July 14, 2024 - A Message from the Past

"By the all powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation."

- George Washington

June 26, 2024 - #18 Ulysses S. Grant

The family of Ulysses Grant came to American soil in the 1630s as Puritans. His father Jesse was 6th generation of Grants moving from Connecticut to Pennsylvania to Ohio. In 1821, Jesse Grant married Hannah Simpson. One year later, they had a son named Hiram Ulysses. His mom noted that as a child he was earnest and not rebellious. Everything was a business - even playing. He worked in his Father's tannery, which he did not like.

An Ohio Congressman would recommend him to West Point. In 1839, Grant arrived at West Point where he was not called ‘Hiram’. Ohio Congressman, Thomas Hamer, knew him as Ulysses and assuming that was his first name. Oddly, Hamer recorded Grant's middle initial as “S” assuming the name “Simpson” from Grant's mother. His name at the Academy became U.S. Grant. This would be ironic that he would one day be President. Grant did not care much for West Point, the classes, the dress and its rules. He was glad to get out. But he was never successful on his own.

He met Julia from Kentucky, who's family owned slaves. Grant attempted to work on his own being helped by his father. I'm not sure if it was drinking (which Grant was blamed later) or just inability to manage himself. His father made him move to St. Louis and work with his brother - until the Civil War started. Grant was not strong in opinion or politics. He did not believe secession was right, but did not have much opnion on slavery. His first troups were in Missouri where he was involved in the situation where Confederates were attempting to assume control. Once he alleviated this, Grant quickly got busy on the Western front against less-than-superb Confederate Generals. Grant initiated to Halleck and took Fort Henry and Fort Donelson to allow Federal troops into western Confederacy.

Grant would be the only General to fight that deep in enemy territory. From Henry and Donelson, Grant went on to the Battle of Shiloh, which was the largest battle of soldiers lost on American soil to that date. Nathan Bedford Forrest was also there. If it was not for Grant receiving 2,000 reinforcements to Pittsburgh landing, Forrest would have attacked. Grant and Sherman began there relationship here.

Grant was part of the biggest day for the Civil War as both Gettysburg and Vicksburg happened on the same day, July 3rd, of 1863 and became the first turning point for the Union. Grant would go East to fight with Sherman at Chattanooga and then against Lee in Spotsylvainia, Virginia. When Grant accepted the surrender from Lee at Appomattox Court House, his men began to cheer and fire their weapons. Grant silenced them saying, “The Confederates are now our prisoners. We do not want to exalt over their downfall.”

Grant was one, like Stonewall Jackson, was better during battle than civilian life. Grant remained focused and displayed great courage under fire. He could organize his troops. In the end, the North won because they had the men and the supplies the South did not have. The battles against Robert E. Lee at the very end were bad with thousands dying. Grant realized that for every man he lost, he could replace where Lee could not. The Confederates could no longer be fed, and Lee could not stop them from dissenting.

“The business of the military is war, and war is simple and straight forward. In war the objective is plain, and measure of success undeniable. Your side wins or it loses. You live or you die. War is brutal, but its brutality allows differences of opinion to resolve definitively. In politics, things are never so straightforward. In politics, differences of opinion are rarely resolved and almost never definitively. In politics, the best outcomes are typically compromises that leaves all parties grumbling. In politics, the ignorant and venal have as much right to their votes as the educated and upstanding.”

 

June 16, 2024 - Happy Father's Day

 

June 15, 2024 - Never GRANT Inflation

“It is a duty - and one of the highest duties of Government - to secure to the citizen a medium of exchange of fixed, unvarying value. This implies a return to a specie basis. No substitute for it can be devised. The present bill took the country in the opposite direction. It signified a departure from true principles of finance, national interest, nation obligations to creditors, Congressional promises, party pledges - on the part of both political parities - and the personal views and the promises made by me in every annual message sent to Congress and in each Inaugural Address.”

- Ulysses S. Grant's veto message for the Expansion Bill of 1874.

June 11, 2024 - Shoot the Deserters

Did you know that in 18th and 19th century American wars, deserters were often shot? George Washington had deserters hung during the Revolution. Jefferson Davis was faced with the same issue during the Civil War. The North had twice the men and at least ⅔ more supplies. Once Grant made it to the Eastern Theater to fight Robert E. Lee, Lee could no longer feed his men. During the spring of 1865, Lee actually decided to not partake in shooting deserters since he could no longer feed his men.

On Axon road a mile from U.S. 441 in Atkinson County there is a Confederate soldier's grave in this hay field. The pecan grower told me the story from his Great Grandmother. James Summerhill was a Confederate soldier who had the task of shooting Confederate deserters. Yes, his job was to hunt them and shoot them! But in 1864, just east of this location in Satilla, GA, James Summerhill was ambushed by guess who? Confederate deserters.

Someone had his body taken here where he was buried in 1864 and remained since. There is more history to this than just Civil War. From a different perspective, there were alot of deserters from this area. I am not surprised, because this is where I was raised. People from Coffee County … DO NOT COMPLY. Not even with their own cause! I know them very well.

 

May 14, 2024 - Happy 4th Birthday to David

‘Little D’ nickname is no more since he is now four. He says, “I want to be David Sawyer." His brother Daniel I suppose should be called ‘Baby D.'

 

May 13, 2024 - Happy Mother's Day

There is no USELESS, material gift better than a mother taking home her baby from the NICU on Mother's Day. Do not forget the mothers who sat by their baby's cubes in the NICU crying because they could not 1) hold their baby and 2) take their baby home.

As for this mother, she is blessed.

 

May 8, 2024 - Daniel Joel Sawyer

Welcome my 3rd child from my 1st wife. Born in Macon, GA at 12:45pm, Daniel weighed in 5lbs 7 ounces and 19 inches in length.

 

April 20, 2024 - Creature vs. Creator

“The States had brought Congress into existence, and now Congress proposed to destroy the States. It proposed to abolish the original and elementary principle of its being. It was as if the creature turned round on the creator and attempted to destroy him.”

-Andrew Johnson

April 11, 2024 - #17 Andrew Johnson

The Tailor president from Tennessee is often rated low being the first president to be impeached. I wanted to know why was the only southern Senator who remained loyal to the Union was so hated by Northern Unionists?

Andrew Johnson was born in 1808 and raised in a raw settlement called Raleigh, NC. His father died when he was young as he helped someone drowning in water and he succumbed to drowning himself.  Andrew grew up poor and uneducated. As a teenager he took an apprenticeship with a tailor and learned the trade. He then moved to Greenville, TN, met and married Eliza McCardle and married in 1827. Written in his account book as a Tennessee Tailor, he charged $3.50 for a coat, $1.50 for pants, $3.50 for vests, and $10.00 for a suit. His business as a tailor grew significantly, and he moved toward politics. The business moved well, and he turned toward politics.

Eliza was well educated and taught Andrew speaking skills. He joined a debate society at Greenville College. He used his debating skills to be elected to the Tennessee legislature as James K. Polk was Governor. Johnson lost his first election, but would not lose another election until after the Civil War. He went on to the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator, Vice President and President.

Johnson's political position was for the mechanics and farmers of America, believing in a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution - a Jeffersonian and Jacksonian. He believed in hard money, low tariffs and the Union. Johnson proved great political skill as he worked his way through politics. He pushed the Homestead Bill as U.S. Congressman, but he would be known for something very significant after the southern states seceded.

Andrew Johnson was the only southern senator to remain loyal to the Union. Everyone else went home as their state seceded. Interestingly, East Tennessee was home to many loyalists, where middle and west TN sided with the Confederacy. This was the case in other states as well. There were pockets in the South of people who did not want to secede, and before, did not want Independence from Great Britain.

After Lincoln raised 75,000 troops to invade the South, the western theater was more successful than the eastern theater. Once Fort Donelson was captured, the Union had more control of Tennessee and Lincoln put Andrew Johnson as a military governor of his home state. There became lots of trouble with Confederates in East Tennessee, so his family - Eliza and their five children - moved to Nashville. Johnson believed Secession to be unconstitutional and treason. “Treason must be made odious and traitors… punished and impoverished.”

Johnson also had no issues with slavery and like Lincoln and most folks then, did not believe the negro man to be equal to the white man. He went along with Emancipation, but did not put slavery over the Union saying, “I am for my Government with or without slavery, but I either the Government or slavery must perish, I say give me the Government and let the negroes go.” 

As the presidential election neared, it was no guarantee that Lincoln would win since the war was going so badly in the eastern theater. This is one reason Lincoln chose Johnson to be his VP, as a concession to Democrats and the South. Lincoln lived to see Lee surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court house. Lincoln actually had one meeting with his cabinet on Reconstruction of the South before he was assassinated on April 14, 1865. John Wilkes Booth operated with a few other conspirators. Lewiss Powell attacked William Seward and George Azerdot was supposed to kill Andrew Johnson in his hotel room. But George chickened out.

Managers of the House of Representatives of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, Forbes Magazine Collection.

L - R, seated: Benjamin P. Butler, Thaddeus Stevens, Thomas Williams, John A. Bingham

L - R, standing: James F. Wilson, George S. Boutwell, John A. Logan

The moments after Lincoln died, Johnson actually though of the historical magnitude of the situation and even commented on history 100 years from now being shaped by his presidency. “With malice toward none; with charity for all…" Lincoln had set the model for Reconstruction. What would happen now that Lincoln was gone?

Andrew Johnson was clear in his beliefs that because secession was impossible, the states had never been out of the Union. (Interesting). The government's authority had been temporarily displaced by a hostile force, but since the rebel states had been reconquered, the Constitution and laws applied to them at once, “there is no such thing as reconstruction. These States have not gone out of the Union, therefore reconstruction is not necessary.  Johnson believed it would have been better to have let the rebel states secede without firing a gun than to treat them as conquered territories to be governed by military authority. This is important to understand before studying Reconstruction.

Johnson decided to restore the Southern states as quickly as possible, under Executive authority and without calling a session of Congress. He also believed he had no authority to interfere with suffrage rights in the states, which is firmly laid out in the Constitution. His ideas of Reconstruction were very different than those of the radical platform of Congress. Lastly, Acts of Reconstruction could not be put into law since Southern states WERE NOT represented in Congress.

Johnson ended up vetoing all Reconstructions Acts submitted by the legislature. He also vetoes the Freedmen's Bureau's Bill and Civil Rights Bill. This angered the radicals of Congress like Thaddeus Stevens and Benjamin P. Butler. Essentially, Johnson saw through what Congress was attempting to do: punishing the South through Reconstruction. Slavery was gone by the 13th Amendment, but he did not want to see the South's institutions thwarted. But to accomplish this, Johnson had to work with Congress. This is where things fell apart.

The vetoes alienated Johnson from Congress and Edwin Stanton fought with Johnson over military rule. Essentially Johnson appeased Southerns by putting in territorial governors that favored the south. Southern states did not like the attempt by Congress to put the 14th Amendment, allowing black suffrage, in Reconstruction legislation. At the same time, Military leaders in the South were turning a blind eye to rights of the freedmen. This put Johnson at odds with Stanton, but Johnson being unable to fire him over the Tenure of Office Act.

The first two articles of impeachment were very weak, citing no crime committed by Johnson. But in early 1868, when Johnson tried to replace Stanton, Thaddeus Stevens had his case. 11 Articles of Impeachment were brought before congress mostly over Johnson breaking the Tenure of Office Act. The heavily Republican Senate needed ¾ or 36 “guilty” votes to oust Johnson. Or Johnson needed 19 votes to be acquitted. With 9 Democrats and 3 Johnson Republicans set to vote for the president, a fun good book called Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson tells the story and drama of the 7 Republican defectors would ultimately save him.

It was a very difficult time in Washington, because there were no GREAT leaders and few GOOD leaders. Interestingly, most of Lincoln's cabinet remained with Johnson and he maintained a good relationship with William H. Seward and Giddeon Wells. But Johnson managed to fire Stanton in hopes to replace him with Grant, who declined, then Sherman, who also declined. By this time, 11 articles of impeachment were brought against him.

In 1868, Andrew and Eliza had lost one son in the Civil War and another was an alcoholic. Their daughter Martha lived with them in the White House because Eliza had tuberculosis, which made her unable to host.

The “great ciminal of the age” was impeached for essentially misapplying a personnel statute. Johnson was acquitted in the Senate by the vote of Edmond Ross. Between a money laundering scheme devised by the Astor Group of Horace Greeley in NY and another group in Kansas, diminishing health of Thaddeus Stevens and threat of far radical Ben Wade becoming U.S. President, Johnson was acquitted. He finished his term with no more drama and signed to admit the remaining states to the Union.

Johnson and Eliza went home to Tennessee where Johnson again wanted to get back in politics. He ran for Congress against a former ally and lost. This was his first loss since 1837. Later he won a seat in the Senate in 1875, but died the same year of a stroke at the house of his daughter. Eliza lived another few years before she died. Johnson's defense lawyer, Benjamin Curtis, may answer our qestion after all:

“He is a man of few ideas, but they are right and true, and he could duffer death sooner than yield up or violate one of them. He is honest, right-minded, and narrow-minded; he has no tact, and even lacks discretion and forecast. But he is as firm as a rock.”

 

March 31, 2024 - Happy Easter

 

March 25, 2024 - The Freedom Fighter

“The slaveholders know that the day of their power is over when a Republican President is Elected.” 

