US Presidents Who Were Assasinated

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

When asked what US presidents were assassinated while in office, most people remember John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. Would it surprise you to know there were four presidents assassinated? There were also two presidents who died in office and were rumored to be assassinated, and 30 unsuccessful assassination plots or attempts. Here is a list of the assassinated presidents.

Abraham Lincoln was the first and most famous president to be assassinated. He was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford Theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. After shooting the president, Booth jumped onto the stage, breaking his ankle, and shouting “Sic semper tyrannis” ( “Thus always to tyrants”). Booth was a Confederate sympathizer and was against abolition of slaves. He was part of a larger conspiracy where the vice-president and secretary-of-state were also targeted, but Lincoln was the only one killed. Booth was shot a few days later, and 8 other conspirators were hanged.

James A. Garfield was shot on Saturday, July 2, 1881, in Washington DC, by Charles Julius Guiteau less than four months after taking the oath of office. Garfield’s son, James Rudolph Garfield, and Secretary of State James Blaine, both broke down and wept. Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, thinking back to the assassination of his father, said, “How many hours of sorrow I have passed in this town.” Garfield died eleven days later from complications and infection. Guiteau was immediately arrested, and after being found guilty, was hanged. Guiteau was assessed as mentally unbalanced and possibly suffered from some kind of bipolar disorder or from the effects of syphilis on the brain. He claimed to have shot Garfield out of disappointment for being passed over for appointment as Ambassador to France.

William McKinley was shot September 6th, 1901 on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York. Leon Czolgosz shot him while he was shaking hands with the public. McKinley staggered backwards and to the right, but was prevented from falling by Cortelyou, Milburn, and Detective Geary who guided him to a chair. Seeing men beating Czolgosz, McKinley ordered it stopped. He then expressed concern for his wife. He was then carried out by an electric ambulance. After an operation and apparent recovery, he died of gangrene eight days later. Czolgosz was an anarchist who had lost his job during the economic Panic of 1893. He considered McKinley as a symbol of oppression and was convinced that it was his duty as an anarchist to kill McKinley. After being found guilty, Czolgosz was executed in the electric chair. After this, the Secret Service was assigned to protect the president.

John F. Kennedy was shot by a sniper on Friday, November 22, 1963 while riding with his wife in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. He died instantly. Texas Governor John Connelly was also shot but recovered. Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine who had become a communist was arrested for the crime. Two days later, Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner distressed by the assignation, shot and killed Oswald. He was convicted and spent life in prison. The Warren Commission ruled Oswald acted alone, but to this day, many people believe he had help.

2 Presidents Rumored to Assassinated:

Zachary Taylor died on July 9th, 1850 of cholera morbus, a term that included diarrhea and dysentery, likely caused by food poisoning. In the late 1980s, author Clara Rising raised the possibility Taylor was murdered by poison. She convinced Taylor’s closest living relative and the coroner of Jefferson County, Kentucky to order an exhumation. The tests showed arsenic in Taylor’s system, but it was much less than they would have expected if he had been poisoned.

Warren G. Harding died on August 2nd, 1923 of a heart attack or stroke brought on by food poisoning and pneumonia. While traveling in Alaska and Canada, Harding had been informed of corruption in his administration which he claimed to know nothing about. He gave a speech in Seattle, Washington, then fell ill. His train proceeded to San Francis where he died in a hotel there. Doctors said he died of a stroke, but the Hardings’ personal medical advisor disagreed with the diagnosis. His wife, Florence Harding, refused permission for an autopsy. This led to speculation that the President had been the victim of a plot, possibly carried out by his wife. Harding apparently had been unfaithful to the First Lady. Gaston B. Means, an amateur historian, wrote about his suspicions Harding had been poisoned. He also surmised Harding may have been killed to protect politicians because Harding probably would have been impeached if he hadn’t died. Speculation continues to this day.

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Where Were You on September 11th, 2001?

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Everybody has a story about that fateful day. Here’s mine.

A couple of days before that notorious event, my son who had just gotten married in July called to tell us his new wife was leaving him to be with a married man. She would move out on Tuesday, September 11th. I tried to get a flight to Tennessee, where he lived for that Tuesday morning, but I couldn’t. I literally couldn’t book the flight online. Something blocked it. Now I know it was God. I would have been stuck in an airport in Cincinnati and wouldn’t have made it in time to be with him, but then, I thought it was just weird.

