Thursday, November 05, 2009

Remember Remember the Fifth of November

[Originally posted on 5 November 2007, and updated on 5 November 2009]

The "Gunpowder Plot" Conspirators

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot.

Today is Guy Fawkes Day - the traditional day for engaging in all manner of anti-Catholic / anti-Popery activities in the U.K. (mostly bonfires these days, which seem to have lost much, if not all, of their anti-Catholic connotations).

Still, there are certain pockets of England where the anti-Popery connections are alive and well.

The celebrations of anti-Popery on this side of the Atlantic - where it was referred to as "Pope Day" -never quite caught on after the establishment of the new Republic, and Don McClarey has an excellent post today at The American Catholic that might explain why that is. Don details His Excellency General George Washington's orders to the Continental Troops (in no uncertain terms) that Guy Fawkes Day and the traditional burning of the Pope in effigy was NOT to be celebrated:
“As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope – He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.”

Order in Quarters, November 5, 1775

– George Washington
More on that at "George Washington, Enemy of the Bonfire" [the link, unfortunately, is now broken]:
Scholars have ... traced the dissapearance of Pope Day celebrations to this document. Pope Day was the name given to the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day in the colonies.

This Recta Ratio post from 2 years ago on the subject of Guy Fawkes, included a couple of interesting links - especially this one.

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At 11/05/2009 2:40 PM, Blogger Terry said...

The more I read and read about George Washington, the more he becomes one of my all time favorite figures in American history. I know it's probably the stuff of legend, but I find myself liking to believe the accounts he converted to Catholicism on his death bed.

Great post, Jay.

At 11/06/2009 8:31 AM, Blogger Catholic Mom of 10 said...

Great post! Do you mind updating to my new blog?

At 11/06/2009 9:45 AM, Blogger Jay Anderson said...

Sorry, I thought I already had. What's the new site?


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