- Frederick Douglas to his subscribers of the Douglass' Monthly in September 1860

 

March 23, 2024 - Mexico Beach

 

February 27, 2024 - #16 Abraham Lincoln

One of the most studied presidents in history, Abraham Lincoln, to me, is best described as the right man for the moment. It would be between Lincoln and Washington who would preside over the most difficult time in our county. But unlike Washington, Lincoln was a self-made man from the frontier. The next truly self-made man to be president after Andrew Jackson.

Lincoln had virtually one year of education in his life. He was named for his grandfather, Abraham, who was shot by an Indian while working in his garden. Abraham's father was about 8 years old and witnessed his father dying in the field. Two other brothers witnessed his death also. Lincoln's father would marry Nancy Hanks and move further west to Kentucky then Indiana. They built a log cabin with three walls where Abraham would be born. Sadly Lincoln's mother died when he was 9 years old, from an all-too-common ‘Milk Disease’ which came from eating meat from an animal that previously ate a toxic weed.

Lincoln schooled himself since his father worked him in the fields. The son was under ownership of he father until he turned 21. Lincoln wanted to read. He would read book in all his spare time. Once he left home, he moved to Salem, Illinois, he met and courted a girl named Ann Rutledge. His love for her was immeasurable. I believe there is not enough written on this subject, but its impact on Lincoln's life carry the most weight since Ann died before they married. This I believe is what put Lincoln into severe depression and a largely melancholy state for the rest of his life. Lincoln the Unknown by Dale Carnegie covers this well.

Lincoln later met a girl name Marry Todd from a wealthy Lexington, Kentucky family Through Mary's sister, Lincoln courted Mary and actually chickened out in their first attempt to marry. Lincoln did not show up! (That would have been the next best decision he would make.) But again, he and Mary married in 1842. Mary's personality was opposite of Lincoln. She was very controlling and pushed him in politics. Mary had actually courted Stephen A. Douglas for a while and even claimed that she would “marry the President of the U.S.” Well, in 1860, Lincoln and Douglas would be on he ticket.

Lincoln's political ideology was of Henry Clay's, who Lincoln got to meet through Mary Todd's family. They believed in federal government funding of internal improvements, a high tariff and a national bank. Lincoln was a backwoods lawyer during this time and earned his reputation for common sense arguments of the law. He helped alot of people, notable and non, during his time on the circuit. He earned the name "Honest Abe." He served in the Illinois state legislature before running for U.S. Congress in 1846, where he served one term during President Polk's administration. Ironically, Lincoln gave one speech condemning the Mexican war which put his people of Illinois against him, since the west supported the war.

Lincoln came home to leave politics and maintain his law practice. But the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 drew him back in, due to his hatred of slavery. Stephen Douglas, who authored the bill and was Mr. Illinois. He gave speeches around the state in which Lincoln attended. The crowd would call on Lincoln to speak after Douglas and he did. This is where the Lincoln-Douglas debates started. People did not have entertainment then, and crowds would gather to hear political speeches. Douglas' people organized seven debates in 1858. Douglas dominated the early debates, but Lincoln learned to be more offensive and by the last debate, Lincoln held his own with Douglas over the morality of slavery.

The date of his Cooper Union Speech, February 27, 1860, famous photographer Matthew Brady took this photo o “Honest Abe” in which he later observed this picture put him in the White House.

William Seward of New York was the most popular Republican at this time and expected nominee. But Lincoln's delegates had a plan. That plan involved Seward's top supporter Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune. Horace is actually who thwarted Seward's nomination to Lincoln at the Chicago convention. Lincoln was technically a ‘dark horse’ candidate. The democrats were so divided that it was an easy win. Lincoln won a significant electorate college vote, but did not win the popular vote. Every southern state voted Democrat signaling the true divide in America. South Carolina succeeded officially in December after Lincoln was elected.

In the most remarkable scheme of any American leader, Lincoln designed a cabinet of political rivals. A book that covers this well is Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns. He used his cabinet to make the most difficult decisions from re-supplying Fort Sumpter to keeping and firing McClellan, to the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln annoyed his Generals by attempting to direct the war, but he also showed uncanny leadership by his handling of men and difficult situations.

The best of these stories is following the Battle of Gettysburg, which was essentially an accident. General Lee had moved his army into Pennsylvania in an offensive move which met Gen. George Meade's Union Army at Gettysburg. The South would likely have won except for Gen. Jeb Stuart could not make it around the Union lines due to the number of soldiers. This is what he would do in battles as intelligence for Gen. Lee. Stuart was not able to report to Lee of the reinforcements before Lee order Pickett's charge which ultimately became suicidal. After the battle, Gen. Meade had Lee's army trapped near a creek but did not pursue. Lee's army got away!

Lincoln could not believe this and wrote possibly the only “mean” letter to Meade about this horrible mistake and his frustration over Meade. But the letter never got to Gen. Meade because Lincoln put the letter in his desk. Lincoln knew if he sent Meade that letter, Meade would resign and Lincoln would lose a good general. This is what made Lincoln great in a difficult time. He knew people. He knew how to management people. He knew what to say and what not to say.

Gettysburg became the turning point for the war and allowed his re-election. 9,000 soldiers were killed in that small Pennsylvania town, which surpassed Mananas and Antietam as the largest loss of life on American soil - more than all other 19th century wars combined. Lincoln, like Jackson, believed in the Union. He would fight for the Union at all costs, even if he took the rights of his own citizens through suspension of Habeas Corpus, even is he used the Emancipation Proclamation as a political maneuver.

 

February 6, 2024 - Toby Keith (1961 - 2024)

Shocking news this morning from Toby Keith's website revealing that last night, February 5th, he passed away. Toby remains one of the purest representatives of country music and America. Like other greats before him, Toby's music engaged new generations and a new era of its own from the 90s through the millennium. With the #1 song of the 1990s, I Should've Been A Cowboy, Toby reached a new level of popularity with Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, which led to a string of brand new, chart-topping singles. His voice was so pure and music was traditional country. He spent a lot of time on tours for our troops over seas. This was all on his ticket.

I watched an interview Toby did with CBS in early December, in which he sounded and looked good with high spirits. In a telling interview I watched with Brett Farve, it appears the chemotherapy of stomach cancer brought Toby to his death. He told Brett just two weeks ago,  “I quit chemo but it may be too late," and “I'm just tired.” Brett said he did not notice any red flags from Toby - that Toby seemed in good spirits.

 

February 1, 2024 - Gregory Glidden

February is heart month, and I want to share the story of a courageous little boy who became the first to survive cross circulation in 1954. Multiple fevers and sicknesses plagued Gregory until he was three months old, his moth Frances heart a “loud, blowing, systolic” murmur. It was the same sound her daughter Donna had before she died at age 10. Gregory too would be taken to University Hospital in Minneapolis where the father of open-heart surgery, Dr. Walt Lillehei, was located. Gregory was diagnosed with a VSD, which stands for Ventricular Septal Defect. The VSD is a hole in the bottom two champers of the heart.

The significance of the VSD was that its size varied. It was through Gregory's case that Dr. Lillehei drove from Minneapolis to Rochester to visit Mayo Clinic pathologist, Jesse Edwards. Edwards saved the hearts of deceased babies, since many conditions were still unknown. In one 55 gallon drum, Dr.Lillehei  studied all the hearts labeled “VSD.” His findings were extremely significant: The size of the VSDs varied from patient to patient! The ASDs - holes in the upper chamber mostly did not.

In the early 1950s, the heart-lung machine was not yet developed. A lengthy surgery was difficult and risky. If Gregory's VSD was large, it would require significant time to suture. It also would require strong sutures, since previous large VSDs tore the sutures following surgery. But Dr. Lillehei had an idea, and it too was extremely dangerous: Cross-circulation

Cross-circulation on Gregory Glidden

In the lab, Dr. Lillehei had successfully cross circulated dogs. One patient is connected to a donor patient who's heart supplies both patient's oxygen. The risk was not just losing the heat patient, but also the patient's donor. The medical industry abhorred this idea. Dr. Wangsteen was University Hospital administrator and believed in Dr. Lillehei. This was Gregory's only hope.

In March of 1954, Gregory's father Lyman would be the donor as his mother Frances waited. Another pioneer heart surgeon, Dr. Varco, would be operating too. This photo was snapped after the surgery completed. No significant blood loss, no heart block, no air in the machine or anesthesia explosion. All of these were major risks. Gregory survived!

Initially, Gregory looked great. But suddenly he became sick. In his oxygen bubble, he did not want to be held or see people. His breathing was shallow, and blood came from his mouth and nose. They started an anti-biotic. Gregory got worse. On April 6, 1954, Gregory died from pneumonia. Lyman signed the papers to allow Dr. Lillehei an autopsy. They thanked Dr. Lillehei and left the hospital - without Gregory. Frances would deliver her 12th child later that week.

Gregory is one of the many children to lose their lives as essentially an experiment. Without these the efforts by renegade surgeons, heart surgery would never occur. Without families like the Gliddens, we would not know the names of those pioneer surgeons. The culture that existed during this time allowed Dr. Varo and Dr. Lillehei engineer the greatest breakthrough in medical science history.

Gregory Glidden is on the far right, pictured with his siblings.

 

January 31, 2024 Student of the Month

Congratulations to Jonathan for being student of the month for February. In front of the audience, Jonathan says, “It's about time!”

 

January 8, 2024 - Pre - Emergent Herbicide Data from VORVC

We have data on the pre-emergent herbicides at the Vidalia Onion Research Farm. This is every pre applied on April 5, 2023. We had good rain the day after. All herbicides were applied to bareground soil at 13.5 gallons of water per acre. All herbicides, except Broadworks, did great through 60 days after treatment.

The take-away message here is Alion and Centrus (both indaziflam) having same effect at both full and half rates - on virgin soil. Generally we lower their rate after two applications of 5oz/acre each.  Even in full sun on Tifton-loam soil did these half rates hold out.

I want to show you one more thing. Pindar GT is an emulsifiable concentrate also that is used off-season (Nov - March). You use 2 pint / acre alone in the fall. In the Spring, Dr. Wayne Mitchem of NC State told me that it needs a tank-mix partner for summer annuals. In the chart above, you will see I mixed with Prowl and its performance was no different than Simazine and Matrix. This chart DOES NOT include Pindar performance from November to April, which I found to be excellent. The research farm has Itallian ryegrass and Raddish. I was mostly impressed by how long it performed - all the way until I sprayed my Spring applications.

Pindar GT at 120 days after application. 2 pint / acre rate.

 

January 1, 2024 - #15 James Buchanan

There are no audio books of presidents 13, 14 and 15. These biographies are old and long! This Buchanan biograph by Philip Klein published in 1962 was very good. Buchanan is often noted the worst among American presidents due to the turmoil of “Mr. Buchanan's Administration on the Eve of the Rebellion.” But Klein offers a much more objective perspective on Buchanan's life and political course and possibly why he was our only Bachelor President.

James Buchanan was born April 23, 1791 in Cove's Gap near Mercersburg, PA. His father had just immigrated from Ireland in 1783. Buchanan was the only son, raised in an ‘estrogen ocean’ with 5 little sisters.  Buchanan attended college in Lancaster where he was actually kicked out for drunkenness. They let him back in and he graduated at the top of his class.

His father was a staunch Federalist and a supporter of George Washington's administration. Buchanan did the basic county lawyer duties like criminal and civil suits, settled estates, arranged property transfers. He quickly got into state politics while Monroe was president. He found himself between party lines as he felt the control of business and politics by a closed corporation (the national bank) of the wealthy was not just. Buchanan had a respect for the will of the democracy, but he also had an equal respect for individual rights in property. The American Constitution, he thought, pulled together both of these concepts.

A story I found to be intriguing about his life is was his fiance, Ann Coleman. During their engagement, James worked alot. The Panic of 1819 had land selling fast and cheap. Ann began listening to her parents' gossip who claimed James did not treat her with the affection she deserved. So Ann wrote a note to James stating he was for her riches. This hurt Buchanan who responded politely but with no apology. It all would have went away if not for another event. James stopped by the house of Mrs. William Jenkins, who's husband was a good friend. Mrs. Jenkins sister was at the house who was a “pretty and charming young lady.”. Another lady told Ann Coleman of this, and she broke the engagement! But it does not end here.

Ann's mom told her to go to Philadelphia and see a play with her sisters. Ann was fine at her sister's until suddenly in the afternoon she hit a fit of ‘hysterics’ over the broken engagement. By night she had strong convulsions. Her family called a physician who thought it would go away. But her pulse weakened until at midnight she died. Dr. Chapman said it was the first instance in which hysteria produced death. Buchanan was devastated. Ann's family denied Buchanan requests to see Ann's corpse. It was devastating for James, and had a great impact on his life. It was likely the reason he would be our first and only bachelor president.

Buchanan would have the most decorated political life and experience before being President. After the Panic of 1819, he would join the newly formed Democrat Party. He would be a Jacksonian, anti-national bank, state's rights, a believer in the Republic, a strict Constitutionalist. He was a 5-time US Congressman and Senator for 10 years. He was Secretary of State to James Polk, Minister to Russia and Minister of Great Britain. He did all this and held together the Democrat Party in PA.

Interestingly, Buchanan was absent from every major political event of this time!!: Compromise of 1820, Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This maybe why he fit the Democratic nomination of 1856. He would beat the newly-formed Republican Party nominee John Fremont to become the first president from Pennsylvania. But it was not the time for anyone to be president, especially one who declined to be a dictator.

Buchanan was a similar politician to Fillmore and Pierce - he tried to stay the middle ground. He detested the sectional politics of both parties. This influenced his action or lack of action over the Lecompton Constitution during the Kansas crises. He did not like the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which led to this turmoil. He did not believe in ‘popular sovereignty’ like other Democrats. This I found interesting! Buchanan believed the nation was a republic, not a pure democracy. Citizens do not rule by direct vote; they delegated authority to representatives.