Since I couldn’t fly down, my husband drove down on Monday. I got a flight for the following week. Tuesday morning, I watched the news while I waited for my husband to call to let me know if my son’s ex-wife was there yet and how he was holding up. A breaking news story came on Fox News. An airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Nobody knew if it was an accident or on purpose. As I watched, the second plane hit. The world seemed to be collapsing while my son’s life and marriage did. The towers fell while my son’s wife moved her stuff out.

After the planes hit the towers, I realized I hadn’t woke up my daughter, and she was sleeping though this. She was a junior in high school and homeschooled. I woke her up and told her what happened. She wondered to the TV and said, “Oh, I thought you were talking about a movie.” At that point, it seemed so surreal.

All air flight was grounded, and the President was rushed from a schoolroom in Florida onto Air Force One. The stunned news broadcasters then announced a plane was headed to the Pentagon and I remembered my cousin had an office there. He was a private software contractor, but his only client is the Pentagon. The plane crashed through my cousin’s office and killed his secretary (his kid’s SS teacher). He’s alive because an hour earlier, he was called away for an emergency meeting at another location.

The news announced Flight 91 in Pennsylvania was headed toward the White House, and fighter jets had been called to chase it down. At that moment, the whole house rumbled as the jets flew over our house. I knew it was the fighter jets because the planes had been grounded. I spent the entire day watching the news, getting reports from my husband about my son, and praying. It was the day terrorism came to America and the world changed.

A year later, I went on a missions trip to New York. I saw Ground Zero. It looked like a bomb had hit it. It reminded me of pictures I’d seen of the devastation in Europe during World War 2. When I visited Grand Central Station, I read all the messages on a board in the center of the station to those who had died. I didn’t cry until I read one message. “Daddy, I miss you. I’ll see you in Heaven. Love, Veronica.” My daughter’s name is Veronica.

I did fly down to see my son six days after September 11th, but there were only a hand full of people on the plane. After the divorce, my son married a girl he met when he came home to recover. She is a sweetheart. They’ve been married 15 years and have two sons. God restores what evil destroys.

So what’s your story? Leave it in the comments.

John Harper – Hero of the Titanic

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Almost everyone has heard of the sinking of the Titanic, but few know the name of the man who would become known as the hero of the Titanic, John Harper. His last words before he drown in the ocean that fateful night were, “Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

The sinking of the Titanic was not the first incident where Harper risked death by drowning. When he was two and a half, he fell into a well and almost drown, but his mother saved him in time. At age twenty-six, he was swept downstream by a reverse current and almost drown. At thirty-two, he was stuck on a ship in the Mediterranean that sprang a leak. But the Titanic would be the last danger of drowning he would face.

Harper was born to Christian parents in Scotland in 1872. He was saved at thirteen and began preaching to his village by the age of seventeen. In early adulthood, he worked at a mill to support himself while he continued to preach. At one point, E.A. Carter of the London Baptist Pioneer Mission heard Parker and took him to London to mentor him. In 1896, Harper started his own church with 25 members. Within thirteen years, it had grown to 500 members. It is now called the Harper Memorial Baptist Church in his honor. During this time, Harper married, but his wife died of complications after giving birth to their daughter Annie known as Nana.

In 1912, John Harper was invited to speak at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and boarded the Titanic with his daughter Nina and his niece Jessie W. Leitch who was brought along to care for Nana while he was ministering. He put six-year-old Nana to bed that evening not knowing the danger that lie ahead.

At 11:40 pm, the Titanic hit an iceberg. Harper went to see what happened and found out the ship was in trouble. He wrapped Nina in a blanket and directed her and Jessie to lifeboat #11. Although he could have joined them in the lifeboat since he was Nina’s only living parent, there was no indication he even considered it. He kissed Nina goodbye, and according to documentation, flares went off revealing the tears on his face. A well known photograph of the second class promenade, in which a young girl is seen holding her father’s hand, is believed by many to show young Nina Harper and her father.

What happened next is well documented by a few of the survivors. As the ship lurched, he ran through the deck shouting, “Women, children, and unsaved into the lifeboats!” The ship broke apart, and Harper along with many others jumped into the ocean. At this point, he had a lifevest on. In the frigid water, he swam frantically to people dying of hypothermia and led them to Christ. At one point, he swam to a young man and asked him if he would accept Jesus as his Savior. The young man said, “No”. Harper gave the man his life vest telling him that he needed it more.

