill, Glasgow. This is the location of the barracks where Rudolpf Hess was first held as a POW after his May 10, 1941 flight to Scotland to see the Duke of Hamilton and discuss peace arrangements with Britain unbeknownst to Hitler at the time. Long before that there was a Roman Fort nearby.
“While the Scottish Enlightenment is traditionally considered to have concluded toward the end of the 18th century, disproportionately large Scottish contributions to British science and letters continued for another 50 years or more, thanks to such figures as Thomas Carlyle, James Watt, William Murdoch, James Clerk Maxwell, Lord Kelvin and Sir Walter Scott. The influence of the movement spread beyond Scotland across the British Empire, and onto the Continent. The political ideas had an important impact on the founding fathers of the US, which broke away from the empire in 1775. The philosophy of Common Sense Realism was especially influential in 19th century American thought and religion."
-Sydney E. Ahlstrom, "The Scottish Philosophy and American Theology," Church History, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Sep., 1955), pp. 257–272”
From Wiki I see that "historian Jonathan Israel argues that by 1750 Scotland's major cities had created an intellectual infrastructure of mutually supporting institutions, such as universities, reading societies, libraries, periodicals, museums and masonic lodges. The Scottish network was "predominantly liberal Calvinist, Newtonian, and 'design' oriented in character which played a major role in the further development of the transatlantic Enlightenment".
- Israel, Jonathan (2011). Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights 1750-1790. Oxford UP. p. 233”
When we look at today's headlines we see the likes of Donald Trump running for President of the USA, a man whose Oct. 2015 net worth was somewhere in the vicinity of US $4.5 billion. His name is a household word and many in the world hope he wins and many more hope he does not. All seem to feel very strongly about their opinion of him day to day. It has been discussed in the British Parliament whether or not to ban him from entry to the Realm.
You may have wondered why I mentioned Altoids earlier in the essay and I can tell you that they are my favorite candy. I have recently finished the last tin available in my little town and it may be months before I see another. Besides being excellent mints with a useful package, I often muse at the men in meetings through history since the late 18th century who may have also enjoyed them. They have stood the test of time so far. Perhaps Beethoven used them or Andrew Carnegie or Ben Franklin. They also serve another purpose, that of perspective.
From Wikipedia we learn about the current owner of the Altoid brand:
“Mars, Inc. is an American global manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products with US$33 billion in annual sales in 2013, and is ranked as the 6th largest privately held company in the United States by Forbes. Headquartered in McLean, unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, US, the company is entirely owned by the Mars family. Mars operates in six business segments around the World: Chocolate (Hackettstown, New Jersey), Petcare (Brussels, Belgium), Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company (Chicago, Illinois), Food (Rancho Dominguez, California), Drinks (West Chester, Pennsylvania), and Symbioscience (Germantown, Maryland), the company's life sciences division. Throughout 2012, Mars contributed $376,650 to a $46 million political campaign known as "The Coalition Against The Costly Food Labeling Proposition, sponsored by Farmers and Food Producers" This organization was set up to oppose a "Proposition 37," demanding mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. In 2014, Mars opened a new $270 million chocolate plant in Topeka, Kansas, the first new plant in the USA in 35 years.”
Let's look at two of the several Mars heirs, Forrest E. and John F.
“Forrest Edward Mars, Jr. (born August 16, 1931) is the eldest son of Forrest Mars, Sr. and the grandson of Frank C. Mars, the founder of Mars, Incorporated, the confectionery company. In March 2015, Forbes estimated his wealth to be $26.8 billion. As owner of the Diamond Cross Ranch, an 82,000-acre (33,000 ha) parcel along Montana’s Tongue River and on the northern end of the Powder River Basin, Mars has been active in opposing the development of his part of what's been called the "most productive coal and natural gas fields in the nation." Companies that hold the oil and gas leases to his land, rights originally made possible by the Stock-Raising Homestead Act and the Mineral Leasing Act, are seeking to exercise those rights on his ranch. Mars is reportedly concerned about the large amount of water that energy exploration and production projects consume, water needed by his ranch."
“John Franklyn Mars, KBE (born October 15, 1935) is an American businessman.
According to Hurun Global Rich List 2015 he is 28th richest person in the world with a net worth of US$26 billion. In March 2015, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him an honorary knighthood at Windsor Castle."
Their grandfather, Frank C. boldly chose not to follow the lemonade stand formula, the real estate formula or any such complicated nonsense and instead made candy. His son, later came up with the idea of putting a milk shake into a candy bar. While the intrigues and passion plays of the 20th century listed above were roiling about, this family was selling chewing gum, chocolate and mints. They were living the dream. Along the way came race horses, cat food, M&Ms and too many other things to list here. They adapted with the times and now under their Symbioscience Division they are unlocking the mysteries of cocoflavanoids as fast as they are isolated in their labs. I have heard that they plan on building some new coral reefs. This is necessary because I have recently seen joint health supplements boasting coral as the magic ingredient.
If people are worried about fats and cholesterol, say from chocolate for instance, then simply find clever ways to utilize the husks, shells and such from the cacao pods, which probably went to waste in the good old days. If research can be construed to show health benefits and the lab mice cooperate, brand new opportunities await. Already Indonesian women are being “empowered” to make paper products from the chocolate processing waste materials. We will have to wait and see if a Knighthood of The British Empire is also awarded to Forrest Edward down there in Montana. I'd say, likely not. Altoids are Altoids and cocoflavanoids are cocoflavanoids. 82,000 acres of coal and gas underneath a cattle outfit in a Charlie Russell landscape at a time when a barrel of oil is worth less than a bottle of cheap Scotch is a different basket of crabs altogether. Yet, I think of a future person tending genetically altered cacao plants in a hothouse on Mars, playing air guitar to David Bowie's Space Oddity while munching on an Earth Bar.
Copyright © 2015 by Michael A. Hawes. All Rights Reserved.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.