The most difficult of his presidency and life came after Lincoln was elected. In December of 1860, Buchanan had to manage South Carolina succeeding from the Union. What could he do and not do according to the Constitution? He had to defend and protect federal property. He could not wage war without Congress. He said he did not see succession as Constitutional, but also could not see force as Constitutional. He promoted a Constitutional Convention, but Republicans would not. Seward saw the potential loss of $250 million from contracts with the South and began to encourage Republicans to compromise. Lincoln remained silent, but was associated with the Radical Republicans who would never compromise.

“Many grievous errors were committed by both parties from the beginning but the most fatal of them all was the secession of the cotton States.” Even after secession, Congress had not only rejected compromise but had also “persistently refused to pass any measures enabling him or his successor to execute the laws against armed resistance, or to defend the country against approaching rebellion” was what Buchanan believe led to war.

The only argument to Buchanan actually stopping the war is Andrew Jackson. Remember when John C. Calhoun threatened that South Carolina would succeed? How did Jackson respond? Jackson threatened to come down there himself and fight them. That is how Jackson was - a crazy man. But you know what? It worked…

The only thing Buchanan married was the Constitution. He was principled. He believed this great invention in the art of self government would work only if people practiced self-restraint and to be willing to accommodate their differing ideas to the preservation of the system. A ‘strong’ president who overpowered or ignored Congress and the courts meant an executive who could destroy the republican form.

 

December 29, 2023 - What Can the President Actually Do?

“The true touchstone as to whether the exercise of any proposed federal power has a warrant in the Constitution is to ask for the specific clause which authorizes it, or, if this cannot be shown, then, to prove that it is ‘necessary & proper’ without any strained construction … if this cannot be clearly pointed out, then … the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States, respectively, or to the People.”

 - James Buchanan, 1867

 

November 21, 2023 - Child #3

 

November 4, 2023 - #14 Franklin Pierce

I just finished a two part biography of our 14th president by Peter Wallner. This was an incredible biography of a president who is ranked very low on the list of presidents but had great positive impacts in his home state of New Hampshire and the Union. He has an incredible life story starting with his father Benjamin who fought in the Revolution under George Washington. His father held strong beliefs in the Jeffersonian principles of the Democratic government.

At Bowdoin college, Franklin would meet is wife Jane who later becomes America's First Lady. But not before Franklin and Jane lose all three of their children. Pierce was elected to U.S. Congress in 1835 during the rise of abolitionist movement. Most abolitionists knew slavery could not be abolished through legislation, as slavery was controlled by states. So when Pierce convened in his first congress in 1835, anti-slavery petitions were read calling for abolition of slavery in D.C. Since Northern representatives of New England traditionally were recognized first, Southern representatives had to listen to these petitions. Finally, James Hammond of S.C. moved that the petition just read by Representative Williams Jackson of M.A. be rejected, since Congress had no Constitutional authority to abolish slavery anywhere in the U.S. Pierce was now at a crossroads. He knew Congress was not going to act on these petitions, making them annoying and divisive, but rejecting a petition violated First Amendment rights. This ultimately led to the ‘Gag Rule’ as a compromise. Pierce was present in Congress when the divisive agitation was set that would split the Union to Civil War.

Pierce moved on to the Senate becoming the youngest Senator at age 31, but resigned in 1842, after his and Jane's second, Frank Robert, was dying of Typhoid Fever. He was then nominated by Polk to be Brigadier General in NH volunteer army since Polk's leading Generals were all Whigs. This sent Pierce to the War with Mexico where his troops were sent to join Winfield Scott's troops on the march to Mexico City. He had no idea that in 1852, he would run against his General in the Presidential election.

Pierce would become the nation's second Dark Horse candidate as Lewis Cass, James Buchanan, Stephen Douglas would not get the 2/3 needed. A group of men-tee politicians called the 'Concord Clique' planned his nomination by keeping it a secret. The country economically was doing well and in peace. The only issue was civil sectionalism such as Abolition, Anti-Catholicism and Temperance. Pierce received the nomination and defeated General Winfield Scott losing only 7 states and winning the popular vote.

It was a difficult beginning for Pierce in the White House as he was inaugurated just after his last son Benny (11) tragically died in a train wreck after leaving Jane's family for Christmas in MA. Jane did not attend his burial nor Franklin's inauguration. It would leave Jane with depression and grief her entire stay in the White House, and I believe her death in 1863. When Benny heard his father would run for president he wrote, "I hope he won't be elected for I should not like to be at Washington and I know you would not either."

His presidency started with a bang which ended up defining his four years. Authored and organized by Stephen A. Douglas, the Kansas-Nebraska Act marked the downhill movement to the Civil War. Pierce supported the bill which repealed the Missouri Compromise and allowed popular sovereignty. Ironically, this bill was accomplished for northern farmers and railroad investors to buy federally subsided land but unfortunately became an issue over slavery.

Pierce was great with foreign policy with the canal in Central America to fight against British control of the panama canal. Our national debt was reduced significantly. America stayed at peace. Pierce was very honest and got rid of the corruption in the federal government. His generation was the 'plundering generation.' From Taylor to Grant administrations were riddled with corruption, except for Pierce. He had a great secretary of state William Marcy who shared Pierces conviction of the Constitution, limited Federal government and states rights.

Pierce was such a 'doughface' that many thought he was pro-slavery. Pierce was not pro-slavery and believed it to be immoral. He did not sympathize with the South. After the Civil War began, Pierce did sympathize with the North when Lincoln suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus along transportation routes between NY and Washington as well as imposing Martial Law throughout the North, "If the vital principles and guarantees of the Constitution are to be disregarded and destroyed... It matters little to our people whether that is done by open rebellion under the lead of Jefferson Davis, or by the arbitrator use of usurped power under the direction of Abraham Lincoln."

Pierce was the first president to maintain his entire cabinet through his term. He was the first president to not be re-nominated by the party after being elected. He was the first to lose all of his children. Pierce was the youngest Senator at age 31, and the youngest President of his time at age 48. Based on Mr. Wallner's research, I believe Pierce may be the first President to be a born-again Christian. After presidency, he wanted to be baptized in the Episcopal Church. His struggles with attending church were the result of Methodist and Congregationalist preachers preaching Abolition from the pulpit. Before being baptized, Pierce acknowledged his sin and need of forgiveness.

 

November 1, 2023 - Washington County

These pecan trees are ready for harvest. The yellow senescence is characteristic of carya illinoinses.

 

October 23, 2023 - Trunk or Treat at FBC

 

October 18, 2023 - GACAA Food Booth @ the Sunbelt Ag Expo

Thanks to all who served the Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agent's Food Booth at this year's Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie. As Vice President, it was my turn to organize this week. The weather was great, which brings the crowd. Wednesday was a record-breaking day for the food booth. It reminded me of the days when I started serving here - long lines and no breaks!

 

October 15, 2023 - Just Playin' Possum

Finally caught this huge opossum right off our front door. Jonathan and I took him off to the woods where he is living even more happy now. On the way, we played Alan Jackson's song called “Just Playin' Possum” off his DON'T ROCK THE JUKEBOX album.

 

October 13, 2023 - Yellow Patch

It has been abnormally cool this September and October. We also had more rain this September than we did the past few years. Rhizoctonia solani loves cool weather. The yellow streaks of disease showed up in my ‘Palmetto’ St. Augustine after 5 inches of rain in three days.

 

October 7, 2023 - Taylor & Julia's Wedding

 

September 27, 2023 - Our Children Belong To God

"I am conscious that within in the last two years particularly my prevailing feeling has been that we were living for our children. In all my labors, plans and exertions in them was the center of all my hopes, they were in all my thoughts. We should have lived for God and have left the dear ones to the care of Him who alone is able to take care of them and us… My mind has long been impressed with the fact that if our present life is not probationary in its character, if we are not placed here, as the blessed word of God teaches, to prepare for another and more exalted state of being, we are destined to waste our energies upon things that are unsubstantial, fleeting, passing away and that can bring no permanent peace - can give no calm hope that is as an anchor to the soul. And yet with that conviction constantly recurring few have been more entirely absorbed in the whirl of business and cares purely of a worldly character than I have." 

- Franklin Pierce, November of 1843, wrote these words as his son Frank was dying of Typhus at 4 ½ years old

 

September 19, 2023 - #13 Millard Fillmore

The many one-term presidents between Jackson and Lincoln take the blame for the Civil War, as if they could have prevented it. This is not the case at all if you study their lives in this perspective. Born in 1800 from New York, Fillmore was mostly a self-taught man like most in those days. He was a Whig but did not always follow their paths. He made no statements against slavery through his early politics. This put him at odds with abolitionists and anti-slavery New Yorker's. (These factions started forming in the 1830s and were different from one another.) Fillmore believed the constitution gave this power only to the states (as it did) and there was nothing Congress could do with it.

Fillmore became president when Zachary Taylor died in office in 1850. This was while the Compromise of 1850 was still called the Omnibus Bill. Fillmore's first success was to kill the bill which allowed it to become individual compromises. After the Compromise of 1850 was signed into law, Fillmore was a supporter of it. His NY rivals,Thurlow Weed and William Seward did not, and this posed a war in NY state politics between them.

His most controversial act was following The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 which strengthened the current law. Fillmore was hell bent on enforcing it. He even proposed a federal police force (if you will) to help Southerners find runaway slaves even if states did not want to assist. This put northerners in the camp of "state's rights activists" since re-captured slaves had no right of trial by jury. But this also paid large dividends to the South.

His wife Abigail would be with him in DC in which the first presidential library was made in the White House. They had a daughter and son. Abigail would die right after the election of 1852. She got sick after attending the Inauguration of Franklin Pierce.

Fillmore deserves great respect for his sacrifice to the good of the Union. While the U.S. was swamped in division, he worked tirelessly through his life to keep the Union together and his people united. He was not the typical power-hungry, old, white man. He would give up credit for anything if it meant harmony within the party and country. He wanted the Union remain strong. Sectional and decisive politics win votes, but not without a cost. Fillmore had more integrity in that area. In the end, the Compromise of 1850 and efforts by Thurlow Weed split the Whig party and formed the National Republican party. Fillmore believed the Republicans were too strong and pushing the South to war. He had a great understanding of people and their slowness to change. In that way, he was a statesman. Fillmore definitely slowed down the push to civil war. That's all you could hope for in those days.

 

 

September 3, 1993 - THROWBACK

I found this note I wrote back in third grade. What did Mrs. Lott think of this?

 

 

August 19, 2023 - Little D is Little Me

We call David “Little D.” But he sure looks like little me. Here is the airplane show last weekend. What boy does not want to fly an airplane?

 

August 22, 2023 - America's Great Statesman

Henry Clay is considered America's Great Statesman. For years, I thought I would not have been associated with Whigs during this period. There was more ‘common man’ in the Whigs than I realized. (Even though their platform stole the common man persona from the Jacksonian Democrats.) Henry Clay was first a Westerner, a slave owner, a common man before he was a Whig. And the Whigs built mostly off their hatred for Andrew Jackson, but they could not come together on anything else.

"The Great Pacifier", the "Sage from Ashland", "The Great Compromiser" was a true Statesman to America. His service from the War of 1812 - a 'warhawk' in those days - to the Compromise of 1850 increased the power of congress, introduced the ‘American System’. The American System meant internal improvements of roads and canals to bolster the economy. It was simply a time when big government was feared, and the other side did not believe the Federal government to have this power.

Politically his greatest achievements were the The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850. His ability to bring people together in a country were division ran deep is of his greatest attribute. Admitting Missouri as a slave stage and Maine as a free state maintained the balance of power in Congress and held for thirty years.

His years as a congressman and senator were shared with Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun, the "Great Triumvirate". This period is a fascinating period in America. There was a lot that went on and I think the more important things happened outside of the Executive Branch. Clay should have been President if, for one, his success as a Statesman. I compare him to John Quincy Adams. His best chance looked like 1844 where he was nominated unanimously for Whig. The Democrats finagled James Polk for their nomination, the country wanted Texas. Once Clay - and Van Buren - separately denounced annexing Texas, it became their demise. The Van Buren ticket probably cost Clay in NY where the election was lost. Though he tried again in 1848, Zachary Taylor was too popular. And who cares about a man with no previous civil service?

Henry Clay is intertwined in some of America's greatest historical events and was viewed that way. He also endured the hardships of life like everyone back then. He and Lucretia lost a number of children and grandchildren. I think the hardest one was his namesake son who died in the Battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican-American War - a war which Clay feared would happen if Texas was annexed.

Clay died just after the Compromise of 1850, believing he saved the Union. Whatever I thought of this man before, I leave with respect to his lifelong goal to save the union. Clay held a piece of wood from Washington's casket before the Senate had to be very strong image of persuasion for compromise.

 

August 16, 2023 - The Revolutionary

America is not only different or its founding, but also for a revolution that took place under law and order. Most revolutions transform to anarchy until a power fills the vacuum, such as the case of the French Revolution during the same time. It was Boston where the American Revolution started - more than 10 years before 1776. Samuel Adams is most responsible for both the revolution and its law and order. He organized the Committees of Correspondence to protest Stamp Act, Coercive Acts, etc. through the 1760s. He termed ‘The Boston Massacre’ after seven men were shot by General Gage's troops. He helped organize the Boston Tea Party, though details of his involvement are unknown. Samuel Adams, James Otis and John Hancock put the courage in the people to resist Governor Hutchison, King George III and their ridiculous tyranny.