Later Harper swam back to the young man and led him to Christ. The man then saw Harper succumb to the waters.  The reason we know this story is because the young man was one of the few survivor snatched from the icy waters that night.

Harper’s orphan daughter was raised by her uncle and aunt and lived until 1985. She married a preacher and had two children. She didn’t remember much about that night, and her family discouraged anyone talking about the Titanic with her, but Jessie Leitch says they were about a mile away when they saw the ship sink.

Although the story is not told by Hollywood, John Harper was a true hero who gave his life so that others might be saved both that night and for eternity.

The Modern Missionary Movement Started in Colonial Times

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

America is well known for the modern missionary movement. The missionary movement is credited with starting in the mid 1800s during the Second Great Awakening, but it really began with a 100 year prayer movement in colonial times. The people who started this movement were called the Moravians.

In 1727, a group of Moravians in Saxony started a round the clock prayer meeting that lasted 110 years. By 1737, Moravians had settled in Savannah, Georgia to share the Gospel. At this time, they met John Wesley, from the first Great Awakening and had a profound impact on his ministry.

In 1741, the Moravians moved to an estate owned by John Whitfield, another preacher from the Great Awakening, and started ministering to the Delaware Indians in the region. They established the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth in Pennsylvania and moved throughout the colonies sharing the Gospel wherever they went.

Schoenbrunn Village

By 1772, the Delaware were being pushed into Ohio, and the Moravians followed them. They set up two villages there, one in Schoenbrunn and one in Gnadenhutten. They risked great dangers, not only from the other tribes, but from the British forces once the Revolutionary War began. The British accused the Moravians of informing the colonialist about troop movements, a charge that was mostly true.

The Moravians finally abandoned their villages to move on to avoid clashes with the British. That fall, a group of converted Delaware returned to Gnadenhutten to harvest their crops. They were massacred by American soldiers who mistakenly thought they were raiders.

There aren’t that many Moravian in the United States today although there are clusters of congregations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia. There are also some areas in Canada with large Moravian populations. Moravians in America moved on to evangelize other parts of the world. The largest groups of Moravians now live in East Africa and the Caribbean. They left their mark on America though through their missionary endeavors and paved the way for other missionaries.

100 Steps to Freedom

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Before the Civil War, Ohio had the largest Underground Railroad of any state in the Union. It is believed that every county in Ohio had a route. Many slaves would escape over the Ohio River and through Ohio on their way to Canada. This was a dangerous undertaking because, even though Ohio was a free state, the Fugitive Slave Law made it so anyone helping escaped slaves could be fined and jailed.

John Parker’s Foundry

One small town, Ripley, Ohio, is believed to have helped more slaves escape than any town in Ohio. Ripley is located on the banks of the Ohio River across from Mason County, Kentucky.

One man who helped slaves escape was a freed black man named John Parker. Parker was educated by his master in Virginia and eventually bought his freedom. He traveled to Ohio and opened a foundry on Front Street facing the Ohio River. He was the first black man to earn a patent for one of the inventions he used in his foundry. At night, he would search the Ohio River looking for escaped slaves and helping them find their way to an Underground Railroad Station.

John Rankin’s House in Ripley, Ohio

Rev. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, owned a house on top of a hill in Ripley. He built one hundred steps to the house that could be seen on the other side of the river. At night, he would light a lantern and hang it from the porch to signal slaves that it was safe to cross. It is estimated that over 2,000 slaves escaped through the Rankin House. None of them were ever recaptured.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her famous novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, about the escape of the slave, Eliza, after hearing the story from Rev. Rankin.

How Camp Meetings Ushered in the Second Great Awakening

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

The year was 1800. Within the last 30 years, the United States had become a nation, adopted a Constitution.  Within the last year, it had elected its second president, John Adams. An unusual church service in Red River, Kentucky near the border of Tennessee ushered in a move of God called the Second Great Awakening that would sweep the nation for years to come.

A series of meetings was organized in June by Presbyterian minister James
McGready, and many Presbyterian and Methodists ministers took part. Because
many other congregations located along Muddy River and Gasper River planned to
attend, it was decided the meeting would be held outside near the Red River
Meeting House. This was the first “camp meeting” reportedly held in the United
States.

