Friday, February 18, 2005


This piece was originally sent to subscribers, and appeared on under Hot Topics, on September 19, 2002.

Thought, word, and deed are indivisible. Yet too often we are oblivious to the obvious.

The truth helps us to think clearly. Falsehood confuses. The one supports freedom, and the other destroys it. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

While preparing an Independence Day library exhibit for the good people of a small town in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, one word appeared repeatedly: The Founding Fathers met in the Continental Congress. They created a Continental Army, a Continental Navy, and the Continental Marines. GIs, at that time, were called Continentals. John Adams was the head of the Continental Board of War and Ordnance. George Washington was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Forces. In peacetime, Alexander Hamilton, Receiver of Continental Taxes, which were placed in the Continental Treasury, pushed for a Federal Convention in a series of newspaper articles entitled "The Continentalist." And after writing the Constitution, the Framers wanted candidates for the Presidency to be "continental characters."

Four score and seven years after the Revolution, President Lincoln spoke of how "our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." In December of 1960, President-elect Kennedy asked Secretary of Defense-designate Robert McNamara about "continental defense." Then, as President, he set up budget categories along functional lines for the land, air, and sea forces. One of which was "Continental Air and Missile Defense Forces." Furthermore, until recently, it was common for the Armed Forces to refer to "the continental United States."

We study history to remember who and what we are. Thus, we celebrate Independence Day. But we also study history to avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly—whether our own or the mistakes of others.

H_ _ _land is an alien term. Webster's defines it as fatherland or a place for a particular ethnic or racial group.

History is clear. Those who used Continental have a better record of establishing and maintaining the Republic—another word preferred by the Framers—than those who invoke h_ _ _ land. For alien words and alien ways can corrupt and lead us astray, and they can, ultimately, destroy our freedom. It is, therefore, understandable why the Founders said—and their heirs still say—“continental.”

(c) 2002 Marvin D. Jones. All rights reserved.