Adams truly covered his tracks and stayed low key, which is why we no detailed information from him. He had the intelligence to architect a revolution but not the vision to see the history made. John Adams was afraid all the history would go to the Virginians when James Otis had been calling for resistance in the 1760s. This new book by Stacy Shiff tells it all.

 

August 7, 2023 - St. Augustine

For six years I dug into people's lawns in Thomas County, GA to figure out turf issues. I learned a lot about St. Augustine, but most importantly that this grass is a high maintenance grass. The house we bought is one of the few in town with St. Augustine. I was not excited. Today, I do all the things to this lawn that I advised people to do in Thomasville. It is an aggravation to manage it, and it only looks this good in July and August.

My St. Augustine tips:

  1. Cut it high
  2. Water very deep and very infrequent
  3. No post-emergent herbicides
  4. Be ready for Brown Patch, Take-All Root Rot and Chinch Bugs

 

August 4, 2023 - 1st Day of 1st Grade

 

July 30, 2023 - #12 Zachary Taylor

Zachary Taylor, nicknamed “Old Rough and Ready”, was born in Orange County Virginia but lived from his early years in Kentucky. Although not highly educated, he became wealthy, owned several plantations, and was a slaveholder. His life was his military service and his plantation. He spent 13 years in the old Northwest making it safe for settlers.

He married Margaret “Peggy” Smith in 1810. They moved across the frontier following Taylor's military postings. She never wanted him to be president. They had six children. One story I find interesting is that Taylor never wanted his daughters to marry a soldier. One daughter, Sarah, met a soldier from Mississippi and wanted to marry him. The soldier new Taylor did not want him to marry Sarah, though they still courted. Nonetheless, Sarah and him would marry at his family's plantation in MS. (This was Sarah's decision because no one from that area went South in the summer.) Three months later, this new married couple came down with Malaria. He and Sarah stayed in separate rooms  until she died. His name was Jefferson Davis, who would become Senator from MS, Secretary of War under Pierce and President of the Confederate States. 

Taylor fought in the War of 1812, but was never in any significant battles. He defended Fort Harrison from Tecumseh in 1812. Taylor campaigned under General Henry Atkinson to fight Chief Black Hawk's forces. The end of the war in 1832 ended Indian resistance to U.S. expansion in that area. Taylor earned his nickname “Old Rough and Ready” during the Second Seminole War in 1837. They fought a difficult but short war in Southern Florida swamps and everglades.

Taylor's military fame came when he commanded the “Army of Observation” which initiated war with Mexico in 1846. He led his troops to victory in the battles of Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma, Monterrey, and Buena Vista. His success made him very popular with the American people. Taylor soldiers admired him as he was very unassuming. He never wore his uniform correctly, looked thrown-away sometimes. But still a gentleman. The politics of the war made put him at odds with General Winfield Scott, who was awarded by Polk General of the entire Army making Taylor his subordinate. There were many notable soldiers who fought in the Mexican - American War: Braxton Bragg, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Stonewall Jackson, Joseph Jonston, George Meade, Robert E. Lee, and Franklin Pierce.

Taylor could care less about politics but he finally succumbed to being nominated as a Whig by a group of party leaders as a condition to the presidential nomination. When he identified himself as a Whig in a lengthy letter, he was careful to note that he would consider himself a president of the people and would not mindlessly follow a party line. He then defeated the Democratic candidate, Lewis Cass, making Taylor the second Whig to be president.

Though Taylor was a slaveholder, and identified with the South, he was a strong Unionist like Jackson. Taylor did not support the extension of slavery although he had no intention of abolishing it in the states where it already existed. Taylor supported admission California and New Mexico as free states. With the upcoming admission of California as a free state, Henry Clay led Congress into a series of compromises to placate the South, including a strong Fugitive Slave Law. What became the compromise of 1850 occurred after Taylor's death.

Washington D.C. had long been a place of poor sanitation. Wells were not deep, water did not drain, there were lots of animals and sewage problems. On July 4, 1850, Taylor ate certain fruit and foods that people believe led to his stomach illness. Interestingly, other legislators were sick during this time as well. Taylor seemed to get better before getting worse. It turned into gastrointeritis, and he died 5 days later at age 65.

Taylor's administration had one achievement in foreign policy, the Bulwer-Lytton treaty with Britain which contemplated joint American-British control of a canal to be built through Central American. This joint project was never realized, but the treaty possibly prevented a war. Franklin Pierce would deal with this later.

Personally, I believe Taylor would have been a great president due to his independence. Like John Quincy Adams, Taylor took it serious to be a president for an entire nation and not for a political interest group. Might Taylor have been the last president with the opportunity to avoid the Civil War? I don't think so. He did not have the gift of politics and people maneuvering. The Compromise of 1850, which Taylor had nothing to do with, pushed the Civil War out further. Ultimately, Zachary Taylor's presidency showed the virtues of purpose, nationalism and unity.

 

July 3, 2023 - Atlanta Airport

We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel by the airport for the first time. There were alot of planes to see. A thunderstorm came in that night. I could not help but think about the cockpit voice recorder of Delta Air Lines Flight 191 in August of 1985, “There's lightening in that one.”

 

June 19, 2023 - Bye Bye Douglas

The last family connection to Douglas has been severed with Momma and Daddy moving out of the house built in 1998. I stood in the same place on this day that the below photo of us cousins was taken the summer before we moved in. A lot of life happened during these 25 years; but nonetheless, we were spared serious loss and tragedy living in this house.

 

June 16, 2023 - #11 James K. Polk

President Polk, also known as “Young Hickory.” Polk fell between many other unknown presidents from Jackson to Lincoln. His presidency may be the MOST SUCCESSFUL of any U.S. president. An independent national bank, the revenue based tariff, finalize Texas, take California and New Mexico, Polk's goals. Polk also made clear he would not run for a second term.

At age 17, Polk suffered from either bladder or urinary stones. His father took him to a doctor in Pennsylvania where he had some type of surgery to help him. How they did it, I do not know. But it worked. Polk ended up in Columbia, TN and met Sarah Childress of Murfreesboro. Sarah called Andrew Jackson and Rachel Donelson Aunt and Uncle. Jackson encouraged Polk to marry Sarah. Sarah agreed to marry, but only if Polk won a political office.

Polk started in the Tennessee state legislature in 1823. He later became Governor of Tennessee, but lost as an incumbent due to the changing political landscape of a new frontier state. Polk like Lincoln actually lost many elections in his younger years.

How did Polk became the first Dark Horse President in 1844? Martin Van Buren was the leading candidate for the Democats before the Baltimore convention. Then on April 20th, he wrote a letter to Congressman W.H. Hammet of MS stating that the U.S. SHOULD NOT annex Texas. Henry Clay (Whig nominee) came out the same day with a letter representing the same stand. (Historians believe this was arranged by them.) This separated Jackson, still de-facto Democrat Party leader, who began his work to get Polk into the nomination for VP and covertly for 1st place if the convention hit a deadlock. 

When the Democratic Convention opened, it adopted the ⅔ rule for nominations. Van Buren would now be out. Without it, VB would have been nominated. James Buchanan, Lewis Cass and VB did not get the 178 votes needed. Overnight PA and MA delegations introduced Polk's name. Polk drew 44 votes on the 8th ballot, but before 9th, NY delegation retired for consultation. Then Benjamin Butler read the letter from the floor of withdrawal from Van Buren. The convention then gave its unanimous support for Polk.

The country wanted to move west and Polk knew it. Polk would still not be elected if it was not for the state of New York, and the third-party (Free Soil Party) taking enough votes for Polk to win New York, which won him the election. He had a history of a political background, and was very smart, but in another sense he was a Dark Horse.

The first photograph of a President's cabinet was taken by John Plumblee Jr. in 1846. Front Row L - R: Attorney General John Jason, Secretary of War William Marcey, President Polk, Secretary of Treasury Robert Walker. Back L - R: Post-Master General Cave Johnson, Secretary of Navy George Bancroft.

The Mexican War (1846 - 1847) began when Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to the Rio Grande and beyond to a contested boundary with Mexico. Once Santa Anna's troops crossed the contested boundary and killed some of Taylor's troops, Polk approached Congress with not a declaration of war, but more of an acknowledgement of war with his cry, “American troops on American soil.” The war was overwhelmingly voted by congress and the senate. After its manipulative declaration, legislators became divided over the war.

During the Mexican War, Polk endured serious drama with his Generals. They were winning the war, receiving accolades, but were all Whigs.  Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott were becoming house-hold names. So Polk sent this guy named Gideon Pillow to lead parts of the war. During the war, Polk also managed John Fremont (Thomas Hart Benton's son-in-law), General Kearny and others to acquire California and New Mexico.  Information did not travel fast and Polk did not trust certain people. So he would basically give instructions to two different people, hoping that the job would get done. But sometimes those people would cross up with one another.

When I think of Polk, I think of a middle-aged, younger man with a business mindset. He achieve his goals, because he worked hard with his cabinet and generals in the field to accomplish it. Under his administration, the U.S. completed its largest land-grab since the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Polk is consistently rated in the top 10 American Presidents' establishment historian because of his accomplished goals.

I would also put Sarah Polk as one of the better first ladies. She supported her husband and his political career. Polk died of cholera in 1849, months after leaving office. I respect her for living the rest of her life to maintain his memory since his death came not long after his time in office was up. My favorite thing about her is when a lady said that they should vote for Henry Clay because his wife would keep house, Sarah responded, “If I should so be fortunate as to reach the White House,… I will need to keep house nor make butter.” And that she did.

 

May 25, 2023

“History is what people are trying to hide from you, not trying to show you. You search for it in the same way you sift through landfill, for evidence of what people want to bury.” - Hillary Mantel

 

May 21, 2023 -  #10 John Tyler

John Tyler is the first president to become president when the former president died. There are many reasons why I like John Tyler. Called the “Accidental President” became the “president without a party” all because the Whigs stole the persona of “The Common Man” for the campaign for William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. Ironically, both were Virginia slave owning, aristocrats and nothing like the ‘common man’ Andrew Jackson. After William Henry Harrison was elected, he told Henry Clay, “Remember Mr. Clay I am the president.”

Tyler knew Harrison was about to pass away. Who would become president? The Constitution did not make this clear. Tyler spoke to cabinet members and essentially worked it out where he would be assumed president. Tyler had been placed on the Whig ticket as part of a horse-trade in VA to get William Rives into the Senate. Rives was elected by Democrats but joined the Whigs in Congress. Tyler was elected by Whigs and rejoined the Democrats. Neither Harrison or Tyler were very good Whigs, which became the demise of their party.

Tyler‘s presidency was impactful to America. The annexation of Texas belongs to President Tyler. After his party left him, he became a lame duck. This fueled him to press for Texas, thought politicians were divided over the issue due to slavery. Even better than Texas, Tyler really pissed off Henry Clay by vetoing the Whigs attempt at another central bank for the United States. After winning their first election with Harrison, Clay wanted to initiate his agenda of internal improvements which of course meant an evil central bank.

John Tyler developed a pacific foreign policy, acknowledged Hawaii as an independent republic, and became the first administration to support missionaries in foreign nations.

Tyler, like Thomas Jefferson, had a very skeptical view of Great Britain. And that he should. This also drove the annexation of Texas. Somebody powerful was eventually going to have control of Texas, and Tyler wanted to make sure it was the US. He is the most responsible for the annexation. It’s story is it’s own tragedy. Secretary of State Abel P. Upsher had the votes for the 2/3 majority in the Senate for annexation. On February 28, 1844, he was killed by an explosion of the great gun “peacemaker” aboard the U.S.S. Princeton. John Tyler had to start all over on Texas. This is where Tyler employed the joint resolution in Congress. This allowed a simple majority to annex Texas, which was not actually signed until President Polk was in office. This, however, was not constitutional. At this time, Tyler, like anyone in his position of power, used whatever they could to get the job done. The joint resolution was a major precedent moving forward.

Daniel Webster was the only cabinet member of Harrison to remain with John Tyler. Tyler respected him and they worked together very well. Tyler died during the War Between the States as a member of the Confederate Congress, though he did not live to one session. He and Julia strongly supported the South. There was no recognition of Tyler at his passing other than being called ‘traitor to the Union.’

 

May 17, 2023 - Choices

 

 

May 14th, 2023 - David Turns 3 on Mother's Day

Here is a sweet mama with her sweet boys. One of them entered his third year on this day.

 

April 18, 1775 - “The Regulars Are Coming Out!”

The British trampling the rights of colonists started with the Stamp Act of 1765, passed by a legislation in Parliament in which the colonists were not represented. The Stamp Act came a long seven years of the French and Indian War, Great Britain amounted a large debt. They were reversed in 1766 but replaced with the Townshend Acts of 1767, which taxed glass, lead, paper and tea. Then the colonists started to boycott British goods (Importation). This lead to the Coercive Acts being reduced in 1770, except for the tax on tea. The Quartering Act of 1765 began to plague as British Troops moved into Boston and provoking citizens and soldiers. The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770. The Tea Act of 1773 lowered tax on British tea which followed with Samuel Adams (Sons of Liberty) organizing the Boston Tea Party in December of 1773. British response was the Coercive Acts of 1774 designed to shut down the Boston harbor. At the end of the year, the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. At this point, war was inevitable. In April of 1775, the British were trying to destroy munitions in Concord. This is when the Boston Committee of Safety sent Paul Revere and William Dawes to alert the countryside and get Minute Men. The British were also after John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Paul and William went to this parsonage, built by Hancock's grandfather, to alert them.