The services were well attending and were like many revival meetings of the time. On the last day of services, as William Hodge was preaching, a woman stood and started shouting praises to God. Soon others joined her. The service ended, but nobody was willing to leave. Mr. Hodge, according to an account by Methodist minister, John McGee, “felt such a power come on him that he quit his seat and sat down in the floor of the pulpit.” At that point McGee began to tremble, and the congregation started weeping. Revival broke out as people started shouting, and the floor was covered with those who had been slain in the Spirit (an occurrence where people are overwhelmed by God and can no longer stand).

A letter from McGready described the service.

“In June, the sacrament was administered at Red River. This was the greatest time we had ever seen before. On Monday multitudes were struck down under awful conviction; the cries of the distressed filled the whole house. There you might see profane swearers, and sabbath breakers pricked to the heart, and crying out, ‘what shall we do to be saved?’ There frolicers, and dancers crying for mercy. There you might see little children of ten, eleven and twelve years of age, praying and crying for redemption, in the blood of Jesus, in agonies of distress. During this sacrament, and until the Tuesday following, ten persons we believe, were savingly brought home to Christ.”

After the Red River Camp Meeting, other meetings were held where people would travel long distances and camp at the site. Camp Meetings spread throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, and Southern Ohio in what became known as the Revival of 1800. McGready travelled well into October where even bad weather didn’t keep people away.

Rankin House

John Rankin also started camp meetings into Tennessee and North Carolina with many of the same results. Later he settled in Ripley, Ohio where he conducted an underground railroad station from his house. He claimed over 1,000 escaped slaves that made their way to freedom went through his home.

In 1801, Methodist preacher Barton Stone attended one of the camp meetings near Red River. He decided to organize his own camp meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801. 20,000 people attended, and again, revival broke out. Over the next year, more than 10,000 people visited Cane Ridge services where unusual moves of God were reported.

One feature of these camp meeting revivals was the presence and conversion of blacks, many of whom were slaves. Women, children, and blacks were also allowed to participate as exhorters, lay people who preached impromptu sermons encouraging others.

Abolitionists in Colonial America

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Most people think abolitionism didn’t really come to be until the early 1800, but abolitionist views in America started almost as early as slavery in America.

The first Africans that came to America, according to some historians, were sold to Jamestown colonists in 1619 as indentured servants although some say there were already Africans there. The twenty men had been stolen from a Portuguese slave ship and were allowed land and freedom when there period of service was done, but by the 1630s, some colonists were keeping African servants for life. John Punch, in 1640, was the first documented indentured for life servant. In 1662, the law recognized slavery and instituted statutes that any children born would follow the status of their mother making it so children could be born slaves.

The first dispute against this practice was that Christians could not own their brothers in Christ. If a slave was baptized in the faith, he had to be freed. In 1667, the General Assembly outlawed freedom by baptism. By 1705, an array of slave codes were enacted, and half of the labor force in Virginia. In the 1620s, the Dutch West India Company introduced slavery to New England, and be 1700, slavery was established as an institution there as well.

Even though slavery was being established in the colonies, there was a movement growing to end the practice. Throughout the 17th century, many evangelicals and Quakers came out against slavery.  As early as 1688, four Quakers in Germantown signed a protest against the practice of slavery and made their case that the practice was not Christian and against Biblical precepts. In the 1730s and 1740s, during the Great Awakening, preachers decried owning slaves as sin.

During the American Revolution, Moravian and Quaker preachers convinced over a thousand slave owners to free their slaves. The newly formed states debated whether to allow slavery to continue. It was finally decided to outlaw the slave trade within twenty years and allow each state to decide for itself. The economy in the South was also encouraging freedom for slaves. Planters were shifting from labor-intensive tobacco to mixed-crop cultivation and needed fewer workers.

After the American Revolution, northern states gradually outlawed slavery. In 1808, the United States criminalized the slave trade and outlawed any new slaves being brought to America. If it hadn’t been for Eli Whitney’s cotton gin patent in 1794, slavery may have only been a footnote in history. The cotton gin overnight made the practice of slavery profitable. We’ll never know if the invention had been delayed twenty years, if that would have ended slavery. Either way, it didn’t end abolitionism. The abolitionist movement that started in Colonial times would continue to grow until a war forced the end of slavery in the United States.