 

April 5, 2023 - Pre - Emergent Herbicides in Pecan

On two very hot days, I wore this COVID-hazmat suit with a CO2 sprayer on my back set at 20psi, walking at 3.1mph applying 13.5 gallons of water per acre to apply 10 different pre-emergent herbicides, three replications each in a randomized plot design at the Vidalia Onion Research Center. Due to the increase in price of glyphosate and glusosinate, these easy-to-use, post-emergent herbicides now cost more money per acre than pre-emergent herbicides. In pecan, we are fortunate to have many herbicides with different modes of action. I am using our most common pre's and also looking at two newly labeled herbicides along with less popular but effective herbicides. We will have a field day later this year for growers to observe for themselves which ones they like.

These herbicides were mixed with 2 qts glyphosate + 24 oz glufosinate per acre.

Product      Rate/Acre

Alion            5 oz

Alion            3.5 oz

Broadworks    6 oz

Brake On     43 oz

Centrus       5 oz

Centrus       3.5 oz

Chataeau     6 oz

Matrix + Prowl   4 oz / 3 qt

Pindar   2 pt / 3 qt

Simazine + Prowl      3 qt / 3 qt

 

April 5, 2023 - #9 William Henry Harrison

The president who only lived one month after being sworn into office. I believe a lot of American history changed when William Henry Harrison died in office of pneumonia.

Benjamin Harrison V signed the Declaration of Independence. This was William Henry Harrison's father. Harrison was the Andrew Jackson to the Shawnee. In the campaign against the Indians, Harrison served as aide-de-camp to General “Mad Anthony” Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, which opened most of the Ohio area to settlement. He later became first governor of the Indiana Territory and served 12 years. Harrison became famous after the Battle of Tippecanoe against the Shawnee. It not being fortified reduced their ability to fight back. It’s also important to know the history of the Shawnee, Tipsquawa, Tucumseh and the British-Indian alliance in the Ohio area to understand to give creide to Harrison's job governing the land and dealing with the Indians. Harrison and Tecumseh were like Tom Brady and Ray Lewis. I have nothing but respect for Tecumseh who would not give up Shawnee land to white settlers. This period in history during the War of 1812 is a remarkable time.

Harrison was the perfect War Hero for the Whigs ticket in 1840. After the panic of 1837, the Whigs put together the first known parades, rallies, appearances by the candidates and a well-known slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” to help get Harrison elected. “Log Cabin and Hard Cider” was another slogan that shaped the future campaigns. Ironically, Harrison was too born in Virginia and not representing of the ‘common man’ slogan. The Whigs copied Van Buren and Jackson's campaign and it worked. Harrison would be chosen over their de facto leaders, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

Harrison was not the greatest Whig himself. After Clay came to discuss with Harrison Whig policy and his forced agenda, Harrison said, “Remember Mr. Clay, I am the President.” Had Harrison lived, I think he would have been a great president. I do not know where he stood on the bank or internal improvements. But his life makes me think he would have been great. His death for pneumonia a month after taking oath ended the Whigs. John Tyler was even less a Whig than Harrison which pretty much sealed their demise.

An interesting fact is he and his wife Anna Harrison had 10 children. Anna would never make it to the White House to be the first lady before Harrison died. She stayed at their home for his funeral. Sadly all of their children died except one boy. Many of his children's death occurred in their 20s and 30s. Anna was left with this one child, John Scott Harrison, who served in the House of Representatives under the Pierce Presidency and was the father of Benjamin Harrison, our 23rd president.

 

March 21, 2023 - The West Coast Braves

6U baseball for 2023. Jonathan playing for the Oakland Athletics.

 

January 16, 2013 - #7 Andrew Jackson

I read Jackson's biography 10 years before I started this endeavor on presidential biographies. Jackson is both simple and complicated at the same time. His personality ultimately became the course of his life and his presidency. His presidency transformed the system in which campaigning and candidate promotion occurred. His life is one of the most tumultuous lives in our history.

Born a decedent of Scotts-Irish, his father came to American from the Ulster Scott region. His dad died as a young child. During the Revolution, Jackson and is brother were captured by British soldiers where Jackson was told to polish the soldier's shoes. Jackson said no, and the soldier swung his sword and Jackson's head, but Jackson used his hands to block it. The sword was also swung at his brother's head and hit him. Jackson's mother retrieved the boys, but Jackson's brother died of the infection. Jackson's mother helped Revolutionary soldiers and in another prisoner exchange for her nephew or other family, she got Cholera and died. By the age of 14, Andrew Jackson was an orphan thanks to the British.

He was then raised by other family members, studied law, and in 1788 moved to Nashville. Jackson boarded with the widow of Col. John Donelson and met his youngest daughter Rachel, age 21. She had been in a difficult marriage and was under the false impression that he obtained a divorce in Virginia, which he had not. Andrew and Rachel married not knowing this, and later had to be re-married. This would haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Jackson emerged with the TN political establishment through his affiliation with leading families and his legal profession. He became TN first congressman in 1796 and two years later senator. He later retired of Washington and served as a judge on TN Superior Court.

One amazing story involved two of the first families to settle in Tennessee, Russell Bean. His older brother Jesse was a gunsmith. Russell traveled to New Orleans to deliver handmade guns and stayed for 2 years getting involved in bad things. When he came back, his wife was nursing a new child. In an angry fit, he cut off the babies ears to brand it as not his child. Russell was imprisoned, fined and branded on his wrist. But he bit off the brand, and escaped from jail threatening to kill the man who seduced his wife. Russell beat the man's brother when it came to the attention of a young judge. The Judge told the Sheriff to serve the arrest warrant. The Sheriff tried to get Russell and failed and could not get a volunteer posse to go after him. So, the judge said, “By the Eternal, I'll bring him.” Drunk Russell vowed to “shoot the first skunk that came within 10 feet of him”, but the judge never flinched. With a pistol in each hand, he walked right up to him and said, “Now, surrender you infernal villain…. or I'll blow you through!” Russell Bean surrendered and was marched to the courtroom. The Judge was Andrew Jackson. When Bean was later asked why he gave us so easily, he said that when he looked into Jackson's eyes, he saw fire.

 In 1802, Jackson was elected as major general of the TN militia at age 35. Jackson also got into duels: John Seville (Leader of the Battle of Kings Mountain), Charles Dickinson and Thomas Hart Benton's brother. The duel with Seville ended up not happening as Seville's carriage left when they thought Jackson (age 21) did not show up. A few years later, the supposedly the best shot in TN did not end well for Dickinson. The duel happened over an argument about a horse race, but went deeper since Dickinson implied that Rachel was a bigamist. Jackson took the hit and then shot Dickinson dead. The bullet stayed in Jackson's chest until he died. In 1813, Jackson took a bullet from Thomas Hart Benton's brother after insulting Benton after Benton insulted Jackson (age 46). The slug went in his arm and doctors wanted to cut his arm off. Jackson would not let them and laid in a sickbed bleeding through two mattresses. The man Jackson canned would later become a powerful senator from Missouri who supported Jackson's policies. When the bullet was removed in 1832, Jackson was president. It was rumored that Jackson offered the bullet back to Benton, which he declined.

While Jackson was bleeding through his sickbed, it was during the War of 1812, in August 1813 Creek Indians under Chief Red Eagle attacked Fort Mims, Alabama, killing 400 settlers including women and children. Jackson, along with Davy Crockett and Sam Houston hunted and attacked the “Red Stick” Creeks until William Weatherford (Chief Red Eagle) surrendered to Jackson in his camp. “I am not afraid of you. I fear no man, for I am a Creek warrior…You may kill me if you wish.” Jackson replied, “Any man who would kill as brave a man as this would rob the dead.”

Jackson rose to fame after the Battle of New Orleans in January of 1815. Many of his men left after fighting the Creeks. They were starved and fatigued to the bone. Knowing the British would soon attack NO to secure the lifeline of the west, the Mississippi River, Jackson took what was left through the swamps to New Orleans. Tennessee Volunteers, Kentucky Sharpshooters, Louisiana Militia joined Creoles, Frenchmen, a local groups o Pirates and free blacks in a defensive position to fight 8,000 British troops under Edward Pakenham. Not knowing the Treaty of Ghent was signed in December, ending the War of 1812, Jackson demolished the British killing 2,000 and only losing 8 of his 5,700 men. No better way to get back the tyrants who killed his family a generation before.

Jackson was the hero of America. The War of 1812 was like a Coach Richt Georgia team. They tried to lose. Though it was technically over, the Battle of New Orleans meant the Americans truly owned the British. After the Revolution, the British continued depredations of American through sailor impresment and funding Indian raids. After this, Jackson got with rich plantation owners who moved from Georgia toward Mississippi in land speculation. Jackson profited off this, which enraged frontiersman Davy Crockett.

Jackson was then ordered by the Monroe administration to attack Seminoles who had attacked and killed settlers over the Florida line. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams introduced the idea that since Spain had a treaty with us that Georgia would be protected from Indian attacks, the U.S. had the right to attack into Florida. Secretary of War John C. Calhoun was the only one to disagree, and Monroe sent Jackson to Florida f$*k their s^!t up. And he did.

Calhoun and Henry Clay did not like it when Jackson came to D.C. for a popularity show. But they had to act like they cared when thousands showed up to see him in person. This became his rise to the presidential nomination in 1824. The problem was there were many on the ballot and no political parities. Jackson won the popular vote and electoral college, but did not hit the constitutional number of electorates it required. The election was sent to Congress. Though Jackson won Kentucky, Clay's state, John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay made the “corrupt bargain” where Clay would become Adams' Secretary of State if Kentucky's electorate went to Adams. That is how the 1824 election was stolen from Jackson.

Jackson had the popularity and Martin Van Buren had the organization. The Democratic party was created and Jackson spent the next four years attacks Adams' inability to connect with the people. Thanks to his popularity and the Tarrif of Abominations, Jackson won even bigger in 1828 to become the first president outside of the Aristocracy and first self made man to reach this pinnacle. As a Scott-Irish decedent from the Celtics to William Wallace's (Bravehart) to Robert the Bruce, and so on, Jackson was born fighting. And now in his presidency, he would fight greater fights for the American people against names like John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay and Nicholas Biddle for the next 8 years.

 

March 13, 2023 - #8 Martin Van Buren

“The Red Fox of Kinderhook” or “The Great Magician” was the first president to be born as a US citizen (1782), not in a British colony and our first ethnic president (Dutch). Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York. He was raised in a tavern and grew up listening to all the gossip and politics from the wave of speculators that came through. As a lawyer, he was influenced by the Jeffersonians. He rose to Congress and became a rival with DeWitt Clinton. He married Hannah Hoes which we know little about. She dies in 1819 and leaves VB with four boys.

Much of Van Buren's negative judgment comes from the Panic of 1837, which was out of his control. But what really caused it? This is where the established historians fail to judge based on human action (Ludwig Von Mises) and motive. Out of the Panic of 1819 came the Jacksonian movement - men like Jackson, Thomas Hart Benton, James K. Polk were all converted to hard money and 100-percent reserve banking. During the War of 1812, America fell into a one-party system in which the Democratic-Republicans adopted the Federalist program re-establishing the Bank of the US. This lead to Van Buren's greatest political accomplishment, the creation of the Democratic Party.

Van Buren was a political whiz with a great rapport to the South. A mastermind for organization, he took Jackson's tantrums and turned them into policy. Van Buren sought to impose order upon a very disorganized political system. He built alliances and emphasized the need for a disciplined platform. He organized the party's message. Once Jackson was elected in 1828, Van Buren became his Secretary of State. The banking crisis started right after Jackson denounced the Second Bank in his first annual message which brought the showdown between he and Nicholas Biddle (Bank's President). This was also pushed by Henry Clay in a effort to get the recharter sooner and bring Jackson down.

Jackson survives the showdown after vetoing the new bill and Congress failed to pass it over his veto. He then wins re-election in 1832. Van Buren became closer to Jackson through the Petty Coat Affair, as he treated Peggy Eaton with respect. The divided cabinet left Van Buren to become his VP.  Jackson's popularity walks Van Buren into the president seat in 1836.

But nothing of his doing will reverse the worst economic downturn in the US to this date, the Panic of 1837. Mass unemployment, bankruptcies and starving families led everyone to blame the destruction of the Bank of the US and shifting government funds to the may “pet banks.” But when looking at insanely reckless inflation from the Bank, the conclusion to blame is much different. During the 1819 Depression, the Bank of the US increased its notes and deposits 5.9 % (1820 - 1823). The nation's total money supply remained about the same. Once Nicholas Biddle took over, the Bank's notes and deposits rose from $12 million to $42.1 million, 27%. As a consequence of this, the total money supply rose at an annual increase of 10.2 %. The Bank of the US under Biddle was clearly on the inflationary.

What about the wholesale price rise of 52% from 1834 to 1837? It turns out, the wholesale prices rose before this as well, 20% from 1830 - 1833. The reason the price rose is because the money supply rose from $109 million to $159 million in the same years, 46%. Insane! Both price and money inflation was all spurred by the Bank of the US, still in operation. What about after 1833?

Same nonsense. The total money supply rose from 21% per year from 1834 - 1837, $150 million to $267 million.

This was not caused by liberated state banks. If state banks used their freedom to pyramid on top of specie, their pyramid ration would have risen risen or conversely, their reserve ratio of specie to notes and deposits would have fallen. Their reserve ratio was 0.16 in 1837 meaning they did no more pyramiding following the demise of the Bank than they had done before. This absolves the Jackson administration from blame of the 1833 - 37 inflation.

This is the power of the central bank that is so dangerous to the freedom and standard of living of its people. Biddle threatened to suspend specie payments, contract the loans if Jackson vetoed the bank. Van Buren called a special session of Congress where he proposed an independent treasury where all government money would be deposited and be out of the banks, unable to create easy credit, speculation and inflated land prices. The Senate passed it, but the House did not thanks to a group of ‘soft money’ Democrats led by Nathan Tallmage of NY and William Rives of VA.

 

March 1, 2023 - Prophecy of Tyranny under Big Government

“I am not well versed in history, but I will submit to your recollection whether liberty has been destroyed most often by the licentiousness of the people or the tyranny of the rulers. I imagine sir, you will find the balance on the side of tyranny.

- Patrick Henry at the Constitutional Convention in response to George Washington's claim that anarchy will ensue without the Constitution

 

1990 - THOWBACK

Raphael was my favorite. This photo from the archives is full proof.

 

February 27, 2023

“Equality of talents, of education or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions… to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of our society - the farmers, mechanics and laborers - who have neither the time nor the means of securing favors to themselves, have the right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evil exist only in its abuses.

- Andrew Jackson's Bank Bill Veto message

 

February 22, 2023 - #6 John Quincy Adams

It is fitting to write this review on the anniversary of his death. I admit that I did not think I would like John Quincy Adams. He was the last of the Colonial Elite presidents, and the first son of John and Abagail Adams. He learned much from his father since he traveled with John to France during the Revolution at the age of 12. When John became sick with fever, John Quincy went by himself to Russia. This helped him become one of our greatest diplomats.

Though he was considered a Federalist, he was extremely independent minded. And he was that almost to a fault. Politically, his greatest downfall was that he did not campaign for himself. Adams believed that if a person was good enough for the job, then the voters should vote for them. There were no organized campaigns during this time regardless. But Louise did more to campaign for Adams that he did for himself.

As secretary of state under Monroe, I respect Adams for many of his positions which were contrary to most Federalists. Adams supported Monroe when he decided to send Andrew Jackson to Florida to fight Seminoles and runaway slaves that were killing Americans in Georgia. Adams wrote the response that Monroe delivered to Congress, which explained the treaty that we had with Spain. And that treaty would not allow anyone in their area to attack Americans outside of that area. That position was not popular where Adams came from.

His main issue was being ahead of his time, promoting internal improvements when American way of life remained small and simple. When he talked of Rome and quoted philosophers, he was over the head of the American public, and did not connect. Andrew Jackson made a mockery of Adams talk of concern for outter space when debtor prisons were full of people who were not criminals. Not to mention the “corrupt bargain” that Adams and Henry Clay created to steal the 1824 election from Andrew Jackson. Ultimately, the 1828 Tariff of abominations hurt Adams the most for reelection.

He was able to accomplish more outside of the presidency, however. After being elected to the House of Representatives, he brought in discussion against slavery. He helped the abolitionists position themselves as people for human rights as opposed to secessionists. This is where Southerners issued the Gag Rule, used against John Quincy. He gained support after being reelected into Congress. He continued to fight back and the Gag Rule taken out. As a member of Congress, Adams passed away during session on February 22, 1848.

No one outside of the Revolution served their country more than John Quincy Adams. There was great technology and advancement that happened during his service. Steamboats and also photograph, called daguerreotype. John Quincy Adams was the first president to be photographed. The picture below was believed to be taken in 1842. (His first photo was actually lost.)

 

January 1, 2023 - #5 James Monroe

My favorite of the first six presidents is probably not your first guess. He is the 4th of the Virginia Dynasty and 3rd of the Jefferson Dynasty, which I favor. I like James Monroe (1757 - 1831) because of the elite presidents, he was closest to the common man.

As a student at William and Mary, he protested against Virginia Governor, Lord Dunmore as he attempted to take the gun powder. Monroe marched a with the Don’t Tread on Me flag. He then fought in the Revolutionary War and was in the Battle of Trenton. At Trenton, Monroe was shot in the shoulder and bleeding on the street. A medic (if that is what they were called) saved his life, stopping his bleeding. He also survived Valley Forge.

He was a congressman, senator, governor of Virginia, US minister to France and Great Britain, secretary of state and secretary of war before becoming president. He and Robert Livingtson purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon (who basically stole it from Spain) in 1803.

Monroe served as Secretary of State under James Madison. The War of 1812 began as a disaster but ended well because of men like William Henry Harrison (Indiana Territory), Andrew Jackson (New Orleans), Oliver Hazard Perry (Lake Erie) and James Monroe (Washington D.C.). The British burned DC after the Secretary of War said the they would not attack DC. Monroe took over as Secretary of War while James and Dolley Madison fled the president's house (not yet called The White House).

Monroe's respect for Washington led him to emulate his administration after Washington’s. He must have loved Washington since Washington allowed Monroe to be blamed for the failure of the Jay Treaty. Unlike Washington, Monroe never put down a rebellion or take any sides with any Federalists. On the contrary, Monroe was the first president since Washington to travel the country in a political effort to see the people. As a matter of fact, Monroe would have been unanimously elected president, just as Washington was, if it was not for an elector who voted against him for the very reason that ‘only Washington deserved the unanimous vote.’

My favorite part of Monroe's presidency was something less known. During his time, Spanish controlled Florida. Rebel slaves and Seminole Indians would come into Georgia and attack and kill settlers. Monroe ordered Andrew Jackson into Florida to put a stop to this. Technically, Monroe needed congressional approval. He did not do this which made adversaries angry. Brilliantly, Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams decided that since Spain was under Treaty to protect the US from Indians and runaway slaves, they were not upholding their treaty and therefore, no declaration of war was necessary. Andrew Jackson took care of business and increased his hero status. It was John Quincy who wrote Monroe's (state of the union) address to congress in which he told the story of a family that Sequoia's men murdered by grabbing the feet of their toddlers and banging their heads into the side of their boat.

It was also John Quincy who authored the “Monroe Doctrine”. The US became prosperous under Monroe and greatly expanded its territory. And Monroe died owning almost nothing, living in his sisters home in New York after he sold his home and plantation to pay his debts that the U. S. owed him. He was mentored by every president before him. Only John Quincy Adams would have been more qualified to be president.

 

 

February 2, 2023 - Pecan Planting Homecoming

Behind the Coffee High Marching Band field, which Andrew was member from 2000 - 2003, new pecan trees were planted. Coffee County Young Farmer's Teacher, Spencer Highsmith, organized the planting of new low-input pecan varieties and coordinated a pecan planting clinic taught by Andrew. Coffee High students helped plant trees followed by this crew below, which turned into a homecoming from Andrew and his 4-H Agent, Kevin Tatum. The practice field is in the background with the tower in the middle. Both Andrew and Kevin played in the Coffee High Marching Band and also the UGA Redcoat Band.

From L - R: Andrew Sawyer, Kevin Tatum (Former Coffee Co 4-H Agent), Ashley Smith (Coffee Co ANR Agent), Spencer Highsmith (Coffee Co Young Farmer's Teacher) and Madison Britt (Coffee Co 4-H Agent).

 

February 1, 2023 - Geraldine Thompson

The month of February is Heart Month. We celebrate the medical breakthroughs that give life to people born with the world's number one birth defect and most of the world's number one cause of death, heart disease. This month presents ‘love’ with a different meaning. For those born with heart defects, living a short life was your prognosis until around the 1970s. Many pioneer and renegade surgeons across the U.S. worked on the edge of the great medical slogan - ‘first, do no harm’ - to accomplish this great feat.

To Mr. Dan Thompson, of Texas, the cost was more than a child. It all started when eight-year-old Leslie Thompson was diagnosed with a VSD (ventricle septal defect, a hole between the bottom two chambers of the heart). The family visited doctors around the U.S. who only promised an early death. Until she met Dr. Walt Lillehei at University Hospital in Minneapolis. Up until this time, Dr. Lillehei had success with a very dangerous method for operating on complex heart issues called cross-circulation. At this time, no heart-lung machine existed. Dr. Lillehei would cross circulate the blood of his patient with a donor - usually a parent. Knowing their daughter's prognosis, the Thompsons felt this to be Leslie's only chance. Mrs. Geraldine agreed to be the donor for her daughter on October 5, 1954.

Before the surgery began, a terrible mistake occurred. An anesthesiologist overseeing operating rooms dropped by and saw an empty IV bottle. He mistaken it for being full and squeezed it. Air, not solution, was released into the line going into Geraldine's brain. The operation was stopped. Geraldine left the operating room in a coma, and it was clear that she would never be the same again. She dragged her left foot while walking, clinched strongly in her right hand, had terrible hallucinations. Ultimately her mind remained in 1954.

Mr. Dan was told by Dr.Lillehei he must sue to take care of Geraldine. The court case began in 1958 in which the jury found clear Geraldine was not normal. The hospital offered to settle, but Dan hoped for a sympathetic jury. After a deadlock, the jury declared a mistrial. Six months later, a federal judge dismissed the case. They never got their money after all.

Leslie went on to have heart surgery at a government hospital in Maryland where she died in post-operative care. Mrs. Geraldine was later placed in a mental hospital where her mind stayed frozen in 1954. She lived to the end of the century believing her husband had been kidnapped by the government. Nonetheless, her heart remained strong.

A family destroyed not just by loss of life, but also by quality of life. Courageous people like Dan and Geraldine Thompson DO NOT exist in America today. The least we can do is celebrate their lives, their losses and ultimately, their contributions to the greatest medical breakthrough of our lifetime - open heart surgery.

 

December 8, 2022 - #4 James Madison

After the Revolution, we needed a government. Jefferson, Adams and Franklin were in Europe while younger minds like Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison were deciding what our government would be. James Madison was insanely intelligent and a great thinker. He was devoted to the the cause of liberty almost to a fault of his own life. He finally got married and definitely married up to a wonderful girl named Dolley. James was gifted in his ability to deal with people. His wisdom was in his patience. Certainly he had his own ideas of what the rule of law should be. In working with people, other ideas will surface. He did a great job of communicating, being patient and convincing others of his ideas. During the Constitutional Convention, one of the few persuasions he lost was representation by population. This was a good thing in the end, since cities would eventually control the country. Back then, Virginia was the most populated state and would remain that way until New York took its place in the 1820s.

If there is one credit that should be added to accounts of his presidency, the Republicans survived the War of 1812 thanks to Andrew Jackson beating the British in the battle of New Orleans. Otherwise DC did not handle the war well. The most famous story being as the British moved onto DC, the cabinet and those in the President's house had to flee on horses. Dolley and James were separated during this fiasco. And it was Dolley, not James, who retrieved Washington's famous portrait from the wall so it could not be burned. James Monroe took over as Secretary of War during this time as Armstrong said there was no way they would come to DC from Baltimore. Ha!

No matter how it happened, the Second Revolution was most likely inevitable and assured we were treated as independent, not just as an idea signed on a piece of paper. The Constitution (Fathered by this man) enabled it and the War of 1812 solidified it.

 

November 7, 2022

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, no internal or external controls on government would be necessary. “ – James Madison

 

October 4, 2022 - #3 Thomas Jefferson

The father of the idea of individual liberty, he was 33 years old when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State, Vice President, 3rd US President, founder of University of Virginia, Jefferson was human. He loved states rights, but he did not want to let go of the Union. He did not believe the Bible, yet was one of the greatest advocates of religious liberty. He hated slavery, but did not want to let go of his own. He despised public debt, but lived a personal life of debt. He didn't like the power of the executive branch but would use the power of his knowledge and influence to accomplish what he believed right.

Jefferson's ideas of government were rooted in his belief of the people. When given the chance to decide, people will do the best for themselves. The opposing idea that people are incapable of making good decisions for themselves and ultimately need a higher power to tell them how to do so is the most immoral of ideas and places governing authorities in the place of God.

He was 33 during the Revolution and lost 3 of his 6 children and wife Martha before leaving for France. While in France, he lost his 4th child to “wooping cough.” His relationship with John and Abigail Adams was unique. He and John were friends during the Revolution but became enemies during Washington's administration as the two parties formed.

Jefferson's presidency would endure great tests. Our country was young and not respected in the world. There were things Washington, Adams and Jefferson did that was stictly against the Constitution. It was a different time; Congress and Senate were not around. The government is a faction, and it was a new faction. Britian impressed our sailors to fight their war again Napoleon, pirates of Tripoli showed no respect to our seamen, and Britain gave weapons to Indians to slow western migration. Our government was tested through his administration and not only survived, but became stronger. Evan after the Embargo, Madison's huge win proved the public liked Jefferson's ideas after all. There is no president to have the influence on future presidents as Thomas Jefferson. Those who followed his principles and called themselves Jeffersonites were James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk and Franklin Pierce.

After Jefferson's presidency, but he and John corresponded more than their earlier years becoming good friends again. The great ending to the story is Jefferson and Adams dying on the same day of July 4th, 1826 just hours apart. When Adams died, his last words were, “Jefferson lives!” But in fact, Jefferson had died a few hours earlier at Monticello, both dying 50 years to the day of the birth of the nation they formed.

 

September 8, 2022 - First Lady of Country Music

"If it's important, sink your teeth in like a bulldog and don't let go." - Tammy Wynette

 

September 4, 2022 - #2 John Adams

If Jefferson was the pen, Washington was the sword, then Adams was the voice of the Revolution. This maybe my favorite presidential book by David McCullough. The detail is incredible thanks to the letters written by John and Abagail. Adams was short, opinionated and stubborn, not a way to make friends. But Adams' personality was also the reason his "words moved men in their seats" as Jefferson said. Without John Adams, there would have been no Independence. The strains the revolution had on his families life is worth respecting for this country's founding. John and Abigail saw the dead from the Battle of Lexingon and were in Boston as British cut their trade. They saw their best friends leave on the ship to Britain after Washington's troops deefeated the British in 1775. John stayed in France for seven years, and two of his songs and Nabbi went without a father for their childhood. Adams, Franklin and Jefferson were trying to get help from France in the war. Without France, America would not be independent.

As president, Adams was similar to Washington in his hatred for political parties. He loved his country. I personally don't believe he was influenced by the Britain Monarchs. True he disagreed with the French Revolution, but how do we know not for personal interest in his time spent there? My only reservation in making him my favorite president is the Alien and Sedition Acts. It was a Federalist Congress that initiated them, but Adams still signed off. And they may have only went after 12 people, but the principle is contrary everything they fought against as well as the U.S. rule of law.

If it was no for Alexander Hamilton, Adams would have won a second term. The drama in Washington's two administrations - where Adams was Vice President - was no different than politics today. Adams, Washington and Hamilton took to the Federalist side with a central bank and strong executive. Jefferson and Madison, Anti-Federalist, formed the Republican Party during this time. I appreciate how much Adams and Jefferson wrote each other after both presidencies were over and renewed their friendship.

Adams son Charles became an alcoholic and died. John and Abigail had to see Nabbi suffer to her death of breast cancer. John Quincy became a true statesman a generation later as John got to see him elected president in 1824 before he died July 4th, 1826.


 August 5, 2022 - Buck Belue

Mark another Bulldog great that myself and Kathryn had the pleasure to meet. Quarterback from the 1980 National Championship Team, Buck Belue, spoke at the annual recreation department fundraiser! My favorite story from his book is being recruited by Coach Bear Bryant at Alabama.

“So, your from Valdosta?… What's this about you wanting to play baseball at Alabama?” - Coach Bryant

“Yes sir, I want to play football and baseball in college” - B. Belue

“Belue, let me tell you something…we've never had a football player play baseball at Alabama and we sure as hell aren't going to start with you.” - Coach Bryant

 

August 26th 2022 - THROWBACK

Happy Anniversary to Moma and Daddy

 

July 4, 2022 - A Presbyterian loyalist was a thing unheard of…

“Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scotch Irish Presbyterian rebellion.”

- A Hessian captain, 1778

 

June 19, 2022 - Who Looks Like Me?

When you see this picture, are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Look at how much Kathryn looks like me! Wow!

Oh, there's David too.

 

May 5, 2022 - A Gator in the Family

Here is my beautiful cousin Sarah Sawyer at her graduation from the University of Florida! I promise, this is no joke! I am wearing blue; I am in Gainesville; and I did take my picture on top of the Gator logo in the basketball arena. It's okay, I'm coming back to Georgia soon. Either way, I am very proud of Sarah. Her degree is Industrial Engineering and headed to work in Boston, MA!

 

April 25, 2022 - #1 George Washington

My doctor showed me a few biographies to read, ones I should have read a long time ago. I then decided I would read one of every president after he showed me this one by Ron Chernov. Today I finished this in-depth look of Georgia Washington's life. If you judge a man by all the characteristics a man should have, Washington meets all of them.

Long story short, everything about Washington can be summed up in two things:

  1. A great Leader
  2. A Patriot to America

 

March 28, 2022 - Phosphite on Non-Bearing Pecan Trees

In 2020, I started a new research treating non-bearing trees with phosphite to see if there are growth benefits and  justification for scab sprays for young pecan. Phosphite is a reduced form of phosphate. Plants get phosphorus from phosphate. Phosphites have fungicide properties and are great at controlling leaf scab. Interestingly there is much research on phosphite interactions in crops showing yield increase since the 1980s. There is also significant research showing phosphite interactions with phosphorus damaging to the plants, interfering with P uptake and also proof that plants lack the enzyme to oxidize phosphite to phosphate inside the plant, making phosphite useless as a nutrient. None of this work was done on pecan. We use phosphites for leaf scab control of mature pecan. We are planting  lots of pecan in Georgia, and growers are experimenting with different managements.

Treatments replicated four times:
1. Two quarts phosphite / acre, every 3 weeks
2. Two quarts phosphite / acre, every 6 weeks
3. Four quarts phosphite / acre, every 3 weeks
4. Four quarts phosphite / acre, every 6 weeks
5. Control

After the first season of treatments, K-Phite paid for these particular leaf samples that we took in May of 2021. This represents the phosphite carryover in the trees from 2020 and provides significant information. What the above graph shows is that every treatment carried over phosphite. This means in addition to translocation, phosphite staying in the trees.

This table is even more significant. The lab we sent these samples to in California is able to separate the phosphite from the phosphate. The phosphate is being taken up by the trees from soil application. Remember the work that shows where phosphite interferes with uptake of phosphate? This data proves that not to be the case in 2-year-old pecan. Though the bars are different heights, he letter A signifies this is not different. This is good news if spraying young trees becomes a norm.

This photo was taken in 2020, the first year of the study. These are two-year ‘Caddo’ in Laurens County, GA.

 

December 20, 2021 - Edwards Sapien 3 Heart Valve Approved

I read a news article today that a new heart valve has been approved by the FDA to replace in pulmonary position. Interestingly, the implantation of this heart valve DOES NOT require open-chest surgery. This is the greatest news for children born with pulmonary atresia, pulmonary stenosis, Tetrollogy of Fallot, etc. Instead of their ribs being “cracked open” multiple times throughout their life, this low-invasive technique accomplishes the placement of a brand new valve without the knife. It's not even called surgery, only a procedure. What a breakthrough for cardiac science!

And, I have a another secret for you:

 

I WAS ONE OF THEIR TEST SUBJECTS…

 

 

 

 

December 19, 2021 - Andrew LIVE on Wolf Country 97.5FM 'Home Grown Howlin'

From 10:00 to 11:00, Andrew is LIVE with Scott Morrison to promote his new record, 'Storytellin'! This is Andrew's second appearance with Scott this month. A big thanks to WUFF Country for promoting local, home grown music. This hour will feature ONLY Andrew's music! Andrew will talk about the inspiration from songs off the record and other little known facts about their production.

 

 

November 19, 2021 - Selling CDs

I dropped by Douglas on the way home to see Mr. Danny Maley at his new music store, O'Malley Instruments. He has supported us since “Four Letter Word” music video allowing us to film the last scene in the restaurant (with people in there.) Not to mention half of our graduating classes worked for Danny at Danny's Pizza during our high school years.

 

November 15, 2021 - STORYTELLIN' Makes 2nd Album by Andrew

After 17 music videos and one industry-produced record, Andrew now has another country music album! This is the second studio record for Andrew recorded at Studio D in Moultrie, GA and produced by Gary DiBenedetto. Following the release of A New Tradition in Southern Sound in 2014, the music videos did not stop. With five new singles, Andrew and Gary went in the studio to add 6 more tracks.

Previous singles include "Don't You Know" (2016), "I'll Get Over You" (2017), "Jim Beam Me Up" (2019), "Tennessee" (2020) and "Bobble" (2021). There is one previous single that was re-recorded for this record. "Set'em Up Joe" was the third music video filmed in 2009 starring Todd Vickers and Megan Coogle. "I want to re-record one of the old ones on each project I do from here on out." says Andrew. "South Georgia Pine" was re-recorded for the first album.

New songs on the record include "If The Lord Be Willin'", "Charlotte", "Workin' Man" and "Dear Santa". The musical performance on this record is a step up from the first. Led by fiddle, Storytellin' takes you back to the 80s and 90s country music. Pedal steel. Fiddle. Chickin' pickin' electric guitar. Mastered by Steven Cummins in Murfreesboro, TN, there is a story for everyone on this new record.

Now available on ITunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify and many more!

 

August 13, 2021 - David Greene

I never thought in a million years I would meet Georgia Bulldog quarterback David Greene! He was the guest speaker at the annual recreation department fundraiser. David played on at least one, if not two National Championship teams that NEVER won the title. He was Coach Richt's first QB and mine and Kathryn's favorite.

It was interesting because the young people in attendance didn't know him. And David was younger than the older people. That left few people talking to him at the front. So, David and I talked for probably 15 minutes. I asked him about certain plays that I remembered from his days. I also told him about Uncle Joel and me attending 21 GA-FL games in a row. I then told David how well I remember when Terrance dropping the pass where we were driving to score the go-ahead TD against Florida in '02. When David spoke to the audience, he actually said, “I think this upcoming team can win the National Championship.” (And they did.)

The best thing about David is how down to earth he is. I found out from the recreation director the conversation to ask David about coming down:

“David, I really need to get this fundraiser up a notch. I need to get a good speaker." - Spook

“Yeah, Spook, I would love to help you get somebody.” - D. Greene

“No, I want you.” - Spook

David did not let the recreation department pay him. Instead, he gave them a donation. Truly a humble guy.

 

June 12, 2021 - BOBBLE Music Video

If there is any song to out-compete "South Georgia Pine" this would be the song! A surprise indeed. While working on Andrew's second album, Andrew met with his Sawyer family in Seminole County. Talking with his cousin Randy, Andrew remembered a song Uncle Norman (brother of Roy Sawyer, Andrew's grandfather) wrote years ago. "Randy sang me the hook for the chorus. I went back home and pulled out the song. I polished up some extra verses Uncle Norman wrote. I added a verse about him painting the alligator."

Yes that is true! Norman Sawyer once painted the back of an alligator red, white and blue on Spring Creek. The gator was sunbathing one spring morning. Uncle Norman got a paint brush, tied it to a pole and started painting the alligator. You can't make this up!

On June 12th, five generations of the Sawyer family came together to film the great piece written by Uncle Norman. This song produced by Gary DiBenedetto in Studio D is as country as country gets. Jason Roller lays down a sweet fiddle and electric guitar.

The video also brought back together Andrew and video producer Riley Martin. The Thomas County era ended with seven music videos. Bobble makes the 8th video by Riley Martin. Enjoy some summer time fun!

 

April 12, 2021 - CAN YOU TAKE THIS HEARTACHE OFF ME Music Video

Andrew wrote this song just before his 6th open-heart operation, now more than 10 years ago. Born without a pulmonary valve (pulmonary atresia), Andrew has undergone six operations by age 25 to correct this disorder. By the mid-80s, heart operations were more common. As a matter of fact, the first heart transplant performed in Georgia occurred the year Andrew was born - 1985. However, congenital heart defects were still being researched. One reason for Andrew's many operations was that his first three were conducted in 36 straight hours to place a BTT shunt to re-direct blood around the undeveloped pulmonary valve. The shunt clotted following the first two operations until the surgeon used a shunt size for a 3-month old baby. It worked. Since then, Andrew has in its a place a real heart valve. The only treatment now is to monitor the condition of the valve and replace it when necessary.

"There's no way I can write a song to convey the details of these operations, so I thought I'd just make fun of it. What else can you do?" says Andrew. He dedicated the video to his pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Jane Todd, who passed away in August of 2020. She was the first doctor to see him off the helicopter at Egleston in 1985. She saw Andrew for 21 years. “She was so kind, caring, smart and intuitive. She gave reassurance, not just instruction. She was writing the book as we lived.”

Though the song was written to Dr. Brian Kogon, Andrew already has a newer valve replaced by interventional cardiologist Dr. Vasillus Barbaliaros. A heart valve made by hand from bovine tissue is sewed on to a stent. It is then placed into position with catheters through your femoral arteries. Andrew became the 3rd patient at Emory - and 1 of 52 in the U.S. - for a research heart valve for the FDA to receive more data on its pulmonary position. This less invasive procedure will eliminate many heart operations for children born today with the same condition.

 

January 6, 2021 - From the diary of Harry Truman

On January 6, 1947, Harry Truman drew comfort in the ghosts of the forgotten presidents during the dark days of the Cold War:

"The floors pop and crack all night long. Anyone with imagination can see old Jim Buchanan walking up and down and worrying about the conditions not of his making. Then there's Van Buren who inherited a terrible mess from his predecessor as did poor old James Madison. Of course Andrew Johnson was the worst mistreated of any of them. But they all walk up and down the halls of this place and moan about what they should have done and didn't. So - you see. I've only named a few. The ones who had Boswells and New England historians are too busy trying to control heaven and hell to come back here. So the tortured souls who were and are misrepresented in history are the ones who come back. It's a hell of a place."

 

January 10, 2021 - Ambrosia Beetle Research

We finally have some data on painting newly planted pecan trees to control Asian Ambrosia Beetle (AAB). With more and more acres of pecan planted in Georgia, this is the most common insect management question. Thanks to our new Entomologist Dr. Angel Acebes-Doria, we now have definitive research from two sites in GA to determine that painting trees alone does not stop AAB from attacking trees. Painting with insecticide sprayed on wet paint was statistically better than painting alone.

At the Dodge County location, spraying trees every 7 days with a pyrethroid insecticide was the best control. At the Cook County location, paint with insecticide was statistically the same as spraying insecticide. Angel's team conducted this in Cook County, and I performed the research in Dodge County. This is important for pecan growers because it is difficult to spray trees each week. This orchard in my photo is an 800 acre orchard planted in 2019. If painting trees with or without insecticide works, the grower's time is better saved. This work also showed the AAB go into the herbicide guards to attack trees. This means growers must spray down into the herbicide guard if they so choose. This is more labor intensive than using an airblast sprayer since it can only be accomplished with a handheld sprayer.

 

November 4, 2020

“Always vote principal. Though you may vote alone, you can cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” - John Quincy Adams

 

August 2020 - Robert Lawrence

A great inspiration for the love of music, Director Robert Lawrence, passed away from COVID. A former member of the U.S. Army, Mr. Lawrence taught middle school band at West Coffee Middle School in Douglas. Andrew and many friends were raised under the direction of Mr. Lawrence. This picture was taken in 1999 when Andrew was in 8th grade with their one of many Superior trophies.

 

This was given to Mr. Lawrence by that same 8th grade class with a famous quote from him:

 

July 4, 2020 - The Lion of Liberty

A great lawyer and orator, the first Governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry was the first cry for independence in outside of Boston. From Virginia, he was not of the elite, Tidewater, Aristocrats like Washington and Jefferson. His father was Scottish and his mother Anglican. He was, however, the ultimate defender of the farmers and frontiersmen. Henry's fervor was also fueled by religious discrimination in during the Great Awakening of 1740s and 1750s. Many Scots-Irish were Presbyterians, but slowly gained favor with Baptists who led this Awakening. Henry also led the movement to remove “established religion” from government. This issue was forced by Scots-Irish and “dissenting” mountain communities which was a factor in the First Amendment. 

Henry's idea of freedom was a man and his land, free to roam, hunt and fish. All issues were handled at the business end of a musket. Even Georgia Washington thought Henry's ideas would equal to anarchy. Patrick Henry led the Anti-Federalist against the ratification of the Constitution - mostly based on its lack of fundamental human rights. He argued against James Madison (it's own father) and earned great respect of his defense of the common man against the ultimate partnership between the elite and the government. Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, James Monroe and Edmond Randolph (who later flipped sides) are the reason the Bill of Rights were added to the Constitution.

Other notable Anti-Federalists are:

Samuel Adams

George Mason

Richard Henry Lee

Robert Yates

James Monroe

George Clinton

Melancton Smith

Arthur Fenner

James Winthrop

Luther Martin

James & Mercy Warren

 

June 3, 2020 - Slaves of Bankers

“Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money.” 

Sir Josiah Stamp, Director of the Bank of England (appointed 1928)

 

May 11, 2020 - Mama's Boy

Jonathan is definitely Mama's boy. Kathryn and Jonathan pictured with David (somehow not yet a human being just a non-living FETUS) inside her belly.

 

May 9, 2020 - TENNESSEE Music Video

A fitting music video for Mother's Day weekend. A singer writes a letter to his mom before leaving for Tennessee to chase a dream in country music. The song takes an all too familar spin as the singer stops by the grave of Hank Williams along the way. Tennessee is the 15th music video from Runaway Cotton Records. The video has three main features: A trip to Hank William's grave, a 1971 GMC pick up truck and "Lazy Len" Robinson's voice on radio.

Andrew says, “I knew I could not ask Riley (video producer) to go to Alabama. It's just too far. I had to give a pecan presentation at a national meeting in Louisiana. I took my wife and we came back through Montgomery. I had a stabilizer for my phone, so we took it out there and filmed the shots at Hank's grave. The shots looks great for amateur. The storm in the background played into the video so well. We stayed in Montgomery for the weekend to see all of Hank's stuff.”

The video also features a 1971 GMC pickup truck, owned by Andrew's father-in-law. Andrew shifts with three speed on the column as he drives in downtown Eastman, through the graveyard and a few country roads in Dodge County, GA. "I love his truck. We actually took pictures of me on this truck a few years ago for some promotion material. This truck was perfect for the video as we wanted to take people back in time."

Perhaps the greatest surprise is hearing Len Robinson of WPAX and WTUF of Thomasville, GA on the radio. "Lazy Len" has been generous to Andrew over the years allowing him radio time for his South Georgia Pine Ag Update and to play his latest songs. "I remember like yesterday the first night I moved to Thomasville. I found 106.3 on the radio station and fell in love with the station as they played traditional country music. Everyone at work told me about "Lazy Len" and how he built that station. A few years later, he called me and asked if I would like to do a radio program for my farmers. I was elated to meet him. It means alot for me to have him on this song."

 

Easter 1988 - THROWBACK

Here is me with Grandaddy at my childhood home at Quail Hollow in Douglas. The four-wheeler in the background is a 1987 Suzuki, which Daddy would drive Momma, me, Mark and Jennie through woods of the “power lines” (also) in the background. (This is where the line from the chorus in “South Georgia Pine” came from). That four-wheeler still works and is at my house today which takes me, Kathryn, Jonathan and David on four-wheeler rides underneath the shade of many Dodge County pine trees.

 

April 27, 2020 - Talkin' Song I Don't Want to get the Virus Blues

While waiting on the final touches for the "Tennessee" music video debut, I recorded a new song while in quarantine. Co-writer and colleague, Dr. Glen Harris of UGA Extension offered me the hook to this song.

 

April 2, 2021 - Checking Casebearer Traps

Here is Jonathan in a ‘Stuart’ pecan orchard checking for Pecan Nut Casebearer moths. We don't recommend spraying for them, so why check the traps? Jonathan just likes bugs.

 

March 26, 2020 - TENNESSEE Released as New Single

Written when Andrew was in college, inspired by the greatest country singer of all time, produced with the purest sound of country music, Tennessee is released as the first single from Andrew Sawyer for 2020. This song is a sweet ballad of a man leaving home carrying only a note from his mother and a guitar. He stops in Montgomery, Alabama to pay respect to the one who defined country music. Producer Gary DiBennedetto is the mastermind behind the sound and tone heard in this song. Gary composed the most gentle ballad you will ever hear from a fiddle echoed with a ghostly steel guitar as Andrew looks on Hank's grave.

"I love this song for a few reasons. One, of course, is the story and it being about Hank. As a child, I was taught that his name was not Hank Williams 'Senior' but just Hank Williams. He is the REAL Hank Williams. This song means alot because I wrote the original song in 2009 while in college. I was immature in writing songs but new the chorus to this song was good. Everyone who heard it loved it. As I got better at writing, I re-wrote the verses to tell a more complete story. Originally it had 3 verses. But the chorus is still the same. I've written worse songs since this, and that is why I love it so much."

To listen to the song, click the media player at the bottom of Andrew's website.

 

February 14, 2020 - Andrew Plants Pecans for Legendary UGA Coach Vince Dooley

Vince Dooley, 1980 National Championship winning head coach for the Georgia Bulldogs, is now on the list of Georgia's pecan producers with the help of Andrew. While working as Area Pecan Agent for Southeast Georgia, Andrew was needed to help deliver and plant pecan trees for Coach Dooley and his son-in-law Desry. The Georgia Pecan Grower's Association Director Samantha McLeod made contact with Coach Dooley, an avid gardener since retiring from coaching, about planting a pecan tree. Former UGA Coach said he would love to plant one if she would bring him one. That is where Andrew came in.

Slated to pick up the trees from Clough Nursery in Blackshear, Andrew brought with him the patented, Excel cultivar discovered on the Clough farm years ago. A seedling with a large nut and good quality, it has remarkable resistance to scab - the dreaded disease of pecans. Thus making it a suitable cultivar for Coach and Desry.

Members of the GPGA helped dig holes and prep trees. Andrew showed everyone how the roots should be pruned and trees planted. Then Coach Dooley took the opportunity to chop some roots himself and prune back the remaining stalk. The day ended with Mrs. Barbara Dooley fixing chili for the tree planters followed by Coach giving a tour of his UGA memorabilia.

When asked about the experience, Andrew commented about an award Coach Dooley received from the Florida Gators representing his coaching in the rivalry, “I was taught early that beating Florida was the most important thing Georgia could do each season - even greater than winning a National Championship. I have not missed a GA-FL game in Jacksonville sine 1997. I acknowledged this award and told him the same thing and said, 'Coach, your record there was real good.' And he replied, 'Well, I lost many games there as well.' He was being humble, but he took the GA-FL game serious and was successful in that rivalry. I appreciated the respect they showed him by giving him this plaque in 2003.

 

November 7, 2019 - JIM BEAM ME UP Music Video Released

The 14th music video released from Runaway Cotton Records, Jim Beam Me Up becomes a big hit on facebook. Filmed in Barwick, GA, the video stars Ashleigh Childs and JT Wynn as well as Billiards Bar N Grill's infamous, "One Beer Bob" Coleman. The setting was perfect for a traditional band shot featuring five additional players almost all wearing cowboy hats.

With 103 shares and 6,000 facebook views, fans say it is the best work on a music video. Director Riley Martin captures all the emotions while portraying the story of the song. "He knocked it out of the park on this one. If I do one thing well, it is to stand back and let Riley work his magic. He has a vision of what he wants. From my perspective, I'm fortunate to work with somebody who knows what I want, and what they want, and put it all together. It's incredible how much we think alike."(Andrew)

 

September 2019 - JIM BEAM ME UP Released as New Single

After 2 years behind the scenes, Andrew releases a brand new song titled 'Jim Beam Me Up' to social media and country radio. The song was produced by Gary DiBenedetto at Studio D in Moultrie, GA. In this new song, Andrew tells the story of someone caught up in their own comical dream, waking up to find out the girl he was with was way too young. He can't tell if his friend Jim (Beam) helped him or fooled him.

The song is classic country led by the fiddle. It carries the original sound of country music in the early 90s. Described as fun and upbeat, Jim Beam Me Up may be the best song and record released from Andrew.

It is available on iTunes, CD Baby and many other music outlets. Take a listen here:

Jim Beam Me Up

Andrew credits both a former colleague and former 4-Her for inspiration for the song. As a salesman for a pest control company in Nashville, TN, Andrew came up with the name of the song and pitched it to David Butler. Butler called back and said, "I have the hook of your new song, 'Jim Beam me up one more time, I got a fist full of dollars and I'm going to let it ride." That hook stuck with Andrew, and he drafted the song. But it wasn't until he moved to Thomas County, Georgia where the song would be complete.

One day, Andrew took out ole Jim Beam and started singing it. His colleague Robin Nelson said, "I'm not eavesdropping on your song, but I have to tell you a story about Hope (Robin's daughter) at the state horse show." The story was so amusing to Andrew that he re-wrote the last verse and made the song into a hit.

 

June 2019 - April Witkowski

April Witkowski graciously designed the CD cover and pages for Andrew's 2014 album A New Tradition In Southern Sound. April, her three children, and her husband Peter live in Virginia where Peter serves as pastor of Amissville Baptist Church. In May, April was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer following a CT scan to identify pain in her back.

April has been seen by oncologists at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where she is undergoing hormonal treatment under the direction of a research study. If the hormonal treatment does not fight the cancer, she will being chemotherapy.

It is certainly a challenging time for their family. Please keep them in your prayers. If you would like to read Peter's blog for updates, visit witkowskiblog.com.

 

May 1, 2019 - Southeast Georgia Area Pecan Agent

Andrew joins the UGA Pecan team as the new Area Pecan Agent for Southeast District. This position is from a partnership between University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and the Georgia Pecan Commission. Andrew serves both county agents and growers in Southeast Georgia. His territory stretches from Washington, Jefferson counties north to the Florida line south. It includes everything from the Ocmulgee River to the east coast. Pecan acreage has grown in the southeast for the past 5 - 10 years, and Hurricane Michael's devastation will likely see a shift in pecan varieties in Georgia when replanting new trees.

Andrew previously served as County Extension Coordinator in Wilcox County from 2017-2019 and County Ag Agent in Thomas County from 2011 - 2017. His work in pecans includes Asian Ambrosia Beetles and Pecan Leaf Phylloxera. His programming has focused on young trees, particularly pruning.

Below Andrew is pictured with UGA Pecan Horticulturalist Dr. Lenny Wells:

UGA Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells (left) and Area Pecan Agent Andrew Sawyer (right) at Ponder Farm in Tifton, GA.

 

March 2018 - South Georgia Pine Ag Update Radio Program

A brand new tab added to the website includes each week's radio agriculture program from Andrew, the County Agent. Working as an agriculture consultant with UGA Extension, Andrew's radio show became popular while he served in Thomas County, Georgia. Since moving to the upper coastal plain, Andrew's radio program continues on the stations listed below:

  • Wolf Country WUFF. 97.5FM Eastman - Throughout week
  • Hot Country WWKM, 91.3FM Rochelle – Throughout week
  • Your Country WDXQ, 96.7FM Cochran – Throughout week
  • Solid Gospel WULS, 103.7FM Douglas – Monday thru Friday at 6:50am
  • WPAX, 103.7FM / 1240AM Thomasville – Saturday at 7:50am
  • Classic Country WTUF, 106.3FM Thomasville

 

May 9th, 2017 - LITTLE BLACK DRESS MUSIC VIDEO DEBUT

The 13th music video from Runaway Cotton Records since 2008. It was a great experience to bring this song to life. Filmed in Boston, GA, Andrew says, "I hear more about this song than any other song from the record. It has to be the saddest, heart-breaking song on there. I spent so much time crafting this song - so much that I get to where I don't even play it or sing it much anymore. It's amazing how many people like it. I always thought it would be too sad to film, but having the kids makes a difference. The kids did great - Callie, Cara, Jack and David. I'm glad the parents let them do it. Riley did a fantastic job on the video. I'm glad he brought this one to the table."

 

March 2017 - "Every Story Has A Song"

College friend from ABAC, Christy Layfield, - and owner of Thomasville Magazine - features Andrew in the 2017 Spring issue! The article presents the story of how Andrew transitioned from performance music into songwriting, his love for country music, and music videos filmed in Thomas County, GA. Visit local business in Thomasville to pick up a copy or find the story on their website.

 

Country Music

"People don't write music. It's given to them." -  Hank Williams

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